Crime in progress, possibly

36 Hours


Flickr: stilllife drawing topic: addiction

pyramid: on the bottom the cube with which all (the addiction) begins. followed by light drugs such as cigarettes and alcohol, followed by hard drugs such aus heroin. the cards are on the edge, ready to flip and fall in every second. the game is over. the downfall of life began. floor with chess-pattern symbolises as well as the cube and the cards specific games which are typically and partly known to lead to addictions.


All I remember is looking in the mirror and thinking: ‘You’re really beautiful. You should be a model.’


Soma: Wasson

"What was the original Soma? The present consensus is that it was Ephedra. Its active ingredient is ephedrine, which is derived from the stem of the plant. It stimulates the metabolism, raises blood pressure, and has other medical uses. It grows all over the world and is abundant in Central Asia. In 1968, Wendy Doniger published a chapter on "The Post-Vedic History of the Soma Plant," which reviews more than 140 such theories published between 1784 and 1967. The most common candidates include alcoholic beverages and species of Ephedra, Peganum harmala (mountain rue), Sarcostemma, Periploca, and other leafless climbers superficially resembling each other yet belonging to genera botanically far apart. Less common candidates are Cannabis sativa (hemp), the Afghan grape, Calonyction muricatum or Ipomoea muricata, whose seeds are used as purgatives, Eleusine coracana, the common millet, and even "Egyptian beer," a fermentation of date juice and palmyra or coconut palm that was allegedly brought to India from Mesopotamia. Many of these hypotheses are easy to refute (for example, the idea that Soma was a kind of alcohol). The Vedas distinguish Soma from the alcoholic sura drink that produces an evil, dur-mada, form of intoxication, whereas Soma leads to mada--rapture or bliss.

"Wendy Doniger wrote her chapter at the request of R. Gordon Wasson, a Wall Street banker with, at first, an amateur's interest in mushrooms and ethnomycology that had been kindled by his Russian wife, Valentina Pavlovna. Wasson discussed Soma and the fly-agaric mushroom with Aldous Huxley, who had written about it in Brave New World in 1932 and was about to publish his novel The Island, which describes a Sanskritic cult based upon a hallucinogenic mushroom. Wasson's interest in Soma was instrumental in his decision to retire from his bank in June 1963, and, as he put it, "translate myself to the Orient for a stay of some years". One result of his researches was the profusely illustrated and magnificently produced volume Soma: The Divine Mushroom, which incorporates Wendy Doniger's chapter. This sterling contribution heralded a new approach to the problem of the identity of Soma.

Wasson defended the thesis that the Vedic Soma was the "fly-agaric" mushroom, Amanita muscaria, familiar from the birch forests, alpine meadows, and folklore of the cooler regions of Eurasia from Western Europe to Siberia. The fly-agaric grows in mycorrhizal underground relationship with birches, conifers, and other trees that also grow in the higher mountains of more southerly regions such as the Hindu Kush and Himalayas, regions Indo-Aryan speakers crossed before entering the Indian subcontinent. Summarizing Rigvedic passages, Wasson wrote: "The poets say that Soma grows high in the mountains. They make a point of this. They never speak of its growing elsewhere. They must mean what they say".

A characteristic feature of the mushroom is its brilliant red color. It emerges from the soil as a little white ball, swells rapidly and bursts its white garment, fragments of the envelope remaining as white patches on the red skin underneath. Wasson's magnificent plates of the mushroom depict it and illustrate poetic expressions such as "the hide is of bull, the dress of sheep" (Rigveda 9.70.7). According to Wasson, Soma came in two forms. In the first, the juice itself is drunk; in the second, the urine of a person who has used the first form is drunk. This is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Wasson knew that Siberian shamans chewed the mushroom and others drank his urine. The psychoactive properties are not affected by the process of digestion and toxic side-effects may be lessened. There are other psychoactive substances that have this property, which is referred to as psychotropic metabolite. It may help explain that Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai (like many others in India and China) drank his own.

