Bottmingen, 29 March 1947
Dear Mr. Jünger,
As one richly endowed by you for years, I wished to send a jar of honey to you for your birthday. But I did not have this pleasure, because my export license has been refused in Bern.
The gift was intended less as a greeting from a country in which milk and honey still flow, than as a reminiscence of the enchanting sentences in your book Auf den Marmorklippen (On the Marble Cliffs), where you speak of the "golden bees."
The book mentioned here had appeared in 1939, just shortly before
the outbreak of World War II. Auf den Marmorklippen is not only
a masterpiece of German prose, but also a work of great significance
because in this book the characteristics of tyrants and the horror
of war and nocturnal bombardment are described prophetically,
in poetic vision.
In the course of our correspondence, Ernst Jünger also inquired about my LSD studies, of which he had learned through a friend. Thereupon I sent him the pertinent publications, which he acknowledged with the following comments:
. . . together with both enclosures concerning your new phantasticum. It seems indeed that you have entered a field that contains so many tempting mysteries.
Your consignment came together with the Confessions of an English Opium Eater, that has just been published in a new translation. The translator writes me that his reading of Das Abenteuerliche Herz stimulated him to do his work.
As far as I am concerned, my practical studies in this field are far behind me. These are experiments in which one sooner or later embarks on truly dangerous paths, and may be considered lucky to escape with only a black eye.
What interested me above all was the relationship of these substances to productivity. It has been my experience, however, that creative achievement requires an alert consciousness, and that it diminishes under the spell of drugs. On the other hand, conceptualization is important, and one gains insights under the influence of drugs that indeed are not possible otherwise. I consider the beautiful essay that Maupassant has written about ether to be such an insight. Moreover, I had the impression that in fever one also discovers new landscapes, new archipelagos, and a new music, that becomes completely distinct when the "customs station" ["An der Zollstation" [At the custom station], the title heading of a section in Das Abenteuerliche Herz (2d ed.) that concerns the transition from life to death.] appears. For geographic description, on the other hand, one must be fully conscious. What productivity means to the artist, healing means to the physician. Accordingly, it also may suffice for him that he sometimes enters the regions through the tapestries that our senses have woven. Moreover, I seem to perceive in our time less of a taste for the phantastica than for the energeticaamphetamine, which has even been furnished to fliers and other soldiers by the armies, belongs to this group. Tea is in my opinion a phantasticum, coffee an energeticumtea therefore possesses a disproportionately higher artistic rank. I notice that coffee disrupts the delicate lattice of light and shadows, the fruitful doubts that emerge during the writing of a sentence. One exceeds his inhibitions. With tea, on the other hand, the thoughts climb genuinely upward.
So far as my "studies" are concerned, I had a manuscript on that topic, but have since burned it. My excursions terminated with hashish, that led to very pleasant, but also to manic states, to oriental tyranny....
Among the trips in the geographical and metaphysical worlds, which I am attempting to describe there, are those of a purely sedentary man, who explores the archipelagos beyond the navigable seas, for which he uses drugs as a vehicle. I give extracts from his log book. Certainly, I cannot allow this Columbus of the inner globe to end well-he dies of a poisoning. Avis au lecteur.
He captured dreams, just like others appear to chase after butterflies with nets. He did not travel to the islands on Sundays and holidays and did not frequent the taverns on Pagos beach. He locked himself up in his studio for trips into the dreamy regions. He said that all countries and unknown islands were woven into the tapestry. The drugs served him as keys to entry into the chambers and caves of this world. In the course of the years he had gained great knowledge, and he kept a log book of his excursions. A small library adjoined this studio, consisting partly of herbals and medicinal reports, partly of works by poets and magicians. Antonio tended to read there while the effect of the drug itself developed. . . . He went on voyages of discovery in the universe of his brain....
The great inspirers of the nineteenth century: De Quincey, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Poe, and Baudelaire. Yet there were also books from the ancient past: herbals, necromancy texts, and demonology of the middle-aged world. They included the names Albertus Magnus, Raimundus Lullus, and Agrippa of Nettesheym.... Moreover, there was the great folio De Praestigiis Daemonum by Wierus, and the very unique compilations of Medicus Weckerus, published in Basel in 1582....
