Book Reviews And Notes
By Various Authors, 1969
The Private Sea; LSD And The Search For God
by William Braden. Chicago: Quadrangle, 1967, $5.95
The Marijuana Papers
by David Solomon, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966, $10.00
Reviewed by Joel Fort, M.D.
Although dissimilar in their effects and pattern of use, both cannabis (marijuana) and LSD have proved ideal as "Roman circuses" for politicians, medical bureaucrats, and the mass media to distract the American people from the dangers of alcohol and guns, poverty, racial discrimination, crime, bureaucracy, war and other major problems. With the deliberate promulgation of the myths of the dope fiend and of alcohol as a harmless beverage, American people have "learned" the following falsehoods: marijuana is more dangerous than the atomic bomb, leads to heroin addiction and insanity, causes degeneration of the brain and morals, and its use requires dismissal from school and more years in prison (often without possibility of suspended sentence, probation, or parole) than many thefts, burglaries, manslaughters, and even some degrees of murder. A receptive hard-drinking Congress and state legislatures have hypocritically and self-righteously approved millions upon millions of dollars to establish and escalate this American system of unsuccessful and harmful drug "control."
Against this background the two books reviewed here assume far more importance than they ordinarily would, because in the midst of a climate of hysteria the authors dare to intelligently present some positive and balanced viewpoints on the two drugs and their users.
As more and more self-appointed experts call instant press conferences to titillate a sensation-craving public about the dangers of the (more than one hundred already known natural and synthetic) psychedelic substances, thereby rising from well-deserved obscurity, it is refreshing to have The Private Sea. It begins with a terse summary of the potential dangers of LSD (bad trips, it needs pointing out, are increased by indiscriminate, nonspecific use of unknown doses of impure black-market LSD, taken without guidance and in fear of arrest) but immediately goes on to perceptively outline a potentially greater danger to society: the good trip, leading to immanence and pantheism, the indwelling nature of God combined with the Eastern view that God equals Man equals Universe. Thus the drug movement challenges middle-class values, the churches, and modern psychology.
The metaphysical quest for identity and meaning goes on, through Learyian explorations of consciousness. Since drug effects (whether from alcohol, marijuana, or LSD) depend primarily on the personality and character of the taker, interacting with the setting and the physical properties of the drug, it is highly unlikely that most Americans, secular, unintellectual, and achievement-oriented, would be turned on to mysticism and contemplation by taking LSD (or psilocybin, mescaline, or STP). Braden's book is less "acid" than it is a unique compendium on new and old theology, East and West. However, his is one of the rare non-pathological descriptions of a trip. Man's life by bread (money) alone has not been seriously threatened by conventional religion and is unlikely to be altered by the psychedelic drugs, now mainly used by Indian members of the Native American Church, relatively small numbers of middle-class youth, and those formally or informally affiliated with Leary's League for Spiritual Discovery. Selective focusing of attention and consciousness, self-deception, and a slogan, cliche-oriented mentality are not in danger, unfortunately; nor is the unexamined life of the masses about to be examined, in spite of the hopes of the author. Our institutions and leaders are not changing and in all probability mixing LBJ and LSD (as dreamt of by some psychedelicists) would result only in an escalated LBJ. The ethics of expediency and amorality of the bureaucrat-politician are likely to remain impervious to LSD or "natural" metaphysics.
Braden properly stresses the need for a psychology of thought and an epistemology which can encompass love and conscience. As he says, panic legislation (as with marijuana) has led to drying up of (significant) research, far more drug use than before, and more harm to society through the implementation of these misguided laws.
Perhaps unfortunately few readers will immerse themselves in the author's discussions of a primary state of being, natural morality and ontological freedom, or the interesting convergences of LSD, radical Christian theology, self- actualization psychology, and Eastern philosophy. The dangers of apathy, indifference, and alienation outweigh the dangers of LSD to our society. The drug, its proponents, the related hippie phenomenon, and even its critics raise basic questions about the nature of man.
