Friday, February 04, 2005

Aides to the Ex President 3: The Egg

I think it was Aldous Huxley who pointed out that hallucinogens take away the filters our mind sets up to allow us to function in a meaningful way. These filters are what allow us to distinguish between a cow wandering in our direction, and a Greyhound bus. Important things, filters, but at times it's interesting to turn them off.

Thus, it's possible to spend hours staring at your face in the bathroom, which is the worst possible thing you can do if you have self-image problems (or don't, and want to keep it that way). It doesn't take very long to realize that skin is gross, and by extension, humanity is gross. Don't worry, it makes sense. And heaven forbid you look at your EYEBALLS. There's something unnatural about them--naturally, the pupils are blown, but if you make the mistake of really looking at them, you realize that your eyes are actually pressurized balls of fluid (not unlike grapes), and your pupil is really a HOLE IN YOUR EYEBALL. Some experts also warn there's a very real danger of actually falling into your own pupils, which I've never done, although I think I've come close a time or two.

As a rule of thumb, it's best to just stay away from the bathroom if possible. However, nature will generally call at some point during your technicolor dream theater, so it's OK then. But keep your eyes tightly closed, and try to develop what Rachel (or Aleister Crowley) will probably have a name for, but I do not. It's the skill that longtime trippers have of absorbing all, but focusing on nothing inordinately. Come to think of it, this is actually forcing your reality filters back into place to a degree, for a time, but I like it better if someone can come up with the proper metaphysical term for it.

But enough about bathrooms and bodily functions. Onward to The Egg.

The hotel room was mostly white, and other than the beds and television, there was a sort of desk or credenza built into the wall. Said credenza was of crappy construction, of thin particleboard laminated with white plastic. All in all, something not worth a second look. And it wouldn't have been looked at twice, except if we decided to break it, if the floor hadn't been carpeted.

The Egg is a highly polished bolus of stone which fell from the sky aeons ago, as Cthulhu was first bound into his watery prison off the coast of Indonesia. Bloody is the history of its passing through the ages, and mystery shrouds the extradimensional space from which it came. Its coloration is black as the void, and it is curiously cold to the touch. It is also, obviously, eggshaped.

I don't know why I took it with me that day. I had a vague feeling that it might be useful as a triptoy, or worry stone, or something-but as soon as I saw that white, cheapass credenza, I knew we were in for a long night.

See, acid also fucks with your mind in the visual cognition department (I'm probably butchering clinical language, so please correct me if I'm misusing a term), so when something moves through your field of vision, it leaves behind slight images of itself in the air, just long enough for your mind to recognize something's there, but not precisely what it is. These are called "tracers," and if you're reading this on a Microsoft OS, you can go to your mouse settings and make your very own. It's crude, and annoying after a while, because it's obviously the same stupid white arrow, but when it's all over the place, it can be very...impressive.

Imagine everything you see being some sort of optical illusion, and you've got an idea.

Tracers, furthermore, aren't just where an object is, they're where you think the object will go. This quality has developed into a game called "Dope Ball," in which two or more people sort of twiddle their fingers, in the manner of someone casually shaking a pair of dice. If done properly, there's the illusion of something actually there, that is, the Dope Ball. Once everyone agrees that yes, there is a Dope Ball, the person holding the Ball will throw it, and since the mind has conceived of an object, the movement of the thrower's hand will present the optical illusion of that object moving through space.

It's an absolutely ridiculous game, of course, but loads of fun at the time.

The reason I'm going into so much detail about how LSD affects your brain is because most of what goes on during an acid trip is completely pointless and dumb to someone who's not tripping.

So The Egg, being black, contrasted nicely (or absolutely, come to think of it) with the dead white plastic of the desk. Idly, I rolled The Egg around, and noted a serious rumble accompanying its movements (due to the acoustics of the desk). A toy was born, and in short order, we were spinning The Egg like a top, listening to the vibrating rumble from various points around the desk--underneath, directly above, ear pressed to desk, etc..

I told you it looked stupid.

Then, we noticed something. The Egg, being symmetric along its long axis, and being of uniform color, did not appear to be rotating at all. The noise was leading us to believe that it was rotating, but once the sound was eliminated (by means of a pillow on my knees, jammed underneath the desk), the illusion of an egg wandering around under its own power was hypnotizing.

And then, it happened. The Egg melted.

It didn't actually melt, of course--it just quit rotating. And as it quit rotating, it spun down, from point to side, where it spun for a second and stopped.

We were both silent. Jim picked it up and spun it again, wordlessly. We both put our heads on the desk and watched.

It occurred to me that the Egg, when properly viewed, was Schroedinger's Cat. I'm not going to explain the theory, except to say that during a specific period of time, the cat was in an indeterminate state, a state between alive and dead. You can't judge the state of the cat without seeing it, which is prevented by an ingenious device (which also has a fun feature of killing the cat at some random point). Anyway, the theory isn't about acid heads with stone eggs, or even about cats, but my thoughts were that:

1) if you accept that The Egg was not rotating, but standing on its tip

2) if The Egg suddenly begins to change shape (that is, grow shorter and fatter), then ultimately

3) comes to rest as a different Egg, well, then a number of things happen.

First, you've got a king hell Egg on your hands. Kinda like that singin' frog in the Bugs Bunny cartoons. Second, in the intermediate state b), it's producing more tracers than I've ever seen in one place, all dead black against a white background, which is the best way to play with tracers, which, after all are visual snipes. And finally, you can kill a HELL of a lot of time with this party trick.

We spent, quite literally, two hours watching this thing and turning it over in our minds. One and a half hours was spent with the shape changing bit, then and extra half hour was spent arguing about whether it was, in fact, completely dead black. It's not. There's a faint metallic gold sheen in one part of it, which exists even when we're not completely out of our minds on acid.

I've still got the thing. Up until I moved into a house that had carpeting, and reduced my acid taking to a couple of weeks in the desert each year, I brought it out with every trip, and blew a lot of people's minds with it. Currently, it's resting in a kitchen drawer at home, so saturated with LSD sweat that even I'm afraid to touch it.

At about 3am, Jim decided to crash, so I turned on the TV to see what sort of rubbish I could rot my brain with before dawn, and the beginning of our second day in Dallas.


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