Human culture is an extremely evanescent, transitory, and non-equilibrium kind of condition. I mean, the pulse beat of this planet is measured in millions of years. Culture is a phenomenon of the last 40,000 years—and that’s generous. So culture has about it this miraculous, instantaneous, and almost intrusive quality against the background of the rest of the body of nature.
The understanding that life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness in the age of modern pharmacology has to mean the right to control your own state of mind subject to the constraints of time, place, and manner.
Imagine if our partners in the new global materialism—the Japanese—had introduced into this country at the end of World War II a drug which, within a few years, made such deep inroads into the American population that people were spending an average of five hours a day loaded on this drug. What would we think? We would think that it was a crime against a culture on the scale of Auschwitz. But, as a matter of fact, we did this to ourselves. Television—introduced at the close of World War II—has become a form of electronic heroin. And it isn’t even your trip! They don’t even let you go on your own trip. You get a trip designed on Madison Avenue to sell this year’s model of the crapmobile, or whatever else is being pushed.
This comes to a very interesting question, which boils down to (in its most cogent form) the question: “Is Man good?” or “What is Man?” Because what we appear to be moving toward is a technological domain where we will be able to be whatever we want to be. And it’s a litmus test for what we want to be.