Contrary to the views in the above book, Indian hemp (cannabis, grass, weed, pot, marijuana, hashish) does not produce effects identical to LSD and in its natural pattern of use throughout the world it is sought for pleasure-giving properties (as alcohol) rather than as a psychedelic.
It is impossible to adequately review The Marijuana Papers as individual papers but not enough praise can be given to the editor and publishers for the demythologizing already alluded to above, and mainly for making available the essence of 90% of contemporary knowledge of the drug, information maliciously ignored and suppressed by police and politicians for decades. This encyclopedic volume will remain the basic modern reference on the subject. Its contributors constitute an illustrious list: Linde-smith, Becker, Taylor, Carstairs, Bowman, Stockings, Walton, McGlothlin, and Leary; they are creatively blended with the La Guardia Report and literary figures from Baudelaire to Ginsberg. The blend is cool, biting, and shocking, although the selections mix large doses of pure cannabis (hashish) and ordinary marijuana. One is bound to ask: what manner of men live by ignorance alone, lying, distorting, and persecuting? Is this twentieth-century America or the Dark Ages? No greater obscenity exists than to deliberately foster drug use and persecute the users whether it be marijuana or alcohol, simply to increase one's profit or power.
To summarize the key findings of the writers: This product of the female cannabis plant which we have been brainwashed to think of a combination of arsenic, the hydrogen bomb, and Satan, is used or has been used by several million Americans and hundreds of millions in other countries for euphoria, relaxation, relief of fatigue, escape, and as a medicine. It has a relatively low potential for psychological abuse or social harmfulness and unlike drugs such as alcohol does not produce addiction or physical damage to the body. The limited association with heroin or with crime are entirely an effect of our laws, not an inherent property of the drug. Research or even rational discussion have been all but banned by vice and narcotics police and those under their influence or power. As long as most use was by left-outs and have-nots such as Negroes, Mexican-Americans, bohemians, musicians, and that most dangerous group of all, intellectuals, pot served as an ideal scapegoat and smokescreen to obscure the country's going to pot and to obscure burgeoning criminality, poverty, racial discrimination, war, and an overwhelming leadership and institutional gap. It is ironic that only when "good" middle and upper class people begin using grass, does America begin to recognize the fraudulent nature of our social and legal policies on drug use and the argent need for reform.
The potential for medical use is a further emphasis of the book. In my Studies in Asia for the World Health Organization I found cannabis to be extensively used in indigenous medical systems, and some of these uses (as well as its use for depression, poor appetite, etc.) more than justifies immediate availability for prescribing by physicians.
To discuss the key reforms needed would require another book. They should include re-defining drug use as a sociological and public health matter, and taking the user (possessor) out of the criminal law entirely. Criminal sanctions should be reserved for antisocial behavior such as drunk driving, and narcotics agencies such as the F.B.N. abolished (as recommended by the President's Commission on Narcotic and Drug Abuse in 1963) with their personnel reassigned to help deal with real crime. Regulation and selective controls of manufacture, distribution, and advertising of mind-altering drugs, combined with extensive public health education about their effects and potential dangers, would go a long way toward reducing the massive turning on with drugs in this society.
My own manifesto is that man can live a meaningful, creative, full life and be able to see the "tricking and lying going on in the world" (as Terry Southern's C.K. does with gage) without drug use but it is readily understandable why so many cannot relate or be happy without them. Let us not fear individualism, dissent and nonconformity, or, for that matter, pleasure. A switch from puritanism (Mencken; "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy") to tolerance (Mrs. Patrick Campbell: "I don't care what people do as long as they don't do it in the streets and scare the horses") will reduce our drug obsession and hopefully lead to more people, young and old, turning on to the world, tuning in to knowledge and feeling, and dropping in to reforming society.
The Politics Of Experience
by R.D. Laing. New York; Pantheon Books, 1967, $4.95
Reviewed By Ralph Metzner
Ronald Laing's writing has that quality once singled out by Artaud as the only appropriate one for the "modern" artist the victim at the stake, wildly signaling through the flames.
