The imposing buildings of Greenwich University on the banks of the river Thames provided a fantastic location for the second Breaking Convention, the planets’ largest multidisciplinary conference on psychedelic consciousness.
For three days historians, neurologists, parapsychologists, shamanic practitioners, Heads and others enjoyed both the fabulous sunshine and an intense download of research and opinion with three parallel lecture sessions running, plus workshop space. But it wasn’t by any means all talk. The university buildings we were using were transformed into a psychedelic gallery. There were books, installation art, paintings and in the evening performance and psychedelic music at the delightful after-parties.
As is usually the way with these events there was too much to take in and there were several lectures and workshops I had to miss. An added intensity to the presentations was created by the high temperatures in the generally packed lecture theatres. One delegate observed that this made each talk reminiscent of a sweat lodge where (though the organisers did their best to ventilate the spaces) one had to endure the temperature if you were going to obtain the great wisdom from the speaker you’d chosen to hear!
Sitting in the shade outside I reflected on the weird fact that here we were, having a conference about psychedelics, when these drugs/medicines/entheogens (choose the word you like best) are still seriously illegal in the majority of nations on our planet. However this situation means that events of this type are even more important. As we (both individually and as cultures) struggle to understand our own relationship with these powerful substances it’s vital that we build communities and exchange information. Here at Breaking Convention new narratives are being formed. These range from new models of drug policy through to the latest scientific research on the myriad possible therapeutic uses of these chemicals. Sure there were a few lectures I attended that irritated me but in terms of a conference that’s a good thing. The aim of the game is to build community but not at the expense of critical thinking or the realisation that there are many different (sometimes competing) groups with a stake in the psychedelic discourse.
Much of the content of the workshops was recorded so soon it should be possible to check out the presentations for yourself. Stay tuned to this channel and I’ll post links to the resources related to the conference as they are released.
Respect to the organisers and to all those who contributed to this excellent event. The next Breaking Convention is timetabled for 2015 and anything could happen by then. Ketamine therapy for depression, MDMA therapy for PTSD and maybe medical marijuana in Britain. Who knows perhaps even greater changes if we can find intellectually and politically savvy ways to amend our laws. And with excellent events like Breaking Convention to inspire and inform us I have no doubt that these transformations are a distinct possibility.
Pics of the conference can be viewed here http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathan_greet/sets/72157634672745700/
Article from the Times Higher Education HERE.