Psychedelia

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A row of buried Cadillacs painted in rainbow hues. Cadillac Ranch- Flickr - katsrcool.jpg
A row of buried Cadillacs painted in rainbow hues.
Liquid oil projection using a powerful lamp has been used to project swirling colours onto screens since the 1960s. Liquid Oil Projection.jpg
Liquid oil projection using a powerful lamp has been used to project swirling colours onto screens since the 1960s.

Psychedelia refers to psychedelic art, psychedelic music and the subculture that originated in the psychedelic experience of the 1960s, by people who used psychedelic drugs such as LSD, mescaline (found in peyote) and psilocybin (found in magic mushrooms). Psychedelic art and music typically recreate or reflect the experience of altered consciousness. Psychedelic art uses highly distorted, surreal visuals, bright colors and full spectrums and animation (including cartoons) to evoke, convey, or enhance the psychedlic experience. Psychedelic music uses distorted electric guitar, Indian music elements such as the sitar, electronic effects, sound effects and reverberation, and elaborate studio effects, such as playing tapes backwards or panning the music from one side to another.

Psychedelic art art related to altered states of consciousness

Psychedelic art is art, graphics or visual displays related to or inspired by psychedelic experiences and hallucinations known to follow the ingestion of psychoactive drugs such as LSD and psilocybin. The word "psychedelic" means "mind manifesting". By that definition, all artistic efforts to depict the inner world of the psyche may be considered "psychedelic". In common parlance "psychedelic art" refers above all to the art movement of the late 1960s counterculture, featuring highly distorted or surreal visuals, bright colors and full spectrums and animation to evoke, convey, or enhance psychedelic experiences. Psychedelic visual arts were a counterpart to psychedelic rock music. Concert posters, album covers, liquid light shows, liquid light art, murals, comic books, underground newspapers and more reflected not only the kaleidoscopically swirling colour patterns of LSD hallucinations, but also revolutionary political, social and spiritual sentiments inspired by insights derived from these psychedelic states of consciousness.

Psychedelic music is a wide range of popular music styles and genres influenced by 1960s psychedelia, a subculture of people who used psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline and DMT to experience visual and auditory hallucinations, synesthesia and altered states of consciousness. Psychedelic music may also aim to enhance the experience of using these drugs.

Subculture group of people within a culture that differentiates themselves from the larger culture to which they belong

A subculture is a group of people within a culture that differentiates itself from the parent culture to which it belongs, often maintaining some of its founding principles. Subcultures develop their own norms and values regarding cultural, political and sexual matters. Subcultures are part of society while keeping their specific characteristics intact. Examples of subcultures include hippies, goths and bikers. The concept of subcultures was developed in sociology and cultural studies. Subcultures differ from countercultures.

Contents

The term "psychedelic" is derived from the Ancient Greek words psychē (ψυχή, "soul") and dēloun (δηλοῦν, "to make visible, to reveal"), [1] translating to "soul-revealing".

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by Medieval Greek.

A psychedelic experience is characterized by the striking perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly ordinary fetters. Psychedelic states are an array of experiences including changes of perception such as hallucinations, synesthesia, altered states of awareness or focused consciousness, variation in thought patterns, trance or hypnotic states, mystical states, and other mind alterations. These processes can lead some people to experience changes in mental operation defining their self-identity (whether in momentary acuity or chronic development) different enough from their previous normal state that it can excite feelings of newly formed understanding such as revelation, enlightenment, confusion, and psychosis.

A psychedelic experience is a temporary altered state of consciousness induced by the consumption of psychedelic drugs. For example, the term acid trip refers to psychedelic experiences brought on by the use of LSD.

Perception Organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment

Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information, or the environment.

Hallucination Perception in the absence of external stimulation that has the qualities of real perception

A hallucination is a perception in the absence of external stimulus that has qualities of real perception. Hallucinations are vivid, substantial, and are perceived to be located in external objective space. They are distinguishable from several related phenomena, such as dreaming, which does not involve wakefulness; pseudohallucination, which does not mimic real perception, and is accurately perceived as unreal; illusion, which involves distorted or misinterpreted real perception; and imagery, which does not mimic real perception and is under voluntary control. Hallucinations also differ from "delusional perceptions", in which a correctly sensed and interpreted stimulus is given some additional significance.

Psychedelic states may be elicited by various techniques, such as meditation, sensory stimulation [2] or deprivation, and most commonly by the use of psychedelic substances. When these psychoactive substances are used for religious, shamanic, or spiritual purposes, they are termed entheogens.

