Friday, July 01, 2011

SCI-FI FRI ~ Dr. John C. Lilly & Altered States

After watching a DVD of the 1980 movie Altered States, an adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky's only novel, I wanted to know more about the character who inspired the storyline: Dr John C. Lilly. His sensory deprivation research conducted in isolation tanks under the influence of psychoactive drugs like ketamine and LSD fuelled the novel and the movie. The film starred William Hurt, and was directed by Ken Russell. Ken Russell is known for his outlandish treatment of subjects, and after seeing what he'd made of Altered States, Chayefsky declined to put his name to it, so was credited under a pseudonym. We found the movie thought provoking, but rather overdone for the horror factor - what else would one expect from Ken Russell though?

Dr. John C. Lilly was known for his work on interspecies communication, especially with dolphins, as well as the development of an isolation tank, and research into altered states of consciousness. He was inspiration for the main characters in two movies, The Day of the Dolphin as well as Altered States.

Dr. Lilly, throughout a long career made significant contributions to psychology, brain research, computer theory, medicine, ethics, and interspecies communication. He was on the cutting edge of neuroscience, first to map the brain of chimpanzees. His brain mapping with acoustic, motor, and travelling waves predated today's state of the art by fifty years. He conducted research into electronic brain stimulation, dreams, schizophrenia, and punishment and reward systems, later published in several psychiatric journals.

While working at the National Institutes of Health on isolation, solitude and confinement, he invented the floatation tank, a tool to maximally isolate sensory stimulation to better understand what the mind does without exterior influence. NASA and other organizations have used his research. After ten years of tank research he was given the responsibility to experiment with LSD in the tank. The results of that study were reported and published. Dr. Lilly considered this documentation his most original work: "In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits"

Dr. John C. Lilly died on September 30th, 2001 .

Born January 6th, 1915, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. has his time of birth at 7:30. I'm not sure how reliable that is but will use it here....perhaps they calculated sunrise for January 6 in Minnesota, in which case rising sign and Moon degree would not be reliable, so I'll proceed with caution!

A stellium (tight cluster of planets) in Capricorn reflects his pull towards science. Capricorn relates strongly to science and all things structured. What differentiated Dr. Lilly from many other scientists, however, was his will to experiment with what some would call mysticism or less politely, New Agey drug-ridden issues. Uranus represents New Age, left-fieldy stuff, a willingness to contemplate those outer areas - areas "where the buses don't run". Uranus here is right at home in its modern sign of rulership, Aquarius.....and if this time of birth is anywhere near accurate it was in Dr. Lilly's first house of self. Uranus is in mildly helpful semi-sextile to the Capricorn cluster - and let's not forget that Aquarius and Capricorn share Saturn as ruler in traditional astrology, which makes for an easier blending of these particular neighbouring signs (or so I always think).

Additional Aquarius back-up comes from Jupiter, this planet also makes harmonious trine to Saturn (Capricorn's ruler and Aquarius's trad. ruler) in Gemini.

I reckon that little lot ties up his gravitation towards outlandish scientific experimentation.


Anonymous said...

Very nice post, T.

Dr. Lilly is no doubt more then just a scientist in the usual acceptation of this term. Hi vision of the "laboratory" to include dolphins and other living constituents of life in one's understanding is a mind-buster. Had he known astrology, he probably would also have experimented with that. GP

Twilight said...

Anon/Gian Paul ~~~
Thanks, GP.
Wouldn't it be grand if a man of Dr. Lilly's calibre were to make a serious study of astrology!?