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  The Door in the Wall - Part II

    Jay Stevens

        Psychedelics in the 1950s. An excerpt from
        Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream by Jay Stevens.
        Harper & Row Publishers, ©1987 by Jay Stevens. ISBN 0-06-097172-X

    Huxley was jubilant.
    Mescaline was "the most extraordinary and significant experience available to human beings this side of the Beatific Vision," he cabled his New York editor, Harold Raymond, adding that he was working on a long essay that would raise "all manner of questions in the fields of aesthetics, religion, theory of knowledge." He planned to call this essay The Doors of Perception, after Blake's observation that

If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything will appear to man as it is, infinite.

    Destined to become the most famous volume on the psychedelic bookshelf, Doors took Huxley a month to write, and when he was done he had a blow-by-blow account of that afternoon with Osmond—events like the Dharma body of the Buddha manifesting itself in the garden hedge—tempered by liberal speculation as to what it all might possibly mean in terms of human psychology.
    What it all meant, Huxley thought, was that Bergson and the English philosopher C. D. Broad had been correct when they suggested that the brain operated as a vast reducing valve, "shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful." Like the Freudian ego, this reducing valve was constantly beset by the raging tides of Mind-At-Large, which was what Huxley called Jung's archetypal unconscious plus Freud's pathological unconscious plus Myer's treasure house plus all the other unconsciousnesses yet to be named. And like Freud's ego, this reducing valve was not watertight: its seal was susceptible to pressure.
    "As Mind at Large seeps past the no longer watertight valve," he wrote, "all kinds of biologically useless things start to happen. In some cases there may be extra-sensory perceptions. Other persons discover a world of visionary beauty. To others again is revealed the glory, the infinite value and meaningfulness of naked existence.... In the final stage of egolessness there is an 'obscure knowledge' that All is in all—that All is actually each." Which was why bookjackets gleamed with godliness and an innocuous canvas chair in the garden "looked like the Last Judgment."
    There was nothing unique about Mind at Large: the smart monkey had been vacationing there for millennia—the number of hit or miss techniques could've filled a small booklet. But suddenly, with mescaline, mankind had lucked upon a technology. For the first time a science of the Other World was possible. Perhaps.
    In his excitement over all the possibilities, educational and mystical and philosophical, Huxley skated past a few rather large problems with a nod and a wink. For example, one of the things he particularly liked about mescaline was the way it undercut verbal concepts. Words became superfluous. You didn't need to intellectualize about love or sadness or death, because you felt those emotions with every cell of your body. And that was a very useful condition in a culture that was increasingly dominated by its verbal constructs. "We can easily become the victims as well as the beneficiaries of these systems," Huxley wrote in Doors. "We must learn how to handle words effectively; but at the same time we must preserve, and, if necessary, intensify our ability to look at the world directly and not through that half opaque medium of concepts, which distorts every given fact into the all too familiar likeness of some generic label or explanatory abstraction."
    But if mescaline's ability to transport the user to an area of experience that was preverbal or antiverbal was a major plus, it was also a major drawback. You tried to pour language over it, but the words just slid away, like water off a duck's back. It was almost as if the highest tools of self-consciousness were inadequate when it came to capturing Bucke's cosmic realm. Of course part of the problem was that Huxley was pouring English, which lacked any kind of appreciation for these matters: Sanskrit, as Gerald loved to point out, was a far superior language, with over forty different words for alterations in consciousness.
    How could you create a science out of something you couldn't even talk about? Huxley didn't bother to explore this central paradox, although its influence is apparent in the essay's rather tame imagery. Later, having learned the lesson of Freud and lung that inner dynamics are best expressed through metaphors and parables, Huxley grew more bold in his descriptions of what life was like beyond the Door in the Wall. In one of his first public talks, he likened the personal ego to the Old World. Using mescaline, he said, it was possible to sail beyond the horizon, "cross a dividing ocean, and find ourselves in the world of the personal subconscious":

... with its flora and fauna of repressions, conflicts, traumatic memories and the like. Traveling further, we reach a kind of Far West, inhabited by Jungian archetypes and the raw materials of human mythology. Beyond this region lies a broad Pacific. Wafted across it on the wings of mescaline... we reach what may be called the Antipodes of the mind. In this psychological equivalent of Australia we discover the equivalents of kangaroos, wallabies, and duck-billed platypuses—a whole host of extremely improbable animals, which nevertheless exist and can be observed.

