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Conversation with Luke Dodson on the many snares, pitfalls and red herrings of the counter-cultural/psychedelic scene, the trajectory of the artist, the lure of self-destruction, and two lost soul brothers.
Part One: Dawn Toads (0 – 29 mins)
Erik Davis, Jeffrey Kripal, Prisoner of Infinity, Kripal’s spiritual bypassing, valorization of trauma, The Toad of Dawn, DMT tough love, Davis, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson’s proto-transhumanism, Leary’s cure of homosexuality, psychedelic skepticism, Aldous Huxley and the Fabians, J.B. Priestley, the Albany Trust, Pedophile Information Exchange, Huxley’s Island, “benign” population control with drugs.
Part Two: Among the Compromised (29 mins – 56 mins)
The genesis of Prisoner of Infinity, mapping the culture, Jan Irvin vs. Charles Upton on unified conspiracy theory, the trap of demons, Anthony Peake, hidden presence of intelligence agencies, gauging how compromised someone is, Esalen, the entheogen as reduction of God to the immanent, encounters with nonhuman entities, the valorization of DMT, no pathway to God, digital geometry, fairyland, Extinction Rebellion, Bruce Parry, the life of a forager, transcendental egoists.
Part Three: A History of Delusions (56 mins – 1 hr 32 mins)
Mind expansion, harm to the body, a history of delusions, how deep does the trauma go, the regressed and progressed part, Oshana & the transmission, nutrition over flavor, aboriginal uses of entheogens, Gordon Wasson, learning about plants, the stuff of life, Ayahuasca, a predator’s relationship to psychedelic plants, fools rushing in, psychedelics & psychotherapy, the crucial fiction, gathering trinkets of power, seeking poetic inspiration, Blake & true reality, mapping the infinite, Dostoyevsky’s dilemmas, mistaking the ancestral for the eternal, therapeutic artwork.
Part Four: The Tortured Artist (1 hr 32 mins – 2 hrs 6 mins)
Personal vs. impersonal writing, egomania vs narcissism, Seen & Not Seen, tuning into the witness, seeing one’s life as raw material, processing awareness, viewing life as a work of art, Borges + LSD, magical writing, a fictional barrier of armor, 2012, The Invisibles, narrative affinities, lost brothers, Sebastian’s crucifixion, the path of self-destruction, The Sorrows of Young Werther, the origin of modern suicide and the collapse of the Christ myth, self-scapegoating, the tortured artist, summer of discontent.
Part Five: (2 hrs 6 mins – end)
Copycat suicides, Sebastian’s death, glorifying suicide, an intimate & tragic connection, suicide as imposed meaning, The Room, salvaging a futile life through an act of will, condemnation of our teenage self, an ancestral convergence.
Songs: “Pirates” and “Smile” by Entertainment for the Braindead; “For Your Safety & Security” & “Thorns of Love” by Pyramid Youth; “Fury of Light” by The Bones of JR Jones; (Luke D); “Changes” by Short Hand.
30 thoughts on “The Liminalist # 250: Mapping the Counterfeit (A Tale of Two Brothers, with Luke Dodson)”
An outstanding podcast gents. Excellent dialogue and content. I was happy to hear that Luke hasn’t written off hallucinogenics totally, but I’m with him (as I have been with you Jasun) on seriously doubting (probably beyond any doubt now) the proponents of storming heaven with any and all substances. Nevertheless, excellent questioning of their use, potential pitfalls and most importantly, role in reducing the experience of the Divine. Despite my odd issue with Upton, the fact is that their use and the powerful experiences that they induce can overshadow subtler natural mechanisms for experiencing the Divine which in turn can then appear to be poor imitations of the hallucinogenic.
Piquant details throughout. A genuinely thoughtful conversation, the best podcast I’ve heard in a long time. Quite insane how intertwined your family’s lives are. Something eerie about all that. I could almost sense the pain that your brothers went through and the pain they caused. The podcast deserves another listen.
good to get the feedback Ced, your voice/resonance comes through stronger than ever.
the psychedelic deconstruction journey is a gift that just keeps on giving, apparently; so much to learn from counterfeits!
Unsurprisingly much as I recognise the intelligence you both bring to exploring beliefs and writers etc in the first 2/3 of the talk it is when you move into talking about Sebastian and Toby that I feel so very moved: struck by your shared experience of brothers losing brothers to such darkness; so saddened to get to know Toby’s story a little Luke and your own. And of course, being the Queen of Emotion that I am, filled up again with the searing loss of Sebastian.
Jasun’s words : suicide being a ‘sophisticated rationalisation to despair’ reminds me of Sebastian’s quote that suicides are the aristocrats of death. It also reminds me of one of our therapy training teachers describing her experience of patients who find a suicide plan poking out from the turgid depths of their depression will, ironically, come back to life to design it and enact it.