Meditation practice where an individual focuses their mind on a particular object, thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Scholars have found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both between traditions and within them.

Sensory deprivation or perceptual isolation is the deliberate reduction or removal of stimuli from one or more of the senses. Simple devices such as blindfolds or hoods and earmuffs can cut off sight and hearing, while more complex devices can also cut off the sense of smell, touch, taste, thermoception (heat-sense), and 'gravity'. Sensory deprivation has been used in various alternative medicines and in psychological experiments.

Psychedelic drug seratonin receptor agonist temporarily altering states of consciousness

Psychedelics are a class of drug whose primary action is to trigger psychedelic experiences via serotonin receptor agonism, causing thought and visual/auditory changes, and altered state of consciousness. Major psychedelic drugs include mescaline, LSD, psilocybin and DMT. Studies show that psychedelics are physiologically safe and do not lead to addiction. Studies conducted using psilocybin, marijuana in a psychotheraputic setting reveal that psychedelic drugs may assist with treating alcohol and nicotine addiction.

Etymology

The smoking clover, a computer-generated image of psychedelic artwork Smokingclover.png
The smoking clover, a computer-generated image of psychedelic artwork

The term was first coined as a noun in 1956 by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond as an alternative descriptor for hallucinogenic drugs in the context of psychedelic psychotherapy. [3] Seeking a name for the experience induced by LSD, Osmond contacted Aldous Huxley, a personal acquaintance and advocate for the therapeutic use of the substance. Huxley coined the term "phanerothyme," from the Greek terms for "manifest" (φανερός) and "spirit" (θύμος). In a letter to Osmond, he wrote:

Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to diagnosing, preventing, and treating mental disorders. These include various maladaptations related to mood, behavior, cognition, and perceptions. See glossary of psychiatry.

Humphry Fortescue Osmond was an English psychiatrist who expatriated to Canada, then moved to work in the United States. He is known for inventing the word psychedelic and for his research into interesting and useful applications for psychedelic drugs. Osmond also explored aspects of the psychology of social environments, in particular how they influenced welfare or recovery in mental institutions.

A hallucinogen is a psychoactive agent which can cause hallucinations, perceptual anomalies, and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion, and consciousness. The common types of hallucinogens are psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants. Although hallucinations are a common symptom of amphetamine psychosis, amphetamines are not considered hallucinogens as they are not a primary effect of the drugs themselves. While hallucinations can occur when abusing stimulants, the nature of stimulant psychosis is not unlike delirium.

To make this mundane world sublime,

Take half a gram of phanerothyme

To which Osmond responded:

To fathom Hell or soar angelic,

Just take a pinch of psychedelic [4]

It was on this term that Osmond eventually settled, because it was "clear, euphonious and uncontaminated by other associations." [5] This mongrel spelling of the word 'psychedelic' was loathed by American ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, but championed by Timothy Leary, who thought it sounded better. [6] Due to the expanded use of the term "psychedelic" in pop culture and a perceived incorrect verbal formulation, Carl A.P. Ruck, Jeremy Bigwood, Danny Staples, Jonathan Ott, and R. Gordon Wasson proposed the term "entheogen" to describe the religious or spiritual experience produced by such substances. [7]

Richard Evans Schultes

Richard Evans Schultes was an American biologist. He may be considered the father of modern ethnobotany. He is known for his studies of the uses of plants by indigenous peoples, especially the indigenous peoples of the Americas. He worked on entheogenic or hallucinogenic plants, particularly in Mexico and the Amazon, involving lifelong collaborations with chemists. He had charismatic influence as an educator at Harvard University; several of his students and colleagues went on to write popular books and assume influential positions in museums, botanical gardens, and popular culture.

Jonathan Ott American botanist

Jonathan Ott is an ethnobotanist, writer, translator, publisher, natural products chemist and botanical researcher in the area of entheogens and their cultural and historical uses, and helped coin the term "entheogen".

R. Gordon Wasson American ethnobiologist

Robert Gordon Wasson was an American author, ethnomycologist, and Vice President for Public Relations at J.P. Morgan & Co.

