31 Mar 2008

smelfplay

Sometimes I like to stay away from the baseline world for as long as possible. And I had lots of ketamine, so I got into repeated dosing and on a plateau, not able to sleep, wanting something. For want of a woman, I thought of smoking salvia – hadn’t in years. Could barely remember what it was like, just thought it might be worth doing, so I did – and had one of those breakthrough trips, shattered the mellow that had whimsied the idea in the first place.

I was at my computer during the flash, mostly just sitting in my chair, slack-jawed. I tried to write as soon after coming back as I could – the feeling persisted enough that I could translate some of the trip, far better than on previous attempts. My notes were serious no-bullshit attempts to get across that thing. I’m hindered being a writer, beholden to art and ego. Literature can corrupt raw experience. I tried to be plain and honest in my notes, and leave the poetry for later.

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I’m holding my toke and counting the seconds. Accidentally exhale at twenty and think I’ve blown the hit. Then I realize something’s different. I think okay, I guess this is the trip but everything’s the same, isn’t it? No “visuals”, but it’s using what I happen to be looking at, my knee, my rug, my beside table to the left and pants crumpled to the right. This is what salvia has to work with. So it’s saying, what, this, you’re part of this? This?

I’m spinning and realizing “this” is just painted on a wall. Vague sense that it’s because I smoked salvia but the overwhelming feeling is of reality coming apart, the issue being that what I felt as normal and real was dependent on an arbitrary collection of sense data now seen as a painting. “Silly paint, dreamed he was a person”. The joke’s on me, I forgot I was the wall and everything “that person” represents is what I can sense in the visual field and my own body peripherals. I can see the edges of my red jacket and left arm. Also my mind is filling in an image of my face with my black toque on, so this accurate self-image, in conjunction with the bedroom floor in its current state, has become the painting.

I’m spinning and my sense of identity has shifted to null-space. I’m being pulled backward and outward. This is what salvianauts mean by “gravity”, a pulling on the mind, the rug pulled out from under me. The painting on the wall seems arbitrary, why that and not anything else? It’s silly and shocking. Some vital part of consciousness associated with “the self” and “what is real” has become unhinged and confronted with the void. It’s not a void exactly, there’s something there, echoes, ghosts that live in the cracks between dimensions. I’m hearing the chorused voice of an amalgam of minds, no neat separation. Parts of myself are chipping off the painting or combining with other parts to smear into the collective. The collective chatter is noisy and not entirely unified, but vaguely conveying something like: “hey, actually, it’s like this”, a sly twist, strong yet subtle, cerebral yet bedrock. On past salvia trips, I’d thought of those anthropomorphic, eerily communicative energies as facets of my subconscious, but “smelves” is a perfect term, being a play on elves and selves – entities straddling a dichotomy of artificial categories, alien, human, cartoon, playful, wise, in bright primary colors, an external method of living, a place consciousness was not meant to inhabit except by mythic creatures, fish out of water, pigs in space. I can’t call them malevolent but I can’t call them benign. They’re creepy and sarcastic.

I’m spinning and the pulling feeling accelerates, more of a peeling. The paint is peeling off the wall, sometimes in scales or tiles (the lifting of a group of personality traits / visual associations). There’s an undead feeling to the painting, it’s coming off like a skin. It peels in every thought and frame of vision, not simply in direction but in the dimension I only sense with salvia. I’m being invited to ask the self that peeled off a rhetorical question. I know it will solve everything, it’s on the tip of my tongue but it won’t quite come. It’s hilarious that I can’t explain it, but it’s too serious to permit laughter. It’s telling me “The very point of this pulloff is to reveal you as unsustainable, impossible.” This is the one thing that does not fit in my reality, it’s the key to ontological demolition, the essence of what I must not accept to go on living. How can I be alive to witness it? What is dead? It’s about animate and inanimate and breath and time and wet and dry. There’s an irreconcilable conflict between two worlds. My field of vision and its associated objects is a child’s drawing, and the idea of there being a person in there is perverse.

I’m spinning and being told to look at that perverse person. The pulling/peeling intensifies with each rotation of the existential tableau. My former self is a series of body parts, bits of me or wholes of me from various angles and surrounding sense data in peripheral vision and blind sight, red-arm-jacket, hand-behind-back-with-lighter, knee-crumpled-pants, knee-rug, subsumed in an escalator mountain spiral circuit, spinning salvia scales, an aesthetic unit. Each “scale” is a personified pastiche of self-fragments seen from outside, shoulder with tan face like a cartoon character from some obscure central asian filmboard, the next “step” in the escalator my toque/neck with a fleck of red-arm framed with chains like a swingset. Imagine a top, fused with a staircase, fused with mount rushmore, fused with myself split into a classroom of confused children. Although it feels inhuman, it also has a sly sophisticated social consciousness, a super-intelligent personality overlaid on a conscious crack. It has vast implications but it’s of the micro moment, eternal but infinitesimal, ambassador for the voidoids.