- Frits Staal, "How a psychoactive substance become a ritual: the case of Soma." Social Research Fall 2001

"I believe that Soma was a mushroom, Amanita muscaria (Fries ex L.) Quel, the fly-agaric, the Fliegenpilz of the Germans, the fausse oronge or tue-mouche or crapaudin of the French, the mukhomor of the Russians. This flaming red mushroom with white spots flecking its cap is familiar throughout northern Europe and Siberia. It is often put down in mushroom manuals as deadly poisonous but this is false, as I myself can testify. Until lately it has been a central feature of the worship of numerous tribes in northern Siberia, where it has been consumed in the course of their shamanic sessions. Its reputation as a lethal plant in the West is, I contend, a splendid example of a tabu long outliving the religion that gave rise to it. Among the most conservative users of the fly-agaric in Siberia the belief prevailed until recent times that only the shaman and his apprentice could consume the fly-agaric with impunity: all others would surely die. This is, I am sure, the origin of the tabu that has survived among us down to our own day."

- Gordon Wasson, "Soma of the Aryans: An Ancient Hallucinogen." Bulletin on Narcotics vol. 22(3)

Soma: Relief

Soma: Mainline

Soma: Huxley

Soma: Höller

"Carsten Höller's latest exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin takes its title from the mythical drink referred to in ancient Hindu texts, a liquid that is supposed to have been consumed by gods and mortals seeking enlightenment. It is said that reindeer urine and hallucinogenic mushrooms formed the base of the elixir, and it is up to the viewer in Höller’s installation to infer whether or not the roaming animals have imbibed elements of this mythical drink. Who, he seems to ask, is the control group in this experiment? Höller has devised a fantastical scenario that stands at the crossroads between art and science, laboratory and dream, supposed objectivity and heightened subjectivity.

Linguists, anthropologists, mycologists, and botanists alike have been searching for the composition of soma for millennia. Sifting through Sanskrit verses, they aimed at uncovering its compounds, but no consensus has yet been reached. In his life-size experiment, Höller continues the research done by American scientist Gordon R. Wasson, whose 1968 thesis on the origin and makeup of the potent potable informed the artist’s inquiry. Höller’s fantasy land can also be your home for one night – for the price of 1,000 euros (stay includes a nighttime tour of the museum with a guard, as well as breakfast)." (Artobserved)


up in smoke

"NYU dorm-dwellers got a little more than their money's worth from the Village Voice newspapers in their corner honor boxes: business cards advertising a massive, 24-hour drug delivery service. A pair of enterprising entrepeneurs advertised their delivery service by removing stacks of the free papers from their honor boxes, paper-clipping a business cards to each one, then returning them to the box, officials said. A four-month investigation revealed that the service delivered marijuana and low-cost but high-grade cocaine to customers' doorsteps, targeting a clientele of university students and the bar crowd in the East Village and Lower East Side." (NYP)


Bionic dread

Richard Prince, Canal Zone

"Perhaps the most truly psychedelic post-sixties art movement of all was not an art movement but a religion that governmental authorities occasionally confused with a street gang: Rastafarianism. Actually the Dread movement couldn't be called psychedelic in the conventional sense. Marijuana was its sacrament. It was anti-acid and anti-pharmaceutical. But in dub it created the most coherent body of psychedelic art. Its deconstructed, sculptural music with hypnotic rhythms and trippy ambient improv expanded sensory consciousness while espousing a radical neo-gnostic philosophy, combining the Bible, Marcus Garvey, and Freemasonry into a religion that makes total sense into the sensual. Here, finally was a religion that incorporated getting high into a holistic noble philosophy. It offered a tempered version of psychedelics based on nature. Dillinger summed it up in the lyrics to 'Bionic Dread': 'Babylon psychedelic, natty dread bionic'