Thank you for your lovely words, Ashley.
I enjoyed the chat lads. Felt very cosy company to a whiskey by the fireplace, except I was WFH standing at my computer desk with the heater on but it still felt cosy.
I took a few notes: a friend of mine took his own life by jumping off a bridge after chronic pot use brought his past sexual abuse into an unmanageable state.
@39 – spot on about the materialisation reduction of “God” to immanent and knowingness of God in the psychedelic experience. For all the bagging Irvin gets he was the one to point out the Leary was the one to intentionally associate religious experience with the psychedelic experience, see: “Entheogens, What’s in a name?” I for one took this hook line and triple sinker in the 90’s. Psychedelics can be useful to show non-normal experience and (potentially) be agents in individuation but I side with Irvin now and I think the relationship between LSD & divinity is an intentional neurolinguistic program.
@1.07 Luke, I heard this from Irvin’s research that the use of the mushroom was not traditonally “psychedelic” (a later naming of the activity) and Maria Sabina was in fact Catholic which meant she participated in the Eucharist, the highest sacramental act in Catholicism.
“Before Wasson nobody took the mushrooms only to find God. They were always taken for the sick to get well.” To find God, Sabina — who considered herself a Catholic — went to Mass.
I feel that the principle that God is completely beyond human knowledge and unknowable to consciousness is a key to the inner deep state and and a protection against the external deep state. This notion that “God” and “Consciousness” are related is really problematic I think and it has to be unpacked. Sentience is a much better term to relate to life in my opinion, consciousness is too much related to “self” and this leads to this insistent view that self or identity is somehow ontologically real. On the other hand, you want a wholistic and integrated self before it starts disintegrating before the void, otherwise you get another world of problems.
I agree with you for the most part Simon. However, I don’t think that we should limit ourselves by assuming that God is beyond human knowledge, in no small part because we don’t actually know what a human being is. He/She/It could very well be beyond our comprehension, but if we take it as a starting point then we are limiting ourselves by our assumptions while curtailing the potential opportunity to experience otherwise. On the other hand, if we allow for the opportunity, we may discover something, such as the possibility that consciousness/sentience can recognise at least an inkling of the Divine. Perhaps even become familiar? It definitely needs to be unpacked!
*Knowledge = ability to experience/recognise/perceive/understand
Just wanted to clarify.
Can you group the first three with the last one: experience/recognise/perceive with the biggie, “understand”?
Absolutely. Just wanted to cover all bases recognising that knowledge was insufficient and possibly misleading.
Mushrooms are underground the connection of voyage of the brain cells connecting with the roots of tree species. Honey that is grown at a certain altitude collecting rare fauna , imagine when Knightsbridge Stone in SW1 is collected with all those footprints and characters passing over them through the centuries and being relocated to a footballers patio in a suburb where the heart of the family goes towards a Springer Spaniel.
The Honey is external – bees swarm – swarms create forbidden sounds , they focus and direct a community working with the air element . Mushrooms extract a pollen in the air but it is perhaps meeting halfway to contaminate -to infect – to give you a feeling of mould or mildew and to warn you of the dangerous season.
There is a civilisation in Sarmiszegetguza half a century before Christ that worshipped / had ceremonies based on the goodness , psychoactive quality of the specific transylavanian honey.
Some quickly ..mushrooms are underground and above : perhaps this is wha they are demonstrating in their travels . In music we have groove (ying) or we have gypsy jazz harmonic minor (external and yang) . Sounds are like cultures .
We have already carefully assorted creative energies to learn skill from without the kind distraction of drugs and the fungi family.
Imagine being an entity…yes Carlos listen. What would you like to see or feel?
A butterfly or a bee?
The bee because of the delicate movements , the sounds , the altitudes and travels . Telekinesis of the tribe . The nests and caves , the transport system becoming international .
The hybrid bee .
The offering of sound and movement is the nectar. Community , science and extraction perhaps equals DNA test and researching ones own tribe and family history through he ages that a psychotic drug cannot do . There is a race to being in the present , jus the in the present working with what we already have. Chanting in the swarm. The voice , a zoom meeting , a musical instrument , a pod cast , a book , a painting , a room , a meadow , an incline , a mound , a steam room , a lyric , a tone , fest cut wood soaked in walnut oil illuminating amber of the grain. All the messages lead to preservation of the forests. It is an environmental lecture to ask for help. We are destructing our planet and the earth will die. The drugs are just a pre amp to justify the warnings. The warnings are beginning and the are also on repeat, quite alot are also over and out. The dead warnings are working with the mould to re enact and salvage what ever is left in the ether of human nature.