    You might note that Huxley's central conceit here is that of a trip. That's what it felt like. A trip to what the spiritualists had called the Other World, which lay just beyond the deceptive boundary of everyday consciousness.
    The Doors of Perception was published in the spring of 1954 to generally perplexed reviews. Had anyone else written a book recommending mescaline as "an experience of estimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual," declared The Reporter's Marvin Barrett, it would have been dismissed "as the woolgathering of a misguided crackpot. But coming ... from one of the current masters of English prose, a man of immense erudition and intellect who usually demonstrates a high moral seriousness, they deserve more careful scrutiny." Barrett called around until he found some Lab Madness researchers who were using mescaline as a psychotomimetic. They were "less enthusiastic than Dr. Huxley and the Indians," he reported. "In controlled experiments they have found that mescaline more often than not produces symptoms unpleasantly similar to those of schizophrenia."
    The critical response to Doors was almost an echo of the British Medical Journal's condemnation of Havelock Ellis for his enthusiastic endorsement of peyote. In effect, Huxley's knuckles were rapped, and another black mark was added to the "whatever happened to Aldous" column. "How odd it is that writers like Belloc and Chesterton may sing the praises of alcohol (which is responsible for about two-thirds of the car accidents and three-quarters of the crimes of violence) and be regarded as good Christians and noble fellows," Huxley complained, "whereas anyone who ventures to suggest that there may be other and less harmful short cuts to self transcendence is treated as a dangerous drug fiend and wicked perverter of weak-minded humanity."
    But Doors sold, slowly but steadily. Someone was reading it.
    Osmond read it and was delighted. Since that May afternoon he and Huxley had exchanged numerous letters (learn how to type! Huxley implored, "It took two days of intensive work to decipher your last letter.") concerning future mescaline experiments, but time and commitments had prevented a second rendezvous. Aldous was genuinely fond of his young friend, and he had high hopes that Humphrey would "do work of fundamental importance," provided an adequate source of funding was discovered so that the mescaline experiments could continue in proper scientific style. "Perhaps we could write a play together," Huxley joked in a letter. "And make enough to finance your research and our second childhood."
    They finally got together again in December 1954. Huxley had wanted to test the effects of mescaline in the desert east of Los Angeles away from the comical cars and the smog. But when Osmond arrived he found Aldous too ill to travel. So he contented himself with giving the drug to Gerald and photographer George Huene, another friend of Aldous. The reactions couldn't have been more different. Huene's experience was similar to Aldous's, with the mescaline enhancing all of the aesthetic tendencies that had made him a photographer. But Gerald... Gerald was another case altogether. Strange mediumistic voices spoke through him, and he claimed to have glimpsed the Clear Light of the Void, which was the phrase the Tibetans used for that moment of complete understanding when one comprehends the Big Picture. Years later, addressing some students, Gerald gave the following description of what usually happened to him in the Other World. First, he said, there would be a hum, a vibration spreading out from the furniture until everything in the room, Heard included, was caught in its rhythm, pulse after pulse, until the ego began to "melt like an iceberg that has gotten into tropical seas." And then, in a flash, the Door in the Wall would slide open, and wherever you were—in a room, lying on the grass, walking on the beach—would be magically transformed. "You may have to stop and linger there for a time like a child in a garden," Gerald told the kids. While lingering you would probably notice the shadows, and after that, the realization that the world was boundless. Which did not mean it was pointless. At its center was the Pure Void, which Heard described as a blazing central sun surrounded by an ocean of darkness that one crossed with respect, for it was here that the fears were most profound. "The little man meeting Pan feels panic," Gerald liked to say.
    But what Heard didn't say that day was that the panic of the darkness was nothing compared to the terror of the Void. According to the Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which was probably the most thorough guide to these regions ever written, the soul beheld unvarnished Reality at its peril: confronted with the Void, it went howling back to the wheel of life, gratefully chaining itself to another reincarnation.
    That no two people found themselves in the same part of the Other World was one of the troublesome aspects of mescaline. Why did Gerald immediately find the mystic path, while Aldous and Huene couldn't, no matter how diligently they searched? And why did some people have absolutely hellish experiences? Huxley pondered, but produced no solutions to these questions in his second long mescaline essay, Heaven and Hell. He decided that there had to be a basic distinction between visionary experience and true mystical experience—in the first, one was aware not only of the opposition between Heaven and Hell, but of the fact that only the slenderest of gaps separated these two states. In some people, he wrote, the ego doesn't melt like an iceberg in tropical waters, but expands to the point of suffocation: "Negative emotions, the fear which is the absence of confidence, the hatred, anger or malice which exclude love [these] are the guarantee that visionary experience, if and when it comes, shall be appalling."
    With mystical experience, such distinctions were meaningless.
    At one point during Osmond's December visit Maria drew him aside and confessed that she would soon die of cancer. Aldous was refusing to accept the reality of her disease, she told Humphrey, please look after him when I'm gone. Osmond was so moved by her calm acceptance of her own death that he went off and wept for half an hour. How would Aldous cope? For thirty years Maria had been his surrogate eyes. She had been cook, typist, secretary, chauffeur—at Sanary she had piloted their red Bugatti with such enthusiasm that Aldous had written an essay declaring speed to be the only new sensation of the twentieth century.
    Maria died in February 1955. During her last hours, "with tears streaming down his face and his quiet voice not breaking," Aldous read to her from the Bardo Thodol, interweaving the ancient Tibetan text with lyrical descriptions of their shared past. With Lawrence in Italy. Summers at Sanary. The weekends at Garsington when they had first met while the rest of the world was falling apart on the Somme. Their trips to the California desert. The white snowcapped mountains of the Sierras. "Go toward the light," Aldous kept murmuring. "Those last three hours were the most anguishing and moving of my life," Matthew Huxley later wrote to his wife; while for Gerald they were proof that Aldous had indeed come back through the Door a changed man; that he was able to cope with Maria's death so calmly was wholly attributable, Gerald felt, to the wisdom he had gained from mescaline.
    The mescaline served Huxley in another capacity as well, filling his period of bereavement with new faces and exciting plans. Because of Doors and Heaven and Hell, which appeared in 1956, he found himself at the center of a peculiar movement, part religious, part scientific, which for the first time since the 1880s was mounting a concerted assault on Mind at Large. "Things keep cropping up," he wrote Harold Raymond. "Work at Boston, work at Chicago, work in Buenos Aires. In connection with the last, a very able Argentinian-Italian suddenly swam into my ken a day or two ago. It turns out that he is the greatest authority on the chemistry of cactus alkaloids, including, of course, mescalin."
    Huxley was invited to the American Psychoanalytic Association's annual convention, where he was the only nondoctor to participate in the panel on psychotomimetics. His reception by "the Electric Shock Boys, the Chlorpromaziners, and the 57 Varieties of Psychotherapists," was not effusive—compared to that of the Lab Madness Lobby. What might have been called Aldous's Visionary Potential Party was limited to himself, Osmond, Heard, and a small population of peripheral "crackpots" like the parapsychologist Andraj Puharich, who had already entertained Aldous at his Glen Cove, New York, headquarters. The specifics of Puharich's "strange household" are worth recording for the insight they provide into this parascientific fringe movement. Besides Puharich and his wife, who had behaved in a "conspicuously friendly way" with a girl named Alice, the menage had consisted of
Elinor Bond, doing telepathic guessing remarkably well, but not producing anything of interest or value in the mediumistic setting she gave me; Frances Farelly, with her diagnostic machine—which Puharich's tests have shown to be merely an instrument, like a crystal ball, for concentrating ESP faculties; Harry, the Dutch sculptor, who goes into trances in the Faraday cages and produces automatic scripts in Egyptian hieroglyphics; Narodny, the cockroach man, who is preparing experiments to test the effects of human telepathy on insects.

