ABSTRACT

Over the last three decades, the renaissance of interdisciplinary research into psychedelic drugs has challenged the Cartesian notions of subjectivity and identity that have endured throughout modernity. But as work in this field reaches new degrees of complexity, the limitations of verbal and textual language are presenting barriers to conventional forms of scholarship. Across the disciplines, qualitative researchers mapping the subjective dimensions of the psychedelic experience, both in themselves and in others, must grapple with the ineffable nature of these transpersonal states of consciousness. To address these roadblocks, this paper introduces a new way of thinking about the neurological and phenomenological effects of the classic psychedelics DMT, LSD, and psilocybin. By interpreting neuroscientific research on these compounds using ideas from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s Capitalism and Schizophrenia series, I argue that they can be understood not only as spiritual sacraments, psychoactive molecules, and healing medicines, but also as communication technologies that prime the human brain for higher-dimensional forms of language production. I begin by describing the effects that psychedelics have on normal human brain functioning, with an overview of contemporary neuroscientific research. Next, I introduce Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of deterritorialization and stratification, which I argue can bring the subjective and empirical dimensions of the psychedelic experience together in a single descriptive framework. After a brief overview of contemporary psychedelic philosophy, I conclude by exploring how these molecules are playing a role in the development of multisensory (and posthuman) forms of language.

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