Once my mother panically threw a beautiful skull I owned out of the window. Ironically, I suggest; what was she running away from, exactly? What scared her about it and in fact, what scares me about it?
Psychedelics seem to have a different effect on everybody. Me they make see things as they are. For me, beautiful faces and smiles are like a distraction from the truth underneath.
On my last trip, I began to curiously study the features of the female clerk at the shop. And the thing that came to my mind was: Humans are fascinatingly rigid. The skull is just an immutable hard shell covered – or beautified – by that leathery thing called skin. The only thing that makes out all the personality and variety are a few muscles and tendons attached to the front of the skull. And underneath, vor the voice.
In fact, these few muscles and tendons are the source of so many pressures in our life that it seems almost ridiculous. But they are also the source of trust and comfort.
Is someone dangerous? Fearsome? Confident? Confused? Ashamed? These muscles and tendons tell.
I have an abstract sense of fear around people that I do not quite understand. Egalitarianism may have let me forget the obvious truth: People are dangerous machines. In my untrained state, even girls can seriously harm me.
So what gives a sense of security? A kind face. A beautiful body. Breasts. Surface decorations. A cover-up of a dangerous machine.
What are women really like? Well, take away the face and the breasts. Relish the scary vision. Will their harmless gestures still seem so harmless? Or will you suddenly be bewildered by the way they manipulated you before? Will you still want to be their savior or rather fight and use them?
And when I thus forget the distracting faces and displayed harmlessness, I can watch the quite mechanical underpinnings of real life. The inherent dangerousness, the forces that some may not even be aware of having.
I see myself surrounded by skeletons, muscles, blood. A scary world, a world of dangers. A world in which I am – ultimately – alone.
The calming power of faces
It is sensational what faces can do. It is wondrous how many things they communicate and how they instill a sense of calmness and familiarity in us.
Just Google people without face.
If everybody looked like that, how would you feel? Apart from the ugliness, you would suddenly be clueless about the emotions that other people feel towards you. Is someone angry at you or happy to see you? You would not know. It would be a terrifying existence among monsters.
But there is another angle to it.
On one trip, a friend asked me: What about the soul?
Back then, it seemed irrelevant. Inconsequential. I was simply fascinated with seeing the body as a machine.
But now that I think of it, I realize that whatever I usually liked about people in the past had to do with the pleasure of seeing their faces.
Take away that distraction and I think I get a glimpse of what some people mean with love.
Not the kind of love where you indulge in the pleasure a person gives you. But one where you take a second to appreciate that there may be a consciousness just like yours in that body.
Now, naturally that does not mean that you would want to do no harm ever to that person, but it is still an interesting step away from solipsism.
The great thing about that interpretation of love is that it is not, how would you say, strenuous. It is not like a drug, where you need more and more. It has more to do with understanding.
I believe that to truly love something in that way, you have to understand it. Like I learned to appreciate a car when I learned about its engine, looking under the surface and demystifying people makes me love them more. Because it makes them more predictable and familiar.
But the other aspect that is inevitably a part of my personality is something of a dark side.
Take away the faces, aesthetics and sympathetic features and suddenly you find yourself in an uncanny jungle of bodies where the strongest survives. Where you want to dominate and others to submit. Where flesh and blood and force rule. Where the only security you can have is power.
That seems very right to me, very honest.
The more I think of it, the more I believe that faces are a distraction, a red herring. Something to deceive you. Just like words, promises.
But look at the mechanics of movement. Look what people actually do. And you see reality.
This also demystifies women. They may act submissively, but in the practical sense – even if more limitedly than men – they are potentially dangerous machines. All it takes for them to attack and hurt you is their decision to do so.
Therefore my message is one that sounds like quite a cliche, but gets an interesting twist when you take it literally: Look past the surface. See who people are underneath.
And what you find there, you may interpret in your own way.
For me, it is a scary, mechanical and adventurous jungle of the survival of the fittest. A lonely place indeed, and I dare say that my sense of companionship may as well have only been one of a habitualized and unquestioned pleasure of human interaction and the indulgence in empathy and faces.
For you, what you see may be where you find people’s souls.
And we both may or may not agree that one can find confidence in this world devoid of distractions, devoid of deceiving beauty. A world where you no longer care for approval of others, because it no longer looks that beautiful. Because it no longer seems like a necessary drug – nor one you should trust. And you may or may not agree and recognize that that mechanical world is yours as much as anybody else’s. That nobody but you is there to decide how to deal with your fear, with the inherent dangers of that world.
Maybe many of today’s vapid slogans once originated from a deeper truth when the words were still interpreted in a more literal way. Maybe metaphors are, to a certain degree, only what we call the things we no longer understand in a literal sense.
Be it as it may, it is interesting how blood and flesh shocks us these days. Yet we carry so much of it with us, are so intrinsically equal to that which we eat. And all it takes is a little slice, a little peak underneath.
I say, do not stop at the stupid psychology and soul when you want to know who you are. Look at the mechanics of life. Look at the machine that you inhabit. Look past the pleasures of human existence that distract you from these truths, past the lies that shield you from them and paint them as satanic or evil. Tell me, if God made humans, and if God did not want us to see blood and bones and the scary aspects of life, why did he not design life in a different way? In a way where underneath the skin, there is just more skin? If god did not want us to have a dark side, why did he create us with one?