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Regulating Altered States

Larry Victor
03:20 AM AZ (US)
Re the total views and unique viewers - there is a note somewhere in the QT instructions that these counts are not valid unless everyone is registered, otherwise the same person can be recorded as unique each time they enter.

As I comment in your "Simplicity is ....." topic, I get the yellow edit button on MSIE but NOT on my CompuServe browser!
11:35 AM AZ (US)
Hello Larry and Michael,
just got on to peruse the disc. so far and wanted to leave a sign of my passing. Quite a 'heady' disc. (pun intended) @ altering altered states. Offhand I am interested in the idea of entering into a dialogue with others in a similarly altered state, meditative, for instance. Perhaps we could try it briefly,as an experiment.
I will come back again later.
Hammers, screwdrivers...I think the dime and the knife work just fine. A man in AZ who taught self-reliance skills (for wilderness living as well as urban)says "The more you know, the less you carry". I must be a fool because I'm known as 'bag lady' for the bags within bags of things I like to have. On the other hand, my friends who kid me benefit from the luxury and practicality of my 'tools'and from the fact that I* carry them.
Happy Friday-Weekend,
12:24 AM AZ (US)
It's too late to start this.

I noticed some orange text in the upper left hand corner (it's gone as I write this) that said 15 views and 8 unique viewers. Does that mean there are 8 different cybersouls that have accessed this page? How could this be done, unless they were sent the url?

The edit text appears in the top right corner after the message is submitted (it isn't there now). I don't know if it allows the writer to go back and edit prior messages - I shall try.

If the message accepts HTML tags, one should be able to cut and paste entire html pages - anything you could create in Dreamweaver. Including embedded sound and animation.

"If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the mornin'...."

All for now.

This is an edit. Have you checked out the "buzz" about QuickTopic? Sounds like the Golden Fleece. http://www.quicktopic.com/buzz.html.

Actually, it doesn't allow setting up hot links - I couldn't attach the url to the word "buzz". Outlook allows this.

This is edit number 2 - How to edit: You can edit or delete your last posted message until another message is posted to this topic, by selecting the appropriate link.

The yellow area to the right of the message is displayed only to you, the poster of the message.
Edited 03-09-2001 12:28 AM
Larry Victor
12:33 PM AZ (US)
Again, Michael, I fully agree with you that it often is a waste to search for the ideal hammer from a set of available hammers -- IF any hammer could do the job. This is my approach to word processing - I don't need WORD if all I want is rough text.

I find screwdrivers a real problem - size and fitting DO make a difference - although I sometimes can use a dime or knifeblade.

I raise the issue of tool development because the things I want to do (and which I feel are requisite if a viable human society is to emerge) cannot be done with available tools. To convince other of this I must first share some details about the new functions I would like new tools to have so we might accomplish new types of tasks. Here I get into a Catch-22, in that it is not only difficult to share my new proposed objectives with existing tools, the very fact that the needed tools are not available often leads others to block imagination about things that might be done with tools that don't yet exist.

Eric Drexler - early popularizer of Nanotechnology and founder of The Foresight Institute labels his activity EXPLORATORY TECHNOLOGY, where scientifc knowledge hints of things to do but the contemporary technology hasn't the tools yet for the doing.

Let me cite a small example, I would like to freely compose in a space with hightly editable text processor AND be able to use a pen to draw in the same space. There are pieces around that permit me to approximate this. The new system XML that will replace HTML permits this (but the applications have yet to be composed) AND permits ALL forms of presentation be in ONE file and all searchable by the same basic system. I just learned of this from the article by Jon Udell found within QuickTopic. Jon cites things that scientific collaborators need as tools which are just now beginning to emerge - such as being able to integrate math and text expressions seamlessly on one page.

I have wanted an online outliner for a decade. GROOVE has a very primative one.

But Michael, the SYSTEM of tools that I need go beyond the ability to perform specific operations (this word processor lacks a spell checker), and I have discovered that I cannot successfully share these meta processes via simple message exchange - as what must be experienced and recognized is not coded in the text (or graphics) but in the sequences of processes the perceiver uses (and learns to use). This is a process of "learning through activity" (a scale up from "learning by doing".

I am very surprized and pleased by the functions available with QuickTopic - and for processes where QuickTopic is effective I would probably chose it over XML system that are in development.

Where did you find how to edit your doc? I looked for that function and didn't find it.
11:35 PM AZ (US)
Carrying the tool analogy further - there are at least 100 different kinds of hammers. The time spent selecting the best hammer is time taken away from pounding nails. Granted that the right hammer can make the job easier, it becomes a trade off between the search and the execution. There are power hammers that require time to learn how to use safely.

(I'm trying out the edit feature. Does it allow me to insert comments? Yes it does, but I can't edit your messages.)

