Thursday, April 25, 2013

PKD and Drugs

"The first time I took LSD I saw the whole landscape freeze over; nothing but snow and rocks, and it lasted for thousands of years." -PKD, Letters 1977-1979

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"The recreational intake of the author of A Scanner Darkly was a key factor in the visions and delusions he brought to his work" -Philip Purser-Hallard, The drugs did work


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  "Yes, well, we touched on another topic in the interview I had with those people and that was my attitude toward drugs. They said, isn't there an affinity between you and Timothy Leary's attitude toward drugs? And I said, well, actually a scrupulous reading of my novels that deal with drugs such as 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, NOW WAIT FOR LAST YEAR, "Faith Of Our Fathers", and A MAZE OF DEATH show the possibility -- again we get into the area of possibility, not certitude -- that there are really just a whole number of things happening in 3 STIGMATA and in NOW WAIT FOR LAST YEAR, The drug is destructive, it's addictive, it's used as a government weapon as a matter of fact."

from From NOW WAIT FOR LAST YEAR


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    … The Palmer Eldritch novel came out of an actual mystical experience, lasting almost a month, in which I saw the face of evil hovering over the landscape, and the three stigmata were aspects of him that I saw – I mean, objectively, literally – in particular the slotted, empty eyes. It was a true trip before I had seen any LSD, much less taken any. In an effort to help myself I became a convert to the Anglo-Catholic church, but their teachings do not include that of a real, active, evil power who has control – or near control – of the earth we live on. I even took the rite of unction, but it didn’t help, and I wandered away from the church. The point is this: if a person’s idios kosmos begins to break down, he is exposed to the archetypal or transcendental forces of the koinos kosmos, and if the time comes that he lives only in the koinos kosmos he is exposed to powers too great for him to handle (this part of the theory isopposite to Jung’s theory that each of us needs subjective constructs – such as space and time – as a framework structuring "reality"). In other words, we must have our idios kosmos to stay sane; reality has to filter through, carefully controlled by the mechanisms by which our brains operate. We can’t handle it directly, and I think that this was what was occurring when I saw Palmer Eldritch lingering, day after day, over the horizon. Something should have stood between me and it – and the Anglo-Catholic Church wasn’t enough (neither was psychiatry, needless to say). My first LSD experience, by the way, confirmed my vision of Palmer Eldritch; I found myself in the hell-world, and it took almost two thousand (subjective) years for me to crawl up out of it.

   (Vertex): You are known as one of the first authors to experiment with LSD. What effect has it had on your writing?
    (PKD): I don't know of any. It's always possible that it's had an effect I don't know about. Take my novel THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, which deals with a tremendous bad acid trip, so to speak. I wrote that before I had ever seen LSD. I wrote that from just reading a description of the discovery of it and the kind of effect it had. So if that, which is my major novel of a hallucinogenic kind, came without my ever having taken LSD, then I would say even my work following LSD which had hallucinations in it could easily have been written without taking acid.
    {…}
    (Vertex): In the light of your own experiences with acid, how accurate do you think THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH is as far as drugs are concerned?
    (PKD): You remember what happened when they got on that drug? It was bad, wasn't it? It was so bad it taxed my ability to imagine bad. And it didn't do them any good to stop taking the drug because they had flashbacks. And nobody at the time knew LSD was going to produce flashbacks. I had it in mind that the ultimate horror would be to get an addictive, hallucinogenic drug out of your system and you would say, "Well, I'm back in the real world now." And suddenly a monstrous object from the hallucinogenic world would cross the floor and you would realize that you were not back. And this is what has happened to many people who have dropped acid. It was just an accidental prophecy on my part.
    And again:
    … My drug experiences have not manifested themselves in my work. Many critics have said that THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH was the first "LSD novel." I wrote that after reading a magazine article on hallucinogenics by Aldous Huxley.
    Drugs have taken the lives of some very, very dear friends of mine.
    And once more:
    (PKD:) I took amphetamines for years in order to get energy to write. I had to write so much in order to make a living because our pay rates were so low. In five years I wrote sixteen novels, which is incredible. I mean, nobody, I don't think anybody's ever done it before. And without amphetamines I couldn't have written that much. But as soon as I began to earn enough money so I didn't have to write so many books, I stopped taking amphetamines. So now I don't take anything like that. And I never wrote anything under the influence of psychedelics. For instance, PALMER ELDRITCH I wrote without ever having even seen psychedelic drugs.

