Mind, Body, Spirtit

Ah, the difference between the mind, the body, and the spirit. It is an ancient question that those of a philosophical nature have attempted to answer for centuries. The wonderful thing about the human mind that separates us from animals (as far as we know) is that animals simply act and react on mostly their instincts; humans also have this animal instinct, however, after we act a certain way we have the ability to think about how we have acted. Although this is an amazing trait that allows for humans to strive for knowledge on the human physiology and genome it has been the cause of much turmoil and inner strife amongst many. The problem is that in order to completely understand the inner workings of a human, you yourself cannot be human. It is impossible. Right when your mother and father came together that special night and brought about your conception, at that very moment you began developing your bias towards the human race. As you grew older your genetic makeup and various experiences have tainted your ability to maintain a true
tabula rasa.

In an effort to catalyze the ability of humans to understand themselves, various researchers have turned to drugs. I mean, everyone knows of “legal” drugs, such as
Zoloft, Xanax, Klonopin etc that numerous psychiatrists have used in order to help their patients deal with various psychological issues. Therefore, how come an intelligent person of inquiry cannot turn to psychedelics as a means for exploration on their own? Professor X (Shulgin) gives a wonderful explanation of his first “drug” experience and why he decided to pursue the use of various others:
''I realized that all of this experience had been brought about by a fraction of a gram of a white solid, but that in no way whatsoever could it be argued that these memories had been contained within the white solid. . . . I understood that our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit. We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us, and there are chemicals that can catalyze its availability.''

In agreement with Shulgin, I believe that the drug accommodates and expedites but it itself does not actually do anything. Upon attainment of the drug, one does not instantly start an experience, you must ingest it. It is the human mind that is doing all the work; we are just giving a little jump start. The drugs would not be able to affect the mind if we did not have endogenous neurotransmitters for them. And with the various research that has come about towards the idea of adult Neurogenesis, we now know that upon extensive use of a neurotransmitter it is very possible for our brain to come back in full function. The idea of an overused “druggie” brain is only applicable to the person that allows themselves to be labeled as such and act in accordance with the misnomer. We need answers to the capabilities of the mind, and we are on an everlasting search for the spirit, we need all the help we can get; so get out there and start your discovery.



Where do ideas come from? John Locke had the theory that ideas had to come from either sensation or reflection. He saw them as the fountains of knowledge from which all thoughts that we have or can naturally have do spring. Therefore the mind itself cannot make or create simple ideas. Therefore, where can we get these sensations and reflections? The answer is, the public intellectual.

We are all individuals attempting to work together in a society as a cohesive unit. In order for each individual to comprehend and not be overwhelmed by the extensive amount of knowledge that is available in this world, we need others that we respect to help guide our mode of thought. It is hard enough to be deeply entrenched in one subject of thought, have one expertise; therefore, you would inevitable go crazy trying to be a modern day renaissance man/woman. When we are born we have the blank slate, the tabula rasa that we yearn to fill with something worthy of being etched into our mind. The public intellectual serves as a sort of filter for the mass public, letting them know what sensations we must perceive and what reflections should be reflected upon.


Intellectual Ascension

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” Is this laughable to anyone else besides me? I mean, from a theoretical perspective I could see why this would be a wonderful statement to put in our Declaration of Independence but let’s break some basic things down first.

Besides the obvious contradiction in this statement upon its creation (blacks were slaves – doesn’t seem too equal to me) there are some integral problems with people truly believing in this ideal. From a biological standpoint this in not true, therefore, why would it manifest itself in one’s intellectual capabilities? It really bothers me when I hear people attempt to give credence to broad and objective uplifting statements such as, “you can be anything you want to be if you work hard enough.” It’s time for everyone to stop being an idealist and let’s hop on the realist train.

Granted, everyone should be provided the same rights, but let’s be real, we’re in the most individualistic culture in the world, there is no such thing as unanimous equality. Therefore, I feel that my stance on the idea of the intellectual is one of “
Gramsci-esque” thought in that the public indefinitely needs its own intelligentsia to form and shape ideologies for the masses. Thus sparking the inception of the “public intellectual.” But then the question arises, “what makes someone part of this social class of intellectuals?” Well fret not public, the intellectual Mr. Minor is offering up his four quarters (as opposed to “two cents”) on the idea.

