Four Psilocybin Experiences (Part II)
It is difficult to write this type of report because my major way of expressing myself is painting rather than through words. I believe that the experience can be broken down and each part examined by itself, and in that way I can try to present a total idea of what was experienced. Some things now do seem either foolish or unbelievable, but I shall try to be as accurate as possible.
The first thing I will consider will be the visual part of the experience. My vision seemed to broaden and I was able to see everything all at once - to see everything totally and never really feel that I was unable to see small details. However, when focusing on a particular object all details became visible - in other words I think that the details cannot be seen in the total but were never missed. When focusing or narrowing the visual field, able to see all details. I was able to concentrate entirely on one object to thetotal exclusion of all others. The one object would seem to radiate light or glow from within.
From time to time other members of the group would take on this glow which would attract my attention, and then I would narrow the gaze. This inner glow for some reason seemed to disappear when that person’s reverie was interrupted by someone else’s comment. People seemed different from objects, in this regard. After focusing on an object the object would glow, but with people the person could start to glow before focusing on him.
All space seemed to be curved, and the importance of verticals and horizontals diminished greatly. I was acutely aware of this because of my extreme interest in the Bauhaus painters and the DeStyle group. I have always felt that the vertical and horizontal orientation was extremely important, but the whole idea seemed to break down. Even the Cubists seemed unimportant. A new arrangement of space seemed necessary. Objects didn’t seem to end abruptly but had an ability to extend themselves. This may be partially due to my feeling toward the objects and their feeling toward me at the time.
Color and the reality of space were actually not a new experience to me. It was very similar to the reality of both during a period of high painting excitement. In fact I believe that visual disorders may occur more with slight turpentine intoxication, sometimes referred to as turpentine poisoning, and the lack of oxygen which takes place in the artist’s studio (fairly large quantities of oxygen are consumed by the drying of linseed oil and reduce the amount of oxygen present in the air, combined with turpentine vapor; this can and does affect perception).
Space itself took on a very real quality and was related in its shape to visual concentration, When looking at an object close at hand, I felt as though I were in a cylinder of space. Space closed in around me but was open at the top. When looking at the total, the corners of the room were unimportant and seemed to curve—the space of the room was not really related to the four walls but was enclosed within them. Once again the top seemed open and the floor uneven. When leaving the room and then
coming back into the room, it seemed to have an umbrella-shaped top (mushroom-shaped) which hung below the ceiling. When looking out of the window, there always was a thorough detachment. The space was not as real. Everything was clear and sharp, but not real,
Hearing was also changed considerably. I could hear everything quite clearly—never quite sure where the sound was coming from. Coins jingling in a pocket, keys being rubbed together, someone scratching, and voices, were all of equal importance. Sounds which were ordinarily screened out were from time to time annoying because they could interrupt someone’s speech.
Physically I felt extremely well. Here I think it is important to mention that in November I underwent surgery for a rectal fistula. It hasn’t, to the present time, healed. This is the first time for me since the middle of October that I have been able to move freely without pain. Naturally that was delightful. It is difficult for me to be certain of whether or not the drug was a real help in this area, but for the past week I have actually felt more comfortable and less worried about this situation. It was a great pleasure to move. I neverfelt that my reactions were slowed or impaired in any way. In fact I really felt much freer in my movement and capable of performing any physical task.
Perhaps the most amazing thing to me was what happened to me when I wanted to express myself verbally. Most of the time I felt that there was no reason to talk. When I felt that something was important to say, I first had to find the words to express the thought. I was really thinking thoughts free from the limits of verbiage. It was then a matter of translating thought into words. Many times when I wanted to say something I would struggle to find the words and by the time I had found them fortunately someone else had said it and I could relax.
While many things were not discriminatory, I think that on the idea level I was discriminatory. Ideas presented by others in the group were either accepted or rejected with intensity. I was either happy at what had been said or extremely annoyed.
Possibly the most important part of the experiment for me was my awareness of a totality and awareness of nothing. Thoughts took on a great reality, and I could sit and enjoy myself thinking. Sometimes the thoughts were so delightful and so real that I would laugh happily over them. While the thoughts took on this reality at the peak point of the experience, I felt that I was not able to think. I could sit quite empty and then a thought would pulse through my mind. I was never quite sure whether the thought came from—originated—with me or outside me.
Many times I felt liike a large reciever through which things were passing. I felt as though I were collecting information. This made me extremely happy. My laughter was about this happiness and was not in response to what other people in the room had said.
