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Exclusive Interview with Dr. LSD, part 1

Poster: Hank @ Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:12 am

by Hannibal Goodfellow

Q : Dr. LSD, is it true that you are from what we here would refer to as the future?
A : Hannibal, that's a heck of a leadoff question. The short answer is 'yes,' but the reality is kind of complex. Let me put it this way...

Q : Doctor, we'll come back to that. First, tell us : Who is Dr. LSD, and why should we care?
A : I'm a writer and professor of economics at Princeton and I also make psychedelic music for the general population.

Q : Is "LSD" your real surname?
A : No. I bring my materials to your reality under the pseudonym of Dr. LSD as a way to invoke an, ah, shall I say a nostalgic yearning for distorted perceptual experiences? I promote the use of unorthodox thought techniques and radical, insight-oriented shifts in perception, which were some of the objectives of the historical psychedelic movement of your times. The drug LSD, or more accurately the idea of that drug, was a big part of the original iconography of the movement. Now, of course, the actual drug LSD has been all but extinct for centuries, so in a lot of ways my invocation of it is similar to, say, someone in your reality who called themselves "Professor Absinthe" or something. It's a way to conjure, if you will, the spirit of a bygone and nearly defeated strain of thought and attitude.

Q : What do you mean when you say that LSD has been extinct for hundreds of years?
A : Well in my, ah, apparent temporal reality, if you will, recreational drugs are practically unknown as far as their actual use or manufacture is concerned. Resources have been far, far too scarce for the past three or four hundred years to divert any significant portion of them to the production of recreational drugs, and competition is so intense that most people would probably not take them even if widely available due to fear of losing their competitive edge due to inebriation. LSD, though, was already disappearing in your era -- the availability of true LSD declined sharply in the first decade of the 2000s due to a combination of law enforcement action and a profound lack of discernment among the user base, who rarely complained when they were sold lower-grade inebriants such as ketamine or dextromethorphan in the guise of LSD. I largely attribute this apathy to the documented fact that average commercial dosages had declined rapidly since the 1970s, leading to a much less intense effect per dose that may have been indistinguishable from these lesser drugs' effects.

Q : It sounds like you're promoting psychedelics as a means to insight, but your music often has a dark and disturbing feel. Some of your critics have called it "awful" and "unsettling." What's your aim with this stuff?
A : In part, I'm trying to use harsh aural images to provide a point of contact for the core audience. In order to really gain insight from these ideas, people first have to connect with the music on a gut level. Then, the consideration is that true psychedelic experience isn't always the entheogenic bliss that used to be promoted in the drug culture -- it's really a more complete and vivid plumbing of one's own mental reality, in all its appealing and scary states.

Q : So your core audience is disturbed people?
A : Well, the fact is that the average person, which is the target audience, has a life that's pretty stressful. As I mentioned, serious scarcity of resources compared to what you experience here has made the average life pretty hardscrabble. Even if you're used to it, it's still difficult. So having the musical features that you describe as disturbing is in reality a way to give people something to hold onto while they seek the psychedelic experience.

Q : Can you describe the average person's reality in more detail?
A : You should get my book "An Acceptable Future," which deals with, for lack of better language, the future of people where I come from -- the future of the future to you. In that book, I describe the present in considerable detail as I set up a series of speculations designed to provoke thought about how our actions will affect the future reality.

Q : That's pretty confusing. Can you just tell us?
A : Well, I can talk about how it is in comparison to how things are here. For example, in your present, resources are heavily concentrated in certain geographical areas. Suffering, if you will, or maybe what you'd call economic hardship is generally more prevalent across all demographics in my present. Most people work very hard for at least ten hours each day, generally for really huge corporations like Coca-Cola, Beech, or Apple. Food prices are about ten times higher than the ones you enjoy. The labor market is completely glutted and has been for centuries, as fertility rates kind of plateaued out at higher-than-replacement levels. Instantaneous remote communication over computers made availability of expertise very inexpensive for a while, which created an information flood and a huge oversupply of experts. These factors combine to make it so that people are extremely motivated to keep jobs once they have them -- competition is, as I said, fierce.

