Cannabis and Creativity
By David Jay Brown & Maria Grusauskas
Does using marijuana lead to dramatic insights and meaningful innovation, or does getting baked just make you feel more creative?
Free eBook download:
I love my town of Santa Cruz, California.
Thank you for voting me “best writer” last year (2011) in The Good Times and
“Best Writer Local” and this year (2012) too! Here is what they wrote:
Brown’s allure continues to grow. His diverse literary works include: “Brainchild,” “Virus: The Alien Strain,” the bestseller “Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse” (A great interview collection, by the way), “Mavericks of Medicine,” “Mavericks of the Mind” and “Voices from the Edge.” Dubbed “the most compelling interviewer on the planet,” Brown has lured precious manna out of the likes of Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, Albert Hoffman, Andrew Weil, Sasha Shulgin, Alex Grey, Jerry Garcia, Stanislav Grof, Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra, John Lilly, Noam Chomsky, Jack Kevorkian and, yes, even George Carlin. You can spot him, too, as a regular guest editor of the MAPS Bulletin, a tri-annual journal from the local psychedelic research group Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Learn more about man—and his mind—at mavericksofthemind.com. | CP
Runners-up Laurie R. King, Wallace Baine, Greg Archer.
Here is the link if you want to check out the article: http://goodtimessantacruz.com/index.php/good-times-cover-stories/3728-best-professionals-2012.html
I was also voted “best author” this year (2012) in The Santa Cruz Weekly “Gold Awards.” Here’s the link to the Santa Cruz Weekly awards:
http://www.metropdf.com/Santa_Cruz_Gold_Awards_Guide.html2012. I’m on page 41.
David Jay Brown
Every creative person who has ever taken a psychedelic substance yearns
to express the experience. Among other things, psychedelics have a most
extraordinary effect on the imagination and the optical cortex of the
brain. Visual art that is reminiscent of the kinds of hallucinatory
visions– intricate, brightly colored, unusual, complex, imbued with
meaning, and often geometrically organized– that one sees with closed
eyes during this hyperdimensional brain state has been dubbed “psychedelic
Psychedelic art is not always inspired by a drug-induced experience,
but often it is. Although sometimes referred to as visionary or surreal
art– in that, like dreams, they all draw upon the unconscious as their
source of inspiration– the truly psychedelic painting is charged with an
unmistakable psychoactive intensity. Sex and death are common co-mingling
themes. Psychedelic art is, of course, best viewed and most appreciated
while one is under the influence of a psychedelic.
Artists, for the most part, seem to take naturally to the psychedelic
experience, and LSD has been shown with scientific validation to increase
the creativity of artists. (This doesn’t mean that taking LSD will make
you creative. It means that if one already has a creative talent, then LSD
has the potential to amplify this.) When psychiatric researcher Oscar
Janiger did his famous LSD and creativity studies in the early sixties, he
found that the group which had the most positive experiences with the
substance were the artists. (Which group had the greatest number of
bummers? The psychiatrists.) Psychedelic art is certainly nothing new.
It’s been around for as long as human beings. This article is by no means
meant to be an overview of this vast subject– that has been done in
detail elsewhere– but rather, this is a compilation of short profiles on
some of the major psychedelic artists on the scene today.
H.R. Giger– creator of the Necronomican collection– lives in Chur,
Switzerland. He is perhaps best known for the creature and sets he
designed (and won an academy award for) in the original film Alien, but
his paintings, which have appeared popularly as posters and on record
album covers, are actually even more extraordinary. Giger is the master of
capturing the bad trip. If one were able to freeze a moment from Poe or
Lovecraft’s worst nightmare, we would probably have an image that very
much resembled one of Giger’s pieces. Macabre metalic biomechanical
creatures erotically slither through his dark decaying landscapes, locked
in a gruesome orgy of repulsive torment, while dirty grey cyborgs grind
together over carpets of screaming mutilated baby heads. He says that he
has always been fascinated by the combination of “elegance and horror.”
His work provides us with a tour through the interior chambers of hell,
the darkest regions of our souls, and it is certainly not for the
squeamish. But to some, it can be so horrific that it becomes extremely
beautiful. His work can be obtained through: Leslie Barany Communications,
121 West 27th St., Suite 202, New York, New York 10001, (212) 627-8488, or
through: Morpheus International, 200 N. Robertson Blvd. #312, Beverly
Hills, California 90211, (310) 859-2557.
Robert Williams lives in North Hollywood, California. He became well
known for the contributions that he made to Zap and other underground
comics during the late sixties, and his collection entitled Zombie Mystery
Paintings has become a cult classic. Although Williams is a architect of
grotesque and disturbing nightmare visions, and a deliberately sleazy,
low-life flavor permeates his work, there is cartoony cuteness about it,
and a good deal of hallucinogenic humor giggles through. So intricately
detailed is Williams’ work that one often can not grasp what they are
looking at upon first glance. One usually has to stare at it for awhile
before the complex imagery begins to emerge– then it’s almost hard to
believe what one is seeing. When asked how psychedelics influenced his
work, he replied, “Tremendously… they opened up the world of color and
shape, and put an emphasis on things that were really not paid attention
to before.” Recently his work has received a great deal of recognition,
including a showing at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
Posters, prints, and books by Robert can be ordered through: L, Imagerie,
15030 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, California 91403, (818) 995-8488. (Full
color catalog available for $4.)
Alex Grey– well-known as a performance artist– lives in Brooklyn, New
York. If Henry Gray– the physician who put together Gray’s Anatomy– had
ever done a hit of acid we may have seen something emerge from him that is
very similar to the work that Alex Grey has done. Alex Grey’s collection
of paintings entitled Sacred Mirrors was inspired by a psychedelic vision
that he shared with his wife, which he describes in the preface to the
collection as an experience of the “Universal Mind Lattice.” Many of his
paintings show people with transparent skin so that one can see the inner
workings of their circulatory, skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems.
Radiating out from his precisely detailed, anatomically exposed figures
are auric waves of metaphysical energies, making many invisible dimensions
visible. At times heavenly and other times horrific, Alex Grey paints
people the way that they often appear to someone at the peak of an acid
trip. For information on how to purchase his work contact Inner Traditions
at (800) 488-2665 or Pomegranate at (800) 227-1428.
