Author Archive | Martin Higgins

Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy and the Power to Heal

Shroder_Tom_AcidTest_cover_expandedAttitudes towards the healing powers of psychedelics seem to be changing, says Tom Shroder, the author of a new book on the subject. And, according to some researchers, their incredible efficacy is due to their ability to unleash the mind’s own “innate healing intelligence”.

The award winning journalist and ex-editor of The Washington Post Magazine spoke to The Eternities podcast about his latest work, Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy and the Power to Heal, which looks at the history of psychedelic therapy from the fifties to the present day.

He said, “Our system, as biased as it might have been against psychedelics, certainly was based on [a] belief that science could prove something, and science [has been] proving the efficacy of these drugs … in clinical conditions. They’re plenty safe enough. In fact, they’re much safer than most other drugs used in psychiatry. So, you can’t argue with the science.”

One of the three main figures in the book is Dr Michael Mithoefer, a psychiatrist at the forefront of psychedelic therapy research.… Read the rest

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Author Reveals Profound Near Death Experience as Inspiration of Latest Novel

clover book“The main character in Andrew Clover’s latest novel has an accident, her consciousness splitting to revisit significant scenes in her past and to review her life. And this, he claims, happened also to him.”

In the latest podcast from The Eternities, the author discusses a near death experience during which he seemed to leave his body.

Clover tells how he tripped and knocked himself out “while running to collect his young daughter from a local bus stop. But instead of finding himself unconscious, he claims to have remained aware.”

“I could actually see my body in this puddle, and then I was just thinking, ‘The girls!’, and I was remembering my eldest daughter.” Suddenly, he found himself viewing her safely making her way home.

“And the next thing, I was back in my house and I could see my eldest daughter … she was fine. And I was in the living room and I could see my youngest daughter, lying on the sofa.

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Magic Mushrooms and Natural Intelligence

Simon G. PowellIn a time when Artificial Intelligence is getting all the headlines, English author and film-maker Simon G. Powell is making the case for Natural Intelligence – the idea that life itself is intelligent and nature has solutions to problems we have yet to even understand. And it was a series of mushroom trips – “like insights into the essence of existence” – which initiated and propelled his work.

Powell describes these first revelatory experiences in the latest podcast from The Eternities: “I had a mystical experience, what felt like divine energy [was] pulsing through me. It was like I tasted something that most people don’t taste and it was absolutely astonishing. ”

Powell went on to write The Psilocybin Solution: The Role of Sacred Mushrooms in the Quest for Meaning (2011), which traced the history of the sacred psilocybin mushroom and discussed its visionary effects, also examining the current science and lasting spirituality that surround it.… Read the rest

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Free Yourself from the Afflictions of Civilization

manning“Agriculture is really the dominant system of 8,000 years, and it’s more than a way of growing food. It’s a way of domesticating humans and organising humans. It is ‘the’ system.” So says the environmental author and journalist Richard Manning in the latest podcast from The Eternities.

“And the system that brought us here and made us sick is not going to fix us.”

Manning is the author of Against the Grain: How Agriculture Hijacked Civilization, which argued that major world shaping forces, such as trade, imperialism and disease, were conditioned and driven by agriculture, both for good and ill. But, mostly ill.

Manning has now returned for another tilt at civilization with Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization, co-authored with John Ratey, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of such titles as A User’s Guide to the Brain.… Read the rest

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What on Earth is Food, Anyway? A Fresh Take on Human Diet

Dao pic3

Dao Earl

“You only need to do something as stupid as a detox because you’re eating stupid things,” the nutritional researcher Dao Earl told me in an interview for The Eternities podcast.

Dao is co-founder of Sura Detox, a retreat centre in Devon on the south coast of England. “I was troubled for a long time in bringing people into the retreats. They go through this fantastic process [then] go back out into the world and do exactly the same things and come back next year. The retreats allow me to nail home this nutritional information. It’s about making conscious eaters.”

I thought I knew a fair amount about diet and nutrition until I attended one of Dao’s public talks. I was quickly engrossed, the whole room united – all of us sinners – but I felt inspired rather than shamed. We didn’t know any better – until now. Effectively our taste has been corrupted from a finely tuned sensory apparatus and commandeered for use in a pleasure circuit, blurring its capacity for determining the most applicable nutrients.… Read the rest

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Philip K. Dick – The Man Who Remembered the Future

PKD bookDid sci-fi author Philip K. Dick see the future? Could he literally have been precognitive? This is one of the conclusions of a new biography by the consciousness theorist Anthony Peake.

