my cousin Kevan fell off the side of the earth about five years ago. he was an extremely gifted individual; he had the rare talent of an exceptional athlete, the genius for composing piano masterpieces, and a brilliant imagination. at one time we were closer than brothers.
Kevan couldn’t stop drinking and gradually spiraled down into dissipation. he took to the streets like a junky, migrating from town to town along the coast of California, going to jail, having seizures, undergoing costly treatments in rehabilitation centers, and always, out of pride and fear, relapsing once again into the tumultuous madness of his addiction.
the last time I saw him he was living in an abandoned trailer; I invited him over to my apartment, and when he took off his shoes his feet were swollen with blood and blisters, they smelled like rotten cheese; he took a shower and I gave him new clothes; and as I dropped him off at a street corner the next morning, I watched him through the rearview mirror, standing there in consternation, with the army blanket I had given him dangling between his arms.
a couple years ago he called me on Christmas Eve, and like a drunken god, explained to me how he was able to manipulate the weather and make rain fall from the clouds.
I often have impressions of him, lying under some bridge, with a paper-sack and an empty bottle of booze, and behind those insane Scandinavian eyes, underneath all that rebellious red hair, I see the conquerable hero still fighting, hanging on to the dream and, while his liver slowly gives way and the carcinogens deteriorate his lung tissue, I wonder if they’ll ever get the best of him.
Sara has short feathery brown hair, and she’s thin, with lightly freckled shoulders and cupped breasts. her eyes are like turquoise almonds. when she looks at you, it seems the whole world is exploding with a vibrant intensity. she likes things such as wine, and marathons, and having many different choices at the café.
we talk while we run through the Oxford meadows, about our families and Oregon, and with our hearts pumping, we cross over bridges, gliding by trees, the river circling beside us, and it feels good to have her near me.
Sara has a way of drawing things out of me; she asks questions and stares at me intently, waiting for an answer, listening as if she were searching for a nugget of gold. sometimes I see her true essence crystalline, a beautiful and mysterious being which permeates, beyond self, obscure within blue shadows.
at a restaurant in Edinburgh I kissed her for the first time while dancing to Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done”. on our way back to the hostel, we walked with our arms around each other, slowing down, until we stopped, and I held her close. our lips touched. she saw into me, and I fell into the tender current of an angel pool. her lips were all around my neck, intentional and delicate, the rain drizzled like crystal specks, and as I surrendered to her caresses, I was aware of myself smiling like a little boy. for a long time we stood in each other’s embrace, while strangers passed by.
the thought of Sara: a breeze forming around my footsteps, of desire waiting to unravel like a jewel of rain, dropping upon dry fields, a faint rustling of sparrows in the chimney, and a foaming of salt water at sunset; and like water in my hand, the thought lasts for awhile, until the sky fades.
Memoir from 2002-2003.
Amanita Muscaria. I had managed to eat 30 grams of this highly toxic species of mushrooms. Initially, I had consumed little less than half, which was having some potent effects upon my consciousness. I remember staring into a mirror and seeing different faces inside my own—it was in the reflection of my eyes where the magic took place. It was like gazing into the eyes of another being. And I was mesmerized by what seemed to be an entity other than myself. The mirror had opened a portal into the realm of the unreal. My face was continuously transforming, becoming the faces of many strange and unfamiliar people. They looked nothing like my own—they appeared to be from another time, perhaps they were the faces of my ancient ancestors. Some expressions were diabolic. There was a presence.
In the back of my mind a tempting desire to eat the rest of the mushroom was growing inside. I contemplated whether or not I should. The desire to go further grew strong.
I ate the rest… it tasted sickening. I had already vomited once. Washing the remains down with water, I put Jimi Hendrix on my record player; the spell was being cast. The last song I remember was “Voodoo Child”; the sound waves coming from the speakers transferred a powerful, throbbing energy into my ears. I felt my being undulating within the violent explosions of Jimi’s guitar. What was I looking for? Death? Very soon, I began to have an allergic reaction. Uncontrollably, I started salivating and spitting into my bathroom sink. I recall sitting naked on the toilet, dripping violently with sweat, watching puddles forming on the bathroom floor. Something horribly wrong was creeping on me. My vision blurred so that I was almost blind. I remember panicking, running downstairs to lock the doors, and grabbing a kitchen rag drenched with cold water to soothe my forehead.
