Cargo Cult Contrarian

Cargo Cult Contrarian

Notes on language, memory and perception

Visualizing the Language of Drug Experience

The Doors of Perception

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive...." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?"
-Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low. Then one gave it up; then the idea sunk back again... For how could one express in words these emotions of the body?
-Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

I want to know what we talk about when we talk about experiences for which we have little common language. People talk about the sublime feeling they have in face with a work of art, and they call it ineffable. They say, there are no words for what this has done to me, but I shall speak anyway (hence criticism, hence art bollocks). People talk about wine. They write on it, and they write somber, beautiful notes that conjure and evoke, and incite and compel, and so, naturally, we go and buy cases of it at the shop, we sit and mutter to ourselves, drinking, over the dinner table, words like 'taut' and 'iridescent' and 'forthright' and 'burnished', and wonder at what those words taste like (well, I do). (more...)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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