My friend, publisher, and editor Rob Dickins was interviewed on the Ed and friends podcast. It made me blush a little to hear him talk about my writing with such hyperbole (but then again, he has a vested interest).
It is pretty funny, and he has a lot to say about the recent history of psychedelics after the initial nostalgic banter is done.
Oil from Mexican gulf, tear gas canister from Tahir Square
Special agent Nemu has been busy this week, with two actions at the British Museum. The irony of BP, one of the major historical contributors to climate change, sponsoring an exhibition on Sunken Cities was too good an opportunity to miss.
The first was an unscheduled artwork for the press conference in the morning, while the school trips were there, so I had an opportunity to terrify children about their watery future.
The second got a bit out of hand. The personal is political, apparently, and personally I lost my cool around Osaka. Hearing a list of cities that are expected to be underwater, with Alexandria in 15 years and progressing to Miami and others, it felt a bit like a horrible dream, and while visualising in pebbles the 340 activists disappeared by the Egyptian government, I successfully disengaged my brain from the sadness of it. But when our BP promotor reached Osaka it was real. That place is streets and people and memories, a job in a bong shop in Shinsaibashi when I was at the peak of my vigour, a funky foreigner in Mega-city One
Treasured memories at the end of a history. I raise a shout and bang on doors, not to assist my beloved but to say goodbye, to announce my fidelity and non-compliance. There’s something to save, I think, but it is nothing I expect to recognise. Things got a bit out of hand. We stayed past closing time to greet the ambassadors of Greece and Egypt on their way to BP-sponsored canapé party that was to be held, so they rerouted the guests round the side; but then we tried to rush their party to fizz up their champagne a little. The security guards, who we usually get on well with, held us back, and so we banged on the doors so loudly that the guests couldn’t hear the speeches. Some of the guests agreed with us:
"At the launch, the BP executive made a joke about 'a shared interest in sunken treasures'. It was so cringing I almost felt sorry for the guy. Of course he also ladled on the praise for various representatives of Egypt's current brutal dictatorship that were in attendance - no surprise given that the Sisi regime is a key partner to BP's Egypt investments, and state security forces have helped repress communal protests over BP's activities in the country in recent years"
Finally the cops were called and we had to nip out of the gates that security was closing on us, which was tense but a bit of a giggle. Greenpeace rebranded the museum the following day, which was the first day of the exhibition, and the management closed it down for four hours. Then some other fellows from BP or not BP gatecrashed the BP big screen event in Trafalgar Square the day after that, and projected onto Nelson’s Column. Weh-hey!
Sunken cities of the future:
2016 Nuatambu Island, Solomon Islands
2020 Male, Maldives
2025 Amsterdam, Netherlands
2035 New Orleans, USA
2040 Alexandria, Egypt
2045 Mumbai, India
2050 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
2055 Lagos, Nigeria
2056 Cairns, Australia
2057 Shenzen, China
2058 Buenos Aires, Argentina
2059 Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
2060 London, United Kingdom
Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
– John 8.32
An information leak is, by definition, an apocalypse, and the apocalyptic panorama of the pirates of Panama is only the latest in a series. Brazil’s wave of scandals that began with the oil company Petrobras has spread to engulf hundreds of politicians involved in various schemes. In the US, Hilary Clinton has been hemorrhaging emails, and FIFA was spotted off-side in one of Europe’s recent scandals. 2016 is turning out to be the year of the apoca-leaks, and there may be more to come.
Shamanic tool from Putamayo
Closer to home, The Times published an article yesterday on the Edinburgh Festival ending its sponsorship deal with BP. They cited “a difficult economic environment”, but the data speaks for itself. BP gave a measly £10,000 to the festival last year, while giving its management bonuses of millions. From the FT to the Guardian other media outlets have reported BP’s failing deals, and while there has been a backlash the information speaks for itself.
Activism can be about providing a space for stories to circulate. On Sunday, BP or not BP set up an unauthorized pop-up exhibition, bringing voices from around the world to the great court of the British Museum. Objects from West Papua, Egypt, Iraq, Mexico, Colombia, the UK and elsewhere illustrated stories of BP’s involvement in wars, oppression, environmental destruction and kidnapping of opponents. The press coverage has been massive, and it may be the first time that a shamanic object has been mentioned in The Telegraph.
BP welcomed some esteemed guests at the British Museum yesterday.
Both the CEO and the chair of the BBC were there to eat olives and drink wine with the CEO of the world’s biggest ever corporate criminal. It is safe to assume that what is broadcast on the BBC is controlled, but autonomous projections are more difficult to manage, and some cheeky fellows were there to make a point.
You don’t need tens of thousands of people marching along some pre-determined route to make a point – you just need a bit of imagination and someone you can trust.
But imagine what kind of a point you could make if tens of thousands were up for causing some trouble.
My contribution is Taboo from the Jungle to the Clinic, considering different approaches to knowledge about ayahuasca at the jungle frontier in a post-colonial world, with a nasty parasite with designs on the cartilage of my ears and nose.
I gave some talks on the subject too – this is the super-fast one:
And this is more detailed (in two parts)
Blurb from the book
Psychedelic means “mind manifesting”. It seems likely that psychedelic agents have profoundly influenced the evolution of our most important civilisations and the development of our collective psyche. The use of psychedelics as cultural drivers and creativity enhancers in the modern era has shaped music, art, literature and depth psychology.
Psychedelics have acquired a certain reputation and polarise opinion.
Are they sacred medicine or a threat to society?
Do they lead us towards a deeper truth or immerse us in our shadow?
Why are there such formidable barriers hindering scientific research into their possible benefits?
In their heyday, this remarkable group of psychoactive substances were believed to hold great promise for treating medical conditions, assisting psychotherapy, fuelling creativity and allowing profound spiritual experiences, however political reaction and legal restrictions pushed their use back into the shadows in the mid 1970s.
Currently there is a resurgence of interest into their clinical and therapeutic use. Research is gathering real momentum and some of the traditional misinformation and stereotypes are being reversed. This collection of original papers from the Psychedelic Press UK journal takes us on a fascinating journey through such topics as:
Use of psychedelics in medicine and psychotherapy
Archetypal psychology and spiritual awakenings
Creative surges – literature, myth and visionary art
As the British Museum chooses its next sponsor, 250 activists, including BP or not BP, Liberate Tate and thirteen other groups from the Art Not Oil coalition, ask respectfully but loudly that they ditch the world’s biggest corporate criminal.
(Rev. Nemu on shouting and percussion!)
If you would like to get involved in our next action, visit the BP or not BP website.