Sunday, June 24, 2018

Mushrooms, LSD, research and society

I didn't expect to read a book on mushrooms with strong effects on the mind and LSD.  I certainly didn't expect to read it aloud to Lynn. I didn't expect that the book would be such lovely, gripping writing.  And, I didn't realize how far the topic reaches.

"How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence" by Michael Pollan is a powerful book that covers a wide range of topics and shows how they are related.  I am not tempted to smoke anything, nor "vape", nor get "high". I am a somewhat plodding person who gets a big kick out of plodding along, happily, merrily, contentedly. It seems unlikely that I will ever eat "magic" mushrooms or "drop acid" or visit the toad.  That last bit is something I only learned about yesterday. Certain toads with certain glands can, I read, be squeezed just so and one can catch the chemical that those glands expel on the surface of a mirror. Allowed to dry and crystalize, the bits can be smoked and somewhat like LSD, psilocybin and mescaline, they can produce very unusual thoughts, mental and sensory sensations.  

I think anyone would be impressed with a professor of journalism and author of several books on plants and foods who conveys his experiences trying out psychedelic drugs so beautifully.  I didn't feel before reading that I wanted to try them myself but now, halfway through the book, I feel that Pollan has done so for me. Pollan has not, so far, said much about the role of mind-affecting drugs on ancient societies and some current ones who make use of such chemicals for religious and spiritual purposes.  He does a fine job, though, showing that from the late 1930's and on, the drugs have had a place in chemistry, medicine, politics and social movements.

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