Are we made of Stardust? Cont’d
I remember many, many a night staying up reading, in fact devouring information about the universe and endless discussions with my partner Foad about Quantum Physics and Humanity. We comforted each-other and escaped into a different world in the midst of his own country in turmoil and his father tortured in Iran and losing my mother around bizarre controversy. For five years, our lives were filled with Art, Music and Books and our minds were expanding at a rapid rate.
After my mother’s death, I was searching for answers about death and became curious about LSD, a psychedelic drug, well known for its psychological effects, altered thinking processes, closed- and open-eye visuals, synesthesia, an altered sense of time and spiritual experiences, as well as for its key role in 1960s counterculture.
I started reading numerous books and articles by people who had had experimented with LSD like British intellectual Aldous Huxley, Italian film director Federico Fellini, Bill Gates, Allen Ginsberg. Steve Jobs, Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and many more. Huxley was one of the most important figures in the early history of LSD. He was a figure of high repute and famous through his novels Crome Yellow, Antic Hay and his dystopian novel Brave New World. His experiments with psychedelic drugs (initially mescaline) and his descriptions of them in his writings did much to spread awareness of psychedelic drugs to the general public and arguably helped to glamorize their recreational use, although Huxley himself treated them very seriously.
Unfortunately, the CIA misused LSD and later came to dominate many of MKUltra’s programs – sometimes referred to as the CIA’s mind control program — is the code name of a U.S. Government human research operation experimenting in the behavioral human research. The CIA wanted to know if they could make Russian spies defect against their will and whether the Russians could do the same to their own subjects. The experiments included administering LSD to mental patients, prisoners, drug addicts and prostitutes, “people who could not fight back,” as one agency officer put it. In one case LSD was administered to a mental patient in Kentucky for 174 days. LSD was also administered to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions. LSD and other drugs were usually administered without the subject’s knowledge or informed consent, a violation of the Nuremberg Code that the U.S. agreed to follow after World War II. The aim of this was to find drugs which would irresistibly bring out deep confessions or wipe a subject’s mind clean and program him or her as “a robot agent.”
In Operation Midnight Climax, the CIA set up several brothels in San Francisco, California to obtain a selection of men who would be too embarrassed to talk about the events. The men were dosed with LSD, the brothels were equipped with one-way mirrors, and the sessions were filmed for later viewing and study. In other experiments where people were given LSD without their knowledge, they were interrogated under bright lights with doctors in the background taking notes. The subjects were told that their “trips” would be extended indefinitely if they refused to reveal their secrets. The people being interrogated this way were CIA employees, U.S. military personnel, and agents suspected of working for the other side in the Cold War. Long-term debilitation and several deaths resulted from this. Heroin addicts were bribed into taking LSD with offers of more heroin.
Some psychiatrists believed LSD was especially useful at helping patients to “unblock” repressed subconscious material through other psychotherapeutic methods, and also for treating alcoholism. One study concluded, “The root of the therapeutic value of the LSD experience is its potential for producing self-acceptance and self-surrender,” presumably by forcing the user to face issues and problems in that individual’s psyche.
LSD was made popular, through a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It often uses new recording techniques and effects and draws on non-Western sources such as the ragas and drones of Indian music. It was pioneered by musicians including the Beatles, the Byrds, and the Yardbirds, emerging as a genre during the mid-1960s among folk rock and blues rock bands in the United Kingdom and United States, such as Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, the Doors and Pink Floyd. It reached a peak in between 1967 and 1969 with the Summer of Love and Woodstock Rock Festival, respectively, becoming an international musical movement and associated with a widespread counterculture, before beginning a decline as changing attitudes, the loss of some key individuals and a back-to-basics movement, led performers to move into new musical areas.
My personal experience with LSD was profound, enlightening and transformational – it gave me answers about life and death. Luckily, I did not need to explore this further and once was enough.