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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 10. 1969.

Evasion Games

Evasion Games

On LSD there is no excuse for such games. Consciousness is heightened, not clouded, and there is no particular impairment of muscular coordination, beyond, perhaps, some initial dizziness. If you get into any of the following games you'll know it's your own fault, whatever you may let others think.

(1) "Baby" is where a session participant acts helpless and expects others to look after him. He communicates only in monosyllables or meaningless noise, wants others to pay attention to him and fetch him food and water. I suppose Freudians would call this "regression to the oral stage." If you play "Baby", you will miss the joy of sharing the experience with your friends. Besides you will feel like a fool later, and nobody is likely to want to turn on with you again.

(2) "Couch" is where you decide the session was made for your personal psychoanalysis and start telling whoever will listen all about your childhood traumas and current neuroses.

Now a degree of self-exposure in a session is good. As you see through some of your phobias and hang-ups you feel elated and want to tell somebody, and you often find that your friends have been hung up on the same petty thing that you have, and you laugh over it together and enjoy the feeling of relief.

Playing "couch" is another matter. Pouring forth your entire stream of consciousness out loud is not honesty, it's an attempt to monopolise attention, and it also tends to keep your mind in a rut, shutting ou new ways of looking at your problems.

(3) "Drunk": the person who plays to try to avoid any existential encounter in the session by reducing it all to silliness. He knows that anything he may be experiencing is "only the drug" so he's not about to let it move him. He giggles and snickers incessantly, moves with exaggerated clumsiness, and generally acts the buffoon. The trouble with the person who plays "Drunk" is that he won't leave room for anything else. Nothing can be sacred to him. He can't say anything sincere without immediately qualifying it with a nonsensical or cynical remark. Often he shows that he thinks of his "indulgence" in LSD as a dissipated or naughty thing to do. In other words he does everything he can to shield his little ego from the impact of LSD by pretending that he is just on a drunk. He cheats himself and brings his companions down.

(4) "Let's Have an Orgy" is like "Drunk", only worse. At one of my first morning glory sessions there was a boy _ who kept stamping the floor nervously insisting "Let's put on some records and have a bloody party" — somewhat to the confusion of others, who, just feeling their way into this new state of consciousness, were not at all in the mood for a party but wondered whether they were being party poopers for not going along with their demands.

Some people faced with the strange and disquieting initial effects of LSD, respond by flinging themselves into a frantic pursuit of sensual pleasure. It is a kind of way of playing "Get me out of this" without the streaming. And like "Baby" and "Drunk" it draws on the cultural association of drugs with irresponsibility and wild behaviour. To help convince himself, the player usually tries to draw his companions into the game. The forced nature of this behaviour is obvious when you realise that LSD actually decreases, at its peak virtually eliminates, physical cravings. Loud music, food, sex games, jumping around, can do little to comfort the person whose real problem is that he wants to drown out his thoughts.

If one of your session-mates is playing this game, do not feel that you have to play it with him in order to be a good sport. Sit quietly and encourage him to do the some. The real pleasures of the session, including the sensory, come without seeking them, without straining, without doing anything.

Your companions will notice any absence very soon. Time passes slowly for them — even a ten minute absence can seem like an hour. Yon are in a state where you are easily distracted. Once you wander off there's no telling when you'll get back. And all the while your companions can think of little else than "Where's Harry? Is he all right? Shouldn't we send somebody to look for him and make sure?"

You may feel that of course you're all right and it's silly for them to worry. Nevertheless they will and this is quite natural. There is still a certain amount of distance between you and the unbedrugged world. Your friends aren't sure but that you could get into some kind of trouble. It seems us though you've been gone for an awfully long time.

In the second place, you are confusing categories if you think that seeing as much as possible during a session means wandering around and seeing as many physical places and things as possible. The trip is internal. Moving around and seeking a large variety of external stimuli is only a distraction.

A third reason is that people who are going through a session together form a small community. Staying together helps keep everybody turned on, by mutual reinforcement. You would find that people outside are not so easy to comunicate with, not having been through this very intense experience with you and your friends. Your friends need you to help maintain the group feeling, and you need them. So stay together. This doesn't mean you should shut yourself off from your non-psychedelic friends — but there will be time enough to see them when you're not high.

If another member of the group pulls a Where's Harry? on you, do not send a person who's high after him, as this will just change the game into one of Where Are Harry and Bill? If there is someone there who hasn't had any LSD, you can send him to find Harry and try to persuade him to come back, or at least make sure he's o.k.

The feeling that you know just what is going on in somebody else's mind, or that they are thinking the same thing you are thinking, often occurs in sessions. Sometimes you're right and sometimes not. The question whether actual telepathy takes place during sessions (or at any other time) is a controversial one. But one thing is certain: at least sometimes when you think you know what your companion is thinking, you are definitely mistaken.

Verbal attempts to establish whether your effort at mind-reading has been successful are most unsatisfactory when conducted during a session. This is because verbal exchanges under LSD consist of about one-tenth words and nine-tenths innuendo. Unfortunately, the innuendo which the speaker intends to communicate, or thinks h has communicated, is often very different from what the listener thinks he meant. The result ranges from hilarious confusion to paranoid suspiciousness and annoyance.

Facial expressions are not an adequate indicator of thoughts either, because you can see them distorted, and can project your own feelings onto them.

An unfortunate byproduct of the game of "Mind reader" is that the player may feel let-down and betrayed when his companion fails to act on the understanding which the "Mind reader" erroneously thinks has been reached. Or the "Mind reader" may become paranoid when he thinks he perceives hostile thoughts in his companions. Also, he may confuse his companions if he adopts an "I know what you're thinking" or "You know what I mean" attitude. The companion wonders desperately how to respond in this situation where he is in the impossible position of not knowing what his friend thinks he knows his friend thinks.

The rules to follow in order to avoid these hang-ups are (1) Don't assume that you know what your companions are thinking, even if it feels that way; (2) Don't assume that they know what you are thinking; (3) Avoid extended conversation during the peak of the session. Do not try too hard to make sure that you understand what one another are saying; if this effort becomes too involved, give it up and have a period of silence; (4) When you do speak, speak literally rather than figuratively, in brief concrete sentences; (5) If asked a question, give a literal, straightforward answer.

If you wish to experiment with ESP during a session this should be agreed upon by the members beforehand. Like other scientific tests, this is best postponed until you have had several experiences with LSD.

Novices in LSD sessions sometimes become convinced that they know the answers to all the mysteries of life and the universe. The very people who are most dogmatic about this are often the most confused and perplexed around hour seven when they are returning to ordinary consciousness.

Go lightly. There are valid insights to be had in the psychedelic state, but their value lies in their applicability to daily life. Remember that you are in a transient state, and think of how you can put your insights to work to help you lead a better, richer life in your ordinary consciousness. Do not force your ideas on your companions. There is nothing wrong with expressing your thoughts, but you should respect the fact that your companions have thoughts of their own.

If you ever feel that you have all the answers you may be sure that you don't — no matter how many sessions you have had.