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« Time to get at it... | Main | Let's talk about the Bear »
Sunday
Sep252016

Through the doors of perception

One of the figures I continually bumped against while researching my novel, was Aldous Huxley. I'd of course heard of him - I tried Brave New World, but never finished it (unlike my son, who I believe this was a significant book.)

I can't recall when I first heard the story of his correspondence and friendship with Dr. Humphrey Osmond (Weyburn), but I do remember going, um, "no way." This of course had to do with the coining of the word "psychedelic."

Osmond's letter to Huxley:

Later, when discussing his flight of hallucinogenic fancy, Huxley, writing to Osmond, penned this bit of verse:

To make this mundane world sublime, / take half a gram of phanerothyme.

The word phanerothyme, cobbled together from the Greek, translates roughly to “manifest spirit.”

In response Osmond wrote some poetry of his own, in the process coining a term that soon spread around the world:

To fathom Hell or soar Angelic, / just take a pinch of psychedelic.


Soon after finding this out, I would often ask people if they knew the word, psychedelic, was coined in Weyburn, Sask., Canada. And when no one believed me, my defense was, "but it's on Wikipedia!" I also recall this was in the beginnings of writing the book, around 2008 maybe. And Wiki was new (need to fact check that.) Anyway, no one believed it - and I doubted it myself.

But back to Huxley. The English writer wove through the story of early LSD testing, and I did end up reading his Doors of Perception.  A book, that with some help from William Blake, gave the band The Doors their name.

Only recently, I found out that Huxley's nephew worked at the Weyburn hospital, and administered LSD to Kay Parley. Ms. Parley, now in her 90's, wrote a book on her experience at the mental hospital, and devotes a chapter to LSD. Her book was published just this March (link below).

Inside the Mental
SILENCE, STIGMA, PSYCHIATRY, AND LSD

 

More on Huxley in my next post.  

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