Citation: Hector the Crow. "Peripheral Visions and Synthetic Meaning: An Experience with Cannabis (exp15293)". Erowid.org. Jan 21, 2004. erowid.org/exp/15293
I've been experimenting with drugs for about two months now. I've had several experiences with pot and one trip on DXM. This week, I've had two trips in which I've managed to hit a new plateau. I feel I've really gotten something out of them and I'd like to try and translate that inscrutable something here, if possible. My translation will take the form of a kaleidoscopic metaphor - it always does. In the interest of synthesizing the ultimate meaning from the memory, I'm going to try a novel approach to this report. I'm going to write about both parallel experiences in a chronological yet nonlinear format, alternating between each one at roughly the same stage in the trip. I think it's best to group particular sensations and insights together rather than splitting them into separate reports. Timings are approximate (or my best guess).
Stage 1: Silliness and social lubrication
First trip: It begins at 9:30 PM, at the house of J, my friend and supplier. The sun has just gone down. I eat two cannabis-laced cookies, then smoke a joint with J right after. I've never gotten high off smoking on the previous two occasions I've tried it, so I'm not surprised to feel no immediate effects. Ten or twenty minutes after smoking, we're talking outside in her garden and I notice a nervous tension in my body, a symptom I identify with the onset of inebriation in my highly successful experiments with cookies. Once I realize that it's just the joint taking effect, I begin to relax and roll with it. Physical jitteriness persists but I'm not worried. I notice a mild mindfuck. There's no buzz (just slight dizziness) but there is a change in speech patterns, a giddiness, removed inhibitions, happiness, and talkativeness.
Half an hour after dosing we move out of the garden, me stumbling along the inclined path behind her. We circumnavigate the house, ending up on the deck. J, an experienced user of many substances, provides me with a preview of what tracers look like on acid (way beyond the mild blurring of motion I perceive at the moment) with a slow wave of her hand. I become aware of a constant pulsing thud. I conclude that somehow I'm hearing my heart beat as if it's an external presence. I find this fascinating, however J soon figures out that what I'm actually hearing is the beat of the loud music being played across the street, and informs me thus. This is a pre-visionary stage, but everything I see and hear feels like a hallucination. I'm mistaking objective natural stimuli for mental fabrications.
Second trip (four days later): It begins at 6:30 PM. Me and J are hanging around a waterfront park. It's a bright, gray evening. First course is a joint. I feel the onset faster this time, a telescoping of effect. The jitteriness comes on quick, a physical shaking that lasts ten minutes. Soon I become introspective and philosophical (not abnormal for me, but let's say, hyper-philosophical). My friend, a chronic user, reports visual enhancement (brighter colors, more interest in texture and vegetation), but I don't get this to any great extent until taking the cookie later this night. J tells me about hallucinating on MDA: seeing the cells in her bloodstream pulsing along their predetermined path in each heartbeat - seeing them slow down in the dilation of the moment - fearing her heart was going to stop and snapping out of it - watching people's heads melt off their bodies on heroin and methamphetamine. I see faces in the bark of trees and in the bolts on a park bench. I can't not see them. Everything looks like something else. It's a prelude to the patterns that will dominate later.
Stage 2 - Delirium and recognition of euphoria
Back to first trip: 10:30 PM. We leave the deck. J tells me to watch out for a 'weird step'. This confuses me. I can't figure out what's weird about it. I mull over this long after following her inside. It seems vital that I figure out what the weird nature of the step is. We talk some more on the porch. Judging by our bizarre conversation, I presume that J is as fucked up as I am - a disturbing thought. I agree to go for a ride around town with her that night but as we start driving around I think: 'If she's as high as I am, we're fucked!' But she handles the vehicle without difficulty. The destination is a 7-11. I'm relieved that she doesn't expect me to go in there as well. There's no way I can come close to faking sobriety. I watch the people moving around in the bright interior through the windshield and cast odd looks at them from my seat.
