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Posts Tagged ‘Banksy

“If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan”*…

 

pscil

 

 

In 1955, a bank executive and a New York society photographer found themselves in a thatch-roofed adobe home in a remote village in the Mazateca mountains. Gordon Wasson, then a vice president at J.P. Morgan, had been learning about the use of mushrooms in different cultures, and tracked down a Mazatec healer, or curandera, named María Sabina. Sabina, about 60 at the time, had been taking hallucinogenic mushrooms since she was a young child . She led Wasson and the photographer, Allan Richardson, through a mushroom ceremony called the velada.

“We chewed and swallowed these acrid mushrooms, saw visions, and emerged from the experience awestruck,” Wasson wrote in a Life magazine article, “Seeking the Magic Mushroom.” “We had come from afar to attend a mushroom rite but had expected nothing so staggering as the virtuosity of the performing curanderas and the astonishing effects of the mushrooms.”

Appointing himself as one of the “first white men in recorded history to eat the divine mushrooms,” Wasson inadvertently exposed much of the Western world, and the burgeoning counterculture movement, to psychedelic mushrooms. On the other side of the globe, the Swiss drug company Sandoz received 100 grams of the mushrooms from a botanist who had visited Sabina on one of Wasson’s return trips. They went to the lab of Albert Hofmann (see here) the Swiss chemist who first synthesized LSD. In 1963, Hofmann traveled to Mexico with pills containing synthetic psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms.

“We explained to María Sabina that we had isolated the spirit of the mushrooms and that it was now in these little pills,” Hofmann said during an interview in 1984. “When we left, María Sabina told us that these tablets really contained the spirit of the mushrooms.”

Hofmann’s pills were the first indication that while people can have spiritual and transcendent experiences from eating the mushrooms themselves, they can also have such experiences with a man-made version of just one of the mushroom’s compounds: psilocybin.

This development is particularly relevant today, as scientists study psychedelic mushrooms as potential treatment options for those who suffer from severe depression, addiction, and more. In clinical trials, such as those ongoing at Johns Hopkins University and Imperial College London, participants don’t eat caps or stems. They consume synthetic psilocybin, made in a lab by chemists in a way similar to how Hofmann first made his psilocybin.

It’s a necessary hurdle: Psilocybin mushrooms can be grown relatively easily, and aren’t expensive to produce. But researchers have to source their psilocybin from highly regulated labs because natural products vary, and researchers need consistency in chemical composition and dosage in order to do controlled studies. Clinicians need to know how much of a drug they’re giving to a patient, how long it takes to kick in, and how long it lasts; they also need to be sure their drug isn’t tainted with other chemicals. It also helps to be able to mass-produce large amounts and not be threatened by variables, like weather, that affect agricultural products.

As psilocybin moves closer to becoming a legal medicine meeting all the regulatory requirements, doctors won’t be writing prescriptions for mushroom caps or stems—and this will come at a certain cost. Johns Hopkins researchers have claimed they’ve paid labs $7,000 to $10,000 per gram of psilocybin, whereas the street price of magic mushrooms is around $10 per gram. Besides the cost of chemical materials, the steep sticker price comes from the labor required to adhere to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s strict drug-making standards, known as Current Good Manufacturing Practice.

It’s an unprecedented moment, and psychedelic culture must reckon with what it means for a magic mushroom to become a synthetic pill, to be picked up at your local pharmacy or from a doctor. There’s some wariness in the psychedelic community about what synthetic psilocybin represents: big business, questionable investors, and patents on experiences they think shouldn’t have a price tag or a profit margin. Since it’s a known natural compound, psilocybin itself cannot be patented, but the way it’s made and used can be. Already there are organizations applying for patents for their synthesis process, and innovators coming up with new ways to make large amounts of synthetic psilocybin, all seeking protection for their intellectual property…

The truth is, there is money to be made in psychedelics, and investors are flocking to back startups in the psychedelic and mental health spaces. The current antidepressant medication market was valued at $14 billion in 2018 and is estimated to grow to $16 billion in the next three to five years. Any drug company that can compete stands to become very wealthy…

As magic mushrooms make the shift from recreational drug to mental health treatment, patients won’t be eating caps and stems, but a synthetic product made in a lab—one that pharma companies can patent and from which they can profit: “Get Ready for Pharmaceutical-Grade Magic Mushroom Pills.”

* Terence McKenna

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As we ponder the profound, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that city authorities in the California beach town of Santa Cruz announced a total ban on the public performance or playing of rock and roll music, calling it “detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community.”

It may seem obvious now that Santa Cruz’s ban on “Rock-and-roll and other forms of frenzied music” was doomed to fail, but it was hardly the only such attempt. Just two weeks later in its June 18, 1956 issue, Time magazine reported on similar bans recently enacted in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and in San Antonio, Texas, where the city council’s fear of “undesirable elements” echoed the not-so-thinly-veiled concerns of Santa Cruz authorities over the racially integrated nature of the event that prompted the rock-and-roll ban… (source)

rock ban source

 

“People who enjoy waving flags don’t deserve to have one”*…

 

Every self-respecting country has a unique name, a national flag, an anthem, a coat of arms, banknotes, passports, letterhead, and stationery.  Newly formed countries have to design them.