For ease of use, how can you beat Quick Topic discussion space? It even accepts html tags and hot links. The purpose is to share ideas - I don't believe that tools improve them. If it isn't simple, it's a distraction. I say pick something, and go with it. The art is in the simplicity. Larry, I'm beginning to think the perfect tool for communication is your Golden Fleece. IMHO.
Edited 03-07-2001 11:39 PM
Larry Victor
02:21 AM AZ (US)
I don't want to fill this dialog space up with all my items, so I will respond to another part of Michael's latest, and then hold back.

Michael: "The carpenter who is captivated with his tools doesn't finish the house he's working on. He may not even start because he searching for the perfect hammer. The master carpenter doesn't notice his tools, any more than he notices his hand."

This is VERY true, if the art of carpentry is mature and the tools are fully adequate to do the job. But the situation I/We are in is quite different. We lack the proper tools, so we have to be especially creative with the ways we use the tools we do have - at the same time working on the development and invention of new tools, learning how to use them, to master them, and then to improve upon them. However, our goal becomes clearer as we approach it, and the system of tools and techniques we will need change as we gain greater foresight (sometimes through speculation).

There is a seduction for many in tool-making; and I have experienced it myself. A balance is needed between using best the tools we have and developing better tools. What is important are the human techniques learned for proper tool use - and the system of techniques can often be far more complex than the tools themselves. Indeed, systems of techniques and protocols often substitute functionally for what will later be handled by tools.
Larry Victor
02:11 AM AZ (US)
There is much meat in Michael's item. I will respond to it bit by bit:

"Who can make sense out of a group of potheads following their train of thought?" ... "Think of plowing through thousands of oysters to find the pearl. I might be surprised."

Two points:

1) I usually know when a new idea is important. Those who do could easily signal the recording system to those rare nuggets could be filtered from the background. But, I am not talking about recording people on recreational highs. I am talking about trying to be "productive" in different states where we may have a different profile of competency.

2) I would also expect that we would be able to be trained to have more "direction" in some states where attention is weak - or we could chose an enviroment that would help us keep our focus. Or, an enviroment that would periodically break focus, if focused work was our primary task, but we tended to lockinto it.

As a practical matter, I would like to be able to post composition in altered states, raw, so those who might be interested in my flow of thought could access it, should they chose. AND, without worrying about others chancing upon it and acting inappropriately. I would like to go back to the recorded text of session, with teams to attempt to unpack themes and renew dialog on them. There are millions of paused themes in the records of discourse.

As another practical matter, I would like to both design an augmenting space for doing what I want to do, and to train myself to new competencies in new states.
12:03 AM AZ (US)
NUET (Larry, is this your "altered" ego?),

I'm not sure codes are necessary - the tone and content of communication usually reflect a person's state of mind. It would also be difficult to use a coding system to describe "how far out they were" (glasses of wine, number of hits, micrograms of LSD, etc.?)

It sounds like Larry is proposing to create a space where a designated recorder captures the nuggets that are uncovered during dialogues between "altered" minds. Perhaps this recorder would also scatter seeds, which may develop into pearls. I seem to recall being "guided" through an LSD trip, and didn't care for the experience. Who can make sense out of a group of potheads following their train of thought? Interesting, but unintelligable, unless I'm also stoned. I haven't found expounding with the legally intoxicated to be very beneficial, for either.

Have you considered putting a personal tape recorder on a group of people after they smoked. Think of plowing through thousands of oysters to find the pearl. I might be surprised. Listening to each person out of context might increase comprehension. For me, trying to put what they say into context is often befuddling.

I don't trust words. They are downers, approximations and belittlers of experience. Communication is a means to an end, not the end itself. Words are used to narrow things, to decompose life. I must define my terms.

Unless I was a poet, but then it's not words, but images. There are powerful words, but these are the ones that confound the brain, like a Zen koan. Poetry bypasses the brain, becuase it wasn't created there.

The carpenter who is captivated with his tools doesn't finish the house he's working on. He may not even start because he searching for the perfect hammer. The master carpenter doesn't notice his tools, any more than he notices his hand.

I think it was the Buddha that said "speculation is flunked" (or was that Valentine Michael Smith saying "self examination is flunked"?) I might say it's "choking the bishop". Speculation replaces action. I'd like to do a visual of that. I will. No speculation. Speculation is the longest distance between here and there. Speculation is habit forming, one can become addicted to it. You wonder where this is going? My untried forty day program to break habits. Especially thinking habits. Which pretty much includes all of them. Dissolve (maybe transmute) my habits with boredom; stalk them from their beginning and their end. I am certainly psyching myself up for the fast.

Enough pontificating (there's a mouthful). I will send this off to cyberspace, to mingle with the all the other bits (of cyberbabble). I must retire.

Larry Victor
11:13 AM AZ (US)
Maybe we should stop referring to "altered" states, which implies a "norm" which is "altered" - to the concept that each person has a reperatoire of states.

Not all of the states need amplify "freedom" or "creativity", some could enable strong focus on specific tasks.

The energy states created by sports teams in their huddle and strong exclamations prepares them for coming action -- is an example that comes to mind.