    "It was all very lively and amusing," Huxley wrote to Eileen Garrett. "And, I really think, promising; for whatever may be said against Puharich, he is certainly very intelligent, extremely well read and highly enterprising. His aim is to produce by modern pharmacological, electronic and physical methods the conditions used by the shamans for getting into a state of traveling clairvoyance and then, if he succeeds to send people to explore systematically the Other World."
    Actually, Huxley and Osmond had proposed something similar to the Ford Foundation, although they had worded it differently. What they had proposed was that mescaline be given to a hundred world-class scientists, artists, and philosophers in hopes that a definitive answer might emerge to such questions as: Could mescaline free the mind from its habitual patterns? Did it truly allow for an expansion of sensibilities? Although Aldous was friends with Robert Hutchins, the Ford Foundation's director, his scheme was promptly rejected, causing him to fume that "the Mesozoic reptiles of the Ford Foundation are being as Mesozoic as ever. The Trustees are so frightened of doing anything unconventional—for whenever the Foundation gets any adverse publicity, people go to the nearest Ford dealer and tell him that henceforth they will buy Chevvies—that the one overriding purpose is now to do nothing at all."
    Other foundations were approached with equally negative results.
    It is difficult to tell, judging from the polite prose of his letters, whether Huxley's frustration was beginning to erode his enthusiasm. In any case it didn't matter. Because just as things appeared at a standstill, along came a fresh explosion of interest named Al Hubbard—Captain Al Hubbard, "Cappy" to his friends.
    The initial connection was made through Osmond, who one day received a mysterious invitation to lunch at the Vancouver Yacht Club with one A. M. Hubbard, flamboyant president of the locally based Uranium Corporation. Through a curious chain of events, Hubbard had learned of Osmond and Smythies's work with mescaline, had obtained a supply of the drug himself, and had experienced a mystical vision of such profundity that he had decided to devote his considerable store of personal energy to spreading the word about mescaline and the Other World.
    Hubbard reappears throughout our story as a kind of peripatetic imp, so it will help to have an image of the man firmly in mind. He was small and stocky with a large round head and a razor crewcut. As he aged, he resembled nothing so much as the caricatured red-neck Southern sheriff, a resemblance that was enhanced by his eccentric habit of wearing a security officer's uniform complete with sidearm. The gun, he used to kid Osmond, fired armor-piercing bullets, the better to shoot out the engine block of any pursuing car.
    Over the years bits and pieces of Hubbard's past came to light, usually through the office of Al himself, although no two of his versions were ever exactly the same. Still, it was an astonishing story. Hubbard always claimed he was just a barefoot country boy from Kentucky, and that was true, but in his first public incarnation, in December 1919, he was Seattle's boy inventor, a young Thomas Edison who had invented what the Seattle Post-lntelligencer claimed was a perpetual motion machine. Hubbard called it an atmospheric power generator. Whatever its name, it was small enough to fit in the hand, had no moveable parts or battery, and could power a lightbulb for days. To publicize his device, Hubbard took a boatload of journalists and future backers on a cruise of Seattle's Lake Union in a boat powered by nothing more than an electric motor and Hubbard's mysterious 11-X 14-inch box.
    The Seattle community took a proprietary interest in their young genius, and in 1920 the town fathers appointed a committee of elders to shepherd the "young scientist"—Hubbard had outgrown the boy inventor label—through the labyrinth of corporate offers and patent red tape. When Al arrived in Washington to file his patent application, the local stringer for the Post-Intelligencer reported that he was "lodging quietly at a medium priced hotel and avoiding all publicity."
    Hubbard eventually sold 50 percent of his patent rights to Radium Chemical Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and that was the last anyone ever heard of the Hubbard Energy Transformer.
    Beginning in the late Twenties the specifics of the Hubbard saga begin to blur. Around the time Huxley and Heard were embarking upon their search for the key to higher consciousness, Al was becoming involved in the charterboat business, running liquor down from Canada. In one version he is supposed to have perfected an early radar device modeled after the theories of Nicola Tesla, which he was selling to the rum runners. Whatever the truth, Seattle's boy inventor eventually went to prison. From there things get even murkier. As Hubbard told the story, he was approached in the early days of WWII by members of an unofficial intelligence unit and asked to secretly run war materials up the West Coast of America to Canada, where they were shipped overland and put aboard boats bound for England and the Battle of Britain. Whether such a program existed, and whether Hubbard was part of it, is unclear. Certainly for the rest of his life he exhibited enough familiarity with spies and spying that most of his friends believed he had once been, and perhaps still was, one. Al loved the intelligence game and he frequently boasted that his trips to Washington were not routine business jaunts: he used them to break bread with the shadow government that really ran things. By then he had become A. M. Hubbard, president of Vancouver's Uranium Corp., friend to the industrial and political elite of Western Canada, a rich entrepreneur, with his Rolls Royce, his airplane, and his island sanctuary in Vancouver Bay.
    But if there was one thread that connected the barefoot boy inventor of nineteen to the spy and CEO of middle age, it was Catholicism. Hubbard was an ardent Catholic, with a lifelong interest in mysticism and the Other World.
    "What Babes in the Wood we literary gents and professional men are," Aldous wrote to Osmond after his first meeting with Hubbard. "The great World occasionally requires your services, is mildly amused by mine; but its full attention and deference are paid to Uranium and Big Business. So what extraordinary luck that this representative of both these Higher Powers should (a) have become so passionately interested in mescaline and (b) be such a very nice man."
