Neuropolitics

The "Godfather of Ecstasy," whose name is Alexander Shulgin (though his friends call him Sasha ... and his critics, much worse). Image © Brian Vastag

Ecstacy: The MDMA Story

Bruce Eisner

With large numbers of young people taking illegal drugs, it wasn't long before Parliament had passed a number of increasingly harsh laws against MDMA and against raves themselves. To avoid police harassment, raves moved from traditional nightclub venues to less predictable locations such as empty warehouses and open fields along the "Orbital," the highway encircling London.

Publisher: Ronin
Paperback: 196 pages
Illustrated

Reviews

Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion

Chris Bennett, Lynn Osburn and Judy Osburn

A comprehensive history of the religious pasts of marijuana and the sacramental use of cannabis throughout the ages. Claiming that every religion of the Old World was at one time based on some kind of drug-induced initiation, the authors assert that hemp was a primary sacrament for the majority of humanity's religions, a sacred vehicle used to gain insight, ecstasy and communion with their gods—from early Pantheism to Hinduism, from the Buddhists to the Sufis, from the Moslems of Egypt to the Bantus of Africa. Quoting from William A. Emboden in his Ritual Use of Cannabis Sativa: “Whereas Western religious traditions generally stress sin, repentance and mortification of the flesh, certain older non-Western religious cults seem to have employed cannabis as a euphoriant; which allowed the participant a joyous path to the Ultimate; hence, such appelations as 'heavenly guide.'” With illustrations, extensive footnotes, a bibliogrpahy for further referencing and an appendix that includes bhang and majoon recipes, Green Gold is a well-researched, commanding sourcebook for anyone interested in the long and controversial history of marijuana. MGG

Publisher: Access Unlimited
Paperback: 485 pages

Growing the Hallucinogens

Hudson Grubber

A useful grimoire of growing procedures for many obscure magic and psychoactive herbs. The title may be somewhat misleading, but many notable hallucinogens are detailed (nightshades, San Pedro cactus, salvia divinorum). Others are stimulants, narcotics, or are only putatively psychoactive—however all plants presented are of botanical and pharmacological interest. Individuals interested in the growing procedures for illegal plants (psilocybin, cannabis, etc.) will be disappointed that only legal plants are discussed. Indeed, this book is intended as a companion volume to Legal Highs which describes the effects, preparations and uses of these plants. DN

Publisher: Ronin
Paperback: 81 pages

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Hep-Cats, Narcs and Pipe Dreams: A History of America's Romance With Illegal Drugs

Jill Jones

A far-reaching study of drug abuse and addiction and their cultural ramifications, from the early days when heroin and cocaine were available at the corner drugstore (sans script) to the time the Pure Food and Drug and Harrison acts put an end to the fun. Examines the birth of bebop music and the changes wrought in poetry, writing and art through all forms of dope. Insightful writings by and about William Burroughs, Henry Miller, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and many others. MW

Publisher: Scribner
Hardback: 510 pages
Illustrated

The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives

Stanislav Grof

Grof expands Freud's theories beyond their oral and anal limits. Through LSD psychotherapy Grof discovered the “womb” stage. With his guidance and enough acid, his patients could actually recall their “womb” experiences: “He saw images of religious and political gatherings with throngs of people seeking comfort in various organizations and ideologies. He suddenly understood what they were really seeking; they were following an inner longing, the same craving he felt in relation to the primal experience of oceanic ecstasy that he had known in the womb or at his mother's breast.” AF

Publisher: HarperCollins
Paperback: 239 pages

How the Self Controls Its Brain

John Eccles

“There is presented here for the first time a scientific explanation of how the self effectively acts on the brain to bring about voluntary movements, an ability that each of us has.” Chapters include: “New Light on the Mind-Brain Problem: How Mental Events Could Influence Neural Events”; “Do Mental Events Cause Neural Events Analogously to the Probability Fields of Quantum Mechanics?”; “Quantum Aspects of Brain Activity and the Role of Consciousness”; and “The Self and Its Brain: The Ultimate Synthesis.”

Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Hardback: 198 pages
Illustrated

Insights of Genius: Imagery and Creativity in Science and Art

Arthur L. Miller

This book explores the connections between art and physics. A study that takes the reader through the philosophy of mind and language, cognitive science and neurophysiology in search of the origins and meaning of visual imagery.

Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Hardback: 250 pages
Illustrated

Jungian Archetypes: Jung, Gödel and the History of the Archetypes

Robin Robertson

Beginning with Pythagoras and leaping forward to the Age of Reason, Jungian Archetypes traces the history of the hubristic struggle to bottle infinity through a series of biographical sketches of intellectual luminaries which illustrate the importance of archetypes and their paradoxical reasoning on the development of the sciences. Robertson focuses particularly on the evolution of mathematics and psychology, and shows how Gödel and Jung have advanced parallel theories to explain the most perplexing conundrums of their respective disciplines. DN

Publisher: Nicolas-Hays
Paperback: 304 pages
Illustrated

Kava: The Pacific Drug

Vincent Lebot, Mark Merlin, and Lamont Lindstrom

Order a Kava Bowl at Trader Vic's and you get a frothy concoction of rum and fruit juices. Order one on Vanuatu and you get a sticky porridge of chewed-up plant roots and human saliva. But before you decline, know that the roots are from the Piper methysticum, or kava plant, a powerful narcotic that makes the world go ‘round in many South Pacific cultures. Kava also has numerous medicinal properties, and elaborate social rituals attend its consumption on the islands of Melanesia. All of these are documented in Kava: The Pacific Drug, co-written by horticulturist Vincent Lebot, anthropologist Lamont Lindstrom and scientist Mark Merlin.
While chapters detailing the medical and economic potential of the plant are not without interest, the cultural significance of kava consumption makes for the most compelling reading. The islands of Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii and Papua New Guinea each have their own version of kava’s origin myth. “The broad leaf that extinguishes chiefs” has sprouted variously from a vagina, the skin of a foot, or the hair of an armpit.”
Preparation of the communal kava bowl hasn't changed much since 1773, when a naturalist on Captain Cook's second Pacific voyage observed Tahitian youths making a batch “in the most disgustful manner that can be imagined,” chewing pieces of the root, spitting the mass into a bowl, and mixing it with coconut milk, whereupon “they swallow this nauseous stuff as fast as possible.” JAB

Publisher: Yale University
Hardback: 256 pages
Illustrated

The Language of Animals

Stephan Hart

“Examines the sometimes subtle differences between animal communication and what we call 'language' or 'intelligence.' We explore how scientists study animal communication, and we see just what they have learned about various species and their ways of 'talking.'… From dancing bees and chirping crickets to schooling fish and flocking birds; from birdsong to whale song to the language of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom—the chimpanzees—these overviews of thoroughly detailed case studies are a window to understanding the constant chatter and movement of the animal kingdom.”

Publisher: Owl
Paperback: 128 pages
Illustrated

Laughing Gas

Sheldon, Salyer and Wallechinsky

Collection of writings on nitrous oxide, including descriptions of experiments by the editors (along with photographs of them in hairy 1973 bliss), a useful cartoon describing how to safely ingest the drug, a fab cover by R. Crumb, and extensive historical writings including William James on the gas. NN

Publisher: Ronin
Paperback: 96 pages
Illustrated