November 9, 2012

"I had been reading about the color indigo, how it had been introduced into the spectrum by [Isaac] Newton rather late..."

"... and it seemed no two people quite agreed as to what indigo was, and I thought I would like to have an experience of indigo. And I built up a sort of pharmacological launchpad with amphetamines and LSD, and a little cannabis on top of that, and when I was really stoned I said, 'I want to see indigo now.' And as if thrown by a paintbrush, a huge pear-shaped blob of the purest indigo appeared on the wall. Again it had this luminous, numinous quality; I leaped toward it in a sort of ecstasy. I thought, 'This is the color of heaven.' ... I thought maybe this is not a color which actually exists on the Earth, or maybe it used to exist or no longer exists. All this went through my mind in 4 or 5 seconds, and then the blob disappeared, giving me a strong sense of loss and heartbrokenness, and I was haunted a little bit when I came down, wondering whether indigo did exist in the real world."

Oliver Sacks, in his new book "Hallucinations," discussed in a nice interview on NPR today.

23 comments:

chickelit said...

Indigo dye is indigenous to India.

edutcher said...

Sounds like the story about Lennon and McCartney on acid taking pictures of candles.

AprilApple said...

"I usually get the zigzag, but I may also see lattice patterns, like tessellations; sometimes these lattice patterns seem to cover people's faces or a piece of paper I'm writing on. I mostly get complex geometrical patterns; ..."

I've experienced one of those.
It freaked me out royally. It was a Sunday and I was all alone. All I could see were black and white/gray and clear zig zags --zigging and zagging like a kaleidoscope in my vision. I frantically searched for an eye doctor to call. Found one who called me back (no Obamacare needed) and he told me I was having an Ocular Migraine.
He said it would pass in about 15-20 minutes.

Astro said...

Ocular Migraine -- yeah I've had a couple of those. The first one freaked me out, too, even though I knew what it was. (My wife used to get them.) Lasted about 20 minutes. It was an arc of moving squares, alternating black and white. No headache though, just the flashing lights.

AprilApple said...

Astro - Freaky. I had no idea what was going on. You're lucky.

Craig said...

I painted a house Daring Indigo and it completely altered the course of my life.

David said...

Indigo was the first great slave crop in the American south. It's Newton's fault.

enderud said...

I've always been suspicious of Oliver Sacks.

His case histories are fun reading but I think they have been embellished more than a litte

Paul Kirchner said...

Oliver Sacks is always interesting, but I'm alarmed at the extent of his drug use. (Unless, as enderud says, that's embellished too.)

ken in sc said...

I first had an ocular migraine in 2004. I was trying to enter grades into a spread sheet for mid-term grades. For a short time, I could not see to do so. It was right around the fall time change. Every one I have had since has been at the same time of year. I have concluded that it has to do with delayed meal times. My brain expects to be fed at a certain time and rebels with an ocular migraine when it is not.

Methadras said...

I heard that interview as well and the only thing that came to my mind was how my synesthasia has affected me and how to explain color to a blind man.

Methadras said...

Astro said...

Ocular Migraine -- yeah I've had a couple of those. The first one freaked me out, too, even though I knew what it was. (My wife used to get them.) Lasted about 20 minutes. It was an arc of moving squares, alternating black and white. No headache though, just the flashing lights.


That is an involuntary synesthetic apparition.

Fernandinande said...

Wikipedia: "The first recorded use of indigo as a color name in English was in 1289."

I don't think the concept of "spectrum" existed before Newton, so I'm not sure what "introduced into the spectrum" might mean, but the color and name predate Newton by a few hundred years. So I think the guy is BS-ing.

And the blobs of color, tesselations, geometric patterns, etc., aren't true hallucinations. So I think the guy is BS-ing.

Clyde said...

Lemme guess: Obama voter, right?

Forward! To our glorious Soviet American future!

McTriumph said...

Indigo is from Asia, it's blue, the blue dye used to make denim. Evidently poor Oliver never owned a pair of original 501s. But, then I'm sure he owned lots of cheap Chinese made bell bottoms purchased from his local head-shop.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Oliver Sacks experienced a profound yet transcendent ecstasy, that was gone in an instant, that was followed by a haunting sense of loss and heartbrokenness.

That describes just about every erotic dream I've ever had.

I still have them to this day. In fact, I had one this very morning, featuring a girlfriend from 30 years ago.

But now that I'm on the wrong side of 50, these erotic dreams aren't so wet, anymore.

So anyway, at least there isn't so much of a mess as there used to be.

Rusty said...

. And I built up a sort of pharmacological launchpad with amphetamines and LSD, and a little cannabis on top of that, and when I was really stoned I said, 'I want to see indigo now.'


Good times. Good times.

Texan99 said...

"I don't think the concept of "spectrum" existed before Newton"

He may have been the first to think systematically about what it meant to spread out white light through a prism, but people have been seeing rainbows for a long time, and some of them must have noticed the standard succession of colors.

kentuckyliz said...

What heaven must be like.

Maybe that's why blue is associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Full of grace.

The Lord is with you.

Rusty said...

Come to think of it I might of met Oliver at one time. Or not. There's a lot about the late 60s and early 70s I'm still hazy about.
I seem to recall going to college. Or not.

Krumhorn said...

Yet another reason to de-fund PBS

I always feel numinous when I have the opportunity to say that.

--Krumhorn

clint said...

Interesting to talk about indigo as if it's something exotic and strange.

It's the dye traditionally used to color blue jeans.

Hardly anyone in this country would consider blue jeans exotic or strange in any way.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Clint: Whoa. Dude. that is heavy.