History

From the second half of the 1950s, Beat Generation writers like William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg [8] wrote about and took drugs, including cannabis and Benzedrine, raising awareness and helping to popularise their use. [9] In the same period Lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD, or "acid" (at the time a legal drug), began to be used in the US and UK as an experimental treatment, initially promoted as a potential cure for mental illness. [10] In the early 1960s the use of LSD and other hallucinogens was advocated by proponents of the new "consciousness expansion", such as Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley and Arthur Koestler, [11] [12] their writings profoundly influenced the thinking of the new generation of youth. [13] There had long been a culture of drug use among jazz and blues musicians, and use of drugs (including cannabis, peyote, mescaline and LSD [14] ) had begun to grow among folk and rock musicians, who also began to include drug references in their songs. [15] [nb 1]

By the mid-1960s, the psychedelic life-style had already developed in California, and an entire subculture developed. This was particularly true in San Francisco, due in part to the first major underground LSD factory, established there by Owsley Stanley. [17] There was also an emerging music scene of folk clubs, coffee houses and independent radio stations catering to a population of students at nearby Berkeley, and to free thinkers that had gravitated to the city. [18] From 1964, the Merry Pranksters, a loose group that developed around novelist Ken Kesey, sponsored the Acid Tests, a series of events based around the taking of LSD (supplied by Stanley), accompanied by light shows, film projection and discordant, improvised music known as the psychedelic symphony. [19] [20] The Pranksters helped popularize LSD use through their road trips across America in a psychedelically-decorated school bus, which involved distributing the drug and meeting with major figures of the beat movement, and through publications about their activities such as Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968). [21]

Leary was a well-known proponent of the use of psychedelics, as was Aldous Huxley. However, both advanced widely different opinions on the broad use of psychedelics by state and civil society. Leary promulgated the idea of such substances as a panacea, while Huxley suggested that only the cultural and intellectual elite should partake of entheogens systematically.[ citation needed ]

In the 1960s the use of psychedelic drugs became widespread in modern Western culture, particularly in the United States and Britain. The movement is credited to Michael Hollingshead who arrived in America from London in 1965. He was sent to the U.S. by other members of the psychedelic movement to get their ideas exposure. [22] The Summer of Love of 1967 and the resultant popularization of the hippie culture to the mainstream popularized psychedelia in the minds of popular culture, where it remained dominant through the 1970s. [23]

Modern usage

A retro example of psychedelia; the dancer combines 1960s fashion with modern LED lighting. PsychedelicVACHulaHoop.JPG
A retro example of psychedelia; the dancer combines 1960s fashion with modern LED lighting.

The impact of psychedelic drugs on western culture in the 1960s led to semantic drift in the use of the word "psychedelic", and it is now frequently used to describe anything with abstract decoration of multiple bright colours, similar to those seen in drug-induced hallucinations. In objection to this new meaning, and to what some[ who? ] consider pejorative meanings of other synonyms such as "hallucinogen" and "psychotomimetic", the term "entheogen" was proposed and is seeing increasing use. However, many consider the term "entheogen" best reserved for religious and spiritual usage, such as certain Native American churches do with the peyote sacrament, and "psychedelic" left to describe those who are using these drugs for recreation, psychotherapy, physical healing, or creative problem solving. In science, hallucinogen remains the standard term. [24]

Visual art

British rock and blues guitarist, Eric Clapton's "The Fool" (replica shown) is one of the world's best-known guitars and has come to be symbolic of the psychedelic era. The Fool guitar (replica).jpg
British rock and blues guitarist, Eric Clapton's "The Fool" (replica shown) is one of the world's best-known guitars and has come to be symbolic of the psychedelic era.

Advances in printing and photographic technology in the 1960s saw the traditional lithography printing techniques rapidly superseded by the offset printing system. This and other technical and industrial innovations gave young artists access to exciting new graphic techniques and media, including photographic and mixed media collage, metallic foils, and vivid new fluorescent "DayGlo" inks. This enabled them to explore innovative new illustrative styles including highly distorted visuals, cartoons, and lurid colors and full spectrums to evoke a sense of altered consciousness; many works also featured idiosyncratic and complex new fonts and lettering styles (most notably in the work of San Francisco-based poster artist Rick Griffin). Many artists in the late 1960s and early 1970s attempted to illustrate the psychedelic experience in paintings, drawings, illustrations, and other forms of graphic design. In the modern era, computer graphics may be used to produce psychedelic effects for artwork.[ citation needed ]

The counterculture music scene frequently used psychedelic designs on posters during the Summer of Love, leading to a popularization of the style. The most productive and influential centre of psychedelic art in the late 1960s was San Francisco; a scene driven in large measure by the patronage of the popular local music venues of the day like the Avalon Ballroom and Bill Graham's Fillmore West, which regularly commissioned young local artists like Robert Crumb, Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin and others. They produced a wealth of distinctive psychedelic promotional posters and handbills for concerts that featured emerging psychedelic bands like Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Many of these works are now regarded as classics of the poster genre, and original items by these artists command high prices on the collector market today. Peter Max's psychedelic poster designs helped popularize brightly colored spectrums widely, especially among college students.[ citation needed ]