When I need to shift domains of activity I would like a ritual that would facilitate shifting "states".
01:08 AM AZ (US)
Might a team invent codes to indicate their mental states, to accompany their ID when sending messages?

At least it would cue readers as what to expect.
01:05 AM AZ (US)
Michael, I chose this topic as a practical query, although it could expand into a more general discussion of states of consciousness.

It is true that it is difficult to relate to another if you aren't in a similar state (e.g. "stoned")? This has generally been the case, but I wonder what it would be like for people in states conducive to observation, recording and guidance relate to others who are in a looser creative state?

John Lilly did this when he explored his own mind, and I expect that Tim Leary did some of the time. Charles Tart in an old SCIENCE article proposed "State Specific Science", where teams all under LSD would explore common phenomena - to see if the results were the same.

I bring this query up because I often compose when in altered states, but usually have been reluctant to post them online or send them as email. When I read my own work, later, I do find gems of importance in the midst of things I don't remember or realize that I never did get down what I had wanted to say. I wonder how a dialog would go with people in different states of diverse competencies.

And, we could go beyond common chemically induced states, to states where we would share a mind altering ritual, or all come together after a long period of silence and meditation - or have mixes of different cued states.
12:54 AM AZ (US)
Albert, I like the Emily Dickenson quote: "IS IT OBLIVION OR ABSORPTION WHEN THINGS PASS FROM OUR MINDS?" I often wonder where my flashes of insight go - when the sometimes stream through like a meteor. I think that most of my thoughts get fully absorbed, and deformed/distributed in the process. Recollections are re-creations.

Albert, can you please address the issue as a serious query about how a close group might set to regulate their own states of mind for dialog. How do YOU personally feel?

Let me know if you get this message via email, and the messages from the others.
10:39 PM AZ (US)
I may as well get my feet wet.

The question is
"What if your normal state is altered with respect to the social norm?"

The meaning of the question isn't clear to me (not an auspicious start for our first attempt at augmented dialogue. Perhaps I need to approach it from an altered state (from whence the question arose?)

Answers to the question could include:
1. people may shun me
2. I may attract other abnormal people
3. I may have trouble expressing myself
4. my responses to other may be inappropriate
5. I may have trouble functioning (executing simple tasks)

I believe you refer to mind altering substances (rather than states like paranoia, schitzophrenia, obsessive/ compulsive, etc.).

Alcohol is the most common mind altering substance, probably considered a social norm. I don't believe that alcohol increases creativity, on the contrary. I am also doubtful about the others. Any way to measure creativity?

I think you are correct - it's difficult to relate to someone who's stoned (alcohol, pot, speed, hallucinogenics) unless you are also stoned.

We take medications to correct imbalances in our bodies. We use recreational drugs to correct chemical imbalances in our brains. Unfortunately, there are usually side affects. Once we develop a dependency, they are no longer recreational . The altered state becomes our social norm. There are too many case studies to ignore the consequences.

I believe the key word is "moderation", as in all things. This is coming from someone who was stoned everyday for 12 years - leaving a 12 year hole.

Your last paragraph, does "regulated as to my mental state" mean straight and does "I can have my state altered" mean stoned?

Not sure where to go with this. Maybe "Is there such a concept as socially and personally responsible drug use?"

My feet are now wet.
08:59 PM AZ (US)


01:06 PM AZ (US)
Just testing the waters.
What if your normal state is altered with respect to the social norm?
12:52 PM AZ (US)
When my mental state is altered, I become more creative and have more insights (a hypothesis to be tested), but I also lose the ability to communicate clearly, and my memory is very poor. My physical coordination is also poor.

I know that my behavior, when altered, can be very frustrating for others, if they are not prepared to accept the limitations for the gains.

I am open to be regulated as to my mental state during participation in specific activities. I would also like to participate in activities where I can have my state altered.

12:45 PM AZ (US)
As our first experiment with augmented dialog, I want the topic to be clear and limited - which is quite a challenge for me, as my topics are usually complex and open-ended. The topic should be of some interested to each of us. As I write this first paragraph I still have not selected a topic, which has delayed my starting this experiment.

What do I hope will happen with augmented dialog. At first I would like simply to see frequent exchanges between everyone in our small network. Make you entries brief - with a single concept for each - so that others can respond to that concept. Activity will eventually decline and we can then analyze what happened.

I am using QuickTopic for the first time, and it is the most basic system I have discovered. I will later use CommunityZero (previously Vicinities) and explore using Groove. But let us first focus on creating an exciting dialog. QuickTopic is not a threaded system, you cannot respond directly to another response; all responses are listed sequentially under the initial topic. However, you can create a new topic and have it indexed in the previous topic.

Although QuickTopic can send the entries via email, we won't be able to see the entries of everyone, or our inbox will be too full. I would prefer that we contribute to this topic from within QuickTopic.


In "altered states" (including wine) we enhance some competencies and diminish others. In dialog we have some expectation of the competency profile of those we dialog with.

I will leave this topic open, and I will add some of my own specifics as a participant of the dialog.


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