Patreon of the Cartoons

https://www.patreon.com/lisvender

I’ve started a Patreon account! If you’d like to support me so I can have more time to animate, and lower my production time, please give what you can. I really appreciate any help I can get, so please spread the word. Help me get through my backlog of cartoons, including No-Luck Nora (and it’s sequel!) and Evil Land! There’s still so much more I want to create, too, including a cartoon about party animal Beckers, and the hapless Penelope Pitstop. More is coming! If you donate, I’ll send you a unique drawing – digital or paper – of whatever you request (within reason).

I hope to hear from you.

https://www.patreon.com/lisvender

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You Can Never Catch It…

…so you must enjoy the chase all you can

Wherever it takes you

Follow the muse

Wherever it takes you

Follow the muse

Wherever it takes you

Follow the muse

Wherever it takes you

Follow the muse

Will_o_the_wisp_by_fladdermuuus

We Want to Believe

About a month ago, I started a new job helping out at a local high school. I work with teachers who have to wrangle huge numbers of kids. Growing up, I had a reverent opinion of teachers: they were important figures who knew far more than I did, and their knowledge and authority were to be respected without question. Now that I’ve gone behind the scenes and tinkered with their tools, I’ve realized something else.

These people don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

They’re barely keeping things together. Organization is minimal, and buck-passing is common. They talk a big show to keep the students in line, but they don’t have any real power beyond vague, abstract threats. Nevertheless, the kids cower from the dreaded “referral,” and inevitably submit.

Now, I’m not saying this to knock teachers, nor to praise the rebellious nature of teenagers. I’m saying it because seeing the truth of the situation, and extrapolating it to the macrocosm of society, led me to a revelation: no one knows what the hell they’re doing. Not our parents, not the government, not even the faceless black shape we grimly refer to as “the corporations.”

Why do you think corporations pour so much money into lobbying for laws that benefit them? To hoard gold and power in their greedy quest to dominate humankind? Doesn’t that sound a little silly? They may be giant businesses that exist to turn a profit, but that doesn’t make them Sauron, Dark Lord of Mordor. No, they don’t lobby to harvest riches from the middle class; they do it because they’re terrified of losing everything. Remember what happened in 2008? A handful of morons made some dumb decisions, and the whole system nearly collapsed like a house of cards. Some of the biggest banks in the world, perfect representatives of the “evil moneychangers” we despise but won’t stand up to, broke under the strain. If you knew that you could lose all your money because of some idiot’s bad behavior, wouldn’t you try to protect yourself, too?

When Bill Clinton got grilled over the whole Monica Lewinsky thing, people got pretty pissed at him. It was adultery, it was deceit, it was illicit, dirty sex. Behavior far below what we expected from the leader of our country.

Why?

Bill Clinton is just a man, and men get horny. They cheat, they lie, they sleep around. Commonality shouldn’t excuse such behavior, but it also shouldn’t make it shocking. So why were so many people so upset? If someone lives in the White House, that makes him or her a saint? Why did we load such unrealistic expectations on some dope from Arkansas?

Fake crises are bad enough when it comes to public weirdness, but once you get to real, nation-shaking events, things go absolutely batshit. When John F. Kennedy was shot, and the World Trade Center towers were annihilated, conspiracies cropped up everywhere. There was no way that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. It didn’t make sense that terrorists could overtake planes with box cutters. The towers couldn’t possibly have fallen because of burning jet fuel. It goes against everything we’ve been taught. Such chaos simply cannot happen in the world we live in. Clearly there were Other, Darker forces at work. Right?

I don’t like to instantly trust official stories, but come on. We’re talking comic book super-villainy here. People whisper about Satanist celebrities and cabals of arcane cultists without the slightest bit of irony. They honestly don’t realize how ridiculous they sound. The outlandish idea that the Jews and the Illuminati are building and destroying lives at will somehow seems more plausible to them than what is far more likely: that the people we put in charge fell asleep at the wheel.

Look at what happened on 9/11. Look close. What you’ll see is the repetition of a perfectly normal human response: freezing up at the prospect of getting caught in a mistake.

How many times has your boss entrusted you with an important task that you went on to fuck up? How did you feel about it?Weren’t you desperate to correct the matter before anyone else found out, or at least to hide it until you could sneak away?

“Well, yeah,” you might say, “but that’s just my stupid little job. I’m nobody. These guys have real responsibilities. They’re supposed to have things in hand.”

Ha!

Get real: the more responsibility one has, the more hesitant one will be to admit that one dropped the ball. And that’s what happened on 9/11. In that case, the ball dropped very quickly, and fell on all of us. But hey, if you don’t keep an eye on the guys in the cockpit, then you have to accept that sooner or later you’re going to crash.

You think this country is easy to keep a grip on? With all the information and knowledge flying around these days? Folks complain about the government getting bigger, piling on the bureaus and filling in the committees, but this is only happening because our world is growing so fast, our hapless leaders can’t get their arms around it. They might as well try to keep an angry bear in a half-nelson; without increasing efforts, that sucker is going to break free.