Q : Yikes! Let's talk about the music again here for a minute. The electric guitar features heavily on your music, whereas when people think of futuristic music now, they're usually thinking of synthetic sounds.
A : I use the guitar in my music to make it easier for the average person to connect with. Where or when I come from, very few people are able to afford the equipment to make wholly synthetic music; the substrates from which computational logic devices are made have become so expensive that they are used only for business and industry, or otherwise by the wealthy for recreation. Likewise, what you call plastics, that is, synthetic polymers, are now astronomically expensive and again are used more or less exclusively by industry and the military. My publications on economic practice have earned me a healthy disposable income to supplement by professor's salary, so I have the luxury of owning both acoustic instruments and synthesizers and use both widely. In your era, it's common for ordinary people to make music very inexpensively by, for example, combining samples from previously-recorded works in digital format and combining them with generated sounds. In your future, few people have the money, or indeed the time, for such activity -- a machine that can play back recorded music on demand now costs the equivalent of hundreds of your dollars. On the other hand, simple mechanical devices like guitars are easily and cheaply manufactured using industrial and agricultrual by-products derived from such things as plant husks, livestock bones, and smelting residue. Many people use guitars and other mechanical instruments as a means of relaxation during their few leisure moments.

Q : What kind of guitar do you use?
A : The model I use is made by the Gibson corporation from pressed plant fibers in a denatured livestock-byproduct matrix, and is similar in scale length and general configuration to popular models from your era.

Q : What other corporations are still around in the future?
A : Monsanto, Apple, Dow, a lot of the big ones that you see. The information glut I mentioned made it easy for well-funded companies to discover and buy up new technologies as they arose, effectively riding centuries of innovation on a brand name. For example, Apple, which in your era makes personal computers in Chinese labor farms, now controls the photovoltaic industry and therefore, a big chunk of the energy market. Those devices are still made in labor farms, but now they're in Cork and Duluth.

Q : What kind of money does the average person make, in our dollars?
A : Maybe like fifty dollars a day. But keep in mind that the cost of things like food and many other goods is increased tenfold. So to you maybe ten dollars a day. And some people don't get paid at all.

Q : You mean that slavery is legal in the future?
A : Usually, when you talk about slavery, you're talking about labor extracted without consent and by force. That's not legal in most states. However, a system very similar to what you call indentured servitude or serf labor is widespread. In most states, the practice of what we call "volunteer service" is common. Under this system, a person of voting age can enter into a contract to provide labor for a period of time in exchange for a lump-sum payment. Since the vast majority of these contracts are written for the lifetime of the laborer, this is similar to slavery in ancient times.

Q : That sounds bad.
A : It's just the reality of the marketplace. It started out a few hundred years ago as a way for the working class to pay for their kids' education, which would hopefully give the kid a leg up. Of course, then the value of skilled labor plummeted while population increased, so that now you can't even get a low-paying job without having an education. So in short, the only way for parents to have hope that their kids will end up with paying jobs is to enter volunteer service themselves. A lot of people will work a paying job and make ends meet until their kids are ready for school, then enter volunteer service and use the money to fund the schooling.

Q : What are working conditions like?
A : Regulation of labor is moderate now after about two hundred years of being totally unregulated, so I'd say there has been marginal improvement. For example, there are now minimum legal standards of living in courtesy houses, which are what they call the dormitory-style living quarters associated with volunteer service. It used to be that these courtesy houses were very dangerous, infested with vermin, and served food that was not nutritious. Now I'd say that the average American worker enjoys conditions comparable to those in, say, your Indonesia.

Q : You mentioned voting. If governments are democratically elected, why don't the people enact better laws?
A : As I mentioned, some reforms have been introduced as a result of popular opinion. However, as far as labor is concerned, it's a tightrope -- they people who run the industries can handily shut down or sell off work centers and reinvest their money elsewhere.

Q : You give your music away for free and distribute it from your website, . Why is that?
A : Well, in your future, it is not really possible to make a significant quantity of money from creating music. My goal is to spread my psychedelic ideas to as many people as possible. Generally, and I think that you experience this as well, people are not inclined to give up their money for entertainment. As I mentioned, the costs of electronic apparatus, both for creation and playback of recordings, prohibits the average person from obtaining the basic equipment. Music is created by people who earn their living in other ways and have the leisure time required to produce music, much like, say, poets behaved in your era. Music is submitted to a number of public and private libraries who then broadcast it free of charge to anybody with a receiver. The receivers are very simple membranes made of conductive organic recycled materials, costing only the equivalent of a few of your dollars. The broadcasters are financed through either advertising or the donations of the very rich; it's a system similar to your broadcast radio. The broadcasters make little money or are run at a loss. Some of the more popular musicians voluntarily restrict their material to the philanthropically-supported broadcasters, and as a result the commercial ones tend to have much lower listenership which limits their profitability. In short, there's no money in it -- the musician's primary motivation is to spread the ideas that are stored in the music.

