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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Psychedelic Literature.

Dunphy, Joan S. (1975).
Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami.

ISBN: none

Description: Unpublished doctoral dissertation in English, v + 106 pages.

Contents: Abstract, 5 parts; 1. Need for Project, 2. The Proposed Project, 3. Experimental Demonstration of Method, 4. Results, 5. Appendix; bibliography, vita.

Note: This is not about literary works which have to do with psychedelics, such as Leary's poems or Wolfe's The Electric Kool- Aid Acid Test. It describes a "psychedelic" method of teaching undergraduate literature, which might be best characterized as multisensory, multimedia methods of instructional technology, and including contemporary art from popular culture -- songs, movies, TV shows, etc.

Excerpt(s): The emotional independence of the college student of the fifties was also influenced by the artistic movement of a group of artists who sought a freer style of thought and sensibility. The so-called beat writers included Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, Gregory Corso, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti who broke with the culture and with society and demonstrated publicly and privately that there were other ways to live than those recommended by the older generation. They were the forerunners of the hippie movement, rejecting society's values and substituting their own.

One of the values these artists rejected was the condemnation of hallucinatory drugs. Some felt drugs would lead mankind to develop unknown powers of comprehension and a merging of the individual with a universal oneness. Such ideas were the necessary preconditioners to the new forms of rebellion against society's attitudes which are a mark of the young people of the sixties and seventies. (pages 1-2)

In the late nineteen-sixties the Beatles, in albums such as Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club, treated such subjects as hypocrisy and loneliness. Drugs, social consciousness, race issues, free love, ecology, and spiritual contentment have all been subjects of rock music in the sixties and seventies. (pages 4-5)

Among the important themes of the new values Daniel Yankelovich found when he surveyed the college students of the nineteen-seventies were challenge to authority; the search for substitutes for traditional religious values, particularly those that reflect "the Puritan Ethic"; a new sexual morality, with still more acceptance of sexual freedom desired; questioning of wars as instruments of politics, and of patriotism itself; a search for a cooperative rather than a competitive life; a shifting from the extrinsic rewards of a career (money and status); a change of emphasis from achievement through hard work to living in close harmony with one's peers and with nature; and an acceptance of drugs. These changes noted by Yankelovich are, in part, the result of conditioning by the mass media but also represent the culmination of the new consciousness first seen in the nineteen-fifties. (page 6)

The introduction of new [instructional] devices permits new methods of teaching traditional courses. The term "Psychedelic Literature" implies that there can be an interdisciplinary approach to literature, taught by combining forms and using audio-visual material. The aesthetic theory of a unity of the arts is implicit in the work of many artists including William Blake and Wallace Stevens, and such philosophers as Suzanne Langer, Wylie Sypher, and Jean Paul Sartre. This theory, together with the use of media as a stimulant, is the basis for the psychedelic method of teaching literature to a generation which has turned away from books in its quest for sensation, intensity, and brevity. (pages 11-12)

The rock performer is a singer, instrumentalist, composer, and poet affected by history, esthetic ideology, metaphysics, Eastern mystical theology and psychedelic drugs. Rock music starts with a stimulus to the psychic consciousness of modern man. (page 16)

Psychedelic Literature is a course designed to meet the needs of this young person who has turned away from the written page and finds himself responding to a world of sensation. It is a new way of teaching literature which employs the techniques devised by the mass media in television, radio, and records. Its aim is to turn the benumbed victims of the commercial media into sensitized, critical perceivers. (page 17)

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