write One Foot in the Future and why did you choose that title?
NINA: The events of my life, which spans most of the twentieth century, are dramatic enough to make the book “a good read,” as an English friend put it. I wanted to entice the reader to view the psychedelics in the context of the life of a mature, rational woman who used them as a means to touch the noumenon. I also wanted to try to set the record straight about the pioneers of the psychedelic consciousness. The Harvard trio of Leary, Alpert and Metzner had been researching consciousness long before their involvement with psychedelics, and this has remained their primary interest throughout the years. The title of the book calls to my mind the Fool in the Tarot deck. All he has kept of the past is the little bundle on the end of his stick. One foot is firmly planted in the present, on the earth, the other extends over the abyss–the unknown, the not-yet. Most of my life, I’ve been just half a step ahead of the crowd and have looked to the future instead of the past.
DJB: One of the things that delighted me when I read your autobiography was your undying sense of optimism, and your continual willingness to let go of your past, as you Journeyed through life. Are you still optimistic about the future, and what gives you faith in the life process’
NINA: I’m no Pollyanna. I see that we’ve messed things up, but I believe that at this time in history we’re making an evolutionary quantum leap. My view of evolution begins where Darwin’s leaves off. An ancient Hindu text declares that the aim of evolution is not just survival of the fittest but the manifestation of the perfection that is already present in all of us. Teilhard de Chardin’s idea that we are advancing toward Christogenesis, the Christ consciousness lived and personified by us all, appeals deeply to my intuition. My faith in the life process comes from the same source as the willingness to let go of the past. Go with the flow, we used to say in the sixties. I believe that surrender is the key to the psychedelic experience as well as to life; when we impose our will on it, we’re sure to have a bummer.
DJB: How do you feel about, and what type of potential do you see for some of the new scientific advances in technology that will influence the future evolution of consciousness, such as designer drugs, brain stimulation machines, and Virtual Reality?
NINA: Wow! The words “designer drugs” and brain stimulation machines bring all sorts of possibilities for behavior control to my mind. In the wrong hands, a sci-fi horror movie could result. I’m impressed by the practical applications of Virtual Reality, but my God, do we need more high-tech toys? We’re living in a Disney world, even without TV. Does the fact that I can’t wholeheartedly cherish the thought of a future laden with all kinds of toys for changing our brains mean that I now have both feet in the past?
DJB: How do you see human consciousness evolving in the future?
NINA: OK., here goes: I believe that the knowledge that we are all eternal spirits who will continue our adventure after the body’s death will bring about a profound change of values. Science has already demonstrated that what we perceive as solid matter is only a hunch of atoms that have come together for a while to form an object. In the last few decades, science and mysticism have begun to resemble each other more and more, and I don’t doubt that it will eventually find the means to prove the reality of life after death. A technology that fulfills its promise of freeing us from hard labor will make an unprecedented amount of leisure time available to all. It was the financial ease of the fifties that allowed the spiritual awakening of the sixties to occur. Perhaps the poverty of the nineties will bring us back to the ideals of respect for all life, for the gifts of the earth, and for each other.
RMN: Can you explain the theory that you have about androgyny and the evolutionary end of biological sex as you see it?
NINA: I once read somewhere that long ago, when we still lived in caves, we had the ability to close our earlaps so that no insects could enter while we slept. I don’t know if this is fact or fantasy, but it struck me as a good example of Nature’s adaptability. When she’s through with a feature, she impartially discards it. I believe that the future of mankind is we-mankind. I think we’re evolving toward androgyny, neither male nor female nor bisexual, but beyond sex. The old system of procreation is becoming obsolete. Pleasure is the carrot Nature holds up to keep us alive and reproducing, so she gave us pleasure in eating and in sex. But we have over-reproduced. Overpopulation is the biggest threat facing the human species. We cannot continue to cover the earth with our progeny. I think that we will transcend gender. An astonishing number of