A guest post by Dag Walker
“When Reason sleeps, there be monsters.”
Franciso Goya (1797-99)
The round-faced and still pretty for some years to come 20ish German girl said, “Why would I want to take ayahuasca? It changes you; and I like my life as it is.”
Many ayahuasca users I have met are covered with tattoos, and often as well they wear costumes designed to display some juvenile rejection of middle class conformity to the rational norms: baggy pantaloons, neon embroidery shirts of psychedelic designs, and rat-dos that must weigh almost as much as I do. This type of ayahuasca user also rejects reason by using a counter-language of what most would consider to be something like childish babble: blocked chakras, sacred Mother Ayahuasca, healing ceremonies, and so on. These people do not reveal monsters, they reveal fairies and elves of infantile minds. They appear to be very determined to change their lives. But I do not assume they don’t like their lives as they are. I assume they like their lives just fine and want more of the same only moreso, which leads them to take hallucinogens like ayahuasca. That’s what possessed me to take ayahuasca. I try to pursue the extraordinary in this life. Of course it would change me. That’s what I like about this life of mine, discovering the incredible strangeness of it all as it creeps this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time….
I travel around the world. I take ayahuasca. I’m usually open to trying strange things. I went to Disneyland a long while ago.
Some people complain that Disneyland is all hype, and that at the heart of it it’s just about some rich white guys making even more money. Disneyland, they argue, isn’t real. It’s not authentic. Disneyland is to them just a lot of marketing nonsense covering up a small core of enlightenment. Whoa, not as I recall it. Disneyland is where my buddy’s cousin had a job, and it was there, at the age of 14, that Goofy turned me on to my first hit of acid.
I’ve been to Las Vegas many times, too, once with a girl trying to kick her heroin habit, we going to a casino for dinner and she rapt at first sight of the inside slot machines, not moving from the spot till she was accidentally shoved and then nearly killed the guy with the hunting knife she kept stashed in her pants. Other than these things, she was sort of OK.
I checked out The Temple of the Golden Dawn’s 30 page professionally written p.r. package, the first 10 pages extolling the beauties of Mother Ayahuasca healing ceremonies and the highly trained ayahuascara serving girls in constant attendance, and then the following 20 pages of legal disclaimers the guest would agree to upon signing and sending in the cheque. Disneyland and Las Vegas all in one at the Amazon Basin. In all cases, very expensive thrills, and all socially acceptable.
I’ve done expensive and acceptable. As well, I shot craps with alcoholic Negroes in Harlem once, which is sort of like Vegas without the big boobs glamor girls in sequined g-strings serving multi-coloured cocktails; and so, having done Vegas I decided to skip the glitzy ayahuasca lodge in favour of a low ayahuasca death bogan in Slumsville, Iquitos. I don’t need disco balls and clown costumes to go with my enlightenment. I like mine straight.
I know that people go to Vegas to “get away from the pressures of work” and to gamble, screw prostitutes, get drunk in public, and take cocaine. From what people tell me about taking ayahuasca, they come to Iquitos because they are deeply traumatised by middle class Modernity and need the healing ceremonies of Mother Ayahuasca to heal their boo hoo. One can now purchase LSD pretty much anywhere, so I honestly do not know why anyone would go to Disneyland.
I understand that most people are conformists and that today in the West most people conform, whether they think it through or not, to the dominant voice of the zeitgeist, Oprah Winfrey. And when all your friends are waiting, how selfish it is for you if you’re not overwhelmingly traumatised when it’s your turn for all your friends to “be there for you.” What will everyone do if they don’t have a chance to feel your pain? Go for it: be so traumatised that you have to fly to Peru to be healed by Mother Ayahuasca. That is far cooler than a week in Vegas, and totally cool compared to taking the kids to Disneyland, even if Junior gets whacked on LSD thanks to that fucking Goofy. Ayahuasca isn’t a drug: it’s a medicine. It’s true, I read it in the p.r handout from The Temple of the Golden Dawn. Deal with it, special hurt person. Confront your daemons and heal your boo hoo.
