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psychedelic space
People ask me all the time about what I think a post prohibition world will look like. There are a lot of angles to this question. So many areas of our life will be affected by the end of prohibition. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about how psychedelic sensibilities on setting might filter into how we design spaces for public use. We know that only a small percentage of people use psychedelics in spaces designed specifically for that purpose. That percentage will probably increase as clinical and religious legalization occurs, but I doubt it will become the majority. Most folks will still be out in the world, going to concerts and campsites and hotels and local parks. They might just be wandering the streets, trying not to attract too much attention. And while sometimes these places are nice for trippers, the world at large definitely has some rough edges. Trains, buses, harsh lights and corporate design elements are simply not chill for someone who is non-specifically amplifying. They often produce confusion and reduce the feeling of safety. This lack of safety is, of course, exacerbated by prohibition. Everyone understands that if they should happen to appear too stoned, they might be arrested. Long time psychedelic users know this paranoia well, it’s almost a survival mechanism.


Imagine if that paranoia was gone, because drugs were legal? It wouldn’t matter if your friend was an undercover cop, because you weren’t breaking any laws. You could be a little more silly and free in public, people would understand that you were just having a nice time on mushrooms in the park, and it was ok. And here’s where it gets good, because if we all agree that it’s ok to be on mushrooms, then perhaps there could be areas of the park that were designed to delight people on mushrooms. Gentle playgrounds for grownups. Nothing too wild, maybe just some special beautiful gardens to wander through, an area full of hammocks perhaps. Some novel public art. I’m open to ideas. And after a day at the park, you could go back to your hotel that was designed for people on psychedelics. The hotel would offer a series of services aimed at psychedelic users. All night pool service perhaps? Everyone who has been drinking needs to get out by 9pm, and then the acid heads could float about until dawn. All the staff have watched zendo videos. They are wonderful conversationalists, and can keep the ball in the air if you come to them with absurdities, or deep speculative philosophy.

Imagine train cars. Part of the inspiration for this email was the classic song by The Who, 5:15. It’s about a guy who is stoned out of his mind and stuck on a commuter train. The 5:15. He’s surrounded by businessmen getting off work, and he’s losing it. He’s trying to pretend he fits in, he doesn’t want to get caught, and he’s just melting down. The vibe is terrible. So again, imagine a train car for people on psychedelics. It would be soft and lovely. Good colors and textures. The only problem with this train car is that everyone would want to ride in it. Because it would be the only train care designed for a lovely human experience, and not to move human resources to and from spaces of commerce efficiently. And this reveals the issue with our society, it is simply not designed for humans and their happiness. And this is part of the reason people think psychedelics can fix society, because it makes it impossible to ignore this fact, and inspires us to do something about it. We need to have conversations about this issue, and start designing different systems with different aesthetics.

It’s nice to have sacred space, don’t get me wrong. Place to do deep and healing work. But it troubles me that we live in a world where these spaces have to be so rare and separate. I don’t think that we should only be cloistered away for our journeys, in carefully curated precious spaces. We occasionally need to interact with the world, and see it with special eyes. Imagine a world where we listened to the psychonauts. If they complained about ‘the vibes’ of a space, we took that seriously and did something about it. If we actually cared about the effects of our architecture on the souls of delicate and open beings. I’d like to live in that world.


Meow Wolf has the right idea.
A friend of mine told me that she went to Meow Wolf, and that she went a little be high. She had some of the paranoia we spoke about seep in. She was sure they knew she was on acid, and she was sure she was going to get in trouble. They were going to kick her out, they were going to call the cops, the whole deal. All of the staff, who were dressed up like surreal supermarket staff were eyeballing her menacingly. Or so she thought. Finally one of them approached her, and her blood ran cold. Then they reached out their hand and offered her a card. It read ‘Employee of the Month”. She found herself celebrated instead of maligned. What a fun place.

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