How to Use Psychedelic Drugs to Improve Mental Health: Michael Pollan’s New Book, How to Change Your Mind, Makes the Case

The his­to­ry of research on psy­che­del­ic drugs is so sen­sa­tion­al that more sober-mind­ed exper­i­ments (so to speak) often get obscured by the hip, the weird, and the nefar­i­ous, the lat­ter includ­ing secret CIA and Army test­ing of LSD and oth­er drugs as a means of psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare and “enhanced inter­ro­ga­tion.” These exper­i­ments inad­ver­tent­ly led to Ken Kesey’s infa­mous “Acid Tests” in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. On the oth­er side of the coun­try, Har­vard psy­chol­o­gist Tim­o­thy Leary used ques­tion­able meth­ods in his psilo­cy­bin exper­i­ments with pris­on­ers and stu­dents, before get­ting fired and going on to expand the mind of the coun­ter­cul­ture, earn­ing the dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing Richard Nixon call him “the most dan­ger­ous man in Amer­i­ca.”

Mean­while, work­ing in rel­a­tive obscu­ri­ty in very dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances in the late 50s, a UC Irvine psy­chi­a­trist named Oscar Janiger brought vol­un­teer sub­jects, includ­ing sev­er­al dozen artists, to a house out­side L.A., where they were giv­en LSD and psy­chother­a­py. Janiger’s work has its sen­sa­tion­al side—a cousin of Allen Gins­berg, he report­ed­ly intro­duced Cary Grant, Anais Nin, Jack Nichol­son, and Aldous Hux­ley to acid. But his pri­ma­ry achieve­ment, in data that remained most­ly unpub­lished dur­ing his life­time, were his dis­cov­er­ies of the ther­a­peu­tic and cre­ative use of psy­che­del­ic drugs under con­trolled con­di­tions with sub­jects who were pre­pared for the expe­ri­ence and guid­ed through it by trained pro­fes­sion­als.

The exper­i­ments con­duct­ed by Janiger and oth­ers dif­fered marked­ly from the free­wheel­ing recre­ation­al drug use of the coun­ter­cul­ture and the weaponiza­tion of psy­che­delics by the U.S. gov­ern­ment. In recent years, sci­en­tists and psy­chol­o­gists have con­duct­ed sim­i­lar kinds of research under even more tight­ly con­trolled con­di­tions, sub­stan­ti­at­ing and expand­ing on the con­clu­sions of ear­ly exper­i­menters who found that psy­che­delics seem remark­ably effec­tive in treat­ing depres­sion, anx­i­ety, alco­holism, drug addic­tion, and oth­er stub­born­ly destruc­tive human ills. This research sup­ports with sound evi­dence LSD inven­tor Albert Hoff­man’s descrip­tion of his drug as “med­i­cine for the soul.”

While research orga­ni­za­tions like MAPS (Mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary Asso­ci­a­tion for Psy­che­del­ic Stud­ies) have cen­tral­ized and pro­mot­ed much of the cur­rent research, it’s now get­ting a huge pop­u­lar boost from none oth­er than food writer Michael Pol­lan, best­selling author of books like The Omnivore’s Dilem­ma and In Defense of Food. “A self-described ‘reluc­tant psy­cho­naut,’” writes NPR, Pol­lan sub­mit­ted him­self as a test sub­ject for exper­i­ments with “LSD, psilo­cy­bin and 5‑MeO-DMT, a sub­stance in the ven­om of the Sono­ran Desert toad.” He has described his expe­ri­ences and the work of the research com­mu­ni­ty in a new book titled How to Change Your Mind: What the New Sci­ence of Psy­che­delics Teach­es Us About Con­scious­ness, Dying, Addic­tion, Depres­sion, and Tran­scen­dence.

At the top of the post, see Pol­lan describe the book in a short video from Pen­guin. He dis­cuss­es such ancient ideas (as he has in past writ­ings) of psy­choac­tive drugs as “entheagens”—or chem­i­cal con­duits to the divine. “In the Dar­win­ian sense,” he says, the evo­lu­tion­ary pur­pose of psy­che­del­ic expe­ri­ences may be an increase in cog­ni­tive vari­ety and the stim­u­la­tion of “more metaphors, more insights.” In his Fresh Air inter­view above, Pol­lan fur­ther explains how this works ther­a­peu­ti­cal­ly. “One of the things our mind does is tell sto­ries about our­selves,” he says. “If you’re depressed, you’re being told a sto­ry per­haps that you’re worth­less, that no one could pos­si­bly love you… that life will not get bet­ter.”

