It may not be the right time to begin this exploration of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown as a collective psychedelic experience. My thoughts aren’t entirely collected. I’ve previously noted the appearance of both individual and social breakdowns in terms of The Matrix, or The Simulation. Cracks appear, or glitches, in the mass delusion (and yes, I do believe we exist peacefully for the most part only because we are delusional or distracted), and we react with anxiety, fear and sometimes violence. This discussion here, between Rebel Wisdom host and filmmaker David Fuller with social scientist Erik Davis, poses COVID-19 as a non-specific catalyst (similar to LSD for example) that has amplified existing issues and brought them to the forefront… forced us to see them… stripped away our buffers and filters… and brought us all to personal and collective psychedelic trips, for better and worse. The intro to the video in Fuller’s words:
The great psychologist and psychedelic therapist Stanislav Grof described psychedelics as a “non-specific amplifier” of consciousness, meaning that they made everything more intense, both positive and negative experiences. If the pandemic crisis has acted like a non specific amplifier of many of the existing issues with society and culture, and we are now all in an altered state together, how can we best navigate it?
What resonated most for/in me, having had multiple experiences with psychedelics, was the idea of narrative collapse and spiritual crises. The narrative collapse is what I’ve previously been referring to as seeing The Matrix/Simulation for what it is, or the realization that everything you once believed to be true/fact and integrated into your sense of identity/humanity is in fact, false. The narrative collapse creates on the onset of spiritual crisis and existential crisis. I’m going to get more into my COVID-19 experience and things I’ve witnessed throughout but thought it was best to offer up the video first to set a framework for what I’m saying.
I’m going to leave this for now and re-start under another cover speaking a bit of my personal experience with hallucinogens (probably a misnomer as hallucination usually equates to something that isn’t actually there) and the parallels with my experiences and anxiety early in the lockdown. Briefly here though, the disruption in my routine did leave me out of sorts. I hadn’t until then considered how dependent I was upon these routines to stay centered. It was almost a crisis of identity. Not quite but those first few weeks were rough. It was more of a structural breakdown than anything but did reveal how my inflexibility or lack of psychic agility became a liability in the absence of structure. It was a low-key terror akin to the onset of a really heavy trip, or that moment where you say, “Holy shit, this is stronger than I thought it was going to be!”
I will be discussing narrative collapse, spiritual crisis, existential crisis, skepticism, paranoia, conspiracy theories, and the many things that go on when we realize that what we believed to be true just isn’t. The video says an awful lot. If you’ve had some experience with tripping, you’ll understand what they’re getting at in the video. If you haven’t, you’re going to have to take my world for it. It’s such a wonderful analysis.
Embrace radical agnosticism.
Embrace not knowing