Thursday, 25 November 2010

My Friend Cannabis

How much significance abounds all around us at all times, while we sit worrying about a meaningless and humbling, insignificant and finite universe of which our lives are an infinitesimally small piece. What a world we have. I’ve heard a sentiment mentioned about how the world is just this small and insignificant sphere dwarfed by unthinkably extensive space-time. But just because there is so many of something does not mean that each of them is not an absolute marvel. I think most people realise this too when they're not het up in how small we are compared to the rest, but are appreciating the rarity of life.

I was thinking (while high) about how much meaning we pass over in our daily lives, in both the “occurent” world of the natural sciences; atoms, electrons, black holes, and in the “available” world which refers to (but not exclusively) the world of the human sciences; beauty, equipment, symbols.[1] When I go about my daily life I often forget to realise what’s going on around me, due to the phenomenon of “cognitive bias"[2] and attitudes your take to the world which affect what becomes significant for you. Everyone’s had the experience of encountering a magpie or the number 23 and then suddenly they’re everywhere. By deliberately deciding to do things (to get fit) or look out for things, certain other things show up for us (tennis rackets, gyms, perhaps some bodily terminology) as significant.

But most of the time we don’t see these things in their fullness. It’s possible to see a film or lecture on something which interests you, and not be particularly moved by it because you weren’t in the “right state of mind to enjoy it”. You can sit watching your favourite films or listening to your favourite music and having nothing of the same sorts of experiences as you usually have. The attitude you have (or mood) reveals things for you[3]. The “everyday” mood we walk around in often doesn’t make a lot show up as significant for us (I’ll call this “type or quantitative significance diminishment”) or the things it does make show up don’t show up as quite significant as they could (“token or qualitative significance diminishment”). I can be interesting in watching a talk on TED because of the take I have on myself (I like philosophy and sociology and science). But my mood perhaps changes how I see it, and if the response is deep enough.

If you’re reading this you probably know me, and if you know me then you know I’m certainly not shy of the odd “rasta rolly” when the evening arrives. I find the use of cannabis helps both more things show up for us (type or quantitative significance enhancement) and that the things which do show up, show up and are understood in a much deeper sense (token or qualitative significance enhancement). You may be idly curious when stoned, detached from your usual everyday attitudes towards yourself and come across something you never would have seen as interesting while in your normal attitudes, or you might see something you normally would have liked, but see it in a new, enlivening light in which it seems so much more emotive or wonderful.

I think that the cynics about cannabis use (whether justified or not in the degree to which cannabis damages you, and in what sense) are too often willing to omit the facts about the benefits of cannabis not just for eating jerk chicken and kebabs while listening to “Dub Side of the Moon” on repeat for like 3 or 4 hours. Cannabis enables us to see significance in things, which is why food and music and “some quality time alone” appear in such a rapturous and clear light whilst you’re burnin’. For this reason I think it should be known that cannabis can be beneficial not just for bored teenagers or people with medicinal problems, but for everybody who can enjoy it and praise it for allowing them to touch life as it shows up in its full beauty. It’s not just getting “super high, man” and tricking yourself into having a nice meal, you’re revealing the beauty in things which your everydayness doesn’t always reveal, because your attitudes are changed (and if anyone has a scientic objection that it's "not attitudes but neurons" you should check out/think about John Searle's "biological naturalist" response to the physicalist-dualist debate. Well interesting when stoned too).

And it's not just music and food, but intellectual things become so much more significant whilst high too. Granted, you think a lot of serious bullshit when you're stoned - but you think a lot of serious bullshit when you're straight too, the only difference is that the bullshit you think when you're stoned seems so much more significant. But I always find myself much more interested in history or even sometimes mathematics (which I usually do everything to avoid) and they come forward in such a greater light. The experience feels like what Gurdjieff describes, when the essential conjunction of rational and emotional "minds" is revealed.

p.s. you have no idea how hard it was to stop forgetting what I was thinking whilst writing this.

[1] You’ll of course notice that these two senses of “world” are not fundamentally, or even necessarily, ontologically separate in that members of both senses may “bleed over” or even exactly coincide (I’ve not thought about this enough, will be good to do later (note to self: dude you’re just gonna forget this after you have your tea tonight, so read this and think about it now before you forget again). They’re levels of description or intentional aspects.

[2] I don’t take this idea too seriously, but I believe it captures the phenomena in some sense and so the essential structure of what it picks out has truth.

[3] This phenomenon of mood and of ends which make things appear as significant was pointed out to me when I read Heidegger and Aristotle together, whom it probably became clear for without the aid of a doobie.


  1. Beautifully written! Regarding your post script, I can only imagine the difficulty - having been in Nature's grasp before, but I applaud your tenacity. I am delighted to have found a kindred spirit.

    Love from Dr. Roxx

  2. I am very glad you enjoyed the read!