A man called Dr Humphry Osmond
, whose first name really was spelled without an e
, has died, he was 86
. The Daily Telegraph
has an obituary of him, which is amusing because Mr Dr
Osmond is famous for:
- determining the similarity between mescalin and the adrenaline molecule
- administering said drug to the novelist Aldous Huxley
- inventing the term 'psychedelic'
- advocating LSD use in order to "provide a chance, perhaps only a slender one, for homo faber, the cunning, ruthless, foolhardy, pleasure-greedy toolmaker, to merge into that other creature whose presence we have so rashly presumed, homo sapiens, the wise, the understanding, the compassionate, in whose fourfold vision art, politics, science and religion are one".
Whereas the Telegraph is not something one would associate with any of those things.
"Osmond's interest in psychedelics was not confined to the treatment of schizophrenia; under his supervision, architects took LSD and spent time on hospital wards in an attempt to understand what would be the most approprirate environment for a mental patient" - a paragraph which requires no comment at all.
I am somehow mindful of Arthur C. Clarke. Presumably the utopian society envisaged by Messrs Osmond and Huxley would require an extensive automated infrastructure in order to feed, house, clothe and bathe all these stumbling hallucinauts. Huxley's experiences with four hundred litres of mescalin were famously written about in his book 'The Doors of Perception', from the title of which both Steely Dan and Echo and the Bunnymen got their names.
"I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation - the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence", wrote Huxley, after he had taken mescalin, indeed after the effects had worn off. I believe Jim Irwin, the astronaut, or it could have been Buzz Aldrin or one of the others, perhaps Alan Bean, certainly not Pete Conrad or the geologist on Apollo 17, I forget his name, he or they argued that it would have been more appropriate to send artists to the moon than test pilots; although I suspect this was not a serious proposition, and of course they were probably thinking of traditional artists, i.e. the type that paint and/or write about things rather than the type that pretends to explode aircraft in slow motion.
Huxley came up with the term 'phanerothyme' to describe substances such as LSD, thus suggesting that he was actually a rubbish writer, really. Osmond invented 'psychedelic', which is a combination of the Greek word 'psyche' and 'delein', i.e. 'mind' and 'manifest' (the latter an ancestor of 'deliniate', which is subtly different, and in its modern sense would give us 'psychexadelic', perhaps; further note that I am not a scholar of Greek and indeed that I am making this bit up).
It seems to me that for your mind to be blown productively you need a pretty good mind to start with, something which only comes about from years of growing up in a stimulating, fairly lavish environment and then going through a well-run, well-staffed and well-equipped education system, as did both Huxley and Osmond. For the average joe to take such drugs seems a complete dead loss, a passport to drivel. What a waste it is to lose one's mind, or not to have a mind. How true that is.