Friday, July 22, 2011

Elves of the Apocalypse: "Machine Elves" and the Self-Sabotage of Psychedelic Research

By Prof Rowan
(Note: Someone tried to scrub this from Wikipedia (restored as of 6am Friday) yesterday. Hopefully this makes it all the more futile to try to make this little gem go away.)

I guess when getting worked up over whether "beings exist and not nothing at all" or whether "the nothing is really nothing" just isn't enough, you can always get worked up over the "clockwork [sic] elves" who control the global elite promising them "eternal life, total power, total control, everything you could ever want, just kill everyone [...] friendly little guys..."

Right. Most if not all mythologies include creatures resembling elves. Therefore the archetypal image must be based upon encounters with the Machine... Er... Clockwork Elves. As with all paranoid logic, this argument is easily felled by Occam's Razor, which advocates that "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity," in short, that the "simplest answer is most likely the correct one." It is much more plausible to propose that the entities encountered during the DMT-experience could very well bear some measure of resemblance to elves (elongated and angular shapes are common); that one comes to think "if they look like elves, they are elves" at least makes sense!

THERE ARE NO FUCKING MACHINE ELVES!


To be fair, Alex didn't make this shit up. It's not just conservatives, authoritarians, loons and republicans who make research concerning the nature and uses of psychedelics virtually impossible. In the years following the relatively methodical experiments of the first psychonauts - Albert Hoffman, Aldous Huxley and Ernst Jünger (the term "psychonaut" was coined by Jünger in his book Annäherungen [Approaches] (1970)) - waves of naïvely uncritical and over-enthusiastic "researchers" provided untold amounts of ammunition to those wishing to de-legitimize, halt and prohibit psychadelic research.

J'accuse Terence McKenna! You asshat extraordinaire. I'd ask what the hell you're smoking, but we already know that!
 [Machine Elves] are dynamically contorting topological modules that are somehow distinct from the surrounding background, which is itself undergoing a continuous transformation. These entities remind me of the scene in the film version of The Wizard of Oz after the Munchkins come with a death certificate for the Witch of the East. They all have very squeaky voices and they sing a little song about being "absolutely and completely dead." The tryptamine Munchkins come, these hyperdimensional machine-elf entities, and they bathe one in love... saying, "Don't be alarmed. Remember, and do what we are doing." One of the interesting characteristics of DMT is that it sometimes inspires fear... A touch of terror gives the stamp of validity to the experience because it means, "This is real.”
The fractal elves seem to be reassuring, saying, "Don't worry, don't worry; do this, look at this." Meanwhile, one is completely "over there." ...The elves are saying, "Don't get a loop of wonder going that quenches your ability to understand. Try not to be so amazed. Try to focus and look at what we're doing." What they're doing is emitting sounds like music, like language. These sounds pass without any quantized moment of distinction... from things heard to things beheld. One hears and beholds a language of alien meaning that is conveying alien information that cannot be Englished.he fractal elves seem to be reassuring, saying, "Don't worry, don't worry; do this, look at this." Meanwhile, one is completely "over there." ...The elves are saying, "Don't get a loop of wonder going that quenches your ability to understand. Try not to be so amazed. Try to focus and look at what we're doing." What they're doing is emitting sounds like music, like language. These sounds pass without any quantized moment of distinction... from things heard to things beheld. One hears and beholds a language of alien meaning that is conveying alien information that cannot be Englished. [Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness]
They're like jeweled self-dribbling basketballs and there are many of them and they come pounding toward you and they will stop in front of you and vibrate, but then they do a very disconcerting thing, which is they jump into your body and then they jump back out again and the whole thing is going on in a high-speed mode where you're being presented with thousands of details per second and you can't get a hold on [them ...][The Invisible Landscape]
I don't blame people for having misconceptions; try getting approval for a study involving DMT - then try your luck at getting a grant - not with this nonsense having long since made the rounds.

