Citation: G.T. Currie. "Impossible to Understand Reality: An Experience with LSD (exp1979)". Erowid.org. Jun 20, 2000. erowid.org/exp/1979
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I remember my first year at university... I had a very good friend Cory that I would study with from midnight to about 6 or 7 in the morning every night. During the wee hours of the morning we would take study breaks and debate philosophy or argue moral issues for fun. We became very open about our ideologies and eventually one night I said, 'You know what I've heard so much about, but never tried? I've always been curious about hallucinogens...' My friend replied that he too was curious about these drugs and that he'd be interested in setting up a 'scientific experiment.' He was in his third year of bio/psych and I was just starting my psychology degree. So it started....
We researched the many hallucinogens for the next two months. I spent hours in the library reading and visiting friends to interview them about their personal experiences. Feeling comfortable with our choice, I returned to my home town to find some acid (the drug we had decided upon). My friends had all said that a half hit would likely do for my first time and that if after an hour I had only minimal effects I could always ingest another half tab. I ended up buying 5 hits total for me and my friend. I thought, 'hey, if it's weak we're better off having extra and who knows, maybe we'll really like it and want to have some more around.'
We had planned to drop on the Friday evening and had set up several perceptual experiments that we wanted to perform. It was Thursday and I had been studying all day and night. I popped by Cory's dorm room to say 'hi' only to find that Cory too had had a brutal study day. He turned to me with a great big smile and said, 'want to do it tonight?' 'Sure!' I replied. So, we started our tape recorder and pulled out our journal book for the night.
Journal entry #1, '12:01am first dose - 1/2 tab each, haven't eaten recently.' From what we had both heard, the expected onset time would be 20-30 minutes, so we waited... 10 minute mark, nothing. 15 minute mark, get ready! 20 minute mark, nothing yet, should be soon! 25 minute mark, still nothing but get ready! 30 minute mark, nothing... 35 minute mark nothing... 40 minute mark, still nothing... 'Hmmm,' I thought, 'this should have started to affect us by now... Well, I have been carrying this stuff around for a week in my jacket wrapped in tinfoil; perhaps the agent has been partially leeched out and the tabs are weak...'
So, at this point we made what was still a somewhat rational decision...we would increase our dose by one more tab each. It seemed logical, if the drug was too weak to affect us we should increase our dose.
50 minute mark, nothing. 60 minute mark, nothing, this stuff should have started ages ago! My friend thought that we had been ripped off, but I doubted that my old school friend would have done such a thing (especially since he had tried the same batch of acid with positive affect). 70 minute mark, nothing.... So, at this point we made a decision which to today I still can not see the rationality of...we decided to take the rest of the acid. A total of 2 1/2 hits each and we had never touched the drug before in our lives.
We moved from the dorm room to the kitchen to sit and talk. The nice thing about this area of the dorm (known as the 'cell') is nice because it has only 3 rooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen and is sealed off from the rest of the residence for privacy. So we sat in the kitchen eating chips and pop, when all of a sudden my friend Cory point to the pop can and exclaimed, 'Oh my god Greg! Put the pop can down and look at it!' I set the pop can down on the table and looked, the can started to breathe...in and out, smaller then larger. 'Cool!' I thought....then, 'Shit! We've taken 2 1/2 hits each and it's starting to kick in...better hold on!' The kitchen was the best place to be...so many small and interesting things to look at.
We went to the sink that had little droplets of water in the bottom of it. By 'unfocusing' our attention, we could cause strange effects to occur. The sink became this rushing current of rapids pouring down into the drain. A blink of the eyes and it was the sink again...
There was a poster around campus that week for a band known as Anonymous... It was a picture of a punk rocker's face with really strange shadings that had obvious done with pencil. There happened to be one of these posters printed on green paper on the kitchen wall. We watched the poster for a moment. The hair on the top of his head receeded and disappeared while the shading on the face became more pronounced turning the face into that of a 'wolfman.' This is how our experiment became coded as 'The Green Wolfman Experiment.' The face cycled back and forth between that of the punk rocker and the wolfman, back and forth like the waves on the shore.