We're driving back when the cookies kick in all of a sudden. There is an intense rush. Tingly numbness and a crawling skin sensation creep over me. A heavy buzz. It feels too intense for me. It'll never ease up that night. My mouth is absolutely parched but my throat doesn't want any fluid to go down, it feels uncomfortable swallowing. I don't always get this unpleasant body load, but this time I do. As we head back, delirium and unreality set in. I'm sure that I'm in a dream. Nothing matters, and anything is possible. I feel exactly as I do in lucid dreams (and it's the first time I become consciously aware of how I feel in lucid dreams - I so rarely remember them). It's an amused apathy in REM relaxation - leisurely surfing the theta waves and being led to meaning by some guiding force.
Itís about 11:00 when we get back to J's house. Everything seems to be getting stranger and stranger. Conversation begins to feel like telepathy. J seems to be finishing my sentences, or otherwise possessing of an eerie insight into my thoughts. We're not on perpendicular trips but not quite parallel either - thus, it's not quite telepathy. I'm tripping on an oblique angle to her mind, so I figure it's about 92% telepathy. I become convinced that what I hear her say is really my mind reconstructing her words into a language I can only understand at a peripheral level. I feel if I could fully understand this language, I could read her mind perfectly. I could gain ultimate insight into the meaning of her speech.
11:15. I think I'm a character in a poem. It makes perfect sense. It's a perfect reduction of the universe. An artful condensing of my perception to a lyrical singularity. It's a very introspective idea. An ego trip. Not ego loss - if anything, it's ego envelopment. The 'external' world is nothing more than the scripted manifestation of my inner artist: the explication of perception and reality. I am everything and everything is Me. But who is 'I'? Some middleman in the artist process of my alien God? At times I feel I am this God, but at other times I feel I'm subservient to this God. What I know as my 'self' is just an artist's tool - an actor in a piece of performance art. My life is a one-act play. Free will is the ultimate ironic punchline. Unity in isolation and isolation in unity.
11:30. I suddenly get the idea that I'm actually an old man in a sanitarium, and I've been hallucinating the twenty years of perception I know as 'my life' in a senility-induced coma which I'm just now waking from. J's house is about to dissolve into some sterile futuristic hospital interior, and I will have to face the sad and horrible truth that I'm an old man with seventy or eighty years of experience that I DON'T REMEMBER. I don't exactly believe this, but I don't quite disbelieve it either (much like my views on the existence of God). It seems a plausibly absurd tragedy. When I get into these unreality states, my superstitions are amplified.
11:45. Back on the deck. I come to that 'weird step', which J once again points out. This fucks with my head. Didn't this happen already? Is this deja-vu? Did I slip back in time? Or did I just hallucinate the last hour, and there was only one weird-step incident? What is real? Reality, memory, and imagination are blurred together. 'That IS a weird step,' I remark. It seems to be some twisted temporal landmark.
When I get back inside, I come to my first recognition of euphoria. Everything is fine and I feel great. I'm at peace with the world. I'm in the midst of the fix. My mind works now. Life makes sense. I'm free of so many burdens. I think: 'This is the answer to the equation of life - the inversion of emotional entropy. This is what I live for. It's the reward of perception. It's the cashing in of my perceptual savings.' I'm sitting on the living room couch. The only illumination is the orange porch lights from behind a sliding door and the glow from the adjoining kitchen. A small cat with a smooth tan-colored coat jumps into my lap. It's a wonderful sensation petting this cat. I feel connected to the animal. We're on the same wavelength.
12:15 AM (not exactly, but relative to my last timing, let's say): I'm watching TV - whatever comes on before (or is that after?) the Oblongs on the Cartoon Network here in Canada. Some very raunchy and crudely-drawn animated program. The cartoon seems to have been concocted by someone as stoned as I am - perhaps even moreso - because it feels like absurdist genius. The jokes seem as cryptic as the visions to come, but still I nearly choke with hysterical laughter. It's just like the profound nonsense, the visualization of glossolalia that I'll experience later: I don't know what it means, but I know its meaning is profound. I don't know why it's funny, but it's absolutely hilarious, and thus I behave accordingly.
