And the Dead played this song at that concert in 1992, and even though some fans said they were sellouts since the song was so mainstream, we all danced to it that night anyways because even then we knew labeling a song like that was really our own mind trapping itself in a mind-control of its own judgment plus the LSD had kicked in and nothing brings about the feeling of soul-family, never-ending unity and freakshow-dancing faster than small squares of drug-laced paper.
My mom had done her part to keep me off psychedelics by repeatedly relaying the story about the time that guy spiked her Coca Cola with acid (she went psychotic, and tried to escape out the half-window of an old Studebaker). But in 1992, I had already been under the influence of Dr. Tart at UC Davis studying altered states of consciousness’s–taking part in his intro course which was basically a 3-month long hit-piece against mainstream psychology AND his follow-up course “Waking Up” (a class title that was most assuredly a compromise to what it should’ve been called “Sit Around and Meditate and Talk about Drugs”)–and I wasn’t as worried about “losing” my mind as I was about never finding it, so I decided to risk it. By the time the Dead concert rolled around I’d taken LSD three times in my 23 years, once spending the entire experience recording myself answering deep spiritual questions into a mini-cassette recorder as I sat in my ’84 SAAB overlooking the beach in Seacliff, CA.
Dr Tart had lured me with his (admittedly sometimes pseudo-scientific) research into subjects most psychologists wouldn’t touch–the altered states of dreams, hypnosis, near death, trance, etc–and his UC Davis colleagues scorn of him was so ridiculously-obvious that it prompted many student bitchslaps towards them, including my own in the form of a lengthy lit review on Hypnotic Age Regression for rigidly-mainstream Dr Kroll’s Cognitive Psychology class, an effort which rather than falling into the shit-pile of undergrad-oblivion was recommended for UC Davis’s annual Prized Writing contest by my English composition professor. Dr Tart himself though didn’t care about his colleague’s opinions of him as I’m sure it was already quite a “fuck you” to them when their classes of 30 students were dwarfed by the 300 in his, in an indication perhaps that students were less beholden to the rigidity of “relevant” science as well as not that interested in falling into the self-congratulatory mindset of superior thinking that tends to permeate elite academia. Their still-malleable brains more able than their professors to fast-forward in time to when advances in technology would clarify that it is sometimes the limitations of imagination and research methods that prevent the world from claiming its inherent sense of wonder and amazement at its own abilities.
Tart was the closest thing to a personal guru as I’d ever have, and I still respect his ideas even as my respect for him as a person dwindled after becoming his assistant and witnessing his scorn bordering on sexism towards a crying co-Ed. (tsk tsk tsk, “guru”). But I never really needed him or mainstream psychology to affirm my beliefs or tell me about my own experience; the foray into Tart-ness was–as were all things–temporary, for “the search for meaning” has always been compulsory, and I didn’t want it sullied by what Dr Tart called “consensus consciousness,” (the idea that people’s mental processes exist within a mutually-agreed upon and reinforced pattern of “normalcy” which makes it difficult to see that we’re not really thinking for ourselves), even if that “consensus” was spearheaded by Dr Tart himself.
What can I say: some people have religion/science/standard operating procedure; and some people have Castaneda, Cayce, counterculture, and walking around the parking lot meeting Deadheads after a concert at RFK.
So in 1992, at Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy Stadium in Fairfax Virginia with two coworkers from O’Donnell’s Restaurant and my boyfriend/soon-to-be fiancée (who in another two years time I would essentially be leaving at the altar for James who would then leave me after 14 years together for Sarah), I was high and dancing, and filled and filling myself with experience, living the Castaneda wisdom “All paths are the same, leading nowhere. Therefore, pick a path with heart!”
Be well, travelers, and make sure to question authority, especially when that authority is your own mind.