Thursday, September 08, 2016
The Number Line as a Metaphor for Pain/Pleasure Perception.
I conducted a series of acid trips in 1975 where I imagined trying to torture myself. I imagined all sorts of methods, eventually settling on a kind of stereotaxic apparatus that would be able to deliver stimulation to the pain and pleasure centers in my brain according to a program. The problem of torture is that one gets used to the pain, just as one gets used to the pleasure of opiod drugs, or any other kind of pleasure. Attenuation, tolerance, etc. are well understood by neuroscientists.
So I imagined a program that would s l o w l y increase the pain, let’s say, go down the number line in a regular but slow and methodical way until the nerves eventually attenuate, avoiding shock, but resulting in unconsciousness and exhaustion. The next part would be a very rapid increase in pleasure until the same is achieved on that side of the number line, until no more pleasure can be achieved.
Rinse and repeat. Ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Until I broke. Now, I guess, like the inability to tickle oneself, I found I couldn’t ‘break’ myself either. So, I got bored and went on to some other crazy thing.
Years later I was doing a ten week training where we were taught a meditation that took us into the woods and into a clearing with a lot of light and there was a schoolhouse and inside the schoolhouse was our ‘master’ who was going to tell us just exactly what we needed at that moment in our lives. A very nice exercise for releasing a projection of our higher selves. After the training, the creator visited our city and gave a weekend workshop for all the folks that had done trainings, perhaps around 200 people. We began to do the exercise, but this time instead of going into the light and the schoolhouse and the master, we went the other direction into the dark and he told us to imagine the worst horror we could imagine. I imagined some godawful Tibetan wrathful deity eating my flesh square centimeter by square centimeter for a while and then I got bored and opened my eyes to see what was going on. There had been some groaning and moaning, people were writhing a bit, for some reason the workshop leader was looking right at me with my eyes open and he was really smiling. A couple of other people had their eyes open. I waited. After a few minutes people shared.
There were all sorts of terrors.
The leader just patiently listened. I shared what I did and then added what I thought would be heretical, that I had gotten bored pretty quickly with the whole thing. Bingo, he said! Torture, pain, suffering gets boring after a while and we start to imagine things to do that are more fun.
And that’s it.