Supernova

This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.

1/9/19

Spent most of the day working on a poem that hasn’t fully formed yet. Best thing that happened today: I acquired The Legendary Christine Perfect Album (1970) for my vinyl collection. Post-Chicken Shack, pre-Fleetwood Mac Christine McVie. Gritty, bluesy, fun listening. Finished Huxley’s The Doors of Perception and am continuing my research on psychedelic aesthetics with David S. Rubin’s historical account of optical and visionary art since the 1960s. Had initially intended to write a journal entry-type post on Huxley, possibly tying him to Maslow’s ideas about perception and self-actualization. But after Blue Elephant, I decided that discussion would only be redundant. I’ve articulated my thoughts in the poem, as well as in Halo, though in a decidedly rougher, rudimentary form. And aren’t these ideas about perception and Being a great deal more fun when presented through the eyes of a flying blue elephant, anyway? I think so.

But, I am perplexed by what I am reading. A bit stumped. Why the sudden interest in psychedelia? Seven Road. It was actually T. Blake’s artwork—its psychedelic flare—that opened my eyes to the feel of what I was writing. Because his work is such a perfect translation of my vision. Even drawing my attention to the fact that the poem was, in large part, based on an incredibly unique and powerful interior vision. So, I ask myself why I am adopting this particular aesthetic. And I have come up with two probable answers: 1.) It’s what comes naturally, plain and simple. I know no other way. 2.) It recuperates the missing dimension. The dimension I often find lacking in a great deal of mainstream, or establishment, literature/music/art. Which, to my mind, is currently so disillusioning and propaganda-filled it’s often rendered intolerable. What I call empty talk in Flo On. I write the kind of poetry I would like to read. Full of color, colorful characters, and information I, personally, consider important, substantive, true, meaningful. Isn’t that what poetry is about anyway—translating our individual perceptions into a novel, vibrant, and cohesive message that can somehow touch (and hopefully better) the world? A pursuit of higher truth? It is to me. But, that’s one of the reasons I like being here on WordPress. So I can interact with other artists who are simply experimenting and being themselves.

I am reflecting on these ideas more deeply as I write and realize there may be a third reason. I have noticed a difference in my own manner of thinking. In the realm of seeing, as I’ve mentioned previously. Huxley describes the whole experience perfectly for those of us who sometimes think in a language of patterns, geometries, 3D figures, and little luminosities.

The typical mescalin or lysergic-acid experience begins with perceptions of colored, moving, living geometrical forms, In time, pure geometry becomes concrete, and the visionary perceives, not patterns, but patterned things, such s carpets, carvings, mosaics…Everything is novel and amazing. Almost never does the visionary see anything that reminds him of his own past. He is not remembering scenes, persons, or objects, and he is not inventing them; he is looking on at a new creation. – Aldous Huxley

But isn’t this an essential part of the artistic experience for those of us who are visual-type thinkers? I imagine so. And in reality, it is far less magical than Huxley makes it sound. Far less visionary-feeling. And more like just thinking. And if occasionally you get a snapshot, a glimpse, a vision, it’s just another symbol. In the way of adding depth to your work. Dimension. A cipher. (Though it can be startling.) But, is this really why people take LSD? I imagine the main difference between artistic—or what Huxley terms, “visionary”—seeing and that of the drug-induced variety lies in the presence of hallucinations. As artists, we know that what we see is in the backs of our minds. Another dimension of that which we perceive externally. But we don’t confuse the two. 

Am I right about this? These are the points in Huxley’s writings—in his descriptions of “seeing”—for which I have a specific personal point of reference. But, am I misinterpreting the author? Or am I, perhaps, mistaking my own inner experience for something else? I’ve never taken a hallucinogenic. Are my internal references even an accurate barometer here?

But, psychedelic aesthetics have a legacy and a legitimacy outside of drug culture. A manner of seeing for a particular breed of visionary artists. The most natural and impactful form of self-representation. But, all of this does relate to Maslow. To Maslow’s ideas about perception in psychologically healthy folks. Ego loss, non-hierarchical-type perception (I think I also recall reading about this in descriptions of the personality trait, openness to experience.). As if one sees without a filter. But he talks so much about this—of having a problem-centered, accepting, non-interfering approach to the world, and existing within “the widest possible frame of reference.”

