May 18, 2019
The Philosophy of Getting Highby Ballard Quass
The world has been so thoroughly bamboozled by Richard Nixon's jaundiced view of so-called "drugs" that it cannot begin to visualize anybody "getting high" for any but the most selfish and irresponsible of reasons. This is a shame, because the philosophical mindset of the Western world was chiefly established by folks who got high. In fact, these people not only got high, but they considered their moments of inebriation to be the best and (ironically) the most real moments of their lives. I'm speaking, of course, about the famous alumni of those long-running Eleusinian mysteries (circa 1600 b.c.e. to 392 c.e.), wherein a psychoactive substance (probably ergot) was used to put the participant in touch with immortality and the meaning of life.
Socrates' belief in forms, Aristotle's belief in catharsis, Plutarch's belief in an afterlife: these were not just armchair philosophies based on abstract premises: these were truths that were confirmed to the ancient Greeks and Romans upon drinking the psychedelic kykeon. The fact that we modern humans disdainfully refer to such profound experiences as "getting high" betrays our puritan distaste for improving our consciousness with the help of Mother Nature's bounty. This distaste might have originally been justified on religious grounds, perhaps under the assumption that such a psychedelic intervention was somehow an affront to the deity, but in these modern agnostic times, we have no such religious excuse for ignoring the therapeutic value of drug-induced ecstasy.
Unfortunately, our puritan biases are so ingrained that it took the disingenuous bluster of only one determined law-and-order politician, namely Richard Nixon, to revive our contempt for any pharmacologically altered state of consciousness. (Almost overnight, truth seekers became scumbags, should they attempt to fathom the world with the help of natural psychoactive substances.) And thus Richard Nixon forced us by law to "just say no" to almost 2,000 years' worth of compelling evidence for the therapeutic value of psychedelic drugs, forcing the depressed wisdom seeker to rely instead on legal drugs that fogged the mind rather than illuminating it.
But then Nixon was not the first despot to tell us to "just say no" to drug-induced mental clarity and cosmological insight. The Eleusinian mysteries were shut down in 392 c.e., not because they were a long-running fad that had finally run its course, but because the Christian emperor Theodosius saw the popular mysteries as a challenge to Christian orthodoxy - more proof that the modern Drug War represents the establishment of a de facto religion, albeit a materialist religion that takes a dim view of Mother Nature and of its potential role in improving human consciousness.