On 04 Dec 2009, at 20:47, Johnathan Corgan wrote:

> On Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 10:15 AM, Brent Meeker  
> <meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
>
>>> I thought it was impossible to live that and to be able to come  
>>> back from
>>> such an experience, but it happens that with salvia divinorum,  
>>> some subject
>>> can live the experience of quasi-total amnesia, where not only you  
>>> forget
>>> which human you are, but you can forget what a human is, what time  
>>> is, what
>>> space is, and yet, retrospectively, after coming back, you realize  
>>> that
>>> despite having forgot everything, you were still conscious, and  
>>> you were
>>> still considering you as a living entity of some sort.
>>
>> I've not had that experience, but I might try it.  I think though  
>> that even
>> in such a state one must have some short-term (~second) memory to  
>> have a
>> human kind of consciousness.  Obviously you now have memories of  
>> what it was
>> like.  I have known people with severe Alzheimer's disease who  
>> seemed merely
>> reactive and apparently had no memory, even short term.  I don't  
>> think they
>> were as conscious as my dog or the fish in my pond.
>
> Experience reports of Salvia Divinorum (or salvinorin A, it's chief
> psychoactive compound) use in the literature contain many common
> themes related to memory deficits, and represent a fascinating
> "uncontrolled study" in the phenomenology of consciousness.  There are
> of course many concurrent effects (visual and auditory hallucinations,
> somatic sensations, distortions of body image, etc.) shared with other
> hallucinogens, but the impact on memory seems unique.
>
> At typical dose levels resulting from smoking the plant leaves or
> fortified extracts of the plant leaves, many users later report that
> they had forgotten they had taken a drug, and were confused (and often
> terrified) about why they were experiencing what they were.  This is
> reported as a sudden onset phenomena, not a gradual one, and is often
> compared to the feeling of waking up in a strange place with no memory
> of how one got there.  This suggests that one action of the drug is to
> disrupt the last few minutes of episodic memory formation.  However,
> these same reports also state that as the effect of the drug began to
> peak and then wear off, usually in a matter of a few minutes, the
> users suddenly recalled the events leading up to their intoxicated
> state.  This then suggests that, at these doses, the drug only
> disrupts access to recent episodic memory, but the memory is still
> formed for later recall.  This is different from the form of permanent
> memory loss that occurs in head injury cases where the victim cannot
> ever recall the moments leading up to, say, a vehicle collision.
>
> At higher doses, a common theme is that (along with the prior episodic
> amnestic effects) the user reports having forgotten key fundamental
> concepts like "what being human is" or "what space is".  This sort of
> semantic memory loss is difficult to imagine, but it is fascinating
> that even under such extreme conditions, the user is experiencing a
> stream-of-consciousness that can later be recalled.  Less frequently,
> reports at higher doses describe feeling like "all of my prior reality
> was a joke being played on me", and "I was experiencing the REAL
> reality, and everything that happened before was just a construction
> or movie set."

There is also an incredible reverse tolerance effect. Now, I get that  
"game over effect" each time, even with a very small pinch of leaves.  
To get the same "teaching" you need less and less and less. Three  
times, I get what I call (in my diaries or in some forums) "total  
recall" just by smelling the leaves. Most users experiment this.
The plant is also self-regulating. You really have to wait for the  
good timing, or you find the "gates closed" there.






>
> Some users go on to report even more bizarre cases where they report
> "having lived another lifetime somewhere else", and are shocked and
> dismayed when the drug begins to wear off that it was all a "dream",
> and that this reality is the real one.  This sounds like a more
> extreme version of our normal REM sleep, where when dreaming, one
> doesn't usually realize one is dreaming, but sorts things out upon
> awakening.

Indeed. Some (all?) experiences are a bit like waking up.
But there is a double amnesia, you forget "here" there. And you forget  
"there" here.
It is actually an art to find the dosage and the timing so that you  
understand better some, well, let us say statements you get there. One  
is just impossible to memorize, or you stay there, and a copy is send  
here. This is a copy effect experimented by a reasonable proportion of  
users.

i am talking of report of experiences, not of the interpretation of  
them in some theory.



>
> Compounding these impacts on memory are reports of changes in body
> image and identity.  One recurring theme (that is shared with other
> hallucinogens) is the feeling of "merging" with objects in one's
> visual field.

I have never lived this.
But this means nothing. I did my first "bad trip" at my 554  
experiences. Salvia is really hard to predict. Well, in this case I  
made some obvious error, and a bad trip with salvia last 4 minutes,  
and you feel rather well after.




> This is reported as both incorporating the physical
> object into one's body image and changing one's perspective to be that
> of the object.  In one case, a user reported that "I actually KNEW
> what it was like to be a swing set, to live every day in the
> playground and be happy when children were using me, and sad when the
> park was closed."
>
> Another unique aspect of the effects of salvinorin A is its extremely
> short-lived activity.  Most reports seem to indicate that the smoked
> form of the drug wears off in as little as 10-15 minutes, completely
> returning the user to "baseline" in less than a half-hour.

Indeed. Even shorter most of the time.


>
> All of this indicates that salvinorin A has potent but short-lived
> effects on the brain systems involved in memory, identity, body image
> and perception of time and space (along with a host of other effects
> not discussed here).  Regardless of one's view on the use of these
> substances to alter one's cognition, it seems there is a great
> opportunity to study these effects to zero in on how these brain
> systems are related to our subjective experience of reality.


Very difficult task, but very interesting, and probably parts of the  
experience/experiments needed to build an artificial brain. There is  
another relation between entheogen and comp.. Instead of saying "yes"  
to a doctor for a similar brain, you say "yes" to a plant for a  
perturbed brain, when you have gather enough evidences that the  
effects are reversible. But how could you know you survive that? Of  
course a computationalist will tell you it is the same with coffee,  
and chocolate.

Well, if we define a drug by something harmful and addictive, then  
salvia is not known to be a drug today, because there are no evidence  
it is harmful nor evidence it is addictive. On the contrary there are  
evidence it is good to cure many physical and psychological problems,  
and there are strong evidence it can cure, in particular, many sorts  
of addictions and abuses.

I don't know where the very idea of making salvia illegal come from.  
The youtube videos are a solid testimony that, despite the experience  
can be very impressive, it is really not dangerous. Some people uses  
it in the complete contrary of the normal use (in the dark, alone or  
with a very good friend, in the silence, in a spirit of self-inquiry,  
and starting from vey low dosage). Instead, they take it in the light,  
in a noisy environment, in a spirit of being pressure for some show,  
and staring with unreasonably strong concentration. yet, the worst  
which happen in the worst case, is some bruises and some nightmares,  
which happens to sober people all the time.

The illegality of salvia in some countries is just that: another  
example that in the applied human science we are really nowhere, and  
authoritative arguments prevails.

To make salvia illegal in the USA is just a violation of its  
Constitution. I think.

Bruno Marchal


http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/



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