Schwarzenberg burned an incense stick, as he sometimes did, to clear the air. A blue plume ascended from the tip of the stick. Moltner looked at it first with astonishment, then with delight, as if a new power of the eyes had come to him. It revealed itself in the play of this fragrant smoke, which ascended from the slender stick and then branched out into a delicate crown. It was as if his imagination had created it-a pallid web of sea lilies in the depths, that scarcely trembled from the beat of the surf. Time was active in this creation-it had circled it, whirled about it, wreathed it, as if imaginary coins rapidly piled up one on top of another. The abundance of space revealed itself in the fiber work, the nerves, which stretched and unfolded in the height, in a vast number of filaments.
Now a breath of air affected the vision, and softly twisted it about the shaft like a dancer. Moltner uttered a shout of surprise. The beams and lattices of the wondrous flower wheeled around in new planes, in new fields. Myriads of molecules observed the harmony. Here the laws no longer acted under the veil of appearance; matter was so delicate and weightless that it clearly reflected them. How simple and cogent everything was. The numbers, masses and weights stood out from matter. They cast off the raiments. No goddess could inform the initiates more boldly and freely. The pyramids with their weight did not reach up to this revelation. That was Pythagorean luster. No spectacle had ever affected him with such a magic spell.
The individual who has taken too much hashish, and then runs frantically about in the streets and attacks everyone who confronts him, sinks into insignificance beside the numbers of those who after mealtime pass calm and happy hours with a moderate dose; and the number of those who are able to overcome the heaviest exertions through coca, yes, who were possibly rescued from death by starvation through coca, by far exceed the few coqueros who have undermined their health by immoderate use. In the same manner, only a misplaced hypocrisy can condemn the vinous cup of old father Noah, because individual drunkards do not know how to observe limit and moderation.
. . . Last week the first 200 grams of a new drug arrived, whose investigation I wish to take up. It involves the seeds of a mimosa (Piptadenia peregrina Benth,) that is used as a stimulating intoxicant by the Indians of the Orinoco. The seeds are ground, fermented, and then mixed with the powder of burned snail shells. This powder is sniffed by the Indians with the help of a hollow, forked bird bone, as already reported by Alexander von Humboldt in Reise nach den Aequinoctiat-Gegenden des Neuen Kontinents [Voyage to the equinoctial regions of the new continent] (Book 8, Chapter 24). The warlike tribe, the Otomaco, especially use this drug, called niopo, yupa, nopo or cojoba, to an extensive degree, even today. It is reported in the monograph by P. J. Gumilla, S. J. (El Orinoco Ilustrado, 1741): "The Otomacos sniffed the powder before they went to battle with the Caribes, for in earlier times there existed savage wars between these tribes.... This drug robs them completely of reason, and they frantically seize their weapons. And if the women were not so adept at holding them back and binding them fast, they would daily cause horrible devastation. It is a terrible vice.... Other benign and docile tribes that also sniff the yupa, do not get into such a fury as the Otomacos, who through self-injury with this agent made themselves completely cruel before combat, and marched into battle with savage fury."
I am curious how niopo would act on people like us. Should a niopo session one day come to pass, then we should on no account send our wives away, as on that early spring reverie [The LSD trip of February 1951 is meant here.], that they may bind us fast if necessary....