Here is one of England's leading psychoanalysts, post-Sartrian existentialist, innovator in the treatment of schizophrenia, behind-the-scenes guru to numerous London hippies, writing with the accents of an angel about the chaos of our inner lives, the depradations and spoilage of our experience, the violence done to the truly human potential of me and you, "a half-crazed creature more or less adjusted to a mad world." It is gut-writing and requires gut-reading. No orderly exposition here of thesis and arguments, though Laing is quite capable of these forms.
More akin to McLuhan, he approaches his subject matter the mutual-violence-alienation that we perpetrate on one another in the name of normality and love like a hunter stalking his prey: around and around, illuminating it from different sides, showing it in different images, caricaturing, satirizing, exaggerating, always trying to get at the underlying sense or taste of what we are doing, pushing the reader to question his assumptions, re-examine his premises. "I want you to taste me and smell me, want to be palpable, to get under your skin, to be an itch in your brain."
The first chapter, "Persons and Experience," highlights the overall situation; alienation as the norm, "the ordinary person is a shriveled, dessicated fragment of what a person can be." Our experience is destroyed by cultural imprints, our behavior is destructive. Education is repression. Violence is normality. To the average reader of the New York Times, paradoxes; to the person who has had even a glimpse beyond the veil, precious statements of intuited awareness. "Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years." Varieties of normal alienation, fantasy, negation, the interlocking web of our experiences of each other.
In the second chapter, "The Psychotherapeutic Experience," Laing again provokes us gently into questioning our assumptions The Normal Doctor and the Sick Patient to recognize that "the therapists too, are in a world in which the inner is already split from the outer." Therapy is the attempt to re-establish humanness, based on mutual recognition that "The Dreadful has already happened."
The Mystification of Experience: not only must we destroy experience, blind ourselves and others, we must also cover up this destruction, this blindness. "We are effectively destroying ourselves by violence masquerading as love." Family and school are illusion-manufacturing-plants, "reality" is a socially shared hallucination, "sanity" our collusive madness. "We have all been processed on Procrustean beds."
"Us and Them," is the least "meaty" chapter, being a fairly abstract analysis of two- or multi-person interaction, in terms of interlocking fields of experience.
"The Schizophrenic Experience" is probably the most exciting chapter in the book. Laing represents one pole of a dichotomy of views that splits contemporary psychiatry. The other pole is represented by Abram Hoffer and Humphry Osmond, who have argued and campaigned hard to get schizophrenia accepted as a disease with a medical cure (niacin). Laing, like Szasz, Bate-son and others, would prefer to see schizophrenia out of the medical game altogether. Madness is not an illness, it's a trip. A trip on which the voyager, for good reasons, got lost. Schizophrenia is "a special strategy that a person invents in order to live in an unliveable situation." Laing's description of the political act of having someone diagnosed as a schizophrenic is gruesome. Hoffer and Osmond, with their chemical theory of schizophrenia, have undoubtedly helped people. One need only read Gregory Stefan's In Search of Sanity.
Laing has undoubtedly helped people also; furthermore he is certainly aware of the role of biochemistry and highly sophisticated in his approach to psychedelic drugs. One may ask: why does Laing leave out of his account of schizophrenia any mention of the chemical aspect? Describing the process of "going mad," he says: "some people wittingly, some people unwittingly, enter or are thrown into more or less total inner space and time." But how does this happen? What makes one person able to overcome the pathogenic "double bind" by leaving or laughing, and another succumb to it in madness?
I suspect the reason for Laing's omission is strategic rather than theoretical, He is concerned to make us aware of the social process of "mental illness." Unlike Hoffer and Osmond he does not think defining the schizophrenic as "ill" is helping him. They do, because they believe they have found the "cure," The institutional degradation rituals associated with hospitalization as a mental patient, based on the assumption that schizophrenia is not curable, are presumably as repugnant to Hoffer and Osmond as they are to Laing.
Strategy is presumably also the reason why Laing does not mention psychedelics at all in his book, although their signatures are etched between the lines. Even the book jacket somewhat coyly admits "Laing leads us to experience the kind of emotion often linked to the taking of drugs." By avoiding explicit discussion of psychedelics, he avoids being categorized as "another book about those drugs."