“These sto­ries,” Pol­lan says, “trap us in these rumi­na­tive loops that are very hard to get out of. They’re very destruc­tive pat­terns of thought.” Psy­che­del­ic drugs “dis­able for a peri­od of time the part of the brain where the self talks to itself. It’s called the default mode net­work, and it’s a group of struc­tures that con­nect parts of the cor­tex — the evo­lu­tion­ar­i­ly most recent part of the brain — to deep­er lev­els where emo­tion and mem­o­ry reside.” Dis­rupt­ing old nar­ra­tives helps peo­ple to write bet­ter, health­i­er sto­ries.

As Pol­lan says in the Time video above, psy­che­delics have been pop­u­lar­ly con­ceived as drugs that make you crazy—and in some cas­es, that hap­pens. But they are also “drugs that can make you sane, or more sane.”  One of the major dif­fer­ences between one out­come and the oth­er is the con­di­tions under which the drug is tak­en. When qual­i­ty and dosage of the drugs are con­trolled, and when sub­jects are pre­pared for “bad trips” with spe­cif­ic instruc­tions, even fright­en­ing hal­lu­ci­na­tions can con­tribute to bet­ter men­tal health.

In his psilo­cy­bin exper­i­ment, for exam­ple, Pol­lan was accom­pa­nied by two “guides” and giv­en “a set of ‘flight instruc­tions,” includ­ing what to do if you see a mon­ster.

…don’t try to run away. Walk right up to it, plant your feet and say, “What do you have to teach me? What are you doing in my mind?” And if you do that, accord­ing to the flight instruc­tions, your fear will morph into some­thing much more pos­i­tive very quick­ly.

In anoth­er exam­ple, anoth­er psy­lo­cy­bin sub­ject, Alana, describes in the Vox video below her guid­ed expe­ri­ence with the drug dur­ing a smok­ing ces­sa­tion tri­al at Johns Hop­kins. “There were scary parts, fore­bod­ing parts,” she says, but thanks to con­trolled con­di­tions and the reas­sur­ing pres­ence of a guide, “I always knew there was joy and peace on the oth­er side of it. It was free­ing.”

Using psy­che­delics to con­front and con­quer fears goes back many thou­sands of years in tra­di­tion­al soci­eties. Mod­ern tech­no­log­i­cal cul­ture has large­ly turned to anti­de­pres­sants and oth­er phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to reg­u­late anx­i­ety, but as Pol­lan points out, “Prozac doesn’t help when you’re con­fronting mor­tal­i­ty,” the deep­est, most uni­ver­sal fear of all. But psychedelics—as Aldous Hux­ley found when he took LSD on his deathbed—can “occa­sion an expe­ri­ence in people—a mys­ti­cal experience—that some­how makes it eas­i­er to let go.” Sure­ly, there are oth­er ways to do so. In any case, psy­che­del­ic drugs seem so ben­e­fi­cial to psy­cho­log­i­cal well-being that they can be, and hope­ful­ly will be in the future, used to pos­i­tive­ly (respon­si­bly) shift the con­scious­ness and cre­ative poten­tial of mil­lions of suf­fer­ing peo­ple.

For more on this sub­ject, read Pol­lan’s lat­est book–How to Change Your Mind: What the New Sci­ence of Psy­che­delics Teach­es Us About Con­scious­ness, Dying, Addic­tion, Depres­sion, and Tran­scen­dence.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch The Bicy­cle Trip: An Ani­ma­tion of The World’s First LSD Trip Which Took Place on April 19, 1943

Rare Footage Shows US and British Sol­diers Get­ting Dosed with LSD in Gov­ern­ment-Spon­sored Tests (1958 + 1964)

Artist Draws 9 Por­traits While on LSD: Inside the 1950s Exper­i­ments to Turn LSD into a “Cre­ativ­i­ty Pill”

Aldous Huxley’s Most Beau­ti­ful, LSD-Assist­ed Death: A Let­ter from His Wid­ow

Ken Kesey Talks About the Mean­ing of the Acid Tests

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The Device Invented to Resuscitate Canaries in Coal Mines (Circa 1896)

Lewis Pol­lard, the cura­tor of the Muse­um of Sci­ence and Indus­try in Man­ches­ter, Eng­land, recent­ly high­light­ed his favorite object in his muse­um’s collections–this gad­get, cre­at­ed cir­ca 1896, used to resus­ci­tate canaries in coal mines.

