Sufis, Drugs, Terrorism, and Prohibition

Report by Terry Gotham

After the horrible attack on a mosque in Egypt, in which more than 300 Sufi Muslims lost their lives at the hands of Daesh, I decided it was time to explain the connection between Sufism, drugs, spirituality, rebellion, and of course, prohibition. We’d like to think that drug use in the classical Islamic period of 700 AD doesn’t have anything to do with the attack last week by almost 30 ISIS militants, but history paints a different story. Many members of Sufi orders throughout history have been persecuted for their substance use, especially as a pretext by conservative rulers to shutter coffee houses, opium dens, brothels, bars, and other meeting places of potential insurrectionists.

Muslims invented the coffee house as we now know it, and were responsible for coffee finding its way into Christian Europe. But when coffee first made its way from Ethiopia into Yemen and up the Arabian Peninsula, some Muslims challenged its appropriateness. It was clear to early observers that coffee had an effect on people, but legal thinkers had to decide whether these effects qualified as intoxication. More threatening than coffee’s impact on the body, however, was the drink’s social consequence. Like wine drinkers, coffee drinkers tended to assemble in groups. Could the coffee house invite the same troublesome activities that surrounded taverns? Moreover, coffee appeared to assist Sufis in their all-night gatherings, leading some to consider that prohibiting coffee would also aid in the suppression of controversial religious practices and subversive teachings.
~Confession of a Muslim Psychedelic Tea Drinker, Michael Muhammad Knight (VICE.com)

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Lift The Veil Interview Nov 22 2017

After positive feedback from my interview in August Lifting the Veil on Radical Ritual, Nathan invited me back to talk about Q Clearance Patriot, President Trump, and cryptocurrency.

The New Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man

Philippe Glade has been a fan of Burning Man for 20+ years. He takes time every year to travel the entirety of Black Rock City looking for amazing examples of architecture. He has brought us the Golden Rebar awards, which we covered here:

2015 Golden Rebar Awards: Pods Pervade the Playa

2014 Golden Rebar Awards

2013 Golden Rebar Awards

This is Black Rock City

Philippe finally took his work and published it as a book, thinking that others in the community would be interested in what took years of his life. We get a shout-out in the book, Burners.Me is thanked for being the “counter-culture” of Burning Man.

The book was featured in Architectural Digest, WIRED, Curbed, and CNN.

Sadly, only 289 people were interested enough to buy one. Philippe, disillusioned, plans to quit Burning Man for good and burn the remaining copies of his book. He says “as far as I see participants are not really into the fabric of their city, this is a sour surprise for me.”

Philippe wrote a sad farewell on his blog This Is Black Rock City

After 21 burns and 10 years blogging it’s time to call it quits.

This blog was created to be more reactive than my old pages
going back to 1996 and with the hope to inspire and grow
a community of like-minded participants building a functioning city
in an inhospitable environment while having fun, mostly.

Within the years I posted thousands of images of camps, structures,
along with hundreds of reliable links, which was an exhausting labor of love,
my ethereal gift to the community.

The Golden Rebar Award was created to highlight the innovative
or most surprising shelters that I considered as important
as the various art installations all along the playa.

My secret fantasy was to have an informal and zany ceremony were I could give away the physical Golden Rebar Awards.

Instead of that, I made a book.

2 years were spent on  Research / Writing / Editing / Design and Layout (which paid off with a 2017 Graphic Design Award) / Production and Problem Solving /
The result was a burner worthy book with a tactile cloth cover and blind embossing, packed with info, data, tips and, most of all, a very large visual spectrum of our vernacular architecture.

One year was spent on a worldwide promotional campaign with stellar results: features on CNN, Wired, Wallpaper (of all!!), Architectural Digest and more (not too bad for a Frenchman working alone from a tiny San Francisco bedroom)

From around the world 289 buyers daringly purchased this self-reliant project.

This dismal performance resulted in several drastic personal changes.

As for the commodification debate, the goal was with the profit,
to publish limited edition books of two talented playa photographers.

Instead of working on this exciting project, I am looking, now,
for international movers to cheaply and sheepishly
regroup and recoup overseas.
Time to burn the page.

Unable to keep a sales structure and book cases in storage,
by respect for my daring 289 buyers, the remaining books (850)
will be terminated (Baker beach style) at the end of the year
without any Black Friday, French tickler Sunday or Tutu Tuesday.

