Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Dan Smail from Harvard (previously a colleague at Fordham) has written a book on how psychotropic alteration (caffeine, tea, chocolate, tobacco, "drugs", benzos, computer games) have become a driving force in world culture since the 16th century.

I have tried coke and speed, and will not do them again (unless offered for free). Weed bores me. But I would try those new alertness drugs, and if the Brave New World Ever came I would take Soma.

And if there were decent ecstasy in Manchester I would try that - but all there is are piperazines and BZP.

I firmly believe everyone should try real E at least once.

As to LSD. I did it once, and found wallpaper turning into a waterfall really interesting for two hours, and then spent 12 hours waiting for it to stop.

As it is, I can be tested for anything and I will come up "clean" (I hate that word).

These are reasons I will never become an MP.


Jim Baxter said...

Interesting. I would have thought though that mind-altering drugs, other than alcohol, had been a major force in culture since culture began.

I'd be an opium man myself if and when it becomes legal again. Two weeks in a den of oblivion... peace.

Paul Halsall said...


Dan's book is called Deep History and his categories of psychotropia include more than just alcohol and drugs.

But he also wants to treat as "history" other "mind-altering" phenomena - such a public religious and secular liturgies.

It's an interesting phenomenon.

As to opiates, as a historian I would not mind experiencing opium, but I find even cocodamol (for US readers a combination of Acetaminophen/Paracetamol and codeine available over the counter in the UK), which I have to use very occasionally for really severe migraines, makes me itchy.

Jim Baxter said...


Thanks for the clarification.

Yes, the opiates and their substitutes do have a tendency to act as itching powder. Dihydrocodeine is especially famous for that effect, I think. Cocodomol? Tried it. Doesn't hit the spot. I'm on the tramadol from time to time - on prescription, like. That stuff is worth getting back pain for if you ask me.