Back to the second trip: When last we left the mildly stoned me, I was at the park with J. I get home around 10:00 PM. At this point I decide to take one of J's cookies to intensify the experience (the joint has pretty much worn off). This is where the real trip begins. at about 11:00, analgesia creeps up (and will still be with me four days later). The buzz begins. The perma-grin spreads across my face. I look for visions when I close my eyes, but it's too early, I see nothing but phosphenes and shadows. I get that feeling of well-being again. Nice mellowness (between outbursts of jitteriness). As I'm writing a rambling letter to J, I rocket up toward a peak of euphoria where I love everything and everyone. During this time, I write some hilariously sappy prose. I realize that I'm insane and that is how it should be. Insanity is the right state, the natural state. Sanity is corrupt. Insanity is clear and pure, the divinely indulgent inversion of alien logic (the only kind there is). I feel like I'm having a mental metaphysical orgasm.
Stage 3 - The visions, synesthesia, and the trance
First trip: 12:30 AM. I'm out on the porch when I realize I can see the visions I've gotten on previous trips if I shut my eyes. They're just like before, with similar motifs, but expanded into new realms. The textures, designs, and patterns are all familiar but there's so much more now. Last time it was rhombuses and a kinetic motif resembling a backwards 4. This time it's a W of detail, a letter that is the matrix for the intricate visuals that flash by in a rapidly-morphing cycle. One second it's a giant ski hill with trees outlining the lines of the W and a snowy path forming the alphabetic motif in negative space - now it's a row of bent urinals still conforming to the W shape, a colorful psychedelic alien plumbing system with flowing florescent waste fluids - now it's a neon escalator, Egyptian hieroglyphics with a desert backdrop, stone sculptures amid a city skyline, flowers, plants, forests, and on and on. The weirdest sights I've ever seen are flashing by in a never-ending stream.
There is no traditional iconography, which is fine by me. I would probably have been disappointed with something so hackneyed as shamanistic symbols or totemic imagery or what have you - but I honestly can't figure out where the hell this stuff comes from. It seems entirely external. (No not entirely actually, some of it strikes a sense of deja-vu, as if I've dreamed it before.) I wonder when I'll start seeing newspaper taxis. I could be writing new verses to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
The visual motion makes me dizzy. I feel like I'm spinning in a psychic whirlpool - always clockwise. I keep jerking myself out of the trance because I'm afraid of getting lost in it. I can't work up the courage to pursue the ride along the gigantic loop-o-plane of its trajectory. I open my eyes and try to reorient myself to the room. Now I'm enthralled with patterns: floral patterns on a rug. Wood grain textures. City lights. The foliage of a tree. Now everything I see IS a pattern. Everything joins the kinetic motific kaleidoscope, the clockwise spinning synesthesia of interior and exterior stimuli. It's interesting how I can separate my experience into external stimuli and internal creativity. A happy medium is reached. An artistic balance.
12:45. I go back outside with J. Leaves of deciduous trees lit by spotlights seem to flow into the kinetic algorithm. They swirl around me. I can just barely force OEVs from the stimuli if I concentrate hard enough. J's getting tired, so it's time for me to go home. I'm not sure if I'm capable of finding my way back (it's a long way and it's past midnight) but I'm going to try and make the expedition. She sends me off with a bottle of water for my ridiculously dry mouth and some more cookies to take home. I ended up spilling much of the water on the book I was going to return to her which I'd totally forgotten about. (Water and me don't mix well when I'm stoned. I always end up spilling it.)
The walk home feels like an eternity - an unguided tour of heaven and hell. I see everything turning into the flowing kinetic pattern that is a visualization of my consciousness. This is ultimate cerebral synesthesia, a combination of all mental media. It is generated both internally and externally. It incorporates natural stimuli, but the stimuli merges with my mind's eye in a flowing wash of dynamic unity. Life becomes the motif, the subject of the visual representation of the linear perceptual sonata. There is a soundtrack. It's comprised of effects, speech, and music.
