It was a beautiful summer’s evening on the lawn at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The Jerry Band was in true form. From the top corner of the hill, I could look out over the dancing colors down in the valley by the concession stand. On the next blanket over, my eye was caught by the guy next to me when he suddenly stopped dancing. His mouth was agape. His eyes were almost as wide as his pupils. He was in mid-revelation. He aggressively staggered for words that would allow him to explain his epiphany to his buddy, terms that would pull back the veil covering the consciousness of one who had not yet been touched. Finally, he pointed heavenward and blurted out, “Dude, don’t you get it?! We’re all cats under the STARS.” It is a very rare event when one receives authentic insight into the true nature of reality. I’m not sure whether that guy has found any yet, but it must have been one hell of a trip that night.
When you put the words “philosophy” and “Grateful Dead” in the same sentence, you run the risk of invoking precisely that sort of image—vapid, silly statements that collapse into the triviality of something you’d find in a fortune cookie when you take the time to think about it with a sober mind. And while we’ve all had those moments of artificial clarity, the fact is that some of those 2:00 a.m. dorm-room conversations sparked by a newly acquired bootleg really did focus on deep and interesting questions. Some of those folks sitting around cross-legged on the floor, looking through your couch for enough loose change to order a pizza went on to be come honest-to-goodness philosophy professors. And they are still having those conversations. To prove it, this book is a collection of them.