About rhetoric and citizenry

Aldous Huxley on Drugs, Democracy, and Religion

“Generalized intelligence and mental alertness are the most powerful enemies of dictatorship and at the same time the basic conditions of effective democracy.”

From the marvelous Brainpickings.org

Huxley examines the self-consciousness at the heart of worship, thus echoing Mark Twain’s lament about religion and human egotism :

We love ourselves to the point of idolatry; but we also intensely dislike ourselves — we find ourselves unutterably boring. Correlated with this distaste for the idolatrously worshipped self, there is in all of us a desire, sometimes latent, sometimes conscious and passionately expressed, to escape from the prison of our individuality, an urge to self-transcendence. It is to this urge that we owe mystical theology, spiritual exercises and yoga — to this, too, that we owe alcoholism and drug addiction.

Huxley turns to how drugs have attempted to address this human urge and the interplay of those attempts with religion:

Modern pharmacology has given us a host of new synthetics, but in the field of the naturally occurring mind changers it has made no radical discoveries. All the botanical sedatives, stimulants, vision revealers, happiness promoters and cosmic-consciousness arousers were found out thousands of years ago, before the dawn of history.

In many societies at many levels of civilization attempts have been made to fuse drug intoxication with God-intoxication. In ancient Greece, for example, ethyl alcohol had its place in the established religion. Dionysus, or Bacchus, as he was often called, was a true divinity. His worshipers addressed him as Lusios, “Liberator,” or as Theoinos, “Godwinc.” The latter name telescopes fermented grape juice and the supernatural into a single pentecostal experience. . . . Unfortunately they also receive harm. The blissful experience of self -transcendence which alcohol makes possible has to be paid for, and the price is exorbitantly high.

Huxley argues that while the intuitive solution seems to be to enforce complete prohibition of mind-altering substances, this tends to backfire and “create more evils than it cures,” while also admonishing to the diametric opposite of this black-and-white approach, the “complete toleration and unrestricted availability” of drugs. Peering into the future of biochemistry and pharmacology, he foresees the development of “powerful but nearly harmless drugs,” but also notes that even if these were invented, they’d raise important questions about use and abuse, about whether their availability would make human beings ultimately happier or more miserable. He finds reason for concern in medicine’s history of overprescription of new drugs and writes:

The history of medical fashions, it may be remarked, is at least as grotesque as the history of fashions in women’s hats — at least as grotesque and, since human lives are at stake, considerably more tragic. In the present case, millions of patients who had no real need of the tranquilizers have been given the pills by their doctors and have learned to resort to them in every predicament, however triflingly uncomfortable. This is very bad medicine and, from the pill taker’s point of view, dubious morality and poor sense.

Read the whole article at amazing Popova’s Brainpickings https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/03/25/aldous-huxley-moksha-drugs/

The day after

8am the next morning, and I am not surprised.
Bewildered yes, but not surprised. This is now the 4th time in a row that a major /global/political event came with particular predictions, but then the exact opposite occurred. I now consider this simply well planned and rolled out info-tactics (warfare?). Or, maybe we’re all just thick af. People who are convinced that they’ll win are set up to take less action, stay complacent. So, well played who ever’s on the other end of those polling strings 😐 I’ll keep the #auspolpress hashtag as a reminder.

There was *a lot* going on in other languages (not English) that I only knew about because of where I live… and all that campaigning was not reported on, at all…

Still, I’m glad it’s over. And ironically, despite my best efforts to vote them out, they’ll now continue to make me better off, as I am -by chance- part of Australia’s privileged caste. So I’ll have to stay smart about how to resocialise the money hereafter.

But for now it seems we have stopped living in a society. We now live in an economy *only*. This darn word will continue to give me grief now for years to come. And oh buoy I will miss society… I always loved her concept



I just read that “Assumptions are the termites of relationships” – and yes they are : /

After pondering over this a bit further I realised that there’s a blanket allowance for people to make all sorts of assumptions, as soon as they quote their religion as the basis for them. Blanket because we have to be so PC and ‘inclusive’. And I am frankly a bit sick of this by now. Only because you are religious xyz doesn’t give the right to make assumptions about your fellow wo/man. You will have to ask, to ensure what you think is actually true.

My patience for religion has reached zero. It’s made up stuff – entirely made up! Yet still they kill each over it, claiming to ‘be more peaceful than the other’ in the process. Modern religion is all but peak hypocrisy to me.