Contemporary with the burgeoning San Francisco scene, a smaller but equally creative psychedelic art movement emerged in London, led by expatriate Australian pop artist Martin Sharp, who created many striking psychedelic posters and illustrations for the influential underground publication Oz magazine, as well as the famous album covers for the Cream albums Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire . Other prominent London practitioners of the style included: design duo Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, whose work included numerous famous posters, as well as psychedelic "makeovers" on a piano for Paul McCartney and a car for doomed Guinness heir Tara Browne, and design collective The Fool, who created clothes and album art for several leading UK bands including The Beatles, Cream, and The Move. They painted psychedelic designs on musical instruments for John Lennon and Cream, created psychedelic murals for the Surrey home of Beatle George Harrison, and designed the famous psychedelic mural on the facade of the short-lived Apple Boutique in Baker St, London.[ citation needed ]

Joplin's Porsche 356C in "Summer of Love - Art of the Psychedelic Era" at the Whitney Museum in New York City. Janis Joplin's Porsche 356 convertible.jpg
Joplin's Porsche 356C in "Summer of Love – Art of the Psychedelic Era" at the Whitney Museum in New York City.

The trend also extended to motor vehicles. The earliest, and perhaps most famous of all psychedelic vehicles was the famous "Further" bus, driven by Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters, which was painted inside and out in 1964 with bold psychedelic designs (although these were executed in primary colours, since the DayGlo colours that soon became de rigueur were then not widely available). Another very famous example is the Rolls Royce owned by John Lennon - originally black, he had it repainted in 1967 in a vivid psychedelic gypsy caravan style, prompting bandmate George Harrison to have his Mini Cooper similarly repainted with logos and devices that reflected his burgeoning interest in Indian spirituality. Other notable examples include several cars re-painted in psychedelic style by Hapshash & The Coloured Coat and the famous psychedelic Porsche owned by American singer Janis Joplin.[ citation needed ]

Music

The fashion for psychedelic drugs gave its name to the style of psychedelia, a term describing a category of rock music known as psychedelic rock, as well as visual art, fashion, and culture that is associated originally with the high 1960s, hippies, and the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, California. [25] It often used new recording techniques and effects while drawing on Eastern sources such as the ragas and drones of Indian music.

One of the first uses of the word in the music scene of this time was in the 1964 recording of "Hesitation Blues" by folk group the Holy Modal Rounders. [26] The term was introduced to rock music and popularized by the 13th Floor Elevators 1966 album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators . [26] Psychedelia truly took off in 1967 with the Summer of Love and, although associated with San Francisco, the style soon spread across the US, and worldwide. [27]

The counterculture of the 1960s had a strong influence on the popular culture of the early 1970s. It later became linked to a style of electronic dance music known as psychedelic trance.

Festivals

Psychedelic Festival in Brazil Rave xxxperience bh.jpg
Psychedelic Festival in Brazil

A psychedelic festival is a gathering that promotes psychedelic music and art in an effort to unite participants in a communal psychedelic experience. [28] Psychedelic festivals have been described as "temporary communities reproduced via personal and collective acts of transgression ... through the routine expenditure of excess energy, and through self-sacrifice in acts of abandonment involving ecstatic dancing often fuelled by chemical cocktails." [28] These festivals often emphasize the ideals of peace, love, unity, and respect. [28] Notable psychedelic festivals include the biennial Boom Festival in Portugal, [28] OZORA Festival in Hungary, Universo Paralello in Brazil as well as Nevada's Burning Man [29] and California's Symbiosis Gathering in the United States. [30]

Conferences

In recent years there has been a resurgence in interest in psychedelic research and a growing number of conferences now take place across the globe. [31] The psychedelic research charity Breaking Convention have hosted one of the worlds largest since 2011. A biennial conference in London, UK, Breaking Convention: a multidisciplinary conference on psychedelic consciousness [32] is a multidisciplinary conference on psychedelic consciousness. In the US MAPS held their first Psychedelic Science conference, [33] devoted specifically to research of psychedelics in scientific and medical fields, in 2013.

