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From Dr. Ehirllimbal's private journal—

August 4th, 1954: What is the medicinal use of the visionary experience? What benefit to the mind is there to be gained in quelling its structures and rules? Is it a refutation or a validation? (Of what? What am I trying to believe?)

It has been three days since I took the sap of the blackleaf plant, and I am still affected by vision and madness during the night. By now, the chemistry of the sap must have degraded, and what I am experiencing is an after-effect, an echo, of the initial shock to my system. How long will it take to fade completely? (It is still somewhat outside my realm of comprehension that a single dose of a natural compound could permanently effect a biochemical change in my system.) If it is something that ultimately disperses, then will my system build a resistance to it? What other effect will this resistance have on me? Will I stop dreaming?

So many questions. Am I surprised? Yes, because I had not thought there would be so many so soon. I had thought my education and preparation would be sufficient to build some rudimentary understanding of what I was to experience, but . . . yes, it is rather much.

Yet, at the same time, I am already struggling to quantify these experiences within the framework of my Western education. I am adrift in this sea of illusion and delusion because I expect it to make sense to my rigid Judeo-Christian psychological foundation. Because I still expect the world to conform to my expectations and experiences. "I" am still an issue here.

The world doesn't care. One of Dr. Gilchrist's first lectures to the new students. "You are not the center of the universe. The universe doesn't care about you. The universe doesn't even think about you; it has no opinion about you, or your children, or your cat, or the woman who you see on the train every day. Your frame of reference is your limited experiential apprehension. It means nothing. It has no value outside your head. The quicker you realize your 'impression' is irrelevant, the sooner you can comprehend the concepts of this class."

Yet, the impression that my "impression" is irrelevant may be the first lie. It may be the largest disservice we do to our comprehension of the world. My religious underpinning reminds me of one of Jesus Christ's aphorisms: "Love thy neighbor." What if that isn't enough? What if he meant: "Be thy neighbor." Does that not change everything?

Does it matter what he said? Or what I have been brought up to believe he said? Does any article of faith have any "meaning" other than the weight I ask it to bear in supporting my sanity? The universe may not care if I believe . . . in anything. No, it does not care.

However . . . it must. That lies at the core of my illusion, doesn't it? Beneath the synaesthesia, beneath the hallucinations and the surreal mental juxtapositions, beneath the elongation and compression of time, lies an unwavering permanence. It waits for me to accept it, to welcome it into my mind. It is an alien thought, and yet, it has a resonance like it is something I have always known, but have simply failed to recognize for my entire life.

Am I cured, or am I insane? A matter of perspective: mine or not-mine. Is the question of which is true even worth posing, or is it too reflexive and self-referential to be quantifiable?

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