Creativity Flow and the Psychology of discovery and Invention
Book: Where Healing Waters Meet: Touching the Mind and Emotions Through the Body
Book: Mind Parasites
Book: Tales of Inter-Dimensional Travel Surfers of the Zuvuya
Pataphysics Magazine Interview with Karl Jansen
from the Psychomilitary issue
Pataphysics: What led you to research the effects of ketamine?
Karl Jansen: I have always been fascinated by the interface between brain and mind, and the amazing things that happen near and at the interface such as the near-death experience. That ketamine can induce a near-death experience, and provide apparent access to the quantum sea, is very exciting.
P: When did you first have ketamine? How would you describe that experience?
KJ: I had a motorcycle accident in India in the 1980s. It was in the south, while I was doing a grand tour of the Hindu temples and mountain caves. They still make those single-cylinder Enfields down there, the old kind that you see in WWII films. The roads are about that old too! Anyway the bike disappeared into a big hole in the road and I had a spontaneous near-death experience of a classical kind: rapid movement through the plumbing of the Universe, coming out into the Light, unspoken communication with the Light about my existence... then I came back. It wasn't long after that that paramedics arrived and gave me a big shot of ketamine-they use it a lot there in situations like this. Wham! I was back having the near-death experience again. It was the same space alright. Later I thought: I have to know more about this drug and what it does.
P: In your recent book, Ketamine: Dreams and Realities, you discuss the potential of ketamine to create spiritual/religious feelings in the user via their near-death experiences. Have you felt any shift of this type since having ketamine?
KJ: Ketamine certainly has the potential to generate spiritual experiences while people are affected by the drug. Whether those experiences have a lasting effect on beliefs about the Universe, Life and Death is a separate question. There are certainly some people who report persisting changes in outlook, but we don't have the figures to say how many, what type of persisting changes, and how long those changes last. We're in the realm of anecdotes here, although researchers are 'closing in' on ketamine here and there.
Some ask the question 'is it schizotypy or is it spirituality?' Schizotypy is a medical/psychological word for 'magical thinking,' i.e. it labels this type of thinking as 'schizophrenia-like.' There are some recent papers in a journal called Addiction noting that some ketamine users have an increase in 'schizotypy.' That's probably not what you have in mind though. Now your question is about me personally. It's difficult to answer for n = 1 because there are so many uncontrolled variables. The most 'para-normal' experience I ever had didn't involve any kind of substance. It was during holistic massage. That resulted in some fairly persistent changes in outlook re. certain types of complementary medicine. However, those changes in outlook have worn off in some respects lately. I was recently in Atlanta, giving a speech at a conference there.
The conference was called 'Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?' and was sponsored by the Secular Humanists, CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) and the Skeptical Inquirer.
Many of the books sold there were from CSICOP. I read some of those books and found myself convinced by some, although not all, of their arguments. They take things too far, and I cannot support the easy dismissal of fetal memory, for which fact scientific evidence continues to grow. I shared a platform with Raymond Moody, author of Life after Life. I went to Atlanta thinking that I really didn't disagree with some of Moody's stuff, and if they were expecting a hot debate they would be disappointed.
However, Moody had gone to Atlanta thinking the same about me! He has, in fact, largely abandoned the position he may have held implicating that the NDE is evidence for life after death, and has now taken up a more rationalist/secular humanist position-that is why they asked him to speak. The whole conference was preaching to the converted-they hadn't invited any spiritual/religious people at all!
My belief in pre-birth memories was regarded as a heresy in this environment. But I haven't changed my mind about those, and am confident that as we learn more about the fetal brain, science will support the concept.
P: John Lilly once described himself as being a visitor in the palace of his mind. In relation to his use of ketamine & flotation/isolation tanks, what do you see as the significance of Lilly's 'excess'? Have his experiments & writing been influential on your investigations?
KJ: John's experiments and writings have certainly influenced my investigations at many points. He made tremendous but deceptively simple contributions to our understanding of the mind and how it constructs a sense of reality, sacredness and meaning. On a more prosaic level, I also learnt a great deal from him about ketamine dependence, and the pitfalls that can beset the self-experimenter.
