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How to get beyond the market – Transsubjective Reality in the Salvia Divinorum Forest (Let the Crowds in)


Notes: Article presented during the first Neuro-Aesthetics conference organized at Goldsmiths University, London UK, May 2005. Drugs, Altered States of Consciousness and Cultural Production Section

This is just, it’s really a response to a lot of things that were said today, and in fact, it’s really really good that I’m right at the end of this panel, because I’m a walking example of what Diedrich [Diederichsen] was saying, and Martina [Wicklein] also, in a sense that neurotransmission and the kind of historical background. What I really want to do is propose a kind of call to arms, and it’s not a performance, it is a proposition, I am actually actively making a proposition towards a certain collectivization, not in a Stalinist sense, but perhaps an active resistance within the so-called “unconscious.”

[shows slide]

I also want to start off with by saying that I drew this thing and it said, “Collectivize the unconscious” and I realize that the unconscious is actually a really wrong term. The unconscious actually doesn’t exist. This binary opposition between the conscious and the unconscious is the thing that I’d like to fight, because it’s obviously a production of these very dominant ego systems, and they really are ego systems. It’s the dominant psychoanalytic model, which places everything into the container of the self. So, the container of the self is this head, the headspace of the self, and this headspace of the self has to be broken down. So, what I’m doing is proposing the breaking down of the container of the self, and what I would like to do is to present a trans-conscious path. I’m suggesting that we break down the barrier between the conscious and the unconscious and form a trans-conscious path. Because also, I think we have to fight this container-self mechanism, and I do call it this kind of “container principle” which is the principle of the self and the principle of commodities, and it’s a kind of functionalist principle.

So, what I’m suggesting is the “salvia divinorum” drug, is the drug of decontainment, and I’ll talk a little bit more about the chemistry of the thing. The container principle and the principle of decontainment, for me, started when I had this dream, and it was, what I call, “the dream of the black market.” And what it was, was, maybe it has to do with me being Russian and it being a dream thing, and the market, but basically it was this strange place, perhaps a kind of mountain, and up it was this market, and I enter this market and as the market evolved and kind of devolved, if you like, suddenly the sellers weren’t selling anything anymore, and a really strange head-space emerged for me, because it was at the point where production ended, and this dream was really a dream about the end of production for me; the market ended, and as the market ended, commodities ended, and fixed forms, fixed states ended. The problem is, what I believe in, is that I don’t believe I was entering the realm of the unconscious, because what we tend to call tend to call the “unconscious” is the thing that is relegated, as in the opposition to consciousness. So, what we have is the sense that the unconscious is, somehow, inferior to the conscious, and the unconscious is always formless, dark matter, which is somehow not valid in the realm of the conscious. So what I’d like to do, as I said, is form this trans-conscious path, where those thoughts, those thoughts that I think perhaps what Diedrich said about how somehow you are no longer active, you’re somehow more passive in the unconsciousness, is the opposite of what I’d like to propose. That somehow, this unconscious, this end of the market, this end of production can also be active. So, really, it’s a call for a kind of trans-subjective state, which also can be active. Now, once this trans-subjective state occurs, and it can occur with the smoking of salvia divinorum, it does produce this very trans-subjective state. What’s interesting is it is salvinorin A, which is the active ingredient and it has been isolated and there are lots of medical papers on it, is kappa-opiate agonist, so it acts on the opiate receptors, which is very interesting in the sense that it’s a hallucinogen but it acts on an opiate receptor, which I think must be a very unusual kind of anomaly and it doesn’t have an analog. So, when you smoke it, it does produce a trans-subjective reality, and it is really a kind of parallel, Philip K. Dick, maybe Doors of Perception, Heaven and Hell reality. It is a completely non-ego self thing, it’s the black, amorphous matter of decontainment, and what I propose is that we enter that amorphous deep matter of decontainment, and be active in it. I’m not being psychoanalytical, but I would like to just read the quote from Deleuze and Guattari, “Freud tried to approach crowd phenomenon from the point of view of the unconscious, but he did not see clearly, he did not see that the unconscious itself was fundamentally a crowd.” Now, I would like to say that we enter this space, which is “the crowd,” and the unconscious is a crowd, but I’d like to say that it’s not actually the unconscious we enter, we just enter this different sense of thought, it’s a different type of thought. It isn’t the opposite of the conscious, it’s just another type of trans-subjective reality, and the problem with that trans-subjective reality is that of the moment, we are there as an unconscious crowd, and what I propose to do, is that we become a conscious crowd inside the trans-subjective reality. So, we have to gain consciousness, or action, a kind of Hakim Bey immediatist action inside this dark amorphous space. Otherwise, I think that in years to come it will be collectivized by force. I think it’s interesting, Margaret Thatcher’s line, “there’s no such thing as society.” Well actually, perhaps there is such thing as society inside this yet-uncolonized territory, and what we have to do is collectivize ourselves rather than wait for enforced, container individuization, because this is what will happen. We have to be an active crowd inside the trans-conscious, we need to collectivize ourselves inside the trans-conscious, and that’s almost like to resist privatization, because we will have enforced privatization inside this space.

