Moving Day

In the very near future, hopefully the end of January, 2012, this blog will be absorbed into a new website, Psychedelics & Language.  Xenolinguistics is expanding to feature the intriguing xenolinguists that have contacted me over the years, through this blog, at conferences, or in the psychedelic sphere. It will have a blog section with articles on psychedelics and language topics, by myself and others. There’s even a store, for e-books, tree-books, free downloads, and xenolinguistical swag, and a free iPhone/iPad app of the Glide Oracle.

And some personal news: I completed the Ph.d. in November, 2010, at the University of Plymouth, UK, in the Planetary Collegium program under the direction of Roy Ascott.   In October, 2011, I accepted a position at the Institute for the Encouragement of Outrageous Ideas where I now hold, gingerly, the McKenna Chair of Xenolinguistics.

If you visit Psychedelics & Language now, you can sign up to be informed when the site goes live.

Dr. Diana Reed Slattery

Dept. of Xenolinguistics

The Institute for the Encouragement of Outrageous Ideas


This could be strange.  The blog format makes the first into the last, as the posts layer in time, reversing the actual order.  But what the hell.  We’ll see how it goes.  Here’s the abstract.  The sign at the trailhead.  Where we’re going, but no notes on the roughness of the terrain, the length of the trail, the steepness of the climb–or descent.


Communicating the Unspeakable: Linguistic Phenomena in the Psychedelic Sphere

Psychedelics can enable a broad and paradoxical spectrum of linguistic phenomena from the unspeakability of mystical experience to the eloquence of the songs of the shaman or curandera. Interior dialogues with the Other, whether framed as the voice of the Logos, an alien download, or communion with ancestors and spirits, are relatively common.  Sentient visual languages are encountered, their forms unrelated to the representation of speech in natural language writing systems.  This thesis constructs a theoretical model of linguistic phenomena encountered in the psychedelic sphere for the field of altered states of consciousness research (ASCR).  The model is developed from a neurophenomenological perspective, especially Michael Winkelman’s work in shamanistic ASC, which in turn builds on the biogenetic structuralism of Charles Laughlin, John McManus, and Eugene d’Aquili.  Neurophenomenology relates the physical and functional organization of the brain to the subjective reports of lived experience in altered states as mutually informative, without reducing consciousness to one or the other.  Consciousness is seen as a dynamic process of the recursive interaction of biology and culture, thereby navigating the traditional dichotomies of objective/subjective, body/mind, and inner/outer realities that problematically characterize much of the discourse in consciousness studies.  The theoretical work of Renaissance scholar Steven Farmer on the evolution of syncretic and correlative systems and their relation to neurobiological structures provides a further framework for the exegesis of the first-person texts of long-term psychedelic self-exploration. Since the classification of most psychedelics as Schedule I drugs, legal research came to a halt; self-experimentation as research did not.  Scientists such as Timothy Leary and John Lilly became outlaw scientists, a social aspect of the “unspeakability” of these experiences. Academic ASCR has largely side-stepped examination of the extensive literature of psychedelic self-exploration. This thesis examines aspects of both form and content of a selection of these works, focusing on those that treat linguistic phenomena, and asking what these linguistic experiences can tell us about how the psychedelic landscape can be navigated, interpreted, and communicated within its own experiential field, and communicated about to make the data accessible to inter-subjective comparison and validation.  The methodological core of this practice-based research is a technoetic practice as defined by artist and theoretician Roy Ascott: the exploration of consciousness through interactive, artistic, and psychoactive technologies.  The iterative process of psychedelic self-exploration and creation of multi-vocal and multimodal texts, is framed as technoetic practice.


After this long hiatus, I’m at it again.  The original purpose of this blog was to work out some of the ideas that are associated with my Ph.D. dissertation.  And now–the actual writing has begun. What I foresee is more entries, less formality, more kvetching, and actual draft pieces from the writing.  Comments, suggestions, critiques welcome at this point.  I’m at the writing every day, keeping a log, placing one word in front of the next, the “long march” has begun.

Quote of the day, from Dale Pendell’s wonderful trilogy.

If some study enlightenment, we study illusion.  We seek medicine in the very poison that has seduced us.  The mind, we might say, is too much with us, so let’s heap on some more.

Pharmako Gnosis: Plant Teachers and the Poison Path


Here’s the definition of Technoetics from the recently formed open Facebook group “Art, Technology, Consciousness: Technoetics.