From time to time a rather petty unimportant diagreement took place between the other people in the room. My immediate response would be to try to take sides, and before I could say anything I would realize how foolish this situation really was and would laugh at myself for having thought of participating in such foolishness.
There were times when I became extremely restless and walked about the room. It almost felt that I could walk away from my physical self. I would walk and then stop walking in hopes that I would continue on. This would happen once or twice, but I was snapped back and never was able to stay outside for any duration - even though I think I would have liked to. This just seemed as though it should follow but never did. I was not afraid. Everything that was happening to me was good. Everything that I touched - everything I saw.
Several times I was bothered by H. to do some drawings, which seemed to be an invasion of privacy to even think of doing such a thing at that time. What was happening was more important to me than trying to record it. Being was the most important thing, and I didn't want anything to interfere with being. I felt a communion with all things. It was difficult for me to determine whether I was reaching out to all things or whether all things were reaching out to me. I now feel that it must have been a mutual reaching out because I was convinced at the highest point that the right wall loved the left wall and that all walls loved me. And that I loved them.
At this very high point, I seemed to be aware of everything within my view as well as those outside my view. What was behind me was as real as what was in front of me. At one point I am sure that everything came together with me. I became excited at this point—extremely excited. I tried to walk away from myself.
At one point I walked from the room to the next, and for a brief moment was outside the house. I didn’t feel the cold or the snow. I then found myself back in the house. Walking back into the other room, everything seemed to have slowed down. I sat down, put my head back and closed my eyes. B. put on Ginsberg’s recording. With my head back and my feet stretched out, the space for the first time changed its dimension. It flattened out. It felt almost as though my head were above water and my body was in the water—or that my body was not. Ginsberg drifted to me across this level plain, then started to fade. My eyes were closed, and a large black pool started to open up in front of them. I was vaguely conscious at this point that I was almost not breathing, and took several deep breaths.
I seemed to be gasping for air. This worried me for a minute, but all was good and I stopped worrying. As the space continued to expand, a small white object seemed to be coming toward me or perhaps I was going toward it—extremely brilliant.
As I came closer, I was able to see a red spot in the white. I was very anxious to find out what would happen, and then someone said, “Do you want to listen to this?” and someone else said, “No, take it off” and it disappeared. I remained in this position, trying to get back, trying to find out. When I came back it seemed to me that I had to think how to breathe, how to get it started.
I felt that I had not taken a breath in some time and gasped for air, Once again—not at all worried. The one time during the entire session that I was aware of any taste or odor was when I came back and there seemed to be a strange taste in my mouth and a most unusual odor. I really don’t know what it was or how to describe it — the first time I have come in contact with it. I felt that I had to have something to drink. B. obliged.
The plain was gone and I became aware of different parts of my body getting extremely warm, which felt extremely good. No part ever seemed to cool off, just other parts getting warm. After some time this ceased, and I have a feeling that this part of it was over. I opened my eyes. In a way I was surprised to find where I was and began to move about, a little disappointed but quite happy.
At this point my head was filled with thoughts—all important thoughts, all private thoughts. I was still extremely happy and would from time to time chuckle to myself about how wonderful it was to be, and how good to know all that I knew. I must confess that this feeling has not left. Many thoughts are still buzzing around, and I am still happy.
After that, I felt physically worn out, extremely tired, but my mind was still very very active. After walking around to my car and driving home, this physical exhaustion left me in about thirty minutes and I felt very good again.
There are, I think, important aspects to what happened to me which have extended themselves over a much longer duration of time. My wife and I had made a commitment for that Saturday evening quite some time ago, and we felt obligated to follow through with with the engagement. I suppose I was still "high" at that point, but it surprised me how I was able to project to others my feeling that things were good.
Now I think that the most important part of what has happened to me, since the experiment, is that I seem able to get a good deal more work done. Sunday afternoon I did about six hours' work in two hours' time. I did not worry about what I was doing - I just did it. Three or four times I wanted a particular color pencil or a triangle and would go directly to it, lift up three or four pieces of paper and pull it out. Never thought of where it was- just knew I wanted it and picked it up. This of course amazed me, but I just relied on it - found things immediately. My wife was a little annoyed with me on Sunday afternoon because I was so happy, but I would not be dissuaded.
When painting, it generally takes me an hour and a half to two hours to really get into the painting, and three or four hours to really hit a peak. Tuesday I hit a peak in less than a half hour. The aesthetic experience was more intense than I have experienced before, so much so that several times
I had to leave the studio, and finally decided that I was unable to cope with it and left for good! I now have this under control to some extent, but I am delighted that I can just jump into it without the long buildup, and I certainly hope it continues.
All these words really don’t say it.