Ayahuasca, trending

“I experienced first a feeling of serene wisdom so that I was quite content to sit there indefinitely.”

Lines like that jump out at me, since I’ve been thinking so pointedly about the relative virtue of motion as against stasis. The speaker in this instance was William S. Burroughs, the crazy old Naked Lunch hipster, writing to Alan Ginsberg about his experience with Ayahuasca. It’s trendy again, apparently. Some say it enhances empathy and emotional intelligence, deepens self-awareness and spirituality, conquers addictions and anxieties, puts mundane life in clear perspective, helps them enjoy life. 

(Others say it “creates an excess of serotonin in the central nervous system, which can cause confusion and tremulousness.”)

I, unlike Burroughs and unlike the new hipsters with their yoga mats and their careful preparations,  am content to sit here ’til the coffee’s gone or the sun is atop the treeline. But to sit anywhere indefinitely is not in my book a mark of wisdom or serenity. It’s more like Calvin’s botched version of the Serenity Prayer.

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As a pragmatist about the pursuit of happiness, and a devotee of personal liberty, I would never interfere with anyone’s self-regarding right to go adventuring in place with Ayahuasca. But to the guy whose trip taught him that “everything written on paper is a lie” I say: don’t believe everything you think. Or dream.

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