Monday, December 29, 2014

Of Temporality

Ghosts. Ghosts are all that are left of the days of yesteryears. The past is another country, long lost in some forgotten revolution. And journeys therein, of necessity, are clouded by false memories, false recollection of true events. Even the people from the past, the ones who left the deepest of marks, would have already turned into ghosts. Forgone dreams may hold them steadfast in memory, but they would hardly have any ground left under them -- their feet would have already turned to smoke.

It is difficult, utterly so, to be homeless. It is difficult still, to not have a home. It is not pleasant, to have to suffer. It is unpleasant still, to realise the futility of suffering. 

The great tragedy of life, is not that it ends. It is rather that the process is, inherently, paradoxical -- a continuous conflict between the destination and the journey itself.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

LSD, Grateful Dead and Self-Desired Psychosis.

It's definitely a full body/mind experience for me. I am on my third acid (dropper/cid/blotter/drop etc.) right now, and I have one more to go. LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide, is an extremely potent hallucinogenic psychedelic compound, with (a) no physiological addiction, (b) no long-/short-term neurotoxicity, (c) no dependency syndromes, (d) no recorded case of overdose, and (e) no known side-effects, other than acute, and often desired, psychosis. 

I felt the acid coming on very gradually, about ninety minutes after I placed the blot under my tongue. It began as a mild altered consciousness, purely psychological, but then slowly spread over for a more full body/mind experience. The immediate, and so far as I can tell right now, persistent, effect is  increased (definitely heightened), but also highly altered (paradigm shifted) cognition. It seems pretty domain general at this point -- I can tell it affects spatial reasoning, I know it affects melody and rhythm, I know it's making me a little bit more jovial than I usually am (I am laughing my ass off to That 70s Show), and it certainly makes you aware of the physical limits of your body, the edge of your skin against the  cosmos. And yeah, talking like this is another not-so-bad effect of LSD.

I am not sure that I had any of the acute visual experience that most LSD users swear by, but I did experience acute psychedelic shifts in my conceptual-intentional system, and getting a little bit higher up with the abstractions, some major shifts in the recursion of the Fodorian concepts within my mind.  There is nothing new, though. I should mention that. I don't think the LSD induced anything that wasn't there to begin with. Also, it is completely different, pleasantly so, from alcohol. Alcohol impedes cognition. LSD enhances it. As far as I can tell, right now, it also significantly modifies it. It's almost like being aware of things that you never knew you were NOT unaware of -- but seriously, it really lets you travel, almost literally, into some pretty enticing corners of your psyche, and affords whole new perspectives on things. I suppose, this is why they call this "a trip"??

Now, I am wondering, purely out of academic interest of course, can the 'nature' of the trip be attributed to the LSD? I think LSD, in this context, is merely a catalyst that interacts with and manipulates the process of recursion of the Fodorian concepts in the mind, thereby inducing psychosis. My personal thinking is that it does not induce anything novel, but only magnifies and helps re-interpret the ongoing conceptual computation. Otherwise, there would be some observable correlation between the good trip vs. bad trip distinction and the chemical composition of the LSD ingested. I couldn't find any such reference in the literature. 

Recursion!!! That's the key! Perhaps, recursion characterises other more domain-general cognitive functions as well, thereby distinguishing those functions in humans from other higher primates! Hmmm... I should run this by Iris Berent, and possibly Poeppel and Pinker too!

Okay!! I think I might be beginning to see some of the visual auras... this is so awesome!!! I just spent the last seven minutes trying to adjust the font size across the text, only to realise that its the acid interfering with my depth-perception and spatial-reasoning. I am still completely in command of my mind and, from what I can tell from the line-walk test I just took, also my body. There is no hangover of any sort. Nor any clumsiness, as one would from drinking alcohol. In fact, I feel fresh. Almost unbelievably so. 

My mind is a kaleidoscope, right now.... somebody is playing Grateful Dead's greatest hits from 1965... Amy Goodman is interviewing Noam on Syria... and I just saw a freaking dragonfly, gold and blue, burst out of a rainbow and dissolve into a sea of colourful lava.... there are dragons and unicorns, and Derrida, and Neruda, and co-ordinate geometry...

I think I am just gonna sit back and enjoy this awe-freaking-some show my mind is putting up in front of my eyes, right now! It's pay-per-view, boys! Watch this space for updates on my experience with LSD. The fonts are changing colors right in front of my eyes.... this is seriously awesome! And the fact that I am doing the Science along with the LSD is making it that much more awesome!!! 