A final thought: can this kind of multidimensional seeing be related to peak experiences? The ecstasy of perceiving that kind of oneness—the totality of existence, the magical, the miraculous in the everyday? Creativity is the difference. Or maybe creativeness of a seeing kind. For Maslow:

…the ‘merely healthy’ nonpeaking self-actualizers seem likely to be the social world improvers, the politicians, the workers in society, the reformers, the crusaders, whereas the transcending peakers are more apt to write the poetry, the music, the philosophies, the religions. – A. H. Maslow

Not sure how I feel about psychologists, philosophers, neuroscientists who use LSD and then tout their insights. Would rather experience natural, creative-type “visions” instead. All the rest seem somehow lacking. On that note, I think it’s time to wrap up here. To pour a glass of wine and put on a little music. The Legendary Christine Perfect awaits…

18 thoughts on “Supernova

  1. Your post has made me wonder what is most meaningful to me about psychology, and what has come to mind is that through reading Jung I discovered my imagination, I discovered the unconscious, the psyche. At first these were just words and concepts, until time passed, and I realized that I could call some of my imaginary experiences hallucinations, and maybe I did, but what did that accomplish? I knew that they were not “real,” as that term is defined in the dictionary. The images I experienced while awake reminded me of dreams, and over time I realized that my consciousness was expanding, that I was experiencing more of what mind might be all about. I didn’t take any drugs to have these experiences. I would like to think that I sometimes spontaneously have visual experiences that remind me of dreams because I am open to such experiences. Perhaps they are religious experiences, and William James comes to mind. Psychological experience=religious experience. Maybe it’s a valid comparison. Your post has given me much to think about!

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    1. I like the comparison of psychological experiences to religious experiences. It is interesting because, as I read all about “visions,” I think “but I have those” (as described by, say, Huxley), and there’s nothing bizarre or unearthly or scary about them. If these visual experiences sometimes feel as though they have an otherworldly character, I think it is, as you say, because we are accessing a different dimension of consciousness. (And that can be startling momentarily.) Thinking in different symbols. And those symbols are very real. Maybe they are “hallucinations” by some definitions, but I sure don’t think of them that way. (Although if I saw them in the external world, I believe I might have cause to worry.) But Jung wrote about this, didn’t he? I think I recall coming across something like this. Is it that intuitive types see this way? Also, I am grateful for your comment. I do feel perplexed by some of these readings, especially in their applicability to my own experience. I hesitate to say I have seen in the way Huxley describes and yet…I think I have. Maybe. At least kind of. 🙂

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      1. I enjoy so much your openness to your own inner experiences! Your posts remind me that I am not alone, that others also have similar experiences, similar questions and doubts. The important thing seems to be, in my opinion, that we realize that our inner experiences are meaningful.

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    1. Yes, thank you for responding. This is, interestingly, the second time this week I find myself discussing Jung as he relates to my work. I have also decided to give Rollo May’s The Cry for Myth another shot…even though myth has not historically been my forte. Perhaps this is all more important than I realized.

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  2. I think you and I have spoken about myth in the past, that both of us have struggled with it. I am also finding myself reading about myths as I start reading the writings of James Hillman. You asked a question about Jung in a comment above, and what comes to mind is perhaps to have a look at his Red Book, which is a record of what he experienced when he immersed himself in his fantasies after his break with Freud.

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    1. Ah, thank you for the recommendation! I will take a look at it. I find Jung’s body of work daunting, to say the least. So I very much appreciate the tip. I believe we have discussed myth previously…when I was attempting May’s book the first time. I have heard of Hillman but have not read him. But, I noticed, as I was re-reading some of this post earlier that the significance of myth appears here, as well. Aesthetics as a way of recuperating truth/wisdom/re-telling old stories–looking back in order to move forward, so to speak. I never realized this until now.

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      1. It occurs to me that perhaps reading Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections (and maybe you already have) would be the best place to start. There is a chapter, I believe entitled “Confrontation wth the Unconscious,” in which he writes about his experiences with his fantasies, with images and symbols of the collective unconscious.

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      2. Haha I’m glad you changed your recommendation! The Red Book is apparently a bit of an investment…but I should be receiving Memories, Dreams, Reflections tomorrow. I have not read it yet. Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You are very welcome. But there is a more inexpensive compact version of The Red Book, which I have here in front of me, entitlled The Red Book Liber Novus: A Reader’s Edition. It is much smaller than the large size book that first came out, I believe in 2009. Sorry about that. I should have mentioned the Reader’s Edition. I hope you enjoy Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

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    1. Oh, no need to apologize! I gathered it’s a collector’s piece. And I dare say if it were a collector’s edition of Maslow’s writings, I might pay the high price.🙂 And I’ll look for copies of the Reader’s Edition. I’ll let you know how I like the other. I look forward to beginning it this weekend.

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