Mati Klarwein– creator of the infamous Milk and Honey collection–
lives in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
Andy Warhol said that Mati was his “favorite painter.” Mati has called
himself “the most famous unknown painter in the world”, because most
everyone has seen the widely reproduced, visionary piece that he did on
the cover of Santana’s album Abraxas or his painting “A Grain of Sand” (in
this issue), yet very few people know who painted them. Influenced by his
mentor Ernst Fuchs, Mati’s work is brightly colored, often full of dense
intricate imagery shamanically juxtaposed together. There is a rapturous
blissful quality to his paintings. Timothy Leary told him that he didn’t
need psychedelics. “I painted psychedelically before I took psychedelics,”
Mati says, “It’s like what Dali said, I don’t take drugs, I am drugs.” His
Collected Works 1959-1975 is available from the Raymond Martin Press in
Markt Erlbach, Germany. Mati can be reached in Spain by calling: (34)
Tadanori Yokoo lives in Tokyo, Japan, and is well recognized as one of
the leaders in the pop art movement that began in the sixties. Although he
is a very highly accomplished and talented painter, his most amazing
psychedelic work is accomplished with the collages that he does, wherein
are assembled many images from popular culture interfaced with angels,
buddhas, and other religious images from both Eastern and Western
traditions. He creates a unique celestial paradise, beautifully blending
together global icons in order to invoke a transcendental realm that
expresses the escalation of the human spirit. One of his best collections
is simply entitled 100 Posters of Tadanori Yokoo, and his collaboration
with body builder and artist Lisa Lyon-Lilly produced some wonderful
psychedelic results in both painting and video. His work can be obtained
through: Tadanori Yokoo Atelier, 4-19-7 Seijo Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 157
Japan. Phone: 81-3-3482-2826.
Barbara Mendes– creator of the “Psychedelic Legacy” series– lives in
downtown Los Angeles. Barbara covers her canvases with a richly detailed
tapestry of joyous colorful celebrative images, where multi-cultural
archetypes dance through an ecological blend of urban and natural
settings, and intertwining plant-like structures form symbiotic unions
with beautiful creatures that are delightfully dripping with erotic
sensuality. The resonance with African and Hindu rhythms is present, as is
the influence of underground comics. Her work has a happy feeling about
it, and it simply makes one feel good. Barbara doesn’t like being labled a
sixties artist. “This is not just a sixties thing, it’s a human thing,”
she says. “To me minimal art is a joke, because life isn’t minimal, today
it’s maximal!” “My art,” Barbara says, “visualizes and symbolizes the vast
universe within each human brain.” For information on where to view
Barbara’s work, or for an appointment at her private gallery call (213)
488-3508 during business hours.
Brummbaer lives in Venice, California. Famous for the magazine Germania
that he published in Germany years ago and the light shows he orchestrated
in the late sixties for such luminaries as Frank Zappa and Tangerine
Dream, Brummbaer found his most expressive medium when he discovered the
computer. Brummbaer stylishly blends the mathematical precision achievable
on a computer with sensuous human sexuality, and fabricates fantastic
polymorphic, cyberdelic universes. His annimated alien worlds are composed
of Escheresquely organized, interlocking tubeular networks, and spinning
hyperdimensional objects encoded with cryptic esoteric messages. Brummbaer
says that his philosophy of creativity stems from his notion that an
artist is but a humble window washer. His computer screen is simply a
window, he says, that allows us to see through into other worlds, and all
he does is polish the screen so that we can see through them to the other
side. Brummbaer can be contacted through: Saturday Afternoon in the
Universe, 520 Washington Blvd. Suite # 114, Marina del Rey, CA 90292.
Carolyn Kleefeld lives in Big Sur, California. Author of five books,
she is presently completing her sixth– The Eye Change: Architecture of
the Sixth Dimension– and is well-known as an award-winning poet. Her
books are being used nationwide at universities and human potential
centers, and they have received the rare honor of being translated into
Braille. Carolyn painted the Songs of Ecstasy collection, a visionary
series that was also published as a book of the same title. Her paintings
are presently being shown in galleries across the country, and they have
appeared in and on several books. She paints the ecstatic vision, and
there is a profoundly joyous quality to her abstract expressionistic work.
Her pieces seem like postcards from heaven. She paints a higher
dimensional world that blends the organic with the astral, alchemically
weaving together a magical paradisical landscape that is inhabited by
strangely familiar mythic archetypes, unusual biological forms, mysterious
giggling nature spirits, and radiant explosions of erotic energy. “The
wilderness of the unconscious is lush with the gems of infinity,” she said
when speaking of her inspiration. By combining several media– including
iridescent acrylics and metal leaf– a delightful and enigmatic
characteristic arises; the paintings continuously change and transform
when viewed from different angles and under different lights. To find out
more about Carolyn Kleefeld’s artwork and publications contact: Atoms
Mirror Atoms, P.O. Box 221693, Carmel, California 93922. (408) 626-2924.
There are many other brilliant artists worthy of discussion, but
unfortunately our space here is limited. Japanese computer graphic artist
Yoichiro Kawaguchi– creator of Growth Metamorphosis– designs uncanny
animations that combine fractals with organic forms, resembling DMT
visions of extraterrestrial marine life. Pablo Amaringo, a Peruvian
shaman, paints remarkable ayahuasca visions in Amazon jungle settings.
Jorge Sicre, a Southern California painter, does marvelous surreal
dreamscapes that are reminiscent of some of Max Ernst’s late work. Suzanne
Williams, wife of Robert Williams, does a form of abstract painting that
very closely resembles the brightly contrasting, symmetrical mandalas
present in many closed-eye acid visions. More than any other single
effect, the psychedelics amplify the imagination, and good psychedelic art
reflects this. To find out about more hallucinogenic artists there is a
gallery in New York City called The Psychedelic Solution that carries a
large selection of psychedelic artwork (including a large collection of
blotter designs). They can be contacted at: 33w 8th St. 2nd Fl., New York,
New York 10011. (212) 529-2462 ($4 for catalog.)
Local psychedelic visionary David Jay Brown has peered deeply into the nature of human awareness, bonded with the greatest thinkers of our time and explored the outer limits of philosophy, science, spirituality and parapsychology. In this mind-expanding interview with GT, he shares tales from his journeys to the fringes of consciousness.
Consciousness: What is it? Are your thoughts and emotions nothing more than neural static? Will your physical death extinguish your awareness? Is your individual consciousness just one of innumerable facets of a universal consciousness?