For about a century–from the 1890s through the 1980s–British coal min­ers had a tra­di­tion of low­er­ing canaries into a coal mine to detect the pres­ence of nox­ious gas­es. As the BBC explains, the “canary is par­tic­u­lar­ly sen­si­tive to tox­ic gas­es such as car­bon monox­ide which is colour­less, odour­less and taste­less. This gas could eas­i­ly form under­ground dur­ing a mine fire or after an explo­sion. Fol­low­ing a mine fire or explo­sion, mine res­cuers would descend into the mine, car­ry­ing a canary in a small wood­en or met­al cage. Any sign of dis­tress from the canary was a clear sig­nal the con­di­tions under­ground were unsafe and min­ers should be evac­u­at­ed from the pit and the mine­shafts made safer.”

In decid­ing to send canaries into the mines, inven­tors came up with the some­what humane device shown above. Accord­ing to Pol­lard, the cir­cu­lar door of the cage “would be kept open and had a grill to pre­vent the canary [from] escap­ing. Once the canary showed signs of car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing the door would be closed and a valve opened, allow­ing oxy­gen from the tank on top to be released and revive the canary. The min­ers would then be expect­ed to evac­u­ate the dan­ger area.” This prac­tice con­tin­ued for almost 100 years, until canaries offi­cial­ly start­ed to get replaced by tech­nol­o­gy in 1986.

Read more about Pol­lard’s favorite object here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Google Uses Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence to Map Thou­sands of Bird Sounds Into an Inter­ac­tive Visu­al­iza­tion

Cor­nell Launch­es Archive of 150,000 Bird Calls and Ani­mal Sounds, with Record­ings Going Back to 1929

Two Mil­lion Won­drous Nature Illus­tra­tions Put Online by The Bio­di­ver­si­ty Her­itage Library

You Can Now Airbnb the Home of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Where the Author Wrote Tender Is the Night

Pho­to by George F. Lan­deg­ger, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

F. Scott Fitzger­ald start­ed writ­ing in earnest at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, sev­er­al of whose lit­er­ary and cul­tur­al soci­eties he joined after enrolling in 1913. So much of his time did he devote to what would become his voca­tion that he even­tu­al­ly found him­self on aca­d­e­m­ic pro­ba­tion. Still, he kept on writ­ing nov­els even after drop­ping out and join­ing the Army in 1917. He wrote hur­ried­ly, with the prospect of being shipped out to the trench­es hang­ing over his head, but that grim fate nev­er arrived. Instead the Army trans­ferred him to Camp Sheri­dan out­side Mont­gomery, Alaba­ma, at one of whose coun­try clubs young Scott met a cer­tain Zel­da Sayre, the “gold­en girl” of Mont­gomery soci­ety.

With his sights set on mar­riage, Scott spent sev­er­al years after the war try­ing to earn enough mon­ey to make a cred­i­ble pro­pos­al. Only the pub­li­ca­tion of This Side of Par­adise, his debut nov­el about a lit­er­ar­i­ly mind­ed stu­dent at Prince­ton in wartime, con­vinced Zel­da that he could main­tain the lifestyle to which she had become accus­tomed. Between 1921, when they mar­ried, and 1948, by which time both had died, F. Scott and Zel­da Fitzger­ald lived an occa­sion­al­ly pro­duc­tive, often mis­er­able, and always intense­ly com­pelling life togeth­er. The sto­ry of this ear­ly cul­tur­al “pow­er cou­ple” has an impor­tant place in Amer­i­can lit­er­ary his­to­ry, and Fitzger­ald enthu­si­asts can now use Airbnb to spend the night in the home where one of its chap­ters played out.

The rentable apart­ment occu­pies part of the F. Scott Fitzger­ald Muse­um in Mont­gomery, an oper­a­tion run out of the house in which the Fitzger­alds lived in 1931 and 1932. For the increas­ing­ly trou­bled Zel­da, those years con­sti­tut­ed time in between hos­pi­tal­iza­tions. She had come from the Swiss sana­to­ri­um that diag­nosed her with schiz­o­phre­nia. She would after­ward go to Johns Hop­kins Hos­pi­tal in Bal­ti­more, where she would write an ear­ly ver­sion of her only nov­el Save Me the Waltz, a roman à clef about the Fitzger­ald mar­riage. For Scot­t’s part, the Mont­gomery years came in the mid­dle of his work on Ten­der is the Night, the fol­low-up to The Great Gats­by for which crit­ics had been wait­ing since that book’s pub­li­ca­tion in 1925.

“The house dates to 1910,” writes the Chica­go Tri­bune’s Beth J. Harpaz. “The apart­ment is fur­nished in casu­al 20th cen­tu­ry style: sofa, arm­chairs, dec­o­ra­tive lamps, Ori­en­tal rug, and pil­lows embroi­dered with quotes from Zel­da like this one: ‘Those men think I’m pure­ly dec­o­ra­tive and they’re fools for not know­ing bet­ter.’ ” Evoca­tive fea­tures include “a record play­er and jazz albums, a bal­cony, and flow­er­ing mag­no­lia trees in the yard.” It may not offer the kind of space need­ed to throw a Gats­by-style bac­cha­nal — to the end­less relief, no doubt, of the muse­um staff — but at $150 per night as of this writ­ing, trav­el­ers look­ing to get a lit­tle clos­er to these defin­ing lit­er­ary icons of the Jazz Age might still con­sid­er it a bar­gain. It also comes with cer­tain mod­ern touch­es that the Fitzger­alds could hard­ly have imag­ined, like wi-fi. But then, giv­en the well-doc­u­ment­ed ten­den­cy toward dis­trac­tion they already suf­fered, sure­ly they were bet­ter off with­out it.

You can book your room at Airbnb here.

via Men­tal Floss

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free: The Great Gats­by & Oth­er Major Works by F. Scott Fitzger­ald

Rare Footage of Scott and Zel­da Fitzger­ald From the 1920s

Win­ter Dreams: F. Scott Fitzger­ald’s Life Remem­bered in a Fine Film

The Evo­lu­tion of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Sig­na­ture: From 5 Years Old to 21

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Hand­writ­ten Man­u­scripts for The Great Gats­by, This Side of Par­adise & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Patti Smith, The Godmother of Punk, Is Now Putting Her Pictures on Instagram

As evi­denced by her Insta­gram feed the God­moth­er is just like you and me. She posts pic­tures of her kids.

She gives her mom a Moth­ers Day shout out…

She cel­e­brates her friends’ birth­days, posts self­ies, trav­el shots, and pet pics

She’s not above self-pro­mo­tion if the sit­u­a­tion war­rants.

But the accom­pa­ny­ing cap­tions set punk’s poet lau­re­ate apart. No LOLs here.  It’s clear that the award-win­ning author of Just Kids  and M Train thinks about her con­tent, care­ful­ly craft­ing each post before she pub­lish­es. Each is a bite-sized reflec­tion, a page-a-day med­i­ta­tion on what it means to be alive:

This is day two of my Venice report.

I bummed around think­ing of 

Venice in the sev­en­ties. It had

a strong Ras­ta vibe with Reg­gae

music drift­ing from the head shops

and boom box­es on the beach. 

Burn­ing Spear and Jim­my Cliff

and Bob Mar­ley. Venice has an 

ever chang­ing atmos­phere but 

I always like walk­ing around, 

anony­mous, just anoth­er freak. 

On Pacif­ic next to the Cafe Col­lage

I had steamed dumplings and 

gin­ger tea at Mao’s Kitchen. 

The food is great and rea­son­able.

Because it was ear­ly it was 

near­ly emp­ty. Since I was awake

since 4am i was near­ly hyp­no­tized 

by the turn­ing of their over­head 

fan. Before I left they gave me a

for­tune cook­ie. It was a true one.

Reflect­ing my past and cer­tain­ly 

my future. A very good day.

Fol­low Pat­ti Smith on Insta­gram here.

via W Mag­a­zine

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pat­ti Smith’s 40 Favorite Books

Pat­ti Smith Cre­ates a Detailed Pack­ing List for Going on Tour: Haru­ki Muraka­mi Books, Loquat Tea & More

Hear Pat­ti Smith Read the Poet­ry that Would Become Hors­es: A Read­ing of 14 Poems at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, 1975

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her solo show Nurse!, in which one of Shakespeare’s best loved female char­ac­ters hits the lec­ture cir­cuit to set the record straight pre­mieres in June at The Tank in New York City. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Take a Virtual Tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London

The sto­ry of the Globe The­atre, the ances­tral home of Shakespeare’s plays, is itself very Shake­speare­an, in all of the ways we use that adjec­tive: it has deep roots in Eng­lish his­to­ry, a trag­ic back­sto­ry, and rep­re­sents all of the hodge­podge of Lon­don, in the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry and today, with the city’s col­or­ful street life, min­gling of inter­na­tion­al cul­tures, high and low, and its delight in the play and inter­play of lan­guages.