    In another letter, this one to Carlyle King, a literary acquaintance of Osmond's, Huxley was even more explicit in his hopes: "Some new developments might be taking place quite soon in the mescalin field, owing to the appearance on Osmond's, Gerald's and my horizon of a remarkable personage called Captain Hubbard—a millionaire businessman—physicist, scientific director of the Uranium Corporation, who took mescalin last year, was completely bowled over by it and is now drumming up support among his influential friends (if you have anything to do with uranium, all doors, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff's to the Pope's, are open to you) for a commission to work on the problems of psychopharmacology in relation to religion, philosophy, ESP, artistic and scientific invention etc. Hubbard is a terrific man of action, and results of his efforts may begin appearing quite soon."
    Hubbard and Huxley: the English prince and the American frog, the polished dialectician and the blunt instrument, the murmured "most interesting" contrasting with the good-old-boy bark, "I'm just a son of a bitch." They were a genuine odd couple, and naturally they were genuinely fond of each other. Al was a can-do kind of guy, with just the right amount of country-boy slyness. Little problems, like the perpetual scarcity of mescaline, disappeared almost immediately. Hubbard didn't waste time going through proper medical channels; he found out who the main suppliers were and placed an order they couldn't refuse. When he heard about LSD in early 1955, he called up Sandoz and requested forty-three cases, which Sandoz promptly shipped. And when Canadian customs seized the shipment because Hubbard's papers weren't in order, Sandoz actually supplied him with the proper forms. Later Hubbard would boast that he had stockpiled more LSD than anyone else in the world, and those who knew him tended to believe it. As far as Al was concerned this was just heads-up business: whoever controlled the supply controlled the market.
    Huxley took his first LSD trip a few days before Christmas 1955, when Hubbard dropped by Los Angeles to run a session for him and Gerald. Gerald, as usual, was full of spirits and inner voices, while Al amused himself by attempting to telepathically connect with the others. It was a game he and Osmond had begun to play, but Aldous found it silly. "Certainly if future experiments should turn out to be like these last two, I should feel that such experiments were merely childish and pointless," he wrote Osmond. But if Huxley was irritated with Hubbard, it was largely because thanks to Al he had finally broken through the visionary layers, into that realm of pure oneness that Gerald had been enjoying since day one; thanks to Al, Huxley had finally escaped from the land of platypuses and wallabies.
    Everyone had assumed that Hubbard, being a businessman, would prove most useful as a financier and diplomat with the various government bureaucracies. But the truth was Hubbard had an intuitive feel for the Other World that rivaled even Gerald's; in fact it was Al who first figured out there were ways to move a person from one part of the Other World to another. Al had a system. He always kept certain pictures handy, along with a few specific pieces of music that he would play on the stereo. And damned if it didn't work. For instance, if you found yourself caught in the shadows of the pathological unconscious and were starting to panic, Hubbard would gently show you an engraving of a cute little girl lost in a forest, and as you stared intently at this drawing you could just make out that the clouds were shaped like ... a guardian angel! Silly, perhaps, but soothing. Which was not the case with the perfect diamond that Al would hand you at the height of a trip, and suggest you spend a few moments gazing into its depths. The perfect diamond was like entering an air-lock that shot you forward into a different part of the labyrinth. Later, at the height of his powers, Hubbard actually designed a whole experience around Death Valley, which he considered an extraordinary power spot.
    Like so much in this story, Hubbard's system was not unique. Go to any library and you could find a sizable section of anthropological monographs dealing with shamanic healing rites, in which the shaman manipulated the healing trance with a grab bag of odd cues and devices, like blowing tobacco smoke across a sick native's brow. But it was unique in terms of Western psychotherapy—unique and illegitimate. Not that Hubbard cared a whit what the scientific community thought, at least not yet. The only reason to use mescaline or LSD as far as he was concerned was to receive the Beatific Vision, which for Hubbard was primarily a Catholic experience, although he was not obnoxiously partisan. If a Methodist happened along, Al made sure they took the Methodist trip; if a Christian Scientist came by, he did his best to promote the Mary Baker Eddy experience.
    Huxley initially had been skeptical of the reports coming out of Vancouver that had Al evoking the Beatific Vision in dentists and lawyers. But in October 1955, in the company of a young psychotherapist named Laura Archera who was shortly to become his second wife, he decided to give the Hubbard techniques a try. As he later wrote Osmond, "What came through the closed door was the realization ... the direct, total awareness, from the inside, so to say, of Love as the primary and fundamental cosmic fact. The words, of course, have a kind of indecency and must necessarily ring false, seem like twaddle. But the fact remains..."
    Huxley was overwhelmed to the point where he decided his previous experiments, the ones recorded in Doors and Heaven and Hell, had been nothing but entertaining sideshows—"temptations to escape from the central reality into false, or at least imperfect and partial Nirvanas of beauty and mere knowledge." And this raised a troublesome point. Was it better to pursue a course of careful psychological experimentation such as they had proposed to the Ford Foundation, or was Hubbard correct, was the real value of LSD and mescaline its astonishing ability to stimulate the most basic kind of religious ecstasy? Describing this dilemma to Osmond, Huxley wrote:
My own view is that it would be important to break off experimentation from time to time and permit the participants to go, on their own, towards the Clear Light. But perhaps alteration of experimentation and mystical vision would be psychologically impossible; for who, having once come to the realization of the primordial fact of unity in love, would ever want to return to experimentation on the psychic level?... My point is that the opening of the door by mescalin or LSD is too precious an opportunity, too high a privilege to be neglected for the sake of experimentation. There must be experimentation, of course, but it would be wrong if there were nothing else.

