Posts Tagged ‘Drugs’
From the ever-illuminating Lapham’s Quarterly.
As we remember to use a coaster, we might send shocking birthday greetings to a man who genrrously lubricated his labors, the enfant terrible of French letters, Arthur Rimbaud; he was born on this date in 1854. With his buddy, Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine, Rimbaud was a leader of the Decadent Movement; fueled by absinthe and hashish, he succeeded in shocking a literary establishment that was nonetheless awed by his visionary verse, which influenced modern literature and arts, inspired various musicians, and prefigured Surrealism.
All known literature is written in the language of common sense—except Rimbaud’s
- Paul Valéry
Spiders routinely spin the sort of web pictured above. When they are doing drugs, however, spiders’ webs become really interesting…
Cannabinoid receptors have been found in non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and even some invertebrates, so there are plenty of animals that react to marijuana. Most of those reactions aren’t that surprising, or all that interesting, though. Dogs and cats act kind of funny and groggy after eating weed (please don’t feed them your stash, no matter how YouTube famous you want to be, though—the stuff can be toxic to them, especially dogs), and monkeys exposed to THC keep wanting more.
Spiders, though, are infinitely interesting when they get stoned because the effects of the drug are clear in the odd-looking webs they build afterwards.
Getting spiders high for science started in 1948, when German zoologist H.M. Peters got fed up with trying to study web-building behavior in spiders who wouldn’t do him the courtesy of working on his schedule. His garden spiders tended to build their webs between two and five a.m., and he asked his pharmacologist friend P.N. Witt if there might be some chemical stimulant that would coax the spiders into building their webs at a more reasonable time.
Witt tried giving the spiders some amphetamine and, while they kept building at their usual hour (to Peters’ dismay), the two scientists did notice that those webs were more haphazard than normal. Over the next few decades, Witt continued to dose spiders with a smorgasbord of psychoactive substances, including marijuana, LSD, caffeine and mescaline, to see how they reacted. Since spiders can’t use tiny bongs or drink from little mugs, Witt and his team either dissolved the drugs in sugar water or injected them into flies and then fed the spiders with them.
The drugs affected the size and shape of the spiders’ webs, the number of radii and spirals, the regularity of thread placement and other characteristics. By comparing photographs and measurements of normal and “drug webs,” Witt and other researchers could see how the different substances affected different aspects of the web and, by extension, the spiders’ motor skills and behavior.
Read the full story– and see webs spun on caffeine and chloral hydrate– at “What Does Marijuana Do to Spiders?“
As we commune with our inner monkey, we might recall that it was on this date in 490 BCE – ironically, as this year it’s Labor Day – that Pheidippides of Athens set out on the run that inspired the Marathon. Pheidippides was on a mission seeking military support from Sparta in defense against the invading Persian army. Tradition (that’s to say, Herodotus) holds that he ran the ran 246 km (153 miles) between the two city-states in two days. The Spartans, constrained by religious law, were unwilling to help until the next full moon. So two days later, Phidippides ran the return leg alone.
Pheidippides then ran the 40 km (25+ miles) from the battlefield to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon; he uttered the word Nenikékamen (“We have won”), collapsed, and died on the spot from exhaustion.
“You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”*…
The Top Pharmaceutical Products by US Retail Sales in 2011
Compiled and Produced by the Njardarson Group (The University of Arizona): Edon Vitaku, Elizabeth A. Ilardi, Jon T. Njardarson
* Morpheus to Neo, in The Matrix.
As we swallow, we might spare a thought for Donald J. Cram; he died on this date in 2001. An organic chemist who specialized in the creation of molecules that mimic the chemical behaviour of molecules found in living systems, Cram shared a Nobel Prize for work that effectively founded the field of host-guest chemistry… and that led to advances in drug-delivery systems that enabled many of the products pictured above.
In the grand tradition De Quincey, Freud, Burroughs, and Thompson (if not Emerson, from whom the quote in the title of this post), Bryan Saunders used self-experimentation as source material– as explained in “Artist Takes Every Drug Known to Man, Draws Self Portraits After Each Use.”
[TotH to EWW]
As we follow the yellow brick road, we might send alternative birthday greetings to The Village Voice; it was first published on this date in 1955. Started with backing from Norman Mailer (among others), the Voice was the first of the “alternative weeklies.” Since it’s absorption in 2005 into a chain of urban free weeklies, the Voice has become, essentially, an ordinary “urban shopper.” But in it’s first 50 years, it featured reportage, opinion, essays, and literary contributions from the likes of Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, Katherine Anne Porter, James Baldwin, e.e. cummings, Nat Hentoff, Ted Hoagland, William Bastone (later of thesmokinggun.com), Lucian Truscott IV, Tom Stoppard, Lorraine Hansberry, and Allen Ginsberg. Its award-winning reviewers– including Jonas Mekas, Linda Solomon, Robert Christgau, and J. Hoberman– helped define the taste of an age; and it’s cartoonists– led by regular Jules Feiffer, and including R. Crumb, Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, and Tom Tomorrow– helped set its tone.
Recently uncovered evidence suggests that William Shakespeare used marijuana, and now a team of paleontologists want to dig him up to prove it.
Francis Thackeray, an anthropologist and director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, has made a formal request to the Church of England to unearth the playwright. “We have incredible techniques,” Thackeray told Fox News. “We don’t intend to move the remains at all.”
After determining the identity of the remains, Thackeray’s team hopes to find out more about Shakespeare’s life and even the cause of his death. “Growth increments in the teeth will reveal if he went through periods of stress or illness — a plague for example, which killed many people in the 1600s,” he said.
Further tests should be able to ascertain if the Bard smoked marijuana. “If we find grooves between the canine and the incisor, that will tell us if he was chewing on a pipe as well as smoking,” Thackeray explained.
Pipes uncovered in the garden of Shakespeare’s home in 2001 showed evidence of cannabis and cocaine. “There were very low concentrations of cannabis, but the signature was there,” according to Inspector Tommy van der Merwe, who tested the pipes at South Africa’s Forensic Science Laboratory.
The evidence of cocaine was also very strong. “The pipes we tested still had dirt in them which preserved the residues inside the stem and bowl,” Van der Merwe said. “The readings we got were the same as if it had tested a modern-day crack pipe.”
Camphor, myristic acid, and quinoline were among other substances detected in the pipes. “Myristic acid, which is found in nutmeg, has hallucinogenic properties, and camphor, perhaps, was used to hide the smell of tobacco or other substances,” Thackeray noted in 2001.
Sonnet 76 of Shakespeare’s poems contains a reference to the “noted weed.”
Via The Raw Story.
As we wonder if perhaps it was actually Francis Bacon or the Earl of Oxford who did the dope, we might recall that it was on this date in 1971 that the first ever National Scrabble Championship was held, when Gyles Brandreth had brought together 100 players in London. Despite this slow start (Scrabble was created by Alfred Mosher Butts in 1938), national tournaments sprang up in other countries over the next several years; and a World Championship was established in 1991.
Gyles Brandreth (source)