The last section of the book is entitled "Bird of Paradise," and is a visionary poem, a dream of hope, nightmare memories of Glasgow medical school, glimpses of transcendent beings, stinging, bitter-sweet images of many realities, a celebration of the dance of love:
"these words, atoms each containing its own world and every other world. Each a fuse to set you off... If I could turn you on, if I could drive you out of your wretched mind, if I could tell you I would let you know."
A magnificent book.
The Use Of LSD In Psychotherapy
By Harold A. Abramson. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1967, $17.50
This huge volume contains the complete papers plus transcripts of group discussions of the 1966 Amityville conference on the therapeutic uses of LSD. The psychiatric establishment meets in closed session to evaluate this strange product grown too big for its categories. Reports are positive but hedged with caution. The 36 papers included are very uneven in quality of work and clarity of communication. Editorial selectivity might have made the book more interesting and readable. Roughly, two forms of therapy using LSD are emerging: One, "psycholytic," European, psychoanalytically oriented, provides a series of low-dosage sessions tied to intensive therapy; the other, "psychedelic," American, more often religiously oriented, involves one massive "transcendent" experience with a high dose. About a dozen papers exemplifying both approaches are presented.
Dr. Stanislas Grof presents an outstanding discussion of the psycholytic approach; at his center in Prague, "bad trips" are followed by another session as soon as tolerance permits. Some of the European psychiatrists, including Dr. H. Leuner, are finding other psychedelics especially CZ 74 (4-hydroxy-N-diethyltryptamine) more useful than LSD, because of the shorter (3-4 hours) duration.
Dr. Abram Hoffer provides an excellent summary of the work on the treatment of alcoholism. The book also includes a brief fascinating report by Dr. John Lilly of some of the work with dolphins and LSD: these animals communicate more with each other and with humans, under the effects of LSD. In general, most of the papers reflect a marked increase in the sophistication and skill with which LSD-therapy is approached, over the somewhat crude beginnings reported in the first conference in 1960.
LSD: The Problem—Solving Psychedelic
By P.G. Stafford & B.H. Golightly. New York: Award Books (London: Tandem Books), 1967 750
This paperback is an extraordinarily good summary of the present state of knowledge about psychedelics. Buttressed by pre- and post-matter by Drs. Humphry Osmond, Duncan Blewett, and Stanley Krippner, it emerges as one of the strongest and most informative statements on the market.
The authors have gleaned their information from a wide variety of published and private sources and have done an admirable job of condensation and presentation. A brief introductory chapter on the nature of the drug effects is followed by a chapter on creative problem-solving. Most of the work on therapeutic applications of LSD is surveyed, as well as preliminary data on skill acquisition and religious phenomena.
A section on guiding has useful advice and a final chapter discusses present and future trends. Written in a factual yet vivid style, the book should do much to dispel some of the ignorance and fear which envelops psychedelics in a cloud of negative attitudes. A book for mothers and others.
Drugs, Medical, Psychological And Social Facts
By Peter Laurie. Penguin Books,1967, 95¢
This little book is a competently written survey of the field of mind-changing drugs opiates, barbiturates, stimulants, marijuana and hallucinogens from the English point of view. Its restraint and good sense are in marked contrast to the breathless, hysterical tone of similar "drug paperbacks" in the United States. "Legalization of cannabis as the Lancet pointed out would offer considerable revenue in taxation. My own impression is that the Home Office would be happy to be quit of the problem except that legalization of cannabis would be the political suicide of the incumbent Home Secretary." A book for conservative uncles.
Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs. Proceedings of a Symposium held in San Francisco, Jan, 28-30, 1967. Edited by Daniel H, Efron, Bo Holmstedt and Nathan Kline. Public Health Service Publication No. 1645, U.S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare. Available from Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Govt, Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. 468 pp. $4.00. A very reasonably priced volume containing excellent and important papers on piper methysticum (kava), myristica fragrans (nutmeg), South American Snuff, ayahuasca (caapi, yage), amanita muscaria (fly agaric). Contributors include R.E. Schultes, R.G. Wasson, A.T. Shulgin, Claudio Naranjo and many others.