The good news is: there will be one less photographer on the playa
and one less overwhelming blog to read.

Support Philippe and buy one of the limited edition books before they are gone forever. It’s really very good, the range of Burnitecture on display is truly mind-blowing. Big thanks and much kudos to Philippe for taking the photos, and all the imaginative Burners who created the structures.

The Global Leadership Conference for 2018 has been called off, perhaps to avoid answering awkward questions raised by our Shadow History of Burners investigation. Is this it for Burning Man now? Are people just over it? Is it really a lifestyle and ideology that can change the world, or is it just a fun party for one week a year?

Will other temporary cities emerge with this kind of ephemeral architecture? I sure hope so.


Re-blogged from This Is Black Rock City

Welcome to Black Rock City 2017 Golden Rebar Awards

Golden Rebar for keeping up 
with Buckminster Fuller
Black Lotus Society Camp with true geodesic sphere of 24′ diameter
Golden Rebar for Serene Scene
Serene is the least word you would associate Black Rock City with.
Weathered burners know this place, so I will not mention it in a vain attempt to keep it as is,
an oasis of silence
Octayurts in the Mindfield
Sometimes there is a fine line between an art installation and a camp
There goes the Neighborhood Golden Rebar
Suburbia Camp 2017 once again brought tongue-in-cheek and joie de vivre with its white picket fences, plywood mansions, mailboxes, astroturf and traffic lights
Caravan of Light Camp 2017 with portal
Caravan of Light Camp with many Bell tents
Mayan Warrior Camp with Alien Buffalo Tents
Tension tent with SHIFTPODs for Serendipitea Camp

 

Black Rock City Shelter

Cloud Extruded. Courtesy of Philippe Glade.

philippe glade
Black Rock City Shelter

The Chiton. Courtesy of Philippe Glade.

philippe glade
Black Rock City Shelter

Sacred Spaces Village. Courtesy of Philippe Glade.

philippe glade
Black Rock City Shelter

Hundertwasser House. Courtesy of Philippe Glade

Read more at This Is Black Rock City.

Ketamine & Mental Health: What We Know Already

A very good friend sent me a landmark study surrounding Ketamine a little while ago.  In drug research, big effects and powerful findings are usually accompanied by tiny sample sizes and weird statistics magic to rig the findings. So when I read the meta-analysis and systematic review published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, I was heartened. This is serious science and serious stats, with 167 patients evaluated across multiple studies. Also, the reporting scales (MADRS, HAM-D, QIDS-SR & the BDI) are well understood, robust and respected in the field. All of this adds up to this results abstract being very, VERY important:

Ketamine rapidly (within 1 day) reduced suicidal ideation significantly on both the clinician-administered and self-report outcome measures. Effect sizes were moderate to large (Cohen’s d=0.48–0.85) at all time points after dosing. A sensitivity analysis demonstrated that compared with control treatments, ketamine had significant benefits on the individual suicide items of the MADRS, the HAM-D, and the QIDS-SR but not the BDI. Ketamine’s effect on suicidal ideation remained significant after adjusting for concurrent changes in severity of depressive symptoms.
~The Effect of a Single Dose of Intravenous Ketamine on Suicidal Ideation: A Systematic Review & Individual Participant Data Meta-Analysis (Wilkinson et al)

That’s a dense couple of sentences, so let me explain why it’s so earth shattering. Suicidal thoughts, (known as suicidal ideation in clinical psychology) and depressed feelings are very difficult to get rid of, especially for depressed people. Treatment-resistant depression is a term associated with someone who has attempted multiple types of treatment for their Axis I disorder, but it hasn’t gotten better. After trying multiple types of interventions with no success, people slide quickly into hopelessness and thoughts of self harm. Up until now, depression treatments like SSRI drugs and Cognitive Behavioral therapy take time to work, sometimes more than a month. If you’re not in a good place right now, these things can’t help you. Ketamine infusions help immediately, and the change is apparent both to the patient and to the interviewing physician afterwards. This bit is huge, as most drug research relies heavily on self-report, which leads to bias and distorted findings. But, people are already talking to the press swearing by it, and it’s getting quite a lot of press, so here’s what they’re talking about.

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Pinchbeck #metoo Spotlights Consent Principle

pinchbeck

Daniel Pinchbeck went to some trouble to insert himself into the media as one of the leading Burning Man scenesters, following in his counter-cultural heritage at the heart of the Beat scene growing up on Ginsberg’s lap.