In search of answers to questions like these, local writer/neuroscience researcher David Jay Brown has mind-melded with many of the world’s most prominent philosophers, visionaries, culture-shapers and snorkelers of the psyche, including Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, Noam Chomsky, Ram Dass, Albert Hoffman, Jack Kevorkian, George Carlin, Sasha Shulgin, Deepak Chopra, Alex Grey, Jerry Garcia, Stanislav Grof and John Lilly. He’s chronicled these meetings in his bestselling interview compendiums “Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse,” “Mavericks of the Mind,” “Mavericks of Medicine” and “Voices from the Edge.” Dubbed “the most compelling interviewer on the planet” by author Clifford Pickover, Brown is currently working on an interview collection/psychedelic memoir called “Over the Edge of the Mind.”
Brown (mavericksofthemind.com; myspace.com/davidjaybrown; sexanddrugs.info) is also the author of the sci-fi books “Brainchild” and “Virus: The Alien Strain” and coauthor of the health book “Detox with Oral Chelation.” He frequently serves as guest editor of the tri-annual newsletter from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a local psychedelic research organization that recently published the second edition of “Mavericks of the Mind” (available at Bookshop Santa Cruz). He has written for periodicals such as Mondo 2000, Scientific American Mind, Wired, High Times, The Sun, Magical Blend and the Journal of Psychical Research. The diversity of his output is telling of his leave-no-stone-unturned approach to consciousness exploration: It’s a good bet he’s the only writer in history who’s contributed to both the Buddhist wisdom publication Tricycle and the porn magazine Hustler.
Brown’s studies of learning and memory at the University of Southern California in the early ’80s earned him a B.A. in psychology. Between 1985 and 1986, he did research on electrical brain stimulation at New York University, obtaining a master’s degree in psychobiology. His inquiries eventually led him into the realm of parapsychology: He’s the man behind the California-based research for biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s books “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home” and “The Sense of Being Stared At,” both of which presented scientific studies of unexplained phenomena. Brown’s knowledge of such mysteries, as well as of technology, smart drugs, health, psychedelic research and sex-drug interaction, have landed him guest spots on shows like HBO’s Real Sex, Fox’s A Current Affair, PBS’sNature, ViaCom’s The Montel Williams Show and the BBC and Discovery Channel’s Animal X.
Journey with us, if you will, through the labyrinth of Mr. Brown’s mind …
GOOD TIMES: Tell me about the electrical brain stimulation research you’ve done.
DAVID JAY BROWN: When I was at New York University, I did research for years where I surgically implanted electrical stimulating probes into the lateral hypothalamus of rats, which is a pleasure center. I would watch rats press a bar that delivered an electric current into their brain center over and over and over again until they fell asleep from exhaustion. Then they would wake up, and there was food sitting next to them, water sitting next to them and a mate sitting next to them. They ignored all three and would continue to press that bar over and over again to get the reward stimulation over survival instincts. The other area of research I was involved in was at University of Southern California, and it was the exact opposite of the research I did at NYU, where I was surgically implanting electrodes into the brain centers of mammals and stimulating them: In this case I was inserting cold probes, which are devices that actually freeze or inhibit a certain part of the brain temporarily, so you can see how the animal operates with that one part of the brain missing, and how they operate when that part of the brain comes back. The anesthetic that we gave to the rabbits prior to surgery was a drug called ketamine. I took some of this ketamine home and experimented on myself with it. After injecting 50 milligrams of ketamine chloride into my right thigh muscle and turning the lights out, I suddenly “realized” that my professors and my fellow researchers and colleagues at USC were in reality extraterrestrials—that they were scientists who were there not to study rabbits; they were there to study me. I was the test subject, and they’d left this bottle of ketamine out for me to take. They were watching me right at this moment with a video camera. And suddenly I found myself in a cage with cold probes implanted in my brain and giant rabbits all around me. They were measuring me, and I was naked and helpless. Suddenly, I snapped back into my body. I did not continue very much longer in that program after experiencing what I was experiencing from the rabbit’s point of view. That’s what ketamine taught me: what the rabbit was experiencing from what I was doing.
You often ask your interviewees what they think happens to consciousness after death. If you had to put money on what happens after death, what would you bet on?
I guess wherever you go after death, the money’s not going to matter anymore! [Laughs.] You know, I think about that question every day, as an exercise of the imagination, and I change my mind about it all the time. I used to debate with my friend Nina Graboi—whom I interviewed for my book “Mavericks of the Mind,” and who passed away about 10 years ago—all the time about what happens to consciousness after death. It was one of our favorite topics of conversation. In general, I took the position that after you die, your individuality leaves, and your sense of awareness merges with the higher consciousness, theoneness, the source that everything came from originally. And her position was, “Well, there is that, but then there are all these levels in between where individuality remains besides the body, and you go through [multiple] incarnations with that. For years we went back and forth with this. Nina referred to her body as a spacesuit, and she always said she was going to get a new spacesuit when she died; she would go from one spacesuit to another. Well, after Nina died, I was writing in my journal, and the TV was on in the background. I was thinking about what was going on in Nina’s mind when she was dying: “I’ll bet she was thinking, ‘Now I see: David Jay Brown was right! You do just merge with the one consciousness.’” As I’m sitting there in this kind of self-congratulatory way, I look at the television screen, and there on the TV screen is one word: SPACESUIT. There was this tingle up my spine; I stopped in my tracks; my jaw dropped open. It was the most profound sense of communication with somebody after they died that I’d ever experienced. That is the most compelling evidence I’ve experienced that consciousness not only continues [after death], but that some sense of individuality continues as well.
What are your memories of your friend Timothy Leary?
Well, my fondest and most important memories of Tim, I think, are [of] while he was dying. The last year [of his life], he announced to the media that he was thrilled and ecstatic that he was dying. And for the last year, while he was dying from prostate cancer, there was continuous celebration, continuous parties, continuously people coming around his house to tell him how important his work was to them. There was such a feeling of festivity and celebration and Tim deliberately trying to be playful and have fun with this process. This really made a very, very deep impression on me, because I ask so many questions about death—it’s an important philosophical topic for me. And there have been so many people throughout history trying to die bravely or courageously or nobly, but before Tim, I don’t think anybody ever tried to say, “Let’s make dying fun!” [Laughs.] Tim really tried to party through the dying process, and I thought it was just a stroke of brilliance. I cried when he died; as much fun as it was, it was terribly sad the moment that he really left. But he just left us all with such a great message, I think.
