Home > books, insanity, travel > going crazy part 2

going crazy part 2

I really became obsessed with the idea of vibes when I was working for High Times. They are the sponsors of the Cannabis Cup and on my first shift working “security” I was instructed to clear all the vendors out so we could close up the hall. I was told to go up to the top floor and clear everyone out without being pushy but to just “vibe them out”. That is apparently the hip New York stoner way of doing things and so I walked up to the top and kind of just started looking at people like they should leave. I don’t think I had any badge of authority and was just in my typical jeans and t-shirt but it worked people would just start to leave when I would look at them and wish they would.

I think I more or less held it together for a week or 10 days but looking back I could see where I was becoming a little unhinged before that. There was definitely a precipitous break with reality but I’m still trying to lay down the background of what was leading up to that and of course I haven’t even mentioned the paranoid conspiracy novel.

I have always been a big reader and when younger had hoped to be a writer some day. In high school I thought there might be two ways to become a great writer. Become a master of the craft, a real wordsmith and just pump out the great literature seemed one way but I wasn’t sure I had the skills and natural aptitude to do so. I thought an alternative route may be to have truly astounding and interesting experiences and learn to write competently enough to convey them. After attempting to travel a ways down the latter path I realized that rather than writing a novel it might just be better to live a novel. Why drudge away at a keyboard when you can be a protagonist in your own story, out living those life changing events rather than just imagining them and writing them down. I began to think I would just live those experiences and maybe write about them when I was old and couldn’t really do them anymore. And then I discovered the paranoid conspiracy novel.

Probably the definitive paranoid conspiracy novel is the Illuminatus Trilogy, by Wilson and Sheah (sp), which though dated is still highly readable. In this genre the protagonist is faced with increasing evidence that a mysterious and all powerful conspiracy is fucking with his life for some barely understood purpose. I loved it when I discovered it and went on to read all of Robert Anton Wilson’s fiction stuff and some of his non-fiction where he sort of alleges some of this stuff is true. Probably the best paranoid conspiracy novel is Umberto Eco’s Foucalt’s Pendulum about a coterie of conspiracy book publishers who make up a conspiracy and then start getting killed off by it. The one that bears most on this narrative is the Pulitzer Prize winning Gravity’s Rainbow by Pynchon.

I had never read Pynchon before I started working for the pot group. Debbie and I used to talk conspiracy lit. a little and she would share some of her own insider information on real conspiracies of the sort like the CIA farmed out exotic hallucinogens to the Yippies for informal focus group testing. I took all this conspiracy talk as just that talk. People also talk about ghosts, UFOs and Big Foot. She did loan me Gravity’s Rainbow sometime before the trip and I ended up drawing on elements of it as fuel for my own delusions. Or there was a huge international conspiracy of unknown motivation organized to blow my mind, frankly I’ve never been sure. The most telling elements of the story was the plot line about “Rocketman” stumbling into becoming an international smuggler of hashish and the idea of questions answered, answers questioned. The latter I thought was my own invention thinking that someday I would travel the world setting up a table (like the tables we sat up with CAN selling hemp products and cannabis propaganda) with a banner reading questions answered answers questioned. It was only upon re-reading GR that I realized I had lifted that from Pynchon as well as the paranoia.

going crazy part 3

Categories: books, insanity, travel
  1. chad1972
    February 25, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    This narrative was educational, but still I am confused regarding the moment you recognize as your break with the socially agreed upon “reality”. Can you pinpoint that moment? Or were you oblivious until someone else brought your state of mind to your attention (Did someone say, “You’re nuts!”, prompting you to evaluate?) In any event, it was shortly after your return, while still re-entering the agreed upon reality that you and I became friends, and I remember thinking that while you had elevated anxiety, you had insights I have only witnessed in folks who have had breaks with the agreed upon reality. Plus, you had supreme self confidence. Now, I’m not suggesting you break with reality again, as the social consequences can be damaging, but you were/are lovable either way.

  2. Mike
    March 15, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Good question Chad, sorry its taken me so long to comment back, that is not how you start a dialogue. I learned in my first semester of college in Stan Davis’s Sociology 101 that mental illness was a socially constructed concept far more than an “illness”. He defined mental illness as: “Having a worldview of one”. Now working on that definition I was mentally ill when i heard that. I would have been 18 when Stan, a sort of original hipster, big on the beats and a hangers on in the NY jazz scene in the 50s, laid that trip on me. At the time i was a devout fundamentalist christian and communist as well as having a nascent eco-consciousness that was unheard of in Monroe Michigan in 1986. From there my “weltenschang” only became more idiosyncratic as i learned more incorporating it into my belief system. I was perpetually an outsider, and learned to keep my true thoughts hidden or shrouded in a slightly ironic tone or veiled in double entendres and private jokes i shared only with myself. So when my insanity really hit it was less a matter of what i believed then an emotional and physiological shift. As i stopped sleeping driven by both mania and paranoia and perhaps genuine concern for people fucking with me while i was sleeping i became more and more emotionally reactive and this whole self feeding cycle was launched. To directly answer your question, looking back and i’m not sure if i have reached this point in the narrative, Aaron and i stayed up all night doing “organic ecstasy” we had bought from our host. The next night i was frayed and tired and didn’t want to party and Aaron coerced me into doing more by threatening to do it all if i didn’t do some with him. I think we were doing 2 gram doses which are big ones and whatever it was it was the best X i had done. So of course i my sensory perceptions and emotional state were jiggered that was what we had paid our money for. Well on night 3 i didn’t need ecstasy i was running on psychosis and adrenalin and i knew things weren’t right inspite of what you described as “supreme self confidence”. i stopped doing drugs and had hopes of coming down, which never happened (well at least not for 4 months). But talking to folks in retrospect i may have been going over the edge far sooner than that. Chad Osborne had come out to San Francisco prior to my trip to Amsterdam and he later reported he had concerns over my sanity then, and looking back i remember touring him around Haight-Ashbury and giving a non-stop stream of chatter. If you’ve ever seen anyone overtalk Chad Osborne for a whole day, there is probably more than a little bit of truth in his observation. Thanks for your comments and i will try to tackle the next piece of this narrative fairly soon.

  1. November 5, 2011 at 9:19 pm

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