Acid, Sensory Deprivation, and Atavistic Resurgence.
alder-knight replied to your post: VVF and I are going to watch ‘Altered States’ this…
I just googled that and it sounds wild. o_o
Okay. So, for those of you who have been watching Stranger Things and gotten to around episode 6 or 7 will have noticed the sensory deprivation tank playing a key role in certain events.
While the show weaves in narrative elements from many movies and novels that came out (or were set in) in the 1980s, this one is a nod to Altered States which came out in 1980.
Altered States, in turn, is a fictionalized re-telling of two books by an actual scientist: John C. Lilly.
Back in the late 1950s, Lilly was one of the first wave of scientists to begin experimenting with LSD-25, the hallucinogen. He decided that he’d take doses of the drug, and then float and hallucinate in a sensory deprivation tank (which he also helped develop) to explore the nature of consciousness.
At a certain point, he became convinced that you could ‘re-program’ the human mind with the technique, similar to re-programming lines of code on a computer. His thoughts on the matter are presented in two books:
- Programming and Meta-Programming the Human Biocomputer: It starts off novel enough to hook you, as Lilly presents his thoughts on consciousness and details his experiments in the tank. And then it becomes progressively stranger, as Lilly begins encountering what might be called ‘Archetypes’ or what he later says could be thought of as ‘Gods.’ He finds saying such things disquieting, given his background in the scientific community, but presents them as part of his experimental ‘results.’
- The Centre of the Cyclone: Lilly writes the latter in a more narrative tone, exploring his experiences with an inclination towards storytelling. It’s easier to read than the previous, and was particularly inspiring to me because a large part of his acid-laced quest is to cure himself of his frequent migraines. He even experiences what might be called ‘Atavistic Resurgence’ by Austin Spare, encountering female apes in visions (and later, if I recall correctly, male apes as well). His eventual solution to the migraine problem was ketamine; which was, I think, the wrong solution.
Anyway, these two books got turned into a horror movie in the same fashion that Wade Davis’ The Serpent and the Rainbows was translated into a Wes Craven film. (Which, unlike the book, is terrible.) And boy, is that film amazing. A scientist is spurred by primordial visions given by (what is probably supposed to be Yage) a drug into Atavistic Resurgence, shape-shifting, and a lot of High Weird shit:
I don’t know if it’s a good film. But it is an entertaining one.