This passed September saw the staging of the second Trans-State Conference in England. Happily a lot of the presentations were filmed and are being posted periodically. This video captures The Eye of the Heart by Simon Magus, PhD.
View here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WL998Qppl7w.
The YouTube page states:
“The Eye of the Heart: Mysticism, Sacred and Profane, in Literary and Clinical Intersections In keeping with the theme of the conference, and transdiscplinarity in particular, this paper examines the vexed question of the ‘authenticity’ of mystical experience by comparing the historical tradition of the autobiographical drug experience with the ‘ecstatic confessions’ of the mystic. To do this I draw on the dialectic of two paired volumes which were written in response to each other. Firstly, Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821), in conversation with which Charles Baudelaire wrote Les Paradis Artificiels (1860), part of which is a translation of the former into French; and secondly, Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception (1954), in answer to which Robert Charles Zaehner wrote Mysticism Sacred and Profane: An Inquiry into some Varieties of Praeternatural Experience (1957). Deploying these dialogues as a backdrop, I shall attempt to elucidate and categorise the nature of these experiences in the light of the psychopharmacology and phenomenology of opiate, cannabis, lysergic acid, and alcohol use, and the phenomenologies of mystical experience and psychosis. I conclude with some comments on the recent therapeutic turn in the medical use of cannabinoids, and the commencement of trials for psilocybin use in a therapeutic context. The paper facilitates the elucidation of some ontological and epistemological aporias arising from the use of such varying signifiers as the psychedelic, the psychotomimetic, the entheogenic, and the therapeutic − terms which are analysed as being culturally embedded, semantically contrasted, and contested.”
Find out more about the Trans- States organisation at: http://www.trans-states.org
“Simon Magus BSc (Hons) MB BS MA PhD is a psychiatrist with a special interest in Early Intervention Psychosis. He studied medicine in London at Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, now part of the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. After qualifying, he taught Anatomy as the Royal College Prosector to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and as an associate lecturer in Anatomy and Embryology at the University of Glasgow. After initially following a neurosurgical path, he changed to psychiatry in 1996. Simon’s interest in esotericism predates his medical studies by a number of years. He completed an MA in Western Esotericism at the University of Exeter in 2008/9 with the thesis Austin Osman Spare and the Conquest of the Imaginal: Paranoia, Metanoia and Phronesis of the Magical Mind. He is interested in the interplay of descriptive psychopathology and the phenomenology of magical praxis, and spirituality and psychosis. During his MA studies he developed broad perspectives in esotericism on subjects including alchemy and its transmission to the Latin West, Alexandrian Hermetism, and Renaissance Kabbalah. His specialist field of enquiry now centres on Victorian and Edwardian literary expressions of occultism, and he recently completed a PhD at Exeter defending the thesis entitled Rider Haggard and the Imperial Occult: Hermetic Discourse and Romantic Contiguity.”