I’m not sure we’ll be able to have our usual big Midwestern trip this year. Last week, we were in the supermarket and spotted what was (to me at least) a hilarious typo on the cover of a magazine. What seems even funnier to me is that the cashier just didn’t seem to understand why I thought the use of the term “baking” as a trippy activity was funny. See Dave Chapell, I guess, for those who don’t quite get the joke.


What wasn’t funny, though, was reading Lilek’s take on the second supposedly “drug-related” taser death so far this month: “Kid on an acid trip gets tazed, dies. Never understood the appeal of LSD.” I never understood the appeal of giving people electric shocks to subdue them—shooting them seems kinder to me; chances of survival are higher. At least the Canadians think there is a connection between tasers and death—that doesn’t enter the mind of a typical American, I guess. It helps to have a great P.R. department, or at least a more consistent message than those who are on the side of “tripping”:

There is no need to rehearse again how wildly such countercultural fantasies ultimately failed, how drugs of illumination became drugs of disturbance. Huxley was more prophetic about the influence of mood-altering drugs than about mind-altering drugs. And with all the great promise of LSD, what did it leave behind? What liberatory principles were established or revelations disclosed?

Not many, except in one surprising direction. The LSD counterculture may once have attained its cultural power by dissenting from the scientific world view, encouraging a return to the natural world and stripping away the trappings of materialism. But many alumni of that era have had different ideas.

It is through technology, not despite it, that LSD visions were realized. Leary called the personal computer “the LSD of the 1990s.” And in a 2006 report in Wired magazine, many early computer pioneers are said to have been users of LSD. Steve Jobs, Apple’s presiding genius, described his own LSD experience as “one of the two or three most important things” he has done in his life. So here it is — a world in which we all do more than just inhale. It is through the iPod that, in Leary’s once contentious words, we turn on, tune in and drop out.


I find this all difficult to swallow. I’m trying hard to write a conference paper, grade, and forget that it’s mother’s day. Mom is still hanging on, tuning in-and-out in ways that I really don’t care to talk about. This is one of the cruelest springs ever.