I know that many of you already know this.
It's been growing in my mind for a long time now... I remember when I was in high school and reading 'A brief history of time' I would occasionally just sit and stare into space, burst into uncontrollable laughter, or say those things which became my trademark, made the world at large think I really was on drugs. No, not even slightly (at that point - see why do you do drugs? for an explanation), I was just interested, trying desperately to connect to the universe. Living inside my head is something I was always quite good at, but on the outside I just seemed stoned, I guess...
Chaos theory, when I was 13, confirmed what I had been suspecting towards the end of primary school - that the universe was a beautiful and weird place and there was so much, much more to it than school had ever exposed me to. The idea of infinite complexity from such simple rules, of chaos being the highest order. I was hooked.
Elementary physics. Not quite so fascinating, but it had its moments. Listening to music, then whacking it through an oscilloscope and translating that into a mental image of what was happening to the air molecules, then sitting back and just marvelling at how my brain turned it all into tones, even managed to pick out the meaning and intent behind choices of sounds, just vibrations in the air in one way. And then somebody would say something, which was even better...
This understanding of how the world we see is so insanely different, existing on a completely different level, to the physical processes involved provided the impetus for my early forays into philosophy. The perception of colour thing was one that had occured to me about 8 years previously, and now I came back to it with the phrase 'reality is our percetion of it' as my first brush with solipsism. You try saying stuff like that in hig school, then trying to explain it, and see how much of a tripper people think you are...
And on the inside, it's kinda like drugs sometimes. Reading 'the dancing Wu Li masters' and just being unable to move when I read about the three polarising light filters. Sitting in a philosophy of science lecture and feeling a feeling better than mushrooms for the full hour as the lecturer explained frame of reference distortion with relative motion. The adrenaline rush lasted the whole hour.
The theory of relativity. Quantum physics. It all hints of an order beyind what we have imagined, it's all beautiful beyond belief. Neurophysics, amazing. Looking at a theory and seeing yourself staring out, that's me in there, that's what makes me how I am. Perception of velocity - why flies react so fast. Mind-bugglingly good.
It's also good to just watch dust motes or clouds. Understanding, even just a little, what the hell is going on with things (or people for that matter) opens up such beauty, even without drugs. With drugs... now this is a thing of note. I'm not quite sure how all this works, cos I've taken pot, LSD, and mushrooms, and I'm not completely sure what I'd think about if I didn't have my secure grounding in abstract thought - playing with ideas is something I do all the time anyway, and on drugs it's just more intense (though the peaks I've got with the pure ideas have admittedly occasionally been as high or higher than anything I've experienced on psychoactives). Grokking a thing is one of the greatest experiences I have, and it does not require drugs (unless you want to grok drugs. This is also an intense experience, and the reason I have no patience for those who frown on people rather than their pain). You can use supreme mental ability for cheap highs in other words =), it doesn't have to be mathematical but I can't be bothered with a node title edit.
The idea of mindfuck is what I'm talking about here, and strolling down the aisle in the bookshop for books that will induce a mindfuck, I see that many of you already know this. Here's some titles:
As far as I know, none of these have anything to do with drugs.
It saddens me to think that many of the people I see today have encountered not even the tenth part of the wondrously complex beauty I had stumbled on by the time I hit puberty.
This is not to be used by any of you ideologues out there as a 'why you shouldn't do drugs' argument. Read the fine print.