Very few people are comfortable with this notion. It’s hard to accept the idea that the high kings above are just stumbling in the dark like the rest of us. It’s much more comfortable to put our faith in the guy with the slick suit and white teeth, even after he’s demonstrated, on multiple occasions, that he’s not worthy of it. We believe, with a fervor that borders on fanaticism, that the confident man must have everything under control, because the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Our society thrives on false idolatry, the veneration of the televised. People like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, Lebron James, Sofia Vergara, and Taylor Swift are held up and presented as gods, and we buy into it like rubes. Our own lives and experiences are played down as dull and insignificant, while all the excitement we hear about only seems to happen to “everyone else.” So we relinquish our power to institutions and symbols, beg for their scraps of money and property and credit, and willfully make ourselves theirs to play with, to reward and to punish, to herd and to slaughter.

It’s a lot easier than understanding that not one of these people is better than anyone else, and that each of us is responsible for his or her own fate.

Now, I realize that I’ve written about some outlandish things here. Spirit guides, God, machine elves, and such. The difference between myself and the idol-worshippers is that I don’t claim to know the truth about these entities, nor do I put much faith in them. A mighty force may have created this universe, but that doesn’t mean It has any kind of plan. For all I know, It’s dancing us into creation because It doesn’t know what else to do. Despite all the evidence I have that spiritual guidance occurs, I remain skeptical, even of my own theories. My chief complaint here is that too few people are willing to examine themselves, to explore their consciousness, to consider their experiences, to recognize themselves as reality, and the idols as illusory. If an individual must break away from society to remain sane, what amazing things could happen if we all became individuals?

An Excerpt from an Interview with Alexander Shulgin

Trip: Are you familiar with the work of the Council on Spiritual Practices? Do you have any thoughts on their work? I’m particularly interested in how their notion of “spiritual guide” seems to have resonance with the notion of “shaman” without having any particular religious overtones of its own. 

AS: I am quite familiar with the CSP and would like to support it in any way I can. There is much talk of the use of psychedelic drugs as the means of understanding the body or the mind, but these views seem to always suggest that the drugs do things. More delicate are their roles as catalysts that allow things to be realized, things that may already be in the person’s reality but not recognized or appreciated. Here can be the gracious realization that there is something of the divine in each of us. This is the spiritual side of our psyches, always present but now revealed in some remarkable way. This is the concept behind the alternate name that has been used, entheogens. And this realization need not require a drug — it can come from any of a number of processes as varied as meditation or falling in love. But the opening of that part of the inner person is of ultimate importance, and the CSP is committed to exploring this process.

The Perils of Being a Wallflower

“Metaphorically, DMT is like an intellectual black hole in that once one knows about it, it is very hard for others to understand what one is talking about. One cannot be heard. The more one is able to articulate what it is, the less others are able to understand. This is why I think people who attain enlightenment, if we may for a moment comap these two, are silent. They are silent because we cannot understand them. Why the phenomenon of tryptamine ecstasy has not been looked at by scientists, thrill seekers, or anyone else, I am not sure, but I recommend it to your attention.”

~ Terence McKenna, The Archaic Revival: Speculations on Psychedelics, Mushrooms, the Amazon, Virtual Reality, UFO’s, Evolution, Shamanism, the Rebirth of the Goddess, & the End of History. (1991).

Dimethlytryptamine: the granddaddy of all hallucinogens. I’m not interested in trying it, as the results sound a little overwhelming, but I am very curious about the psychological, emotional, and spiritual implications of the experience that many of its users have shared.

Terence McKenna described the five-minute DMT trip in great detail: after smoking or otherwise ingesting the ayahuasca plant, the user sees a colorful mandala. It starts out small, as if in the distance, but then it grows and approaches. When it fills the user’s vision, a tearing sound is heard, as of ripped cellophane. The user pushes through the mandala like a Trojan onto the football field, and enters a vivid, sharp, unearthly landscape that is described as a vast, underground dome.

Then the entities show up.

McKenna called them “self-transforming machine elves,” which sounds ridiculous. Nevertheless, he insisted that this was the most fitting term for them. They are the size of basketballs, and their surfaces continually roil, bubble, and shift. They bound up to the user like happy dogs, and they speak in a nonsense language. Nonsense or not, though, the user understands exactly what they’re saying. The message is understood as, “It’s so good to see you! We’ve been waiting so long for you to show up!” This message is “felt,” rather than translated. McKenna says there is a warmth and a welcome, a sense of hospitality and eagerness that has no menace or threat to it at all.

machine.elves.768x1024.final_1024x1024

After the greeting, the elves, as though knowing that their time with the user is short, quickly demonstrate their powers. They urge the user not to give in to astonishment, but to pay careful attention to them. Then they pull a series of miraculous, impossible artifacts out of thin air, like a child eager to show off his or her toys. These objects, like all the other elements of the experience, are mystifying and bizarre, both organic and geometric, and constantly changing. The user is invariably amazed, whether it’s a first-time trip or not.