Peace, love and resistance, ya'll. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hope: Memoirs of a Homeless Vagabond

"[...] beneath the glitter and glitz, the diamonds and black velvet, deep below, the Metropolis' heart beats; down in the sewers and gutters, where its dearest families live."

-- Paul Theroux; Memories of New York City--

She had come to hate it -- Hope.
The word. The sound. The concept. The unabashed cruelty of it all.
That's all anyone ever gave her -- Hope. Wrapped in short change.
A few were bills. But a buck is a buck -- paper or metal.
A dollar's worth of Hope -- that's all she ever could get for one.
And there were many -- a dollar at a time. A dollar a day.
Always. A dollar's worth of Hope.

Hope was a lie. Hope was a beautiful fairytale.
Hope was a ploy; an excuse.
Hope was diversion. Hope was perpetuation.
Hope was no solution; nor was a direction.
Hope. Was a compass without a magnet.
Hope was her; sunken eyes, ruffled hair.
She sat under that park bench; still savoring yesterday's meal.
As she thirsts for tomorrow's rain.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

On the "Art" of Being Thankful: A Short Rant

It's that time of the year again -- Thanksgiving!!! That one auspicious day of the year when we get together in our cozy little upper-middle class bourgeois homes, gather around wobbly dinner tables with fake smiles on our lips, and pretend to be thankful that we got away with the hidden genocide of a proud and indigenous people, successfully usurped their land, stole their game, marginalized them in their own land, made up fake stories of founding fathers (of slavery), and the land of the free (where the indigenous are slaughtered, and the colored and the dissident white are enslaved alike, till date), and of the home of the brave (where cops shoot unarmed teenagers because they felt "threatened by his hoodie"), and we do it all by slaughtering innocent birds and buying mass-market gifts produced by slaving children in Chinese sweatshops. Oh! glory be to Imperial American Democracy -- the leader of the Free World Empire, bringing you liberty, equality and justice and delivering them right into your living room, through your roof, on 3.5 million dollars tomahawk missiles. Prepare to be FREED everyone! Here comes Uncle Sam (and No! That's not me) with a bucket full of liberty!
I am saddened, sickened and disgusted at this maudlin display of shameless lies, and blatant historical revisionism perpetrated under the guise of being grateful for things we never earned, events that never occurred, and by burying the very memories of those from whom we looted, plundered and stole. As if killing them by the generations, and taking away all their possession and wiping out their identities were not enough, we must now proceed to make fun of their very memories. What has our society come to? When did we sink this low? When did we exchange our empathy and understanding and love for our fellow earthlings for the right to be indebted to a cheap black piece of plastic with 'American Express' engraved on it? 
I wish people would take a moment to stop, just stop and stand still on the spot for a few seconds, take a few breaths, and ask themselves, "Why is it, that what I call 'Thanksgiving', so many of my fellow earthlings in the Native American tribes call "Things Taken"? They are not so different from us. They were here before us. And they will continue to be here -- nursing and healing this land bruised with cheap plastic soda bottles, buried corpses of slaves and prisoners, and crimsoned with the blood of the tired, the poor and the homeless -- back to health, long after nature, in her infinite wrath, has wiped the last shred of our corporate capitalist lifestyle off of the face of this planet. This planet, Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot, has a way of taking care of herself. In the cosmic calendar, human beings do not appear till the very last hour of the very last day of the very last month. She has survived cosmic meteor showers, asteroids larger than Texas, and ages of ice and fire. Certainly, she will survive our species. Perhaps in an altered form. But woe awaits humanity the day the planet decides that the time has come for her to shake of the debris of human "civilization". We have entered, as Arundhati Roy describes it, the terminal phase of human existence. We now face two choices -- we can recognise the error of our ways and make amends and clean up our act, or we can wait for Nature to do it for us. The former path will involve humbling ourselves, making reparations for the unrestrained havoc we have rained on the planet and our fellow earthlings (human and non-human, animals and plants alike), and starting over with the right objectives. Certainly a daunting task, especially for a species spoiled rotten with centuries of decadence and arrogance. But lest we step away from our just penance, it would behoove us to remember that the latter path will only bring one thing, the complete annihilation of humanity. Nature is a caring nurse, and a vindictive surgeon. As she has illustrated time and and again during our planetary history -- the Earth is not scared of wiping the slate clean and starting over.
The very laws of Physics demand that there cannot be an infinite growth out of finite resources. The basics of Moral Philosophy demand that we not pursue a policy of profit over people. And yet, those two are the very foundations of what is known as 'Free-Market Capitalism', wherein neither the market nor the customers are free. Freedom is a product for sale, and its only for those who can afford its niche market price. The rest of us are left to wander about in our backyards, the backstreets and sewage systems of our city, scratching our heads and wondering what went wrong? The answer is not that difficult to find either -- we have made people into commodities to be sold, exchanged and put by bulk in to holding facilities that we euphemistically call "correction facilities", while making faceless corporations in to people with rights, privileges and protections of law. And where did these rights, privileges and protections of law come from -- why, from America's blacks, homeless, single mothers, welfare elderlies and orphan children, of course, whom we have stripped not only of the clothes on their back, but also of their natural rights and basic human dignity. Such is the moral compass of an empire of consumerism, built on occupied land, fed by robbed resources and sustained by force of coercion and threats of an enslaved imprisoned existence, and a violent and utterly meaningless death.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Personal Crisis of an Uprooted Rationalist