“The first pub­lic play­hous­es,” notes the British Library, “were built in Lon­don in the late 1500s. The­atres were not per­mit­ted with­in the bound­aries of the City itself”—theater not being con­sid­ered a respectable art—”but were tol­er­at­ed in the out­er dis­tricts of Lon­don, such as South­wark, where the Globe was locat­ed. South­wark was noto­ri­ous for its noisy, chaot­ic enter­tain­ments and for its sleazy low-life: its the­atres, broth­els, bear bait­ing pits, pick­pock­ets and the like.”

The Globe began its life in 1599, in a sto­ry that “might be wor­thy,” writes the Shake­speare Resource Cen­ter, “of a Shake­speare­an play of its own.” Built from the tim­bers of the city’s first per­ma­nent the­ater, the Burbage, which opened in 1576, the Globe burned down in 1613 “when a can­non shot dur­ing a per­for­mance of Hen­ry VIII ignit­ed the thatched roof in the gallery.” With­in the year, it was rebuilt on the same foun­da­tions (with a tiled roof) and oper­at­ed until the Puri­tans shut it down in 1642, demol­ish­ing the famed open-air the­ater two years lat­er.

In a twist to this so far very Eng­lish tale, it took the tire­less efforts of an expa­tri­ate Amer­i­can, actor-direc­tor Sam Wana­mak­er, to bring the Globe back to Lon­don. After more than two decades of advo­ca­cy, Wanamaker’s Globe Play­house Trust suc­ceed­ed in recre­at­ing the Globe, just a short dis­tance from the orig­i­nal loca­tion. Open­ing in 1997, three-hun­dred and fifty-five years after the first Globe closed, the new Globe The­atre recre­at­ed all of the orig­i­nal’s archi­tec­tur­al ele­ments.

The stage projects into the cir­cu­lar court­yard, designed for stand­ing spec­ta­tors and sur­round­ed by three tiers of seats. While the stage itself has an elab­o­rate paint­ed roof, and the seat­ing is pro­tect­ed from the weath­er by the only thatched roof in Lon­don since the 1666 Great Fire, the theater’s court­yard is open to the sky. How­ev­er, where the orig­i­nal Globe held about 2,000 stand­ing and 1,000 seat­ed play­go­ers, the recre­ation, notes Time­Out Lon­don, holds only about half that num­ber.

Still, the­ater-goers can “get a rich feel for what it was like to be a ‘groundling’ (the stand­ing rab­ble at the front of the stage) in the cir­cu­lar, open-air the­atre.” Short of that, we can tour the Globe in the vir­tu­al recre­ation at the top of the post. Move around in any direc­tion and look up at the sky. As you do, click on the tiny cir­cles to reveal facts such as “Prob­a­bly the first Shake­speare play to be per­formed at the Globe was Julius Cae­sar, in 1599,” and videos like Mark Antony’s famous “friends, Romans, coun­try­men” speech, per­formed at the Globe, above.

If you don’t have the lux­u­ry of vis­it­ing the new Globe, tak­ing a tour, or see­ing a per­for­mance lov­ing­ly-recre­at­ed with all of the cos­tum­ing (and even pro­nun­ci­a­tion) from Jacobean Eng­land, you can get the fla­vor of this won­drous achieve­ment in bring­ing cul­tur­al his­to­ry into the present with the vir­tu­al tour, also avail­able as an app for iPhone and iPad users. This inter­ac­tive tour super­sedes a pre­vi­ous ver­sion we fea­tured a few years back.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear What Ham­let, Richard III & King Lear Sound­ed Like in Shakespeare’s Orig­i­nal Pro­nun­ci­a­tion

The 1,700+ Words Invent­ed by Shake­speare*

What Shakespeare’s Hand­writ­ing Looked Like

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Buckminster Fuller Appears on the Los Angeles New Age Cable TV Shows, Psychic Phenomena and Quest Four (1979–82)

Has the world ever known a more com­pelling­ly eccen­tric cul­tur­al out­let than the fringes of Los Ange­les tele­vi­sion in the 1970s and 80s? For the most part a realm of false prophets, unhinged crack­pots, des­per­ate pitch­men, and Cal Wor­thing­ton, its air­waves also occa­sion­al­ly car­ried the thoughts of impor­tant minds. Take, for instance, the appear­ances on the pub­lic-access cable pro­grams Psy­chic Phe­nom­e­na: The World Beyond and Quest Four: The Fourth Dimen­sion of none oth­er than pro­lif­ic archi­tect-the­o­rist-inven­tor Buck­min­ster Fuller. You can watch both togeth­er, and there­by get an overview of the then already octo­ge­nar­i­an Fuller’s life and ideas in a fair­ly unusu­al con­text, in the videos of the Youtube playlist above.

