I was walking through a park in Dublin in a fog feeling completely defeated by life. There didn’t seem to be a future of much meaning for my poor little old me. The black dogs had run down.
was 23 years old and trying to be an actor. I had done a few profit sharing shows but was afraid to really show myself. I was also single and lonely and got drunk the night before and everyone as far as I was concerned could fuck themselves.
It was late January 1991 and the news was dominated by another war. Operation Desert Storm was launched against Iraq to liberate Kuwait and all its wonderful oil. But I was too busy with myself to care.
I left wanting to cry, embarrassed by my deep feelings of inadequacy. I needed guidance. I needed the benefit of an older wisdom giver who wouldn’t badmouth me or patronize me. I needed what my 23-year-old nephew heard as a daily ritual during lockdown: blind peopleboy porto water.
A few weeks ago I went to Vicar Street with my nephew to see Blindboy do a live podcast. I was absolutely stunned by what I experienced there. a thousand people. Mostly in their 20s or 30s, they sat and drank a few pints, but totally engrossed when Blindboy opened the show by reading one of his short stories.
They laughed at the murder ballads’ rich humor, which was blacker than black. There was no chatter or cell phones like most live events. Blindboy is their spirit guide and they were there to listen.
It is all the more remarkable that Blindboy is a personality. A character played by David Chambers, who he created two decades ago with his comedy partner Bob McGlynn, aka Mr. Chrome, as part of their hip-hop comedy group The Rubberbandits.
As a disguise, he wears a plastic bag (now cotton for comfort) around his head. He speaks in a thick, working-class Limerick accent. He’s disrespectful. scatological. He’s very funny and his podcast is a fountain of ideas and stories and history and politics and a mental health bias. He himself is autistic.
Blindboy speaks to his generation. His character allows him to say whatever he wants, but he’s not here for the cheap laugh.
He’s a key sponge here for the depression and anxiety felt by so many young Irish people. He opens up new areas and ideas and skilfully weaves them together. He’s a brilliant interviewer, as evidenced the night I saw him.
He introduced us to two Irish psychotherapists, Rob Ó Cobhthaigh and Darragh Stewart, who started a psychedelic retreat program in the Netherlands called Inwardbound.
They use hallucinogenic truffles as well as deep meditation and breathwork to invoke a visionary inspiration that enlightens and heals people’s traumas.
Rob explained to us that the practice is illegal in Ireland, but draws a lot from our indigenous tradition of using psychedelic mushrooms for altered states of consciousness. He believes we must reclaim this culture after a long legacy of colonial disempowerment.
The guys are very clear that they don’t advise people to take the hallucinogens alone. It’s all part of an elaborate program with a team of therapists. Blindboy pauses to ramble on about his own experiences and he keeps the humor to keep the audience engaged, but he knows when to stay calm and let the boys do the talking.
Blindboy is particularly interested in using this practice to get in touch with intergenerational trauma. A trauma that our ancestors may have suffered from during the famine. Trauma we are born with.
Things that are not dealt with and passed on. Stuff that didn’t start with you. I thought of one of my own ancestors who, through no fault of their own, had a very unhappy life. Am I carrying her pain inside me?
What if I could have an altered state experience and go back and talk to them? what would i say I’ve heard stories about people in
psychedelic trips, were able to talk to their deceased parents and clear up unresolved issues.
Blindboy said a few years ago he thought it was all “f**king mental woo woo s***e,” but now he feels anything that can unleash mental wellness has real substance and value . Anything that can break a cycle of dysfunction.
The guys from Inwardbound believe in bringing together the threads of science and spirituality.
I thought about what I would say to my 23-year-old self, walking aimlessly and depressed in this park in 1991. I would tell him to relax. To have a little self-love. No shame in that. But shame is a thing that we have done many times in this country.
Shame was a great weapon and kept so many people unhappy and paralyzed in their development. As Blindboy pointed out, the notion of original sin was a ploy to scare and embarrass us all, and he wondered what drives our culture’s addiction to alcohol.
So fair play to Blindboy. Because male suicide is an ongoing tragedy, he is a valuable influence on his audience. I expected the Vicar Street crowd to be male rather than female, but that wasn’t the case.
Although he would appeal to young men who are also attracted to Jordan Peterson, unlike the bouldering Jordan, Blindboy doesn’t polarize. His message is don’t feel weird.
You’re not alone. Be aware of the world around you and the lies and hypocrisy, but also enjoy the humor, wonder, and beauty. That speaks to everyone.
After the show we went out into the night and around me the young people were talking about what they had just heard.
Problems were discussed and debated. This generation, for all we like to divulge about their snowflake mentality, really knows how to talk about things. Much more than we ever could. There is hope for a better world.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/i-could-have-done-with-a-blindboy-when-i-was-23-and-the-black-dogs-descended-41604320.html I could have used a blind boy when I was 23 and the black dogs were dismounting