    Thanks to Hubbard's system, a question began to take shape in Huxley's mind. Was it possible to use these new mind changers to stimulate a subtle but revolutionary alteration in the way the smart monkey perceived reality? At what point, provided you selected the right mix of brilliant, influential people, and gave them LSD or mescaline in a carefully controlled setting, doing everything possible to lead them to the Clear Light, at what point would the culture begin to shift to another tack? If you initiated the best and the brightest to the Other World, and let the knowledge filter down... It was an appealing speculation, and the more Aldous thought about it, the more convinced he became that it was not too farfetched. If one moved cautiously, doing nothing to startle the philistines...
    But first there was a practical matter to solve. "About a name for these drugs—what a problem!" he wrote to Osmond. One couldn't call them psychotomimetics or hallucinogens or any of the other approved synonyms. A completely new name was needed, and having perused his Liddel & Scott, Aldous felt he had a worthy candidate: phanerothyme, meaning to make the soul visible. He enclosed the following ditty in his letter:

To make this trivial world sublime
Take half a gramme of phanerothyme

    But Humphrey didn't particularly like phanerothyme, so he created his own word, psychedelic, and sent Aldous an answering rhyme:

To fathom hell or soar angelic
Just take a pinch of psychedelic


    Al Hubbard always operated on the theory that if you bothered to make appointments you'd never get anywhere in life. He preferred to materialize on the doorstep, and he was a sufficiently roguish charmer to get away with it.
    He materialized on doorsteps all over the world, wherever a researcher was working with LSD or mescaline. Hubbard was constantly on the go, visiting with Osmond in Saskatchewan, then down to Los Angeles to see Huxley and Heard, then across the continent—New York, Boston, Bethesda, D. C.; then off to Europe to check on progress there, then back again to repeat the circuit: vetting new researchers conducting sessions for interested professionals, brainstorming on the best way to "launch" the psychedelic movement; paying his way with the latest experimental wrinkles, the most delicious gossip, and of course his inexhaustible supply of experimental substances, which he stored in a large leather bag.
    One of Al's favorite break-the-ice devices was carbogen, a mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen, which came in a small portable tank. Carbogen was what therapists referred to as a potent abreactor: ten or fifteen lungfuls and you tended to relive your childhood traumas. And judging on how well you handled them, Al would either offer to run an LSD session for you, or he wouldn't.
    Being a charge-ahead kind of guy who didn't write many letters, Hubbard hasn't left any neat synopsis of the world LSD scene, circa 1956, the year the first International Symposium was held. In general though, the trend was away from the Lab Madness boys, the psychotomimeticists, and toward therapy, which had been, after all, Sandoz s first recommendation:
To elicit release of repressed material and provide mental relaxation, particularly in anxiety states and obsessional neuroses.

