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February 09, 2005

This week in experiential psychopharmacology

Sean Carroll explains the neurophysics of visual hallucinations.

The next scientific challenge is to explain John Derbyshire's LSD-induced communion with The Platonic Form of the Everly Brothers, or for that matter, his decision to share it at the National Review Online:


I'm with you on "Cathy's Clown," Kathryn. The Everly Brothers, in fact, though I think superbly gifted, have an uncomfortable place in my consciousness. Way back in my wasted youth I did, like all the rest of you, a lot of seriously foolish things. One thing I did was mess around with... substances. Well, this included an acid phase. One day I took far too much of the stuff and went into a very peculiar state. One feature of it was that it had a **sound track**; and the main thing I remember about the sound track was Don & Phil singing "Dream." The creepy thing was the ABSOLUTELY PERFECT quality of the recording (all this inside my head, of course). It was as faultlessly clear -- every word, every note -- as if they were there in the room with me. And it was on a loop, over and over.

I have never felt the same about the Everlies since. Why that particular song came to me in that particular state, I have no idea.

[Via Atrios, via Wonkette.]


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Experimental psychopharmocology is fun.

With regard for Derbyshire's recollection, it's likely that he was so high that he entirely forgot about the headphones he was wearing...
I appreciated Sean's (Preposterous Universe) clear delineation, via equation, of hallucinatory bases in the neuronal dance upon/within the cerebral cortex. What I'd like to see, however, is some grasp of the less formal (and more organic) shapes and progressions, eg my own experience of being exhaled (with attendant fire and smoke) by the Bay Bridge into the illumined rubbery canyons of downtown 'Frisco, after the bridge's subtle change from a staid geometrical object of support into a pulsing, quivering, firebreathing dragon, resplendent inside and out with colorful metallic adornments- like the creatures illustrated in "Amarant" (which I came to appreciate relatively recently). The predominance of purple and asort of chartreuse in many prehallucinogenic stages I came to attribute to an ability to sense, viA some feedback loop, the transformation of chemicals in the eyeball from the "undeveloped" condition to the "printed" (and shipped upstairs) state... but this research is probably not salient to pursue when there are more pressing questions... ^..^

Geez, I had a similar experience, but it was more of what the young'ns call a "bad trip." I kept hearing the song, "It's A Wonderful World" over and over, in perfect clarity. Except Louie Armstrong wasn't singing it. Sidney Greenstreet was singing it. Oy.

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