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“The rule of thumb is the more profound the experience, the longer you should wait before doing it again”*…

 

sartretrippinmane2

 

Beyond their visual qualities, mescaline’s hallucinations posed profound philosophical questions. During the mid-1930s three prominent writers and thinkers left records of their experiments with it. In 1934 and 1935 respectively, Walter Benjamin and Jean-Paul Sartre participated in the now-familiar modus operandi of private session between psychiatrist and artist, with the scientific gaze and the philosopher’s insights informing—or, more often, pitted against—one another…

Sartre wrote little directly about his experience, describing it briefly in notes that later found a place in L’imaginaire, his 1940 study of the phenomenology of the imagination. He found its effects elusive and sinister. “It could only exist by stealth,” he wrote; it distorted every sensation, yet whenever he attempted to perceive it directly it withdrew into the background or shifted shape. Its action on the mind “inconsistent and mysterious,” offering no solid vantage point from which to observe it. In contrast to previous descriptions of the “double consciousness” or état mixte, in which the normal self was able to observe its hallucinations dispassionately, Sartre found it impossible to be a spectator of his own experience. On the contrary, he felt submerged against his will in a miasma of sensations that assailed him viscerally at every turn, a world of grotesque extreme close-ups in which everything disgusted him.

The best-known detail of Sartre’s bad trip is Simone de Beauvoir’s anecdote of him being haunted for weeks after by lobster-like creatures scuttling just beyond his field of vision. Sartre, like Aldous Huxley, was partially sighted—a curious coincidence linking two of the most celebrated intellectuals to have taken the vision-producing drug—and his poor vision may have exacerbated his anxieties about shapes lurking just beyond its reach. Later in life he claimed that it had driven him to a nervous breakdown. “After I took mescaline, I started seeing crabs around me all the time,” he recalled in 1971; “I mean they followed me into the street, into class.” Even though he knew they were imaginary he spoke to them, requesting them to be quiet during his lectures. Eventually he sought psychotherapeutic help from a young Jacques Lacan, which generated “nothing that he or I valued very much,” though “with the crabs, we sort of concluded that it was fear of becoming alone.”…

Caveat comedenti: “Sartre’s bad trip.”

* Dr. James Fadiman

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As we contemplate crustacea, we might spare a thought for Jerome Phillip Horwitz; he died on this date in 2012.  A chemist active in cancer research, Horowitz was the first to synthesized AZT (azidothymidine), in 1964, in the hope that it might retard the growth of malignant cells.  It failed at that task, and lay dormant for two decades… until Burroughs Wellcome tested– and patented– Horowitz’s development as a treatment for HIV-AIDS.  The drug company got FDA approval in 1986, and went on to reap enormous financial returns, of which Horowitz saw none.

After AZT, Horowitz went on to create many successful treatments for cancer and other diseases.

(While some believe that Horwitz was referenced in the Captain Underpants books, the Jerome Horwitz Elementary School in the children’s book series was in fact named after Curly Howard (Jerome Lester Horowitz) of The Three Stooges.

jerome_horwitzX400_0 source

 

Written by LW

September 6, 2019 at 1:01 am

“It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen”*…

 

@OnePerfectShot, a service of @TheGoeffTodd,  provides a steady Twitter stream of just that:  a series of exquisite shots from great films.

[TotH to Super Punch]

* Anthony Burgess

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As we fiddle with our framing, we might send colorful birthday greetings to Keith Haring; he was born on this date in 1958.  Haring dropped out of commercial art school in Pennsylvania, moved to New York City, and became involved in the street art scene in the late 70s.  He quickly developed a signature style, and began to get recognition for a series of painting in New York’s subway system that were documented by the photographer Tseng Kwong Chi.  By 1982, Haring’s fame had grown, and he’d begun to organize installations at Club 57.  Openly gay and an engaged social activist, Haring filled his work with social, political, and gender comment, though largely in a textured, “buried” way.  His most overt political statement was his 1989 painting “Silence = Death,” a riff on the 1986 poster that became the unofficial logo of ACT UP.  Haring died of AIDS-related complications in 1990.

Haring’s “Silence = Death”

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Written by LW

May 4, 2014 at 1:01 am

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