The kitchen was full of such wonders. The doors on all the shelves buldged inward and outward. The hairs on our arms interweaved continually and the hairs on our legs grew straight out. The once plain walls were full of intricate little patterns as was the carpet just outside the door...as though some person had come by and impressed these patterns into their surfaces. I was somewhat disappointed though... I moved my hand back and forth in front of my face...no tracers... I had heard so much about tracers and I had none (but then again, I was only experiencing the onset of my first half hit...).
It just so happened that the residence was having a formal that evening and people were milling around the floors providing a good cover for the two of us; if we acted strange, we could always have replied that we had had too much to drink. Cory's eyes lighted up and he exclaimed, 'I want to get socially interactive! Let's go out to the party and talk to people!' I was a little nervous about this and really wanted to just stay in the kitchen; however, he convinced me and out we went to the party...
Wouldn't you know the first person we started to talk to was the person in charge of the entire residence system! Surely this was not the person to talk to while we were so affected by acid. Eventually Cory became confused by something she had said so we found a corner, sat down, and went back over the tape recorder to straighten things out.
TV! I wanted to see the TV! So we went to the TV room and I watched the television for about 5 minutes but there was nothing special about it. This was rather disappointing, I had hoped that the television would have warped or characters would have behaved differently or at least something. I started to talk to a friend sitting next to me on the couch. As we talked, I was staring at his eyes...they were huge and angular...much like those in Japanimation. I couldn't break my gaze at his eyes until suddenly he blinked...and his huge eyelids came down and back up in what seemed to be a series of still photographs taken milliseconds apart. I complimented him on the largeness of his eyes and then excused myself.
Cory and I sat down in a hallway of the residence, it was time to try our time perception experiments. A friend of ours, Sean, had sat down next to us to chat (but had no idea what we were up to). The experiment was as follows. Person A would have the watch, pen, and journal. Person B would have to estimate the elapse of 30 seconds by any means possible to them and tell person B when that time had elapsed. Person A would then right down the elapsed time and ask person B how much time they estimated had actually passed. I was first to be person B and Cory was first to be the recorder.
'Ok, start....now!' Cory said. '1 and... 2 and... 3..', I thought but was then distracted. 'I'm sorry Cory,' I appologized, 'there's no way I can do 30 seconds... We've got to cut it down to 10 seconds...' 'No, keep going Greg, you can do it...' 'No, seriously, there's no way I'll make 30 seconds...' Cory smiled, 'I'm still timing you!' 'Stop! Stop! Now!' I shouted. Cory looked at the watch and wrote down the elapsed time. 'What's your estimated time?' Cory asked. 'Oh my gods! Atleast 5 minutes have gone by!' I exclaimed. Cory shot me a strange look, wrote down my time, and said, 'Actual time...11 seconds...'
Cory didn't believe me, he thought I was just pulling his leg. So he became person B and I became the recorder. 'Ok, start....now!' I said as the second hand reached 12. Cory started to talk to our friend Sean. They talked and talked. All of a sudden Cory looked alarmed and turned towards me, 'Stop! Stop! Oh no! I forgot all about the experiment!' I wrote down the actual time and asked him for his estimated time. He replied, 'Oh man! Atleast 15 minutes have passed by!' I grinned, 'Actuall time: 15 seconds!' The time dilation was fantastic! I had never experienced anything like this before in my life...but there was more to come still as only the first amounts of acid had been absorped into my system.
My visual field was vibrating. Full of patterns. Everything was patterned...and vibrating. I went to the washroom and as I came out Cory was talking to a friend of ours. As she walked away, Cory turned to me and said, 'Look! She has a metal plate in her forehead!' I looked and sure enough there it was...a Frankenstein metal-plate forehead! We laughed... But I was becoming aware of an apprehensive feeling...I wanted to go somewhere... Maybe the kitchen... Maybe the dorm room... I just felt like we had to go somewhere... Somewhere better. Anyways, we were sitting on the floor of the hallway with Sean debating about at exactly what time we had taken what 'dose' and Sean became curious. 'Dose? Dose? What did you guys take?' he asked. I looked at Cory and he at me. Cory replied, 'LS....' '....D' I finished. Sean said, 'Ohhh...' At this point Cory and myself became worried thinking that we had upset Sean or that perhaps we shouldn't have told him. But Sean turned to us and said, 'Guys, it's just that we're in a hallway by the doors of people's rooms!' Cory and myself looked up in surprise and sure enough that's where we were! Our bubble of perception had become so small and concentrated on what we were doing that we had forgotten where we were and that we should be careful with how loud we talked about what we were doing! Sean merely smiled and laughed...he then became our ground man for the night.
