July 11, 1996
I hope the English summer is treating you right. I love Devon in the
springtime but the pollen takes me to hell.
I have been mulling our conversation, and reading David Abrams "The
of the Sensuous" and from there a bit of Merleau-Ponty. And that sent
back to Whitehead's "Process and Reality" and I reread Part III
out ANW's idea that feelings are the primary datum of all experience. I
mention all this just so you know who I have been hanging with as I form
What I return to again and again, and what these authors seems to brush
against from different angles, is the idea of a lost modality of language.
That civilization, for a number of debatable reasons, has severed us, not
only from nature as habitat and ecosystem/landscape but has profoundly
severed us from our own nature, including the full compliment of
communication skills and channels that we once accessed.
Of course their approach is very academic and proceeds by reason
and philosophical argument, but beneath that can be heard a very real
plea for deliverance. These authors either were not aware of or chose to
appear unaware of, the psychedelic experience a la DMT. Though Abrams
quotes an amazing passage from Merleau-Ponty's "Phenomenology
of Perception" about mescaline.
But what they are calling for, the recreation of language through
rediscovery of the body, to reclaim language's lost dimension, is to
my mind exactly what happens when DMT works. For me it has
always been about the sudden almost orgasmic outpouring of meaning
that is beheld, words become things made of light and the restoration
of this power brings with it ecstatic apotheosis, it is a reuniting with
the lost portion of the self, somehow become lost during the vicissitudes
of our long strange history since Paleolithic Algeria.
I wish I could get at this more, this transformation of language. It is
personal and subjective as sex. Yet because it involves sound and vibes,
it is potentially highly inter subjective, meaning can involve other
sentient beings. And I have since the first time I smoked had the
indisputable intuition that, in spite of its archaic roots, or perhaps
because of them, that it would have a profound and salutary role to play
the transformation of cultural crisis into utter utopia. Anyhow that is
enough for now.
Keep on Truck'en.
Bingo! Since keys are keys, not the rooms and the contents of the rooms
which they open, it seems salutary to consider the rooms opened by
chemical keys to be simply ourselves, rather than something alien and/or
dangerous: parts of ourselves locked away from the ego perception
which is the sum of our cultural conditioning as expressed in language
as she's spoke. Freed for a moment, the latent language facility blooms
and expresses things we only understand in the moment, with ears of
the moment. And somehow this reminds us, so very often, of childhood
- the immense bright afternoons of childhood aeternitatus. The few
lexical items we manage to bring back are not unlike the babbling of a
child before the native word talent is shaped into common language.
I'm tempted to say, though I will not go so far as to affirm, that we
ARE the word talent, as much as we ARE the visual talent, the light
gathering and organizing facility. I'm reminded of Rick Griffen's
flying eyeballs uttering strange glyphs. Words of light dissolve the
amorphous boundaries between the facilities - six senses be damned,
there's only one! We 'apprehend' and are subsumed in the apprehending.
Phenomenology must take its clue from the state of pure apprehension.
Wittgenstein wandered far from this and based his later self repudiated
Philosophicus Tractatus on reason alone. Of course, his agenda was to
destroy all philosophy up to and including his own and, I suspect, wipe
the slate clean for a whole new go. Cambridge affected him that way.
How is thought to continue beyond Wittgenstein? It must be regrounded
in direct apprehension and freed from the clutter of religious symbology
which leaks into and influences perception of the emperium. This doesn't
mean do away with religion, ceremony is right and natural, but to comprehend
that it could be based on primary rather than authoritarian secondary and
tertiary modes of perception, allowing vital illumination of the present
categories of shadow and mystery. The emperium is quintessentially religious,
if by that the indubitable presence of divine consciousness in the sacred
garden is understood.
Merleau-Ponty is far and away the most readable of the phenomenologists,
those great grandsons of Berkeley and Kant, though I'm fond of old daddy
Husserl himself, unreadable as he is. I once spent several months of 1972
on one dry as dust page of his "Phenomenology of Internal Time Consciousness."
re-reading and marking up the page ad nauseum. Never did grasp the whole
presented thought (lame translation?) but it kept my mind spinning in those
grooves. Those who think his disciple Heidegger is difficult should try
maestro himself, compared to whom Marty's "Being and Time" reads
Mickey Spillane. But how does one become entirely 'scientific' about the
roots of perception? Occam's razor cuts as far as the stratum of poetry
no further. What is not divisible is opaque to methodology. But I don't
belittle the limits of methodology. What good is a tool without limits?
Tools ARE limits. You don't water the lawn with a shovel. The Swiss
Army knife is the exception which proves the rule.
I admire the succinctness of your last letter. Forgive me if I ramble
as is my habit. It's morning in the shire and I look out my writing room
window at a flock of sheep grazing the backyard. Beyond them, down the dell:
a cluster of Tudor and Elizabethan farmhouses. Will be hard to give this
come late August, but I've late taxes, teeth and other business to attend
Had the opportunity to experience dysentery with fever and light delirium
last week. Not much compared to your ordeal with Oroboros in May but
enough to experience the relative pleasure of a return to normality. The
allergy season is in full glory here, but judicious use of antihistimine
Just as bad at home, so no complaint. I have occasional fantasies of retiring
to the Sahara. Hope this letter finds you physically brisk and in full mental