Towards Understanding

Pessah again. JP informs me that we celebrate, if that’s the right word, two Pessah anniversaries from 64 years ago- the discovery of LSD’s potency by Dr. Albert Hofmann, and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The true meaning of the Pessah Holy Day, Zman herutenu, is “the Season of {our} Liberation.” The former is an archetype of the liberation of the psyche, the latter a real, hard struggle for liberation against flesh and blood oppressors.
A Jewish commentator writes:

The first accidental absorption of lysergic acid diethylamide-25, and then, three days later, the first conscious ingestion of a minute quantity (250 micrograms) of this chemically synthesized psychoactive substance, have had, through its subsequent manufacture and distribution, a transformative psychological, social and cultural influence on the world.

Not all users experience the same effect. For some, it has been a spell-binding journey of kaleidoscopic colours and spiritual exultation, while for others it has been a visit to an abyssal of despair and depression. The human psyche is a delicate mechanism, an arena where powerful internal forces strive for dominance and control, conceptually little different from the paradigm of dominance represented by Nazi Germany. The uprising, although unsuccessful, punctured the myth of Aryan invulnerability and changed the course of the war.

Aldous Huxley described one function of the brain as a filter, one which consistently screens input and prevents overload. Chemical imbalance causes a shifting, or, in kabbalistic terms, an excess of light for the strength of the vessel, a crisis which can cause a shvirat hakeilim, or shattering. Rather different to me getting smashed to see the colours all those years ago. The brain imports 100kbits per second of processable information, of which less than one twenty-thousandth is conscious or sentient in the form of concept, image or feeling. Chemical stimulation lifts the sensory barrier, resulting in a tsunami of new information, opening the doors of perception wider. William Blake wrote, “When the doors of perception are cleansed, everything will appear as it is, infinite.” Struggle widens perception, it would seem.

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