Bottmingen, 16 December 1961
Dear Mr. Jünger,
On the one hand, I would have the great desire, besides the natural-scientific, chemical-pharmacological investigation of hallucinogenic substances, also to research their use as magic drugs in other regions.... On the other hand, I must admit that the fundamental question very much occupies me, whether the use of these types of drugs, namely of substances that so deeply affect our minds, could not indeed represent a forbidden transgression of limits. As long as any means or methods are used, which provide only an additional, newer aspect of reality, surely there is nothing to object to in such means; on the contrary, the experience and the knowledge of further facets of the reality only makes this reality ever more real to us. The question exists, however, whether the deeply affecting drugs under discussion here will in fact only open an additional window for our senses and perceptions, or whether the spectator himself, the core of his being, undergoes alterations. The latter would signify that something is altered that in my opinion should always remain intact. My concern is addressed to the question, whether the innermost core of our being is actually unimpeachable, and cannot become damaged by whatever happens in its material, physical-chemical, biological and psychic shells-or whether matter in the form of these drugs displays a potency that has the ability to attack the spiritual center of the personality, the self. The latter would have to be explained by the fact that the effect of magic drugs happens at the borderline where mind and matter merge-that these magic substances are themselves cracks in the infinite realm of matter, in which the depth of matter, its relationship with the mind, becomes particularly obvious. This could be expressed by a modification of the familiar words of Goethe:"Were the eye not sunny,
It could never behold the sun;
If the power of the mind were not in matter,
How could matter disturb the mind."
This would correspond to cracks which the radioactive substances constitute in the periodic system of the elements, where the transition of matter into energy becomes manifest. Indeed, one must ask whether the production of atomic energy likewise represents a transgression of forbidden limits.
A further disquieting thought, which follows from the possibility of influencing the highest intellectual functions by traces of a substance, concerns free will.
The highly active psychotropic substances like LSD and psilocybin possess in their chemical structure a very close relationship with substances inherent in the body, which are found in the central nervous system and play an important role in the regulation of its functions. It is therefore conceivable that through some disturbance in the metabolism of the normal neurotransmitters, a compound like LSD or psilocybin is formed, which can determine and alter the character of the individual, his world view and his behavior. A trace of a substance, whose production or nonproduction we cannot control with our wills, has the power to shape our destiny. Such biochemical considerations could have led to the sentence that Gottfried Benn quoted in his essay "Provoziertes Leben" [Provoked life]: "God is a substance, a drug!"
On the other hand, it is well known that substances like adrenaline, for example, are formed or set free in our organism by thoughts and emotions, which for their part determine the functions of the nervous system. One may therefore suppose that our material organism is susceptible to and shaped by our mind, in the same way that our intellectual essence is shaped by our biochemistry. Which came first can indeed no better be determined than the question, whether the chicken came before the egg.
In spite of my uncertainty with regard to the fundamental dangers that could lie in the use of hallucinogenic substances, I have continued investigations on the active principles of the Mexican magic morning glories, of which I wrote you briefly once before. In the seeds of this morning glory, that were called ololiuhqui by the ancient Aztecs, we found as active principles lysergic acid derivatives chemically very closely related to LSD. That was an almost unbelievable finding. I have all along had a particular love for the morning glories. They were the first flowers that I grew myself in my little child's garden. Their blue and red cups belong to the first memories of my childhood.
I recently read in a book by D. T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, that the morning glory plays a great role in Japan, among the flower lovers, in literature, and in graphic arts. Its fleeting splendor has given the Japanese imagination rich stimulus. Among others, Suzuki quotes a three- line poem of the poetess Chiyo (1702-75), who one morning went to fetch water from a neighbor's house, because . . ."My trough is captivated
by a morning glory blossom,
So I ask after water."
The morning glory thus shows both possible ways of influencing the mind-body-essence of man: in Mexico it exerts its effects in a chemical way as a magic drug, while in Japan it acts from the spiritual side, through the beauty of its flower cups.
Wilflingen, 17 December 1961
Dear Mr. Hofmann,
I give you my thanks for your detailed letter of 16 December. I have reflected on your central question, and may probably become occupied with it on the occasion of the revision of An der Zeitmauer [At the wall of time]. There I intimated that, in the field of physics as well as in the field of biology, we are beginning to develop procedures that are no longer to be understood as advances in the established sense, but that rather intervene in evolution and lead forth in the development of the species. Certainly I turn the glove inside out, for I suppose that it is a new world age, which begins to act evolutionarily on the prototypes. Our science with its theories and discoveries is therefore not the cause, rather one of the consequences of evolution, among others. Animals, plants, the atmosphere and the surfaces of planets will be concerned simultaneously. We do not progress from point to point, rather we cross over a line.
