As part of wrapping up the project of analyzing Dose Nation’s ‘Final 10’ podcast series, I post here my notes written while listening to Episode 4. These notes served as the basis for my part in the discussion with Max about this episode in Transcendent Knowledge Podcast Ep. 19.

  • Blue Oyster Cult, Veteran of the Psychic Wars. High-density of allusions to egodeath in BOC songs. Is Kent aware of this? No. Makes it into a literal description of himself.
  • Kent repeats that ‘nobody [in psychedelic community] had any idea what they were talking about’ overblown hyperbole. 
  • I like Kent’s critique of most spiritual practice in the 20th century America, that it produces no real change. This isn’t an unusual critique or unique to him.
  • Yet Kent’s description of spirituality, New Age, etc. is a mixed-bag, incredibly one-sided, painting with broad brushstrokes.
  • Kent has a ordinary state based understanding of religion. He is an experienced psychedelics user, but doesn’t get the connection to religious experiencing.
  • Kent’s not really interested in explaining, but in dismissing.
  • Complains about lack of paradigm-shift amongst ‘religious’ psychedelicists.
  • Lots of clunkers in this episode: ‘self-exploration is ultimate form of narcissism’
  • Kent misunderstands ‘transcendence,’ fails to define it clearly. At one time he says it means separating mind from body, but at another he seems to mean something else, like “leaving all of one’s problems behind.”
  • Kent contrasts rationalist psychedelicists and superstitious psychedelicists. This is an atheist style framing.
  • Kent obsessed with the question, “What is nature of reality?” Psychedelicists who are superstititious have a fundamental misconception about the nature of reality. 20th century literalism religion vs. science are both invested in that question of what is the nature of reality. Spirits do not really exist, but superstitious people do believe that.
  • Egodeath Theory and analogy are a different option. Not a version of religion, nor of atheism/science. It has elements of both. Third option, third way, only path forward. Thre is a stand off between religion and science. It wouldn’t be accuate to say that the Egodeath Theory is in the middle between those two camps, but it would be better to say that it is a different set of positions entirely. It adequately explains religion in simple and scientific language (e.g. cognitive science, phenomonolgy). But it also covers analogy and myth and provides a rich understanding of premodern religious system. How does analogy work in art, stories, words, ritual? Pop scientism cuts people off from using symbols and doing practices. Pop scientism is obsessed with making culture reflect directly the scientific conception of reality. Kent says it is dangerous to use symbols because it could lead people to believe something wrong. Obsession with correct belief (also true of contemporary religion).
  • Kent focused on what people believe. EDT mystic can say all sorts of things that science-only person would disagree with (yes, of course I was possessed by a demon; yes, of course I walked on water). EDT mystic knows that nature of reality is analogical between two realms.
  • What is the nature of reality? Who cares. You don’t need to understand reality to understand religion.
  • Joke that will drive James Kent crazy: good news Gospel of EDT for this time and place is that this stand off between literalist variants (religion vs. science) is over. EDT chose us to be its messenger, to bring its good news to 21st century schizoid West.
  • Kent critical of superstitious aspect of New Age and psychedelia. I agree that taking them as literal truth about reality is wrongheaded.
  • Frames Grof, Leary, Huxley, Hofmann as science. For them psychedelic action happens in head, but Later New Age superstitious psychedelicists ascribe agency to external objects being things.
  • Kent has no grasp of mystic analogy viewpoint. It’s an interpretative problem. He is obsessed with epistemological certainty about the nature of reality. He freaks out whenever anyone makes a statement that he views as contradicting the nature of reality. Lack of analogical understanding causes him to misinterpret both sides. Framing writers as either rationalistic or superstitious misrepresents all of them.
  • Kent has an insidious psychologizing of figures, e.g. “Terence was mentally unbalanced – not clinically” unbalanaced, but in some mysterious other way. Imports normative assumptions about what is balanced.
  • Obsessed with problem of disinformation. Typical technocrat: if only people had the right information, they would make the right choices. This is typical of egoic perspective: if I have the right information, then I will make the right choices.
  • 1:22 perfect encapsulation of obsession with belief “they earnestly believe the things they are saying. I believe that they believe the things they are saying”
  • Kent’s framing of issues shows the need in psychedelic culture for a clear ‘analogy’ position. He can’t handle poetic language, and conversely those using poetic language are vulnerable to Kent’s literalism. A strong position on analogy is needed.
  • Kent wants the content of the psychedelic experience to be neuro-science: ‘look at these optical illusions I’m experiencing’
  • Agree with his critique of individualized, feeling oriented New Age that will make you feel special.
  • Bungles New Age concept of their being a crisis in the world that needs to be solved. Crisis means a crisis in the egoic possibilism model.
  • Experiment: let’s read Kent’s focus on talking about the dark side of psychedelics for their analogy potential. He is constantly telling stories of death and panic. End of episode 4 “you may think you’re saving the world, but you’re freezing to death up in a tree.”