I decided to take a shower because I thought it might cleanse away the madness; I hoped it would keep me from losing my mind. Unfortunately, the shower made things much worse; the hot steam was sickening, and I grew dehydrated. Afterwards, I put clean clothes on.
Things were getting absolutely out of control. My head was spinning, I could hardly see. The horror intensified, inflicting itself upon me with devastating acceleration. I had entered into a complete state of delirium; my whole being was possessed by a terrible madness. It was at this point that I experienced an intuition that I was not going to make it, and yet I was too incoherent to call for help. I felt myself dying.
During these moments, I don’t remember what happened. A period of time elapsed, about an hour or two, which I cannot account for. The next thing I remember is my friend Evan, along with three of his friends, came into my room. They found me under the covers of my soaking bed, with wild staring eyes. Apparently, I was having some kind of revelation. When he approached I jumped out of bed, and began talking to him. My mind was in a phenomenal state of delusion, and I remember saying a few words in which there seemed to be a manifestation of profundity and meaning within each word. The first word I spoke was my older brother’s name, “Nathan”; I believe I was trying to communicate something of severe importance to my brother. Evan actually told me weeks later that I was speaking to him as if he was my brother. I then proceeded to speak the following words (after each word followed a short pause in which there was a breath-taking moment of profound meaning and understanding): “Jesus” (pause, understanding, realization, enlightenment), “Hell” (pause, understanding…), “Infinity” (pause…), “God… Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God…” and I lost consciousness, collapsing in Evan’s arms.
“Infinity”, the true concept of infinity became manifest in my mind. The sound of the word infinity echoed an infinite amount of times, and I understood the limitless fact. It had a spiraling effect in which I was in communication with a higher realm, or being. In other words, a deeper comprehension of the significance and understanding of infinity penetrated me like a lightening bolt. There was a blackness, a nothingness, a light of excruciating understanding exploding beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. As these words were spoken, I was under the impression that others in the room understood them the way I did, or at least something other than myself, a presence was aware and sharing my experience. I think perhaps I was experiencing something that occurs after you die, an experience outside of Time, in which a single moment is eternal, infinite.
The last word I said was “God”. And then I realized something terrifying, and as I was realizing this I suddenly became aware of death—that I was dying. I began saying, “ Oh my God” over and over again. With each “Oh my God”, I became more aware of something completely horrifying, yet essential to the meaning of existence. The mystery of life and death was unraveling and being revealed to me. And I continued to gasp: “ Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God…” and I knew I was dying. There was no way out. To the others I was simply losing it, going mad. There was no way for them to understand the profundity of my realizations.
It was like being in two worlds at once: the world of the living and the other world. Evan and the others existed in the world of the living, where my physical body was included among them. However, the words I was speaking probably didn’t make any sense to them, and the world in which my words echoed and blossomed into the most essential realizations of truth, they were unaware of. The realm I encountered was overwhelmingly breathtaking; it was like waking up inside the blinding light of God. A presence so powerful, so brilliant, so extraordinary, that it still makes me shudder to remember. I encountered something eternal during those moments, something much deeper than we experience in our everyday lives, a timeless moment, an encounter with the eternal Ground of all Being.
When I awoke in the ICU two days later I was filled with an overwhelming sensation of still being alive. Waves of emotion palpitated through my body as tears streamed down my face and I made eye contact with my father and mother. I cried for some time. Unable to speak because a device was inserted into my lungs helping me breathe, the nurse gave me a notepad to write something. In tears, and unbelieving I had survived, I scribbled the words I had spoken before losing consciousness: Jesus, Hell, Infinity… they were still fresh in my awareness. I was alive.
dream of abduction (from 1996):
I was in the sandbox at a park I used to play in with my cousin Kevan when we were little. A flying saucer appeared to me. I couldn’t believe it – it was as though I had been longing for them to come and here they actually were. I was taken aboard the ship and we ventured towards another world. During the flight I began speaking to an alien using my native English and he explained telepathically that using spoken language was unnecessary: we could simply communicate through the use of a universal, telepathic understanding. The alien then proceeded to transfer an abundant amount of knowledge to me concerning the meaning of existence. I can’t recall what the content of the knowledge was, but in the dream, it gave me an extraordinary sense of insight.