The risk that you indicated is well to be considered. However, it exists in every aspect of our existence. The common denominator appears now here, now there.
In mentioning radioactivity, you use the word crack. Cracks are not merely points of discovery, but also points of destruction. Compared to the effects of radiation, those of the magical drugs are more genuine and much less rough. In classical manner they lead us beyond the humane. Gurdjieff has already seen that to some extent. Wine has already changed much, has brought new gods and a new humanity with it. But wine is to the new substances as classical physics is to modern physics. These things should only be tried in small circles. I cannot agree with the thoughts of Huxley, that possibilities for transcendence could here be given to the masses. Indeed, this does not involve comforting fictions, but rather realities, if we take the matter earnestly. And few contacts will suffice here for the setting of courses and guidance. It also transcends theology and belongs in the chapter of theogony, as it necessarily entails entry into a new house, in the astrological sense. At first, one can be satisfied with this insight, and should above all be cautious with the designations.
Heartfelt thanks also for the beautiful picture of the blue morning glory. It appears to be the same that I cultivate year after year in my garden. I did not know that it possesses specific powers; however, that is probably the case with every plant. We do not know the key to most. Besides this, there must be a central viewpoint from which not only the chemistry, the structure, the color, but rather all attributes become significant....
As usual, a half hour or a little more passed in silence. Then came the first signs: the flowers on the table began to flare up and sent out flashes. It was time for leaving work; outside the streets were being cleaned, like on every weekend. The brush strokes invaded the silence painfully. This shuffling and brushing, now and again also a scraping, pounding, rumbling, and hammering, has random causes and is also symptomatic, like one of the signs that announces an illness. Again and again it also plays a role in the history of magic practices.
By this time the mushroom began to act; the spring bouquet glowed darker. That was no natural light. The shadows stirred in the corners, as if they sought form. I became uneasy, even chilled, despite the heat that emanated from the tiles. I stretched myself on the sofa, drew the covers over my head.
Everything became skin and was touched, even the retina-there the contact was light. This light was multicolored; it arranged itself in strings, which gently swung back and forth; in strings of glass beads of oriental doorways. They formed doors, like those one passes through in a dream, curtains of lust and danger. The wind stirred them like a garment. They also fell down from the belts of dancers, opened and closed themselves with the swing of the hips, and from the beads a rippling of the most delicate sounds fluttered to the heightened senses. The chime of the silver rings on the ankles and wrists is already too loud. It smells of sweat, blood, tobacco, chopped horse hairs, cheap rose essence. Who knows what is going on in the stables?
It must be an immense palace, Mauritanian, not a good place. At this ballroom flights of adjoining rooms lead into the lower stratum. And everywhere the curtains with their glitter, their sparkling, radioactive glow. Moreover, the rippling of glassy instruments with their beckoning, their wooing solicitation: " Will you go with me, beautiful boy?" Now it ceased, now it repeated, more importunate, more intrusive, almost already assured of agreement.
Now came forms-historical collages, the vox humana, the call of the cuckoo. Was it the whore of Santa Lucia, who stuck her breasts out of the window? Then the play was ruined. Salome danced; the amber necklace emitted sparks and made the nipples erect. What would one not do for one's Johannes? [Translator's note: "Johannes" here is slang for penis, as in English "Dick" or "Peter."] -damned, that was a disgusting obscenity, which did not come from me, but was whispered through the curtain.
The snakes were dirty, scarcely alive, they wallowed sluggishly over the floor mats. They were garnished with brilliant shards. Others looked up from the floor with red and green eyes. It glistened and whispered, hissed and sparkled like diminutive sickles at the sacred harvest. Then it quieted, and came anew, more faintly, more forward. They had me in their hand. "There we immediately understood ourselves."