Tell me about your connection to Robert Anton Wilson.
Bob was not only one of my closest friends, but he was the person who actually inspired me to become a writer. It was at the age of 16 that I read “Cosmic Trigger,” and that was how I encountered Timothy Leary, John Lilly and a number of the other people I went on to interview. I went to a lecture that Bob gave here in Santa Cruz back in the late ’80s. At the end of the lecture, I went over to talk to him. I told him I was working on a book, and I asked him if he would possibly consider writing a blurb for the back cover. He kind of hemmed and hawed and looked not terribly enthusiastic, like I was the 15th person that day who asked him that, you know? [Laughs.] But he did tell me to have my publisher send him a copy of my book, and he would take a look at it. So you could only imagine my absolute delight when I discovered from my publisher that he ended up writing an 11-page introduction to my first book, “Brainchild.” It was through that that I became friends with him. He was a tremendous friend and mentor. When I had difficulty paying my rent early in my writing career, he actually sent me money to pay my rent! He was always there when I called him, giving me great advice. When an editor made some kind of change to one of my articles that I wasn’t happy with, [he said,] “Editors don’t like the way the soup tastes until they pee in it themselves.” [Laughs.]
What was your experience as a guest on The Montel Williams Show?
I was on Montel Williams’ show back in the early ’90s, during his first season. There was all this anti-drug hysteria, and I was on the show to talk about smart drugs: cognitive enhancers like hydergine, piracetam and depronal—different drugs that are commonly prescribed for senile dementia, but have been used by people to enhance their memory or improve their concentration. He didn’t seem to be very open to even discussing the research or hearing anything about it. He kept cutting us off, and he’d talk about how dangerous methamphetamine was, how this was sending the wrong message to people and how the whole idea of putting “smart” before “drugs” was wrong, and there was no smart way too use drugs. He would not even carefully consider what we were saying; he had his mind made up. And what I think was so interesting is that since he’s developed multiple sclerosis and has had to use medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of this disorder, he’s now become one of the leading spokespeople for the legalization of medical marijuana. What is it about illness that turns people around? People think that medical marijuana is a joke until they’re faced with an illness, or until a loved one is, and then they really understand the medical value that it has and what a horrible, horrible atrocity it is that it’s against the law.
Is there a primary goal of your work or a primary message you’re trying to get out?
It seemed to me since I was a child that our species is in ecological danger, destroying ourselves. Since I was a teenager, since my very first psychedelic experiences, I felt a very strong commitment to help elevate and expand consciousness on this planet through my work. I made a personal pact with what I felt was DNA or higher intelligence. I felt that if I aligned my personal mission with life’s overall mission, then I would always be supported throughout my life in what I was doing, and I would be working for a noble cause.
And what is DNA trying to do?
I think DNA is ultimately trying to create a world where the imagination is externalized, where the mind and the external world become synchronized as one, so that basically whatever we can imagine can become a reality. Literally. And I think that everything throughout our entire evolution has been moving slowly toward that goal. In the past couple thousand years, it’s been very steady. And through nanotechnology, through artificial intelligence, through advanced robotics, I think we’re entering into an age where we’ll be able to control matter with our thoughts and actually be able to create anything that our minds can conceive of. We’re very quickly heading into a time where machines are going to be more intelligent than we are, and we’re going to most likely merge, I think, with these intelligent machines and develop capacities and abilities that we can barely imagine right now, such as the ability to self-transform. What we can do with computers—digital technology, the way we can morph things on a computer screen—is the beginning of understanding that that’s how reality itself is organized, that we can do that with physical reality through nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, that the digital nature of reality itself will allow us to externalize whatever we think. So I think that eventually reality will become like a computer graphic screen, and we’ll be able to create whatever we want. That sound right? [Laughs.]
Introduction to Voices from the Edge
We are currently witnessing an extraordinary shift in the evolutionary winds of history. Poised on a bridge between worlds, our species swings between crisis and renaissance. Never before in the human adventure have there been so many reasons to rejoice and celebrate, yet also, paradoxically, so many reasons to re-evaluate and re-navigate. Wonderful advances in science and the interface between high technology and the creative imagination have spawned forms of artistic expression with a sensory richness inconceivable to previous generations. The imagination has never been more tangible. And yet, sad to say, never before has our own extinction via our own ignorance–hovered so close.
Within the pages of this book, through conversations with some of the most far-reaching cultural innovators of our day, we explore a variety of exciting new options made available by the cultural renaissance that is upon us and examine some possible solutions to our impending global crisis. When Rebecca McClen Novick and I finished the first volume of Mavericks of the Mind, there still remained many extraordinary individuals whom we had wished to include. In addition, friends flooded us with recommendations for potential interviewees. If that were not enough, every time we did a lecture or book-signing, we would meet people who had yet more recommendations. A number of individuals whom I did not even know called me and recommended themselves as candidates. Upon consideration of all this, we decided to do an additional collection, which you now hold in your hands. And a third volume is in the works.
In 1988, Christian theologian Matthew Fox, the Dominican priest we interviewed for this volume, was silenced for a year by the Vatican. Instead of preaching about our Original Sin, he was doing this rap on our “Original Blessing.” After a full revolution around the sun, during which he supposedly contemplated his sins in silence, the very first words that he uttered were, “As I was saying … ” It is in that spirit that this book begins. As with our first volume, the people we chose to interview represent the mavericks of their fields, the engineers of evolution, the messengers of our future those remarkable and brave individuals who stand at the front-line of the cultural frontier, taking the storms of change full in the face. However overlooked, misunderstood, ridiculed, or punished they may have been by society at large, these men and women have persevered to the point where they are now viewed as revolutionary leaders in their fields.
When putting this book together, we operated under the premise that most cultural advance is accomplished by a certain type of individual: those who resist adherence to any particular group or belief system and have an interdisciplinary approach to their work. These were the people we sought out to discuss the basic philosophical issues of life, to ponder the Big Questions: How did we get here? Why are we here? Where are we going? But while our previous collection approached these questions primarily from a decidedly scientific viewpoint (with several notable exceptions), our new collection gathers a perspective from a wider cultural arena. And though our pool of interviewees has broadened, the theme of the new volume remains the same: exploring the evolution of consciousness. Also, our approach matured. Rebecca and I became bolder in our interviewing style, and we are perhaps a little less naive than when we set out to do the original collection.