The following stages may be out of order of their original sequence and some details have been completely forgotten:
I found myself in a medium sized, Gothic-style room. The floor was made of dark gray stone. I was under the impression that this was an operating room, and I had the feeling of just coming back to consciousness from some surgical operation. I raised myself upright on a rectangular table. I vaguely remember wondering if they had been operating with strange tools on my anal?
I entered a vast, cathedral-like room. The walls and floors were made with the same dark gray, almost blackish stone, which vaulted towards a tall ceiling (maybe 100 ft. high). With a feeling of being escorted, I followed a straight path leading towards the front of the Cathedral where there may have been an alter or priest. This was some kind of ceremony in process, and I did not understand how I was involved. On both sides of me I observed numerous aliens lined along the aisle. They all wore long black capes and uniform, glossy shoes.
There were approximately 12 of us sitting together in a large circle with our legs crossed (me being the only human). There was an intimate sense of communion within our circle and a shared spiritual knowledge. For some reason, I scooted backwards just outside of the circle and suddenly a great, evil phantom appeared from behind me covered in flames. It was as if the phantom came from hell or another realm to snatch me away! I realized that it was because I had left the circle that I had become vulnerable to the evil phantom, so I scooted back into the circle with the aliens and the phantom vanished. I was safe within the circle.
The final part of the dream went obscurely as follows: I was in a training facility with windows and various rooms where I was introduced to strange weapons. One weapon, I remember, was a sort of mace with several elaborate metal blades, which spun around. I was put in situations of combat against an opponent using these odd weapons. We wore tight body suits (similar to the wet suits that surfers wear). There was a female creature involved in these combat sessions who I will call Yali. I understood that Yali was a half-breed, meaning that she was part alien and part human. She had long black hair, obsidian eyes, and she wore a tight, cobalt blue body suit. I had a deep feeling of passionate love for her. We were in a white, padded room combating when a lustful desire overcame me. I threw myself on top of her and attempted to have intercourse with her by rubbing my penis between her legs. I suddenly ejaculated and Yali put my semen into a glass cylindrical tube and the fluid mysteriously turned a red-nectar color.
I awoke directly after this sexual episode and found myself sprawled in my bed around 11:00am. It seemed as though I had suddenly been thrown back from another world. I also had the feeling that I had recently ejaculated, but there were no signs of semen in my underwear or sheets.
During the following years, I occasionally had an apprehension that my soul was somehow wedded to Yali and that I still loved her, even if perhaps only in my unconscious.
June 9, 2014. Yesterday I took a dose of liquid LSD.
One aspect of the trip involved a sort of ongoing dialogue or fixation
with Richard Burton. Or rather it was as though I was carrying on a
perpetual monologue such as Burton might have recited in a theatrical
setting. There was an endless store of poetry coming to my awareness.
I suppose I was also pondering the question of what kind of man Burton
was. What was his heart like - was he a good man or was he overcome by
I played the guitar and sang for quite some time. It felt good to shed
tears – something flowed out of me which had been plugged up for some
time. A tremendous release. There was a constant surge of energy
flowing through my body, bedded in my lower spine.
I thought a lot about where my life was headed, whether to go to
Berlin or Los Angeles. I thought about my family and friends. I felt
pulled towards LA and thought about how fulfilling life might be in LA
because it would be a returning to my roots in a sense. And of course
the ocean was there.
Much of my time was spent outside, wandering around through the
neighborhood and parks. One profound impression was this: I crossed
Lake Washington Boulevard and discovered a lovely path (‘how had I not
seen it before?’, I thought) which ran down towards the abandon
freeway bridges hovering over the lake. I looked up at these enormous
trees, the wind was rustling the leaves. The sound of the leaves was
like a crackling fire, the colors were radiant. As the trees swayed I
stood staring into a timeless dream. There are no words for it.
Throughout my trip, a radiant light seemed to be flashing somewhere
from my periphery – it was so bright that sometimes I would quickly
look over my right or left shoulder to see where the light was coming
from. I realized it was emanating from within!
I searched my heart and saw that at my core self, I cared deeply about
the world and people, I felt love for all beings. I saw that
tenderness, passion, and sensitivity were fundamental characteristics
of my heart. A deeply felt preciousness for life.
I experienced many encounters with animals. They seemed to be
hyper-aware of my presence. For instance, while I walked along the
sidewalk, a cat looked at me with a wild insane look, a look of
recognition that connected us to the spirit world. Later at night a
raccoon startled me for a moment. He glared at me – and I thought
about the Great Spirit of the Native Americans and how this raccoon’s
expression had been etched on totem poles. I watched several crows
cawing and flying around a tree near my window, making quite a racket.
