Russell Brand: Have you arranged these seats deliberately to diminish me? (laughs) Because I’m gonna diminish myself very quickly anyway. You don’t need to be the architect of my downfall. Firstly, I would like to thank all of you for making me feel so welcomed today. Thank you Graham for your phenomenal and educational talk. It’s been amazing. And thank you on an individual basis for the warmth and kindness that you’ve shown me. I’ve never felt more relaxed to be in a tent, on a camping chair, beneath an illuminated fish, in front of a pagan altar, and let me tell you this isn’t the first time.
Daniel, what I enjoy about your films and your writing is the ability to assuage the natural cynicism applied to mysticism by people who have taken the intellectual high-ground through atheism and the political right. I’d like to congratulate you on that. And then, and I want to augment and mobilize some of these ideas. I know that this is something that you focus on in your films and writing, but it’d be good to hear you say it in a tent.
Daniel Pinchbeck: Well, I feel like I’ve tried every freaking way I can to augment the ideas and get them out to people. But people obviously speak in different registers. You don’t know how that influence is gonna get conveyed. It happens in a lot of different ways. For me it’s creating an alternative media system, but then also getting into the mainstream media as much as humanly possible, and taking every opportunity to raise awareness or awaken people to the situation. Cynicism is something that is part of the media production of a certain type of subjectivity or consciousness that is passive and disempowered, cynical, fatalistic, pessimistic.
RB: Yes, I suppose I’m qualified to some degree to speak about the nature of contemporary media, as that’s where I currently work. People, I think have been beyond trained—coded to not anticipate change; to think that change is implausible. Almost weaned off. It had to be a revolution bred out of us. I’ve spent time in the media, institutions, that sort of thing. MTV, E Channel, and the luminous phosphorescent vacuity that succeeds there, like glowing treasured orbs of emptiness to which our eyes are drawn. What I find difficult, Daniel, is that there is a certain immediacy to a line of coke or a blow job that isn’t available through the shamanic endeavours that you and Graham—
DP: Try DMT. We’ll talk after that. (laughs)
RB: (laughing) Just openly endorsing drugs to a recovering drug addict. Just openly. The thing for me is, what if one returns to these maxims, these rather simplistic maxims “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Because what canvas have we but the self for these kind of explorations, ultimately. So is that what you would urge? That people initially, on an individual basis, seek these kinds of changes?
DP: Yeah. Catchphrases are a useful but also empty and trite sentiment. Exactly. “Be the change that you want to be” comes from Gandhi. I’m starting to reread a bunch of Gandhi and it was kind of traumatic, because he was so clearly, unbelievably amazing. And the stuff that he is suggesting is so profoundly opposite from what is happening in our world today.
DP: Sure. I mean, he says that the purpose of civilization in a way should be to make life simpler. He also thinks that voluntary renunciation is the key to happiness.
RB: Oh my god. What? By renunciation of sex and drugs, and everything?
DP: Well, for him, pretty much everything, but you know I think maybe we can keep it to wealth, and keep the other stuff.
RB: That’s bloody convenient. Well, this is the thing. It doesn’t take an incredible manner of analysis to reveal that our primary desires are incessantly stimulated to keep us basic consumers. Our basic fundamental desires are overly stimulated. A friend of mine said, “you have a generation of people that have been accidentally marketed to.” Marketing is all pervasive. They’re getting marketed products they can’t afford—can’t ever hope to acquire. They believe the only way they’re ever going to achieve happiness is the acquisition of these products. Products they can’t afford. They see people living that lifestyle, and they have that lifestyle beamed incessantly into their minds through media, which you know I participate in.
What’s fascinating for me, Daniel, about the recent rise in London, is that it was the nihilism. That this was about nothing. You know, this is not Paris. This is not Prague 1968. This is not people rising up against the tyranny that they should be rejecting, they’re just sort of like “pff! Oh fucking hell, just give me an XBox.” (laughter) Because there’s no hope. You’re talking about change the paradigm. How do we go about that? How do we say, “Right, we’ve got these institutions of media, these financial institutions, we have the means of distribution, we have the means of production, we have all these markets and maxims in place. How do we alter the consciousness, the fundamental unifying field? How do we influence change on that level to all of the world?
DP: Yeah, that’s a good question.
DP: Well, I think you would have to make an alliance of people who are reaching this level of understanding, and actually utilize some of the techniques of propaganda and marketing, but turn them around. Maybe the same instruments and tools that have been used to keep people in slavery and ignorance could potentially be used to liberate and awaken them. Another part of it is—and this is what we’ve been experimenting on Revolver, but on a very very small scale—it needs to be a civil society rebuilding process. Because you need to have a really awesome model to what the alternative is. That’s part of the problem. We haven’t had a good model. Like communism leads nowhere. We don’t have an alternative vision of what would be an incredibly awesome situation.
RB: Yes, because we are deliberately and relentlessly denied that opportunity. I’m a recovering drug addict, so it’s not a subject that I take lightly, but I do agree that the criminalization of narcotics is the deliberate inhibition of human consciousness. I think back and I do still hear the echo of the whisper of what was at its core this transitional beautiful access to different frequencies of consciousness. It’s something that happens when I read your work and when I’m listening to Graham. I feel like I’m remembering something that I forgot. I fucking go, “I always knew that.”
