The Liminalist # 191: The Poison Art (with Sam Hyde)

Epic conversation with Sam Hyde on the poison art, Stanley Kubrick & Sam Peckinpah, writing Peckinpah script, getting script to Johnny Depp, meeting Peckinpah, Paul Seydor, hanging with Sam in Mexico, being weaned from mother by Sam, seeing Platoon at 10, a generation of drinkers, sticking to the script, Weddle’s bio, cleaning up Peckinpah’s image, Paul Kael & Peckinpah, loving Sam, the catharsis of The Wild Bunch, Sam’s front, the poet’s armor, Bring Me the Head of Sam Peckinpah, a beautiful self-destroying machine, motivated by “why not?”, a scorpion surrounded, the price of art, a vampire hive, an audience of one, a sentient virus & a cosmic wink, possessed by Peckinpah’s spirit, soul rescue operation, ancestral resonance, giving Peckinpah the death he deserves, Sons of Lee Marvin, dog brothers, working with Jim Jarmusch, Dead Man, Tom Waits family connection, art as death, the dark side of Hollywood, writing with blood, a blood pact, a Faustian bargain, organized crime in LA & New York, sooky LA ceremonies, creepy acting classes, reality checking, Hollywood conspiracy culture, Black Dahlia killing, James Ellroy’s conspiracy fiction, intelligence services, organized crime, child trafficking, & the nature of the beast, a rare conversation, an invisible line between creative genius & self-destruction, the solace art provides, articulation & authenticity, art as communication, Seen & Not Seen, removing the glamor from art, Kurt Cobain & heroin promotion, the devil’s temptation, seduced by movies in childhood, the suspension of disbelief pact, reifying a dream, the Hollywood fantasy, fiction writing, the nature of money & power, divine intervention, what the soul wants, letting go of false meaning, good & bad patterns, self-consciousness & fear, Lucifer & Satan, the ego as huddle of thoughts, salvia divinorum, simulations of death, Cormac McCarthy, influences on Shooting the Ghost, crystallizing the unconscious.

Songs: “Knob Wobbler,” by Gib Strange; “Weary BLues” by Stephen Bartolomei; “Us Ones In Between Final,” by Annelyse; “The Devil At My Side” by Paul Wild; “Till You Lay Down Your Heavy Load” by Eilen Jewell; “These Words Are Yours,” by Hazelwood Motel

9 thoughts on “The Liminalist # 191: The Poison Art (with Sam Hyde)”

  1. I appreciate this talk a great deal. Being a Peckinpah fan since my teens, I always wondered about him as a person. Great listening to someone who knew him and someone who wrote a solid book with Peck as the subject.

  2. Just a few thoughts this conversation triggered in me:

    I wonder how many human beings have been spiritually harmed by Nietzsche’s axiom “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Of course, he didn’t create the idea, but he definitely popularized it far and wide. And how many people interact with this idea, and get carried away – as Humans are wont to do – thinking that there capacities for tolerating traumatic feeling are truly “superman” like. A person who characterizes their capacities this way is 100% taking great pride in their supposed self-willed capacities. No doubt, such valuation would elicit a contempt for those who “don’t exhibit the same sort of prowess”.

    To say Peckinpah and Sam Hyde’s father shared a similar narrative boils down to this: the delusional pride people like this feel in their “wildness”, and the resultant contempt they have for those others who fail to manifest that value (this being how our brains work).

    An overlooked view is affordances. The power-hungry culture which affords you power has brought you under-its-wings; you have been afforded I.e. given a capacity (feeling powerful) via intersubjective dynamics with others; and these ‘shared-narratives’ (no doubt with gnostic/magic/mythology to seal the deal) poison their understanding of how they work and how other people work, and how incredibly unjustified their contemptuousness really is.

    Imagine a series of circles, with the outermost circle being: Intersubjectivty -> phenomenology -> epistemology -> ontology. We begin in the first circle, and gradually progress into speaking and asserting beings who, if our context is stupid, will complete overlook/dissociate how our thinking/feeling processes are being determined.

    As a self-conscious being, we are of course responsible to how we are determined.

    The ecology of development is too important a subject matter to overlook. Alcohol created the modern Russian state (read Vodka Politics) – and via the dehydrating/dysregulating effect it has on bodily processes, created minds which couldn’t think/process (mentalize is the term in psychology) why other people act as they do, and so, having such a low-tolerance for arousal (due to dehydrating/dysregulating effects of alcoholism) set up the conditions for autocracy, etc, or so the author plausibly argues.