Although the collection spans a diverse spectrum, there are many areas where boundaries overlap. From the emerging gestalt, a vision of our future begins to take form, perhaps providing us with a glimpse into the twenty-first century. We discuss possible solutions to the hunger and ecological crises gripping our planet, new computer and multimedia technologies as vehicles for enhanced communication and artistic expression, future directions of psychedelic drug research, the reclamation of our bodies and our connection to the divine through more expansive forms of sexual expression, the revival of the Goddess, and the reformation of religion. These and other spiritual issues are pondered in depth, always with thoughtfulness, often with humor.
After the publication of the first volume of Mavericks, when Rebecca and I hosted a series of events at UC Santa Cruz and UCLA, we brought together individuals from the book and encouraged them to discuss and debate various controversial issues, such as the relationship between technology and the mind. As we sat there on stage, surrounded by all these great minds and their often conflicting perspectives, we realized repeatedly just how relative truth really is. No one has the answer, yet everyone makes a point and contributes a perspective to help create a more encompassing whole.
One of the topics we explore in this book is the mystery of what happens to consciousness after the death of the body. When I posed the question to environmentalist John Robbins, he replied without pause, “I think it celebrates.” Ironically, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead told us he thinks it probably dies with the body.” Cultural historian William Irwin Thompson said he thinks we move into “subtle bodies,” which “are woven into this larger angelic formation.” There is perhaps no greater mystery than death, and infinite mystery will spawn infinite theories.
This is not the first time that crisis and opportunity have danced together arm in arm, and as we evolve through time, this dynamic will most likely be encountered again and again. This is part of the Great Mystery at the center of existence, which inspires art, science, philosophy, and the spiritual quest. Stating the obvious here is powerful. There is simply no escape. Life is mostly mystery, and the mystery only deepens with time and “understanding.” A moment’s reflection will confront us with the fact that the foundation of every belief rests upon an assumption made in faith. Life is a journey through our own dream fabric.
When I was in graduate school I was amazed to discover that the majority of my professors thought that science had solved about 99 percent of the fundamental mysteries of the universe and that it would not be long before we would have the other one percent figured out. I was completely dumbfounded by this, and by the fact that much of the world appeared to follow suit with my professors. As a consequence of my commitment to the exploration of consciousness, my world view was the reverse: 99 percent mystery, one percent (or less) figured out.
The universe is an infinitely mysterious place, where consciousness and physical phenomena interact in largely unknown ways to form the adventure of our existence. Because of this fundamental truth, Matthew Fox suggested that we adopt the perspective that “mystery is not something you’re ever going to solve, it’s something you live!” John Alien poetically reminded us that “beauty attracts, but mystery … lures.” After contemplating the nature of God and other timeless philosophical questions with us, Ram Dass asked about our “relationship with the mystery? Are you defending yourself from it? Are you making love to it? Are you living in it?” How we respond to these questions is significant. One of the few things we can state with any certainty about this grand and ambiguous universe we inhabit is that although the phenomena of the physical world will come and go, the mystery lurking at the heart of existence is forever here to stay.
David Jay Brown
Ben Lomond, California
Preface - Voices From the Edge
“You’re going to have to explain what these people are doing in a book together,” said a close friend, looking at me with loving sternness. “What do they have in common, anyway?” On the surface, there does seem to be the need to justify why an ex-porn star and a Catholic priest are rubbing shoulders (or anything else, for that matter) in a collection of interviews, not to mention a chemist, a musician, and an archaeologist. But it seems to me that in this world of on-going cultural meiosis, it is far more necessary to justify similarity than to justify diversity. Loving the alien– or, at the very least, accepting the alien– is not just an amusing psychological pastime anymore; it’s a survival imperative.
Exclusivity breaks down communication– between neighbors, between cultures, between races, between countries– so that the farmer pollutes the upstream river, giving no thought to the farmer downstream. When we define ourselves as something more than merely a product of a culture, race, sex, or religious group, we realize how our separateness has limited us, and we begin to work on what Jean Houston refers to as the “orchestration of our many selves.” Appreciation of diversity keeps us supple, stops our minds from crusting over, and allows us to keep reinventing ourselves.
Everyone in this book is used to being judged. Snobbery lurks in the most unlikely places, even in the most decent and open of minds. If you look down your nose you will see only your feet. But to look out and across the apparent barriers that separate you from the Other (a homeless drunk gives you directions to your hotel; a toddler corrects you about the number of Jupiter’s moons) is like coming up for air and taking a gulp of the mystery once more. You take a second look– except this time, you look a little harder.
Step into a virtual reality scenario and imagine that this book is actually the stage for an exotic and eclectic cocktail party. The interior decoration is an odd mix of the titilating bizarre, the no-hold-barred holy, and the tongue-in-cheek academic. Nothing seems to match, but nothing clashes. The guests are an animated and effervescent bunch, their eyes twinkling with inner stars. Laughter of all shapes and sizes fills the room. You feel curiously at home.
Over in the corner, spiritual teacher Ram Dass and VR pioneer Jaron Lanier seem to be having a heated but friendly discussion on the virtues and dangers of technological highs. Fakir Musafar, decorated in nipple-rings, tattoos and nose-quills, is at the snack table with archeologist Marija Gimbutas, exchanging insights into the Western mortification of the body. In the kitchen, musician Jerry Garcia and radio host Elizabeth Gips are involved in a conversation ostensibly about rye bread, but stick a Babel-fish in your ear and you hear they’re really discussing the ever-expanding mystery of the universe. And out on the porch, chemist Alexander Shulgin and ecologist John Robbin s are pondering the alchemical potentials of the human body. Is this a great party or what?
We chose to interview the people who move us– move us to wonder, to contemplation, to inspiration, to action. They are all works in progress, receiving at least as much as they transmit, their commentaries barometer readings of the weather changes at large in this wild and woolly world of ours. Ritual love-making, sticking spears in your skin, listening to music, sitting with your eyes closed, taking drugs, hooking your brain up to a machine– the methods of raising the curtains of consciousness vary, but to get hung up on the validity (or invalidity) of any one is to miss the boat to spiritual independence. There are so many ways to get high, but once you’re up there, everyone gets to share the view– the view of a dynamic universe within which we are all engaged in the most interactive process imaginable.