One of these guys needs to get some drugs and some sense of perspective. Too much 'reality' easily gives way to a sort of syncretic tunnel-vision: unable to accept that the real is not the rational, the mind goes to any lengths to somehow make it all fit together and make sense.

The other guy needs to put down the pipe and spend some time in the 'real world.' He also makes the absurd claim that "the major quantum mechanical phenomena that we all experience, aside from waking consciousness itself, are dreams and hallucinations." (Tryptamine Hallucinogens) Um... The last time I checked, quantum mechanical phenomena are never experienced, whether awake, dreaming, tripping or hurtling into a black fucking hole. 

Descartes was wrong, it just makes you trip.
A recently published paper on the role played by endogenous DMT (yes, right now you have DMT floating around your body; in minute quantities) makes a great point: "ASC [Altered States of Consciousness] are only possible because of a normal waking state of consciousness. I propose that it is the role which [endogenous tryptamines including DMT] play in our waking awareness which allows them to play a role in the ASC as well.” (Endogenous hallucinogens as ligands of the trace amine receptors: A possible role in sensory perception,” J.V. Wallach, Medical Hypotheses 72 (2009) 91–94. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2008.07.052. 94). In this case, if endogenous DMT is in part responsible for how we experience waking life (visually), it follows that altered and normal states of consciousness might not be so radically divergent as we might be led to believe. It also stands to reason that if conscious experience has no intrinsic meaning, altered states of consciousness are no more intrinsically meaningful than waking life.

Alex and Terence don't just share their belief in mechanical elves; as if the elves weren't enough reason for ridicule, it gets worse. Terence has seen the Mayan Elvish Horsemen of The Apocalypse riding toward us - and predicts their arrival on *gasp* December 21st 2012.
In Case of Apocalypse Use Harpoon to Shoot Legolas
Question: In your book you sketch out what you call a quantized modular hierarchy that tries to pinpoint the points in history where all this information floods in from outside the manifold... why did you pick 2012. It is also the end of the Mayan calendar.
Terence ...My original reason for choosing the 2012 date was very idiosyncratic. It had to do with temporal distances from the date that the atomic weapons were used on Hiroshima. But once we had this program running well enough that I could see what was happening, I felt that the time-wave gave very good agreement with the historical data. The time-wave maps novelty, coming and going, from historical time. Configure it so that you'd have the zero point in November, 2012; in that case the deepest ingression of novelty before modern times was in that fifty year period in the fifth century B.C., when Laotzu, Mencius, Ezekial and Zoroaster and Plato were all active. Such a moment! Nothing has been done since except adumbrations of that work. Then, of course, as you mentioned, the end of the Mayan calendar, which is a very, very strong coincidence. The Mayan calendar was right once before. They predicted that on a certain morning on a certain day in a certain year, men would come in white ships and should be treated like gods. And on that morning of that day of that year, the ships of Cortez dropped anchor off the coast of Mexico. We're talking about forces which wrecked a civilization. Are we to believe that the Aztec civilization was wrecked on the basis of a coincidence? It isn't like that. The prophecy was fulfilled. They had good agreement between prophecy and fact, but it set them up psychologically to be conquered in a way that would never have happened had they not had that prediction in their world view. I don't want to get into it in great detail, but I think the modern relationship of science to the flying saucer is approximately at the same level of sophistication as the Mayan astronomers sophistication was to his ability to predict future events. So prophecies do have a way of coming true when you look at civilizations on the scale of millennia, and it usually bodes great change for the society in which it happens. (DYNAMICS OF HYPERSPACE: a dialogue by Ralph Abraham and Terence McKenna. Santa Cruz, CA, June 1983)
Is it too much to ask, dear reader, that this man not be taken seriously and recognized for what he truly was: an embarrassment, liability and asshat. Can we get on with it and recognize that responsible psychedelic use, especially of DMT, can have numerous beneficial effects that ought not be discounted and should be properly studied? I think it's beyond dispute, at least, that the "war on drugs" was a spectacular failure and that it's time for the puritans of the world to give up the ghost, live and let live.

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