week 3

Alex Grey

assigned reading: The Elusive Theory of EverythingSlow IdeasProust Was a Neuroscientist: WhitmanCosmic Queries: Art and Science

related material: Are Psychedelic Drugs the Next Medical Breakthrough?, The Sixth Extinction, Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene, The Weight of the World, Racing Extinction, The Architect and The PainterFirst Bite, When Should Scientists Kill?, You’re Worrying About the Wrong Bees

The readings for this week paired nicely with a Tim Ferris podcast I was listening to about the use of psychedelics in addiction treatment (and the general reemergence and gradual acceptance of the benefits of psychedelics in a therapeutic setting). The guests on the show are stepping outside of the typical constraints of traditional medicine and exploring what it means to be human in the context of our society, and how that becomes accessible through plant medicines that have been used for millennia. Similarly, the readings tackled the relationship between art and science and how, when paired together, they can release us from our traditional modes of thinking. The articles covered: The development of model-dependent realism in contrast to the objective reality of classical science (The Elusive Theory of Everything), the power of a social process of diffusion (i.e. people talking) over “turnkey tech solutions” in creating new norms, how Whitman’s “discovery” of the mind-body connection exemplifies how our society mistakes scientific theory for nature rather than tools for understanding our experiences (Proust Was a Neuroscientist) and the need for science in everyday story telling (Cosmic Queries: Art and Science). A few topics got me thinking about the anthropocene, the sixth extinction and this week’s readings while I was listening:

Nature – we are part of, rather than separate from nature; science does not explain nature; how do we reintroduce this concept to humanity? how do we stop being a weed to the rest of nature?

Existential crisis – how do we face a world coming to an end when our individual demise is too cumbersome for us to grasp? how does this become a visible problem when no solution is presented that encourages seamless change?

Mind-body connection – accessing through psychedelics what Whitman describes as the poem (if “we” are the poem that emerges from the unity of body and mind)

Feelings – the body loop (William James), how does art impact “the body loop” – can you evoke compassion and behavioral change with design? how can you integrate the body loop and the seven touches rule (Slow Ideas) to do both?

Pluralverse, perspective and M-theory – is there a perspective that exists, wherein the sixth extinction and the anthropocene are not problems but realities? Is there an M-theory for how to approach the anthropocene?

My first plan is to dose the water mains with ibogaine, sending every citizen on a soul searching trip from which they will emerge reconnected with their inner essence and conscious of their place within nature rather than separate from nature, and awoken to their responsibility to, at the very least, give a shit. As British hip-hop star The Streets once said, “Yo, they could settle wars with this // if only they will // imagine the world’s leaders on pills // And imagine the morning after.”

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week 3