Things were getting pretty intense at this point, we had plateaued at a very high peak of the drug's effect. Where there had been no tracers before, they were everywhere! When I moved, everything in my field of vision blurred off with tracers like looking between two mirrors. I felt I had to go somewhere, it was winter and I figured some cold air might do us good. We went out into the snow and marvelled at all the patterns in the snow. We watched two trees that grew and grew up to the highest reaches of the sky. A friend had said to go and look at stoplights, saying that the lights would change to different colours. We decided against going off campus since the drug's affect was so great and we didn't know what to expect. After all, I didn't want to pass out and be found in a snowbank some days later!
We went back in and returned to the dorm. I was unable to write and unable to focus on one thing for too long due to all the patterns in my head. Not only that, but my thoughts had become lightening fast and branched out from one another...I would have one initial idea and that idea would have five sub-ideas...those five sub-ideas would have sub-ideas of their own and so on! An infinite and parallel labyrinth of active thoughts all perceived at incredible speeds. All these perceptions were very overwhelming. I turned to Cory, 'Tell you what...we've seen what we've come to see and we've done one of our experiments... Let's call it a night aand crash out...' Cory agreed and he tossed me a sleeping bag as he hit the top bunk.
I layed there on the floor. My mind racing and spinning...lost in the eddies of perception and thought. Time was dilated now to an unimaginable extent. I looked at the bottom bunk where Cory's room mate was sleeping...He was a Jehovah's Witness and actually kept Watch Tower magazines under his pillow... The moonlight was coming in through the window and struck his head, giving him the impression of having a halo about him. I laughed, even through my current state of stress and anxiety, at the contrast between the peacefully sleeping JW and me tripping out of my mind on the floor mere feet away.
I layed there for what seemed like hours. I couldn't sleep, I wasn't tired in the least. It was as if the actual mechanism for sleep had been removed from my system. Sleep just did not exist. I looked at Cory on the top bunk and thought, 'That lucky bastard! Probably asleep right now and away from all this stuff...' I quietly called out, 'Cory?' And the response came back, 'Yeah?' Apparently he was in the same boat I was.
We returned to the kitchen. The acid was in full-blown affect now. During the week I had had a pain in my chest that had been with me for a few days (probably a bruise from sparring). My body-perception was normal from my head down to my shoulders but then my body narrowed down to an infinitely thin point at this point in my chest, flowed down about three feet, curved around behind my back and up over my shoulder where it then flowed off into infinity. My body just kept flowing down through my chest and off into infinity through this strange curved pattern. I had also lost the comfort that one normally has of one's body. It was as if my body no longer existed...that warm cozy cloak I had worn for all my life was now gone....leaving emptiness...void...nothing... This gave me great feelings of insecurity and distress. I explained to Cory that I wished I could wrap myself up in a great big comforter or perhaps put a ballon inside my side and inflate it so that I could feel the reassurance of my body again. In times of stress, one can always retreat to one's body and hug one's self for comfort...for me this was gone.
As I was washed over by my perceptions and thoughts, I discovered I had lost another form or retreat and comfort. Whenever you are stressed or overwhelmed you can always close your eyes. Away from the world and safe in the warm darkness or fleshy colour (if it is a sunny day or if a light is near by). I was overwhelmed and closed my eyes to escape all the visuals for a moment. But when I closed my eyes, it was still all there! Even more so somehow! I realized that I was here for the full-haul on this trip... It was obvious that the drug didn't affect the outside world reaching my retina, it was affecting my brain's processing of the visual information and my other internal processes. There was no escape...but that was ok...we had prepared ourselves so well that we knew we were on a drug and that in a few hours it would be gone. All we had to do was wait out the intensity.
