Everything, All of It: Martin W. Ball on Art, Ego, and Psychedelics in Modern Film

Artist, Author, and psychonaut Martin W. Ball has been discussing and representing the intersections between art and metaphysics for some time now. His position on the nature of the psychedelic experience, human ego, and philosophy on what these substances can offer to mankind has been one of great interest to many artists and explorers.

Martin's work primarily discusses nondualism and the dissolution and reexamination of the ego through introspection. He believes that by removing social constructs that bolster the ego (like religion), one can get to the heart of the human experience and recognize that they themselves are God. He has even created the "Entheological Paradigm" which is a  kind of grand unifying theory for psychedelic phenomenology based on his experiences. 

In recent years, there seems to have been an uptick in psychedelic themes and visuals in mainstream cinema.

Given the changing sociopolitical landscape surrounding drugs and his involvement with art, I wanted to get in touch with him to get his opinion on this shift and some more information about his personal experiences and developments throughout the years.

Prox: Do you still remember what led you to psychedelics? What was your very first experience like and why has it stuck with you throughout the years?

Martin: Though many people don’t generally consider it to be a psychedelic, I’d say my first psychedelic experience was with cannabis on my 15th birthday. I was in high school at the time, and had already experimented a little with alcohol by that point – enough to know that I wasn’t really fond of how it made me feel. My birthday falls right around Thanksgiving, and my family was gathering at our house for the holiday. A cousin of mine drove up from LA and arrived late in the evening when just my sister, who’s a year older than I, and I were up watching TV. My cousin invited us to come out to his car and smoke from his bong. My sister was already experienced, but it was brand new to me. We took a couple of hits and then went back inside to watch more TV. It was a pretty profound experience. Time seemed to stretch out and stand still, and I literally felt “stoned” in that I felt like I had become a statue. I kept saying to my sister and cousin, “I’m not moving!”, and they’d laugh and say, “But you just moved!” Typical novice reaction.

From that experience, I decided that I wasn’t interested in alcohol, but was really enamored with cannabis. It was very intellectual and creative for me. I found that I could get really engrossed in the things I enjoyed – music, art, nature, etc., and that it enhanced so many aspects of my experience. By comparison, alcohol just made me feel numb, dumb, and clumsy. 

I consider cannabis to be a psychedelic because it functions similarly to other psychedelics in that THC works as a neurotransmitter, as do other more classically considered psychedelic substances. It affects your perception of space, time, color, texture, mood, sensation, thought, imagination, self-identity, etc. And when taken orally, can be quite psychedelic and even profoundly visual.

It was later, between my first and second years of college, that I first experienced psilocybin mushrooms. Late in high school I learned that “philosopher” was still a valid profession and not just dead Greek guys, so in college I was a philosophy major, and also a religious studies minor (as Buddhist and Taoist philosophy were only taught in religion departments). Knowing of my interests, my girlfriend that first year of college encouraged me to try mushrooms, thinking that I’d really enjoy the experience. I had no idea how to get a hold of them, however, so it didn’t happen until the summer.

My first mushroom experience coincided with my very first hippy festival. A friend talked me and another friend into joining him on a weekend campout for the “Gathering of the Vibes” festival in northern California. As we were pulling into the venue and stuck in a long line of cars, a guy was walking down the line holding out baggies and saying, “Shrooms! Shrooms!” My friend bought a bag and we planned on taking them the next night.

Not long after we took them, I got separated from my two friends, and ended up wandering around the festival looking for them. The mushrooms kicked in and I was such a fish out of water! I’d never been to an event like this – naked people wandering around; people having public sex; tie dies and dreadlocks everywhere. I didn’t even know that events like this still happened, and here I was, tripping, trying to find my friends, trying not to look people in the eyes because it felt like I could look right through them and know way too much about them just from a glance. I played it off coolly, though, and didn’t let myself panic. Overall, the mushrooms just felt weird to me, and I had a hard time grasping what was supposed to be enjoyable about them. At the time, I kept thinking to myself, “Why would anyone want to do this rather than just smoke herb, which is much more fun?”

Eventually I found my two friends in the middle of the crowd in front of the main stage. There was an African Highlife band playing at the time, and after I sat down and let myself relax, the visual quality of the mushrooms started to open up (I had been clamping down on the whole experience pretty hard prior to this), and I found that I really enjoyed looking around and seeing everything breathe and the flowing, subtle geometric forms. 

So, my curiosity was piqued, and I was interested in trying them again, which happened a couple of more times over the course of the summer, and those other experiences were definitely stronger and far more visual in nature than that first experience. In my second experience, it dawned on me that “this must be what is meant by ‘spirit world,’” and the idea of consciousness interacting with itself made a lot of sense. 

Upon returning to college for my second year, I brought a bag of mushrooms back with me to share with my roommate. When they started to kick in, my roommate wandered off somewhere and I was all by myself, and ended up wandering around campus thinking self-critical thoughts, so it wasn’t the pleasant and novel experience I had been hoping for. Then, shortly thereafter, I stared to experience what I’d now call “spontaneous reactivations,” but were then called “flashbacks.” What I didn’t understand at the time was that I’m very energetically sensitive, and instead of trusting and allowing my shifts in energy and perception, I panicked and fought with it. Rule number one with such phenomena is don’t fight it, but I didn’t know that at the time and had a really difficult year, subsequently, as anything that looked vaguely “trippy,” such as tree branches, or a patterned rug, would start me tripping and having all these sensations of energy and expansion in my body and mind. I just wanted it to stop. Eventually, I learned to just relax, trust, and allow, but it was quite some time before I took any mind-altering substances again. Part of what helped was that I belonged to a Buddhist meditation group on campus, and found that when I really relaxed and stayed focused in my meditation, I could go deep into the experience and just be present and didn’t have to worry about controlling myself. 

What I learned from all of this is that perception and one’s experience of reality and being are highly flexible, and that substances weren’t necessary for such alterations to take place, at least on some level. I started reading up on psychedelics, at this point, especially materials I could find that were anthropological in nature, as the whole concept of “spiritual experience” made a lot more sense to me now. Understanding that many cultures used these substances as part of their spiritual and religious practices made religion a far more intelligible concept as it was based on direct experience, as opposed to what I’d been exposed to of Christianity, which was largely based on belief in a bunch of 2,000 year old stories that were clearly absurd and had no real basis in reality.

Though I won’t get into it here, I’d mention that it wasn’t until my first year of graduate school, several years later, that I had what I considered to be a foundational and transformative experience with mushrooms where I felt that I truly understood what the mushroom experience was all about. It was profoundly gnostic in nature and felt to me like a deep shamanic initiation. It completely reoriented my relationship to mushrooms and my own “spiritual” identity.

Prox: How did you find yourself creating art and music? Did this have anything to do with your academic background?

Martin: I used to draw a lot as a kid, so I’ve always been interested in art. My drawing skills are OK, but I’ve honestly not done enough of it to really develop, and my imagination was always more than I could express on paper (which is one of the reasons I’ve gravitated to doing digital/fractal art). I hardly ever draw these days, and over the years, took one drawing class in high school and one painting class in college, so that’s all the instruction I’ve had specifically with art, and it’s never been a part of my academic career.

Music started for me when I was 14. It was actually something of an epiphany for me. My dad was teaching summer chemistry courses at UC Santa Cruz and I was up in my room in our faculty apartment and The Cure, who I’d recently gotten into via introduction by my sister, just released their song “Why Can’t I Be You?” I was listening to it on the radio and suddenly realized that I could pick out all the parts of the music and understand how they related to each other – the guitars, keyboards, drums, horns, etc., and it occurred to me that I could do that too. I had a little Casio keyboard at the time, and started messing around with playing the keyboard, recording parts into a tape player, and playing along with the tape, so from the very beginning of making music, I’d describe myself as a composer – working with all the parts and different instruments. Within a year, I got a guitar and also a bass, and eventually a better keyboard. I took a few guitar lessons, but mostly just did my own thing, and also learned a few things from some older kids at school. Primarily I learned about music through careful listening and really analyzing music and studying it. My main teacher in this was The Cure and Robert Smith – an influence that can easily be identified in much of my music even today. I can’t read music, and know nothing technical about music or music theory. But I had a passion for it, and always approached music as a composition with multiple instruments. I’m not necessarily exceptional on any given instrument, but I think I’m fairly good at putting different instruments together and making something interesting and compelling, so my compositional skills make up for any lack of musical prowess. And once I got into it, I couldn’t stop recording, getting my hands on more and more instruments, and endlessly exploring new textures, sounds, arrangements, and styles. I still don’t know the first thing technical about music, however. 

Prox: I’ve noticed that mainstream cinema (particularly Marvel films) seems to have taken an interest in mysticism and spirituality. What do you think this says about the general public? Why are these disciplines suddenly seen as profitable in your opinion?

Martin: I think one thing we need to acknowledge with a question like this is that computer technology and special effects have grown tremendously in recent decades and it’s now possible to create movies where these kinds of experiences can be reasonably accurately depicted, whereas when I was a kid, the tech just wasn’t there. A lot of these Marvel films are made from properties that have been around for decades. Dr. Strange, for example, first came into print in 1963, and Black Panther in 1966. Both recent Marvel films of these characters have explicit references to psychedelics and altered states of consciousness, with Dr. Strange thinking he’s been dosed with psilocybin mushrooms, and Black Panther consuming the purple flower of panther power. But how would this all be depicted in films 40 or 50 years ago? Now that Mandelbulb 3D exists – a 3D fractal rendering program – it was easy to send Benedict into a tripped-out psychedelic world with organic fractal undulations (the program that was also used to create great psychedelic visuals in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Annihilation), but fractal mathematics weren’t discovered until the 1970’s, and fractal rendering software is far more recent. When you look at contemporary fractal art compared to the “psychedelic” art of the 60s, there’s not much comparison as fractals are just so fantastically detailed and rich in texture and presentation. Yellow Submarine is great, visually, but it’s obviously cartoonish, by comparison, and in my experience, while psychedelic experiences can be rather cartoonish, more often, they’re incredibly sophisticated in their visual nature and much more accurately represented via fractals. So, now that the tech exists, we can make movies that show this kind of thing in a way that’s sophisticated, accurate, and very compelling to look at. It’s also important to note that computer technology and software are deeply influenced by psychedelics and psychedelic experience, so it isn’t much of a wonder that much of our current technological world incorporates and reflect psychedelic themes. It would be more surprising if it didn’t. 

Beyond the tech issue is the fact that we’re currently living through the “Psychedelic Renaissance” in that psychedelics are being appreciated and explored by research and medical institutes, artists, philosophers, scientists, doctors, and we have a much greater awareness of how these substances and experiences have been used for thousands of years by various cultures around the world, so we’re less prone to buy into the propaganda of the racist and politically motivated “War on Drugs,” which is not, in any way based on science, reality, or truth. Almost every day, I see a new article online about a new study showing the medical efficacy of psychedelic therapy, for example, and the number of conferences to discuss and explore psychedelics is growing every year – so much so that it’s now a global phenomenon. So there’s much more nuanced and informed public opinion about psychedelics, though there’s still a long way to go.

Cannabis is great case in point, and only the tip of the psychedelic wedge that is currently running through contemporary society. The much maligned “devil’s weed” is now legal, either medically or recreationally, in a majority of states in the US. No one, except for maybe Jeff Sessions, believes any of the absurd propaganda about this amazing plant. People just don’t buy the ridiculous bullshit anymore, and it’s becoming normalized. The same is forthcoming for iboga, MDMA, psilocybin, ketamine, and other psychedelics. The proverbial cat is out of the bag, and it’s not going back in. Psychedelics are going mainstream.

Socially, Western cultures in general are collectively moving further and further away from traditional religious identities and gravitating more and more to individual spirituality, which is often based more on personal experience and development, and many people have become open to the idea of using entheogens to deepen their personal experience and provide them direct access to “the sacred,” however that might be defined, and find it more rewarding and affirming than sitting in church and getting preached at with archaic stories and outdated morality. Europe is way ahead of the US in this regard, but even here in a rather traditionally religious society, the ranks of the “none, but spiritual” category of self-identification is growing every year, and attendance in traditional religious institutions is steadily declining. What this shows is that the old models no longer work for many modern people, and “faith” and “belief” are outdated and no longer relevant. People want to know themselves, explore their potential, and break free of “ordinary” forms of perception and experience. So it’s only natural that these concepts are also being explored in films and other forms of entertainment.

To return to the technological theme, we are all living in the Star Trek age in that we all carry around these personal computers in our pockets, and we’re all conditioned to the idea that “there’s an app for that.” When it comes to consciousness and experience, psychedelics are like apps and mind-hacks. We’re used to the idea of uploads, downloads, filters, programs, etc., so as a metaphor, we’re perhaps more open to treating the mind and consciousness in a similar manner. Can’t access your repressed traumatic memories to resolve them? There’s an app for that! Have chronic pain for which there is no apparent medical cure? There’s an app for that! Struggling with addiction? There’s an app for that! Stuck in your meditation practice? There’s an app for that too!

Prox: You wrote a pretty popular article on the removal of the Dreamhunt sequence from the theatrical cut of Avatar. In your opinion, what has changed about the artistic and sociopolitical landscape that has made scenes like this one more commonplace in today’s theaters?

Martin: First, let me say that I really don’t know why James Cameron didn’t finalize and include that scene in Avatar. Was he worried about bad press from including an explicitly psychedelic scene in his movie? Was it the production company/studio, or distributors? Would the scene have made the film too edgy or provocative? 

All I know is that the film works better with the scene in it, because in the theatrical release, our hero, Jake, is initiated into the Na’vi culture via . . . nothing in particular. There’s an obvious gap in the narrative that I noticed when I first saw the film. Jake gets all prepared, goes down into the tree, and then re-emerges, suddenly a part of the Na’vi. What kind of initiation is that? Nothing happened! Anyone who knows anything about anthropology knows that that isn’t how initiations work.

With the extended cut Blu-ray edition of the film, Cameron included the incomplete “Dreamhunt” scene where Jake is given the equivalent of ayahuasca, and undergoes a psychedelic trial, which is common in indigenous cultures. Now this makes sense in the context of the film and story. This is what initiated him into the Na’vi. At the very least, I think Cameron should have finished the scene and included it in the extended director’s cut. I wonder if he’ll be more daring in the as-yet-to-be-released sequels that are currently in the works.

What’s changed between 2009 and now? Well, the Psychedelic Renaissance has been in full swing over the past decade, and momentum is growing rapidly, so we’re starting to reach some tipping points, I think. It’s not that the Psychedelic Renaissance wasn’t active and happening in 2009, as it was, but it’s even more so the case today. Something that I’ve seen in recent years is the explosion of psychedelic groups on social media and the advertisement of local and international events. It’s just bursting out everywhere you look. So we’re all potentially much more exposed to these ideas than we were in 2009, collectively, and it’s becoming more normalized and less potentially exotic or threatening. 

Prox: Should we be wary of the commoditization of these ideas or is this a way to potentially introduce a new generation to these concepts?

Martin: I don’t personally think there’s anything to worry about, and I’m much happier to see themes of people being transformed by psychedelic experiences than toxic waste or gamma ray busts. One is real, the other is pure fantasy, in a rather ironic way. Psychedelic experiences are transformative – not necessarily into a superhero, but it can have a radical and life-changing affect on your identity and sense of being-in-the-world, so why not show this in film? 

I think we also have a somewhat parallel potential with technology. With projection mapping, virtual reality, augmented reality, and neuro-feedback, we are now able to technologically enter into altered states of perception, and potentially consciousness, as well. In the not-too-far-off future, we’ll probably have implants and retinal displays and more and more access to information and otherwise “alternate” realities with technology, so it’s a reality that we need to adjust to and become familiar with. Many of us are spending less and less time in the “normal” world and more and more time and attention in altered spaces and states, and this is likely to grow, not lessen. So it’s natural that this would be reflected in our media and entertainment, and as more people are exposed to these technologies and experiences, both with psychedelics and technology, it will become more normalized. 

Something that we should recognize is that “normal” reality is becoming more and more psychedelic. For example, my wife and I are watching this season’s World of Dance, and something I’ve been noticing is just how psychedelic all their lighting effects are. And it’s not just there – even basic commercials use psychedelic visuals to sell their product, and even news programs have rather psychedelic visuals these days in their graphics. It’s just everywhere you look, when you know what you’re looking for. With the growth of computer technology and the ubiquity of “screens,” I think it’s inevitable that things become more psychedelic as we’re all moving more and more into a visual culture and communicating and sharing information through visual media. And the fact is that psychedelic/fractal/geometric visuals are inherently interesting to the eye and mind. They look good. In some respects, what we’re seeing is that the same properties that used to be largely relegated to “sacred” architecture such as churches, mosques, and temples is now becoming more and more commonplace in visual culture. It used to be if you wanted to see really intricate geometry, you needed to go someplace “sacred,” but with the loss of importance of traditionally sacred spaces, these same properties are showing up in “profane” places from your music player display to video games, films, TV, and commercials. In traditional cultures that use psychedelics, we can see that fractal geometry predominates in their art styles, clothing, architecture, etc., and we’re now seeing this in the modern world via technology. This is fundamental to our being-in-the-world and it’s breaking through in multiple medias. Personally, I think it’s great, and in some respects, potentially training us for what’s to come in terms of the integration of human consciousness and perception with technology and psychedelic experience.

Prox: Art in general seems to be more psychedelic friendly due to the popularity of social media groups and forums. Where do you think the artistic scene is headed in the coming years?

Martin: There seem to be two streams happening simultaneously in “visionary art.” One is the explosion of people who like to paint visionary art using old fashioned paints and brushes, and the other is the embrace of technologically produced art and multimedia. Both seem to be growing strong, so I don’t see one as supplanting the other, and in fact, in many instances, they happen together, such as bringing out a “live painter” for a music show or DJ set where there is also projection mapping onto the stage and VR stations over to the side. So they seem to be coexisting side by side quite nicely, and are now seen as relatively standard for any big music or art production or event. 

Overall, I’m not really tied into the visionary art/festival scene, personally, so my observations are mostly from the sidelines and not from being in the thick of it. I’m not in demand as a visionary artist, and it’s been quite a few years since I’ve made it to a big festival, such as Burning Man, but I see minor reflections of these trends in “festival culture” events that happen here in Ashland, though on a much smaller scale. 

Prox: We’ve spoken about this before but i’m always curious about how individuals change throughout the years. How does Martin W. Ball conceptualize the psychedelic experience today versus how he did during his earliest days of research and experimentation?

Martin: When I first started out working with psychedelics, my approach was something of a mixture of Zen Buddhism and then increasingly shamanic in focus. I’d already started practicing and studying Zen prior to my first mushroom experience (though after I started my relationship with cannabis), but once I got into mushrooms, as I mentioned above, I really dove into the topic of shamanism, reading everything I could about it. Whereas Zen is about clarity of consciousness, presence, and awareness, shamanism is about ceremonialism, prayer, ritual, and “spirits” and “guides.” So it’s a very different approach, and it defined much of my approach to my mushroom experiences for many years, and then later, my work with Salvia divinorum. This approach was amplified during my time as a graduate student at UCSB as I was doing fieldwork at the Mescalero Apache reservation in New Mexico where several of their older medicine people initiated me into their practices and encouraged me to become a “medicine man.” Following the instructions of an elder medicine woman, for example, I collected items to carry in my “medicine bag” and work with my “spirit guides” to carry out ritual practices when I worked with mushrooms or salvia. Still, there was a large element of Zen and Buddhist philosophy in my approach, so when I published my first book about psychedelics, Mushroom Wisdom, in 2006, Timothy White, the editor for Shaman’s Drum journal, described my approach as “shamanic mysticism” in an review and interview he did with me. 

The shamanic side of my approach got thoroughly demolished upon my first full experience with 5-MeO-DMT in early 2008. That experience initiated a complete reorientation of my concept of self-identity, being, reality, God – you name it. It took me a while to work through the transformations that were occurring within me and my sense of being, but when it reached a dramatic conclusion in the Spring of 2009, I became a self-described “radical nondualist” in my approach and perspective – a position that I don’t anticipate deviating from. Whereas prior to this point I had sought, via my ego, to cultivate a particular identity around the “practice” of working with psychedelics, upon my nondual transformation, all such need for identity fell away and I was able to appreciate reality in its fullness and unitary nature, revealing the artificiality of all forms of identity construction and maintenance. So I completely dropped the “shamanic” side of my identity and approach, and also found myself in deep disagreement  with many key points with various nondual traditions in both Hinduism and Buddhism, which is where the “radical” descriptor originates. At this point, I generally see ritual, prayer, and ceremony and belief in spirits as being ego-generated illusions, projections, and attachments, and feel the same way about beliefs in reincarnation, karma, dharma, etc. Via my work with clients with 5-MeO-DMT, a practice from which I’m now retired, I’ve developed a very clear and precise methodology for working with psychedelics that is completely original, unique, and radical for which there is no precedence either in mystical or shamanic traditions, so really it’s something quite new. Because my approach is so radical, and I take a very no-nonsense, no bullshit position, I tend to be rather polarizing in psychedelic/shamanic/mystical circles where people either find my take on this to be liberating and revelatory, or they can’t believe that I would dismiss so much supposed “spiritual wisdom” as ego fluff and illusion. Previous to all this, I, like many, would have described myself as a spiritual seeker and practitioner. Now, I just say that I’m myself, and am no longer burdened by the egoic need to be “spiritual.” My primary aim in sharing information about psychedelics and their use is to help others via methods and clarity of thought discover their true nature, transcend the artificiality of the ego, and live in reality with presence and awareness of the unitary nature of being.

Prox: Are there any new books, music, and/or movies/TV shows you’d like to recommend?

Martin: I’ll tell you about what I’ve been enjoying, as of late. I’m just about to finish reading Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, which is a follow-up to his Red Rising series. It’s a very inventive collection of books that chronicles a revolution in the human-inhabited solar system, where humans have been genetically modified into different “colors,” with Gold at the top of the social system and Red at the bottom. Our hero, Darrow, is taken from the Reds and “carved” into a Gold, infiltrating their social hierarchy and eventually becoming a revolutionary. The books are extremely well written and captivating and present an interesting picture of how humans could expand beyond earth and populate the solar system and the social costs of doing so.

I also recently finished the Ancillary series by Ann Leckie, which is another look at post-humans expanding out into the galaxy. What’s really fascinating about Leckie’s series is that our main character is an avatar of the AI system of a destroyed battleship, but most of the other characters don’t know that it’s an avatar, mistaking it for human. Furthermore, the culture in the series doesn’t use gendered pronouns, so we, the readers, never know if we’re dealing with a male or female avatar body, and there really aren’t any clues in the series. There’s also a main character who, via technology, is able to occupy many bodies simultaneously, though this one is human, so there’s lots of play on identity, consciousness, awareness, etc.

As for movies, I’ll take this opportunity to briefly comment on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. My biggest complaint about the film is that having bombers in space is a very silly idea, given that there’s no directional gravity, so flying a bomber over another spaceship and dropping bombs just doesn’t work, in terms of physics. There was a lot of griping about Luke from the Star Wars base fandom, but I thought his character’s arc was brilliant. We should consider that his Jedi role models were Obi Wan, who hid out in a cave on Tatooine for 18 years, and Yoda, who similarly hid out in a hut in a swamp for the same amount of time, so Luke running off to Ahch-To doesn’t seem far fetched to me. And his character arc of returning to the fight as a projection to distract Kylo Ren was dynamic and powerful, finally resolving his inner-angst and “coming home” by merging with the Force as he had a vision of the twin suns of Tatooine was really beautifully done. And the interplay between Kylo Ren and Rey – fantastic!

This past year I also really enjoyed Blade Runner 2049, which I felt did a great job of exploring themes of consciousness, identity, love, and what it means to be human (or not). 

Though I haven’t seen it yet, I’m looking forward to Avengers: Infinity War. Marvel is doing a great job with their films and I really enjoy the humor that’s present in these movies. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther were all great and fun to watch. 

And of course, I’m waiting, along with everyone else, for the final season of Game of Thrones. And since we’re on to HBO, Westworld is a fascinating, twisting ride.

And mustn’t forget Better Call Saul! Better than Breaking Bad, in my opinion, and a wonderfully paced show with lots of nuance and intricate and complicated human feelings.

Prox: Would you like to share any information on upcoming projects and releases?

Martin: While I hope to get into writing a sequel to my novel, The Solandarian Game, sometime soon, at the moment I’m pretty busy with reworking some older materials. Looking to break into the audiobook market, as of last month I got audio versions of The Solandarian Game, Being Human, and my most recent book, Entheogenic Liberation, onto Audible.com. Next on my list are to record audio for my memoir, Being Infinite, and also do audio for my novel, Beyond Azara. I also just released a Spanish language version of my short book, God’s Handbook for Operating Human Vehicles, and there might be soon a Spanish translation of Entheogenic Liberation in the works, as well as a German version. With the release of Entheogenic Liberation almost exactly a year ago - this book is really my magnum opus and the most complete expression of my nondual approach to psychedelics - I’m currently feeling that I’ve really said what I have to say on the subject, so there are no non-fiction books waiting in my head to get out on paper just now. I’d still like to write more novels, however, and have a lot of ideas about the next Solandaria installment.

Musically, I haven’t recorded anything new in a while, but recently purchased a slew of mixing and mastering plug-ins for my music software, so I’m going back into my older tracks – both my solo material and my music with my wife, Jessalynn, as Fractal Love Jam – and remixing and re-mastering music that I’ve already released. It’s been a very gratifying process as the songs definitely sound better – fuller, crisper, more distinct sounds, clearer vocals, thicker bass, etc. The past decade has been very creatively and expressively productive for me, and now I’m really concentrating on making my materials available through more diverse formats and in the very best version I can make. I still have dozens of songs to go back and remix and re-master, so it’s going to be a long, ongoing project, but I’m enjoying being on the “polishing” side of creative production.

Prox: Final thoughts?

Martin: I’ll leave with an answer to a question you previously asked me but never got around to answering. You asked, “What is consciousness?” My answer is, “This. Right here, right now. Everything. All of it.”

Anyone who gets that answer as being self-evident has truly got it. ☺