It’s over thirty years since the writer’s death, but fascination for the work of Philip K. Dick continues to grow with more than ten major Hollywood movies based on his novels and short stories, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau. Peake’s new biography shines further light on the man himself, attempting to both sift the details of his complex personal life and penetrate the unique inner life that fuelled his work with something that may have been more than merely imagination.

“What I wanted to do was get into the man’s head,” said Peake. “His psychology is as interesting as his novels, [as is] his life itself.” A Life of Philip K. Dick: The Man Who Remembered the Future is the first biography to emerge following the publication of Dick’s Exegesis, the fabled million word late-night diary that was his attempt to fathom the bizarre visionary experiences of 1974, which he termed “2-3-74″ and described as “an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane.”

Anthony Peake seems an ideal investigator of Dick’s inner landscape with a back catalogue that includes such titles as The Infinite Mindfield: The Quest to Find the Gateway to Higher Consciousness and The Labyrinth of Time: The Illusion of Past, Present and Future, books unafraid to weave neuroscience, quantum physics and esoteric lore in an effort to engender insights into matter and mind.… Read the rest

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Oral Sex, Molecular Engineering and the Fall from the Brain of Eden.

wrightbookHumankind was expelled from the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. But, according to a radical theory, it was actually for not eating enough of the stuff.

Consciousness theorist Tony Wright argues that human evolution stalled around 200,000 years ago, an event that may have been recorded in the world’s myths as “the fall from grace”, humanity’s rude ejection from a “golden age”. According to the theory, climate change forced humans from tropical forests where a high fruit diet had fuelled the rapid development of the brain. Beyond the forests, with fewer nutritional components present, the brain degenerated, a trend which included the growing domination of the left-hemisphere over an actually better preserved right.

According to Wright, unless we change our diet – or, advanced molecular engineering, as he prefers to call it – we will continue our slide and, via our increasingly destructive actions, continue to literally destroy our once perceived Eden.… Read the rest

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Transhumanist Spirituality – A New Religion for the Modern Age?

Giulio Prisco

Giulio Prisco

Pascal’s Wager demonstrated a certain rationality to a belief in god. The seventeenth century philosopher, Pascal, argued that if one believes, yet god does not exist, nothing is lost in death. But, if god exists, the reward is eternal happiness.

For the transhumanist thinker, Giulio Prisco, if god doesn’t exist, he believes we will create him. Or her. Or, more accurately, perhaps – them. Prisco’s reasoning results not so much in a wager as an expectation.

Speaking to The Eternities podcast, he said, “Richard Dawkins … the atheist mastermind … writes in The God Delusion [that he] finds it very plausible in the universe that there may be very powerful beings like gods. He thinks these beings are a product of natural evolution like ourselves. That’s exactly what I think myself. I don’t place any artificial limits on the achievements that will be possible to intelligent life in the future.

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Novels of The Coming Transhuman Mind Meld

crux2This week sees the release of Crux (Aug 27), the second title in a transhumanist trilogy featuring a mind-linking, mind-expanding, nano-drug that its author believes theoretically possible – and he may just know about these things. He’s Ramez Naam, a noted futurist and author of the HG Wells Award winning non-fiction book on human augmentation, More than Human.

In Crux, and its prequel, Nexus, the self-described “techno-optimist” Naam pits the hallowed forces of progress against the Emerging Risks Directorate, a US government department executing a brutal and futile campaign against human augmentation that evokes the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror”.

I wanted to talk with the author about the implications for such augmentation as I myself had written about a similar technology in my own novel, Human+, and recently recorded an interview with him for The Eternities podcast. We talked also about my own novel’s very different central question, of whether technological innovation itself could obstruct progress; in this case, the progress of human consciousness towards its full potential.… Read the rest

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The Transhuman is Already Here and it’s You: How I Can Write Seriously About Psychic Superhumans

cover amazonThere are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

– William Shakespeare, Hamlet.

The idea for my first novel, Human+, came from a desire to write about psychic phenomena. That is, to write persuasively about psychic phenomena. Telepathy, astral travel, precognition, discarnate entities. There truly is more in heaven and earth, and I know through personal experience.

“I have seen little evidence of the paranormal,” said one reader who, nevertheless, enjoyed the novel, drawn to the story more for its technological and transhumanist themes. I still find myself surprised by people who tell me such things.

In my youth, I suspected there was more to our brief existences than merely strutting, fretting and “shuffling off”. A harrowing acid trip at nineteen blew the bandwidth wide open for me. But, absent a wise elder or shaman, it had been impossible to assimilate. Western society still maintains taboos on this kind of exploration and certainly institutes no guidance.… Read the rest

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