From Anne Quito, the story of South Sudan’s development of an “identity package”: “Branding the World’s Newest Country.”

* Banksy, Wall and Piece

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As we salute, we might recall that it was on this date in 1325 (according to legend) that Tenochtitlan was founded.  Located on an island in Lake Texcoco, in the Valley of Mexico, it became the capital of the expanding Aztec Empire in the 15th century, until captured by the Spanish in in the early 16th century.  At its peak, it was the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas.  Today the ruins of Tenochtitlan are located in central Mexico City.

Reconstruction of Tenochtitlan. (National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico City)

 source

 

Written by LW

March 18, 2015 at 1:01 am

“We have no ideas, and they’re pretty firm”*…

 

Our old friend Banksy is in the news again.  The BBC reports:

A new Banksy mural showing a group of pigeons holding anti-immigration banners has been destroyed following a complaint the work was “racist”.

The mural in Clacton-on-Sea – where a by-election is due to take place following the local MP’s defection to UKIP [the UK Independence Party, an ostensibly anti-EU, actively anti-immigrant party] – appeared this week. It showed four pigeons holding signs including “Go Back to Africa”, while a more exotic-looking bird looked on.

The local council, which removed it, said it did not know it was by Banksy. Tendring District Council said it received a complaint that the mural was “offensive” and “racist”.

The artist, who chooses to remain anonymous, posted pictures of the work on his website earlier. But by the time it had been announced, the mural had already been removed due to the complaint received on Tuesday…

… which is an ironic shame, given that the piece was, of course, anti-racist, and that it was an authentic Banksy, whose street work has sold for as much as $1.8 million, a boost the economically-challenged town could surely have used.

* Joesph Heller, Good as Gold

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As we take aim at our own feet, we might spare a thought for Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone– better known by his canonized handle, St. Francis of Assisi; he died on this date in 1226.  Founder of the men’s Order of Friars Minor (core of the Franciscan Order), the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis for men and women not able to live the lives of itinerant preachers, he believed that nature itself was the mirror of God, and strove to bring the Gospel to all God’s creatures.

Giotto’s “Legend of St. Francis, Sermon to the Birds,” in the upper Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi

source

 

Written by LW

October 4, 2014 at 1:01 am

“An artist never really finishes his work, he merely abandons it”*…

 

“Adam and Eve in Paradise: (c. 1527), Mabuse + “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” Kendrick Lamar

Banksy has lamented (in Wall and Piece) that…

Art is not like other culture because its success is not made by its audience. The public fill concert halls and cinemas every day, we read novels by the millions, and buy records by the billions. ‘We the people’ affect the making and quality of most of our culture, but not our art…. The Art we look at is made by only a select few. A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit and decide the success of Art. Only a few hundred people in the world have any real say. When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires…

Fly Art is taking Art back:

Fly Art was a project born out of boredom, frustration, and the internet.

Inspired by a lot of other projects with similar themes like Swoosh Art and Carter Family Portraits, Fly Art is the marriage of two of the finer things in life: Hip hop and art.

– Gisella and Toni

 

“The Last Kiss of Romeo and Juliet” (1823), Francisco Hayez + “All of The Lights,” Kanye West ft. Rihanna, Kid Cudi with vocals by Fergie, Charlie Wilson, John Legend, Tony Williams, Alicia Keys, La Roux, The Dream, Ryan Leslie, Alvin Fields and Ken Lewis.

More marvelous mash-ups at Fly Art.

[TotH to @mattiekahn]

* Paul Valery

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As we hum along, we might recall that it was on this date in 1687 that (not yet Sir) Isaac Newton published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (AKA “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”, AKA the Principia).  In three volumes Newton laid out his laws of motion (his foundation of classical mechanics), his theory of universal gravitation, and a derivation of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion (which Kepler had obtained empirically).

As G.E. Smith wrote in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

Viewed retrospectively, no work was more seminal in the development of modern physics and astronomy than Newton’s Principia… no one could deny that [out of the Principia] a science had emerged that, at least in certain respects, so far exceeded anything that had ever gone before that it stood alone as the ultimate exemplar of science generally.

Title page of Principia, first edition

source

Written by LW

July 5, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”*…

 

Readers will know that (R)D delights in the works of Banksy.  So it will come as no surprise that your correspondent has a warm spot in his heart for Jeff Friesen.  An award-winning photographer, Friesen is also a dedicated dad who makes LEGO dioramas with his daughter June.  Their latest project:  a series of meticulously-constructed homages to the great street artists himself…  a series that Friesen and June call “Bricksy.”

See them all at “Bricksy: LEGO Banksy.”

[TotH to My Modern Met]

* Banksy

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As we resolve, with Banksy, to “speak softly, but carry a big can of paint,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1892 that Australia’s first real film production house, The Limelight Department, was set up by the Salvation Army in Melbourne.  In its 19 years of operation, the Limelight Department produced both evangelistic material (from the simplest lantern slides to Christian epics of redemption) and secular documentaries commissioned by private and government contract.  In all, the operation created about 300 films of various lengths (making it one of largest film producers of its time) until it was summarily closed by a new Commander, a puritanical Scot who “protected” Salvationists from films for many decades.  Sadly, the Limelight films were destroyed in the 1950s.

 source

 

Written by LW

June 11, 2014 at 1:01 am

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