    To attribute this change of direction solely to Captain Hubbard's efforts would be an overstatement; Al was more like the membrane without which osmosis can't occur. He was a traveling symposium; it was from Hubbard that many researchers first learned the cardinal rule of set and setting, which stated that the LSD state was contingent on the mindset of the person taking the drug and the setting in which the experience occurred. To drive someone crazy with LSD was no great accomplishment, particularly if you told the person he was taking a psychotomimetic and you gave it to him in one of those pastel hospital cells with a grim nurse standing by scribbling notes. But to use the drug for subtler ends called for an understanding of how ambiance was heightened in the psychedelic state: how certain pieces of music—Bach, for instance—came across under LSD as so holy it was almost as though God was humming the tune, while others—Berlioz, say—made you sick to your stomach with its sugary pretensions; how people under LSD liked to sprawl around with plenty to look at, with paintings and scratchpads that would end up filled with the most perplexing scrawls, as though a class of kindergartners had used the room, and not one relatively mature adult, how the most minor mood changes on the part of the therapist (irritation, anxiety, humor) could have startlingly major effects on the patient.
    By 1956 the question "what's in the unconscious?" had fragmented into a host of subsidiary questions as therapists realized that the Dark Room, like a grandmother's attic, was crammed with treasure. In this trunk, Jungian archetypes; in that one, lovely Freudian neuroses that could be tracked all the way back to the moment when the patient, standing in her cradle barely one year old, had watched her parents making love. Instead of having to walk, the therapist could fly. And while that presented a new set of problems—for one thing, LSD sessions lasted a wearying three to four hours—it didn't diminish the excited feeling that they were on the edge of Something Big. Whenever LSD researchers got together the conversation quickly turned anecdotal, as one eye-widening story followed another"... and suddenly I found myself giving birth to myself. I could actually feel myself floating around in the amniotic fluid, then I was flushed down the vaginal canal, thinking 'this is it, I've died and now I'm being reborn.'"
    It was like belonging to an elite fraternity. "When you made contact," remembers Oscar Janiger, "it was like two people looking at each other from across the room, and with a sort of nod of the head... like 'Welcome brother, you have now entered the Mysteries.' That's all. That was your ticket of admission. Nothing else. That knowing look."
    Oscar Janiger was a Beverly Hills psychiatrist who preferred research to analysis, although he did just enough of the latter to pay for the leisure to indulge in the former. He also taught a few courses at a local university, and it was there, in 1954, after a lecture synopsizing the Osmond/Smythies adrenochrome thesis, that he was approached by a young man named Perry Bivens. Bivens was a professional diver. He worked for Ivan Tors, the producer of Sea Hunt, and he had his own private decompression chamber that he had built himself. It was while perfecting the chamber that Bivens had discovered he could alter his consciousness simply by changing the mix of gases.
    Bivens invited Janiger to try the chamber, which he did to rather disturbing effect. Although he could intellectualize for hours about the fragility of what man calls reality, Janiger was unprepared for just how fragile it really was. Bivens would twiddle a few knobs, and the next thing the doctor knew he was gasping with laughter or roaring with energy. Then the air would be flushed out and a new combination introduced.
    After a few sessions in the chamber, Bivens casually mentioned that he knew of something much better, a drug called LSD.
    Janiger, Bivens, and their wives took the LSD at Janiger's vacation home at Lake Arrowhead. A short while into the experiment Bivens's wife had disappeared into a bedroom. She returned a few minutes later wearing a purple sweater, skintight vermilion pants, yellow ballet slippers, and a long mauve scarf. And then, an intimation of things to come, she began to dance.
    Driving back to Los Angeles, Janiger felt like Moses coming down from the mountain, except in his case what he lacked was the tablets—or ampoules. I've got to get my hands on some more LSD, he thought. I'll go crazy if I can't figure out an experiment that will satisfy Sandoz. But what kind of an experiment? Janiger had no interest in experimental lab work, giving LSD to snails and fish and making voluminous notes on their reactions. Nor was he interested in the Lab Madness rigmarole of personality and intelligence tests. After puzzling over the problem for several weeks, he arrived at a simple solution: why not just give LSD to volunteers and let them do whatever they wanted? Provide them with paper, pencils, typewriter, tape recorder, and leave them alone—a completely naturalistic study. Much to his surprise, Sandoz agreed, and within a few weeks he had his own supply of LSD.
    One of Janiger's few rules was that everyone had to have a baby-sitter, someone who would remain with them throughout the experience. No one could baby-sit unless they had already taken LSD. Other than that, the emphasis was on recording what was happening, getting it down on paper or tape before it evaporated—reams of paper, spools of tape. The volume would have been overwhelming had not Janiger been a popular lecturer with access to a willing labor pool of students who were cajoled into culling the reports and underlining salient reactions like "the room is breathing." The underlined statements were then typed onto cards, and the subjects were called back in and asked to sort them into groups ranging from statements that were "most relevant" to their own experience, to those that were "least relevant."
    Except for the time one of the volunteers eluded his baby-sitter and got loose on Wilshire Boulevard, it was all pretty straightforward. That day the subject just flew out the door before anyone could react; he was nowhere to be found by the time Janiger reached the street. The whole office fanned out looking for him, but he had vanished. Certain his career was about to share a similar fate, Janiger was walking back to his office when he heard whistling. Glancing up, he saw the subject sitting in a tree. "Why don't you climb down from there," Janiger suggested in his most persuasive psychiatric voice. But the volunteer said, "Oh no, I'll fly right down."
    Situations like this were one of the reasons why Janiger had insisted that his baby-sitters take LSD—because only after you had been there could you realize just how much sincerity was implied in the response, "I'll fly right down." The subject really thought he was a bird, which meant that Janiger had to convince him to climb down using logic a bird would accept. So he built a nest out of sticks and stones, and with a little persuasion coaxed the man down to sit on it.
    One day a painter volunteered, and Janiger gave him an Indian kachina doll to sketch. As the LSD took hold the sketches became emotional, fiery, a mixture of cubism, fauvism, and abstract expressionism that convinced the artist he had made an artistic breakthrough. Word of the Beverly Hills shrink who had a creativity pill swept through the local bohemian art scene like a Malibu brush fire. Within days Janiger was besieged by painters and sculptors, all begging for an opportunity to expose their artistry to LSD.
    At first he was reluctant. Too many artists would spoil the experiment's balance. But then the beauty of what had befallen him became apparent: art was a universal language, it was active rather than reflective, it was concrete. Instead of having to rely on posthumous statements about the room changing color and the chairs becoming the Last Judgment, he could let each artist sketch the same kachina doll: a sketch before taking LSD, a sketch in the middle of the experiment, and so on. That way he would have a simple yet elegant example of how LSD changed perception. Watching them work, Janiger realized that artists had always been the natural constituency for consciousness-changing drugs. The unconscious was their medium, and they would do anything to improve their access. One only had to think of Coleridge and opium, Balzac and hashish, Poe and laudanum—the list was endless.
    Although the painters worked out fine, in the end they were insufficient: the art was expressive, the painters weren't. They had such a hard time articulating what was happening inside their heads that Janiger decided he needed a writer or two to flesh out his findings. Gil Henderson, one of the painters, suggested the novelist Anaïs Nin. This was an inspired suggestion, for not only was Nin conversant with the language of psychoanalysis, but also for two decades she had been conducting her own idiosyncratic raids on her unconscious in the form of a series of surrealistic novels.
    Nin has left us a record of her LSD trips in her famous diary. She describes how, at one point, the room had dissolved into pure space, revealing the "images behind images, the walls behind the sky, the sky behind the infinite"; how she had begun to weep, copious tears flowing down her cheeks, while at the same instant she had been aware of a comic force behind the tears. And the two feelings, weeping and laughter, tragedy and comedy, had alternated at a dizzying pace. "Without being a mathematician I understand the infinite," she had told Janiger, who reminded her of a Picasso painting, an asymmetrical man with one large, prying eye. Prying into her very soul.
    What part of the mind was being stimulated so that the concept of infinity could be grasped on an emotional level? Where was the place where objects suddenly became alive, where the room began to breathe? Finding the answers to these questions was the most exciting thing Oscar Janiger could imagine.
    And he wasn't alone. For some reason—the presence of Huxley? Southern California in general?—the Los Angeles LSD scene was particularly fertile. One day it seemed there were only five researchers working with the drug, the next day ten, the day after that twenty, all exchanging those knowing looks.
    One of Janiger's counterparts was Sidney Cohen, a psychiatrist attached to the Los Angeles Neuropsychiatric Hospital, which was part of the Veterans Administration. Cohen had obtained his first LSD fully intending to pursue the model psychoses work of Max Rinkel and the other Lab Madness researchers, but his own personal experience with the drug had caused him to change direction.
    "I was taken by surprise," he recollected a few years later at an LSD symposium. "This was no confused, disoriented delirium, but something quite different. Just what it was I could not say." It refused to be Englished. Or easily psychologized. "Though we have been using the available measuring instruments, the check lists, the performance tests, the psychological batteries, and so forth, the core of the LSD situation remains in the dark, quite untouched by our activities," he confessed.
    But while the core remained impenetrable, researchers like Cohen were busily building a body of data describing what happened when the typical therapy patient took LSD. Miraculous and disturbing things happened. Sometimes the patient got trapped on a paranoid merry-go-round, and went round and round until the session had to be terminated with the antipsychotic thorazine, a drug that effectively counteracted the effects of LSD. But just as often, after twisting and turning through the labyrinth of their unconscious, they suddenly stumbled onto a part of the Other World that was conflict-free, and all their pathologies vanished like startled birds. "It is as though everything that bothered them has been transcended," remarked Cohen's colleague, the psychologist Betty Eisner. Cohen made a particular study of this anomaly, which he called the "integrative experience":
The integrative experience should be described further because it has not been a matter for scientific scrutiny and the semantic difficulties are considerable. There is usually a perceptual component which consists of looking upon beauty and light. Affectually there is a feeling of great relaxation and hyperphoria. The patients describe an insightfulness into themselves, an awareness of their place in the environment, and a sense of order in life. These are all fused into a very meaningful episode, and it is believed that this can be significantly therapeutic.

