Drugs and the Problem of the Subjective Non-Shared Experience
Imagine walking down the street, passing the other pedestrians. While doing this, you are a participant in their life and they are participants in theirs — from this basic interaction, this exchange, all other things in our society become possible — though we can never completely close the circle, and there are always both solipsistic doubts and actual failures of the parallax view, evolution of our mindframes have converged so as to allow us the Common Language and Common Mental Field upon which that language rests so that we can communicate with each other and help each other with our sand castles.
The drug — that strange chemical which changes the variables and alters the field — damages the common field, and while subjective experience is heightened, the community suffers in that one man has chosen to go alone. An ethical question arises as to the extent the community as a community should censure the anti-social whose only harm to society is his willing non-participation — nevertheless, the problem as a problem is a real one without any judgments made.
This is why it is so difficult to talk to your girlfriend when you are high, why you wouldn’t want to raise or deal with children with such a state.
The next obvious question is whether mutual drug-taking restores the communal field, within the bounds, or whether it is the (SAT analogy) mutual masturbation to regular communication’s full-fledged intercourse. If a tree falls in a forest, but I’m the only one to hear it, is ther a significance to it?
Is there a significance to the larger individual qualia that can never be validated by outside experience? Clearly, Western Culture, with it’s focus on the building of tall buildings, emphasises the common and deemphasizes the individual — ironically, considering the persistence of that fierce individualistic meme still so prevalent in 21st American Culture — but is the inner intoxication (and let’s expand this intoxication to those induced sua sponte by sages, mystics, bodhidharms, and the like) devalued because it cannot be shared? Or can it be shared? While the initial drugtaking experience may be scattershot and result in a endless multifurcation of parallax-views as every one and harry pursues their own private giggles, perhaps with repetition and training, the landscape of the new field can be explored and systematized so as to allow the shared experience that we use to structure our Quotididian Business Affairs can be reimagined in the Mental Pyrotechnics Arena.
The issue of danger is a real but separate one. My interest here is only the isolating effects of the intoxicant, and how, perhaps, they can be overcome. If overcome, what skyscrapers, what Towers of Non-Babel will the psychonauts, fellow travelers, construct for themselves. The 1960s? Second Summer of Love, Manchester? 100,000 Phish fans in the Everglades? Black Rock City, ra ra ra? New rules, new civilizations; new crimes; new pains; old world loses its luster.