–Glenn O'Brien, from Tate Modern Summer of Love catalog, 2005



Lot Notes:
In the 1970s Sigmar Polke produced a series of photographic suites based on his journeys. While in Quetta, Pakistan in 1974 he shot numerous images of opium dens "that ultimately became some of the most visually exquisite and most carefully crafted photographs in his entire oeuvre." (Schimmel, p. 72) The Quetta, Pakistan prints were embellished by hand with colorful egg tempera inks and gold and silver paint. As opulent as nineteenth-century Orientalist images, Polke's representation does not, however, isolate and thereby objectify the smokers as exotic curiosities. Rather they are viewed from across the den, behind other smokers, thereby positioning the artist (and the viewer) as den dwellers themselves.

Beginning with his 1971 Paris photographs printed using experimental techniques while under the influence of LSD, Polke exploited the photographic process as a means to alter "reality." He sought to expand the representational possibilities of photography beyond the objective to include the poetic, in a way that paralleled the mind-expanding effect of drugs. Like his Surrealist predecessors (Man Ray, for example), Polke embraced chance and accident in the darkroom and, in the case of Quetta, Pakistan, highlighted them. The intent, however, was not to tap into some mysterious unconscious realm, but rather to simulate an alternative perception of reality.

Lot Description:
Sigmar Polke (b. 1941)
»Quetta, Pakistan«
signed, titled and dated 'S. Polke 74 Quetta' lower right
watercolor and metallic gold paint on gelatin silver print
33.1/8 x 47in.
Price Realized $145,500

– From Christie's Auction, Lot 5 / Sale 9228

I learned a great deal from drugs--the most important thing being that the conventional definition of reality, and the idea of 'normal life,' mean nothing. –Sigmar Polke

Opium dens, 1974

Sigmar Polke, Quetta, Pakistan 1973/1974


Beckett Edits

it's here, can't you feel it?

"Here's some rare footage of an experimental LSD session that I came across doing research for my next book, a group biography of British writer Aldous Huxley, philosopher Gerald Heard, and Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. It's from a television program, circa 1956, about mental health issues. The researcher, Dr. Sidney Cohen, was dosing volunteers at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Los Angeles. Aldous Huxley, who first tried mescaline in 1953 and wrote about it in his seminal book, The Doors of Perception, got Gerald Heard interested in the spiritual potential of psychedelic drugs.

Heard then turned on Bill Wilson, guiding him on an LSD trip supervised by Dr. Cohen in the summer of 1956 -- perhaps in the same room we see in this video. Wilson, who started AA in the 1930s, thought LSD could help alcoholics have the "spiritual awakening" that is such an important part of the twelve-step recovery program he popularized.

Heard and Huxley set the stage for better-known psychedelic research of Timothy Leary, Richard "Ram Dass" Alpert, Huston Smith and Andrew Weil, who are profiled in my 2010 book, The Harvard Psychedelic Club." - Don Lattin via Huffington Post

The Acid King

MIKE McGRORY, 21: Ricky always had that spaced-out look about him. He used to run his mouth about being satanic, like he is the devil. When he was high, he'd always sit there and laugh at you, like he was trying to pretend to be crazy.

MARK FISHER: Ricky was of the devil. When he was on acid, he'd go back into the dark woods, up in Aztakea, and he would talk to the devil. He said the devil came into the form of a tree, which sprouted out of the ground and glowed. I tried to question him abut it, but he said, "I don't like to talk about it. People think I'm nuts."

GIRL, known as Baker, 16: When the dust came to town, Ricky and the guys used to go down to the graveyard, and they'd tape themselves tripping on acid and mesc and dust. They thought the devil possessed the tape, and there were all these, you know, different voices.

TEEN DUSTHEAD 2: Ricky and this dude were in my car, and the re like, "We're trying to get this cult going. Going to the library to read up on some books. We want your mother to be the ladder of it." See, my mother has these powers. She raises tables. We've talked to Jim Morrison through a table.

