Day 73

Yikes: “Researchers from around the world are gathering this week in San Jose, Calif., for the largest conference on psychedelic science held in the United States in four decades.”

Somewhere prominent in this seems to be a chap called Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University, who seems to have dedicated his working life to establishing that taking hallucinogenic drugs makes people slightly happier than they were before.

Still, it’s probably worth knowing. Charles  Grob, from UCLA, says the hallucinaogenic compound psilocybin is an “existential medicine” that helps dying people overcome fear, panic and depression. Which is the same thing, but in a more impressive context.

And let’s face it, it’s more useful than most things most people say about hallucinogens. Before all this, the best known experiment on psychedelic was when Jonathan Aitken swallowed a whole sticker book of LSD to help him whip up some easy copy for the Evening Standard.

According to Aitken the effects were “visions of hell. Continents dripping with blood. Black men fighting brown men, fighting yellow men.” But he might just have been having a premonition of prison.

Paul McCartney’s useful contribution to the field, meanwhile, was the discovery that “God is everything and everywhere and everyone.” Thanks, Hare Krishna.

While we’re on LSD experimentalists from the 1960s, check out Timothy “by his own admission a visionary prophet” Leary. Apparently, “in order to go out of your head, you have to go out of your mind.”

As I said, “yikes.”

6.58: Well there we go again, another thousand words or so, rattled off. What used to be the tricky part of  the story has turned into the easiest bit, and the bits I used to career through like a slalom skier on butter have turned into cement. Still, mustn’t grumble. “Keep on keeping on,” as AL Kennedy says.

~ by David Thorley on April 13, 2010.

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