On both pro­grams, the first of which aired in 1979 and the sec­ond in 1983, Fuller sits across from Damien Simp­son. The founder of an orga­ni­za­tion called the Uni­ver­sal Mind Sci­ence Church, Simp­son seems to have spent his life as some­thing of a seek­er. After time in the sem­i­nary, he lived for a peri­od in a monastery under a vow of silence.

In the years after start­ing his own church, he host­ed new-age tele­vi­sion and radio pro­grams whose guest lists includ­ed, accord­ing to his bio, every­one from Elis­a­beth Kübler-Ross to Den­nis Weaver. But Simp­son clear­ly con­sid­ered Fuller the catch to beat them all, more than once liken­ing him­self to “a kid in a can­dy store” as he rev­els in his chance to con­verse with the man who thought up the geo­des­ic dome and much else besides.

Born in the 19th cen­tu­ry, usu­al­ly dressed in a suit and tie, and con­stant­ly work­ing on the devel­op­ment and appli­ca­tion of ultra-prac­ti­cal ideas, Fuller hard­ly pro­ject­ed the image of a 70s new-ager. Yet he and the audi­ences of shows like Psy­chic Phe­nom­e­na and Quest Four shared more than a few habits of mind. Fuller, for instance, insist­ed on always con­sid­er­ing the world as not a col­lec­tion of nations but one whole sys­tem (one he mem­o­rably labeled “Space­ship Earth”), an exam­ple of “holis­tic think­ing” in the truest sense. He also believed, as he spells out in these inter­views, that human­i­ty faces an exis­ten­tial “final exam­i­na­tion,” a test of our col­lec­tive intel­lect and will to deter­mine whether we can bring about an era — quite lit­er­al­ly, a new age — of peace. It will demand much of us, he tells Simp­son and and his view­ers all across Los Ange­les, not least our naiveté: “Dare to be naive. That’s the only way you’ll ever learn any­thing.”

via Ubuweb

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Three-Minute Intro­duc­tion to Buck­min­ster Fuller, One of the 20th Century’s Most Pro­duc­tive Design Vision­ar­ies

Every­thing I Know: 42 Hours of Buck­min­ster Fuller’s Vision­ary Lec­tures Free Online (1975)

Watch an Ani­mat­ed Buck­min­ster Fuller Tell Studs Terkel All About “the Geo­des­ic Life”

Bet­ter Liv­ing Through Buck­min­ster Fuller’s Utopi­an Designs: Revis­it the Dymax­ion Car, House, and Map

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The Map of Philosophy: See All of the Disciplines, Areas & Subdivisions of Philosophy Mapped in a Comprehensive Video

In the intro­duc­tion to his sweep­ing His­to­ry of West­ern Phi­los­o­phy, Bertrand Rus­sell wastes no time get­ting to a def­i­n­i­tion of his sub­ject. “The con­cep­tions of life and the world which we call ‘philo­soph­i­cal,’” he writes in the first sen­tence, “are a prod­uct of two fac­tors: one, inher­it­ed reli­gious and eth­i­cal con­cep­tions; the oth­er, the sort of inves­ti­ga­tion which may be called ‘sci­en­tif­ic,’ using the word in its broad­est sense. … Phi­los­o­phy, as I shall under­stand the word, is some­thing inter­me­di­ate between the­ol­o­gy and sci­ence.” (Rus­sell makes a sim­i­lar argu­ment, in slight­ly dif­fer­ent terms, in the essay “Mys­ti­cism and Log­ic.”)

Although this dis­tinc­tion between broad­ly “the­o­log­i­cal” and broad­ly “sci­en­tif­ic” think­ing may not map direct­ly onto the mod­ern schism between “Con­ti­nen­tal” and “Ana­lyt­ic” phi­los­o­phy, a com­par­i­son still seems high­ly rel­e­vant. Though some con­ti­nen­tal thinkers may not wish to admit it, their cat­e­gories and modes of reasoning—or intu­it­ing, reflect­ing, spec­u­lat­ing, etc.—derive from the­o­log­i­cal thought denud­ed of its spe­cif­ic reli­gious con­tent or beliefs. Or as philoso­pher Thomas R. Wells writes at his blog The Philosopher’s Beard, the con­ti­nen­tal pro­ceeds from a “direct con­cern with the human con­di­tion, its ambi­tion, its reflex­iv­i­ty, its con­cern with the media as well as the mes­sage.”

