Three new books suggest that psychedelic drugs did not necessarily have the power to rewrite society, but, instead, brought on revelations concerning earthly themes.
In 1960, Allen Ginsberg wrote a letter to Timothy Leary, then a professor at Harvard. Leary had invited the poet to Cambridge to participate in his studies of the newly synthesized chemical psilocybin. Ginsberg responded with enthusiasm, then listed his qualifications: LSD in 1959, as a subject in a research study at Stanford University; ayahuasca on a trip to South America the following year; nitrous oxide; ether; mescaline; marijuana; datura; opiates. Part II of “Howl,” he added, was “Peyote writing.” His motivation in all this, he explained, was to recover a lost feeling, a “series of mystical experiences—connected with reading Blake” that he had gone through when he was younger.
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