from notes on THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH

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Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in judgment. When a bunch of people begin to do it, it is a social error, a life-style. In this particular life-style the motto is "Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying," but the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory. It is, then, only a speeding up, an intensifying, of the ordinary human existence. It is not different from your life-style, it is only faster. It all takes place in days or weeks or months instead of years. "Take the cash and let the credit go," as Villon said in 1460. But that is a mistake if the cash is a penny and the credit a whole lifetime.


from the Afterword to A SCANNER DARKLY


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From two different letters around August 1970

"I have just finished the rough draft of a new, long, s-f novel, FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID. {...} I've reworked it and reworked it; I rewrote the final section seven times, plus holographic changes. At one point in the writing I wrote 140 pages in 48 hours. I have high hopes for this. It is the first really new thing I've done since EYE IN THE SKY. The change is due to a change that overtook me from having taken mescalin, a very large dose that completely unhinged me. I had enormous insights behind the drug, all having to do with those whom I loved. Love. Will love.

...

    With acid I never had any genuine insights, but on mescalin I was overwhelmed by terribly powerful feelings – emotions, I guess. I felt an overpowering love for other people, and this is what I put into the novel: it studies different kinds of love and at last ends with the appearance of an ultimate kind of love which I had never known of. I am saying, "In answer to the question, ‘What is real?’ the answer is: this kind of overpowering love.["]"

from notes on FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID

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That events can take place outside of time is a discovery that strikes me as dismal. My first reaction was, "Good God, I was right; when you're at the dentist it does last forever." I'll let the mystics dilate on more favorable possibilities, such as eternal bliss. Anyhow, LSD has made this discovery available to everyone, and hence subject to consensual validation, hence within the realm of knowledge, hence a scientific fact (or just plain fact, if you prefer). Anybody can get into this state now, not just the schizophrenic. Yes, friends, you, too, can suffer forever; simply take 150 mg of LSD--and enjoy! If not satisfied, simply mail in--but enough. Because after two thousand years under LSD, participating in the Day of Judgement, one probably will be rather apathetic to asking for one's five dollars back.

But at least one has now learned what life is like during the catatonic schizophrenic state, and one does return from LSD within a short time period as computed within the koinos kosmos (roughly ten hours), however much longer it is in the idios kosmos (to rather understate the matter). For the catatonic schizophrenic the duration of this state is not only forever idios kosmoswise but also, unless lucky, koinoskosmoswise. To put it in zen terms, under LSD you experience eternity for only a short period (or, as Planet Stories used to phrase it, "Such-and-such," he screamed under his breath). So, within a nontime interval, all manner of elaborate and peculiar events can take place; whole epics can unfold in the fashion of the recent movie Ben Hur. (If you'd prefer to undergo the experience of LSD without taking it, imagine sitting through Ben Hur twenty times without the midpoint intermission. Got it? Keep it.)

from Schizophrenia and the Book of Changes

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VERTEX: Isn't "Faith of Our Father's," from Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions, supposed to have been inspired by or written under the influence of acid?

DICK: That really is not true. First of all, you can't write anything when you're on acid. I did one page once while on an acid trip, but it was in Latin. Whole damn thing was in Latin and a little tiny bit in Sanskrit, and there's not much market for that. The page does not fall in with my published work. The other book which suggests it might have been written with acid is Martian Time-slip. That too was written before I had taken any acid.

VERTEX: How much acid did you take anyway?

DICK: Not that much. I wan't getting up in the morning and dropping acid. I'm amazed when I read the things I used to say about it on the blurbs of my books. I wrote this myself: "He has been experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs to find the unchanging reality beneath our delusions." And now I say, "Good Christ!" All I ever found out about acid was that I was where I wanted to get out of fast. It didn't seem more real than anything else; it just seemed more awful.

VERTEX: In the light of your own experiences with acid, how accurate do you think The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is as far as drugs are concerned?