The significance of Lilly's excess?
I agree with John's echoes of the ancients that we should start with the Know Thyself injunctions, but I doubt the wisdom of discovering ourselves by self-dissection and destruction. John himself was sometimes aware of the issue that his experiments interfaced with personal masochism at many points.
What he called scientific exploration and 'exploring the parameters' looked like deliberate self-harm to many of us. Sometimes he had insight into that. His psychoanalyst told him that his idea about putting thousands of micro-electrodes into his own brain was frankly masochistic.
In later years, after the ketamine binges written about in The Scientist, John became addicted to cocaine, and this too was presented as an acceptable excess as it was an exploration of the relationship between Freud's use of cocaine and his sexual theory (see the interview in my book).
At one point that 'experiment' involved John hammering his penis to the wall during a cocaine binge. It's hard to say whether adventures over-the-edge tell us what's out there for everybody, or just tell us about one person's dreams. I certainly don't think there are Earth Coincidence Control Offices. Still, at the end of the day John lived longer than many clean-living risk-averse folks, and we were sorry to see him shuttling off the mortal coil at last.
P: Within an increasingly ruptured capitalist epoch, does ketamine provide a key into a discarded human telepathic potential?
KJ: Ah, we wish! But the facts... what are the facts? There isn't any sound evidence to support that view, just personal opinions and anecdotes. I suspect that John Lilly might answer 'yes' to that one, if he were still with us. So far, the telepathic experiments carried out under sensory deprivation-like conditions (the Ganzfeld experiments) have not convinced me.
I can recommend a book called The Hundredth Monkey and Other Paradigms of the Paranormal by Kendrick Frazier. I am personally doubtful that such telepathic potential will be shown in properly designed and controlled experiments. It is very easy to be led astray by one's own experience of the world, for the 'inside' to become the 'outside,' but take that process too far and you are on the path to self-deception, and beyond that madness...
P: Do you feel that the shaman figure might emerge in the West at present?
KJ: The shaman figure has always been with us, in recognized or unrecognized form, although that particular term is not always used for the role. Right now some DJs act as shamen-they have all the ancient aids: all-night gatherings, trance dance, substances, and the beat, beat, beat of the drums, and the flash of lights like the fires on the beaches and in the jungles...
Hippie Crap saves the world
The Zeitgeist Of War
Religion and Revolution
Pataphysics Magazine Interview with John Cage
Pataphysics: In the late '50s in a series of interviews with Georges Charbonnier, Claude Lévi-Strauss said that he had a feeling that music has always been much more 'avant-garde' than other forms of aesthetic expression. He continued by saying that the music composed at the time of the Impressionist movement was more adventurous musically than Impressionism was pictorially...
John Cage: Really? That's very curious. I have the feeling that visual arts are more advanced than music. It seemed that way to me; it seemed that music follows visual art. For instance, I was born in 1912 and it was then that Duchamp was using chance operations. When I saw him in Venice many years later in the late '50s I said, 'Isn't it strange Marcel, I'm doing now what you did when I was born.' He smiled and he said, 'I must have been 50 years ahead of my time.' His mathematics weren't perfect, but the idea was there.
I think people admire music and think that it is abstract-perhaps that's what Lévi-Strauss was referring to. But if you're involved in music, the ideas expressed it are frequently unadventurous, in the sense that chance operations were used in painting before they were used in composition.
Work like that of Malevich is perhaps just now conceivable in terms of music-that extraordinary simplicity. It's conceivable today that someone might be-or is-doing something like Malevich. I think of La Monte Young.
P: Philip Glass?
JC: I think that music is, as everyone agrees, very popular, and it's because of its repetition. I like some of it very much but I don't think it's an advance. It's not just discovered, it's something that has been known for some time.
P: Do you feel that the distinctions that you drew in the late '50s between European and American music still apply today?