MARK FISHER: Ricky would take ten hits of mesc in a night. He would take three; ten minutes later he'd take another three; and two hours later he'd take four more. He'd figured it out in his mind how to take the most without ODing Ricky is the acid king.

BOY AT WAKE: Gary was the type of guy that everybody liked, because he wasn't selfish. I remember he got twenty-five hits of acid, and he just gave them out. Twenty-five hits of 'cid. Gave them out.

SOFTHEARTED GIRL: Ricky gave Gary hits of mesc and bought him jelly doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts. First Gary didn't want to go, but then ricky said, "We'll buy jelly doughtnuts!" So he was, like, "Yeah!"

MARK FISHER: Ricky had twenty-five hits of mesc in a little stach bottle down at the park. I was gonna go get beers, and I gave them my box, had my tape in it, Black Sabbath, We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll. I came back, and they had left. Aw, shit' I heard they went up to Aztakea and any girls who wanted to get fucked should go up there.

ALBERT QUINONES, 16: They were all tripping. I didn't want to, but finally I just said, "What the hell," so I took a hit. Ricky treated us to doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts.

And then we went up to Aztakea, because they wanted to go to a good tripping area, and they've got a little field where you can trip out.
All of a sudden Gary goes, "I have funny vibes that you're going to kill me." And Ricky was saying, "I'm not going to kill you. Are you crazy?" and shit like that. I was peaking. I was peaking out, tripping out. And they were just fighting, punching each other and shit, and I didn't think anything was going to happen. I mean, I could see Ricky's point, too, which is that he was friends with Gary, and he just turns around and steals ten bags of dust. So they were just rolling on the ground and shit, and Gary got up to his feet after Jimmy had ran up to his feet after Jimmy had ran up to him and kicked him in the ribs and shit, and Gary had gotten up to his feet, and Ricky just bit him in the neck, bit him in the ear and then he just stabbed him. It was a trip, man, I'll tell you, man, it was a trip. I mean, you sit there and stare out, and you look at the trees, and it looks like they're bending down and shit. I don't know -- that was a trip. I thought it was a nightmare. I couldn't move, man. My whole body, all of a sudden, it just wouldn't move, it wouldn't function. It was like in shock. I was going crazy, man. I just stood there in my place, like all bugged out.

After Ricky stabbed him, Gary took off, ran, and Ricky got him, just like that. Jimmy picked up the knife after Ricky had dropped it, and he gave it to Ricky. And Ricky made Gary get on his knees and say, "I love Satan." Then Ricky just started hacking away from him, man. He just kept stabbing him and shit, and then Gary was just screaming, "Ahhh, I love my mother." It was really fucked, man. And they grabbed him by the legs and dragged him in the woods, Ricky and Jimmy, dragged him in the woods. They came running out of the woods after they just threw leaves on him and shit. They told me that he started stabbing Gary in the face and shit...

TEEN DUSTHEAD 1: You feel like you're ten feet tall.

TEEN DUSTHEAD 2: You don't fee anything. You feel like you could trip your gut open and not even know it.

FEARFUL BOY, 17: Dust is the ultimate. The end. Complete hallucinations. You sit down, totally numbered out, and you start sinking into it. People can put out cigarettes on you and you don't even care. You can experience yourself sinking into a cinder-block wall.

It's just the suburbs. There's nothing better to do than take drugs. What else can you do? You can go shopping. Go roller-skating. Go bowling. To the movies. There's only so much you can do before things wear out. You start taking drugs, just like the people in the Bronx.

STOCK BOY: It was the dust, man. Just put it down that it was the dust. That's all.