Do we groove it out? DO we “Skyfall” it out ..infuse with caffeine and “Bossa nova” it into deserts of subsidiary cream. The Equater is the human cambelt or time belt and only a film soundtrack or a nordic major documentary can illuminate or release.
All drugs , all warnings. What other intent is their bit to save the planet .
Water , air , earth , fire and the other one . Illumination and downloading of lightning information to the left hand hemisphere , the development and preservation of mind transistors and transmittance. Use what is natural , the “Hunter Gatherer” hoarding in abundance against espionage one has to just communicate to the humans at the top.
Just to recap one of the main thoughts of the writing – if one is to be 1000 years entity , soul , voyeur , archangel , messenger or spiritual guide..would you watch the trails of the butterfly or the swarms of the bee? one has 1000 years of sights and sounds..how would you set yourselves up? gliding through waterfalls and forests… connecting with other separate beings . Surely it is travel and movement , light and colour ,sounds and sensitivities but it has to be in a wavelength to contain the frequencies to a level that works and even by explaining this I,m containing not expanding as words seem to bind rather than dismantle like a invisible fox running from a flat arable . It is there , it is here , it is now and it was there. We are in , we are out. We are sealed and we are shattered.
a tour de force of insect channeled wisdom – the secret agents of existence are all around us
Great conversation. I’ve been looking forward to and eagerly consuming every podcast and blog that you’ve been putting out lately. Really longing for that connection to sanity, reason, and thoughtful conversation in these fucking insane times. Thanks.
Leary wanting to shift gays with acid ? Mmmm….odd given him and Dr. Alpert’s tendencies….
For me, this conversation was a profound and important one, and I’m grateful for everyone’s thoughtful comments.
Hi Jasun, listener here who bought your Infinity and Vice books last year and came to get back in touch with your podcast. Listening to this now and it is touching me as I went through a phase of being obsessed with a lot of the writers/subjects mentioned here. I had some really scary/damaging psychedelic yet I still think about getting back into them and just trying the right dose/drug this time.
Being reminded of your previous Matrix themed stuff has got me thinking about the forthcoming Bill n’ Ted film, I was obsessed with the original Bill n’ Ted movie from age 10-12 ish, though I never really rewatched it, it pretty much kicked off my lifelong interest in music and spirituality. It’s only just occurred to me that, released around ten years before the Matrix, it also stars Keanu as a Christ like figure destined to free humanity from it’s chains, connected to alternative culture, rock music, a magic internet network, and maybe drugs (only very implicitly with their stoner lingo/clothes/slurred voices).
People often said my brother looked like Keanu Reeves, and from the age of about 21 I started getting the same comparison, to my brother’s jocular chagrin. Recently, Keanu appears to have stepped very comfortably into the role of a kind of Christ-like innocent who is so pure that even the corruption of Hollywood has not effected him. I wonder how and why that image has formed in such a persuasive manner.
Another odd symmetry with Sebastian – Sebastian looked like Robert Downey Jr, Toby looked like Keanu, both stars of A Scanner Darkly.
Toby Goaman Dodson’s outtake footage from Long Lankin, July 2010:
I thought that was Adam Driver…
To this day I haven’t seen Long Lankin. The guy who made it seemed deeply reluctant to show it to me. I got the impression that he was worried it would be traumatic to watch, as the plot appears to centre around some sort of demonic posession.
I’m sure he is a nice person – I’ve read threads on reddit that he plays hockey with his neighbors and stuff, and obviously he’s had a tough life with losing his ex partner etc. I’m not sure why such a gentle soul likes starring in such sadistic films as the John Wicks, but maybe that makes him all the healthier? Like he’s venting his dark side through them? I always thought he was just a gentle strong screen presence.
Bruce Parry’ s life has had an interesting trajectory hasn’t it…
I’d tend to agree that his overall take on entheogens/psychedelics seems healthy/ well grounded. On the one hand he is completely convinced about their potential role in helping to heal the psyche (which you two seem to broadly agree with?) But also cautions against following that logic to the conclusion they are some kind of panacea for the western mind. In a brief anecdote he has said he once saw someone wearing a t-shirt that said “everything is medicine” and he completely agreed with the sentiment – which would seem to open the door to some dodgy territory. However I think he meant that there is a way of transmuting “bad” experiences that tend towards wholeness/healing rather than fragmentation — associated with releasing toxins? (back to composting our garbage again)
It was in Parry’s film Tawai that I first came across Ian McGilchrist’s work on the brain hemispheres (nicely summed up in the film?). I bought “The master and his emissary” but it’s sat on the shelf — small font and hundreds of pages — I wonder is it one of those books that one can get the gist of from the title (and synopsis) alone?