It was easier to determine who was an intellectual in the nineteenth century with a clear distinction between the proletariat and the scholarly. But in America, due to that little excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, you know, the whole “equal” thing, the problem arises that the very public you are trying to inform is the arbiter of whether or not you are indeed an “intellectual.” In racking my brain for the definition of what is truly
a public intellectual I found that this term is essentially a way for those who positively identify themselves with various ideologies to perpetuate the idea that they should be listened to and that their ideas are better than others who do not share this same means of identification. In other words, it is a way for academics to engage upon the act of intellectual ascension, setting a glass ceiling for those who do not readily define themselves with the ideals that these “intellectuals” value.

This is a necessity for those who spend so much time researching and giving their opinions on various topics because people like to believe that they are living their lives in a progressive manner. It is an innate tendency that human’s must exercise until their death. For instance, various religious fanatics have come up with ideals such as those who do not believe in their faith are going to be condemned to an eternity of suffering. So it is not that much of a stretch to see how someone who regards themselves as an intellectual could condemn others to a label of “less-informed” as a way to fulfill their path of self-righteousness.

Instead of attempting to put labels on anything and everything we can, Americans should be more concerned with the product of the public intellectual. As
Stephen Mack eloquently put it,
So, is there any way of conceptualizing something called the public intellectual that is consistent with democratic values? Of course there is, but it needs to begin with a shift from “categories and class” to “function.” That is, our notions of the public intellectual need to focus less on who or what a public intellectual is—and by extension, the qualifications for getting and keeping the title. Instead, we need to be more concerned with the work public intellectuals must do, irrespective of who happens to be doing it.

I feel that Mack’s analysis of the situation cuts to the heart of the problem. We are needlessly wasting our resources and academic class by arguing over who is qualified and who is not qualified to offer their opinion to the public. But by doing this, the intelligentsia is glossing over and avoiding their original purpose, to inform the public on his/her area of expertise. The dissemination of knowledge is essential to the progression of a culture and society. With all of the mediums that are prepped and ready for the “intellectual” to provide information on, why are we polluting it with petty bickering?

Well I guess by that previous statement, you could say that this whole piece that I just wrote is pointless, another form of petty bickering, but I feel that this was necessary in order for me to continue on my path of writing works on this blog. But this would not be necessary if other works had not been published that put me in this defensive stance causing me to readily defend my stance as a public intellectual. Hey, if you want to call yourself a public intellectual, and you have something worthy to say, let society deem whether or not what you have to say is meaningful. All you can do is hope for the best and pray that your work has reached your target audience. If you have something to say of any worth, it will be picked up at some point in time, it could be posthumously, but that should not concern you. Some of the greatest minds were not seen as such until their death or many years later (Galileo, Copernicus etc). If your sole intention as a public intellectual is to gain recognition as one, then your priorities are all out of whack and a serious reevaluation of your goals needs to ensue.


Life, Liberty, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Avid Drug User (def): Constantly lost in a downward spiraling haze of addiction, with the inability to live in a world with ethics and morals.

This is what the average American thinks of a person that occasionally attempts to engage in mind opening experiences by way of using illicit substances. This definition generally comes from the person who is easily persuaded by watching an advertisement, the person that blindly follows a religion, the person who believes that “gullible” is not in the dictionary. You know, the type of person who has his child ask, “why do I have to do that?” and he replies, “because I said so!” If you haven’t caught my drift, I am talking about majority of people that do not have much foundation in their arguments from lack of true education on the subject. Due to America’s harsh stance towards illegal substances there has yet to be a need to provide a true education of drugs and drug culture to the youth. Instead we have a bunch of power happy, hypocritical, misinformed adults preaching to a brainwashed youth, perpetuating the very cycle that made these adults the ignorant bunch that they are today. The West has a tendency to demonize the unconscious and regard it as the enemy. Drugs tap into these various realms of the unconscious and therefore many have been deemed illegal based on false pre-tenses and assertions. I feel that through a complete reformation of Western belief systems towards illegal drugs humans have the possibility to delve into a previously untapped spiritual and emotional enlightenment.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that drugs are for everyone. The irony is, the people that preach the necessity for a ban on all drugs are probably the one’s most susceptible to having their lives destroyed from occasional drug use. My only hope is that one day the general public will be more informed than they seem to be today. If we could truly educate the youth about the effects of drugs and not bombard them with anti-dug propaganda that screams, “IF YOU TAKE DRUGS YOU ARE THE DEVIL!” It is much easier to make a good decision when coming from an informed background, don’t you think? I mean, you wouldn’t ask a parking enforcement agent how to fix a rocket ship, so why would you ask a person who has been sober all their life to combat the negative effects of drugs? That just doesn’t make any sense.

