I’m still working my way through Dr James Austin’s “Zen and the Brain”, and I’ve reached a section on anesthesia and other consciousness altering chemical effects.
Actually, I took a break from Dr Austin, to read Voltaire’s Candide – short and sweet – humorous Swiftian-style satire on the “best of all possible worlds” view that a perfect world holds its fair (and very unfair) share of evil. Thoughtful, but not deep, as if Beyond Good and Evil (Nietzsche) had been written by Yann Martel (Life of Pi). Amazing for its mid to late 1700’s “age of enlightenment” times, when so much was happening. The story of Voltaire’s own life and travels is interesting in itself.
Talking of life stories, in the same break I’ve been working on updating the Pirsig Timeline. Amongst other things I was researching Peyote and the LSD connection, which put me in mind of consciousness altering chemicals again. When I returned to Dr Austin’s chapters on anesthesiology, I remembered that Stuart Hameroff, of Quantum Consciousness fame, was an anesthesiologist originally, so I dived off and found two very interesting layman-directed interviews with Hameroff. [1997 Alternative Therapies],[2002/3 Nexus].
They range across the full gamut from quantum physics (uncertainty, non-locality and entanglement) with references to superstrings and holochory, energy processes underlying (apparent material) reality, microtubule components of cell structures, including neurons, and the link between these microtubules and orchestrated coherence of underlying quantum effects controlling the otherwise very simple macro-scale chemical diffusion processes of anesthesia and the conscious brain. Serious or seriously silly, it is compelling stuff.