Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Are You Experienced? The Degradation of American Drug Culture

In 1967 Jimi Hendrix asked an entire generation searching for answers, “Are You Experienced?”. For many growing up in the age of the sixties this question may have not been a sufficient answer to the unsatisfied cynics who just thought it was just another way to say “Are you stoned man?”. But, for many, it was a valuable key to a door leading humanity into the unknown.

I know, I know you probably scream and cry
That your little world won't let you go
But who in your measly little world
Are you trying to prove that
You're made out of gold and, eh, can't be sold

As Soldiers returned from the war that established America as a Super Power to be reckoned with, government propagandists responsible for selling Americans the Second World War were now in full effect, promoting the “Nuclear family” and the “return to traditional gender roles”. This short lived peace time was followed by the “Forgotten” War of Korea, the Failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, the assassination of Kennedy and a quagmire in Vietnam which, until recently, was the longest war in American history.

During this volatile time in the American “Nuclear” culture, which in retrospect disenfranchised the youth of a nation out of a future with an unjust draft, was precisely what fueled the fire of the “Counter Culture”. The youth of America began realize that the idea of armed service to the state in times of war was just a modern way of the powerful perverting the idea of “duty” in order to protect their land and resources by using the population to fill the pockets of the profiteers and banks, which were funding both sides of the war.

Little did people know that the miracle of LSD, which was invented by Albert Hoffman nearly parallel to the atomic bomb in 1938, was about to make a large impact on an entire generation. This small, yet very potent, values changing substance was about to open up a whole generation to the world behind the veil of deception, aided by the psychedelically charged music of Jimi Hendrix and the new and improved Beatles. As Bill Hicks said, “I think drugs have done some good things for us. I really do. And if you don't believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn them. 'Cause you know what, the musicians that made all that great music that's enhanced your lives throughout the years were real fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes. ” Could anyone imagine the state of music today if the Beatles hadn't done LSD?

But the drug culture of the 60's does not go without ridicule, and not just from the politicians who had invested a lot of time and money into the acceptance of their world called “consensus reality”, but from the outspoken critics within the counter culture movement, such as Abbie Hoffman who carried this criticism to Woodstock before being struck upside the head by Pete Townsend's guitar when he jumped on stage to expressed his outrage at people sitting on their asses smoking weed, while John Sinclair was sentenced to rot in a prison for two joints for 10 years. Also writers like Hunter S. Thompson, know for his engagement in the counter culture, mocked it with his exaggerated excessive drug use and stated at the end if Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: “We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled that 60's. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip. He crashed around America selling "consciousness expansion" without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously... All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody... or at least some force - is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Counter culture icons such as Timothy Leary probably did not have the foresight to see how the excesses of the sixties would influence the further degradation of drug culture in the 70's and 80's with substances like cocaine or the horse tranquilizing potency of narcotics like Valium and Quaaludes. But it is precisely this drug culture that has provided a framework and a structure for a “good time!”, becoming a perfect prescription for excess and failure. Thus making the epidemic excesses of Ecstasy and Oxycontin possible in the first place.

By exploiting these substances that mother earth has provided us, and reducing them to just another commodity to be bought and sold we are allowing a further degradation between us and mother nature to take place. Responsible ritualistic drug use of archaic cultures has become a thing of the past, perverting these experiences to be included into the escapist drug culture that includes alcohol. Legalization is not the answer. Especially in a consumer culture so hell bent on escaping the world they are responsible for trashing, that they would give this sacred substances to the worst drug pusher on the face of the planet aptly dubbed “Big Tobacco”.

To be “Experienced” is to value the quality of the experience, not the quantity of the substance that produces the experience. Experience comes from delving as deep into the unknown as one can when afforded with such opportunities. Not just engaging in the same tired act of excess with little or no headway being made. The same familiar bean bag chair, while watching the Matrix is not only moronic but a waste of the opportunity to explore the deepest parts of the emotional core of one's soul. To avoid exploration of the unknown is to entrench oneself in a spiritually stagnating rut. The purpose of life is fostered in an individuals subjective experiences. The avoidance of any situation whether it be awkward, unknown or new does not assist a person in the attainment of individuation, which Carl Jung described as a process through which a person becomes his/her 'true self', which is seemingly a psychological interpretation of Friedrich Nietzsche famous words, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Life is the struggle with the emotional core of human existence and experience, and art is the expression of that wholly subjective experience. By engaging with these psychedelic substances with little or no preparation we open ourselves to the loss of a focused, and purpose driven experience. By not setting our expectations for the experience we lose the ability to utilize these experiences to further ourselves psychologically. By engaging in escapist tendencies with substances not divinely designed to merely provide an escape from one's problems, but for complete and utter liberation from the clutches of our Ego, we grant our ego to have more power after reentry then prior to the experience. Making an individual more prone to the ego games of identity and acceptance that advertisers and marketers feed on.

Our drug culture has now become nothing more than an extension of the abhorrent consumer culture. A mere shadow of its former self on the verge of enslaving us in the prison of the material world, instead of liberating our true will from the Demiurge of bourgeoisie society. We smoke blunt after blunt and drink beer after beer to what avail? The satisfaction of being able to keep up with this habitual hazing, and consuming more then the next guy? How does this unenlightened, self-absorbed, and neurotic engagement in a habitual game benefit our species as a whole? It doesn't! And anyone who tries to defend this neurotic behavior does nothing more than further the establishment's agenda to regulate and control human consciousness by any means necessary, and that includes the encouragement of voluntary sedation as a “cultural diversion”. Terrence Mckenna pointed out that one of the fundamental problems with humanity is that, “We are led by the least among us and we do not fight back against the dehumanizing values that are handed down as control icons.” and that the only way out of this mess is to, “ reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that's being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world. Where is that at?" That's a good question. I don't know? Probably doped up in front of the T.V. or computer somewhere in a seemingly “free” country where citizens exhaust the little leisure time they have left watching vicarious television sitcoms, the mainstream “news”, or vegging out in front of the latest video game. In addition to your perfect prescription of excessive sedation. Just what you, the docile and apathetic masses, need... TO SHUT YOU UP!

-The Dead Guy

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and well thought out. You make me want to learn more about the psychedelic counter culture when I was formerly primarily interested in the more violent revolutionaries.