The “other” is watching me become aware of this interdimensional membrane, and saying, in an amused, almost cruelly mocking way: “See? Hehe.” It’s asking me to just try these tiles, just try them, I dare you, ask them a question – like it’s not something that would have occurred to me in ordinary consciousness, to address these scales as people, but now I realize I can and must, or I’d be denying a revelation. So, as the spiral escalator cartoon version of myself comes around for another cycle I address its spinning scale-steps as people. They’re conjunctions of self-identity and what happens to be in my field of view at the time. They have faces, expressions, but I no longer see them as aspects of myself, they’re too weird. I see them as entities who live in the cracks between myself and whatever alien chaos exists in the mental vacuum outside. So I say to these things, hey, look, I managed to step outside something, do you see? What does this mean?

I get the idea to tap the red-arm scale on the shoulder, so I do. To even think of it as a thing that has a shoulder is like doing that to, say, a nondescript spot on the rug, but I’m tapping on each of these scales as they pass upwards and outwards in their cycle, startling them. They’re saying: “what the... I’M ALIVE?! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ALIVE! YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ALIVE! THIS ISN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN! HOW CAN YOU DO THAT?” I’m talking to myself at this point, in two alternating voices, like “Yes, there you are… What the fucking hell?!”

The scales are spinning with a speed and angle that is not entirely parallel to my salvia gravity. So in addressing them, it’s like I’m peeling them off their spinning self pastiche cartoon and dragging them toward my gravity. I’m sticky with my questions, and what were inanimate components of the bedrock material of reality, either physical matter or some mental construct, are becoming confused peoploids peeling off their peripherals. They’re becoming more than the hallucinogenic characters I imagined them as. Latching onto them with my address is granting them life, making their bizarre personification a reality, and it feels incredibly, mind-blowingly REAL, like HOLY FUCK, this dimension actually exists! And I realize that peeling these peoploids off their reality is creating the impact in their world of a salvia trip, ridiculous, indecent, perverse, shocking, cruel, hilarious, and their gravity, their normal rate of cycling in the spin, is being slowed by my sudden unexpected perception. My awareness of them is grinding their gears, throwing their whole operation into chaos. I’m thinking perpendicular.

So this is what salvia does, I think. Although that doesn’t seem to have a lot of meaning in and of itself. The thought is like the launching pad under atmospheric haze back at Cape Canaveral. It’s like the crease of the fold, I know it means something but I’m not sure what, like yeah, I smoked salvia to cause this, but this, what is this, what was that? What is anything?

The insistency of this feeling fades after a few minutes, and I become aware of myself as a whole. I keep saying “Holy fucking shit, what the fuck was that?” Maybe five minutes after the dosing (impossible to tell) I decide to focus all my energy on remembering and describing the trip, which immediately brings me “down” to a functional level, but also keeps the feeling focused in memory for a good ten minutes afterward.

The first thing I write is “okay, something serious just happened”. I go on to write that “some system exists between dimensions”. The rest is notes that I turned into this report. I’ll have to do it again, but I’ve already forgotten why. The feeling is gone, there’s just words.

Salvia is sufficiently advanced shamanic technology. Not that it has no psychological/physical explanation (the two would need to work in tandem, meeting at truth by tunneling through opposite sides of the mountain) but any explanation of what causes the self-peeling feeling is far beyond whatever understanding presently exists in psychology and neurology – or at least in my understanding of that understanding.

Basically, it turned my mind inside out, inverting sense of self and what is “alive”. The self that existed within the confines of my body became alien, undead, and what had been alive and “me” was outside that strange cartoon person. My mind was in the crack, the void, the room, not just in the sense of physical space (“physical space” seemed two-dimensional, a painting) but some mental dimension outside my normal way of thinking – like before I’d necessarily been a solipsist, thinking all that was “me” was locked inside the head. Now some formerly unknown outside meta-me was pulling a prank on that narrow normal one by switching places, having me confront the “outside” I could never believe in before through a rapid chemical process, mockingly transient.

Although certain metaphors and themes occur with frequency, overall I’m amazed at the diversity of experience people report. I guess it demonstrates either the uniqueness of any given mind, that the trip differs so greatly from one to another – or it shows how difficult it is to describe/analyze/remember, if everyone is having essentially the same experience, but in the telling, they all sound like separate worlds.

Existential is a good word to use. Upon being “peeled”, my awareness is left to confront a field of vision and all that it “means” – the associations that make up my human delusion – from an external perspective, the void outside my head. Suddenly, the me gestalt is rendered arbitrary. The most absurd thing is that I’m still physically locked in the gestalt, I can receive no information beyond the capacity of the body’s sense organs, but my awareness seems to have moved outside the body, to the “dead” world beyond the head. But the salvia reveals that what’s outside my head isn’t dead exactly, just a kind of consciousness I can’t normally recognize as consciousness, or communicate with in any way other than cryptic kinetic chaos.

I’m not sure what effect being on the residuals of a k binge might’ve had, but I suspect that mindset helped me analyze and remember more. I could ease into it, flow, and not fight the trip. I was still shaken to my soul, but it wasn’t as mind-blowing as it probably would’ve been had I been sober. Although in that case I probably would’ve “given way to astonishment” in McKenna’s words, and not questioned what was happening or interacted with the trip. Doing those things allowed me more insights.

One thing I can say, inter-dimensional travel is a good way to get the mind off sexual frustration.

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