DICK: You remember what happened when they got on that drug? It was bad, wasn't it? It was so bad it taxed my ability to imagine bad. And it didn't do them any good to stop taking the drug because they had flashbacks. And nobody at the time knew LSD was going to produce flashbacks. I had it in mind that the ultimate horror would be to get an addictive, hallucinogenic drug out of your system and you would say, "Well, I'm back in the real world now." And suddenly a monstrous object from the hallucinogenic world would cross the floor and you would realize that you were not back. And this is what has happened to many people who have dropped acid. It was just an accidental prophecy on my part.

from VERTEX interiew

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[updated 7-29-13]

1) I have taken amphetamines, LSD, mescalin and phenothiazines
2) I have used amphetamines for energy in order to write, since I was paid very little for each novel and story, and so had to write a lot; whether the amphetamines influenced the content of what I wrote I do not know.
3) I used amphetamines for about 18 years. They were prescribed for me due to depression.
4) No drug trip has ever inspired me to write anything except a small passage in my novel A MAZE OF DEATH that part being based on my first LSD experience (I tood LSD only twice
5) I take no drugs now at all. Keep in mind that during the time I took amphetamines their harmful effects were not known. The same can be said for LSD.
6) Yes, I certainly have used stimulants to make a deadline; i.e. the amphetamines.
7) I do NOT recommend that other writers--or other people in general--take drugs; it is not worth it. Soon I will have a novel out dealing with this, called, A SCANNER DARKLY
8) My drug experiences have allowed me to write more, but probably not better. A SCANNER DARKLY, written without the use of drugs, is certainly my best novel.
9) Further comment: drug use is a major mistake and I regret ever having become involved in it. I have seen too many people die or become permanently psychotic because of drugs.
September 9, 1976 Letter

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[updated 8/18/13]

Letter to Claudia Bush, February 26, 1975 [4:233] Hey Claudia— Identity—continuity—recognition—selfsameness. I got so loaded last night you wouldn't believe it.* It was my daughter's birthday and I phoned her 6 or 8 times and never got her. So I went to a friend and he gave me something to get me ripped.47 I was so fucking ripped. In chemo veritas, though (for your purposes). Listen, Baby. I am still ripped and it is tomorrow (that was today, when he gave it to me); we talked, and I said, man I can't take it anymore. Later as I was still taking it (the garbage out) he stopped me and handed me the good message. I squirreled it away for like until later and then I did it. I did it. Claudia, it hit me like a 1100 of brick fists. So I called in Tessa and said, "Honey, I am so stoned you would not believe it. I love you." "Then you must be." "Ask me questions. My unconscious is accessible." "Why did you have the experiences last March?" My answer: "I had nothing else to do." "What deity or force or presence took you over?" My answer: "Erasmus." "'Erasmus.' Who the hell—" (I had the most incredible shower of chuckling all over me, in the form of math symbols and Greek letters. I'd guessed who it was: he had played the most—to him—fun game. Ir leg, the two Sanskrit words. Not the meaning ["angry legion"] but a pun. Always puns, a million pun clues. "Ear leg." In the old days my brother-in-law and I made up this Swift: "I feel earassabiele, Tom said," or how-ever. "I feel as if my ear hurts and I need to see a proctologist," Tom said irascibly. There it is. Now, "ir leg" is to ear leg as Irascibly is to that Swifty. And "irascible" is a quasi-phononym for Erasmus. Ear-ass-mus. See? These were the first words which came to me in March and wow, last night. A shower of laughter, since finally I'd guessed. He hadn't counted on chemical aids.) "Who or what is/was Christ?" Tessa asked me. "The style we are drawn in," I said. "There is a person seated for artists to draw him; they have a 1.50 minute time limit on their work. All draw him a little differently, all must finish fast and turn it in. Their work is crude, and each has a bit of the subject in it. Our world is that composite work of many artists, and we are those crude drawings with the minute and a half time limit. We do as well as we can, but it's like Disneyland where they do that, various portrait artists with one subject—or if they all had the same subject. It is like Disneyland—fast and not very expert, and still the subject sits and we approximate him. Someone else does the approximating; we are not the artists but the drawings. Hence Plato's concept of the cave and of the idea archetypes."

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