Psychotropic Drugs and Related Compounds. Sponsored by Pharmacology Section, National Institute of Mental Health. 1967. Public Health Service Publication No. 1589. U.S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare. Available from Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Govt. Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. 365 pp. $2.75
This is a very useful reference volume which lists 690 different mind-altering drugs, gives their chemical structure, toxicity, human dosages, synonyms, trade names, manufacturers and distributors. 985 references are given, a 40-page index of compounds, and addresses of manufacturers.
Molecular Psychobiology. A chemical Approach to Learning and Other Behavior. By John Gaito, Ph.D. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas, 1966, Pp 259, $9.50
Explorations in Human Potentialities. Edited by Herbert A. Otto, Ph.D. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas, 1966, Pp 558, $17.00. Papers by Gardner Murphy, J. L. Moreno, J . B. Rhine, Margaret Mead, Ray Birdwhistell, Adrien Van Kaam, Willis Harman, Robert Mogar, Charlotte Selver, Frederick Perls, and many others,
Neo-American Church Catechism and Handbook. Millbrook N.Y.: Kriya Press, Sri Ram Ashram, $3.00. Contains: "Dogmatic Pronouncements" of the Chief Boo-Hoo (Art Kleps) on LSD, marijuana, sex, Revoltionary Politics, Synchronicity and the plot/ Plot, The Bombardment and Annihilation of the Plant Saturn, Divine Toad Sweat, Reformation of the New Jerusalem; Neo-American Church Gives 'Em Hell (from the East Village Other), 95-Item Test of Neo- Psychopathic Character, Chief Boo-Hoo's Senate Testimony, Complete Lists of Boo-Hoos, Cartoons.
Start your Own Religion by Timothy Leary, Ph.D. Millbrook, N.Y.: Kriya Press, Sri Ram Ashram, $1.00. Contains: Basic Philosophy and Purpose of the League for Spiritual Discovery, Illustrative Procedure for Formalizing a Psychedelic Religion, By-Laws of League for Spiritual Discovery, Minutes of the First Meeting of the Board of Guides, Photographs.
The Handbook of Prescription Drugs. Official Names, Prices and Sources for Patient and Doctor, by Richard Burack, M.D. New York: Pantheon Books, 1967, Pp 181, Paperback price $1.95. "Most of the prescriptions doctors write for brand-name drugs cost more than is necessary. This book tells exactly how to obtain essentially the same drugs for less money by using the generic names."
Edgar Cayce The Sleeping Prophet by Jess Stearn. New York: Doubleday, 1967, Pp 280, $4.95.
Great Ideas in Information Theory, Language and Cybernetics by Jagjit Singh. New York: Dover, 1966, Pp 338, $2.00.
The Love Book by Lenore Kandel. San Francisco: Stolen Paper Review Editions, 1966, Pp 6, $1.00.
LSD, Man & Society ed. Richard C. DeBold and Russell C. Leaf. Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, Conn. Pp 219. $5.00.
Periodicals: Rock Music
The explosively flourishing field of rock has an excellent, informative, well-designed, highly articular magazine: Crawdaddy, which has recently (Oct. 1967) switched from quarterly to monthly. Editor is Paul Williams, writers include Richard Meltzer, Don McNeill. Contains highly philosophical record reviews. Subscription is $5 for 12 issues, 319 Sixth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10014. Single copies 500. And a newspaper,
Rolling Stone, appears weekly, lists the San Francisco Chronicle's jazz and rock critic Ralph Gleason as Consulting Editor, recently featured a long rare interview with Dylan, has a distinctive West Coast breeziness compared to Crawdaddy's East Coast intellectualism. Subscriptions are $5.00 for six months (26 issues), from Rolling Stone, 746 Brannan Street, San Francisco, Calif. 94103. Single copies 250.