As you meander through the pages of this book, you begin to sense an ambiance, a link between these seemingly disparate individuals: a common ground of unfettered creativity, deep compassion, personal courage, childlike curiosity and more than a standard dose of chutzpah. It is that common ground from which these interviews grew, and upon which we hope, a few forbidden fruits will fall.
Rebecca McClen Novick
Acknowledgments - Voices from the Edge
Putting this collection together was a great deal of fun and a wonderful learning experience, with more than a few epiphanies along the way. It was also a lot of work, taking about two years to complete. Many people helped make it possible. We would like to extend extra special thanks to Nina Graboi and Carolyn Mary Kleefeld for their endless support and belief in our work over the years. For their essential help with the book, we are also extremely grateful to Randy Baker, Marie Devlin, Denise Dufault, Patricia Gaul, Alex Grey, Laura Huxley, Oscar Janiger, Fonda Joyce, Dennis McNally, Marlene Rhoeder, Dale Robbins, Tango Pariah Snyder, Rasa Julie Thies, and Jonathan Young and Carolyn Radio at the Pacifica Graduate Institute.
In addition, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to Gabrielle Alberici, Phil Baily, Peter Bartczak, Debra Berger, Faustin Bray, Brummbaer, Kutira Decosterd and Raphael, Sue Espanosa, Robert Forte, Lauran Freebody, Liane Gabora, Peter German, Dieter Hagenbach, Deborah Harlow, Krystle James, Robin Ray, Barbara Clarke-Lilly, Jeff Mandel and Steen, Arleen Margulis, Jimmy Mastalski, Fumiko Takagi, Jerry Snider, Victoria Sulski, S. Mark Taper, Silvia Utiger, Brian Wallace, and Nur Wesley for their help and contributions.
We would also like to thank our farsighted publishers, John and Elaine Gill, as well as our publicist, Dena Taylor.
Most of all, we would like to express our deepest appreciation to all the remarkable men and women we interviewed for sharing their extraordinary lives with us.
Mavericks of Medicine – Acknowlegments
As with most books, many people played valuable roles in its creation.
This book resulted from conversations that I had with my friend and colleague John Morgenthaleller. John is responsible for coining the term “smart drugs,” for writing the first books on the subject, and for much of the public’s awareness about how certain drugs and nutrients can enhance cognitive performance. I met John backstage on the set for the Montel Williams Show in 1990, right after his book Smart Drugs and Nutrients was first published, and a large portion of what I know about these substances I initially learned from him. Learning about cogntive enhancers like hydergine and deprenyl changed my life, so I am indebted to John in numerous ways–including his valuable help as the editor and publisher of this book. So, first and foremst I would like to thank John for making this book possible.
I would also like to thank my associates at Smart Publication, Ed Kinon and Dale Fowkes, for their encouragement and excitement about the project. Extra special thanks go to Erin Eileen Jarvis, for her invaluable biochemical expertise and generous help with the glossary, and to Louise Reitman, Joe & Suzie Wouk, Amy Barnes Excolere, Anna Damoth, Arleen Margulis, Sherry and Serena Hall, Jesse Ray Houts, Valerie Leveroni Corral, Robin Rae & Brummbaer, Clifford Pickover, Robert Anton Wilson, Deed DeBruno, Dana Bomar, and Carolyn Mary Kleefeld.
I would also like to thank the following individuals for their valuable help: Ruth Holmes, Mike Morganroth, Amy Powers, Brian Becker, Nancy Olmstead, Anne Genovese, Nancy Mullis, Sandy Oppenheim, Jean-Louis Husson, Richard Goldberg, Holly Morgenthaler, Carrie Scharf, Lamika Keller, Nancy Guyon, Chris Higgins, Annie Sprinkle, Denise Stow, Russel Jaffe, M.D., Randy Baker, M.D., Mimi Hill, Dana Peleg, Carole Myers, David Wayne Dunn, Robin Atwood, Emily Brown, Sherri Paris, Mike Corral, Denis Berry, the members of WAMM and the RAW Group Mind, Senta Rose Hernandez, Lisa Marie Souza, Katherine Covell, Bethan Carter, Rupert Sheldrake, Michael Brown, Sammie and Tudie, Heather Hazen, Karen Lieberman, Bernadette Wilson, Nick Herbert, Jody Lombardo, Paula Rae Mellard, Jack Edwards, M.D., Oscar Janiger, M.D., Robin Chase, Matthew Steiner, Scott Crowley, Sylvia Thyssen, Dina Meyer, Cheryle and Gene Goldstein, Linda Meyer, Arlene Istar Lev, and Shahab Geranmayeh.
I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to all the people that I interviewed for their valuable time, generous help, and thoughtful speculations.
Introduction to Mavericks of Medicine
By David Jay Brown
As with science, the history of medicine reveals that knowledge often advances through the ideas of maverick thinkers–ideas that were initially greeted with disbelief or even mockery. For example, in 1847, when the Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis started making the claim that puerperal fever was contagious, and that poor sanitation was responsible for spreading the illness from one new mother to another, his fellow physicians thought that he was crazy. “Wash your hands!” he shouted in the hospital maternity wards of Vienna, while the other doctors laughed.
Likewise, in 1628, when British physician William Harvey first proposed that the heart might be a a pump at the center of a closed circulatory system–rather than a “heater” for the blood, as was thought at the time–he was ridiculed by his medical colleagues who thought the idea ridiculous. Then, in 1718, when Lady Mary Wortley Montagu insisted that live smallpox culture be introduced into her son’s veins as an inoculation against the disease, her contemporaries thought that she was worse than nuts. Yet, with time, the ideas of these courageous individuals were vindicated, and history simply abounds with examples of how eccentric individuals–that were initially regarded as quacks–helped to advance science and medicine.
Both science and medicine are inherently conservative. Scientists and physicians are trained to always lean toward convention and to be suspicious of new ideas. This tendency to test new procedures carefully, and to make new declarations cautiously, is partially why science and medicine have been so successful and have such reliable track records. However, it is also why the conventional or mainstream core of established scientific and medical institutions–such as the American Medical Association–always advances much more slowly than the peripheral research frontiers, where eccentric individuals are experimenting with unorthodox possibilities that sometimes conflict with conventional thought.