    A similar argument works for Islam – the dearth/austerity of desert living creates a similar mindset. Substance abuse is a major problem which works in the favor of the elites who work to exploit the consequences created by it.


  3. I left out the idea of circularity. Popularization of substance abuse feeds into narratives which strengthen identification with a dualistic substance ontology. Why? Because substance abuse makes the body feel horrible; which, if the narrative has been made available to you – via relationships with others – will encourage dissociation from the pain/discomfort by emphasizing in your cognitive experience the “power of the now”. You’ll experience the benefits of ‘de-focusing’ and re-focusing on the now, but the effects of the abuse accrete over time. All the while that the body ‘falls apart’, there are examples in our social environment of what’s happening to other selves (i.e. like your brother), who could be living in the same way.

    Michel Serres second book, “statues”, describes the horrible consequences for ones inner-being that come with living in this sort of way. And apparently, such “rigidity” is fetishized i.e. the statues set up are really quite more than exalting the dead personage. It is about combining the simultaneous themes of egotistical pride (the statue) and inner rigidity (dissociation/idealization). For the Greek self, the I is imagined to be larger than the We (look at the neuroscientist Guilio Tononi’s “integrated theory of consciousness”, which he depicts with the symbol “phi”, with an I encompassing the circle; interestingly, Tononi comes from a banking family, and his brother is the head of a prominent Italian bank).

    It is pretty incredible to me how the intoxicating effects of social power make people intellectually obtuse. Pride – their I – overwhelms them. They are like the giants in the Bible -where the word to describe them – Nephilim – means both “giant” and “fallen”. It’s an ontological delusion to ignore what suffering will inevitably come your way by persisting in a way of being that creates negative effects for self and other; yet, being afforded social power everyday, it is precisely those who are “preoccupied” with the halls of power, prestige and acclaim who are most brazenly out of touch with the suffering that, if the circumstances permitted, would teach them otherwise.

    • thanks Till, some interesting points and as someone who gestated in an alcohol-polluted womb, I can say this adds further nuance to that sad story tattooed on my cells and internal organs. (& maybe external ones too)

      i find it curious that you focus exclusively on Peckinpah’s alcoholism when we discussed it so little in the podcast – maybe as a necessary balancing out there? For me the compelling insights I had with Sam H relate to art as a form of either poison-cleansing or, as seems mostly more likely the case, poison-(re)generation due to perhaps an early learned “addiction” to dissociation fantasy. I wonder now how my own family’s alcoholism bloomed out of and played into a fascination with, or by, “Art” big A and Culture, big C, their veneration of the arts and artists that seemed to stem the bleeding of the wound of godlessness (soul-disconnect), and so act as a necessary tonic for (and bedfellow with) a deep-set, mostly concealed nihilism. Until that is it was revealed so dramatically by my brother, with his credo to die-by, “I believe passionately in Nothing.”

      • We are so vulnerable to becoming dissociated by fantasies/idealizations in unconscious service to our addictions. I’m just as guilty of this (weed, sometimes coffee) but I’m getting better. The Dalai Lama inspires me here: he says he eats three meals and sleeps 8 hours; why? Because he says he’s more compassionate/loving/tolerant when he does these things. In short, if you take care of yourself, the effect is that you can more ably help others (and in turn be helped by them).

        If we live in an ecologically sound way, the feeling/enlivenment dividends will be immense.

        I remember an episode of the Fox cartoon, “The Critic” (jon Lovitz), where the head of the studio/corporation said, after being asked by Lovitz (in a sarcastic way of course) whether he ‘knew Jesus’, and the man responded (this is too good, because its true) “Like most of Americas cultural elite, I worship Pan – the goat god”; he puts his fingers up to his to make the horns as he said it. It was funny, but was also a profound admission of the insanity cultivated by the upper-classes.

        People like this just don’t want to think; the more asymmetry/entropy they engage in, the worse it gets – and the greater their needs are for separation/dissociation. Alzheimers/Dementia is basically the ultimate later-life consequence of this dissociation (inhibition) process. Why do your hippocampus (working memory) atrophy? Because you were never using it properly; you kept suppressing right-brain representation processes – which isn’t good for you or society.

  4. It’s an interesting conversation though. Gives me some insight as to why/how you’ve become so emotionally coherent – or empathically attuned, and most of all, realistic about what causes people to be the way they are, and what’s needed from us to overcome this situation.

  5. Great discussion! Thanks. This all this keeps coming up—art, self-destruction, toxic masculinity.

    I love In a Lonely Place. Reminds me of my Grampa.


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