"Kids in the Dark", by David Breskin, Rolling Stone Magazine 11/22/84


»No Grass Piece«, 1969 by Lee Lozano




Kate Moss doing Cocaine

Experiment in Total Freedom

»Experiment in Total Freedom« 2002 by Carol Bove

»Strawberries Need Rain« 2003 by Carol Bove

“Every A-frame had your number on the wall,” sang Steely Dan of LSD chef Augustus Owsley Stanley after his heyday had been supplanted by seventies anomie. Hippie culture, for all its rhetoric of individualism, had its conformist aspect: “Everyone in this room is wearing a uniform and don’t kid yourself,” Frank Zappa told his audience from the stage in 1967. Equally, every rainbow-painted Volkswagen camper in Berkeley would have its dog-eared copy of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet (1923), beloved by mainstream hippies for the way in which its blankly spiritual verses permitted projection.

Take apart Bove’s neatly minimalist column of sixty-eight cream-colored hardbacks of this book, TOWER OF THE PROPHET (2002), and you would discover—as Bove did when she began buying the volumes readily available in charity shops (for what goes up must come down, and who reads Gibran today?)—that their owners often underlined the Lebanese-American poet’s essays in precisely the same places. Free your mind, it would appear, and the hive mind will follow you. It’s equally characteristic of Bove, however, that her example of communal taste was first published in 1923, an emblem therefore of belated reaction and recrudescence, complicating pat linearity. The sixties were not a fresh start but a temporal patchwork: they didn’t end in 1969, didn’t originate without multifarious precedent, and are not necessarily the acid-and-anti-establishment years of consensual repute. –Matthew Herbert,
Parkett 86


American Bricolage

»Acid Cabinet« 2005 by Tom Sachs

Whitewall: Your body is at service to your art? There is this fantasy of the artist who
endures all kind of abuses (such as drugs) as a part of the experience. You need a good body to do good art?

Tom Sachs: Yeah [laughs], but the opposite is also true — I also have to be very indulgent and explore. But I don’t think drugs are an escape; I think they are an exploratory tool.

WW: They can be both.

TS: I certainly explored them in both ways — but now that I’m old, I look at it as two separate experiences. One is about using as a social lubricant, as an escape, or to eliminate pain. But then, more rigorously, I use drugs as an exploration tool, as an opportunity to go deeper inside, or, most radically, to help see the different dimension of the reality I’m used to every day.

WW: Are you talking about psychedelics like mushrooms?

TS: Mushrooms and LSD. Psychedelics are the most dangerous, effective, and quickest ways to get to those places.

WW: They’re a shortcut. It’s funny that we’re talking about different dimensions, because while preparing for this interview I had the insight that in some ways you are like a modern alchemist. Alchemists are people who can transform lead into gold, inside and outside. Is there some sort of alchemy in your work?

TS: I’m honored by your analysis, because it’s a word that I use very often when I’m explaining what “bricolage” means [Note:Sachs often describes his work as “American bricolage”]. It’s common in French, but it’s not an American word. When people ask, “What does it mean?” I say, “It’s like alchemy meets do-it-yourself but it’s not just do-it-yourself because there’s an element of spirit or tradition to bricolage.” There’s a spiritual quality to it. It’s about showing resourcefulness and love. It’s also a word for a culture that repairs rather than replaces. I come from a culture that replaces . . . when you save something, there is a little bit of magic in it. When alchemists were trying to find gold out of lead, they found other things along the way.

WW: Real alchemists are looking for inner transformation.

TS: The ultimate creation is life. To make a baby is the most magical creation there is. Everything else, whether it’s going to the moon or building a bridge over a giant valley, is impressive but . . . technology is a shadow of natural technology — nature.

Whitewall magazine, 2010


Viagra Falls

»Viagra Falls« 2008 by Rob Pruitt


Daily Mirror

»Daily Mirror«, 2006 by Jonathan Horowitz. Screenprint on mirror


Dead Eyed Bird Blast

»Dead Eyed Bird Blast« 1997 by Fred Tomaselli. Marijuana leaves, pills, photo collage, acrylic, and resin on wood panel.


