Yet another mainstream news article about Silicon Valley’s fetish for microdosing LSD. I’m kind of sick of hearing about this trend. (Article posted here only for the sake of reference; see thumbnail below).
Meanwhile I’ve been getting more into Mark Fisher, reading Ghosts Of My Life for the first time. I just learned that at the time of his death he was working on a book called Acid Communism. Some words about this from Plan C, a crew of anti-authoritarian communists based in the UK:
Alongside feminist consciousness raising [Mark Fisher] also identifies the various ways in which class consciousness was raised. To these he then adds the consciousness changing effects of psychedelia, which worked through pop culture to embed a notion that reality is plastic and changeable. Wow, what a move. Before his death Mark was writing a book on post-capitalist desire called Acid Communism so we can see that this was no mere digression but an opening up of whole new areas of enquiry. Where can we find post-capitalist desire expressing itself today? How can we help that desire to be realised? ( Full article here, https://www.weareplanc.org/blog/towards-acid-communism/ )
It seems intuitive enough to me that, although it may manifest itself in the culture industry, psychedelia is a vector for post-capitalist desire. You don’t even need the chemical experience. Psychedelic music, art and sentiment encapsulates so much that shouldn’t technically have any life under digitized capitalism. That capital wants to claim LSD as its own via the tech industry is no surprise, and something tells me we shouldn’t bother preparing for what happens if acid-dropping entrepreneurs turn onto communism.
These days I’m writing about psychedelics not only as palliatives, but producers of knowledge applicable beyond the scope of curative medicine. As in Stanislav Grof’s remark that LSD and other psychedelics may be for psychology what the microscope was for biology or the telescope for astronomy — not just a bandage, but a magnifying lens. If psychedelics can illuminate hidden aspects of cognition, maybe they can tell us something about cognitive-computational capitalism, about which Matteo Pasquinelli is writing a monograph. I can infer from his essay on Glass Bead that he connects the theories of mind writ large in artificial intelligence to a distinctly economic logic. At the very least it seems the notion of a fully-computable consciousness, naturalized as Real Objective Science in the field of A.I., expedites technologized capitalism.
Silicon Valley is going to do its thing whether it has acid or not. Just like how cryptocurrency folks are getting chummy with psychonauts although right now it looks like acid needs Bitcoin more than Bitcoin needs acid. (Fwiw, I assume Bitcoiners are funding psychedelic research in the interest of their productivity). Positioned at the margins of all these discourses, I’ve worried about alienating myself from one camp or another. I don’t want to fly the flag of technology, psychedelic science, or leftism too high, since those groups normally keep their distance from one another, and my work relies on all of them. This mutual exclusivity is nonsense, of course; their interests coalesce in streams of politics and culture fed anew every day. Mark Fisher taught me.
I like that Fisher identifies desire to be the grail of post-capitalist inquiry. It takes power of an erotic magnitude to slice through the banality of politics / culture in their current forms. An almost sexual desire to live in a pro-social world. To explore consciousness in peace and fascination, to develop perspectives that don’t prioritize competition and metrical contrast with other people. To not only give according to our abilities and take according to our needs, but to provide everything for everyone. Everything for everyone.