Next, the entities remind the user not to freak out, and they do something even weirder than the demonstration: they gather before the user, and leap into his or her chest! Users say there is no discomfort in this, or any physical sensation at all, though that fact alone can still be disconcerting or frightening.

At this point, a sort of “bubble” grows in the user’s body, like an expanding gas. It rises into the user’s throat. If the user relaxes and lets it come out of the mouth, the most incredible part of the trip occurs. The “bubble” expresses itself as a song of glossolalia, a musical string of gibberish that the user cannot fathom, even though it is not dissimilar from the language the elves used.

What’s more, the nonsense words manifest themselves visually: expanding from the mouth as artifacts of the very same kind that the elves created.

In describing the trip, McKenna didn’t go much farther than this, so I guess that the user wakes up shortly after this curious creative rush.

Now, what the hell does this all mean?

While tripping, a DMT user does not physically go anywhere, and yet, by all reports, the landscape they envision is completely foreign, and clearer than any dream. It all looks “realer than real.” What this tells me is that the user does not travel outward, but inward.

Somewhere inside his or her own mind.

unfolding_multiverse_by_farboart-d5r1mfx

The subconscious, perhaps? The entities are so glad to see the user that it reminds me of the near-death experience — those who’ve gone through it describe the sense that loving spirits are awaiting their arrival. It’s such a warm feeling that they presume the entities to be deceased family members beckoning them to Heaven. Are they peeking into the same realm where the DMT dome lies?

I think – and this is the theory of an untrained goofball with limited formal education – that the “elves” are messengers, ambassadors of that subconscious self that we usually suppress.

I see the subconscious mind as a foundation: a neglected part of ourselves upon which we build an identity. This identity is a hemlock chalice. It is the product of societal myths that are drilled into us from childhood: values, judgments, opinions, worries, assumptions, things we think we want, ways we think we should behave, things we think we are. We perch at the top of this tower with a monocular, watching for trouble ahead.

Sometimes, the subconscious foundation doesn’t like the weight that’s pressing down on it, and it lashes out. Being so far above it, we sense this shouting as feelings of unease, a distant banging on the pipes beneath us. Most of us ignore these unbidden thoughts and ideas, or bury them under distractions until they go away.

The DMT upends this situation. It pulls the user down from the imaginary tower and forces him or her to look at the foundation, at the dreams and thoughts that they ignore. And they have a lot to say.

“Pay attention. Don’t freak out. Watch what we do, and then do it yourself.”

So what is the lesson to be learned? How does the spontaneous creation of impossible objects help us? Moreover, why is it that we’re able to imitate these alien beings so accurately? It can’t be done in the real world, but in the trip it happens by simply allowing it to happen. It is simple, and yet inexplicable, like willing our hands to move. It must be because the elves are part of us, right? So it seems to me that they’re not teaching us something new; they’re reminding us of something that we have forgotten.

Spice_Expands_Conciousness_3_by_Que

I say “we” because this is an experience shared among DMT users of many stripes. This raises another question: how can so many people receive such a singular message? Is it possible that they all receive it from the same source? If so, what is that source? Instinct? Adaptive memory? Jung’s collective unconscious?

God?

Alan Watts, a staunch advocate of Hinduism, pointed out a fundamental difference between the religions of the East and the West. Whereas Christianity and Judaism profess that God is a sort of engineer, an omnipotent father figure that built the universe and knows its every end and purpose, Hinduism describes God as a dancing, many-armed force that did not construct the universe, but expressed it, and continues to express it, like a song. The concepts of past and future, good and evil, death and life, are all meaningless to God; It simply is, right now. The vibration of existence, the so-called “cosmic wiggle,” is the result of the endless movement of God. This means that each of us is an extension of God’s dream. We are not connected to each other laterally, like a spiderweb, but rather we each extend from the same hub, which is…well, I don’t know exactly.

It is possible that the machine elves, by joining with us and showing that we are as powerful as they are, want to help us regain our true personas, return to our foundations. That wouldn’t explain, however, why so many people experience the same thing. Perhaps the machine elves are trying to remind us that since we are capable of creating life and matter with nothing but wholeness and will, we are not far removed from God Itself. God exists through us, and as such – blasphemous though it may sound – we are God.

It’s a theory. I would never presume to know what God is, or why It does what It does. However, these concepts seem to line up with the psychological knowledge that I’ve gathered. The problem I have now, though, is that I don’t know how to apply these ideas. I am still too shy and afraid to heed my own feelings as a writer, as a cartoonist, and as a person. I may be part of God’s dance, but that doesn’t mean I know the steps.

I suppose that, when I am ready, the answers will come to me. Should I continue to examine my dreams, act on my true feelings, and follow the directions that my being provides, I think I might figure it out.

One day.

Everything I Hate about DeviantArt…

…conveniently smushed together in one picture.

fluttershy_by_underbust-d8o3q5a

Does this offend you? Good. Did I offend you? Good! We’ve established an important boundary. Let’s move on.