Albert Hoffmann, the Swiss chemist who developed LSD has died at the age of 102. So far, the best line I’ve seen was in the Onion, where one of the on-the-street interviewees commented: “I keep telling my kids this- you mess with drugs and you’re going to wind up dead!”
I took acid a number of times back when I was a kid and it was still possible to find (admittedly weak) LSD. I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that the War on Drugs has won against acid. I haven’t heard anyone talk about taking it in years. Admittedly, I’m not a roadie for Phish or anything, so I might just be out of the loop.
I enjoyed acid- it struck me as pleasant way to spend a Friday night and somewhat helpful for visualizing things or thinking though a problem from Point A to Point Blue. I figured out pretty quickly that it should not be taken on a daily basis, unless you’re looking to establish a long and meaningful relationship with a fire hydrant. But I will admit that at times, when I was struggling my way through a difficult question, I would jolt my brain with drugs and alcohol and, about 50% of the time, get through the mental block.
I realize that’s not a trick that’s going to wind up in a lot of self-help books. But, I’ve heard of other acid casualties, such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or every computer programmer I’ve ever met, doing the same thing. You mess with drugs and you’re going to wind up owning Google! Nevertheless, my advice for young people: only use drugs in moderation, and stay away from the bad shit.
It’s hard to judge the impact of acid. The NY Times article sort of plays it down, aside from its influence in Silicon Valley. In my estimation, acid has led to bad poetry, music of widely varying quality, really bad “acid films”, and some genuinely cool paintings. The exaggerated expectations for acid- from the drug war acid freak horror movies to the Timothy Leary lysergic evangelical encomiums were mostly off beam. But that’s not to say that LSD hasn’t forever altered the culture, perhaps in ways that are not yet evident- as most people who have used it will tell you, it’s necessary to wait a while for acid to take effect.