In the first half of the program, Erik Davis, a leading scholar of high strangeness, joined Ian Punnett (Twitter) to examine the complex world of the strange that flowed through America's West Coast in the 1970s at a time of radical technological, political, and social upheaval. Davis claimed that "the counterculture was even bigger in a way in the ’70s" and that "a lot of the high strangeness really emerges in this time," laying the basis for later developments, including the eventual popularity of Coast to Coast and Art Bell. He observed that the icons of this period were saying "let’s take our own experiences and imagination and push it really really far."
In his book, Davis concentrates on what he considers the "big three" of the 1970s countercultural landscape. The first was Terence McKenna, who experienced a sort of psychedelic awakening and wrote eloquently about it in books like True Hallucinations. The second was Robert Anton Wilson, who Davis said mixed such things as "conspiracy, politics, psychedelics and ritual magic" in his writing and wrote about his life and ideas in a book entitled Cosmic Trigger (as well as others.) The third was Philip K Dick, the science fiction author who experienced what some might call religious visions and, as Davis said, used his fiction to "keep himself as sane as he could." Of all these figures, and countless other seekers and inner explorers of the period, Davis concluded they were trying to "use their imagination and glimpse forward and see the issues and challenges ahead."
During Open Lines, Richard called from California to echo Eric Davis’ references to 1970s culture with his recollections of the underground comics movement. Blair in Arizona said that he "experienced unconditional love" when he met the teacher and guru Ram Dass (aka Richard Alpert) in the 1970s. Dan from New Jersey asked about a follow up on a show from December of last year, when the guest described the discovery of the tombs of Alexander the Great and Cleopatra, as well as scrolls from the Library of Alexandria. Ian said that the guest may not have wanted to reveal too much and not returned for that reason. Doug, also from New Jersey, reminded listeners that some people in the 1960s and ‘70s changed their consciousness without drugs by being open to various things.
Bill called in from Washington state to express his concerns about the internet, stating that "the harms far outweigh the benefits," but added that perhaps some of the researchers hired by the government to develop the system might have had "civil disobedience" on their minds. Joe in California shared that he works with people who are going through unusual experiences. "These experiences are very important," he said, and "it changes a person." Scott in Pennsylvania told of his two or three mushroom trips per year. He emphasized that this should be done with people who can help and guide you.