    The key to the integrative experience, to the extent that one existed was set and setting. With proper preparation and the skillful manipulation of mood enhancers, particularly music, Cohen found he could induce an integrative experience with fair regularity. But he also discovered that while enormously helpful, the integrative experience was not a miracle cure. A patient might experience that pure redemptive light one month and yet be right back where he had started from the next, nurturing the same family of neuroses that had brought him into therapy in the first place. But when Cohen mentioned these limitations to his more enthusiastic colleagues, he was usually dismissed as stuffy old Sid, middle-of-the-road Sid.
    But however cautious he might have been about LSD's ultimate utility, Sidney Cohen was instrumental in turning on not only his colleagues, mostly psychiatrists and psychologists, but a few writers and scientists as well. During one stretch his office was full of analysts from the Rand Corporation, the semisecret think tank located in Santa Monica One of them, Herman Kahn, took LSD and lay on the floor murmuring "wow" every few minutes. Later he claimed he had spent the time profitably reviewing bombing strategies against mainland China.
    One of the psychologists whom Cohen introduced to LSD was a man named A. Wesley Medford. With a friend, a cancer specialist and radiologist named Mortimer Hartman, Medford began spending his weekends experimenting with the drug. Gradually others joined in, until their private weekend investigations resembled what in left political circles would have been called a cell—a cell not of the class wars, but the consciousness wars. All sorts of crazy things started happening to the Wesley group. Astral projection. Past lives. Telepathy over vast spaces. Enhanced intelligence. The sense that they could link up into a multiple mind, a Group Mind. Although all the experiments that they designed to test these newfound powers failed—remember Weir Mitchell with his poems and psychology papers—it didn't dampen the group's ardor, and the rest of the LSD research community watched in bemused fascination as the Wesley group grew in intensity and then came apart amid denunciations and recriminations. It seemed LSD also enhanced some of the negative personality traits that make it difficult for people to get along with each other.
    Wesley returned to his former practice, warning that LSD was uncontrollable. But not Hartman. LSD had lit a fire under Hartman; he couldn't leave it alone. Teaming up with a psychiatrist named Arthur Chandler, who had joined the Wesley group late in the game, Hartman opened an office in Beverly Hills and launched a five-year therapeutic study that had Sandoz's blessing. Even though Chandler had the therapeutic credentials, it was Hartman who ran the office. "He was the sparkplug," remembers Oscar Janiger. "He was always needling Chandler, who was a pragmatic cookbook kind of guy, an old-line psychiatrist. But Chandler also provided a drag, otherwise Hartman would have been another Leary, getting grandiose and messianic. They were a perfect team." Although Hartman was sincerely interested in conducting a legitimate research study for Sandoz, he was also aware that LSD therapy had the potential for a healthy financial return, particularly if inroads could be made into the analysis-prone film colony.
    Of all the actors, writers, musicians, and directors who passed through Chandler and Hartman's portals, the most famous was Cary Grant. Grant took LSD more than sixty times, and although he was considered one of Hollywood's most private stars, he found his enthusiasm for the drug hard to contain. It finally overflowed during the filming of the movie Operation Petticoat. The scene was appropriately bizarre. There was Grant sitting on the deck of the pink submarine that was Petticoat's principal set. He had an aluminum sheet attached to his neck to facilitate his tan and he was chatting with two reporters, both of whom were prepared for the usual hour of teeth pulling that an interview with Grant required. But today Cary was totally relaxed, a condition he attributed to the insights he had achieved using an experimental mind drug called LSD.
    "I have been born again," he told the astonished reporters. "I have been through a psychiatric experience which has completely changed me. I was horrendous. I had to face things about myself which I never admitted, which I didn't know were there. Now I know that I hurt every woman I ever loved. I was an utter fake, a self-opinionated bore, a know-all who knew very little.
    "I found I was hiding behind all kinds of defenses, hypocrisies and vanities. I had to get rid of them layer by layer. The moment when your conscious meets your subconscious is a hell of a wrench. With me there came a day when I saw the light."
    Although Grant, his lawyers, and MGM all tried to kill the story, it appeared in print on April 20,1959, and while it didn't alter Grant's popularity one iota, it was an enormous shot in the pocketbook for LSD therapists like Chandler and Hartman. Suddenly everyone in Hollywood wanted to be born again.
    Whether it was Chandler and Hartman that Aldous Huxley had in mind when he dropped the following note to Osmond is unclear, but they certainly fit the general description. "What frightful people there are in your profession," Huxley had written. "We met two Beverly Hills psychiatrists the other day, who specialize in LSD therapy at $100 a shot—and, really, I have seldom met people of lower sensitivity, more vulgar mind! To think of people made vulnerable by LSD being exposed to such people is profoundly disturbing."
    There was a lesson here, but, with the possible exception of Anaïs Nin, no one noticed.
    Thanks to her sessions with Dr. Janiger, Anaïs Nin had a front-row seat as the psychedelic movement was born in a handful of fashionable Los Angeles drawing rooms, midwived by Huxley, Heard, Hubbard, and the dozens of researchers (like Janiger) and others (like Nin) who had been drawn into the sublime quest of exploring the Other World. Attending their impassioned get-togethers, Nin was reminded of André Breton and his band of surrealists who had alternately shocked and delighted Paris in the Twenties and Thirties. Breton had been another believer in the revolutionary potentials of the unconscious, but lacking a tool like LSD he had been forced to rely on trances and automatic writing to make his case. Nevertheless Nin sniffed his presence in the excited speculations of Heard and Huxley, although the setting was a far cry from the noisy cafes of Montparnasse.
    At first it was all talk, talk, talk, in a variety of dialects. The psychologists talked psychology, the mystics talked theology, a smattering talked parapsychology, while polymaths like Huxley and Heard danced from one vocabulary to the other, equally at home with the integrative experience or the Hindu samadhi. Misunderstandings were frequent, as was an inevitable partisanship; what kept things congenial was the bemused understanding that they were all talking about the same thing. When it came to the Other World, everyone—the psychologists, the writers, the artists, even the mystics—enjoyed amateur status. This had been a little hard for some of the medical men to swallow, as they tended to take a proprietary attitude toward drugs; some of the more hard-nosed had come in for a lot of criticism along the lines of, "My God, get it out of those sterile rooms and stop asking those stupid questions." But years of conditioning couldn't be shed overnight. Sterile rooms and questionnaires were the only scientific tools they had, and it was difficult to see how you could jettison them and still expect to solve the mystery.
    From midnight discussions it was a short step to... drug parties would be the phrase used today. No one came right out and said, "Why not drop by my house tonight and we'll take LSD." The invitation was usually couched in terms like, "Why not come over and we'll conduct a modest ESP experiment." But the result was the same. Eventually a series of evening salons sprang up in some of Los Angeles's wealthier neighborhoods, bringing together the likes of Huxley, Heard, Hubbard, Nin, Oscar Janiger, Sidney Cohen, etc. "Our parties were meaningful and very special," Nin confided to her diary. "We shared our esoteric experiences. These experiences should have remained esoteric."
    Nin was probably one of the first people in America to worry that LSD was getting out of hand. A couple of things bothered her. She was worried, for example, by the arrogant assumption of so many of the psychologists that in a year or two they would have the Other World neatly dissected and defanged, sterilized, objectified, another head for the trophy rooms of science. Nin had no doubt that the human spirit would elude the men in the white coats, but she did worry about the kind of unintended damage the pursuit might bring. Nevertheless, that didn't mean she endorsed the Huxley plan of introducing psychedelics to the Best and the Brightest. The more she watched the spread of LSD, the more convinced she became that there was a reason why the quest for higher consciousness had always been the province of small esoteric mystery cults: you couldn't mass produce the mystical: too many initiations, too many complex rituals were required. Sure a drug like LSD opened the Door, affording instant access to parts of the unconscious that might otherwise have taken years to achieve either through meditation or psychotherapy. But was a shortcut the best and safest way to visit the Other World? Nin didn't think so. But when she argued this point with Huxley, he responded rather irritably, "You're fortunate enough to have a natural access to your subconscious life, but other people need drugs and should have them."