The Modern Utopian is a bi-monthly magazine which reports on major activities and progress of liberal social-change agencies, intentional communities, utopian movements. A recent issue featured sections (articles or digests) on "Walden Two and Mate-ship," "Sons of Levi Community," "The Right Side," "The Hips Side," Music World, Experimental Church News, Conscientious Objector, Training for Intentional Community, Straight Look at Millbrook, and others. It is edited by Richard Fairfield, published at Tufts University, P.O. Box 44, medford, Mass. 02144. Subscriptions are $4.00 for one year. Single copies 75.0. The Modern Utopian also publishes a Directory of Communities and Churches, for $1.00.
Feraferia is the name of an organization and of a newspaper, created, edited and illuminated by visionary-ecologist poet mystic botanist Fred Adams. Its contents include "Nature Oriented Poetry and Poetic, Tribal Folk and Fearie Lore, Festival Forms, Magic, Esoteric Religions, Erotic Sytems of Spiritual Development, Ecstasy and the Vision Quest, Divinations, Enchantments, Seasonal and Regional Nature Communion, Wildfood Gathering Information, Organic Horticulture and Ecology, Nature Blending Arts and Crafts, Research into Communication Between all Forms of Life and Nature, Golden. Feast Diet, Paradisal Life Styles and Social Patterns." Subscription "for one solar cycle" is $2.00, from Feraferia, Inc., 3737 Canyon Crest Road, Altadena, Calif. 91001. Fred Adams' drawings alone make it worth while.
Recent Literature on Marijuana
Four separate projects have now succeeded in synthesizing the active principle of marihuana and have published their results:
Den, Hughes, and Smith "Total Synthesis of A8 -(A1(6))-Tetrahydrocannabinol, a Biologically Active Constituent of Hashish (Marihuana)" J. Am. Chem. Soc. 89, 4551 (1967)
Mechoulam, Braun, and Gaoni, 'A Stereospecific Synthesis of (-)-Al - and (-)-A1(6) -Tetrahydrocannabinols" J. Am. Chem. Soc., 89, 4552 (1967)
Taylor, Lenard, and Shvo, "A Total Synthesis of dl- -Tetrahydrocannabinol, the Active Constituent of Hashish" J. Am. Chem. Soc., 87, 3273 (1965)
Pet rzilka, Haefliger,Sikemeier,Ohloff, and Eschenmoser, "Synthese and Chiralitat des (-) Cannabidiols" Hely. Chimp Act., 50, 719, (1967)
Taylor, Lenard, and Shvo, "Active Constituents of Hashish. Synthesis of dl- -3,4-trans-Tetrahydrocannabinor J. Am. Chem. Soc., 88, 367 (1966)
Hark, Hark, the Narc. California Narcotics Laws and Criminal Procedures, by Thomas J. Sammon and Boyd E. Horner. Unicorn Pamphlet No. 2. Pp 32. (An excellent guide, written by two lawyers, to the intricacies of California's narcotics laws and enforcement practices. Published as a public service by the Unicorn Book Shop, 905 Embarcadero Del Norte, Goleta, Calif. 93017. Available free, though donations welcome.)
The Book of Grass, edited by G. Andrews, and S. Vinkenoog. Anthology, London: Peter Owen, 1967
The Marihuana Papers, edited by D. Solomon. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966, Pp 4-48, $10,00 (reviewed in this issue)
Pot: A Handbook of Marihuana John Rosevear. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1967, Pp 160, $4.95
Marihuana Myths and Realities, edited by J.L. Simmons. N. Hollywood: Brandon House, 1967, Pp 239, $1.25. Chapters by Simmons, Boughey, Cahn, Mandel, Arnold, Oteri, McClothlin; and Cohen
Background Papers on Student Drug Involvement. United States National Student Association. Edited by Charles Hollander. Pp 162. Contributions by Allan Ginsberg, James H. Fox, Ph.D., Howard Becker, Ph.D., J oel Fort, M.D., Richard Alpert, Ph.D., William McGlothlin, Ph.D., and others. Available from: Publications Department, US-NSA, 2115 S Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008.
An excellent series of four articles on marihuana by David Sanford appeared in April, June and July of 1967, in The New Republic; and are available from The New Republic Reprint Servuce, 1244 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
The LIFE magazine article "Marijuana: Millions of Turned-On Users," appeared in the July 7th, 1967, issue.
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