There are lyrics as well - a lyrical language - a localized lyrical language whose entire dictionary comprises only the semantic notes and phrases needed for the song. I can't quite understand the language but I feel it means something, just like that strange cartoon. I can SEE the meaning but I can't comprehend it. I can't interpret the visualization of it, nor the audio representation. It's a film. A song. A poem. A novel with 'me', my character, my fictional avatar, as protagonist. It's a language. A formula. A diagram. Emotion. Most of all, it's ART - an artwork painted synesthetically by my inner artist God, the one I'd briefly come into awareness of during my 'character in a poem' revelation. This is personalized art, the truest form of art. Language is in this synesthetic fusion - hence, glossolalia. I'm hearing gibberish in my head and watching the words unfold in fractal patterns that merge with the black asphalt and symphony of city lights.
I hum the soundtrack and repeat the words I hear in my head. I'll even write one phrase down when I get home: 'DOZNUT GUZERT BERGLERS' (spelling is NOT arbitrary). What this phrase means can only be explained by the W-motif based visions that I see. I'm SEEING sentences. I'm SEEING meaning. It's a telepathic communion with the universe which is merely a painting by my inner artist God. I finally know what perception is. I'm a rational being in an irrational universe and this is the result of that comprehension.
There are times when I desperately want to be home so I can crawl into bed and sleep off this madness. I feel like I'm lost in a timeless cryptic hell. The nonsense language won't stop, I can't see anything BUT the visions and I just want it to end. Other times, I feel content to wander forever. I feel divinely connected to the insanity. I'm reminded of a line I heard in Waking Life, something about time, and how the secret to transcendence is learning how to live in the moment.
1:30 AM. I arrive home with relief and go to bed immediately.
Second trip: 12:00 AM. Stage 3 begins with music appreciation. I'm sitting in front of my computer, typing my thoughts and listening to MP3s. I'm noticing background sound effects in music that I never did before. I recognize new layers. I can hear all the counterpoint autonomously. I enjoy amplified appreciation of the detail, but I have a diminished understanding of the music as a whole. My architectural view is impaired. 'Bike' by Pink Floyd comes on. The crazy sound effects montage at the end is the most insane thing I've ever heard. Pure sonic lunacy. It's exhilarating and terrifying.
The visual component starts with things in my room looking like other things. Dunes on my computer screen (Egyptian themed wallpaper - a great 3D rendering) become faces, then diamond beings in spacechips (an unintentional pun I leave in, and proof that my subconscious engineering artist is a step ahead of my cognitive mind - they do look like space-chips. Anthropomorphic triangular cornchip spacecraft.) Then come the visions. They definitely contain the flavor of the cannabis quasi-CEVs I've come to know and love.
These 'visions' are probably not what one would term 'hallucinations', either open-eye or closed-eye. What they boil down to is a hyperactivity of the mind's eye, a sort of waking dream-vision. For example: If I ask you to picture a pink elephant, you can sort of 'see' it in your head. Not as if it was really there, but it might be thought of as a legitimate form of vision. What I'm seeing is all kinds of crazy imagery unfolding and changing before me without my intent. There are two things that make it interesting: First, the automation. I don't have to will myself to see it, all I have to do is focus my mind at the right level - the peripheral level - and it comes flooding in, first as simple floating objects, then as tunnels of motific patterns moving in intricate trajectories, then entire scenes. The second reason I find this display riveting is the coherency and the alienness of it. This is not pink elephants, this is not random recapitulation of the cerebral garbage floating around in my head - it's a consistent, motific visual trip which seemed part of some grand scheme. There is, however, endless variation within this consistency. It seems to have been worked out by a higher intelligence: the inner alien artist.
When I open my eyes I can still see the visuals, as if the patterns are bleeding through - seeping into reality. Everything becomes a blur, but a clear blur. I think this is a beautiful oxymoron. The icons of my windows desktop form swirling kinetic algorithms. It makes no difference if my eyes are open or closed - it's simply a layer of unfolding self-generated visual perception over or under my normal sight, like a superimposition. With eyes closed, I see things clearer and am drawn deeper into it due to the lack of interference from regular sight - but if I keep my eyes open, the omniperipheral kinetic patterns blend into my normal vision which is a very interesting and humorous phenomenon - a trance inducing effect.
