Changing your mind

Over the weekend, I finished Michael Pollan’s new book: How to change your mind. Given his popularity and the thirst of the elite to 1) better themselves either from a personal development or performance enhancement way 2) heal themselves of anxiety / depression, I am expecting that psychedelics will be fully legalised in some states within the US at least for medical treatment within the next few years. There’s already significant anecdotal evidence that micro-dosing is rising especially within the tech sector.

Australia will take some time to follow given that any movement on cannabis de-criminalisation seems to have gone backward, I doubt that there’ll be much movement on psychedelics.

The primary interesting bit of information I got from the book was that meditation seems to have a similar (if lesser) effect as the guided therapeutic use of psychedelics. Towards the end of the book, Michael Pollan’s comparison with Buddhist practices and philosophies increase. I especially found the descriptions of the default mode network‘s functions to be useful. I’d not heard about it before but it fits very well with my own experiences as a meditator and it makes sense.

The second bit that I found interesting was that every guided meditation psychedelic journey the author experienced had music. Given how important music is to me and how critical I can be, I can’t imagine ever wanting someone else to dictate my play-list at the best of times – much less when I am under the influence.



Sculpting with black clay

Our backyard on the banks of the Merri Creek has a heavy fine black clay that makes for difficult gardening but great sculpting. Extracting the clay itself isn’t just a matter of digging it out of the ground. Even though the soil appears to be almost all clay – there’s still plenty of organic material, sand and pebbles that needs to be removed. After a bit of experimentation, it turns out to be a three step process – soaking, filtering and then drying.

The final clay is black and very malleable. It’s a pleasure to work with and I’ve made a couple of pieces so far – a small bowl and a tiny figurine. I’m pretty happy with them especially when burnishing the surface brings out a nice shine. I’ve been air-drying the pieces. With a bit of care, drying hasn’t resulted in any cracks.

One of the other main pleasures is the deep but simple satisfaction that comes from knowing that I made everything from scratch and from the backyard.

Aging rapidly

For a long time it seemed that I wasnt changing physically.

In the last year however since I hit my late forties, that changed starting with my eyesight. I can no longer read with my glasses on. I am short sighted and my optometrist said that while i would not need reading glasses, my eyes would no longer be able to cope with the corrective lenses. Just as well I never went down the contact lens path.

My hair has also decided to get whiter and whiter. It seems that I’m noticing more white every day. Being a guy, I can sorta pretend it makes me look more distinguished and wise but it’s still an adjustment.

More worryingly, I’ve noticed that my knees and occasionally other joints are playing up. Could this be arthritis?

It’s all starting to go and of course I should take it as a sign to increase my exercise – specifically weights and yoga.

Arting at Confest

After two years away, I’ve been greatly looking forward to this Easter Confest. This was the first outdoor alternative festival I’ve ever been to and at this stage seems to be the one with the most longevity not only for myself but also for most Australians (having started in 1976).

I can’t quite remember which year I went to Confest first – it was probably a new year’s confest at either side of 1996/97. I didn’t have a good time – I didn’t know anyone, hardly spoke to a single person the whole time and was pretty much freaked out by the whole experience.

Looking back over blog entries, the first one that mentions Confest was from May 2005 and from the language it seems that I would have been to at least two if not three by then – enough at least to have fallen in love with it. So it’s likely that I returned to Confest between 2002/2003 – it was certainly before I started going to Rainbow Serpent.

This year, a friend had come early and found us a great site by the river and we’d blocked out a huge amount of space. Besides the occasional bike around the festival, I spent much of my time there making increasingly larger sculptures out of river mud. It became a bit of a thing and other people joined in creating small sculptures that we lined up on a fallen tree. I also built a two and a half meter tall wooden shrine.

I’m planning now with a few others to start a sculpture art and lights village next year where we build wooden and mud sculptures over the days, hoist some of them up into the trees and light most of them for the night. Confest itself looks like it is heading into that direction – there seemed to be more spontaneous art  that there had been before.



Annihilation, the movie

The Southern Reach trilogy moved me so much that i even wrote a short blog about it three years ago. I’ve been looking forward to the movie as well but unfortunately my expectations were not met.

While the movie did successfully evoke the beauty and strangeness of the landscape within Area X, it didnt get anywhere close enough to the terrors within it and the team. The tower/tunnel, the implanted hypnotic suggestions were all missing replaced instead by pointless flashbacks to the biologist’s relationship with her husband.

Worse still was the ending which completely deviated from the books. The confrontation with an alien, the victory and then the final oh but actually the monster is still alive “revelation” felt cheap.

It’s a pity that Netflix didnt step in earlier to actually produce this movie  – maybe it would have resulted in something that might have looked less beautiful but had more substance.