I’m reading They Became What They Beheld at the moment by the late anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, and I came across this awesome passage:
Coleridge, De Quincy, Baudelair, Rimbaud used drugs to dislocate perception & reorganize their imaginative lives. They wantded to get out of the boundaries and patterns of perception as they experienced it in their own culture in order to discover new images. They all had the ambition to discover new worlds of perception, new worlds of sensibility.
“We were the first who ever burst into that silent sea.” Coleridge
In many tribes the youth seeking insight goes apart from his fellows and lives for a time in the wilderness, fasting and praying.
“If he is the proper sort, he will return with a message from the god he set out to seek, but even if he fails in that particular, he will have had a vision or seen a marvel — and these are always worth listening to and thinking about.”
When natives tell of such experiences, they rarely mention things seen. They refer to experiences felt, to “inner voices.” Clearly, such experiences aren’t primarily visual. Insight is more appropriate than “vision”; hearer or feeler is more accurate than “seer.”