We spoke recently about hallucinogenic drugs. I recommended the book “Breaking Open the Head” by Thomas Pinchbeck, in which a skeptical New York journalist decides to explore modern shamanism and has all sorts of spiritual experiences involving drugs, at the end of which he goes a little silly and prophesies 2012 end times. The moral of the story? Don't do that many drugs, probably. Interesting book, though, anyway. Hallucinogens are illegal in this country, but they make for fascinating study, especially when we talk about those who take them very seriously. Check out the documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule. Read “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” in which Tom Wolfe hangs out with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, a band of LSD devotees. Read Aldous Huxley's “The Doors of Perception,” detailing his experimentation with mescaline.
And if you're interested in the realm of fiction, head to Baxter Avenue Theaters tomorrow, Saturday, for a midnight screening of Altered States, written by Paddy Chyefsky (writer of the amazing film Network) and directed by Ken Russell (who helmed The Who's rock opera Tommy, which is a pretty serious trip in itself). William Hurt plays Edward Jessup, a psychology professor studying schizophrenia. He wonders if perhaps alternate states of consciousness are secretly as real as our normal, “sane” state of mind. Experimentation with a sensory deprivation chamber and ayahuasca (by the way, read also William S. Burroughs' “The Yage Letters”) lead to spectacular results – and to say that it is very strange is to put it lightly. It's pretty fantastic.
Baxter Avenue Theaters is located at 1250 Bardstown Road. Further theater information and advance ticket sales can be found at the Baxter Avenue Theater website.
Image: Internet Movie Database