books · linguistics

Xenolinguistics by D.R.Slattery

In Xenolinguistics, Diana Reed Slattery mixes research on language, psychedelics, and consciousness in a trippy cocktail which will warp your mind like the characters of Glide, the symbolic language she “downloaded” in an altered state of consciousness. Among the topics discussed in the book are psychonautic practices, the concept of reality and extended perception, neurophenomenology, (un)natural languages, and their relation with culture and nature. The author provides a vibrant account of altered states of consciousness, supported by the works of psychologists, philosophers, psychonauts (I think Terrence McKenna is the most cited) and most importantly by personal introspective reports. A personal highlight was to see cited two intellectual Romanians way ahead of their time: Mircea Eliade and Basarab Nicolescu – the former best known for his comparative study of religions, the latter for his transdisciplinary approach and the Law of the Included Middle, presented in detail in chapter 5. To enhance the visual journey, the pages include images of the Glide symbols, the artworks of Alex and Allyson Grey, Slattery’s own paintings, and other symbolic images. It was even more exciting to read the recent study by Robin Carhart-Harris et al., who showed for the first time the effects of LSD on the brain, thanks to brain-scanning techniques. As for the linguistic part, Neiloufar Family et al. showed that “LSD seems to effect the mind’s semantic networks, or how words and concepts are stored in relation to each other. When LSD makes the network activation stronger, more words from the same family of meanings come to mind.” This book offers an enriching experience to artists, psychonauts, and scholars alike.

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