The ana­lyt­ic, on the oth­er hand, strives for “uni­ver­sal scope, clar­i­ty and pub­lic account­abil­i­ty…. It tries to sys­tem­atize knowl­edge” and approx­i­mate sci­en­tif­ic meth­ods of inquiry (which also once mixed freely with the the­o­log­i­cal). Both approach­es can move too close to the poles Rus­sell identifies—can move too far away, that is, from phi­los­o­phy and toward the obscure and pure­ly mys­ti­cal or the inhu­mane­ly, unre­flec­tive­ly ratio­nal. Per­haps one way of think­ing about the his­to­ry of phi­los­o­phy is as a dance between this play of oppo­sites, with each approach offer­ing a cor­rec­tive to the other’s excess­es, some­times with­in the same thinker’s body of work.

But before apply­ing such abstrac­tions, we should con­sid­er the ways phi­los­o­phy devel­oped as a dis­ci­pline dis­tinct from the hard sci­ences and theology—and from art, psy­chol­o­gy, anthro­pol­o­gy, physics, math­e­mat­ics, lin­guis­tics, eco­nom­ics, etc. “Once upon a time,” notes the video at the top—a com­pre­hen­sive “map of phi­los­o­phy” made by— “Phi­los­o­phy was any­thing you can study. Every­thing in the realm of study was a type of phi­los­o­phy.” The break­ing off of oth­er fields into their own domains hap­pened over the course of sev­er­al hun­dred years. Nonethe­less, “phi­los­o­phy still had its fin­gers in all of those oth­er pies.”

One can think philo­soph­i­cal­ly about anything—philosophy can “put dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines on the same play­ing field to talk to each oth­er.” It is, the video’s intro­duc­tion declares, “the glue that holds all of acad­e­mia togeth­er” (hence, the top aca­d­e­m­ic degree, the Ph.D., or “doc­tor of phi­los­o­phy”). For rea­sons of his own train­ing, the video’s cre­ator, who sim­ply goes by the pseu­do­nym “Carneades,” leans more heav­i­ly on the ana­lyt­ic side of things, neglect­ing or only light­ly touch­ing on much of the con­ti­nen­tal thought that flour­ished in the wake of Hei­deg­ger, Hegel, Niet­zsche, Kierkegaard, Sartre, and oth­ers. (Fur­ther up, you can see a video focused on one spe­cif­ic school of moral philosophy—Consequentialism. See more such videos at the YouTube chan­nel.)

Carneades admits his bias­es and blind spots and wel­comes cor­rec­tions from those bet­ter versed in oth­er tra­di­tions. To his cred­it, he includes Native Amer­i­can, African, Latin Amer­i­can, Afro-Caribbean, Poly­ne­sian, Japan­ese, Islam­ic, Tibetan, and many oth­er glob­al philo­soph­i­cal tra­di­tions in his exten­sive map—traditions that are usu­al­ly com­plete­ly ignored or deemed “unphilo­soph­i­cal” in oth­er such sur­veys. His sen­si­tiv­i­ty to glob­al thought may have some­thing to do with the fact that he is not based in a West­ern aca­d­e­m­ic depart­ment, but in West Africa, where he does human­i­tar­i­an work.

See a com­plete table of con­tents, with links to spe­cif­ic sec­tions, for the lengthy “Map of Phi­los­o­phy” just below, and an image of the full map just above (pur­chase a hard copy here). Carneades’ inten­tion to bring “these ideas back to the mod­ern ago­ra from the Ivory Tow­er” is a noble one. If you agree, and find these videos infor­ma­tive and intel­lec­tu­al­ly stim­u­lat­ing, you can donate to or become a patron of his efforts at the Patre­on page.

