On reading the previous entry on Ayahuasca a good friend speculated on the plant spirit’s helpfulness in the context of creativity – the big question: what to do next?
This is a kind of reply.
The big questions about taking steps, and about moving through time and space as a creative being, can indeed be reflected on, for want of a better term for the kind of clarity that the plant spirits induces, with Ayahuasca.
When I began to stagger around in the room (for details see previous post) I walked through thoughts about creativity, self-representation, the ever-present questions of pretense, mediocrity, and fear of insufficient reciprocity and recognition..
It took about a second to assess it all, maybe two, and just walk, so it felt, literally right through the negative aspects of those social constructions, and into an embrace of the facts as they are, in that context, and into my *own* body – towards the “windows” (the “wall”) of the hut.
I framed the outside of the world by positioning my head to adjust the aesthetics, then the world was framed in my image, and it was a silly thing to do, I almost giggled at myself, smiled at the feeling that I didn’t care “what people think” about my giggling silliness, then I felt satisfied that my framework was ok, it was ok for me to be there and to do my thing.
It was like navigating the fractral geometry of emotions on wings of clarity.
My self-representation didn’t feel like the old, horrible fearful villager’s theatricals to conceal an absent father and a consequent lack of trust in anything. Freud’s cultural language embedded in and through a life in a pathological European community transmogrified into poetry and I felt ready to go for a walkabout – to go and see, feel, smell, trip the new found world of my dream (interpretations).
When the details are obfuscated, when the decisive, objective and rational is replaced by stories, the inter-subjective narrative form becomes the focus, because it is only through relations that anything makes sense, particularly objects, in the poetic (indigenous) realm. And stories change all the time, like jokes permutate or language evolves.
The obfuscation of details is like looking the river flows around the Island in order to perceive the island, rather than to look directly at the isolated island in the ocean to understand its substance. Perceiving the flow to perceive the substance, which then becomes contradictory complementaries and we can see the island in its context and relations, like a dog sniffing out a telegraph pole and seeing it as a status sheet on territorial pissing.
Along different trajetories the static, in our world, is the dynamic energy flows for the Amazonian, and that is exactly where ayahuasca takes you: it obfuscates the details and makes the reality so much more perceivable. Things can be told, objects and relations are worded into meaning(s) along different story lines. When contradictory narratives find complementarity you see life from both sides, – that is how the obfuscation of details combines flow and substance and leads us to an understanding that unites Heraclitus and Parmenides: we see the objects only when we see the flow around them; only by not-looking at it can we see something as it is constitued in social relations, traditions, practices. Perhaps the Western paradigm can still be saved, through minor, but significant modifications, more easily than we think.
A good anti-capitalist point of departure into these philosophical matters is provided by David Graeber, who writes that “theories that start from action fall so far outside the main currents of the Western intellectual tradition that it’s hard for most scholars to figure but exactly what to do with them. They belong, one might say, to the Heraclitean
tradition, which in Western thought has always been somewhat marginal.” He continues to summarise the dispute between Parmenides and Heraclitus:
“Heraclitus saw the apparent fixity of objects of ordinary perception as largely an illusion; their ultimate reality was one of constant flux and transformation. What we assume to be objects are actually patterns of change. A river (this is his most famous example) is not simply a body of water; in fact, if one steps in the same river twice, the water flowing through it is likely to be entirely different. What endures over time is simply the pattern of its flow … Parmenides on the other hand took precisely the opposite view: he held that it was change that was illusion. For objects to be comprehensible, they must exist to some degree outside of time and change. There is level of reality, perhaps one that we humans can never fully perceive, at which forms are fixed and perfect. From Parmenides, of course, one can trace a direct line both to Pythagoras (and thus to Western math and science) and to Plato (with his ideal forms), and hence to just about any subsequent school of Western philosophy.”
Presumably this is related in part to debates about ocularcentrism (Martin Jay) and certainly central to McLuhan’s probes into the social reality of the alphebetic human (in “Understanding Media”, for instance). These thought patterns are also reflected in cybernetic thinking (Wiener, Bateson and so on) and information theory, which is of course why there is something called “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (Kuhn) and why the concept of incommensurability makes sense – and all that of course is but an invitation to draw more upon the Amazonian traditions, because they have many amazing stories about living in networks of flow – just the kind of world that sociologists say that we now all live in, at least by implication, in the global village (a term coined by McLuhan!) and in which we have to figure out our convivialities. Consequently, it is necessary to stand strong on an anti-capitalist, confrontational politics and an active defence of the rain forest – it is a story bank, a fairytale, a rabbit hole for our grandhildren, may they live to see it, in which Parmenides and Heraclitus are found in poetic unity.
The Freudian, western thing is, for me, too focused on the human as an island of feeling. Although it relates me to others and my fear and angers -and what not- to the actions of and with others, the flows that is, it is still an attempt at an exact language for my situation, and it is about the substance of _me_.
Somewhat approximating too specifically a given set of parameters, and therefore foreclosing a universe of options for action hidden in the ambiguities.
The poetic realm, on the other hand, the world of spirits in bats and the wind of relational flows, does not point me to where I should go, just gives me legs and naive eyes, strips me naked, and allows me to check things out (in their specific inter-subjective, inter-generational realities).
Whether this is a fair representation of psychoanalysis in general, or whether there exists some stratification of psychoanalytic forms and practices that this would fit into or not, I have no idea. This is what I feel. As a self-medicating psychoanalyst I now, through Ayahuasca, feel a _re_-lease of my body and my soul, and it is embedded in a release of the exact language of my origins – it is informed by a negation and transcendence. It is revolution and accelerated evolution: one step into the past and two steps into the future.
I am neither a better nor a worse creative person after this – i am just now in posession of a bodily memory, I have an embodied experience of stepping though some field of fear and into the wide open, as the imperfect and mediocre person that I am. I will still have to be able to walk that space, but I am sure that she will help me, the Ayahuasca spirit. She’s clearly made me feel stronger. Ready to walk.
See also this picture to imagine being inside the DMT world 🙂