Please bear with me here. I’m (a) a little travel-worn, and (b) doing something I swore I would never do, which is blogging drunk (we just had an amazing dinner with my brother and my aunt and uncle, and both wine and after-dinner drinks were involved.) So if I’m not my usual articulate self, please forgive me.
I was telling this story to Ingrid and my brother Rick in the car today, and thought y’all might appreciate it. Back when I was in college, I was tripping on LSD this one time, looking at the stars and becoming fascinated with the pink and purple neon patterns that the stars were forming in the night sky. This pattern-formation thing had happened on many previous acid trips — ordinary objects would alter and breathe and shift around, patterns would begin to form in the shifting visual field, the patterns would seem achingly familiar but not quite recognizable, and they would suddenly coalesce into an immediately recognizable image.
I was always curious as to what these images would be, and would sometimes take them a bit too seriously. But after three or four years of fairly regular drug trips, I’d also learned to take these images with a grain of salt. Especially since the first time it happened, the not-quite-legible writing in the street — the writing in the beautiful flowing Victorian script that clearly had an important message for me if only I could read it — suddenly coalesced into the words “Pepsi-Cola.”
Immediately recognizable. Long hair, beard, white robes (okay, pink and purple neon robes, but whatever), hands outstretched in a gesture of blessing, everything. Apart from it being sketched in the night sky in pink and purple neon (somewhat tacky early-80s pink and purple neon, as I recall), it could have been on the wall of a Sunday school.
Now, if this had been my first or second acid trip, I might have been fairly shaken by this. I might have even thought I was having a religious experience and seeing Jesus. But because this was roughly my 30th or 40th acid trip, my reaction wasn’t, “I took acid and saw Jesus!” Not even for a second. My reaction was, “Oh, that’s interesting. I’m having a hallucination of Jesus. This must be what happens when people take acid and see Jesus. Huh.” I sat there for what seemed like an hour but may in fact have been five minutes, enjoying the pink and purple neon Jesus dominating the night sky, and pondering why exactly I was having a hallucination about Jesus.
I’m not sure what the point of this story is. I think it has something to do with the Michael Shermer book I’m reading now (“How We Believe”) and the bit about the magnetic helmet that induces religious experiences in people who wear it by stimulating the temporal lobes. But it’s late and I’m travel-worn and a bit tipsy, so I’m cutting myself some slack and not fretting about coming up with a brilliantly insightful conclusion on this one. Mostly, I just think it’s a funny story. Brilliantly insightful conclusions are left as an exercise for the reader.
P.S. Apropos of nothing: Thanks to everybody who posted their links on the Shameless Self-Promotion post. I haven’t yet had a chance to look at all the links (I just got Interweb access tonight after a three-day absence, and the shakes and cold sweats are only now beginning to subside). But the quick glance I gave them makes it clear — the experiment is definitely a success, and I’ll have to do this again.
BTW, I may not be back on the blog again for a couple of days, as my cousin’s wedding festivities will be taking over my life for a day or two. But hopefully I’ll be able to post at least a quick something before I come home. See y’all soon!