just some random text here to test wordpress…
“Dr. James Ketchum tested a potent form of synthetic marijuana on soldiers to develop a secret weapon in the ’60s. Now he’s telling the tale. “
Interesting tale about how Cold Warrior James Ketchum, after attempting to harness the military potential of psychedelics, became an advocate of legalization and their therapeutic use. Good references in this article to Burning Man, Sasha Shulgin, Edgewood Arsenal, Tod Mikuriya, Tim Scully, Orange Sunshine.
Image via Ashes and Snow, © Gregory Colbert
I just found Ashes and Snow.
First let me say we were given a copy of the DVD by two dear friends and I did really enjoy the DVD. I agree with them that the imagery is beautiful. But the more I watched it, the more I felt that there was a very creepy message behind it; something just . . . wrong.
I would classify Ashes and Snow as sacred contemporary fiction or fantasy, along with books such as The Celestine Prophecy. Sacred fiction has a long history if you include the oeuvre of Spiritualist writers and channelers such as H.P. Blavatsky, or works such as Edward Bulwer Lytton’s Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale. I couldn’t call Ashes and Snow just simple surreal fiction, however. My sense is, if there is New Age* porn, this is it. This is mind candy, a mystical mash-up, devoid of content and meaning. The film-maker has perfected the sacred cut and paste, and in the process of appropriating imagery has commodified the Profound. Objectify the archetypal, the way acts of sex are objectified by pornography, and you come up with a film like Ashes and Snow.
Along with reviewer Nicholas Marques, I found the scenes of humans taking a nap or playing with cheetahs and hyenas extremely jarring. Cheetahs and hyenas are both very dangerous carnivores who in the wild would be the last thing you would want to see if you were taking a stroll. What does this tell us? It says, hey, let’s completely ignore the realities of nature in favor of comfortable myths. Let’s re-invent Nature, color it classic Disney. This is the ultimate in Romanticism taken to an extreme – instead of helping us to really connect with the beauty (and terror) of nature, it encourages a comfortable disconnect between Nature and how we objectify it, just as sexual pornography causes a disconnect between sex and loving, emotional engagement.
If the intent of this art is to show that humans and other animals can live together, then we must respectfully show the carnivores being what they are, and juxtapose humans dealing with their violent nature. Let us see them devouring their prey. But in fact domesticated animals were used to shoot the footage used in Ashes and Snow.
There is a place where human beings and animals live in peace and harmony, and humans are hardly ever harmed by other animals. That place is called a farm.
Nature, in truth, is often violent and disturbing to sensitive souls. So, in making a film like this you have a choice. You can make a comfortable film that portray hyenas as Care Bears, and might as well also have unicorns, because everything about its portrayal of nature is a lie. Or, you can make a film that shows the other animals we share this planet with as sometimes violent and self-interested, trampling the occasional child and quaint monk. The latter is more honest but sends your BoBo (bourgeois bohemian) audience shrieking with indignation.
I also found the voice-over monologue inane. If we could have lost the monologue, and gotten rid of the cheetah and hyena imagery or been more representational of their nature, I think I would have liked Ashes and Snow much more. I believe that Nature, to be respected, should be shown as it is. Ashes and Snow is Nature portrayed as petting zoo.
I don’t doubt that some will think I am taking Ashes and Snow too seriously. I don’t think so. I believe this kind of adroit and cynical myth generation opens the door to future abuse. Look at Triumph of the Will, a beautiful and stirring work used skillfully for recruitment by the Nazis. I feel there is a possibility that we are in the nascent stages of a Romantic renascence that could be cynically manipulated by skilled political players with imagery such as we find in Ashes and Snow. That is why I take this kind of product seriously.
*By New Age, I mean the Romantic myth-building machinery and merchandising empire, emphasizing right hemisphere over left, and efficient cash extraction; not the many good, progressive, enlightened and balanced works available that merge ideas from East and West.
Psychedelic Celebrity Watch
Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated American actress Mariel Hemingway will host a fund-raising dinner November 9th for Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM) in New York. According to Hemingway on the CoSM website,
Alex’s art is multi dimensional and my interest in opening to different dimensions especially the fourth/ the heart is my passion.
The Chapel and Alex have created space and work where the world as we see it, is open to a world that we can feel and experience differently, perhaps a world we are not familiar with. We are on an integrated path and the combination of the music art dance and fine art is the window into dimensions that are Bigger than us. Alex has opened this door.
– Mariel Hemingway
Ticket price for the dinner starts at $250.
More information available at CoSM.
Entheocartography is the mapping of psychedelic experience space, particularly as it is experienced by many. It is the definition of markers and pathways through the entheogenic landscape.
Since Lewis Lewin’s revolutionary encyclopedia of psychoactives, “Phantastica”, was first published in English in 1931, entheocartography has been the pursuit of Aldous Huxley, William S. Burroughs, Gordon Wasson, Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, the McKenna brothers, R. Gordon Wasson, Carl A.P. Ruck, Jonathan Ott, Jeremy Bigwood and Danny Staples; the Shulgins, Dale Pendell, and Erowid.
By Ustaath, who hereby claims coinage rights on the term “entheocartography.”
And here is the rest of it.