Wednesday, April 30, 2008


You may not have heard of Albert Hoffmann, but without him Lennon & McCartney would never have written Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Timothy Leary would be unknown, and a lot of bad art and incomprehensible poetry would never have seen the light of day.

Hoffmann was the chemist who first synthesised LSD, in 1943, and died this week at age 102, suggesting acid may not have the life-threatening impact we'd imagined. He didn't just discover the drug, he was also the first to (accidentally) ingest it. The resulting trip led him to believe that acid could help with psychosis and an understanding of how the brain works, all of which echoed Freud's earlier hopes about cocaine. Both got it exactly wrong, but if you've ever read Aldous Huxley's Doors of Perception or anything about Synesthesia you wonder about how much the world you and I perceive is anything like the world others see, hear, or smell, and how fluctuating and subjective things are.

No comments: