Event | NICA/RMeS: ‘De-Colonizing Spice Melange: Psychedelic Aesthetics in Dune‘ – Lecture/workshop by Joseph Crickmore
Date: 5 October 2023
Time: 10.00 – 13.00
Location: VOX-POP, Amsterdam
Registration deadline: 1 October 2023
Credits: 1 ECTS
In the universe of Dune, “who controls the spice controls the universe.” Author Frank Herbert maintained a fascination with psychedelics as unique mind-altering substances throughout his life, and wove this interest throughout his fictional works. This finds no greater demonstration than psychedelia’s central role in his seminal work, the Dune series. Not only did these works come to define the modern sci-fi genre, but they are rich with Herbert’s speculative analysis as to the socio-political impact these substances would have on society.
In a fictional universe in which mind and human consciousness are of an unimpeachably sacred nature, mind-altering chemicals that enable the reconfiguring of the self are of a preeminent value; “the spice must flow!” We will first introduce Herbert’s relationship to psychedelic substances. Then we discuss the world of Dune and the role of the psychedelic spice therein. Finally, we explore the mature political and philosophical critiques Herbert offers as a throughline into the role a decolonizing philosophy can play in commentary on psychedelia. As we shall see, Herbert argues that psychedelics can serve the contradictory ends of both bolstering colonial knowledge-power relations, while simultaneously offering an authentic liberation from oppressive logics.
Participants will read several articles beforehand. After an introductory lecture by Joseph Crickmore we will discuss the contents of the articles and the lecture by focusing on political and de-colonizing ethics, approaching the current psychedelic revival from a media-, cultural and broader humanities perspective.
- Dickins, R. (2022). Power and the Sublime in Aldous Huxley’s Drug Aesthetics. In C. Hauskeller & P. Sjöstedt-Hughes (Ed.). Philosophy and Psychedelics: Frameworks for Exceptional Experience (pp. 61–76). London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved September 10, 2023, from http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781350231641.ch-004
- Hauskeller, C. (2022). Individualization and Alienation in Psychedelic Psychotherapy. In C. Hauskeller & P. Sjöstedt-Hughes (Ed.). Philosophy and Psychedelics: Frameworks for Exceptional Experience (pp. 107–132). London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved September 10, 2023, from http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781350231641.ch-007
- González Romero, O.S. (2022). Decolonizing the Philosophy of Psychedelics. In C. Hauskeller & P. Sjöstedt-Hughes (Ed.). Philosophy and Psychedelics: Frameworks for Exceptional Experience (pp. 77–94). London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved September 10, 2023, from http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781350231641.ch-005
- Passages from Frank Herbert’s Dune (1966) and some clips from Denis Villeneuve’s film Dune (2021)
Bio Joseph Crickmore
Joseph Crickmore completed both his BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and the MA Political Thought at the University of Exeter. Since graduating he has worked as Digital Learning Officer and has commenced his PhD research on ‘Societies of Esteem Bereft of Labour’ in Christine Hauskeller’s research group at the University of Exeter. His Master’s thesis, ‘The Hegelian Idea of Modern Democracy,’ reflects his primary research interests in Hegelian philosophy and post-Hegelian political thought – with a particular focus on Critical Theory. However, taking the Masters module Philosophy and Psychedelics in 2021 sparked an interest in the application of political philosophy to the novel concerns of psychedelia. Since then he has been an active participant in Exeter’s Philosophy and Psychedelics Research Group and contributed to several working groups and co-authored the article ‘Decolonisation is a metaphor towards a different ethic. The case from psychedelic studies’ (2022). He remains an active member of several research groups on psychedelic studies at Exeter University, viewing psychedelia as Dune’s “fountain of surprises.”