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High Weirdness with Erik Davis

Episode 298
How did the 1970’s psychedelic era transform American culture and what can we learn from it? Erik Davis dives into this topic and so much more.

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“We want to be exemplars of humanity at the end of the time.” —Terence McKenna

Erik Davis looks at the world in a different way. He’s a novelist, writer, podcaster, and speaker, and his writings have covered everything from rock criticism to cultural analysis to creative explorations of esoteric mysticism. His most recent book, High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies is out now. Erik loves to analyze “the weird” and in High Weirdness, he dives deep into the psychedelic culture of the 1970s; a time that was so strange, it was almost otherworldly. 

“We don’t live in a psychedelic place. That’s one of the mistakes that new agers and hippies made, is ‘Oh, I get the vision, and then I try to live there by dropping out and not doing anything.’ Well, no, we have to become much more flexible, and as Huxley said, ‘amphibious,’ where we’re operating as intellects in a technological society.”

In today’s episode, Erik shares his research, discusses Terence McKenna’s personal history, and paints a picture of a culture many of us never fully understood. Erik also talks about his writing, how being weird has opened the doors for new possibilities, and how he thinks we can go about saving the world.

Quotes by Erik:

23:30 – “There’s this strange way in which psychedelics are both deeply subjective and phantasmagoric, and otherworldly. They are, after all, material molecules that are metabolized in very similar ways across human bodies and produce resonantly regular forms of experience that even if each one is subjectively different, they have shared characteristics that suggest that they’re pointing to at least something that’s real in terms of the way our bodies are metabolizing these things. But it has this quality of a world or a pattern or a way of seeing that if it doesn’t have exactly an objectivity to it, it has a sense of a transpersonal, a thickness to it. It has a kind of coherence across people, and even across cultures.”

1:04:30 – “We don’t live in a psychedelic place. That’s one of the mistakes that new agers and hippies made, is ‘Oh, I get the vision, and then I try to live there by dropping out and not doing anything.’ Well, no, that’s the same problem as the stray who doesn’t want to look at it at all. We have to become much more flexible and Huxley said, ‘Amphibious,’ where we’re operating as intellects in a technological society. But we have some envisioning of how to drive this thing in a way that is going to make a much better life for more people.”

Mentions:

Robert Anton Wilson

Philip K. Dick

Terence McKenna

Dennis McKenna

Food of the Gods

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