Table of Con­tents:

00:00 Intro­duc­tion
01:44 Log­ic and Philo­soph­i­cal Meth­ods
02:14 For­mal Clas­si­cal Log­ic
04:55 Non-Clas­si­cal Log­ic
06:35 Infor­mal Log­ic
08:00 Philo­soph­i­cal Meth­ods
10:20 The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy
13:30 Philo­soph­i­cal Tra­di­tions Around the World
20:55 Aes­thet­ics
22:35 Polit­i­cal Phi­los­o­phy
23:34 Social Phi­los­o­phy
25:00 Moral The­o­ry & Ethics
28:08 Epis­te­mol­o­gy
30:34 Meta­physics
34:13 Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence
37:35 Phi­los­o­phy of Reli­gion
40:17 Phi­los­o­phy of Lan­guage
41:58 Phi­los­o­phy of Mind
43:49 Phi­los­o­phy of Action
44:57 Full Map

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es

The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy … With­out Any Gaps

350 Ani­mat­ed Videos That Will Teach You Phi­los­o­phy, from Ancient to Post-Mod­ern

Emi­nent Philoso­phers Name the 43 Most Impor­tant Phi­los­o­phy Books Writ­ten Between 1950–2000: Wittgen­stein, Fou­cault, Rawls & More

A His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy in 81 Video Lec­tures: From Ancient Greece to Mod­ern Times

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Discover the Lost Early Computer Art of Telidon, Canada’s TV Proto-Internet from the 1970s

Most of us got hooked up to the inter­net in the 1990s or there­abouts, though the true ear­ly adopters did it when per­son­al com­put­ers first blew up in the 1980s. But cer­tain Cana­di­an house­holds got online even ear­li­er, in the late 1970s, although not quite on the inter­net as we know it: they had Telidon, a phone line-con­nect­ed video­tex/tele­tex sys­tem that used a reg­u­lar tele­vi­sion as a dis­play. “It is no exag­ger­a­tion to say that the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket­place in Cana­da was gripped by Telidon fever from late 1979 to late 1982,” writes Don­ald Gilles in the Cana­di­an Jour­nal of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Fuel­ing that fever was “hope and belief in tech­nol­o­gy – sci­ence-based tech­nol­o­gy – as an agent of change, a bringer of nov­el­ty, and enhancer of life.”

When it first came avail­able, Telidon’s con­tent providers includ­ed “cor­po­ra­tions and inter­ests such as The Bay, Ency­clo­pe­dia Bri­tan­ni­ca and the Toron­to Star,” writes the CBC’s Chris Hamp­ton, but “a com­mu­ni­ty of arts-mind­ed elec­tron­ics wonks, tele­com prophets and oth­er curi­ous sorts coa­lesced around it, embrac­ing it as an art medi­um.”

You can see some of those Telidon cre­ators inter­viewed in the short Moth­er­board doc­u­men­tary at the top of the post. While busi­ness­es exper­i­ment­ed with pos­si­bil­i­ties of bank­ing and shop­ping through the sys­tem, artists pushed its bound­aries even fur­ther, using its now severe-seem­ing tech­no­log­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions as a cat­a­lyst for visu­al cre­ativ­i­ty. On some months, artist Bill Per­ry’s Telidon mag­a­zine Com­put­erese drew more view­ers than every oth­er provider com­bined.

Now, more than 30 years after its dis­con­tin­u­a­tion, Telidon has attract­ed atten­tion again. It turns out that its ear­ly-com­put­er-art aes­thet­ic has aged quite well, as seen in the exam­ples now being pulled from the archives and Insta­grammed by Toron­to new-media cen­ter Inter­Ac­cess. Orig­i­nal­ly found­ed to make Telidon devel­op­ment tools avail­able to the artist com­mu­ni­ty, Inter­Ac­cess launched this social media project as a way of cel­e­brat­ing its own 35th birth­day. Look­ing back on all the uses artists found for Telidon — every­thing from abstract qua­si-ani­ma­tions to a study of per­spec­tives on the Cold War — we can imag­ine how com­par­a­tive­ly bound­less the mod­ern inter­net would have seemed to them. But we might also won­der what that mod­ern inter­net would look like if it had a lit­tle more of their artis­ti­cal­ly and tech­no­log­i­cal­ly adven­tur­ous spir­it.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Inter­net Imag­ined in 1969

From the Annals of Opti­mism: The News­pa­per Indus­try in 1981 Imag­ines its Dig­i­tal Future

What the Entire Inter­net Looked Like in 1973: An Old Map Gets Found in a Pile of Research Papers

Andy Warhol’s Lost Com­put­er Art Found on 30-Year-Old Flop­py Disks

Watch Bri­an Eno’s “Video Paint­ings,” Where 1980s TV Tech­nol­o­gy Meets Visu­al Art

The Sto­ry of Habi­tat, the Very First Large-Scale Online Role-Play­ing Game (1986)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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