Leave Society's epigraph—"Nothing is as it appears to be. This is not glib."—is by Kathleen Harrison, whom I wrote about visiting in Trip.It's my first epigraph. It was easy to choose. I didn't consider any other quotes.
I considered using just "Nothing is as it appears to be" but decided, after consideration, to include "This is not glib" because it seems true and because I feel like some-to-many people will think or feel something like "That seems glib" after reading "Nothing is as it appears to be." Glib means "showing little forethought or preparation" and "lacking depth and substance."
I like how "This is not glib" allows the epigraph to engage with the reader and to comment on itself. "This is not glib" can also refer to itself—it is not glib to say "This is not glib" about "Nothing is as it appears to be," I feel.
I've noticed two times in Kathleen's work where she says "Nothing is as it appears to be."
In a 2015 talk, she said,
Nothing is what it appears to be. Nothing at all is what it appears to be. And I have learned that in my many years not only of taking psychedelics but working with native peoples who seem to understand that much better than our materially oriented cultures do—that “everything is an illusion and everything may change from what it appears to be now to something else at any moment” is kind of a rule to live by.
In an essay in the 2019 anthology Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine, she shared two lessons she'd learned. The first was the Ram Dass quote "Be here now."
The second helpful tip, a profound tip at that, although harder yet to decipher, is that “Nothing is as it appears to be.” This is not glib. I have learned this truth, not only by examining this concept while on psychedelics but also by living and working with native peoples—peoples whose belief systems have evolved and been sustained for many centuries. These are people who seem to understand and negotiate with the very nature of illusion. These are cultures that have sustained active and continuing animistic beliefs, cultures that practice shamanism and educate their children through stories and hands-on experience with nature. Some of them use psychedelic species of plants or mushrooms, some don’t. They all seem to grasp the reality of illusions much better than our “Western,” materially oriented cultures do. In the deeply grounded awareness that everything is an illusion, one understands that everything may change from what it appears to be now to something else, at any moment. Everything. It’s actually a fine rule to live by. It is one version of the principle of uncertainty.
Kathleen was recently attacked in her home. A GoFundMe was started, and it's still open for donations. Donations will go toward helping her recover and will also give her time and resources to focus on writing. Some of her writing can be read here (on Salvia divinorum) and here (on the Mazatec).