“All of my work has been heavily influenced by my growing up near Disneyland, at the heart of Southern California’s theme-park culture. In my youth, I was pretty much a ne’er-do-well stoner mallrat.” Fred Tomaselli

Under LSD

»Me Under LSD« 2010 by Erwin Wurm




What distinguishes schizophrenic existence from that which the rest of us like to imagine we enjoy is the element of time. The schizophrenic is having it all now, whether he wants it or not; the whole can of film has descended on him, whereas we watch it progress frame by frame. So for him, causality does not exist. Instead, the acausal connective principle that Wolfgang Pauli called synchronicity is operating in all situations -- not merely as only one factor at work, as with us. Like a person under LSD, the schizophrenic is engulfed in an endless now. It's not too much fun.

At this point the I Ching (The Book of Changes) enters, since it works on the basis of synchronicity -- and is a device by which synchronicity can be handled. Maybe you prefer the word "coincidence" to Pauli's word. Anyhow, both terms refer to acausal connectives, or rather events linked in that manner, events occurring outside of time. Not a chain passing from yesterday to today to tomorrow but all taking place now. All chiming away now, like Leibnitz's preset clocks. And yet none having any causal connection with any of the others.

That events can take place outside of time is a discovery that strikes me as dismal. My first reaction was, "Good God, I was right; when you're at the dentist it does last forever." I'll let the mystics dilate on, more favorable possibilities, such as eternal bliss. Anyhow, LSD has made this discovery available to everyone, and hence subject to consensual validation, hence within the realm of knowledge, hence a scientific fact (or just plain fact, if you prefer). Anybody can get into this state now, not just the schizophrenic. Yes, friends, you, too, can suffer forever; simply take 150 mg of LSD -- and enjoy! If not satisfied, simply mail in -- but enough. Because after two thousand years under LSD, participating in the Day of Judgment, one probably will be rather apathetic to asking for one's five dollars back.

But at least one has now learned what life is like during the catatonic schizophrenic state, and one does return from LSD within a short time period as computed within the koinos kosmos (the shared world) (roughly ten hours), however much longer it is in the idios kosmos (the personal world) (to rather understate the matter). For the catatonic schizophrenic the duration of this state is not only forever idios kosmoswise but also, unless lucky, koinos kosmoswise. To put it in zen terms, under LSD you experience eternity for only a short period (or, as Planet Stories used to phrase it, "Such-and-such," he screamed under his breath). So, within a nontime interval, all manner of elaborate and peculiar events can take place; whole epics can unfold in the fashion of the recent movie Ben Hur. (If you'd prefer to undergo the experience of LSD without taking it, imagine sitting through Ben Hur twenty times without the midpoint intermission. Got it? Keep it.)

- Philip K Dick: "Schizophrenia & The Book of Changes"






Behind the curtain

A segment for the entire family

Death is the only face you'll see, kids, when you get involved in drugs. Please, stay clean.

Hits of Sunshine


In 1967 the Creative Department at the DEA collaborated with the San Mateo High School District to make this short film
about LSD, narrated by LSD.



Images du monde visionnaire

Images du monde visionnaire, an educational film by Henri Michaux and Eric Duvivier which was "produced in 1963 by the film department of Swiss pharmaceutical company Sandoz Labs (first synthesized LSD in 1938) in order to demonstrate the hallucinogenic effects of mescaline and hashish."

Voodoo Logic

Denying the antecedent:

If P, then Q.
Not P.
Therefore, not Q

If there is TTX in the powder, there are zombies in Haiti.
There is not TTX in the powder.
Therefore, there are not zombies in Haiti.

Modus tollens:

If P, then Q.
Not Q.
Therefore, not P.

If there is TTX in the powder, there are zombies in Haiti.
There are not zombies in Haiti.
Therefore, there is no TTX in the powder.

Modus ponens:

If P, then Q.
Therefore, Q.

If there is TTX in the powder, there are zombies in Haiti.
There is TTX in the powder.
Therefore, there are zombies in Haiti.


Jeremy Everett, Opium Feast, 2009