Throughout this experience, I write a letter to J. It's full of typos, dyslexia, unintentional puns, and scrambled words. It's almost a new language - it resembles the distortion I heard when she was speaking to me during the first trip. My writing is a bit less articulate but a lot more creative. Every random thought that pops into my head becomes an immense insight, an explication of existence. I proceed to make up myths that explain the universe. Who or what is God? I thought I was God but now I think I'm Moses. I spin endless verses of image-rich poetry, one metaphorical idea flowing into another. My words shape the visual patterns around me. I'm painting my life with words. I'm in control. I was right the first time, I'm God, and I'm creating the universe with My words - profound nonsense, semantic sight, visual sentences. Artful gibberish.
Pink Floyd plays on. I hear a strange phrase sung, no doubt distorted by my stoned state. 'Trimatized to the groun'. I write down the phrase and suddenly, I SEE it - as a COASTLINE. The synesthesia is revealing a depth to the phrase and infusing each word with a new dimension. The coastline is the nuanced visual result (or painting) of each word blending into the others - a synesthesia of meaning. If I was more capable of articulating my revelations, I'd describe it as the 'essence of information'. Maybe even the 'essence of understanding'. A new visual language, one I'd call: Indiskri babble.
1:00 AM. The SETTING of my mind's eye (if such a thing can be imagined) has transformed. The mental fireworks appear to be taking place in Gyro Park, a sacred locale in my hometown. The designs, patterns, and objects are forming the very matrix in which they exist. Now even tactile hallucinations make their presence felt - I feel raindrops on my skin, a recap of the early part of the trip when I was outside. This fusion of real and imagined stimuli creates the ultimate synesthetic sensation. I feel like I'm awash in a tide of cryptic meaning - a lowly human allowed a ride in the channel of alien wisdom. Of course, I can't even begin to comprehend this form of hyper-semantic information, but I know that it means something, that it's an intelligence far above my feeble grasp. I also feel it's a work of art which springs from the inner alien artist (not alien as in 'extra-terrestrial', but as in a foreign intelligence, a mind that is a part of me but so far removed from my consciousness that I can't understand it).
2:00 AM. The climax of my visions. Everything is recapitulated. Motifs are all brought together for a grand finale, the final number to this synesthetic musical. Backwards 4s take on a visual presence. They are aides, guards and messengers for the Rhomboid Prince, the ruler of this realm. He's letting me into his palace. 'What will I find there?' I wonder. I'm not sure I'm prepared to find out. I see him sitting on some sort of throne. He is a RHOMBUS. He is obviously the true prince because he is weirder than anything I've yet seen. His texture contains this entire universe of hyper-bizarre sight. He is wearing the fabric of unreality. I pledge my allegiance to him. He wants to enlighten me, to allow me comprehension of this alien language, but I respectfully bow out of the initiation. I'm not ready yet. 'Sorry,' I say. 'Maybe next trip.' I feel as if I've let down some deities, but I'm just learning to reinterpret emotional signals in this detuned cartoon. I promised them I'll accept the initiation next trip - assuming I can get this high again.
Throughout all this, the euphoria is sustained, perhaps even brought to a new peak. The only downside (and most would agree this is hardly anything to complain about) is that sometimes it feels like too MUCH euphoria - like the warm emotional flood is just overwhelming my psyche and about to cause a mental meltdown. If I can only be so lucky to experience this 'downside' again! Well to be honest there are some more legitimate downsides. There are times when I feel in danger of spiraling into a certain mental loop - a negative thought pattern I can't get myself out of, like 'what if I'm dead and this is the eternal afterlife? Is that good or bad?' (I've recently seen the film 'Waking Life', and I think this is a large influence on my thoughts right now.) I stumble into disturbing soliloquies and am prone to an uncontrollable half-assed self hypnosis of which I'm only semi-aware. 'Nano hell and the gravity well' is an example. I think it's such an important idea, I erase my carefully drawn depiction of the Rhombus Palace and write it on my whiteboard.