Pinchbeck’s “Evolver” group was a Burning Man-related social engineering think tank run out of Baltimore, Maryland.

Whether you are a Playa newbie or the most grizzled Burner veteran, there is always more to learn and new techniques to master for maximizing your Burning Man adventure. As we approach Burn 2012, with hordes of rabid newbies getting prepped to descend on Black Rock City in faux fur, this is the moment to prepare your Psyche for the sub-cultural onslaught coming your way imminently, and brush up on your Playa protocol. In this learning experience, we will explore deep questions such as:

*Is it a good idea to snort bath salts from the bellybutton of a stranger?

*Is getting branded on your tongue something you are likely to regret later?

*Are Sparkle Ponies worth taming?

*Is the Burning Man camp a new form of social organism?

*Can hipster cache be bought with a credit card?

All these questions and more will be addressed in this unique one-time only webinar. Please bring your own “burning” questions to this interactive forum.

Join Daniel Pinchbeck, executive director of Evolver, along with Jill Ettinger and Baza Novic, Evolver LA honchos, with special guests, on a journey into the practice and philosophy of Burning Man, the festival’s dust-blown past and unclear future. We will discuss the evolution of the festival, its ever-growing cultural impact, this year’s ticket fiasco, and much more. Also, how do you integrate Burning Man into your daily life?

He has been a frequent stage speaker at Burning Man. We’ve talked about him a few times before:

The Greatest Cultural Movement of Our Time

Pinchbeck: “Why I’m Not Going To Burning Man This Year”

Sesame Street Cred

Webinar with Daniel Pinchbeck: Evolver Field Guide to BM 2012

Ayawhats Up?

In particular I recalled seeing him on stage at LIB explaining:

the reason women make noise during sex, is to attract the other males in the tribe to come and have sex with them, too – thus increasing their chance of being inseminated

Back in those days, like 2011-12, this neo-anthropological, polyamory and group sex positive view of the world seemed highly compatible with Burner culture. I would go so far as to say that it WAS the culture, based on almost all of the veteran Burners I know (let’s just close our eyes to all the kids and black magic which are also such a big part of the event).

Well, times have changed. 2012 is long, long behind us. Trump is President, Republicans run the country, the economy is booming, NFL is dying, the Clintons colluded with Russia for money, Weinstein is a rapist, and it looks like Pedowood is going down.

HUNDREDS of victims have already come forward. Thanks to effective and authentic hash tag campaigns like #rosearmy and #metoo, the dam is breaking and we are hearing reports of sexual abusers in advertising, Silicon Valley, WikiLeaks critics, and now one of the leading charismatic characters of Burning Man counter-culture has been dragged into #metoo.

The New York Post said Writer Blames Predatory Ways On Women

Pinchbeck took to Facebook with a confessional, justifying his abuse as being a victim of abuse. We have to break the cycle people, and that is why #pedowood must be exposed.

In the past, I have been sexually fixated, creepy, predatory. I acted in ways that were hurtful and upsetting to women. I feel very guilty about my past behavior. I want to make amends. I feel the way I can best do that is to speak honestly about what I did, and why I believe I did it. To do this I also have to explore my personal history.

To be clear about lines I never crossed: I never had nonconsensual sex, sex with a minor, sex with someone unconscious, or lied about my intentions to get someone into bed. What I have done are many unaware and disrespectful behaviors, specifically: Pushing for sex without listening to why she was hesitant; seeking sexual contact with volunteers in an organization that I helped to start; the use of substances as tools of seduction; being incredibly insensitive and tone-deaf to women’s wants and needs; making unwanted advances; focusing on much younger women

[Source]

He has never had non-consensual sex, but he HAS pushed for someone to have sex and didn’t listen to her saying no and HAS used substances as tools of seduction. Dude, this is some Bill Cosby shit. Drugging them is not consent.

daniel and taoThere has been a push within the Burner community for some time to get an 11th Principle added, that of Consent. It is really just so important to the preservation and survival of Burner culture. If we want to all feel free at home, there needs to be mutual respect by everyone.

Pinchbeck at least had the decency and guts to write a lengthy apology, more than some of the other celebrities named so far.

Daniel is certainly not the only person within the Burner scene who has ever acted like this.

IS THERE A BURNING MAN #METOO?

