Archive by Author

Etic Shaman

9 Jun

The link at the bottom of this text is an article published in the National Geographic in 2006. It deals with one reporters experience with Ayahuasca Shamanistic ritual in which she takes Ayahuasca and details the experience not unlike an Erowid entry. Because the article is mainly narrative and I think which aspects of the narrative are interesting would be entirely subjective I’m forgoing quoting the text. What I personally find fascinating here is the native notion that dark spirits are responsible for some of our thought processes and the amazingly convincing way the author manages to convey that so that I completely accepted it as a reasonable way of thinking about illness. Some of the descriptions are a bit trivializing especially towards god near the end but from the atheist author I have no doubt these were meaningful representations and I think the medicine worked. The legitimacy of this so called treatment has gained an article ally methinks. (I didnt link to the Nat Geo website because you have to pay there.) Here:


Layers and Layers of Panda Bear

19 May

Most of the following came from and email I sent to a friend. I’ve revised and added and cut to make it less sloppy and more acceptably sloppy at once. Here:

I want to spend a second relaying how to listen to layered music, the kind that gives you nothing to hold on to without being high.


song: afterburner

artist: panda bear



I’m not down to keep up
Trying to keep up
One slip up
Up on our way
I’m so tired of taking
Of taking it
One slip up
Up on our way

I don’t buy it
I say
So leave it alone

So it moves forwards
I’ll always ask
What’s the point of making?
The makings are our only hope
It’s not late
It’s not too late
To keep it real
You ask me to keep it real


Pitchfork track blurb:

‘Even by this record’s Sequoia-like standards, the layering and repetitive pattern-work on “Afterburner”, Tomboy’s lengthiest track, is impossibly thick. Noah Lennox piles on rhythm after rhythm, track after track, evoking (depending on your birth year) F-14s and Donkey Kong Country and killer whales and Return of the Jedi to trance-inducing effect. In seven minutes, Lennox is able to set a mood and, perhaps more remarkably, a sense of temperature. He applies heat. Everything put in place whirs and melts together into one massive, all-encompassing torrent. And at the center is that voice, shot through every single molecule of the space. All those moving parts are much easier to hear and visualize once Lennox eventually steps away from the mic, but even so, there’s no denying the warmth– could be a womb, could be an embrace– that comes with feeling like you’re sharing a safe place.’


My ‘Instructions’:

I think a lot of people find layers annoying because it is kind of sensory override trying to focus on everything at once like you do in a, say, Paul Simon track. There is too much going on to do that so you have to let your mind wander and have a sort of mentally detached approach. Your mind will automatically tell you to listen to the beat, but Panda and AC (and a bunch of others) both use repetition in their sounds so that you get sensory exhaustion and kind of have to find the other layers. This kind of song you will not get even a third of on the first listen, so i think of every listen as a sort of expedition looking for something new. N.B.: This is incorrectly written as instructional but I mean it as sort of a guide to compare your own experiences to.


find a layer and follow it. if you start with the beat which is easiest, it goes through the motions here: until 1:06 where it starts over and maintains for the most part that loop until the song ends. The beat i am talking about comes in after the bongos at 15 underneath the guitars.


The sped up killer whales resurface here (selected randomly):

If you follow them they are there almost the whole song, including much slower and more noticeably at the beginning.

 Three seconds in are the speeders from Star Wars as well as 25.

 Of course most of these layers are cursory and the main layers are vocals, ‘drums’, and ‘guitars’ (quotes because I dont know if that is the actual instrumentation).

What it means to me:

There is a lot more in this song than i’ve pointed out. most of it i dont know what it is, but sometimes i figure it out without trying which is an experience that keeps me coming back. This song for me is about making art and how he hates that pressure of making every track great. He is wondering why one slip up, one bad track, is such a bad thing to the point where he briefly asks what’s the point of making? or, what’s the point of making music/art?. The paradox at the end is interesting and bitingly sarcastic on one level, all the people saying ‘keep it real’ but then expecting him to make only good albums. Anyway i dont agree with the pitchfork write up because i think it is too hot in the space he creates and it gets uncomfortable with all the pressure. The key is minor, i dont know why that would be comfortable, plus he wrote it in some dark basement which i feel here too. I guess to return to the keep it real line, he ultimately wants the meaning of that revised under a new context when experimentation is held above perfection, but only then is the track ‘a safe place’ and not within its current state at all for me.



