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Darwin's Pharmacy

Sex, Plants, and the Evolution of the Noosphere

By Richard M. Doyle

Publication Year: 2011

This book inquires into the swarm of ontological, epistemological, and ethical questions provoked by psychedelic experience in the context of global ecological crisis. Richard M. Doyle is professor of English and science, technology, and society at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of On Beyond Living and Wetwares.

Published by: University of Washington Press



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p. vii

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Acknowledgments [Includes Untitled Text]

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p. ix

This book was not really my idea, but evolved out of an elaborate encounter with a sentient mesh. I have always been grateful for the plant ecosystem from whence we have manifested in order to move plant genes around and explore the space of all possible experiences, but I now realize that I am that mesh, and for that unmistakable teaching I give thanks...

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Introduction: Glimpsing the Peacock Angel

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pp. 5-42

Crawling with transact ions, the contemporary Earth whirls and whorls,1 uncannily bereft of human agency. The global ecosystem, undeniably in crisis due to the presence and activities of humans and their fossil-fuel familiars, maintains itself far from equilibrium, surfing diverse gradients through raised ocean levels and proliferating vectors...

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1. The Flowers of Perception: Trip Reports, Stigmergy, and the Nth Person Plural

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pp. 43-99

If we are to respond ethically (not to mention scientifically) to the presence of psychedelic technologies in our cultures, then it would seem a good idea to evaluate what they are. This ontological question—“What are psychedelics?”—would seem to come before any reasoned or practical response to the systematic alteration of consciousness in interaction...

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2. Rhetorical Mycelium: Psychedelics as Eloquence Adjuncts?

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pp. 100-126

An entire generation remembers where it was when Lee Oswald became “Lee Harvey Oswald”; something like rhetorical exergy seemed to be at work, as if the enormity of the sacrifice called forth a new word, a middle name to resonate with “Fitzgerald.”1 The media burst that accompanied the assassination of John F. Kennedy was spiking toward infinity...

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3. Rhetorical Adjuncts and the Evolution of Rhetoric: Darwin’s Impassioned Speech

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pp. 127-173

If Munn’s Mazatec Sophists offer us an acc ount of a truly transhuman rhetorical practice taking in both Homo sapiens and Psilocybe cubensis, it remains to be seen if this is anything but an oddity and/or gift of the Mazatecs. Is rhetoric to be understood as a fundamentally human endeavor, with the Mazatec mushroom adjunct and our logos listeners...

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4. LSDNA: Creative Problem Solving, Consciousness Expansion, and the Emergence of Biotechnology

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pp. 174-197

So there is a refrain, order and noise, rhythmic entrainment, and symmetry breaking. In short, at perhaps its most compressed, laughter. Indeed, perhaps laughter is something like the bardo between ordered speech and its noisy, babbling, babeled other. In its endless search engine for eloquence in ego death, that nonrepresentable, ineffable, Thing...

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5. Hyperbolic: Divining Ayahuasca

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pp. 198-235

Iquitos, Peru’s largest jungle city of five hundred thousand, cannot be reached by road. The pilgrim’s route toward “mother ayahuasca,” the ecodelic brew prepared for millennia by upper Amazonian shamans, usually begins with a boarding pass and a security check. With great quotidian efficiency, guards sort through twined boxes covered in tape, crates of...

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6. The Transgenic Involution

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pp. 236-250

It may seem perverse to suggest that if you want to understand the telos of contemporary biotechnology, then you ought to sample some hydroponic White Widow and look at artist Eduardo Kac’s transgenic bunny Alba. And indeed I would suggest no such thing....

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7. From Zero to One: Metaprogramming Noise, with Special Reference to Plant Intelligence

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pp. 251-304

The rest of my second ayahuasca journey concerned the plant intelligence that rather matter-of-factly runs the planet. My journeys since have often repeated this message: human consciousness, from this perspective, is just a way for plants to move plant and bacterial genes around, but we have apparently forgotten this and take ourselves...

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Epilogue: In Darwin’s Dreams

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pp. 305-316

Dr. Darwin—for they kept calling him that, and it was all he had to go on besides the archives and the fleeting ancestral flashes prompted by the great pyres of Shiva stuff—studied the plant, his eyes stilling, then shifting to and fro across the enormous blossoms above, his neck straining. She soared nearly three meters above the lapis pot, bending under...


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pp. 317-330


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pp. 331-345


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pp. 347-358

E-ISBN-13: 9780295803005
E-ISBN-10: 0295803002
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295990941
Print-ISBN-10: 0295990945

Publication Year: 2011

Series Editor Byline: Edited by PHILLIP THURTLE, Associate Professor, Comparative History of Ideas Program, University of Washington, and ROBERT MITCHELL, Professor of English and Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory, Duke University. See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 772499855
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Darwin's Pharmacy

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Subject Headings

  • Biology -- Philosophy.
  • Hallucinogenic drugs -- Psychological aspects.
  • Rhetoric -- Philosophy.
  • Consciousness.
  • Sexual selection in animals.
  • Gaia hypothesis.
  • Biosphere.
  • Hallucinogenic plants -- Psychic aspects.
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