Saturday, May 3, 2008

Goodbye, Albert Hoffman (1906-2008)

Albert Hoffman died of a heart attack on April 29, 2008. He was 102. Hoffman was the first scientist to synthesize LSD. He also conducted research into the chemical composition of chitin.

Psychedelic technology, including drugs, has likely played an important and poorly understood role in human evolutionary history, and I think there is a place in the future of humankind for responsible psychedelic aesthetics and epistemology. However, the widespread use and abuse of LSD and similar drugs since the 1960's has resulted in numerous injuries and deaths. It's also helped propagate a superficial, irresponsible culture of "junk spirituality" that arguably paved the way for the worst excesses of the New Age movement. Hoffman, in any case, was a scientist rather than a drug guru. His gift to posterity is ambivalent but potentially very valuable as well.

(Alex Grey's wonderfully kitschy painting appears courtesy of

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