While the right amount of skepticism can be healthy, and it’s certainly necessary for science and medicine to advance, it can also stand in the way of progress. Unrestrained skepticism can mutate into neophobia–the fear of novelty–if it isn’t properly balanced with open-mindedness and curiosity. Neophobia prevents the unbiased experimentation with new possibilities, and, in its more extreme forms, even causes conventional scientists and physicians to ridicule new ideas simply because they are unconventional. Having a proper balance of open-mindedness and skepticism is essential for science and medicine to properly advance.
While maverick thinkers certainly aren’t always right, without these courageous individuals all scientific and medical progress would stagnate. The history of medicine reveals that during every time period there has been maverick thinkers who were ridiculed by their colleagues for having unconventional ideas that were later vindicated. This means that right now–in the historical epoch in which we currently find ourselves–this scenario is most likely taking place. So then, with this illuminating insight in mind, let us now consider who some of the promising maverick thinkers of our time might be, and what their ideas about medicine might mean.
Conversations on the Frontiers of Medical Research
In your hands is a collection of interdisciplinary interviews that I did with some of the most brilliant and controversial medical researchers and practitioners of our time. This collection of interviews with eminent physicians and cutting-edge researchers explores innovative work in the areas of life extension, cognitive enhancement, improved health and performance, integrative medicine, stem cell research, novel pharmacological and nutritional therapies, prosthetic implants, holistic and traditional medicines, mind-body medicine, euthanasia, and the integration of medicine with other fields of science.
As with my three previous interview books–Mavericks of the Mind, Voices from the Edge, and Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse–the people who I chose to interview are those creative and controversial thinkers who have stepped outside the boundaries of consensus thought and seen beyond the traditional and conventional view. I chose highly accomplished people who dare to question authority and think for themselves because it is often this capacity for independent thought that lies at the heart of their exceptional abilities and accomplishments. In questioning old belief systems, and traveling beyond the edges of the established horizons to find their answers, these unconventional thinkers have gained revolutionary insights, and they offer some unique solutions to the problems that are facing modern medicine.
Some of the questions that I will be discussing with these brilliant and courageous individuals have profound implications. What are some of the biggest problems with the way that medicine is practiced today, and what can be done to help improve the situation? What role does the mind play in the health of the body? How can people improve their cognitive or sexual performance? What are the primary causes of aging? What are currently the best ways to slow down, or reverse, the aging process and extend the human life span? How long is it possible for the human life span to be extended? What are some of the new medical treatments that will be coming along in the near future? Do we have the right to die? What role does spirituality play in medicine? Speculating on these important questions can help us to understand our bodies better, improve our health, enhance our performance, and live longer happier lives. Let’s take a look at some of these questions more closely.
What’s Wrong With Modern Medicine and How Can We Improve It?
Almost everyone agrees that something is wrong with modern medicine. I recently attended a talk given by Andrew Weil, and when he announced his prediction that the healthcare system in America would soon collapse, everyone in the room vigorously applauded. However, although most people agree that something is wrong with modern medicine, not everyone agrees as to what it is and what to do about it.
On a most basic level, many patients simply feel that their physicians can’t relate to what they’re going through and that they’re treated like a statistic. As a way to help remedy this situation, mind-body physician Bernie Siegel told me, “One simple suggestion would be to put every doctor into a hospital bed for a week as a patient. Put them in a hospital where they are not known, and have them admitted with a life-threatening illness as their diagnosis. Then let them stay there.”
Another big problem with modern medicine is expense. The skyrocketing costs of healthcare, and the lack of healthcare insurance by many, is a serious problem. According to Larry Dossey, the author of Space, Time, and Medicine, “We’re nearing fifty million people in this country who don’t have health insurance.” So what does Dr. Dossey suggest? “We need government-financed, centralized healthcare for everybody,” he said.
However, not everyone that I spoke with agrees that socialized healthcare is such a good idea. When I spoke with life extension researcher Durk Pearson he said, “The most dangerous possible thing I can think of–other than having a complete police state like Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia–is to have a national medical program. Because, believe me, they are not going to be acting in your interest–they’re going to be acting in their interest. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. When you have a government health system, you have a bunch of bureaucrats telling you when it’s time to die. The reason is very simple. They’ll never collect back from you as much tax money as they spend taking care of you, so it’s time for you to die. Read up on Nobel prize-winning economist James Buchanan’s Public Choice Theory.”
Ironically, many people also seriously question the safety of modern medicine–and for good reason. Dr. Dossey also told me that, “The death rate in American hospitals from medical mistakes, errors, and the side-effects of drugs now ranks as the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.” Although some people who have studied the statistics that Dr. Dossey is referring to disagree with this figures, they don’t disagree by much, as even the most hard-nosed skeptics rank medical errors and drug side-effects as the fifth or sixth leading cause of death in American hospitals. Not a very comforting thought.
So the lack of trust that many people have toward modern medicine is understandable. However, an even greater cause for concern is that many people think that the medical establishment and the federal government are deliberately impeding medical advances that might divert profits away from pharmaceutical companies. For example, life extension researcher Durk Pearson–who won a landmark lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), charging the government agency with unconstitutionally restricting manufacturers from distributing truthful health information that could save people’s lives–told me that he thought that the FDA was “the biggest barrier between life extension and people.”
Pearson told me that this is simply because many people in the FDA are financially intertwined with the pharmaceutical companies. According to Pearson’s partner, life extension researcher Sandy Shaw “…right now the FDA favors drug companies. There’s no doubt about it. The drug companies are in bed
Introduction to Mavericks of the Mind
The term “paradigm shift” was coined by Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1961. It was an attempt to describe the changes that occur in the Belief Systems (BS for short) of scientists, concerning how they interpret their data, and how scientific models evolve. Paradigms are the glasses that one sees through which color how and what we see. When they shift, so does the world. Today it’s almost a cliché to speak about new paradigm shifts occurring. Paradigms are shifting kaleidoscopically these days. This makes sense in light of the fact that–according to the latest reports from quantum physicists–we inhabit a universe that is composed of undulating vibrations, oscillating in continuously and infinitely varied rhythms and frequencies. The universe is filled with ambiguity and mystery. It is a shifting cascade of relativistic perspectives, where nothing is really quite solid, and we exist as mostly empty space and waves of possible probabilities. Our beliefs are the brain’s attempt to freeze the flow of matter and energy into fixed states, so we can grasp onto something familiar and tangible in a shifting sea too grand for us to ever fully comprehend.
