A justifiable flight from reason? I human life inevitably alienating? At a very base and primal level does this alienation and its pathological impulse to dominate make an easy excuse to justify exploitation and thus rationalize our present societal structure?Was alienation in the very structure of American and Western communities? Theodore Roszak considered alienation a dangerous and threatening condition it that it can easily lead to a “self righteous use of others as mere objects”. The death Owsley Stanley is a pause to reflect on a search for the antidote, a viable complement to a sane flight from reason….
…Owsley Stanley, who died on March 13 aged 76, was the “outlaw-acid-chef” whose production of industrial quantities of LSD helped fuel California’s 1960s counterculture; his chemical wizardry was immortalised in song by Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead, and in prose by Tom Wolfe in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. …Working from his basement laboratory in the Bay area of San Francisco, home of the “flower power” movement, Stanley was the drug’s single most prolific producer, manufacturing it to such a high standard that “Owsley” became a slang term for quality LSD. ….
Theodore Roszak: The result of this has been is that if you look at psychiatric literature as a whole, there’s almost no mention in it of the non-human world, as if it just doesn’t matter. Indeed you find extreme examples of this in a development following World War 2– existential therapy for example– it is simply assumed that human beings exist in the condition of alienation from nature. Indeed that’s the key problem that you have to address yourself too: Our profound alienation as human being in an alien universe. Well, I decided to go back beyond Freud and then to place his work within a larger framework of spiritual healing, psychotherapy in the most general sense of the term because if you look beyond the modern, Western schools of psychiatry, you find that in traditional societies among primary people, the people we once used to call primitives, that it is understood that sanity and madness have to be defined always in relationship to the natural habitat; and that indeed to a very large extent, madness is understood to be an imbalance between the individual and the natural environment or between an entire tribe or a people and its natural environment. Read More: http://www.williamjames.com/transcripts/roszak.htm
R.D. Laing, the British psychiatrist was another 60′s writer who applauded the flight from reason.In the “Politics of Experience” he wrote that “madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be breakthrough. It is potentially liberation and renewal as well as enslavement and existential death.” …”The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of normal man.Society highly values normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal.” “By the time the new human being is fifteen or so,” writes Laing, “we are left with a being like ourselves, a half-crazed creature more or less adjusted to mad world. This is normality in our present age.” If madness is a vastly rewarding experience,- which is a questionable claim- then from Laing there could be nothing but good in the turning away of millions from so-called normality.
Certainly, at the time of Owsley Stanley, a belief in the powers of unreason over reason was spreading rapidly; science and technology were becoming increasingly suspect. Since reason produced monsters like Vietnam, Americans were looking to the insights of madmen- or anti-rational mystics like Allen Ginsberg and Leary- as being more relevant than Nixon and Von Braun. But, were all these charlatans really part of the same drama; just different sides of the military, industrial and entertainment complex? Perhaps they were all mad men and youth were running from the arms of one unreason into another.
Charles Reich warned that alienation can lead to an even more devastating result: the loss of the self.”Beginning with school, if not before, an individual is systematically stripped of his imagination, his creativity, his heritage, his dreams, and his personal uniqueness in order to style him into a productive unit for a mass technological society. Read More:http://www.thesynthesizer.org/greening_america.html . He contended that this severe limiting of the individual by society occurs due to civilization changing more rapidly; the consciousness of its citizens lacking the time to reflect and catch up, resulting in a loss of touch with reality.
…He enrolled at UC Berkeley in 1963 as the Free Speech Movement was erupting and drugs such as LSD began flowing. He got his first taste of LSD in April 1964. “I remember the first time I took acid and walked outside,” he told Rolling Stone in 2007, “and t
ars were kissing the parking meters.” That experience convinced him that he needed a steady and trustworthy supply. He found a recipe at the campus library. Then, with a chemistry major named Melissa Cargill, he started a lab and began manufacturing a very pure form of the drug. Read More: http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/news.php?id=77899
“The death of Owsley Augustus Stanley III, high priest of psychedelia, prompts an interesting question: did anyone learn anything about reality from LSD? Unlike most other drugs, the psychedelics were meant to bring us closer to the real world, and not just to blot it out. But as we approach the half-centenary of the summer of love this claim looks rather threadbare. The acid casualty, mumbling and droning about spirituality, is a much more typical reminder of the period than anyone genuinely kinder and wiser as a result.
And yet … among the kind and decent people who took these drugs, it’s hard to find anyone who did not feel that they learned something important as a result. So, was it all a delusion, or was it a glimpse – however inadequate – of something real and standing beyond our everyday lives?” Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/mar/21/owsley-stanley-lsd-psychedelic-drugs a
Roszak: Yes, Freud also addressed himself to this issue asking the question, how do we define madness? If we decide, if we suspect that an entire culture may be embedded in what he called “collusive madness” or “communal neurosis.” Where does the therapist then look for a baseline to define sanity and madness? Freud raised this issue, but he never came up with a successful answer to it. Later schools like radical therapists have. They have called into question the existing social definition of madness and sanity in ways that have profound social implications. Perhaps an entire society is mad, in which case you don’t simply want to adjust people back into another condition of madness. The way in which I take this issue up is to suggest that there is a madness involved in urban industrial society that has to do with our lack of balance and integration with the natural environment and that this might be an interesting baseline to use for the definition of sanity as we move into the next century. That is, we need to recapture of being embedded in nature, being in the condition of reciprocity with nature that you do find in traditional forms of healing. I don’t think we can simply adopt any other culture’s conception of sanity and madness. We have to work out our own.Read More:http://www.williamjames.com/transcripts/roszak.htm a
Owsley Stanley Interview with Bruce Eisner. 1998.
So I had my first smoke sitting in my little MGTF on the side of the road in Pasadena after my friend had scored the weed, and I thought it was interesting.
B: So that had a strong impact on you, that first smoke?
O: Not really. I got kind of stoned and disoriented and whatnot, and thought well gee, this isn’t at all unpleasant. I didn’t drink. I don’t like alcohol much to this day. So over the next few weeks I got more into it. At first it was hard to figure out where to buy it, as my scene in Berkeley was not involved in smoke. I finally scored, smoked some, decided I liked it. Then someone told me about morning glory seeds.
B: Was your first trip on morning glory seeds?
O: No, I never actually got around to eating them. I didn’t want to get involved in dealing pot. I had no money or anything. But I asked my friend, “Is there anything legal that will get you high?” He said morning glory seeds. So I bought a pound bag of those. And through dealing the seeds around (I put up 3 by 5 cards with my post office box address on bulletin boards: “250 Heavenly Blue seeds for $1”), I met a lot of people with other things, and traded different things, and ultimately came across speed and LSD and all the rest of it. I think one of the aspects of illegality in drugs is that once you’ve made things illegal, all of a sudden you’ve opened up a Pandora’s Box of things, and anyone who goes for any of them winds up in contact with all of them. And if you’re going to break one law, which is a civil disobedience of a sort, well why not break another? These kinds of laws (prohibition) teach disrespect for the legal process.
B: Back in those days, there wasn’t that much information about what different drugs did. So since they are saying all drugs are bad, everybody was going to try everything, right?
O: Yeah, well, even speed, it seemed like it was a very nice pleasurable drug. Nobody knew at first, but after a little while on the street you found out it made a raving, babbling idiot out of you, very quickly! Read More:http://www.bruceeisner.com/writings/2004/08/interview_with__2.html