Stranded in the Jungle--16


ACID. I took LSD some twenty times between 1977 and 1992. That isn't often, but for me it was sufficient. I never had a bad trip. I enjoyed myself immensely. Years later, I still remember these experiences vividly. Psychedelics are not like other drugs. They seem to be about something besides pleasure and pain. They don't soothe your agony. They don't help you relax. They neither excite a craving, nor relieve one. LSD intensifies things. But it doesn't really make anything happen. It just brings into the open whatever is going on already. It makes you perceive things you'd otherwise ignore. It's an all-purpose catalyst for the brain. I never had any hallucinations while tripping. Everything I saw was perfectly real. It's just that my senses were enhanced. As I recall, light was streaming everywhere. Colors were more vivid than I had ever seen. Intricate, swirling patterns danced across the sky. Figure turned into ground, and ground into figure. Everything was alive, with a life and will of its own. Objects throbbed and glowed, and writhed in my hands. This was beautiful. It was also disconcerting. I didn't have control. Even the simplest tasks seemed beyond my ability. How could I possibly lock the door, for instance, or play a record on the stereo? But the key slipped into the lock of its own accord. And music boomed from the speakers, all by itself. Things just happened like that. There was no need for action on my part. The world was generous beyond measure. It offered me more than I could ever hope to absorb. The more choices it gave me, the less I was able to choose. When I tried to read a book, even the words on the page came alive. They wavered and jumped around and flashed rainbow colors. Somehow this made them seem richer and more passionate. As for other people, they became transparent. Their flushed faces gleamed above elongated bodies. They looked like cartoon images of themselves. In such a state, they could hold no secrets from me. I knew them better than they knew themselves. The most hilarious part was that they didn't notice my condition. I talked to them calmly, as if nothing were out of the ordinary. Meanwhile the world washed over me in waves. A violent energy surged through my body. Its force left me breathless. My nerves tingled from the shock. Spasm after spasm swept through me in a rush. This was the outside, battering its way in. The objects all around me were coming closer and closer. I could no longer keep the world at a proper distance. It pushed right up against me. It grazed my skin. It pressed into my eyes. It filled my mouth, and churned in my stomach and bowels. I felt its alien presence coursing through my veins. I was more than vulnerable. I was exposed. All barriers, all defenses, had fallen. Even the lightest touch was enough to set me aquiver. The feeling was so intense, I could hardly stand it. Life gushed forth in all its splendor. I no longer knew where my being ended, and the world began. My body lay dispersed and scattered everywhere. It had become a vessel for forces I could not name. These forces converged upon me from the farthest reaches of the universe. This was the peak, the high point of the trip. Things were going so fast, I couldn't keep up. I couldn't even keep track of my own state of mind. By the time I noticed anything, it was gone. It had already changed into something else. I was out of sync with the world, and with myself. I tried hard to make sense of this situation. I struggled to focus my attention. I carefully pondered each of my actions. I repeated to myself the story of what was happening. But still I wasn't able to catch up. There remained a lag between events and my awareness of them. This was a riddle I could not solve. My efforts to close the gap only made it larger. Thoughts of all kinds were swarming through my brain. I grasped at them as they whizzed by. I examined them from every possible angle. I worked them over meticulously. I elaborated them into complicated structures. Soon I was thinking thoughts about thoughts; then thoughts about thoughts about thoughts. My mind was caught in an infinite regress. I needed more and more words, to say what could never be said. This prospect thrilled me. It convinced me that I was on to something profound. The secret of all existence seemed to be hovering just before me. If only I could pin it down for a moment... Of course, this impression didn't last. Time and again, it broke up in gales of laughter. The secret was that there was no secret. None of this really mattered. In any case, the trip did not go on forever. Some things are just too beautiful to last. Toward evening, the world gradually settled down. It was with regret, as well as relief, that I returned to ordinary life. Today, LSD continues to haunt me. It lingers in memory, long after having left my body. I don't think it means much of anything. But there's a certain feeling it gave me, that never goes away.

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