This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.
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…