Madam came through the curtain: she was busy, passed by me without noticing me. I saw the boots with the red heels. Garters constricted the thick thighs in the middle, the flesh bulged out there. The enormous breasts, the dark delta of the Amazon, parrots, piranhas, semiprecious stones everywhere.
Now she went into the kitchen-or are there still cellars here? The sparkling and whispering, the hissing and twinkling could no longer be differentiated; it seemed to become concentrated, now proudly rejoicing, full of hope.
It became hot and intolerable; I threw the covers off. The room was faintly illuminated; the pharmacologist stood at the window in the white mandarin frock, which had served me shortly before in Rottweil at the carnival. The orientalist sat beside the tile stove; he moaned as if he had a nightmare. I understood; it had been a first round, and it would soon start again. The time was not yet up. I had already seen the beloved little mother under other circumstances. But even excrement is earth, belongs like gold to transformed matter. One must come to terms with it, without getting too close.
These were the earthy mushrooms. More light was hidden in the dark grain that burst from the ear, more yet in the green juice of the succulents on the glowing slopes of Mexico. . . . [Translator's note: Jünger is referring to LSD, a derivative of ergot, and mescaline, derived from the Mexican peyotl cactus.]
The trip had run awrypossibly I should address the mushrooms once more. Yet indeed the whispering returned, the flashing and sparklingthe bait pulled the fish close behind itself. Once the motif is given, then it engraves itself, like on a roller each new beginning, each new revolution repeats the melody. The game did not get beyond this kind of dreariness.
I don't know how often this was repeated, and prefer not to dwell upon it. Also, there are things which one would rather keep to oneself. In any case, midnight was past....
We went upstairs; the table was set. The senses were still heightened and the Doors of Perception were opened. The light undulated from the red wine in the carafe; a froth surged at the brim. We listened to a flute concerto. It had not turned out better for the others: How beautiful, to be back among men." Thus Albert Hofmann.
A light dawned on the pharmacologist when he heard this: Now I know why you were sitting in the armchair without your head-I was astonished; I knew I wasn't dreaming.
I wonder whether I should not strike out this detail since it borders on the area of ghost stories.
The next and last thrust into the inner universe together with
Ernst Jünger, this time again using LSD, led us very far
from everyday consciousness. We came close to the ultimate door.
Of course this door, according to Ernst Jünger, will in fact
only open for us in the great transition from life into the hereafter.
This last joint experiment occurred in February 1970, again at the head forester's house in Wilflingen. In this case there were only the two of us. Ernst Jünger took 0.15 mg LSD, I took 0.10 mg. Ernst Jünger has published without commentary the log book, the notes he made during the experiment, in Approaches, in the section "Nochmals LSD" [LSD once again]. They are scanty and tell the reader little, just like my own records.
The experiment lasted from morning just after breakfast until darkness fell. At the beginning of the trip, we again listened to the concerto for flute and harp by Mozart, which always made me especially happy, but this time, strange to say, seemed to me like the turning of porcelain figures. Then the intoxication led quickly into wordless depths. When I wanted to describe the perplexing alterations of consciousness to Ernst Jünger, no more than two or three words came out, for they sounded so false, so unable to express the experience; they seemed to originate from an infinitely distant world that had become strange; I abandoned the attempt, laughing hopelessly. Obviously, Ernst Jünger had the same experience, yet we did not need speech; a glance sufficed for the deepest understanding. I could, however, put some scraps of sentences on paper, such as at the beginning: "Our boat tosses violently." Later, upon regarding expensively bound books in the library: "Like red-gold pushed from within to without-exuding golden luster." Outside it began to snow. Masked children marched past and carts with carnival revelers passed by in the streets. With a glance through the window into the garden, in which snow patches lay, many-colored masks appeared over the high walls bordering it, embedded in an infinitely joyful shade of blue: "A Breughel gardenI live with and in the objects." Later: "At presentno connection with the everyday world." Toward the end, deep, comforting insight expressed: "Hitherto confirmed on my path." This time LSD had led to a blessed approach.
Contents | Feedback | Search | DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library