At this point, my space-time perception had become greatly affected. The best way to explain it is like this.... Imagine that space-time is an infinitly long cord going infinity far in both directions (past and future). Now, imagine our perception as an infinitly thin plane cross-secting this cord at any given point. Our plane of perception moves an infinitly small amount of distance in an infinitly small amount of time in a forward direction along this cord of space-time--thus being virtually continuous. What happen to me is that I took a 'chunk' of this space-time cord and sliced it into five sequential slices. I was aware of my normal visual field, but I was also aware of an infinitly large blackness reaching out in all directions (visual). It was upon this infinite blackness that I placed these first first slices of space-time chronologically with the first on the left movig across to the most recent on the right. I then took the next 'chunk' of space-time and sliced it again into five sequential slices and overlaid these upon the original five. The first five 'clicked' back one position but I was still aware of them. I then kept taking more and more chunks or space-time as time passed and kept overlaying them upon the groups of five that were accumulating. These five groups clicked away and trailed off infinitely away from me and upwards as they got farther moved from myself. Points of interest here were that I was simultaneously aware of 1) my normal perception, 2) my current five chunks of time, 3) all previous slices, and 4) this special infinite space in which I was perceiving space-time. As well, if one experiments with the edge of the visual field by moving your hand past the edge of your eye, you will notice that your hand gradually fades as it loses acuity and finally disappears from perception. However, all my slices of space-time had definate edges on them...like freeze-frames from a television show. They were square screens showing reality.
Sean had come into the kitchen again and said 'hi.' He had just finished brushing his teeth in the kitchen sink when Cory came up to him trying to explain the rushing water effect in the sink. As Cory was intensely focused upon the sink and his explanation Sean reached around and turned the water on full-blast. Cory stumbled back from the sink shaken... 'Oh wow! Don't do that man!' Cory shook, 'It's like somebody whispering, 'come here... come here... I want to tell you a secret...' And then shouting as loud as possibe into your ear except with your entire sensory/perceptual system.' We all had a good laugh over that. But overall it was too intense...I sat back in a large chair...
I turned to Sean and asked him to turn the lights off in the kitchen in an attempt to settle my perceptions... As Sean was about to do this Cory argued no, leave them on... We then got into a fun-spirited debate to see who could get Sean to turn the lights off or leave them on. Finally I said, 'Look Sean, the lights are doing me more harm than they are doing Cory good...turn them off...' Sean agreed to this. But before he could act, Cory stood up and said, 'No man! I want to get things loud in here! I want to get my stereo and play some loud music... Or get a really loud band in here!' 'Oh!' I thought amongst my perceptual rollercoaster, 'Stereo... Band... Music... Loud...' There was just so much happening that I thought I could just be perceptually sea-sick, I thought, 'yeah, you know...I could just be perceptually sea-sick with all that is happening...in fact I think I will...I think I'll puke...' So I stood up, walked over to the garbage bin, vomited and sat back down in my chair.
Sean and Cory looked over at me nervously, 'Are you ok?' 'Yeah.' I responded. 'Would you like some water?' 'Sure...' Sean brought me some water and I had a sip. It was now that we were experiencing the suggestability that can be found in this state. At one point I used the expression of something 'splitting in two.' When I used that phrase, Cory felt his body actually split in two.
There was also an emotional aspect to the experience. Shortly after this Cory stood up and said, 'Oh my god! I've got an assignment due Monday! What am I doing here on acid! I going to fail my course! And my girlfriend is going to be here tomorrow! What if I'm not back to normal!' He then caught himself being swept up in all this emotion and smiled realizing its irrationality... He was almost finsihed the assignment and had another three days to finish it and his girlfriend would not be here until well after the drug wore off. He explained his emotions as the worst possible gut-dropping feeling in the world, as if he had just killed his family. We laughed over this and all the odd perceptions and behavior we had experienced.
Sean disappeared for a minute and came back, 'Hey guys! There's overturned furniture up on 3rd floor! Want to go up and look at it?!' Cory wanted to go, but I wanted to stay put. Cory asked if I would be OK on my own and if he could go. We looked at each other straight in the eyes then in what was perhaps the most emotional experience of my life. I could have hugged him. In the middle of all these temultuous perceptions, we were the only two people on the entire Earth who were sharing and aware of them. It was a bond of friendship we have never lost, even to today. Cory left me with the tape recorder and they turned out the lights leaving me in my chair with my leather university jacket over me.