Paradigms originate from, and exist only within, the framework of the human mind, but they lead to technological progress and social transformation in the material world. In your hands is a collection of in-depth interviews with some of the extraordinary minds from whom these new world views, and ultimately new world and social structures, are emerging. Within these pages we meet with some of the most creative and controversial thinkers on the intellectual frontiers of art and science – the mavericks, those who have stepped outside the boundaries of consensus thought, sometimes risking their careers, always risking ridicule. These are experts from various fields who have seen beyond the normal and traditional view, who are concerned with the problems facing modern day society, and who have traveled beyond the edges of the established horizons to find their answers. In questioning old belief systems these remarkable individuals have gained revolutionary insights into the nature of consciousness, and with intelligence, clarity, and wit they offer some enlightening proposals for the potential future of humanity.
Inside these maverick minds we tiptoe along the fringes of reason, exploring the realms of morphic fields, chaos theory, virtual reality, quantum philosophy, the possibilities of time travel, extraterrestrials, nanotechnology, and out-of-body experiences. We discussed such general themes with them as technology, ecology, God, psychedelics, death, and the future evolution of consciousness. We learned a lot from doing these interviews, but most importantly we got a very strong sense of optimism and hope from these people. In a world infested with pessimism, fear, and doubt, these individuals offer fresh perspectives and possibilities. Taken together, common underlying holistic themes emerge in these interviews of new world views that are at once analytical and intuitive, compassionate and wise, practical and imaginative in their perspectives.
“Inspiration,” Allen Ginsberg told us? “means to breath in.” The original inspiration for this book partly grew out of our desire to meet with people whose writing had had a great impact on us. Wild late-night philosophical discussions that Rebecca McClen Novick and I had on the nature of reality and exploration of consciousness provided the alchemical ignition that got the fire burning. Why not, we thought in a grandiose moment of audacious innocent inspiration, seek out some of the most brilliant brains and illuminated luminaries around, and see what they have to say on the subject. We wanted to somehow tie them all together, into a larger, grander, more comprehensive view.
We figured that as a man/woman team we could interview these people from a more holistic perspective than any single person. It was very interesting that when Rebecca and I would collaborate on questions, we would usually brainstorm separately, then share ideas and mutually arrange the sequence of the questions later. Almost every time we both thought that we had covered the spectrum of important points ourselves, and we were astonished to discover that we had relatively unique lists of questions with suprisingly very little overlap. This demonstrated to us the biases of our own perspectives, and could be suggestive of the inherent difference in how male and female brains differ in their thinking.
Our central source of fascination was the timeless mystery of consciousness. It is our very sense of self–the most mysterious and mundane aspect of existence, the most essential part of us–and yet we don’t know what it is, where it comes from, or where it’s going. It is all around us in many forms, and yet when we try to define it–that is, to draw a boundary around it and distinguish it from the rest of the universe–it suddenly becomes extremely elusive. Alan Watts told us that the paradox that we experience when trying to understand consciousness is like an eyeball trying to see itself (without a mirror), or teeth trying to bite themselves. We are our own blind spots.
How does consciousness arise? Can consciousness leave the body? Is it limited to human brains, or does it exist elsewhere in other forms? What is consciousness made of! What changes it? How and why? What happens to consciousness after physical death? What do quantum physics, chaos theory, sociobiology, neurophysiology, and morphic field resonance suggest to us about the nature and potentials of consciousness? Where are we when we’re lucid dreaming? Do intelligent extraterrestrials exist? What is consciousness evolving into? How does the world change when consciousness changes? These are some of the questions we–with the help of some extremely gifted thinkers–try to take on in this ambitious book.
One thing for sure about consciousness is that–like matter and energy, time and space-it changes, flows, and there are varying degrees of it. Some people, neurobiologists for the most part, think consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, which evolved over a 4.5-billion-year evolutionary struggle 4 to survive and reproduce. Others, dubbed mystical (or kooks) by the former, think consciousness creates the brain. Chicken or egg? Mind in body? Or body in mind? Some think consciousness is the brain. Behavioral psychologists, such as B.F. Skinner, have claimed that consciousness does not even exist, while others, Zen Buddhists for example, say that consciousness is all that exists.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fascinating models for consciousness have sprung out of the human mind. Numerous esoteric mystical disciplines claim to have used techniques to alter and heighten consciousness since the beginning of written history. Lao-Tzu reminded us that it all comes from and flows back into the great Tao. Buddha contributed one of the first maps of human psychology, and some of the most enduring methods for changing brain states. Aristotle believed that consciousness was not constrained by physical processes. Descartes divided the mind from the divine. Darwin gave us the evolutionary perspective, and the mechanism of natural selection.
Wundt tried to make the study of consciousness a science through disciplined introspective techniques. Pavlov taught us about the roles of excitation, inhibition, and associative learning in the nervous system. Konrad Lorenz revealed the biological secrets of neural imprinting. Freud pointed out that part of us is conscious, most of us is unconscious. Jung went further claiming that all of the human species share a common rneta-cultural collective unconscious, full of genetic dreams, myths, and legendary archetypes. Does this imply the potential for a collective consciousness? Is the process of development and evolution one in which the unconscious is being made more conscious?
From William James we learned that consciousness is not a thing, but a process, and that there is a vast multitude of mostly uncharted, potential conscious states. Aleister Crowley integrated many of the esoteric mystical traditions of previous centuries with the scientific method, wedding them into a single system. Albert Hofmann discovered the explosive psychoactive effects of LSD in 1943, vastly multiplying the questions of spirit and matter. Neuroscientists, such as Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga, are discovering that the brain is actually composed of many submodules, each like a miniature brain in itself, making each of us a multitude of potential personalities. Where these people leave off is where this book begins.
Charles Tart, a psychologist at UC Davis, has pointed out that the ways in which scientists theorize about the complex interplay between the brain and consciousness is highly flavored by the prevailing technology of a particular time in history. For instance, in the beginning of the century Freud built his model of consciousness in accordance with the technology that was popular in his day – the technology of the steam engine and the science of hydraulics. We can see this clearly in many of his concepts. There is reference to the idea of how drives build up pressure, which needs to be released, and how fluid-like energies such as the libido need to flow. The symbolic release of libidinal tension in a dream then, is seen as functioning like a safety valve for libidinal build-up-so the system doesn’t explode–like the safety valve on the boiler of a steam engine. The safety valve is there so if the pressure reaches a certain threshold, it just bleeds steam off in a