Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's All Fun & Games: The Value of LSD for Play and Creativity

The quality of LSD that I value most is how it frees you up to engage in creative play like children do. I am a relatively silly and carefree adult-- I'm all about playing in the snow and games of pretend-- but LSD is often the only thing that frees up other people so they can play with me. The removal of inhibitions and the augmentation of the senses that LSD causes really makes child's play easy and rewarding. Playing is often a component of the creation processes for highly intelligent and creative people, and therefore LSD may very well help the rest of us get into that carefree headspace more easily.

I dropped acid the other day (Friday the 13th) and I haven't tripped since this summer (if you're curious, read the post I Have Done a Good Deed). Either I had forgotten how intense the LSD experience is or we had gotten ahold of really strong acid. While I had affirmed to my friend early in the evening, who was about to have her first trip, that I was the expert among my friend group at calming down anxious psychonauts, by the time she actually needed my help (more about that below) I was tripping too hard to even quite register what emotion she was feeling. (Obviously, I regret being unable to attend to her, but once the Boyfriend stepped in and reasoned with her a little bit, the rest of her night was dandy.)

The entire trip was, from my point of view, defined by the ideas of childhood, time, and aging. We spent most of our trip watching TV (which is not my first choice of activities whether I'm tripping or not), and just as our peaks were beginning we found that Nick at Nite was airing a Rugrats marathon. This sent everyone back to their own childhoods. I'm not sure if my perception was correct, but it seemed like the Boyfriend was really riffing on the idea of the neo-childhood we were experiencing and the conversations we've been having lately about growing old together. Almost all his comments during the conversations of the night had something to do with nostalgia, or our parents' generation, or our personal futures. (Even our noob's momentary bad trip was related to time; she began to cry when the clock appeared to be moving backwards.) The entire Rugrats atmosphere got me thinking about play.

It was on the comedown, after the Boyfriend and I had separated from our friends, that I really began experiencing the idea of play. Alone in the basement of his house, while he tucked his gal pal into bed upstairs, I began to imagine, on purpose, that the house was eating me. That I was in the belly of a gigantic, rumbling beast and who knows what was going to happen next. When Boyfriend came back, I reported this to him and he expressed concern. "No," I said. "It was fun. The house is a big warm animal but when it started making rumbling and creaking and gurgling noises I imagined it was about to digest me." He then stripped down into his boxers to go to bed and I commented, "I like those boxers! They make you look like a sailor!" so as we were settling down and talking about the evening, I addressed him like a wizened sailor (to his annoyance). :) After he fell asleep, I began thinking about our animal existence and how removed we are from it-- all the viscera that, as civilized humans, we rarely have to deal with. Usually I get grossed out by anything that's even the slightest bit gory, but in that moment I felt that I could deal with anything that life could come up with. I began attempting to disturb myself, which is generally really easy, but right then I was invincible. Then the idea of violence morphed into the philosophy of sexual violence, and whether the practice of consensual violent sex was, at its base, a negative subconscious aberration or a natural and innate desire. I am curious about the phenomenon of BDSM and other violent and rough sexual practices, so I began to try to disturb myself that way, by imagining the most violent sexual scenarios possible. It didn't work. But it occurred to me that the subconscious is full of really interesting things that seldom get dealt with in art, and from now on a closer understanding of our fucked up subconsciouses will be informing my writing.

Actually, just before my trip I had been reading The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide by James Fadiman, which had an entire chapter about studies done about the effect of LSD on creativity. While some reported that they did not have the attention span to work on a specific project, most were amazed by how readily new problem-solving insights showed up and could be implemented. The key point here is that the scientists' measure of success was its "real life" use-- how it benefited us in our competitive capitalist world.

From this trip, I took away a broader understanding of my mission as a writer and a greater openness to play.