JC: For me not quite as much, at least they don't strike me now as they did earlier. What strikes me now is a correspondence between say the work of Walter Zimmermann, who is living in Cologne, and a recent composition of mine for two pianos, Two2, which I wrote last summer. When I heard Zimmermann's piece it gave me an experience similar to the one which I had when I heard my own music-a kind of placelessness. I didn't know where I was when I was listening to either his music or mine, and I had no sense of going anywhere.
I did have a sense of movement, not thinking of it as you would in Philip Glass, as a staying, but of moving but not knowing where I was going.
In the '50s I suggested there was a great division between music that talks, and music that acts or does-music which carries out a process, and which isn't talking but is doing. That still strikes me very much, and it's something that I'm still concerned with. The differences between Europe and America are sometimes very clear, but sometimes they're not, and sometimes they appear to be the same so that in spots, as it were, we're coming to one place and we don't know what that place is. For instance, I went to two concerts last night; I went to the rehearsal of one of them and the actual performance of the other. I enjoyed them both very much and they were both, of course, American. But it seems to me that there could have been, for instance, music by Walter Zimmermann or certain European musics, and I would have enjoyed them equally and almost in the same way-I might have.
What I'm trying to say is that the times are changing and the distinctions between Europe and America are less immediately noticeable. And I hope that we get to be, all of us, in the same world, not that we all do the same thing, but that there's not one place but rather many places where we can enjoy the art, just as we do the nature in all the places.
P: Buckminster Fuller's vision is certainly becoming more of a reality, but today do you find anything problematic in this optimism in technology?
JC: I'm not sure technology changes things that much; it changes them if we are concerned with what the results are. But if we deal with the new technologies as closely as we have dealt with the old ones, then we will come to appearances that aren't superficial. What I hope won't happen is that we are quickly satisfied with technology itself.
What is to be hoped for is an interaction of people with technology, rather than a quick acceptance of what technology does. There's so much button pushing now, and the results are so spectacular that there's a temptation, which I hope is avoided, of just taking what the technology gives and not doing anything with it.
P: Much of your earlier work developed through a disregard for the distinctions between art and life. Do you feel there has been progress made since first formulating those ideas?
JC: I think this is one of the familiar aspects of art, that it opens our eyes to things in what we call nature or environment that had escaped our notice. In paying attention to art your observation of nature changes. There's a strong action in both directions, between our experience of environment and our experience of making things, of doing things.
P: Given your position in regard to art and life, did you ever feel that your work was anachronistic?
JC: It's a curious and interesting question... I guess we get carried away and so does our work.
P: Carried away in the work?
JC: Right. Carried away in paying attention to it. As we get involved in the work, in art so to speak, then things could be happening in nature around you which would escape your notice, because your attention is being placed on your work-so then the difference is striking. At the same time the use of the work will be to carry you back to the absence of work and just to the environment. It's very curious.
It's actually a question of the movement of attention, so that your attention is placed on the work that you're doing and then once the work is done your attention moves, without any trouble, to not working, in other words, environment.
However, I don't think I would say the same things about what I'm doing now. I have the impression in my work that things that I was avoiding formerly, I now no longer avoid. One thing that remains of greatest importance to me is non-intention.
P: And structure?
JC: It needn't be structure, it can just be process. I think of a structure as something having parts and I think of a process as something not having parts. You could now have something not having parts that nevertheless begins and ends. The thing I think of as being something I used to avoid, and which I no longer do, is something like harmony. Now it seems to me that harmony happens no matter what we do. It's like melody; if you make a number of sounds you automatically have melody, and now if you have several sounds together they automatically produce harmony. Most of my life I thought that I had to find an alternative to harmony, but the harmony I was thinking about was the one that had been taught at school. Now I see that everything outside of school is also harmonious.
P: A wider definition of harmony?
JC: A changed definition of harmony; one that doesn't involve any rules or laws. You might call it an anarchic harmony.
Just sounds being together.
Mediocre times produce the very worst that the world has to offer:
Laden, Bush, Hussein, Sharon, and Blair. None but the feeble minded
inspiration from such a ghastly lineup of "leaders".
Turn Off TV and Turn On Quantum
Humanity's most valuable possessions are Clean Water, Clean air, and Trees