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Manipulating the Material: Transcendence Through Drugs, Art and Religious Experience

Michael Prettyman "Brought Forth" Oil and encaustic on canvas 2016

This is an Olio co-taught by two professors: Michael Haltenberger and Michael Prettyman.

Throughout human history people have experienced moments of non-ordinary reality through various means. Sex is a ritualistic act that induces altered states, perhaps the prototypical religious ritual. Certain mushrooms have evolved to induce a very similar experience in mammals. There are many ways people (and even animals) manipulate their bodies and environment to achieve these highly desired states. Yet, the line between drugs and medicine is often arbitrarily drawn and driven by political and economic forces. The wholesale worldwide banning of all hallucinatory drugs in 1973 should give us pause. Even more interesting is the recent explosion of research into medicinal uses of these formerly banned substances. What should our relationship be with these pervasive plants?

- Michael D. Haltenberger 

The challenge faced by artists and mystics is the description and representation of what we, for lack of a better term, call the ineffable. “The Ineffable” can be said to be the real experience witnessed when we transcend the material limits of the universe, when we go beyond the usual limits of perception. Although contemporary art is now thought of as being primarily secular, there is a more ancient standpoint from which to view art, religion and the ingestion of mind-expanding substances. For millennia, both artists and mystics have used psychoactive substances and sacred plants as a gateway. These practices have survived criminalization and marginalization for a very good reason - they work. 

- J. Michael Prettyman




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.


Other upcoming Olios


Feb 23

Questioning the Origins of Sexual Desire

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Feb 28

American Dream/American Delusion: The Case for a Universal Basic Income

Taught by Phelim Kine
7 p.m. at WeWork // 205 Hudson

Sign Up - $15

Mar 2

Shakespeare Happy Hour | Think Olio 3rd Anniversary

Taught by Geoff Klock
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Mar 3

What is Food Anyway? Exploring Power and Individuality in the Things We Eat

Taught by Michael Haltenberger
7:30 p.m. at Brooklyn Art Library

Sign Up - $15

Mar 7

Scenius Party | Populism & the Voice of the People

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $0

Mar 8

Think Olio Read-In | The 2nd Amendment

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Judson Memorial Church

Sign Up - $5

Mar 8

Mar 9

Perverts, Creepers, and Freaks: A History of Sexual Perversions

Taught by Jamie Warren
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Mar 12

The American Moment: Victory, Dominance and Decline

Taught by Ward Regan
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $15

Mar 15

A Radical Prescription for Democracy

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at BAM Fisher

Sign Up - $25

Mar 16

The History of Tech & The Future of Sex

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Mar 21

The Problem of Evil

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Mar 23

OlioMuse | The Muse That Screams: Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8

Taught by Whitney George
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $25

Mar 30

Utopia Happy Hour | Thomas More and Afrofuturism

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


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