Q : Your Web site has been restricted to subscription access, but your press kit says it's going public.
A : That's a fact -- starting in 90 days, my materials will be available on the public Web free of charge.

Q : Have any musicians from or era influenced you?
A : Sure! Your era is really the most fertile period in musical history, because so many people had energy and time to devote to it. Most of the big psychedelic groups -- LA Style, Napalm Death, Spacemen 3, Masonna, Utah Saints, Sun Ra, Massive Attack, Boredoms, Anthony Braxton, Prodigy, Roni Size, many others influence me a lot.

Q : Who did the painting on your Web site?
A : My son Ed, who's 17.

Q : Aren't you worried about setting the wrong example or encouraging drug use?
A : I'm not in the business of setting examples, but if I were, I'd say that the example of advocacy of self-learning and profound understanding of mental experience is a pretty good one to follow. As I mentioned, drugs are a non-factor in the future. Most people just do a little yoga, or play an instrument, or listen to broadcasts instead.

Q : Is Dr. LSD dance music?
A : Not generally. I mean, you are by all means welcome to dance to it if you're inclined. A lot of the tracks are funky or at least have a repetitive rhythm. But functionally, that's not what this music is designed for. It's designed to help you get access to your mind. If you can dance while doing that, excellent. In your future, the vast majority of listening time for people is when in transit. So a lot of my songs have a repetitive style that is designed to 'zone you out,' as you'd say, and let you get into your own head while being transported.

Q : You've emphasized repetition, but a lot of your tracks have meandering, evolving melodic lines that are usually tied to no particular motif or key.
A : This aspect is usually my attempt to sonically represent one possible mental exploration.

Q : Let me get back to your book for a minute. Obviously, if you're travelling here from the future to talk to us, time is static and immutable. So what's the point of your introduction of 'thought-provoking' action points or whatever?
A : OK, now I guess I'll have to talk more about the nature of how it is that I'm here telling you all this stuff.

Q : Sure nuff.
A : If you have a passing familiarity with what you call quantum physics, you can probably grasp what's going on. The fact is that I didn't travel here from the future or otherwise move backward in time. Doing so might not even be possible -- the arrow of time continues to confound us even after we understand the fundamental structure of reality.

Q : You don't say.
A : No, really -- so-called 'time travel' is probably never going to happen. I'll spare you the physics lecture, but I will say that the big science cats of the 20th century -- Minkowski and Barbour -- were essentially right, and that it turns out that no quantity -- none - can be measured without reference to another. But back to quanta --

Q : Right.
A : So you might be aware of how two, say, photon can exist in an 'entangled' state -- that is, basically brothers Karamozov of the particle world? Two yet one?

Q : Yeah.
A : OK, and have you heard 20th century physicist Roger Penrose argue that a consciousness can't be extinguished?

Q : No, but I'm a music reviewer, not a science geek. Continue, we get the point.
A : Well, in short, consciousnesses can behave like like individual photons, even though obviously a consciousness is created out of practically innumerable photons. So the way it breaks down is that my consciousness, that is to say the guy you're talking to right now, is quantum-entangled with another consciousness - another 'Dr LSD' -- who exists in what you would call the future -- which is really just a spatial separation. There, I said it.

Q : I barely understood a word you just said.
A : OK, there's a guy called me who's in what you would call the far-flung future. His consciousness is identical to mine in every respect at all times -- he and I are the same, and have been since we came into being, like, were born. So I know and feel everything that he does and vice versa. I'm here in your era and have always been; he's always been in the 'future.' We perceive ourselves moving through reality at the same 'pace' -- that is, our experience of the arrow of time is identical.

Q : I think I get it. So is the other guy causing a big stir in the future with 'your' knowledge of our present?
A : Not really -- detailed knowledge of the past is good at parties and might make you a good historian, but that's it. In the future, people have little patience for stuff like this.

Keywords: Lsd  Time Travel 
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Daniel Roe Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:12 am
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