What Happens on LSD and Nitrous
What happens indeed. This was back in my college days at UCLA in the 70s, when everyone was a pharmacology major. I loved LSD, I really did. I love it to this day. I don’t do it anymore, but it’s the kind of experience that, done right, you don’t need much of. It’s like Kesey said (I think), it’s a door, but it’s not a revolving door. You go through and you stay there. If you find yourself Evel Knieveling for the next great experience, something is wrong.
Back in those days we were lucky enough to have a great connection to someone who manufactured very pure stuff that would come to us as liquid made the day before, not some icky back-pocket blotter that sends you on a clenchy, paranoid trip that feels like an old stepped-on newspaper. The experiences, I tell you, were at once unfathomable, tortuous, pure, exhilarating, inspiring, exhausting, but of course all language pales next to the experience, because you are trying to use language to describe a different universe, one where language is primitive, ancestral; a throwback.
The first time I did acid I became a puddle of protoplasm sitting in the back of Ron’s VW bus (with Ron, stoned but experienced, driving us to Santa Barbara), synesthetically reading Sylvia Plath with every poem having taken on color and texture. We went to the beach, & the patterns the water made on the sand as it slid away from me are the patterns it still makes. We used to laugh at the fear-mongering “flashback” rhetoric.
On one particular occasion I died, or came pretty close. We had gotten a tank of nitrous oxide from someone who worked for a dentist, but stupid us, we inhaled it without the benefit of any attached oxygen & so watched in acidified stupor while each others’ lips turned blue (after that, we swore we would have a tank monitor). I was already flying on acid but the nitrous gave me this powerful feeling of acceleration downward, like flying low into something.
I always wondered about that. About how the body and the way it is organized has dictated the priorities we place on certain things. Like our eyes are at the top and look out, so we are quite familiar with the 135 degrees or so in front of us. Is this what makes us such persistent planners? makes us so addicted to the future? If our eyes had evolved to be located behind us would we not give a shit about tomorrow? If our eyes were at the bottoms of our butt cheeks or the insides of our thighs, would introspection be a more natural state of being? Who knows.
Anyway, that feeling of going down down down was close to flying fish dreams, the ones where you skim like a barracuda and can breathe. Suddenly I was in space. I don’t know what kind of space, just space. I was accompanied by two entities. I’m certain it was two. We were communicating. They communicated to me that the universe as we knew it was a sad experiment, the technological equivalent of a coat-hanger on a Philco. It hadn’t really gone anywhere great, so they were going to call erasies and start over. I was offered the chance to let go of something and to go with them. It was delicious, sweet, warm; a psychic Cinnabon. I felt the thread to my earthly existence strongly. I felt I could not let go of it just yet and this was communicated to them. I felt myself moving 3-space-ward until I was hovering at the ceiling of the little apartment on Stoner Avenue (you can imagine how much we loved having that address), watching my lifeless self and my stoned companions trying to get some kind of response. My consciousness was about 10% in my body, 90% at the ceiling. I tried to move a finger. My consciousness reentered by body gradually, like a curl of smoke. I woke up. I have not feared dying since that day. The experience imprinted me permanently, changed the way I see everything. Also made me sort of homesick for a place I’ve never been.
From → Recollections