So in an attempt to inform the mass public, I’m going to begin with a broad overview of the history of how some drugs were made illegal, just because I feel that a good place to start is from the beginning. Let’s kick it off this section with what I feel to be the mildest drug around, it happens to be the one with the horrible misnomer of “the gateway drug,” – marijuana.

In the 1800s in America most states had no problem with marijuana because it was used as hemp to make clothes, ropes, sails, and it was occasionally used for medicinal purposes. Then the Mexican Revolution rolled around in 1910 and this brought a large amount of Mexican immigrants to the United States and with them they brought the custom of taking a little puff here and there in their downtime. Then the Great Depression rolled around and angry, jobless, white Americans were looking for someone to blame and just like at a big high-school, Americans picked on the “new kid.” The Americans did not hate the Mexicans because of marijuana, but rather the criminalization of marijuana came about because of the hatred for Mexicans and marijuana was guilty by association. In order to rationalize this illegalization, bogus studies were produced that linked “mary jane” to crime and violence that was primarily committed by, you guessed it, Mexicans. If you don’t believe me, watch Reefer Madness in your free time, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it.

Next on the list is the stimulant cocaine. Its use in America was all well and good in the early 1800s. Paolo Mantegazza, an Italian doctor came back from his visit to Peru and saw Peruvians use the coca leaves, and he decided to test it out on himself. He felt that it had medicinal use for the treatment of flatulence and whitening of the teeth. Then a chemist by the name of Angelo Mariana read Mantegazza’s work and thought that this drug had the potential to be used to his economic advantage, and put these wonderful coca leaves into his wine. Coca leaves then found their way into Coca-Cola (hence the name) and was eventually used to treat morphine addiction in 1879. A little known psychologist by the name of Sigmund Freud published work by the name of Über Coca in which he described the effects of cocaine. He said that cocaine causes, “...exhilaration and lasting euphoria, which in no way differs from the normal euphoria of the healthy person...You perceive an increase of self-control and possess more vitality and capacity for work....In other words, you are simply normal, and it is soon hard to believe you are under the influence of any drug....long intensive physical work is performed without any fatigue...This result is enjoyed without any of the unpleasant after-effects that follow exhilaration brought about by alcohol....absolutely no craving for the further use of cocaine appears after the first, or even after repeated taking of the drug...” Then in the 1900s the stance towards cocaine began to drastically change. Intense racial discrimination and a widespread social panic were primarily responsible this change. In 1914, Dr. Christopher Koch of Pennsylvania’s State Pharmacy Board was quoted as saying that, “Most of the attacks upon the white women of the South are the direct result of a cocaine-crazed Negro brain.” There is very little evidence to support this claim however this is what majority of American’s stance towards the drug became, and this bastardization of the effects of the drug have held strong until this very day.

Last, but most certainly not least, I will talk about the illegalization of methylenedioxymethamphetamine, more commonly known as MDMA or ecstasy. Chemical compounds similar to MDMA have been experimented with since the late 1800s, but the actual chemical composition that we find in ecstasy pills today was synthesized by Anton Köllisch, a German chemist. Later on the U.S. Army was involved with using MDMA in some lethal dose studies on animals in the 1950s, and was occasionally used for recreational purposes in the late 1960s. Then came about Alexander Shulgin, a chemist who many call the “Godfather of Ecstasy.” He tried the drug for himself in 1977 and shared it with a friend and psychotherapist Leo Zeff. They concluded that the drug had potential for therapeutic use. The use of the drug became fairly popular in various nightclubs in the 1980s and spread from there. Then the damn DEA had to get involved. The drug was proposed for scheduling by the DEA in July 1984 and they deemed that the drug has no medical use and a “high potential for abuse.” Most of the experts that were called about to give their knowledge about the drug recommended a DEA Schedule III prescription for the drug because of its positive uses in psychotherapy, even the judge, Francis Young, made this recommendation. But the DEA was on a violent tyrannous warpath to criminalize the drug, and cast all this knowledge aside in order to classify it as a Schedule I drug. With this particular classification it made it so not even experimental research could be done on the drug. Why did the DEA really want to do this? Because right-winged politicians associated the drug with the onset of a hippie counterculture that did not coincide with their view of the direction that America needed top be going in. That’s just ignorant and unfortunate.
So, now do you see why I am such a strong proponent for the change in American’s drug policy? If the researchers of the drug came out and said that these drugs had negative effects, then hey, I might listen to them; but when you make something illegal solely due to the hatred of a minority, that screams of so much prejudice it’s unbelievable. I mean as America aren’t we promised life, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS? Well goddammit, let us pursue our happiness. Minor out.