It was as if the crows were inside me – they seemed related to the
intensity of my inner world. On the Bridge of Globes (an old bridge
near my house with globular lamps) there was a fascinating moment
where I was staring at this lamppost watching the moths and insects
flying under the light and suddenly I noticed a great brown owl, which
had been sitting motionlessly on top. It suddenly dove straight down
towards the ground, into a thick bed of grass and ferns. It laid there
for sometime with its feathers all flared out in the grass and then it
flew away. Very strange behavior I thought. Perhaps it caught a mouse?
My eyes rested again on the insects hovering under the lamplight and I
became transfixed, mesmerized by a large spider. It had caught many
insects in its web, rolling them into little sacks to be eaten. The
spider was illuminated by light and I watched it spellbound for a long
time working its magic. I leaned upon the stone rail of the bridge and
enjoyed touching the velvety patches of moss with my fingers.
There was an aspect of my experience that is hard to put into words.
It involved the unraveling of my thoughts, an opening into the
interior of my personality. During my trip I wrote in my notebook,
'you've ripped yourself apart’, meaning that the veil which typically
covers one's consciousness was torn asunder. And I saw into the deeper
layers of myself. I saw into the very fabric and structure of thought.
This was utterly fascinating. The inner world was a boundless forum of
ideas and inner dialogue. Truths concerning the nature of my self
revealed themselves. Secret thoughts sprang up from the depths like
revelations. Self-epitomes. I observed this inner theater as if it had
an independent life of its own.
Throughout the trip I found myself listening intently upon the wind
blowing, listening to the silence. I became attuned to the silence. I
did not listen to much music during the experience but preferred
listening to the subtle sounds coming from outside. When it started to
rain I was so grateful – it sounded wonderful, the trickle of the
rain! A kind of peaceful calm came over me as I stared out the window,
watching the leaves blow while the rain lightly fell. This sense of
listening brought me deeper into a certain way of being. I remember
walking along the sidewalk late in the night and telling myself ‘if
things start going wrong just listen’. I realized that the receptivity
that comes through listening brought serenity and joy. I felt that if
things began to take a bad turn I could protect myself simply by the
act of listening. It was a tool, in other words, I could use to regain
In the forest I felt the presence of many animals living in the trees.
I became aware of them and they became aware of me – and I reflected
on my relationship as a man to this primordial realm. The awareness of
these creatures in the trees was so strong that I could almost hear
the animals inside me. I could sense fear and power in the forest and
I called this presence the "Great Spirit". It was a very real
presence, this primordial domain. I observed how I would feel safer
when leaving the woods and heading back to the neighborhood. And yet I
was drawn to the woods – I felt free and wild, a primitive strength
growing inside. I saw how man has become domesticated and lost his
primal sense. While walking through the dark woods I discovered
something of what the Native Americans must have felt for nature – a
reverence for the power within, a super awareness of all that stirs in
the trees – a direct relationship with animals, and the sincerity and
humility that comes from that awareness. I reflected that man has a
certain sense of godliness because of his role in nature – in his
power and strength which all creatures are aware. I wrote in my
notebook later that night ‘god in flesh, the sacredness of his
humanity’. These phrases are merely signposts for something
fundamental I was trying to understand, to realize in regards to man's
relationship to nature. I saw that a schism has severed man from his
rightful domain – that we have lost our connection to the primitive
world. Man's world has become one of domesticated comfort, a tame
world with TVs and automobiles, etc. As soon as we leave our homes and
stop and listen to nature we can reconnect, become aware again of the
powers that our ancestors knew so well.
There were trying and difficult moments as well. It wasn't all bliss.
Luckily the darker moments were rare and would pass, and then a fresh
wave of eternity would brush over me again, swelling, vibrating, the
universe was kind. In these dark moments I saw into the loneliness of
my life – into an empty void. And I felt terror at the thought: what
if this feeling lasts forever? At one point I stood frozen, on the
verge of panicking, as if I was trapped. But how suddenly things would
change and a new episode would begin and I was ever so grateful for a
change in climate!
In retrospect, I am grateful to have severed ties from a past that had
become redundant and mechanical, and break open the ever flowing
wellspring of life.