Counterculture and Drug Use

Drug use is the contentious issue that lurks in any discussion of contemporary counterculture. What surprises here, perhaps, is the extent to which drug use prior to the twentieth century is not central to this exploration. Still, mind-affecting plants and chemicals do pop up across countercultural history.

In counterculture since the beats, so-called hard drugs—stimulants and narcotics like speed, heroin, and cocaine—have occasionally fostered fruitful creative frenzy or provided a context for narratives of hilarious morbidity and artful gloom. These drugs have been used with enjoyment and apparent impunity by some. But because of the syndromes of dissolution so often connected with their long-term use, such substances have generally undermined the project of embodying the countercultural impulse in effective action and sustainable modes of living. Counterculture by definition strives toward freedom, while drug addiction is a kind of slavery. In this sense, addictive drug use can ultimately be assessed as anathema to counterculture despite its widespread presence in recent countercultural episodes.

There is a vast history regarding the use of psychedelic (mind-manifesting) plants like psilocybin, peyote, and marijuana to obtain spiritual and religious visions and shamanic healing powers, allowing individuals and groups access to the numinous realm without the intercession of any religious authority.

Altered states of consciousness can sometimes help people conceive alternative truths or open them up to multiple perspectives. In High Frontiers magazine, Bruce Eisner and Peter Stafford described the use of various mind-altering drugs as being “like changing the perceptual filters on your camera to give you a variety of pictures of reality.” Psychedelics like LSD, mescaline, and later Ecstasy, while certainly presenting some hazards, have fueled the countercultural drive by illuminating utopian visions, inspiring artistic departures, and exposing consensus reality. Even the dark side of the psychedelic experience has made its contribution, infusing the desire for radical change with electric urgency by rendering the horrors of modern life in the vivid, pulsing close-up images of a trip focused on harsh negative realities.

Within these contexts, the use of certain psychedelics, is presumed to be understood as an indicator of a particularly unrestrained example of counterculturalness. At the same time, this is not always the case for all individuals and cultures, historically or currently. Even the relatively drug-saturated countercultures of recent decades have given place to counterculturalists who had nothing to do with drugs.

At its best—again mostly, but not exclusively, with the psychedelics— counterculture drug exploration goes beyond the usual chemical quest for recreation, relief, or oblivion. Instead, it becomes a manifestation of counterculture’s great perennial embrace of new ideas, technologies, experiences, and modes of being. It is from this context that works like Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, Daniel Pinchbeck’s Breaking Open the Head.

Sources: Counterculture Through the Ages

Graffiti Terms

Angel

Graffiti term ‘angel’ is most commonly used when referring to a famous or highly respected graffiti artist who has passed away.

King

‘King’ (or ‘queen’ for female writers) is a graffiti writer who is especially respected among other writers. Some people refer to different writers as kings of different graffiti styles, and the term is regionally subjective.

Married Couple

In graffiti world, the term ‘married couple’ refers to two simultaneous train cars painted next to each other with a single painting evenly spread across both cars.

Heaven Spot

‘Heaven spot’, or ‘heaven’ in short, is a graffiti term which refers to dare devil graffiti pieces that are painted in places that are hard to reach, such as rooftops, overpasses and freeway signs, thus making them hard to remove.

Piece

The graffiti term ‘piece’, short of masterpiece, is used to describe a large, complex, time-consuming and labor-intensive graffiti painting, usually painted by skilled and experienced writers.

Tag

Tag is the most basic and the most prevalent form of graffiti. Graffiti tag is usually written with marker or spray paint and in one color, which is sharply contrasted with its background. Tag is a stylized personal signature and contains graffiti writer’s name, also known as a moniker.

Back to Back

The term ‘back to back’ refers to graffiti piece that is painted all the way across a wall, from end to end.

Throw-Up

‘Throw-up’ or ‘throwie’ is a widely referenced graffiti term, most commonly used to describe tag-like drawings of bubble letters designed for quick execution (we all know why) of graffiti words, and usually consisting of artist’s name and only two colors.

Whole Train

The meaning of the term ‘whole train’ is quite self-explanatory in the graffiti world. It is used to describe train cars which have been completely covered in graffiti, from the first to the last car of the train composition.

Anthropomorphize

Anthropomorphize (noun)

To give an animal or a nonliving thing human characteristics. Anthro-pomorphism can be seen in Disney movies where the rabbits sing and dance or on South Park with a talking piece of poo, Mr. Hankey.

To say, “The sea was angry that day, my friends,” would be to anthropomorphize the ocean.”