As I’m reworking this site in 2018, I’m going back through materials that I made over the past few years. In 2012, I presented this poster at the Psychedemia conference on psychedelic studies in Philadelphia, PA.
Here’s the poster (and you can also download it as a PDF):
I also made slides of all this information, and more, as an “annex” to the poster. (I designed the slides to convey a sample of my thinking and share the pool of memes I was drawing from, rather than tailoring them for a live presentation.)
You may notice that the poster has a university affiliation at the bottom. In 2012, I was starting my PhD research on dams and tropical migratory shrimp, at the University of Georgia. While I was immersing myself in water management studies, that work just didn’t evoke the same kind of intrinsic motivation that led me to drive cross-country for a conference on psychedelic research.
Systems theory and ecological urgency provided a tenuous bridge between these two parts of my life, and it wasn’t sturdy enough to hold them together. When I presented this poster again at a systems ecology symposium back in Georgia, I didn’t feel comfortable discussing the question, “Can psychedelic experiences catalyze changes in the ways we relate to ourselves, each other, and our ecological support systems?” Without that key piece, the poster felt more like a collage of ideas than a coherent plan or thesis statement. I struggled to come up with an “elevator pitch” summary of what I wanted to convey, about what actions might connect these concepts to positive outcomes for society. Without finding a way to tie that deep motivation and hope back into my thesis research, I eventually left the grad program.
Several years later, after going through an arc of discovery and dissolution in Peru, I articulated these themes in a more developed way, in the outline of the “Radical Ritual and Pragmatic Mysticism” talk that I prepared for Palenque Norte in 2017. In terms of the question of what to do next, I’m realizing that any answers will require more than one person working in isolation, and that’s the growing collaborative edge I’m working at now.
(As a side note: if I were making a similar poster today, I would be unlikely to include the image of chakras that I did. At the time, I viewed the chakra system as a fairly neutral example of a model that some people hold, and I’ve since developed a certain allergy which makes that a bit more challenging.)