It’s easy for me to mock people I don’t know and don’t care to understand. I’m not so vain that I think it means anything much that I feel so poorly toward them. Drug tourists bring a great deal of money to Iquitos, and that is a benefit to all people here, as well as the added benefit of the access to social capital they bring in terms of allowing for jobs that give experience in the Modern world to people who might some day move on to more valuable occupations, having learned the basics in the drug tourism industry. Business, even the drug tourism business, allows people to learn skills and values to rise in the economic reality of a better world, even if for many it leads Oprah rejects to the hopefuls line-up at the Jerry Springer show. Or to ayahuasca lodges to heal that twagic boo hoo.
I’m not making any friends in the ayahuasca lodge industry by thinking like this. I am a prick. I am also a fascist. Now we know.
I am not only a prick and a fascist, I am stupid and evil. I’ve known this for ages, but I had it all explained to me again recently when a 23 year old Austrian girl with a French accent that sounded like a parody of Quebecois, a girl covered top to toe in flowers and Samurai swordsmen tattoos told me all about myself. I am stupid because after all these years of living I don’t know that I should be a vegan. I am evil because I don’t love Mother Ayahuasca. I didn’t follow the dieta. I am surprised that the great healing Mother Ayahuasca was defeated by a glass of one percent milk and a tuna sandwich with mayo. This makes me a fascist. I am naturally a prick no matter what else I think or do. Life is for learning.
My life is for learning, I think, and thus I go again to take ayahuasca for the third time at Low Town.
The second time I took ayahuasca I drained my cup and then drank what was left in the bottom of the bottle when all the others had had theirs. I sat down and waited, having bought my ticket for the express train to the state of Altered Consciousness. I waited. And waited.
I laid down and flipped through an illustrated catalogue of “Modern Projectile Wounds from BB Guns to .50 Calibre Machine Guns.” That was not what I was assuming from ayahuasca. I walked along the dirt road to the troop truck and looked down at about a hundred infantry POWs lined five rows deep up the berm to the barbed wire fence that enclosed the old farm field, and there I saw among the dull-eyed and slack-jawed one man whose eyes were bulging, his lips stretched so tight I thought they might split up the middle, his fists clenched, his body leaned forward as if ready to run like a rabbit at the sound of “Go.” Then the machine gun mounted on the truck opened up and men fell like men falling, torn to shreds like beets and olive drab, jerking as the machine gun swept over the fallen bodies again and again till there was little left but a sheet of human sludge staining the grass below. ‘This is ayahausca?’ I asked myself. But no, it is merely that usual state of Dag between waking and sleep.
At some point in the evening, many hours in, I puked up a tablespoon of bile. I laid awake and listened to John and the curandero laughing as they sat outside smoking cigarettes watching cartoons on John’s ipod. They sat together in a state of rapture as the cartoon characters bowled each other over and shouted. I watched them from the darkness as they sat leaning close to the screen, sitting side by side, laughing and swinging their feet like children.
“Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.”
Goya, “Caprichio No. 43.”
Having failed twice to find a path to ayauasca I determined to return a third time, this time to gulp down two cups. The curandero said it’s too much, but I insisted until he relented. What happened then will be the next installment of my adventures in Iquitos drinking ayahuasca.
Iquitos Peru, Ayahuasca, What Happened To Me, Part Three
A guest post by Dag Walker
This piece is an excerpt from my up-coming book, “Iquitos, Peru: Almost Close,” a popular account of Iquitos, its history and people.
You will want to read;
A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:
If you would like to read more about Iquitos Peru, click this link to my blog, No Dhimmitude;
Hi Bill Grimes here. As always, the views expressed by guest authors are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, or the Captain’s Blog.
While we stay tuned for Ayahuasca Part Four, I recommend these articles by Dag Walker posted here in the Captain’s Blog;