Technoetics is a convergent field of practice that seeks to explore consciousness and connectivity through digital, telematic, chemical or spiritual means, embracing both interactive and psychoactive technologies, and the creative use of moistmedia.

On the analog side, there’s a journal as well.  Technoetics Arts:  A Journal of Speculative Research.

And a Ph.D. program, out of the University of Plymouth, UK, called the Planetary Collegium.  How many Ph.D. programs do you know that harbor a wide variety of interesting artists of the electronic persuasion, bio-artists as well, and those interested in doing research in topics psychedelic?

“Everything is deeply intertwingled” —Ted Nelson

On Independence Day, I propose a new Declaration of Interdependence, as a founding document of any psychedelically catalyzed cultural movement worthy of the name.
Scientific materialism and the notion of the objective gaze, severed head and heart, reason and emotion.

I declare the interdependence of my heart and my head.

I declare my interdependence in the biosphere. We are all intricately woven together with virtually the same operating system. In a sense, we’re a single body/mind of many bodies and minds. This body of bodies has been called many things: Terilhard de Chardin’s noosphere; Gaia; Kali Ma; Terence McKenna’s hyperdimensional body at the end of time; and the mystical body of Christ. These Bodies of bodies, Minds of minds, grow both ever more complex and complexly interdependent while multiplying independence examples (diversity) at the same time.

This is a starting point for many more articles I think.

Noetic License

In a scholarly article, I am permitted to quote another author. The visual cue of quotation marks, or, with a longer quote, an indented block of text, or the italics and right-justification of an epigram mark the change in identity. But what if the same author (could be me) makes an argument in several interwoven voices, distinguishing those voices with additional different visual cues (such as font, color, size, bold or italic, etc.). The conventional way to do this is with the footnote or endnote where a “marginal” comment may be made that is tangential, or supplementary to the main discourse.
Stephen Wolfram in A New Kind of Science elevates this principle to a fine art; a sizeable portion of the book are the endnotes of his comments.
When these comments in other voices are brought into the main text, the clarity, and appearance of certainty of a uni-linear argument may suffer. The author may even display a counterpoint of doubts to her assertions, contradictory viewpoints, ambivalences, or state-bound differences of perception and expression. Or she may choose to express the same idea in two different sensory modalities, or style of words. The author exercises noetic license to express herself in whatever discourse reflects her own multiplicity of thought, feeling, and means of expression at any given moment.
The politics of knowledge: the standards for production (granting of degrees and tenure, peer review); rules of ownership (IP and copyright issues); storage, retention, and retrieval, accessibility (security, power, all education); symbolic hygiene procedures (censorship, viral and theft protection; computer security) all militate against the granting of noetic licenses.
Fortunately, a noetic license can only be self-granted. The rules of evidence are preceded by the rules of self-evidence, the freedom of attention, and the right to remain silent. It is, in its political aspect, a matter of cognitive liberty. The rules of self-evidence apply and cannot be ignored in the study of consciousness, which must include the views from “inside” as well as “outside.” The 1st person and the 3rd person reports.

The term “atma vichara” is helpful here: “”Atma” means consciousness or awareness or the unfathomable intelligence. “Vichara” means inquiry into. So Atma Vichara means “inquiry into consciousness itself.”

Of course in the study of psychedelically transformed states of consciousness, the matter of “persons” (how does “1st person” apply in ego dissolution, for instance) goes up for grabs. These are methodological considerations, as well as matters of genre and style in scholarly writing. Working out how to include multiple voices and discourses in the dissertation is part of the challenge of the practice-based dissertation.
Noetic license in the province of the mind is the exercise of the freedom to know, and to explore one’s mind in whatever fashion works for the current pursuit. Epistemology becomes a personal matter.
John Lilly exercised his noetic license fully. His maxim:

“In the province of the mind what one believes to be true, either is true or becomes true within certain limits. These limits are to be found experimentally and experientially. When so found these limits turn out to be further beliefs to be transcended. In the province of the mind there are no limits. However, in the province of the body there are definite limits not to be transcended.”

This opens up the science of belief structures, which is the topic of his book Simulations of God.

To those of you returning to the site: changed the look to have a white background, easier to read. That’s all. More to come. And just to satisfy the eyes, here’s a LiveGlide still.

LiveGlide image