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Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures

Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures by Charles Hayes

"We wouldn't be here if it weren't for psychedelic drugs. In terms of the role of psilocybin in human evolution on the grasslands of Africa, people not on drugs were behind the curve. The fact is that, in terms of human evolution, people not on psychedelics are not fully human. They've fallen to a lower state, where they're easily programmed, boundary defined, obsessed by sexual possessiveness which is transferred into fetishism and object obsession. We don't want too many citizens asking where the power and the money really goes. Informed by psychedelics, people might stop saluting. "Take your political party, your job, whatever, and shove it."" - Terence McKenna

If you're like me, an old hippie, you've experienced many a trip back in the heydays of the 60s and 70s, when you cheerfully dropped windowpane, synthetic mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, orange sunshine, blotter or even the famous Owsley Blue acid. And perhaps like me you felt like you've been there, done that, and there wasn't much point to revisiting the dark closets of your ego after having thoroughly rummaged through it so many times before. Yup, you might feel like those days of deep introspection and self-analysis helped awaken your true self, but there's no need begin psychedelic therapy again...

Then a book like "Tripping" appears which, through the use of first person narratives, takes you right back to those intense moments when you first discovered the "interconnectedness" of everything, or saw your own body from above, just sitting there, or even met some characters from the "other side". The anticipation, psychedelic hallucinations, the peak experience, the psychodrama, the adventure, the crash, the retained awareness afterwards are all described in detail in Charles Hayes' new book.

Whether the narrator took LSD, peyote, psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, MDMA, or some derivative, there is always a common thread among the users of such substances and each particular drug seems to impart a similar if not identical series of experiences. Reading these stories you can't help but flashback upon your own psychedelic trips. Did you ever try to write down what you were experiencing? Did any of it make sense to you later? Hayes carefully selected stories where the tripper did justice recording and communicating those profound experiences that lies beyond words. Thus you can't help but remember those times when time itself had little meaning.

Hayes through his analysis of the psychedelic experience, a review of available literature and the aforementioned narratives attempts to interpret such deep human experiences in an anthropological, evolutionary context. Towards this noble goal, he gets a great boost with an excellent interview with Terence McKenna, recorded shortly before his "untimely" death. McKenna, author, visionary, and ethnobotanist was one of the leading proponents of the use of psychedelics as a tool in human evolution. The interview is perhaps one of McKenna last looks back at his life's work and what he thinks the future holds for humanity. This is indeed the highlight of the book, which also includes black and white renditions of excellent digital and painted psychedelic art work (next time color, please Charles!), and a good bibliography and guide to Internet resources.

What's fascinating now after four decades of public use of psychedelics, is who has used them, who is still using them, generations later, why they use them, and to what end. With stories from psychedelic travelers who range in age from barely 30 to their late 60s, it's clear that there's something of a generation gap when it comes to the reasons for pursing psychedelic adventures. And with the user's occupations varying from cattle rancher to scifi writer to poets to karmachanic, it's clear that psychedelics are a significant addition to many an unusual résumé. With people like John Perry Barlow and Robert Charles Wilson contributing their personal insights it makes for a great read.

I also enjoyed the flashbacks to the 60s period provided as background to many of the narratives. These clearly illustrate the mindset of those who used psychedelics in those days, as well as the prevailing liberal attitudes towards experimentation with drugs, sex and alternative lifestyles. It stands in stark contrast to current trends. Perhaps we've learned something since that period, or perhaps we're still in a reactionary period. As many of these interviews indicate, most users gave up tripping decades ago. But if you're like Terence McKenna, you realize there is still so much to find out about who we really are individually and where we as a species might potentially head, given enough information revealed through psychedelic revelation.

I recommend this book as a valuable addition to the psychedelic literature, thanks to the variety of such detailed first-hand accounts of trips. The reflective nature of these accounts, reaching back through so many years of psychedelic experience and abstinence cannot help but put such deeply affective journeys in perspective, and perhaps for a new generation, provide a larger context for them to pursue and integrate their own psychedelic inquires.

Added: September 3rd 2006
Reviewer: Skip
Hits: 7879
Language: english


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