Where once there had been no effects from the drugs, that was all that existed then. All of a sudden the doorbell to the outer door rang, 'Shit...' I thought, 'I'm in no condition to be interacting with people right now.' So I stayed in my chair. The door rattled and then someone opened it with their keys. I heard people walking towards the kitchen from the outer door, two guys and a girl. They stopped at the kitchen and smiled in at me, 'You look like your pretty comfortable there!' 'Yeah, had a bit too much to drink tonight so I think I'll just crash here...' I replied as the world swirled within and without me. 'Ok, well sleep tight!' she laughed and they left.
At this point in the trip I became something that I can not put into words... I became atemporal. I existed without time...I existed through an infinite amount of time. This concept is impossible to comprehend without having actually perceived it. Even now in retrospect it is hard to comprehend it. But I do know that I lived an eternity that night...
Eventually Cory returned and asked, 'How long was I gone?' I replied, 'I couldn't honestly tell you if my very soul depended upon it...' And I was honest. He could have been gone 3 seconds, 15 minutes, hours, days, months, or years...I had no idea. All I knew was that he was the best sight that my eyes had ever seen at that moment of my life. We decided to try crashing out again for awhile and returned to the dorm room.
As I laid on the floor I thought, well, I came into this with a philosophical/scientific purpose, I might as well keep work at that goal. So I started to analyse me speeding and labyrinthing thoughts. I had two theories based upon the correlatory nature of my thoughts (A is like B, B is like C, D is like F, etc...) : 1) perhaps this was a process that was always occuring in my brain looking at all different avenues of logic or possibility before choosing the most appropriate. All these hundreds of lightening fast related thoughts were a natural process that I was only now aware of by means of the drug I had ingested. Or, 2) perhaps this was a dysfunction in my brain due to the drug and was created soley by the drug interaction.
So I decided on another experiment. I would take two random things and see how this system correlated them. I chose 'the world' and 'a loaf of bread.' My brain thought of thousands of correlations (they both have a crust, they are both soft in the center, they both have things living on the outside of them, etc...). I wish I had been able to right to record more than these few that I can remember to see if they all made sense the next day. However, I was in no condition to write...
I laid on the floor for ages waiting the drug out. Finally, my perceptions went from 'clicking' along to a short moment of continuous perception, and then back to clicking. Eventually the moments of continuous perception became longer and longer and the 'clicking' moments shorter and shorter. I was almost completely back to my normal perceptions. But, I could still force visual effects to occur by unfocusing my attention to make the ceiling buldge and breath. I called over to Cory and he was at the exact same stage and also just as wide awak as I was. We got up and I went home to grab a quick shower. An hour later we met for breakfast. We both ordered huge amounts of food but barely touched our plates. We spent most of the morning talking over the experiences of the night before.
We were surprised by the absolute parallel of our two trips (perceptions, duration, cycles, etc.). But then again, we had both gone in with alot of research time put in, both had the same attitude towards 'the experiment,' had similar body structures, were in the same environment, and had taken the same amounts and batch of LSD at the same times. There were only the more extreme space-time effects that were unique to myself.
Later I went back to my home town and my friend asked me about the acid trip and how much we had taken. When I told him we had taken 2 1/2 hits each he was shocked. He said, 'Greg, you guys didn't take 2 1/2 hits of acid each, you took 5 hits each. I've been doing acid for years and I've never had acid that strong before!' Cory and myself had a retrospective laguh over that one...
As I walked home after my breakfast with Cory, I just took the world in... All the sights and sounds of the early morning, and the feeeling of my body and mind. I was glad to be back to reality... I had gone beyond the experiences of my life and beyond the experiences of all my friends who had done acid for years just hours ago. I was glad that I had gone so far, it gave me enough insight into myself and the world that I could think a lifetime just on the one evening's experiences. It was impossible to understand reality and our perception of it without having a contrast to our 'normal' reality. I now had that. And enough insight to make my entire lifetime philosophically worth while. In the midst of my extremely intense trip I promised myself that I would never do acid again (altough a couple of days later I found myself pondering what it would be like to take a smaller dosage!). But I have never regretted my experience...
(Sorry about the length, I hope this will be of use to some people interested in the acid experience and what the pros/cons can be of it. I neither encourage or discourage drug use...I only say to those who ask me about drugs that if they are really interested in trying a drug to go out and learn about it first and know what they are getting into. Learning about the drug is also an important mental preparation that can add much mental support in the middle of a trip. If you understand something strange, you will not be afriad of it.)
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