Or is Burning Man the place for all of the Weinsteins of the world to go to once they check out of rehab, Radical Inclusion meaning we welcome them whatever their sins?

 

Daniel’s mom, Joyce Glassman, was a central member of the New York beat scene when this free-love, sex & drugs counter-culture was just starting to break through from the elites to the masses. It didn’t make her happy. Pinchbeck first blames his wacky childhood…

The roots of it go back to my early childhood. I was traumatized when I was very young. The main things were: My grandmother and great aunts used to give me frequent enemas, which I believe I internalized as a form of sexual abuse. This left me with trauma and I would say a bit of OCD. I was never breastfed and believe that left me feeling lacking and desperately craving some essential connection to women. I feel my childhood was tinged with this sense of lack, even despair.

I became dangerously sick as a child with a spinal infection…The illness slowed down my psycho-sexual development and made me feel fragile and exiled from the world. It is because I experienced this core separation from the world and the body that I developed a particular kind of intellect that is able to think through areas that are uncomfortable for most people. It was how I learned to protect myself while I was in the hospital and afterwards. It also led me to mental rationalizations, idealizations, and justifications as a tendency.

My mother was a Feminist author and book editor. We lived together. She was alone, without a partner, and often depressed. I internalized a lot of her pain and frustration with men. I didn’t want to be another hurtful man – but I also lacked positive male role models.

…and then celebrity and the drugs he once promoted:

I had a taste of what it must be like to be rock star or a successful DJ – to a certain extent, it was the opportunity I had been yearning for. I had many beautiful and consensual experiences that I still treasure. What had been once so difficult to “attain” became normal.

When my second book on prophecy became a bestseller, I was suddenly a modest celebrity. I also put a huge amount of my energy into launching a company, Evolver.net, which drained me. I lost focus on my own creative work, which added to my frustration and resentment. In that several year cauldron of becoming famous, starting Evolver, feeling hopeless and futile in a prophetic mission that seemed utterly beyond me, my Shadow material got activated – and the area of its expression was my sexuality. I believed that I was propagating the same free love ideology that Allen Ginsberg, one of my heroes, had promoted. This included breaking through the boundaries around erotic expression. I now see I was ignoring issues of power dynamics as well as my own complexes.

One negative element, for me – I now understand – was the ongoing use of some of the mind-expanding chemicals I wrote about in my first book. Because I was compared to Leary and McKenna, people assumed I was a maestro of mind expansion – and I assumed it as well. In actual fact, I now see that the continued use of certain chemicals had a negative impact on my personality over time. They made me more impulsive and self-centered

[Source]

Do what thou wilt.

How many thousands, if not millions of people were lured to use these substances based on Pinchbeck’s promotion of them – and the media’s promotion of him? It is the same thing for Leary, McKenna, Ginsberg, Burroughs – the lot of them. All people closely connected to the Deep State, but being sold to us through the media as counter-culutral icons, role models for rebellion against The Man. Telling us to get out of our minds on drugs, because this will somehow make us smarter and better. How many relationships and lives have been ruined, not just by chemicals, but by the entire Crowleyan counter-culture that has been peddled by this Shadow World crew over the last 50 years?

Pinchbeck somehow manages to work President Trump into his tale of regret.

“I remember one friend – the son of a famous NY art gallerist who kept giving me heroin – giving me the same advice as Trump: If I wanted more success with women, I should just grab them between the legs,” he said. “The basic model of sexuality in that scene was aggressive, dominance based, and involved transgression of boundaries as a norm … This was the model of how things worked in the world where I found myself coming of age as a man – how I was conditioned. Looking back, it was incredibly primitive.”

Perhaps coincidence, perhaps connected, but famous New York art gallerist Vito Schnabel was arrested at Burning Man this year for distributing drugs. He is the son of even-more-famous New York artist Julian Schnabel

Pinchbeck wrote a post in 2013 defending himself from accusations by a former friend that he was a serial rapist. There is a broader story here about sex, consent, and psychedelics.

Screenshot 2017-10-25 13.19.23

What can Burners do about #metoo?

Add an 11th Principle: CONSENT. We can make it first out of the 11.

How else are we going to educate the 40% virgins coming every year?

We’ll let Mr Pinchbeck have the last word:

I feel terrible that I could have avoided causing hurt to women if I had just been more aware and had some protocols and principles around sexual conduct – training in how to articulate desires and define boundaries