So that’s kind of really my proposition, because I also think that it’s very interesting in relation to Doors of Perception, and in relation to what the crowd of this state is. It’s very interesting that a lot of outsider art uses small units, so what we deem to be the schizophrenic, the kind of mad state, produces drawings which are multiplicities, so in a sense that state produces not singularities but multiplicities. It’s a sort of proliferation of Units Theory that I believe in, that this crowd, when it finds an active voice, when it’s actually channeled into a collective language; it becomes the language of the multiplicity, not the language of the singularity. So, as this crowd, the crowd that Deleuze and Guattari talk about gets channeled, basically gets projected into communicable form, it does take on the form of these tiny units; it’s not a single head; it’s multiple heads, and I think these multiple heads that emerge, this kind of theory of emergence from this space of the trans-subjective, into our world of linguistic communication and language itself becomes the language of multiplicity. But, we have to be active inside that space, which people would call the unconscious, and I think these ego theories, these ego doctrines, or the ego-system of the current thinking, what it really produces is singularities. And even current psychoanalytic models, they put this state of the unconscious as something that the self, this self-thing somehow has to deal with and negotiate with, and I think that drugs like the SSRIs and the serotonin reuptake inhibitors, they actually present a function and a solution to dealing with this trans-subjective state. So, this function and solution makes us function within the container mechanism of the self, and it’s a kind of reward-seeking, commodity-driven collective unconscious, like what Paul Miller said was the ‘franchised collective unconscious.’ And in a sense, our collective unconscious is going to be franchised, so we must act upon it, and not let that trans-subjective unconscious be franchised. So that’s very much my proposition, really. And I think people have been trying to deal with it. I work collaboratively with people here in the room, with a group called the Bughouse, and a lot of the inspiration for this comes from this trying to think collectively. These may not even be my ideas, they are channeled into my head somehow through this dark, amorphous space, into my container, and I’m somebody who struggles a lot with commodity containment and commodity container projection mechanism. The only thing I’d like to do is I’d like to show one slide. I just found these two images.

[shows slide]

These are two images of the brain. This is my last, last point. What I find that’s really interesting, this is a mind map from 1591. What’s interesting is that where “reward” is, is where the “Self” is, and I think that’s a really interesting thing, and I just wonder what that’s about. The idea that the self, this commodity-driven self is in the very space of the brain as the reward, so it’s the reward, and I’m speaking of this from absolute ignorance, but why is the 1591 placement of the self in the same place as the reward, and that to me is very fascinating. It means that the reward-seeking mechanism is also a kind of analogy for the self, and what I’d like to propose is this decontainment of the self. And salvia divinorum is very interesting in that level because it stops the self from existing, it kind of multiplies, and you are in this proliferation of units. It’s also very interesting that in terms of this kind of multiplicity, and Dr. Schreber talks about in Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, he talks about these lines, these things that are coming out of his body that connect him to god, these multiplicities, and the orifices that come out from his body. And in a sense, that is what happens when you take salvia. You feel that there are these small lines or pins coming out of your body, like these electric lines. So again, in response to the Doors of Perception, this idea of collective vision, perhaps, is something I’d like to propose.

Margarita Gluzberg is a visual artist and has recently exhibited at the Imperial College, London with an installation entitled ‘The Consumystic.’ Her work has been part of international touring exhibitions such as ‘Nothing and ‘Nausea – Encounters with Ugliness.’ She just completed a six month residency at the British School in Rome. She is Research Tutor in Drawing at the Royal College of Art. Russian-born, she lives and works in London.