Reading Report: Albert Hoffman’s Problem Child

October 3, 2012

How did a school kid like me get to know about LSD is a mystery. But I figure most probably it’s from a friend from New Zealand. As today I recall, she is quite hippie. Dangerous! is the impression it left me for it seems to be a prominent figure in the drug scene. But on a certain day the mystical side of it prevailed and I wanted to know more.

The choice is Albert Hoffman’s LSD: My Problem Child. What else is there for this canny little creature who is eager to learn something dangerous, than the book written right by the father of LSD through a academic approach?

And it turns out, LSD is not dangerous at all in terms of toxicity, neither physically nor mentally. And only the first several sections are written in a relatively “academic” fashion, in which the author described the cause and process of discovery of this compound from ergot. Afterward, I was mainly presented with a compilation of psychedelic experience from various people. They keep telling us human language is incapable of convey a least bit of idea what they saw in their visions, while their words show us a world of wonder. And also read in the book is Hoffman’s travel to ancient tribes in Mexico, almost like a pilgrimage to the sacred mushroom – whose psychoactive substance is similar to LSD. This is further a drawing of veil of Aztecan charm rather than illumination.

Although troubled by the abuse of LSD as an intoxicate drug outside scientific circle, Albert Hoffman thinks it as a key to open the door of the inner universe, to counterbalance the materialism in an industrialized world, to release a suppressed reality and integrate it with the everyday reality, thus shaping a new world view. I so recall reading somewhere that Descartes spent a certain period alone during war. Because of the absolute solitude and continuous self-concentration, he saw devils dancing around him in the room. It is explained that when people receive minimal signal from the outside world, sensation from the inside will be augmented; for the brain, when there’s no tasks from outside to tackle with, it creates “tasks” itself and hallucination dominates.

This is why some people seeking mystico-religious enlightenment usually turns to meditation, yoga and Zen. LSD through a biochemical mechanism achieve the same goal with significant speed-up of the alteration of the state of mind. I believe this state of mind along with many other possible states are encoded in us by the force of nature over the history of human evolution. The only normal state left for us today should be the one best tailored to survival of human race. So is it that important to release the suppressed reality locked up by nature for our own good? I doubt it.

But certainly, for the sake of aesthetic interests, ever-going pursuit of euphoric exposure or simply the sense of curiosity about what kind of possibilities our minds have been given by the almighty god, for all these reasons, it is more than a good idea to dive into the world of LSD for some time.

The various accounts in the book often remind me of van Gogh’s the Starry Night and Munch’s the Scream of the Nature, of how the cypresses come to burning with vigorous green flames, of how the moons and stars whirl and roll and try to swallow one another, of the distorted and distant human face with a terrifying look, and of the blood red cloudy sky resonating with each and every nerve, cell and pore. Hallucination must have naturally occurred to these psychiatrically abnormal artists. Then I also become passionate about understanding the abstruse modern art with aid from LSD…

Now I can’t help but mention Trance. Originally the word itself is related to a mental state of dizziness. I have always tasted the euphoric and even ecstatical feeling from some trance music. The repeating phrases many people find monotonous are by no means simple repetition. They are like clouds over clouds, arches after arches, that lead you to a wondrous land. Benz & MD’s Wonder is such an example.  “It builds and takes different shape throughout, never remaining stale. Melodic hooks change and take different form throughout.”( – from resident advisor) This resembles one of the core features of LSD trip, that is a kaleidoscopic view of beauty. You linger to a certain organic synth at a certain moment but in the next second you are taken to a twinkly sound. I shall dedicate a whole article for Benz & MD’s music later on. But for now, I’m thinking, if this blissful experience could be 100 times more intense, I would like to have it.

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