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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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The psychedelic underground was populated with a great many such vivid characters, I soon discovered, but not necessarily the kinds of characters to whom I felt I could entrust my mind—or for that matter any part of me. Immediately after my session with Andrei, I had a meeting with a second prospective guide, a brilliant psychologist in his eighties who had been a student of Timothy Leary’s at Harvard. His knowledge of psychedelics was deep; his credentials impressive; he had been highly recommended by people I respected. Yet when over lunch at a Tibetan restaurant near his office he removed his bolo tie and suspended it over the menu, I began to lose confidence that this was my man. He explained that he relied on the energies released by the pendulum swing of the silver clasp to choose the entrée most likely to agree with his temperamental digestion. I forget what his tie ordered for lunch, but even before he began dilating on the evidence that 9/11 was an inside job, I knew my search for a guide was not over quite yet.

• • • ONE NOTABLE DIFFERENCE about doing psychedelics at sixty, as opposed to when you’re eighteen or twenty, is that at sixty you’re more likely to have a cardiologist you might want to consult in advance of your trip. That was me. A year before I had decided to embark on this adventure, my heart, the reliable operations of which I had taken completely for granted to that point, had suddenly made its presence felt and, for the first time in my life, demanded my attention. While sitting at my computer one afternoon, I was suddenly made aware of a pronounced and crazily syncopated new rhythm in my chest.

“Atrial fibrillation” was the name the doctor gave the abnormal squiggles that appeared on my EKG. The danger of AFib is not a heart attack, he said to my (short-lived) relief, but a heightened risk of stroke. “My cardiologist”—the unfortunate phrase had suddenly joined my vocabulary, probably for the duration—put me on a couple of meds to calm the heart rhythms and lower the blood pressure, plus a daily baby aspirin to thin my blood. And then he told me not to worry about it.

I followed all of his advice except the last bit. Now I couldn’t help but think about my heart constantly. All of its operations that had previously taken place completely outside my conscious awareness suddenly became salient: something I could hear and feel whenever I thought to check in, which now was incessantly. Months later, the AFib had not recurred, but my surveillance of my poor heart had gotten out of control. I checked my blood pressure daily and listened for signs of ventricular eccentricity every time I got into bed. It took months of not having a stroke before I could once again trust my heart to go about its business without my supervision. Gradually, thankfully, it retreated once again to the background of my attention.

I tell you all this by way of explaining why I felt I should talk to my cardiologist before embarking on a psychedelic journey. My cardiologist was my age, so not likely to be shocked by the word “psilocybin” or “LSD” or “MDMA.” I told him what I had in mind and asked if any of the drugs in question were contraindicated, given my coronary issues, or if there was any risk of an interaction with the meds he had prescribed. He was not overly concerned about the psychedelics—most of them concentrate their effects in the mind with remarkably little impact on the cardiovascular system—but one of the drugs I mentioned he advised I avoid. This was MDMA, also known as Ecstasy or Molly, which has been on schedule 1 since the mid-1980s, when it emerged as a popular rave drug.

The drug 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine is not a classical psychedelic (it works on different brain receptors and doesn’t have strong visual effects), yet several of the guides I was interviewing had told me it was part of their regimen. Sometimes called an empathogen, MDMA lowers psychological defenses and helps to swiftly build a bond between patient and therapist. (Leo Zeff was one of the first therapists to use MDMA in the 1970s, after the compound was popularized by his friend the legendary Bay Area chemist Sasha Shulgin and his wife, the therapist Ann Shulgin.) Guides told me MDMA was a good way to “break the ice” and establish trust before the psychedelic journey. (One said, “It condenses years of psychotherapy into an afternoon.”) But as its scientific name indicates, MDMA is an amphetamine, and so, chemically, it implicates the heart in a way psychedelics don’t. I was disappointed my cardiologist had taken MDMA off the table but pleased that he had more or less given me a green light on the rest of my travel plans.

Trip One: LSD At least on paper, nothing about the first guide I chose to work with sounds auspicious. The man lived and worked so far off the grid, in the mountains of the American West, that he had no phone service, generated his own electricity, pumped his own water, grew his own food, and had only the spottiest satellite Internet. I could just forget about the whole idea of being anywhere in range of a hospital emergency room. Then there was the fact that while I was a Jew from a family that had once been reluctant to buy a German car, this fellow was the son of a Nazi—a German in his midsixties whose father had served in the SS during World War II. After I had heard so much about the importance of both set and setting, none of these details augured especially well.

Yet I liked Fritz from the moment he came out to greet me, offering a broad grin and a warm hug (I was getting used to these) when I pulled my rental into his remote camp. This consisted of a tidy village of structures—a handmade house and a couple of smaller cabins, an octagonal yurt, and two gaily painted outhouses set out in a clearing on the crest of a heavily wooded mountain. Following the hand-drawn map Fritz had sent me (the area was terra incognita for GPS), I drove for miles on a dusty dirt road that passed through the blasted landscape of an abandoned mine before rising into a dark forest of cypress and ponderosa pine, with a dense understory of manzanitas, their smooth bark the color of fresh blood. I had come to the middle of nowhere.

Fritz was a tangle of contradiction and yet manifestly a warm and seemingly happy man. At sixty-five, he resembled a European movie actor gone slightly to seed, with thick gray hair parted in the middle and a blocky, muscular frame just beginning to yield. Fritz grew up in Bavaria, the son of a raging alcoholic who had served in the SS as a bodyguard for the cultural attaché responsible for producing operas and other entertainments for the troops—the Nazis’ USO. Later, his father fought on the Russian front and survived Stalingrad but came home from the war shell-shocked. Fritz grew up in the dense shade of his misery, sharing the shame and anger of so many in his postwar generation.

“When the military came for me [to serve his period of conscription],” he said, as we sat at his kitchen table sipping tea on a sunny spring afternoon, “I told them to fuck themselves and they threw me into prison.” Forced eventually to serve in the army, Fritz was court-martialed twice—once for setting his uniform on fire. He spent time in solitary confinement reading Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and plotting revolution with the Maoist in the next cell, with whom he communicated through the prison plumbing. “My proudest moment was the time I gave all the guards Orange Sunshine that I had gotten from a friend in California.”

At university, he studied psychology and took a lot of LSD, which he obtained from the American troops stationed in Germany. “Compared to LSD, Freud was a joke. For him biography was everything. He had no use for mystical experience.” Fritz moved on to Jung and Wilhelm Reich, “my hero.” Along the way, he discovered that LSD was a powerful tool for exploring the depths of his own psyche, allowing him to reexperience and then let go of the anger and depression that hobbled him as a young man. “There was more light in my life after that. Something shifted.”

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