See also

Notes

  1. New York folk musician Peter Stampfel claimed to be the first to use the word "psychedelic" in a song lyric (The Holy Modal Rounders' version of "Hesitation Blues", 1963). [16]

Related Research Articles

Psychedelic rock Style of rock music

Psychedelic rock is a diverse style of rock music inspired, influenced, or representative of psychedelic culture, which is centred around perception-altering hallucinogenic drugs. The music is intended to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs, most notably LSD. Many psychedelic groups differ in style, and the label is often applied spuriously.

Summer of Love 1967 social phenomenon in San Francisco

The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people, mostly young people sporting hippie fashions of dress and behavior, converged in San Francisco's neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury. Although hippies also gathered in many other places in the U.S., Canada and Europe, San Francisco was at that time the most publicized location for hippie subculture.

<i>The Doors of Perception</i>

The Doors of Perception is a book by Aldous Huxley. Published in 1954, it elaborates on his psychedelic experience under the influence of mescaline in May 1953. The book takes its title from a phrase in William Blake's 1793 poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Huxley recalls the insights he experienced, ranging from the "purely aesthetic" to "sacramental vision", and reflects on their philosophical and intellectual implications.

Hippie Member of the counterculture of the 1960s

A hippie is a member of the counterculture of the 1960s, originally a youth movement that began in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The word hippie came from hipster and was used to describe beatniks who moved into New York City's Greenwich Village and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The term hippie first found popularity in San Francisco with Herb Caen, who was a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Entheogen chemical substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context that often induces psychological or physiological changes

An entheogen is a class of psychoactive substances that induce any type of spiritual experience aimed at development or sacred use. The term entheogen is often chosen to contrast recreational use of the same drugs.

Acid rock is a loosely defined type of rock music that evolved out of the mid-1960s garage punk movement and helped launch the psychedelic subculture. The style is generally defined by heavy, distorted guitars, lyrics with drug references, and long improvised jams. Its distinctions from other genres can be tenuous, as much of the style overlaps with '60s punk, proto-metal, and early heavy, blues-based hard rock.

History of lysergic acid diethylamide

The psychedelic drug lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) was first synthesized on November 16, 1938 by the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in the Sandoz laboratories in Basel, Switzerland. It was not until five years later on April 19, 1943, that the psychedelic properties were found.

This is a list of psychedelic literature, works related to psychedelic drugs and the psychedelic experience. Psychedelic literature has also been defined as textual works that arose from the proliferation of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic research with hallucinogens during the 1950s and early 1960s in North America and Europe.

The Psychedelic era was the time of social, musical and artistic change influenced by psychedelic drugs, occurring between the years of 1965–69 or the early 1960s to the mid-1970s. Psychedelic drug use encouraged unity, the breaking down of boundaries, the heightening of political awareness, empathy with others, and the questioning of authority..

The hippie subculture began its development as a youth movement in the United States during the early 1960s and then developed around the world.

"Turn on, tune in, drop out" is a counterculture-era phrase popularized by Timothy Leary in 1966. In 1967, Leary spoke at the Human Be-In, a gathering of 30,000 hippies in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and phrased the famous words, "Turn on, tune in, drop out". It was also the title of his spoken word album recorded in 1966. On this lengthy album, Leary can be heard speaking in a monotone soft voice on his views about the world and humanity, describing nature, Indian symbols, "the meaning of inner life", the LSD experience, peace, and many other issues.

Researchers have noted the relationship between psychedelics and ecology, particularly in relation to the altered states of consciousness (ASC) produced by psychedelic drugs and the perception of interconnectedness expressed through ecological ideas and themes produced by the psychedelic experience. This is felt through the direct experience of the unity of nature and the environment of which the individual is no longer perceived as separate but intimately connected and embedded inside.

Philosophy of psychedelics

Philosophy of psychedelics is the philosophical investigation of the psychedelic experience. While psychedelic, entheogenic or hallucinogenic substances have been used by many traditional cultures throughout history mostly for religious purposes, recorded philosophical speculation and analysis of these substances, their phenomenological effects and the relevance of these altered states of consciousness to philosophical questions is a relatively late phenomenon in the history of philosophy. Traditional cultures who use psychedelic substances such as the Amazonian and Indigenous Mexican peoples hold that ingesting medicinal plants such as Ayahuasca and Peyote allows one to commune with the beings of the spirit world.

References

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  2. Psychedelic sensory stimulation exemplified by "The Holotope Experience" utilized by Bashar. Explained in YT video titled "About The Holotope Experience".
  3. Nicholas Murray, Aldous Huxley: A Biography, 419.
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