This is why i like layered music over more linear Modest Mousy stuff. I can’t imagine thinking this hard about Doin’ the Cockroach. Sometimes it is tiring to listen to layers though so i do need variety. And sometimes I just need the catharsis of some guy screaming about Cockroaches. Or I tell myself I do.

Bonus evaluation of layered lyrics:

Example Track:

I had a sort of obsession with the 7″ version for a while and I think I showed it to Derek in the car after the Ruby Suns/ some-other-band-called Local Natives? concert. I’ve included the Tomboy version in the link but I think the question I’m asking holds, though I will mention the lyrics in the 7″ version were squished together and harder to understand especially in the verses.

I am wondering how important lyrics are in this sort of music and whether what I hear should be tantamount to what I read or vice versa. Mostly for Radiohead etc I read the lyrics to derive the meaning but I know Aaron and I were playing some ‘Bros’ in the car after Inception and he was really surprised I didn’t know the official lyrics to the song. Here’s why I rarely look up Panda Bear lyrics until after struggling long and hard with them myself:

The official Slow Motion lyrics:

So they say practice makes you perfect
So they say you can’t teach an old dog
So they say have an apple a day
So they say better safe than sorry

Everyone knows what they always say

And when I slow it down
It’s clear just how
It’s what they don’t say
That’s what counts

Deep down (what counts)
Step up, step off

So they say practice makes you perfect
So they say you can’t teach an old dog
So they say have an apple a day
So they say better safe than sorry

Everyone knows what they always say

And when I slow it down
It’s clear just how
It’s what they don’t say
That’s what counts

It’s counting
And be sure it counts

My Take:

This is how the lyrics would be published in a booklet, by my initial reaction is where the hell is the word ‘counting’. That is the main word of the main phrase (it’s counting) in the song and it barely appears here. I love the non-official listen when ‘it’s counting’ is repeated over and over sort of as a reminder that we are alive and this is our lives, take them seriously, have fun, do good things. But in the lyrics it seems to be more a song about people using these cliches too often and never thinking about what the truth behind them or absent from them truly is. Now I don’t deny this second bit is important I just think the focus of the song isn’t there which I miss in a strictly lyrical interpretation. So do y’all think the lyrics in this type of music are more subjective than other types of music or are all lyrics subjective? I’d also like to note that AC never publishes lyrics to their music and leaves us to suss them out with our own ears.

Tell me how you guys go about listening to a track/album and how lyrics come into it. Four scoops of love, one scoop of peanut butter, one cup of eggnog, and love,


Finale Thought

17 May

About to take my first final in England all about little Hobbits and big lions and the death of God. To prepare I’ve been doing some of this.

Hopefully some sort of England Opus/Retrospective will arrive shortly after I do on 21 May. I miss everyone and myself and home.

Congratulations to you all on finishing yet another academic year of existence. It just keeps changing.


If Time is Money, I Am Rich

24 Apr

Hi guys. I wanted to share a transcript of an old Philip K Dick speech which was interesting in it’s discussion of reality and time. In celebration of Easter I have cut out every one of the parts where he claims he has channeled Jesus and that we are living in 50AD not because I don’t believe God might exist or because I am trying to make it seem like Dick was an atheist but because it’s crackpot and completely ridiculous bordering on Delongian. Without ado further than this sentence and a hefty recommendation to check out the album Spirit they’re gone, Spirit they’ve vanished by our pals who penned MPP, the following is from here.

“The two basic topics which fascinate me are “What is reality?” and “What constitutes the authentic human being?” … What are we? What is it which surrounds us, that we call the not-me, or the empirical or phenomenal world?”

“Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world, a world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. And that led me wonder, If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn’t we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others? What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe, it’s as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can’t explain his to us, and we can’t explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too diffrently, there occurs a breakdown of communication… and there is the real illness.”

” “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

“today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups—and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into the heads of the reader, the viewer, the listener. Sometimes when I watch my eleven-year-old daughter watch TV, I wonder what she is being taught. The problem of miscuing; consider that. A TV program produced for adults is viewed by a small child. Half of what is said and done in the TV drama is probably misunderstood by the child. Maybe it’s all misunderstood. And the thing is, Just how authentic is the information anyhow, even if the child correctly understood it? What is the relationship between the average TV situation comedy to reality? What about the cop shows? Cars are continually swerving out of control, crashing, and catching fire. The police are always good and they always win. Do not ignore that point: The police always win. What a lesson that is. You should not fight authority, and even if you do, you will lose. The message here is, Be passive. And—cooperate. If Officer Baretta asks you for information, give it to him, because Officer Beratta is a good man and to be trusted. He loves you, and you should love him.

So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. … What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live. And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new.”

“My theory is this: In some certain important sense, time is not real. Or perhaps it is real, but not as we experience it to be or imagine it to be. I had the acute, overwhelming certitude (and still have) that despite all the change we see, a specific permanent landscape underlies the world of change”

“Time is speeding up. And to what end? Maybe we were told that two thousand years ago. Or maybe it wasn’t really that long ago; maybe it is a delusion that so much time has passed. Maybe it was a week ago, or even earlier today. Perhaps time is not only speeding up; perhaps, in addition, it is going to end.”

Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier by Sun Airway

30 Mar

Yes, for happy withdrawal

Does anyone remember that tiny 2009 album Merriweather Post something? Yeah, well 300 plus listens after that album which remains untouched in my mind as the greatest achievement in modern music. The dark nature AC often employ perfectly reflects my life, but isn’t always comforting. And if you combine the exhaustion from over-listening to AC with a need to relax without letting my mind melt into Baths or Toro y Moi. Enter Sun Airway, an overproduced, rangy, and sometimes meaningful band whose work recalls Panda Bear on You Can Count on Me (Noah’s mix) and Tanlines’s Reinfo. I can’t say Sun Airway is doing something new, but I can say they are doing something well. And luckily that something is the sort of chamber harmony synth-electro nonsense I can’t say no to.

What Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier does well, it does within the confines of a track. This is good for listening pleasure as tracks like Waiting on You and American West which stand strongly alongside this ‘genre’s’ best. Waiting on You stands as the magnum opus from the album and it’s ‘reach for my hands;
they’re seldom so open and reckless with hope’ and ‘forget about the past—it’s all wet and rusted’ are, combined a sort of working thesis. Mostly though, the lyrics are a bit overwrought such as ‘every word my lips suggest, that’s between my lips and the American West’. The album doesn’t seem to cohesive, but the music itself is a euphoric dizzy rinse that when combined with the odd lyric shouldn’t be passed over.

Ultimately you can’t hide the mistakes on Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier. Sun Airway are still building. At the time of writing they have no Wikipedia page, and no distinct sound to get them out of the shadow of AC. But the shadow of AC is getting lighter and lighter as we wait for something new, so maybe taking a few steps back to Feels era is what we need. Or maybe when we’re all beat up and feel like ‘trying not to die is so taxing’, we can ‘bury our limbs underneath all these hands until we see those days again’, or we can just listen to a little Sun Airway while we wait for MPP and life to sound good again.

Getting Psyched

30 Mar

I feel a little like the guy saying ‘hey look I found this awesome new band called Radiohead’ with this post. Nonetheless I have two goals: document my experiment with wormwood and write a sort of minimalist psychedelic manifesto.

