Oliver Sacks: "Altered States: Self-Experiments in Chemistry," New Yorker, August 27, 2012
ABSTRACT: We seek a holiday from our inner and outer restrictions, a more intense sense of the here and now, the beauty and value of the world we live in. Many of us find Wordsworthian “intimations of immortality” in nature, art, creative thinking, or religion; some people can reach transcendent states through meditation or similar trance-inducing techniques, or through prayer and spiritual exercises. But drugs offer a shortcut; they promise transcendence on demand. These shortcuts are possible because certain chemicals can directly stimulate many complex brain functions. Every culture has found such chemical means of transcendence, and at some point the use of such intoxicants becomes institutionalized at a magical or sacramental level. The sacramental use of psychoactive plant substances has a long history and continues to the present day in various shamanic and religious rites around the world. At a humbler level, drugs are used not so much to illuminate or expand or concentrate the mind but for the sense of pleasure and euphoria they can provide. Many people experiment with drugs, hallucinogenic and otherwise, in their teen-age or college years. The writer did not try them until he was thirty and a neurology resident. Discusses the writings of Thomas De Quincey, Aldous Huxley, Havelock Ellis and others. Writer describes his own use, during the nineteen-sixties, of a variety of drugs, including LSD, cannabis, opium, chloral hydrate, and morning-glory seeds.
Posted by Acid Age at 11:44 AM
crossfadr: Why did you call your first recording “Acid Trax?”
DJ Pierre: Because the people had named it that. Rumors were all around Chicago about this new track that Ron Hardy was playing was called “Acid Trax.” They said the track made you respond as if you were on acid…so the saying goes. So we didn’t re-invent the wheel, we just kept the name.
Posted by Acid Age at 1:02 PM
Michel Foucault, "Fantasia of the Library" (on Flaubert's Temptation of Saint Anthony)
"Possibly Flaubert was responding to an experience of the fantastic that was singularly modern and relatively unknown before his time, to the discovery of a new imaginative space in the nineteenth century. This domain of phantasms is no longer the night, the sleep of reason, or the uncertain void that stands before desire, but, on the contrary, wakefulness, untiring attention, zealous erudition, and constant vigilance.
Henceforth, the visionary experience arises from the black-and-white surface of printed signs, from the closed and dusty volume that opens with a flight of forgotten words; fantasies are carefully deployed in the hushed library, with its columns of books, with its titles aligned on shelves to form a tight enclosure, but within confines that also liberate impossible worlds. The imaginary now resides between the book and the lamp.
The fantastic is no longer a property of the heart, nor is it found among the incongruities of nature; it evolves from the accuracy of knowledge, and its treasures lie dormant in documents. Dreams are no longer summoned with closed eyes, but in reading; and a true image is now a product of learning: it derives from words spoken in the past, exact recensions, the amassing of minute facts, monuments reduced to infinitesimal fragments, and the reproductions of reproductions. In the modern experience, these elements contain the power of the impossible. Only the assiduous clamor created by repetition can transmit to us what only happened once.
The imaginary is not formed in opposition to reality as its denial or compensation; it grows among signs, from book to book, in the interstice of repetitions and commentaries; it is born and takes shape in the interval between books. It is a phenomenon of the library."
(See "Fantasia of the Library" in Michel Foucault, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays).
Posted by Acid Age at 7:50 PM