Drugs and Neurophenomenology

Interesting article in Salon: The Stoned Age: Were cavemen on drugs?

This thesis—that humanity’s earliest artists were not just reeling due to mind-altering activities, but deliberately sought those elevated states and gave greater meaning to those common visions—is the contention of a new paper by an international research team.

Their thesis intriguingly explores the “biologically embodied mind,” which they contend gave rise to similarities in Paleolithic art across the continents dating back 40,000 years, and can also be seen in the body painting patterns dating back even further, according to recent archelogical discoveries.

At its core, this theory challenges the long-held notion that the earliest art and artists were merely trying to draw the external world. Instead, it sees cave art as a deliberate mix of rituals inducing altered states for participants, coupled with brain chemistry that elicits certain visual patterns for humanity’s early chroniclers.

So perhaps we add cavemen painters to jazz musicians and other creative artists who have found inspiration in altered states of consciousness?

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18 Responses to Drugs and Neurophenomenology

  1. claygooding says:

    I ain’t even going to retype my posting from yesterday,,

  2. allan says:

    duh… cognitive liberty and the liberty of cognition, the roots of it all and why the right to free access of that which grows upon the earth is among our most ancient rights and is arguably the first religion. McKenna and others have long summized just such a path for human consciousness.

    Those who have ventured into the entheogenic realm will recognize the truth of this simple statement… one can watch an awesome and beautiful sunset straight as straight can be and will appreciate it to some lesser or greater degree. But sit and watch that same sunset on shrooms (or…) and one will likely have a deep reverent appreciation for the magnificence of creation and/or perhaps even a life changing religious/transcendental experience. Whatever entheogenic experience one has it is exponentially more than the same experience straight (imo).

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  5. Servetus says:

    Whatever drug was taken by the person or persons who painted the pictures found in the Lascaux Caves, I want that drug.

  6. jean valjean says:

    check out werner hertzogs movie cave of forgotten dreams available on netflicks for a take on early human artistic genius

  7. Scott says:

    “So perhaps we add cavemen painters to jazz musicians and other creative artists who have found inspiration in altered states of consciousness?”

    Yep. We even have entertainers additionally promoting the legality of such states (e.g. http://allsines.com, http://sunchill3.com/track/psychonauts-journey-dimitri-mix)

  8. DdC says:

    Cannabis Cave Art from Korea

    Human and Cannabis Coevolution
    By David Malmo-Levine, Cannabis Culture – April 23 2009

    High Society: Human Cannabis Coevolution

    Dr. Andrew Weil of the University of Arizona College of Medicine states, “There is not a shred of hope from history or from cross-culture studies to suggest that human beings can live without psychoactive substances.” Bees drop to the ground after having nectar from certain orchards. Birds get drunk off berries and then fly into windows. After cats sniff certain plants they swing at imaginary objects. Certain range weeds will make cows shake, twitch, and stumble back for more. Elephants purposely get drunk on fermented fruits…”

    • allan says:

      isn’t it interesting that certain of our plantly kin convey intricately similar… others… other places, other beings… to all those who partake of their unique medicines.

      Another consequence of prohibition (in this case cultural prohibition) is that the ancient knowledge passed from generation to generation of approach to, gathering and preparation of and participation (whether celebratory or ceremonial) with, has been lost or often at best, diluted.

      Knowledge of those other realms was long gathered and shared and the earth those ancient ancestors inhabited was experienced to a degree of which our culture is basically clueless. We are fat headed, ham fisted buffoons compared to those who let their minds roam over a landscape with no fences. The earth wasn’t ‘wild’, the earth was free. Without that intimate connection to the beings with whom we share this earth, we have truly forgotten. Forgotten who we are and forgotten where we live.

      After decades of consuming mushrooms (tch’ kaipish, teonanacatl) I can say that when we do get together they are as glad to ‘see’ me as I them. And I’m not posturing in some holy, “ooh I’m a pagan” way, I’ve just come to know that respect and a bit of ceremony enhances my experience. And the people w/ little hats are always glad to spend a few hours w/ me because I now always go out to seclusion and natural beauty.

      And yes, I get high as kite, laugh a lot (shrooms be phunny) and suffer no guilt about feeling so damn good. And sometimes… magic happens, or, conversations go very deep.

      Those who demand my adherence to their prohibitions are vacuous souls w/ no knowledge of where or who they are and they cannot conceive their demands have criminalized our oldest traditions as human beings.

    • allan says:

      and thanks Kap for posting a McKenna link! W/o those like McKenna, Joseph Campbell, Wasson and others… this might be a culture still mostly in shadow.
      And, just for fun (and extra credit!), this is an entertaining side trip (w/ the CIA as special guests) down psychedelia’s historic trail:


  9. darkcycle says:

    Oddly enough, as a psychologist I don’t have an opinion on this. Allen, common experiences are probably due to common wiring (in our brains). I also have a complex relationship with Mushrooms, even though it’s been almost fifteen years since I’ve done them. I’ve related details of that before and won’t go there now. But otherwise, I agree…from mushrooms and Peyote to Iyuhuasca and Ibogaine, psychedelics have been our point of access to our hind-brains and our connections to the universe. Without them, or without people who have experienced them (visionaries and shamans) societies are (IMHO) deprived.

    • allan says:

      it’s a topic I love… my rights, indigenous rights – and psychedelics all getting rolled into one.

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