Before I left for England, my main goal was to learn about myself. It might seem odd, but it has been successful and I’ve redefined both what it means and how to be an American. The country of my birth has a lot of culture, and what else is good art/history but a mirror toward yourself? So having led an exploratory yet introspective life here, I can summarize my findings in two stages. First, the mantra ‘Only Connect’ from the novel Howard’s End is one of the cornerstones to understanding the world, other people, life in general. Making connections is one consistent feature of tripping, at least for me. I would go so far as to say connection=life, disconnect=death. Secondly, living in a constantly overcast country which is often times highly pastoral, even in the center of the paved city, has left me oft in a waking-dream-like conscious state. I ask myself often ‘what can i do to really convince myself i am alive’? But I am seeing more and more the importance of dreaming and states of consciousness far away from our status-quo. Modern American society puts less emphasis on dreams than any other. Why? Do dreams come from some nonsense dimension within us? I must say anything that my brain produces I put high importance on. Some of the most life-affirming, powerful messages that really understand how I feel are fantastical and fictional. They come from the mind, dreams, creativity. It is why I am an English major. And so this ‘second world’ of dreaming and creativity lies mostly dormant. I am convinced there is a connection to be made between the dreaming and waking state and that there is some exploration necessary in the psychedelic world.


Last night I had a brief foray into Wormwood. I bought 25 grams from a tiny but official health store for tea. The reported effects are very mild lucid dreaming aid or more graphic dreams. Some people report slightly more conscious effect, but nothing serious. It is the substance used in Absinthe and it contains small levels of Thujone. There is a lot of contradictory, incorrect, and misleading information about psychedelics, and Thujone/Wormwood is no exception (I even read a site that said it was deadly poison. On another note I’ve read some terribly incorrect articles about nutmeg as well). I pressed on nonetheless, brewing the dried Wormwood as recommended, that is, 15 minutes in boiling water. The tea was bitter to a near undrinkable extent as I’d read be. That remains the worst of Wormwood. I downed it and chewed some of the leaves just to ensure maximum torture. Result? Maximum torture.

About an hour after sipping it I noticed a slight elevation of mood and my peripheral vision was slightly clearer. I am unsure if this was a mental construction, but hey, isn’t being high a mental construction? I went to bed feeling highly relaxed. When I woke up this morning I felt as if I had enjoyed a pretty hefty night of drinking. My muscles were really relaxed, but I had none of the nausea of the typical hangover. I also began to remember my dreams. I can say positively I had at least four extensive dreams all which ran their course and lasted a long time. I don’t remember very well any of them, but I know through personal experience that one can train to remember dreams. (I’ve since stopped, but when you write down your dreams everyday after waking, you begin to consistently remember them). My final say on the light-weight Wormwood is that if you can stand the bitter hell that is drinking it, it’s well worthwhile as a sleep aid/dream enhancer. Mugwort does the same.


Note: I am going to sidestep directly condoning illegal activity here. Put frankly, nothing illegal should occur, the government is king, etc etc.

I have no intentions of making this blog a mini-Erowid, since Erowid is already a maxi-Reelslow. However I must say I have been obsessed a long time with drugs even when I had the stance ‘all drugs are bad no matter what forever’. This summer I am highly interested in exploring some psychedelics. I should hope I get some thumbs up on this and willingness to see what there is in world two. Before outlining which seem like good ideas, I’d like to say I am still not a fan of smoking anything. It doesn’t feel very nice and tastes yucky! So there will be more opportunities for those people with a better lung for smoke. I would limit the list to psychedelics, because it seems anything that doesn’t fall into that category can and should still be enjoyed if safe, but recreationally and not exploratatively. I am wary of Morning Glory Seeds but would try them possibly, mushrooms I have plans for, acid seems scary and I am yet unsure. The argument for me is really: is it natural, what are the negative side-effects, what are the dangers in trying to get it -vs.- what does it do?. Reading Erowid has shown me some people who really sit down with a meditative question and use psychedelics to help them answer. Aldous Huxley who actually had a big role in the coinage of the word ‘psychedelic’ was a heavy user of what I would propose to you boys as the kicker this summer. If we can find them (i’ve read often sold at walmart, target, lowes) I would very much be open minded toward San Pedro cactus.

