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Here is an ex­cerpt from a book I’m read­ing:

Un­less con­sumed in highly skilled rit­ual con­texts, as is prac­ticed in many tra­di­tional so­ci­eties, what drugs in fact do is re­duce our per­cep­tion of both what can be ac­com­plished and what we as in­di­vid­u­als are able to ac­com­plish, un­til the two are in bal­ance. This is a pleas­ant state of af­fairs, but it is only a mis­lead­ing sim­u­la­tion of that en­joy­ment that comes from in­creas­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for ac­tions and the abil­i­ties to act.

Can any­body help me to in­ter­pret these lines, as the us­age of un­less and un­til seems quite com­plex?

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    The entire passage is overly complex. I don't think the problem has anything to do with either unless or until. Does the following make sense? Unless you are told otherwise, keep exercising until you are tired. If it does, then you know what those words mean. Your problem isn't with them, but with parsing everything else. – Jason Bassford Mar 24 at 15:52
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    Have you looked up "unless" and "until" in a dictionary? – Hot Licks Mar 24 at 18:07
  • (But I agree that the paragraph is gobbledygook. I suspect it was written to intentionally obfuscate it's claims.) – Hot Licks Mar 24 at 18:08
  • What drugs do (except when con­sumed in highly skilled rit­ual con­texts) is to re­duce both 1.) our per­cep­tion of what can be ac­com­plished and 2.) our per­cep­tion of what we as in­di­vid­u­als are able to ac­com­plish. Drugs reduce 1.) and 2.) until 1.) and 2.) are in balance. This is a state which people find pleasant, but it is only a simulation of the real enjoyment that comes from having the opportunity and ability to actually do something. – Shoe Mar 25 at 11:39
  • @Shoe What does until mean here sir? Does it mean that the perception is reduced till 1.) and 2.) are in balance? – Sudhir Sharma Mar 25 at 12:11
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Original text:

Un­less con­sumed in highly skilled rit­ual con­texts, as is prac­ticed in many tra­di­tional so­ci­eties, what drugs in fact do is re­duce our per­cep­tion of both what can be ac­com­plished and what we as in­di­vid­u­als are able to ac­com­plish, un­til the two are in bal­ance. This is a pleas­ant state of af­fairs, but it is only a mis­lead­ing sim­u­la­tion of that en­joy­ment that comes from in­creas­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for ac­tions and the abil­i­ties to act.

My interpretation:

What drugs in fact [normally] do is re­duce our per­cep­tion of both ... :
(1) what [theoretically] can be ac­com­plished; and also
(2) what we as in­di­vid­u­als are [actually] able to ac­com­plish
until [our per­cep­tion of item (1) above & our per­cep­tion of item (2) above] are in balance [with one another].
[That can seem to be] a pleas­ant state of af­fairs, ...
but [in reality] it is only a mis­lead­ing sim­u­la­tion of [the] en­joy­ment that comes from [what seems like]
(1) in­creas­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for ac­tions, and
(2) the abil­i­ties to act.

[Unless ...] The only occasions when drugs do not have that effect is when they are "con­sumed in highly skilled rit­ual con­texts" [such as the rituals] prac­ticed in many tra­di­tional so­ci­eties.

  • Sir, until does seem ambiguous here. Until 1 and 2 balance each other out is not clear. Please help to clear this. – Sudhir Sharma Mar 25 at 9:50
  • Does until mean that both the perceptions are reduced till both are in balance. – Sudhir Sharma Mar 25 at 12:58
  • I've made some revisions to my answer - does that help? – TrevorD Mar 25 at 20:45
  • It seems like the author is implying that the two reduced perceptions being in balance is what leads to "a pleasant state of affairs" in the next sentence. – AlannaRose Mar 25 at 21:46

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