Times change--who would have thought that we'd ever see a nonjudgmental mainstream anthology of writings about mind-altering drugs? Editor Mike Jay delivers scores of well-selected hits of wild wisdom from Homer and his cronies to William Burroughs in Artificial Paradises. His mild-mannered but insightful introductions and links between pieces prime the reader for a series of expansive trips through other people's minds as they grapple with medical, moral, artistic, and spiritual puzzlers posed by drugs. Hopped-up coke fiend Sigmund Freud rants about his favorite little helper, while painter Henri Michaux complains that mescaline is a poor muse. The pieces are usually amusing and sometimes penetrating. Jay wisely avoids most of the propaganda we've already been oversubjected to in recent decades, instead focusing on the experience and assessment of drugs and their cultural value. Sections include Researches Chemical and Philosophical: Drugs and Science and The Algebra of Need: Drugs and Addiction, with selections from such disparate writers as Jean Cocteau and Thomas Szasz. Most of the pieces are very short--one or two pages--but highly concentrated, giving an immediate sense of the author's intent and attitudes, often inspiring a trip to the library for another dose. When it's time to turn on, tune in, and drop out, prepare yourself with the guidance of Artificial Paradises. --Rob Lightner
About the Author
Mike Jay authored Blue Tide: The Search for Soma and, with Michael Neve, edited 1900: A Fin-de-Sie`cle Reader.