DP: You know it’s a very complicated question. Because I know that when somebody’s gotten off the drugs and they were these horrible and destructive influences, you know the idea to think about it on another level, in a more sophisticated way, is dangerous. And so obviously I don’t really advocate for psychedelics. I don’t really think anybody needs to do them, or has to do them. For me, they were the only way I could have cracked open my own spirit in a way. However, I do think that if you were to be scrupulous and research into it you would find that certain types of natural psychedelics have, if anything, anti-addictive properties. And all the evidence really points towards that. But you have the people who are running these drug rehab situations, they demonized all the drugs. I think a lot of people who were addicts are actually people who had that strong innate need to experience non-ordinary states of consciousness. But because our society has turned into this destructive culture of these horrible drugs that nullify you, they have that experience in a negative way. And then they lose that capacity forever, to have it in a positive way.
Graham Hancock: Can I say something as well? The use of language around drugs is really important. So we find that it’s increasingly difficult in our society to find the word “drug” not connected to the word “abuse.” The notion of a responsible use of drugs is written out in the language of our culture. And secondly, the word drug itself carries a huge amount of emotional baggage. Again, it plays into a system that wants to persuade us that all of these things are the same, whereas all of these things are not the same. They are very very very different indeed. A DMT experience is not to be compared with a heroine experience and is not in any sense the same. And as Daniel rightly pointed out, the hallucinogenic agents are themselves highly effective agents for removing people from a dependence on drugs. So I think the language itself muddies and confuses our thinking in these matters. But ultimately, just plain logic says that the war on drugs does not work. It absolutely does not work. We have this highly addictive legal drug called tobacco which has never resulted in people being sent to prison, but there has been a massive reduction in its consumption simply because responsible adults looking at their own bodies have said they don’t want to do that to themselves.
Whereas most of the so-called illegal drugs have vastly increased in use, despite billions of dollars spent suppressing them. I believe 750,000 Americans are arrested every year for possession of cannabis. I mean that’s 750, 000 lives damaged by that arrest process. It’s a crazy, crazy system. It’s playing into the system that the hallucinogens are grouped together with addictive drugs, which they are not. But addictive or not it’s our responsibility as adults to make decisions and it’s not the states’ right to do that, in my opinion.
RB: Daniel, I’m dead interested in this stuff. You know, that Emoto dude who meditates love into these droplets of water and then instantaneously freezes them and they go into magical crystals. And then, he meditates hate, which is evil to do. An evil thing to do to a droplet of water. It comes out all refracted and nasty, sort of almost as evidence that you can transmit energy. Consciousness does affect matter. One of the things I really enjoyed in your book, mate, was about the behavior of electrons changing when they’re observed and not observed. That’s mind blowing. I don’t know if I’m the best person in the world to explain this, but I’m bloody well going to try. Okay? They fired electrons through a tiny slit. The electrons then left a shadow of it on the the panel behind it. They thought, “oh well, if firing electrons through one slit creates one line, if you fire it through two slits that will be two lines.” But it created five lines, didn’t it? They said, “well perhaps they’re bouncing off each other and creating waves when they’re passing through these two slits.” How is this done? They built some tiny electron camera. God knows how little that was. They observed it and under observation the electrons behaved differently. They went back from going through the slits just in parallel. There was suddenly just two slits. The electrons were affected by the process of observation, and I know this is just a scientific creed, that the very process of the observation affects the outcome of the experiment, but to see it so literally and quantumly demonstrated that’s almost the presence of god.
DP: My personal, metaphysical belief is Vedanta, which is that ultimately there is a singular consciousness. It’s like a Hindu metaphysics, that basically we’re all like characters in a play that consciousness is putting on to discover its own creative capacities.
RB: I’ve been wanting to tell people my theory about what goes on after time. It’s beyond our consciousness. We get glimpses of it between the infrared and the ultraviolet—the narrow narrow corridor of light that we are able to perceive. The tiny frequency that was brilliantly illuminated through Graham, through which we receive all our wisdom, we get a tiny fragment. We don’t need to know what goes on beyond time. We need to know how to save this planet that we live on. To align our consciousness with the fundamental frequencies with which all have in common, and to generate love and energy between us.
DP: I recently did an interview with the Kogi, and I’m still integrating what they said. Things that humans are meant to do is to make payments to the earth through ritual. We have to give back to the earth through conscious application of these kind of ritual technologies. They were teaching us. One of them was very simple. It involved taking cotton balls and imagining they were all of the minerals and all of the food and all of the water of the earth. And then, you would give them to the Kogi and they would bury them. It involves rebuilding a cyclical and conscious relationship with the planet. And this goes to everything we’ve been discussing through Revolver, which is how do we reinvent community? How do we create communities that are relatively self-sufficient and resilient? Through the last centuries, the effort of capitalism has been to take all the things that were human relations and turn them into monetary exchanges. People used to make their own clothes, now they buy clothes. People used to take care of their own kids, now they pay other people do it. And that was because capitalism requires more and more things being turned into money—being turned into profit. But that has reached this absurd limit where there’s nothing left to turn into money, and the capitalist system is breaking down. I think what we’re going to ultimately recognize is that capitalism was a transitional and immature system. It got the planet to be globalized and now something else has to emerge. We have to be the ones. We can’t wait around. Nobody else is going to do it for us. We have to be the ones who create that new emerging system.
I think there’s a lot to be learned from indigenous practices. We’re doing retreats to work with these elders from the Sequoia tribe, the Kogi, the Kaxinawa in Brazil, and I look forward to those becoming longer relationships, where we can actually have somebody from our world—what the Kogi call the younger brother world— actually regaining some of those traditions. And then we’ll figure out how to mediate them into our world. They won’t take exactly the same form, but yeah. I thinking maybe having some types of rituals are a good thing. It’s not very common to my nature, but I’m up for it as a challenge. The idea that I really like is December 21st, 2012. Try to get a global moment of collective reflection as a way to bring about an uptick in human consciousness.
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