Russell Brand, Daniel Pinchbeck, and Graham Hancock on psychedelics, consciousness, media, society, and reality

In an event that was mind-expanding (or -blowing) in its own right, simply because it happened, last November Daniel Pinchbeck, Graham Hancock, and Russell Brand (!) teamed up to speak at a Reality Sandwich retreat at the Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch in Utah. They ended up having, in the words of the event’s description at Reality Sandwich, “a frank and funny conversation covering a wide range of topics including the nature of contemporary media, quantum physics, the difference between psychedelics and ‘horrible drugs that nullify you,’ what comes after time, and the idea that people have been ‘coded’ by society not to anticipate change.”  As Brand described it in the opening moments, the whole thing took place “in a tent, beneath an illuminated fish, in front of a pagan altar.”

Fortunately, the conversation was recorded for posterity, and if you’re at all interested in such topics and people, you’ll find it makes for truly fascinating viewing and listening.

For those like me who prefer to read such things instead of, or along with, watching them, Origin Magazine helpfully offers a somewhat abridged (and typo-filled) transcript. Here are cogent excerpts from each speaker — not presented in the actual order of the conversation itself, mind you, so don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re sequentially connected. (Pinchbeck’s and Hancock’s excerpts are presented in the order in which they were spoken, but Brand’s comes from a different point in the conversation.)

Daniel Pinchbeck: I don’t really advocate for psychedelics. I don’t really think anybody needs to do them, or has to do them. For me, they were the only way I could have cracked open my own spirit in a way. However, I do think that if you were to be scrupulous and research into it you would find that certain types of natural psychedelics have, if anything, anti-addictive properties. And all the evidence really points towards that. But you have the people who are running these drug rehab situations, they demonized all the drugs. I think a lot of people who were addicts are actually people who had that strong innate need to experience non-ordinary states of consciousness. But because our society has turned into this destructive culture of these horrible drugs that nullify you, they have that experience in a negative way. And then they lose that capacity forever, to have it in a positive way.

Graham Hancock: Can I say something as well? The use of language around drugs is really important. So we find that it’s increasingly difficult in our society to find the word “drug” not connected to the word “abuse.” The notion of a responsible use of drugs is written out in the language of our culture. And secondly, the word drug itself carries a huge amount of emotional baggage. Again, it plays into a system that wants to persuade us that all of these things are the same, whereas all of these things are not the same. They are very, very different indeed. A DMT experience is not to be compared with a heroine experience and is not in any sense the same. And as Daniel rightly pointed out, the hallucinogenic agents are themselves highly effective agents for removing people from a dependence on drugs. So I think the language itself muddies and confuses our thinking in these matters. But ultimately, just plain logic says that the war on drugs does not work. It absolutely does not work. We have this highly addictive legal drug called tobacco which has never resulted in people being sent to prison, but there has been a massive reduction in its consumption simply because responsible adults looking at their own bodies have said they don’t want to do that to themselves.

Russell Brand: It doesn’t take an incredible manner of analysis to reveal that our primary desires are incessantly stimulated to keep us basic consumers. Our basic fundamental desires are overly stimulated. A friend of mine said, “You have a generation of people that have been accidentally marketed to.” Marketing is all-pervasive. They’re getting marketed products they can’t afford, can’t ever hope to acquire. They believe the only way they’re ever going to achieve happiness is the acquisition of these products. Products they can’t afford. They see people living that lifestyle, and they have that lifestyle beamed incessantly into their minds through media, which you know I participate in. What’s fascinating for me, Daniel, about the recent rise in London, is that it was the nihilism. That this was about nothing. You know, this is not Paris. This is not Prague 1968. This is not people rising up against the tyranny that they should be rejecting, they’re just sort of like “Pff! Oh fucking hell, just give me an XBox.” (laughter) Because there’s no hope. You’re talking about change the paradigm. How do we go about that? How do we say, “Right, we’ve got these institutions of media, these financial institutions, we have the means of distribution, we have the means of production, we have all these markets and maxims in place. How do we alter the consciousness, the fundamental unifying field? How do we influence change on that level to all of the world?”

As you can see, Brand more than held his own with Pinchbeck and Hancock, who are of course recognized around the world as significant authors and speakers on consciousness, psychedelics, esoteric matters, and the fringe culture(s) associated with such matters. It’s a striking thing to witness.

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD and GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES.

Posted on August 6, 2012, in Psychology & Consciousness, Society & Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.

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