About Love, Language and THC
by Aerez Batat
I am getting ready for the marijuana research session with Phil and Kate. I have my notebook, my pen, bottles of water for all participants, some papers with printed material, and little jars containing dried cannabis buds. The experiment is yet another one in a series I conducted over the past year — to test the effects of THC on human language skills as a function of time perception.
Phil and Kate are a married couple who volunteered for the experiment, hoping to get a "therapy" session out of it. Both of them are middle-aged professionals in their forties. Kate works in social services, and Phil in technology. Neither of them is a habitual marijuana smoker, which is always my preference. The clear mind is a fertile soil for such experiments; the shift in time perception is most noticeable.
I start by asking them both to read a tedious paragraph containing abstract, literal text:
Marijuana changes our perception of time by speeding up – or slowing down – the speed of our voluntary, self-conscious thought that is sequential in time. The faster the voluntary thought, the slower time is perceived, and the slower it is, the faster time is perceived. The change in time perception results in a corresponding shift in space perception as a function of the self-conscious sensory input per unit of time, as well as a contraction or expansion of our long-term and short-term memory.
I see the grooves forming in their foreheads. "I get some of it," Phil starts. "I mean, I'm not sure I understand everything, but I get the general idea. If I read this a few more times I'll get it."
"Ok, thanks," I write a few things down. "Kate?"
"I got the words, but not the meaning..." She answers with embarrassment. "The first sentence was fine; the rest — not so much."
I ask them to choose the strain themselves. Kate goes first, and to my delight, she picks a Sativa hybrid I estimate to be 35% Indica 65% Sativa. It is a strong strain, with THC concentration of over 25%. Phil debates, then chooses the same strain. I can tell he is a bit nervous.
A few moments later, they are both high. It is clear that Phil struggles to communicate. When I hand him the same abstract text from before, he can't get past the first sentence. I read it to him slowly.
"You are just talking gibberish." Now he is the one embarrassed. "You are just playing with me. These words don't mean anything."
Kate is clearly able to grasp the meaning of the words better than before. We engage in a lively conversation about how the mind works while Phil stares at us, confused.
"You get what is happening?" I ask, firing my words rapidly to see how how fast she can digest them. "We are processing reality with two distinct minds, not one. Like two sides of a magnet, one mind is electromagnetically positive and logically directive, one mind is electromagnetically negative and intuitively responsive. The directive mind fructifies the receptive mind with a logical thought, and the receptive mind creates involuntary images or sensations in response – and vice versa. The faster we think, the more abstract our speech becomes. As a concrete thinker, the text was too abstract for you when unaltered. By the time you got to the second part of the sentence you already forgot the first. The THC sped your voluntary thought stream, allowing you to process abstract concepts faster, like a car that took off and is now soaring high, seeing the entire landscape but none of the details. Did you manage to follow everything I said?"
Kate nodded with satisfaction, smiling. "Yes. Makes perfect sense."
"You guys are just talking gibberish," Phil repeats. "What?... Why... you guys are talking nonsense, do you – what are you guys talking about?"
"What about him?" Kate smiles towards Phil with a hint of devious satisfaction.
I turn to Phil. "What is happening in your mind?"
"I don't know. You are not making sense."
"Is your high pleasant?" I ask.
"Yes," he smiles. "I feel tingly. It's nice."
"I see your leg is restless. Are you anxious?"
He immediately looks at Kate with a hint of embarrassment. "No, just, I mean, this is crazy. Why are we talking about these things?"
"She is the center of your universe, isn't she?" I ask.
He looks at her, and his voice breaks a bit. "She is. You are. You are the center of my universe."
Kate tears up. "You never said anything like this to me before," she mumbles.
"Phil is a Smartie, that is, a highly abstract, literal thinker," I answer her earlier question. "You are a Wisey. The strain you chose slowed down his voluntary thought but sped yours up. That's why he cannot digest what we are saying. His conscious perception was brought down from his mind to his body, where emotions are sensed, and his language changed to reflect this shift. Same strain, two different minds. His perception of time was sped up, yours slowed down."
Her eyes lit up. "So his perception of time is usually slower than mine?"
"Should be, yes. Does this resonate?"
"Oh my god, totally. I always wait on him." I can tell that she is astonished by the realization.
"And when he tells you he needs five minutes, you take it literally, but he means it figuratively, right?"
"Yes! And it drives me nuts."
"Time is a concrete, measurable concept. Phil is usually figurative when he speaks concretely," I explain. "When he speaks literally, he is normally abstract. You, on the other hand, are literal when you speak of concrete concepts, and process abstract thoughts figuratively. Smarties and Wiseys speak two different languages. This abstract statement is literal, not figurative. Always remember this. Marijuana can create a temporary bridge in your communication, but he must pick a higher Sativa hybrid, like a 20/80%, or else you'll lose him. Play with it until you find the golden ratio for both of you."
A couple of hours later, they are ready to leave. I give Phil a piece of paper with a diagram on it. There is little chance Kate will remember the details of what we spoke about; the increased speed of thought causes a temporary loss of short-term memory. It's like watching a movie in X4 the speed – you get the high-level story but miss the details. "Here," I say. "Take this. It explains language polarization theory, showing how your speech is different from each other. Every time you have an argument, look at this diagram and see what went wrong. I'll send you guys the recording tomorrow so you can reflect."
I shut the door and head back upstairs. I feel satisfied but drained. I sit back on the couch, trying to relax, but my mind is racing uncontrollably. I think of my wife, who now lives elsewhere, and can't stop wondering –
Had I known what I know now about human language back when we first met, would we still be together?