Psychedelic singularities (was Test Scores (was Causality))

Lyle Burkhead (
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 16:26:16 -0500 (EST)

Ray Peck writes,

> I had the same experience, at about the same age (21-22), but without
> the drugs. I'm 30 now, and am not nearly "as smart" as I was when I
> was 20. The main effect has been concentration: I used to be able to
> concentrate for hours at a shot. Now, while I'm not a poster-fella
> for ADD, I sure can't. I can't even concentrate for 5 minutes any
> more.

Strange. Is this always true, no matter what you are doing? Maybe
you are trying to concentrate on things that don't really interest you.

> I've been thinking that taking up meditation (and stopping
> reading so much email!) might be a cure.

Maybe you should use drugs! Abstinence affects different people in
different ways. <g>

I certainly agree about the e-mail, but it's a hard habit to break.

When I was 35 I started playing a video game. I became obsessed with
it. I would play for hours at a time. This could be considered a form of
meditation. The game required very fast eye-hand coordination (with
both hands), and it required intense visual concentration -- not on an
unchanging pattern, as in some forms of meditation, but on a moving
pattern, which was just what I needed. The breakthrough came about
six months after I started playing the game. Something snapped
one afternoon, and that was when I started getting my strength back.

If you find something -- anything -- that utterly fascinates you,
something you can do for hours and never think about the time, that
would probably be a cure, or at least the first step towards a cure.

> It may not have been the drugs, Lyle.

This is true, of course. I'm sure it wasn't *only* the drugs. It was a
complicated situation. I've been thinking about what Mark said
about "a lack of coherent purpose." That was part of it. As I think
back over the sequence of events, there were indications that my mind
may have been starting to freeze up before I took the mescaline. But
still, I'm sure the drugs made things worse. I wouldn't take a chance
on it happening again.

I guess most people on the list aren't old enough to remember Martha
Mitchell. She was the wife of John Mitchell, Richard Nixon's
Attorney General. She came from Arkansas, went to New York, had a
very successful career as a model, married John Mitchell when he was
an up and coming young lawyer, and eventually reached the peak of
the Washington social scene. She was one of the most famous women
in America in the early 70s. Then came Watergate. Her husband was
in disgrace. She was caught in the midst of something beyond her
comprehension. John Mitchell divorced her, and left her with nothing.
Years later, she was living in a cheap hotel. A writer (whose name
escapes me at the moment) wondered what happened to her, and
sought her out for an interview. She said "Life is slippery like a
bar of soap. If you think you have a good grip on it -- you're wrong."

The other side of this is that even if you do lose your grip,
you can always recover. At least that has been my experience, so far.
Martha Mitchell, however, died soon after the interview.