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

None at Strand Bookstore

Fri, Mar 3 at 7 p.m.   |   90 minutes

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

Teacher: Michael Haltenberger & Michael Prettyman
Venue: Strand Bookstore

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Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

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Other Upcoming Olios


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Teacher: Lawrence Cappello

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Teacher: Ted Barrow

June 10, 2020, 8 p.m.

Progressives, Radicals & Well-Meaning Liberals

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Teacher: Angie Beeman

June 11, 2020, 8 p.m.

Plato Goes East: The Republic and The Bhagavad Gita

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Teacher: Vishwa Adluri

June 14, 2020, noon

Socialism, A Day in the Life

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Teacher: Danny Katch

June 15, 2020, 8 p.m.

Government Action and Inaction in Response to Covid-19

Location: at Online

Teacher: Andres Bernal

June 19, 2020, 8 p.m.


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Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.