(If anyone has read the thing and reckons it’s worth the effort I’d be interested…)
Since our conversation, I was dismayed to see that Bruce Parry has been collaborating with Daniel Pinchbeck and XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook…
soft advocacy leads to harder stuff
I have some interest in XR, partly because of the involvement of Rupert Read and Shaun Chamberlain, both of whom had an influence on my thinking around 3 years ago (Read was also my undergrad philosophy lecturer/mentor at UEA). I was tempted to get involved at one stage (I went through quite an acute “eco-grief” phase which I’m already wondering may have been as much about my own relationship to death as much as anything else) but now I’m kind of pleased that I didn’t. A part from anything else XR seem to be a bit schizophrenic with some elements pushing for a militant form of activism and others advocating for what has been called sacred (/quantum?) activism (I wouldn’t be surprised if that tension will be the undoing of XR).
As far as the sacred activist scene goes (which def overlaps with the (intellectual) psychedelic scene you refer to Luke) my favourite speaker/writer there is probably Charles Eisenstein who’s focus on the face of it is very different to Jasun’s but at the same time I’ve noticed a number of complimentary overlaps and parallel’s in terms of their deconstructions of the culture and the identity…
Thanks for your thoughts. I like a lot of what Charles Eisenstein says, but I find him a bit tame. His gentle critiques of XR and the climate movement have been incorporated into those movements. If Gail Bradbrook is happy with what you’re doing, then it’s time to take stock…
Here’s a critique of XR I wrote. I’m planning a follow up which goes a bit deeper into the personnel behind XR, and my own connections to some of them.
Getting off topic now but XR piece very interesting and articulated a lot of vague thoughts/feelings I’d had about their objectives — I subscribed to your blog… Agree with CE being a bit tame in the sense of lightweight but my sense is it is a bit simplistic to say his critiques have been incorporated into the climate movement(?)… Be interested to discuss further but your blog/email probably the better forum for that…
Such a beautiful, moving and deeply interesting podcast. I’ve only just listened to it as I’ve been away – really interesting timing though as I dreamt about Sebastian last night – a very rare thing; he has always been particularly evasive in my dreams – I dreamt he was a head in a jar in a fridge in a corner shop in Barcelona – with a bunch of other head-in-a-jars; it was his prison for a long time; we couldn’t speak to him, only smile and wave. He smiled back, which is I think the only time I’ve ever seen him smile in a dream, but his eyes were closed. It reminds me of what Jasun says at the end about suicide, out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Jasun I’m surprised you didn’t mention our shared dream when Luke spoke about Toby’s dream experience – that feeling that the universe is expanding and shrinking with each breath – it really reminded me of those dreams that we share –
I always used to have these nightmares as a child that I was, sort of, trapped under the weight of (prisoner of?) infinity – I could never really recall the detail of the dream, all I could do was come up with a metaphor – it was as if someone had asked me to count every grain of sand in the world – I spoke to Jasun about these dreams as I had one again more recently and he was so taken aback as he has had exactly the same recurring dream, to the point of using that same grain of sand metaphor to describe it. I barely ever have it as a full on dream anymore, but I often lying in bed just get that feeling, that weight of infinity feeling, that I can feel the universe expanding and shrinking around me.
You are a beautifully articulate conversational pair; enthralling to listen to.
thanks for the comment E glad you got something from it. FYI – I corrected the mispellings of my name (odd you did that).
The Sebastian dream is unsettling, feels plausible somehow. I do think things have shifted in the last few weeks on the other side…
Luke & I had a follow-up conversation which will be up in a couple of weeks.
haha it’s autocorrect my phone doesn’t recognise Jasun
yes it felt significantly different to any other time I’ve seen him although still distant of course
Seems to me the conversation around psychedelics only hovers at either of two possible extremes and it’s frustrating the middle ground feels abandoned… Is it fair that the only options are you either jump in the deep end with these things and end up going schizo trying to convince everyone that you found god in them or shoot them down as pointless to bother with because of the consequences of jumping in at the deep end… To be fair there’s a huge spectrum and somewhere in there are a few options that might make sense. If you want to discuss the pros but mostly cons of entering into and fostering a relationship with psychedelics the same discussion could be had about anything that you can enter and foster a relationship with = junk food, sweets, headache pills, coffee, meat etc. Even stuff that isn’t food = porn, video games, television or what you listen to or read. Sure it’s easy to wonder about what you are getting yourself into when your ally is a psychedelic but only because of how obvious it is that a relationship exists between you and it. Maybe it’s not obvious with everything else but because it’s not obvious doesn’t mean there aren’t other things we have relationships with that warrant you wondering about what you are getting yourself into. Meh… there’s many more thoughts inspired from my first listen to this, thanks for these talks that have such a wonderful effect.