"[...] the way the old dog walked, with clotted, tired fur; down nobody's alley, being nobody's dog."
                                                                                                                     ~~ Charles Bukowski~~

Nineteen months lived;
               nineteen different melodies,
                                           seen but heard;
               Narrated experiences. Inexperienced.
Sands in glass — labelled, tagged, marked; owned.
                            Lost never had.

Binaries interplayed in dimensions;
                                    rhetorics of counter-rhetoric.
Rationality, a reluctant absurdist. Farce.

Centres and Margins. Annihilate.                               
Of cultivated necessity begotten,
                                   a Destruction. Shivers.

Identities, transcendent signifiers.
                                      Referents. Yes.
                                                        May be.
                                                       Assorted psychedelics.

Epiphany. Not broken illusions.
                Quantum of logical aesthetics.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Whispering to Fireflies: Field Notes on Activism

I was told, recently, by a friend of almost twenty years, that I talk too much about 'rights', 'poverty', and the 'environment', and "it kills the chill factor" and "hurts people's emotions by questioning their belief systems". So, I thought I would address these issues for everyone out in the field, protesting, occupying and opposing.

I get told quite often, especially in the upper middle-class circles and the academia, that I "need to take it/go easy". It is almost a conscious, deliberate and pre-meditated, and a rather transparently populist denial of the distinction between 'urgent issues of existential significance' (existential in a very physical sense, and not a metaphysical one) and 'subjective opinion of sustainable activities/factors', and it is rooted in the voluntary ignorance of the propagandised middle-class and the conformist servitude of the academia to its corporate overlords. The massacre of the planet's biodiversity in the name of 'culture and heritage' (cf. Faroes Islands, Japanese whaling), destruction of the rain forests (Exxon, BP), fracking and tar sands (Canada vs. First Nations), systematic destruction of the our oceans (deep sea oil, whaling), the melting arctic ice, denial of climate change for short term profit of billionaires (US republicans and democrats alike), bombing of children (Gaza, Haiti,Guetamala), torture of infants in the name of religion (genital mutiliation and circumcisions of infants) and a self-righteous, imperialist, oppressive, fascist, xenophobic, police-state creating an empire out of massacred masses, hidden genocides and systematic ecocide (US foreign policy since the early 19th century) are NOT matters of opinion, and cannot be taken "easy". If a baby is choking on a piece of small plastic toy, you don't "take it easy". You do what it takes to get the plastic out of her windpipe. Well, Carl Sagan's pale blue dot, our planet, is choking on the plastic bags, soda cans, and all the dead children and dolphins we have buried under the soil and then tried to cover up with our Taco Bells and KFCs. There is no time to "take it easy".

I realise that over the course of my activism and writings, I have said and done certain things that did not live up to the constructed notions of 'civility','camaraderie' and general 'politeness', and might have hurt feelings by casting the light of skepticism over deeply valued belief-systems. (As it had caused me discomfort when my convictions were subject to skepticism. The difference is that I did not complain about it. I tried to carry the debate forward.) Unfortunately, however, at this terminal phase of human existence, 'beliefs' are a luxury we cannot afford. I cannot sensor my facts to comfort your ignorance and unfounded beliefs and claims, because the very fate of our planet is at stake. You gave me a label. And now I fall unto it-- I am rude, obnoxious, aggressive and perhaps militant. But only in a society built upon the acceptability of unidirectional violence,  can someone calling for non-violence be labelled 'militant'. But make no mistake about it, I do these things. And I will continue to do them. And you, and everybody else, can judge me all you want. I won't pretend that it does not bother me. But it is not going to stop me. We have been far too kind, for far too long, to those who seek to destroy the planet and all the life it supports. It stops now.