The concept is simple: Nano hell is an infinite singularity of terror, like the ultimate density at the center of a black hole, and I'm spiraling down towards it on this trip - but the initial descent into this black hole, the gravitational pull, is a misleading euphoria - deep pain masked in shallow pleasure. The real truth is negative. An inversion of joy is the natural state of the universe. A rather perverse philosophy to be sure, but none of these episodes develop into anything serious. A new benevolent wash of imagery attracts my attention away from the mental quagmires and I enjoy the kaleidoscopic shift in perception (subtle, but oh so emotionally tangible).
2:30. I turn off the lamp, turn my computer screen toward my bed, switch on the Winamp visualizer, and lie in bed to watch and listen. I'm using Jet, but later I switch to G-force. Both seem to be very popular eye-candy for stoners. The patterns look awesome. The textures seem richer. The colored seem purer - more vivid - delicious - almost edible! I feel like I'm David Bowman at the end of 2001 - Jupiter and beyond. A very cosmic motif. I should've put on some Ligeti. Also, the artificial synesthetic properties seem to be enhanced - I notice the relationship of the patterns to the music much more than I used to. I spend the next half hour in an open-eyed trance as a floating consciousness in a small dark room, listening to my shuffling Winamp playlist on a good pair of headphones and watching the visualizer with renewed appreciation. I seem to possess a profound insight into the lyrics of every song I hear. I feel I've gained a deep understanding of Terence McKenna's timewave theory. I write: 'Novelty must be conserved and accelerated or existence would be a logical fallacy.'
3:00. 'Holy fucking freak-flying flags!', I write. 'I've courted the universe for many years but now I've truly fallen in love with her.' I'm more content than I've ever been in my life. Now I feel it was a folly to yearn for stronger substances like LSD and DMT. If cannabis can do this, what the Christ else do I need? To pursue euphoria beyond this divine plateau would simply be hubristic gluttony. I keep a glass of water by my bed to stave off dry mouth, but I keep knocking it over and spilling it on my papers, my bedside table, and my bed sheets. It doesn't really matter. I get to sleep at around 3:30.
Stage 4 - The afterglow
Both trips: I'm mildly stoned all next day. Everything people say to me sounds strange and garbled and I have to concentrate very hard to understand. I often feel in danger of bursting into hysterical laughter. I worry a bit about how future interaction with humanity is going to go down, but I'm also wonderfully apathetic. I can't care too much. Movies and TV are hard to follow - everything sound like profound gibberish. I feel like a child in a pre-verbal stage. I notice a slight visual enhancement. I'm much more aware of details, much more interested in patterns, texture, and colors, especially when walking around outside. I stare at an ant colony for about twenty minutes. The next few days leave me prone to violent mood swings and emotional instability. I get peaks of profound insight and troughs of futility and disillusionment.
I wish I could have torn myself away from my keyboard long enough to sit and concentrate and actually EXPERIENCE the visions. I felt fiercely compelled to type everything I was seeing and the thoughts this sight created. Even when I managed to stop typing, shut off the monitor, turn off the lamp, and crawl into bed with headphones still on, I relapsed after a few minutes: I would periodically sit up, switch on the lamp again and start writing on a notepad I keep on my bedside table, because there was some phrase I just had to get down, it felt so motherfucking profound!
If I could only force myself to stop reporting everything and intellectualizing everything and just watch and pay attention and perhaps be an active participant (interactive hallucinogenic lucidity is the next level) I might be able to get even deeper into this realm and find out where those peripheral visions lead. That being said, I feel a sense of triumph, as if I've solved a riddle. I've synthesized the meaning of the experience so far. Of course, it's only the first riddle. Stranger and more difficult riddles lie ahead for me, and their solutions maybe require more than a poem or a trip report. They may require action, whether physical or mental, I don't know.
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