Psychedelic Press UK Journal II

Psychedelic Press UK Journal II
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In volume 14-5 we were lucky enough to feature a wonderful piece by Toby Slater describing his difficult experience in the UK’s recent reboot of LSD trials. Kicking off this journal, Chris Howarth, another participant in the same study, describes his experiences, which in some respects contrast sharply to Toby’s, even though they were put through the same scientific motions.

The psychedelic experience can be induced through different plants and substances, and in vastly differing places. Film-maker and writer Jan Kounen, in Tonight, some people can will encounter fear, describes an ayahuasca experience taken within a shamanic context, with its own particular nuances – of languages, setting, approaches, and understandings of actions; the alteration of perspective lies in the placing of a Westerner in the exotic context in the first place, and the alteration imbues the text with a sense of otherness for the Western reader as well.

Very often a series of psychedelic experiences, events, begin to tell personal, bibliographical stories that shape people’s outlooks, understandings, and personas. Simon G. Powell’s The Sacred Pattern, an extract from Magic Mushroom Explorer, is Simon’s comprehension of the meaning of a repeated vision whilst tripping on mushrooms. It creates, not only a pattern of personal experience, but also of literal life understanding; the micro indicating the macro.

The altered states of psychoactives crop up in literature in many ways. A Pipe of Salvia, an extract from my own novel Erin, is a literary trip into the sub-conscious, exploring and describing the way in which the recesses can rise into personal consciousness but also onto the page and into the reader’s consciousness. The immediacy of the first person narrative attempts to break down the division between the reader and the event, in much the same way that a psychedelic experience does.

Robert Tindall and Susana Bustos explore Homer’s The Odyssey in light of their experiences of today’s shamanism, which has the effect of, firstly, describing similarities between the text and practice today, but secondly, argues for an approach to the wider world that spans space and time. The perspective here is constructed in an interdisciplinary fashion.

Finally, the objective perspectives, are the illumination of culture as it stands and moves today. Andy Roberts, in Francis Crick, DNA & LSD, takes account of the myth and history of Francis Crick visualising the structure of DNA whilst taking LSD. Becoming something of an important urban legend for psychedelia, Andy’s corrective article – the perspective of an historian – tells a different story. And lastly, Julyan Levy’s anthropological piece Ibogaine: A gift of forgiveness from equatorial Africa, combines that academic and historical posture that lends clarity to the presentation of facts, without losing sight of the socio-cultural ambiguities through which, in this instance, the very idea – or social narrative - of ‘drug use’ is potentially (mis)understood.

 

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