I’m Ed Rosenfeld, author of The Book of Highs, just published in a new edition today. In the 1960s, when so many people who never took drugs started to freak out about drugs and made laws against them, I thought: they can’t outlaw consciousness. So, I put together this mini-encyclopedia, first published in 1973, describing hundreds of ways to alter consciousness without drugs. This new edition is fully revised, updated, and expanded to include illustrations and experiences that reflect recent developments—such as Virtual Reality and Brainwave Machines. There are a total of 255 ways for a new generation to push their minds into experiential realms.

My past books include Talking Nets: An Oral History of Neural Networks and An Oral History of Gestalt Therapy. My newsletter, INTELLIGENCE (1987-2017) was the first to cover the history and development of neural networks and artificial intelligence. I also wrote a screenplay, MKULTRA, which has been adapted for the opera as Huxley’s Last Trip.

You can read more about my latest book, The Book of Highs, at bookofhighs.com

Ask me anything!

Proof: https://twitter.com/WorkmanPub/status/984913311199301632

EDIT: Thanks everyone for your questions! I have to log off now but will check in tomorrow to answer new questions.

Comments: 47 • Responses: 18  • Date: 

DentedAnvil18 karma

I was 14 when Omni came out. I loved your magazine. I think the blend of science and science fiction in it was brilliant. Thanks. When you aren't working what do you read to keep your curiosity primed?

edrosenfeldnyc11 karma

I loved Omni, too. I'm sad it's gone.

The futurology subreddit, The New Yorker, The Economist, The NY Review of Books, and some more stuff online.

rpBree0710 karma

Hello Ed,

Thanks for the AMA. I'm curious what you've come across in your research concerning the topic of psychedelics curing or relieving depression. I've heard stories of others that have used various substances ranging from weed-LSD that have either seriously relieved or altogether taken away depression. Is there any truth to that? Also, do you think the Medical Industry in the US and possibly globalaly would ever start facilitating the practice of psychedelics in healthcare?

Thanks again.

edrosenfeldnyc11 karma

Hi, thanks for your question. Research has been underway for several years at a variety of academic institutions with government approval to use psychedelic drugs to offer relief from depression and anxiety in terminal illness patients. This research has been published from such schools as NYU, UCLA, and John Hopkins. So, there is truth to that. I think the idea that the medical industry would start facilitating the practice of psychedelics in health care will depend on the amount of intellectual property in psychedelics that can be protected by the health care industry.

LivingInTheVoid7 karma

Do you think MKUltra was ultimately successful? I have a totally unsubstantiated theory that the CIA did in fact learn how to manipulate the minds of the masses. They learned that we can be told what to buy, what to like, and basically what to do through constant advertisement via media. This is why we had such a big technological break through because the CIA needed a way to reach each person and they focused on doing just that.

edrosenfeldnyc19 karma

I think the most successful part of MKUltra was the development of the draconian interrogation techniques we saw put in use during the Iraq war. I do not feel that it led to the successful manipulation of our thoughts, we needed social media to do that.

breathemore6 karma

What highs do you think are the most beneficial for mankind?

edrosenfeldnyc17 karma

In general, I believe that many different kind of altered states of consciousness are beneficial. That's why I included 255 different approaches in my book. There are some very simple highs, things that children do, jumping up and down, spinning around that show how natural it is to alter consciousness. Some very simple methods used in spiritual disciplines are also beneficial. For example, watching your breath, paying attention to your inhalations and exhalations, being aware of your breathing can bring about a beneficial state of awareness. And I believe all of human kind can benefit.

TheWorstTroll5 karma

What is your favorite way to get high without drugs?

edrosenfeldnyc3 karma

Walking daily.

TheRealEstreya5 karma

Hi Ed--I was OMNIRaven in the early 1990s when OMNI had a chat room on AOL! I also hosted chats in Mind Body Spirit, one of the related chat rooms. I am constantly grateful for OMNI's early presence on social media. The discussions we had were really well focused, well moderated, and always interesting. Do you have any favorite places for online discussions similar to the OMNI chat rooms? I miss them!

edrosenfeldnyc1 karma

I was gone from Omni for over a decade before the period you mention. I’m sorry to say I have no chat room suggestions.

Chtorrr3 karma

What is the strangest thing you have found in your research?

edrosenfeldnyc10 karma

Kayak disease. I don't have a lot of experience riding in kayaks, but I never imagined that it would be the source of a disease. But once I read about kayak disease, I realized it could be a form of voluntary confinement--long periods on the water can create disorientation and hallucinations both auditory and visual. Be careful.

MXILE1 karma

I don’t think you could’ve provided a better answer than this one!

edrosenfeldnyc1 karma

Many thanks.

microtry3 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA.

I am curious what you think about Semen retention as a practice to achieve higher states of consciousness? I know r/nofap gets a bit of a meme rep here on reddit, but there are some spiritual texts from millenias ago that talk about the practice of celibacy and non-ejaculatory orgasms for increased conscious state. Do you have any information on that, or any insight? Thanks

r/semenretention has quite a number of posts that describe its potency

edrosenfeldnyc2 karma

I know so little about this, only from reading from Taoist texts many decades ago. Sorry I can’t be of further help.

KarlJay0012 karma

Does AI scare you? I'm a programmer and have been doing some AI and it seems to be a real game changer. I was blown away when AI beat professional poker players. I didn't think it could do that.

Is your newsletter INTELLIGENCE (1987-2017) done? Just checked, looks like it's over.

edrosenfeldnyc1 karma

Yes, AI scares me, especially in weaponry and manipulative applications.

And, yes: INTELLIGENCE’s final issue was 201712.

Ravenous_Sodomite2 karma

In your own terms/experience, what is ego death?

edrosenfeldnyc5 karma

I have never experienced ego death with any of the altered states in my book that I've tried. My definition of ego death would be the dissolving and complete disappearance of one's sense of personal identity. Many people who have had death trips with strong psychedelic drugs have experienced ego death.

_decrypt--2 karma

are extradimensional beings capable of detecting when someone's consciousness goes into, for lack of a better word, overdrive? is there a motive for them to seek this out? apologies in advance if this sounds entirely far-fetched or irrelevant

edrosenfeldnyc6 karma

I am no expert and do not feel that I can comment in an efficacious way on extradimensional beings or anything that they might or might not do, sorry.

tjmonstah1 karma

Are you holding?

edrosenfeldnyc1 karma

No, I am not.

Chtorrr1 karma

What is the very best dessert?

edrosenfeldnyc5 karma

Anything with almonds. I usually have a bag of almonds with me but forgot to pack one for this afternoon!

stilesjp1 karma

Did you have any input into the Ghost Busters Omni cover?

edrosenfeldnyc2 karma

No, that was some time after I left Omni.

NomadTheNomad1 karma

Hi! Where did you get that shirt? :)

edrosenfeldnyc2 karma

The t-shirt I was wearing, in the AMA photo, was purchased from a store (name unknown) in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, many years ago.

NomadTheNomad1 karma

Thank you for the reply. Far out- I'll look into the Book of Highs. Perhaps I'll get a hard copy somewhere here (RSA). :)

edrosenfeldnyc2 karma

The Book of Highs, 2018, is a paperback, available online (bookofhighs.com) and from your local bookstore. Support independent bookstores, please, thanks.

lespaulstrat21 karma

Did you ever meet Larry Flynt?

edrosenfeldnyc1 karma

I never met Larry Flynt.