So tell me your thoughts/opinions on psychedelics and any goals you have pertaining to second world exploration/personal revelation. Love you guys.


28 Mar

This weekend I was surfing some articles by our friends at Erowid via boredom and I came across a few about Nutmeg. With the Friday alcohol buzz wearing off I decided to be an experiential learner and thus forayed into a Nutmeg high. Here is how it went:

Firstly to see that something this common, cheap and legal being touted as a serious high left me reasonably skeptical. After all I put nutmeg on my coffee, enjoy it in eggnog, in breads and cakes, and never have I attached an altered consciousness to the spice. My thoughts were that it would be a ‘terrible high’ or ‘disgusting’ or ‘made up’ or that I’d have to take ‘an insane amount’ or that it would have to ‘be prepared in some obnoxious way’. All wrong. Nutmeg isn’t some glorious discovery, but it isn’t to be scoffed at as a recreational drug in the strain of marijuana.

Weighing in that night at about 140 lbs and operating on a mostly full stomach I measured out 4.25 teaspoons of ground, expired, store-bought nutmeg. I had about .75 teaspoons in some apple juice which tasted fine. I didn’t feel too different after about an hour and a half, maybe a little goofy, so I assumed it was safe and not some idiots trying to kill me. I took the rest just before bed. I had read that it takes about 6 hours to kick in. I slept 8. Upon waking up I was certifiably high. I felt exceedingly relaxed a few times I almost went back to bed. I noticed how bright the sun was and it recalled memories of Easter morning as a kid. I watched some comedy videos and laughed pretty consistently and out loud, sometimes not even at jokes but at people’s expressions. I felt in listening to music I really knew where Panda Bear was coming from. I felt connected to what he was doing with his music. I continually escaped into media and had daydreams completely shaped by whatever I was listening to or reading or watching. The best part of everything was also the worst. I felt really relaxed but sometimes a little too tired for the ideal high.

I didn’t fall asleep and I was able to walk to the store quite easily and buy something as well. Unfortunately, I had a terrible case of the munchies and what I bought was shameful and consumed almost in its entirety that day. I didn’t have too much of a problem with how I felt physically the first day, but today, which is the second day, I have a little gastro-intestinal discomfort. I don’t know if this is from the nutmeg or from the 3,000 calories I consumed.

The high lasted in it’s heaviest form from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep. Today I just feel somewhat detached from myself but much less high. I went outside and was able to concentrate nicely on juggling the football.

As for dosage it’s about 1 gram per 10 pounds body weight. This was for me 4 teaspoons. In terms of dose I enjoyed the effects but would go for slightly more next time. I would say 5 teaspoons and see if using freshly ground nutmeg improves/changes anything. I would like to warn against going over this. It’s a powerful substance! It kicks in slightly after about an hour and completely around the sixth hour.

The negatives were dry mouth (which I get in the same amount smoking marijuana), slight gastro-intestinal discomfort, feeling too tired, being hungry constantly, the taste of the nutmeg, how long it takes to come on, how long it takes to wear off.

Positives: price, legality, euphoria, feeling ‘connected’, happiness, giggling, relaxedness.

I would recommend trying it. I’ve read it is possible to trip, it is almost impossible to overdose in a medically dangerous sense (4-5 ounces might take you there), and hell it’s not like you can get in trouble for being happy because you ate nutmeg. There has to be a reason it isn’t more popular, so I would say be careful. Some people get bad gastro-intestinal issues. It takes horrible so hold the nose and down it in a sand textured liquid, then go to sleep and wake up Megan.

EDIT: A lot of the posts I’ve looked at have to do with an empty stomach. I will say because I binged yesterday I really didn’t feel high too much this morning, but having eaten lightly today I can attest to remaining high a full 48 hours after consumption. Blocking out time has become and imperative!