    It was Huxley's opinion that Homo sapiens didn't have the luxury to ignore any shortcuts. When he had written Brave New World in the early Thirties, he had imagined it taking place in the far distant future of A.D. 3500. But here it was less than a quarter of a century later, and the world was catching up to his satirical portrait. The ideal of a perfectly managed society, which was the beating heart of corporate liberalism, could have been lifted right out of the first chapter, with its insistent message—"conform, conform, conform"—murmuring from the Pavlovian television screens and from the tabloids' worshipful hagiography of the Organization Man. "Conform, or else has become something of an eleventh commandment," observed psychiatrist Robert Lindner in a little book called Must We Conform? Huxley explored the astonishing way life was imitating his art in a series of essays collected and published under the title Brave New World Revisited. Of particular interest to him was the skyrocketing popularity of tranquilizers like Miltown and Elavil. These, Huxley felt, were worthy forerunners of a true soma, in that they staunched the flow of unhappiness that was an inevitable byproduct of "conform, or else."
    Given the cultural situation, Huxley felt, the rapid and efficient development of psychedelics became crucial. Gerald Heard believed much the same thing, only he tended to replace Huxley's sociological arguments with larger cosmic ones. For Heard it was the forces of light versus those of darkness, Eros against thanatos, with the forces of darkness manifested in the Bomb, the proliferation of mental illness, the slide toward regimentation, while the forces of light had to make do with LSD. LSD proved once and for all that the mind contained higher powers; they should be catalogued and inventoried; and then they should be released on a wide scale. "We may be very grateful that our opponents so long have been content to be ignorant and bigoted materialists," he said.
    Neither Huxley nor Heard ever sat down and drew up a formal blueprint for how the anxious present might become the psychedelic future, although Huxley was thinking of writing a reverse Brave New World, in which a psychedelic system of education would result in a true utopia. But that was fiction—and rather difficult fiction, he discovered, as most of his early attempts ended in the wastebasket. What Huxley and Heard seemed to be aiming for was a kind of gradual osmosis, particularly among the scientific community. If they could get science on their side, if they could map and inventory the Other World using the accepted tools of scientific truth, always careful not to alarm the philistines with grandiose claims, then there might be a chance... and the way to accomplish this was to recruit as many of the Lab Madness boys and the LSD researchers to their point of view as was humanly possible, and then let them turn on the Best and the Brightest under the guise of legitimate research projects.
    "The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out," Huxley had written in the last paragraph of Doors. "He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance..." He will also, like Paul on the road to Tarsus, be open to a different vision.
    It is important to understand that Huxley wasn't proposing a wholesale migration to the Other World. He was very selective. When the novelist Christopher Isherwood, a close friend of Heard and a disciple of the same Swami Prabhavananda who had tutored Huxley in Vedantic Hinduism back in the Forties, came to them for mescaline he was turned away as too unstable. Annoyed, Isherwood later obtained some mescaline on his own and tried it one day in London. He went to Westminster Cathedral "to see if God was there." He wasn't. In fact, his absence was so profound that Isherwood began to giggle uncontrollably and had to remove himself to a discreet nook until he could regain his composure. There wasn't a whisper of the eternal spirit in that immense, drafty space.
    But if a likely candidate appeared on their horizon, he was usually accommodated. This was the case with Alan Watts, a slightly younger member of Isherwood's generation (b. 1915) and a former Anglican minister turned freelance philosopher. Watts was something of a special case, as he had spent his adolescence in the same theosophical circles that Huxley and Heard had investigated in the Thirties. He was a protégé of Christmas Humphreys, the English barrister who also ran London's Buddhist Lodge. When Watts was unable to attend Oxford, Humphreys and his friends began schooling young Alan in "every occult and far-out subject under the sun." And Watts responded by becoming a prodigy. Already at nineteen, when he published his first book, his trademark style was fully developed. Watts could take the most abstruse topics and render them as clear as a pane of glass. This was less a matter of prose than a quality of mind: about the time he was drawn into Huxley's psychedelic scenario, Watts had a radio show in San Francisco. Little old ladies would call up from Oakland and ask him the most godawful things—how Zen satori was related to the Catholic concept of grace, for instance—and Watts wouldn't even blink. He'd open his mouth (which always contained a cigarette; he amazed the engineers by being able to talk and smoke them at the same time) and perfectly formed sentences would pour out for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, and then, just as the engineer was about to give the off-air sign, he would tie the ends of his answer up into a neat little bow and sign off. Watts's loquacity made him a great favorite of the LSD researchers; there wasn't a drug in the world, he used to boast to them, that could shut him up.
    Watts wasn't an immediate convert to Huxley's high opinion of psychedelics. It struck him as "highly improbable that a true spiritual experience could follow from ingesting a particular chemical. Visions and ecstasies, yes. A taste of the mystical, like swimming with waterwings, perhaps." The first time he took LSD he had a "hilariously beautiful" but "hardly what I would call mystical" time. But then he took it again, and this time he had a full-blown mystical illumination that was as embarrassing as it was enlightening—embarrassing because that moment of cosmic Oneness was something Watts had devoted his whole adult life to finding, and now he had achieved it not through proper spiritual discipline but because he had poured an ampoule of twentieth-century science into a glass of distilled water; and it was enlightening because what came through the Door wasn't Zen Buddhism, which was Watts's specialty, but something with an unmistakable Hindu cast, as though Hinduism "was a local form of some undercover wisdom, inconceivably ancient, which everyone knows in the back of his mind but will not admit."
    Oscar Janiger always thought that the arrival of Alan Watts was a key moment in the psychedelic chronology, because Watts's influence lay in a different direction from that of Huxley and Heard. From his base in San Francisco he had considerable influence with the young bohemians, among them a cousin of Janiger's named Allen Ginsberg, who were beginning to look eastward for their spiritual values.
    Unquestionably a momentum was developing, but its direction was a bit difficult to ascertain. Up in Canada Osmond had begun giving LSD to terminal alcoholics with promising results, but he was also doing such things as calling up his old school chum and member of Parliament, Christopher Mayhew, with the suggestion that Mayhew use his connections to entice the BBC into making a short science film about mescaline. Mayhew had offered himself as guinea pig and a BBC film crew had been dispatched to his house in Surrey to film Osmond giving him 400 milligrams of mescaline hydrochloride. What followed was by now fairly predictable: at irregular intervals Mayhew kept slipping through the door of temporal and spatial reality and arriving at a place of "pervasive pure light, like a kind of invisible sunlit snow." Although Osmond's watch indicated that these voyages lasted mere seconds, to Mayhew they seemed to go on forever.
    "I'm off again for a long period," he would suddenly announce, interrupting one of Osmond's intelligence tests. "But you won't notice that I've gone away at all."
    "When are you coming back?" Osmond would ask.
    "I am now in your time," Mayhew would respond, to be followed a few minutes later by another "Whoops I'm off again."
    Like Aldous, Mayhew also had a glimpse of the dark part of the Other World. "There were occasions when I knew with terrible vividness what being mad was like," he confided in an account of his experience that was published in the London Observer.
    To give another illustration of how things were developing: in 1954 Gerald Heard gave a lecture in Palo Alto to an organization called the Sequoia Seminar. Sitting in the audience was an engineer named Myron Stolaroff. Stolaroff was in charge of long-range planning at Ampex, which was one of the first of the high-technology companies to emerge in the valleys south of San Francisco. Stolaroff had heard Gerald speak several times before and considered him one of the world's outstanding mystics. So when Heard began rhapsodizing about the effects of certain mind-altering drugs, Stolaroff was predictably upset. "I thought you went to all these places anyway," he asked. "Why do you take this?" And Heard had replied, "Oh, but it just opens the doors in so many ways to so many vast dimensions."
    Whether he admitted it to himself or not, Myron Stolaroff was hooked, and a few months later, in Los Angeles on business, he visited Heard and had another long discussion about these new mind drugs. At one point Hubbard's name had come up, and Heard had implied that if Stolaroff wished to try any of these substances, Al was the man to guide him through the experience. So Stolaroff had written Hubbard and one day Al had turned up on the doorstep, bounding into Myron's office with a tank of carbogen, a "fun-loving guy" who "radiated an enormous energy field." After the formal introductions were over, Hubbard had suggested that Stolaroff take a few lungfuls of the carbogen, and twenty or thirty breaths later the director of long-range planning was abreacting all over his office.
    Stolaroff, who had been skeptical of a lot of Gerald's claims, was convinced. He arranged to visit Vancouver at the earliest opportunity for one of Hubbard's patented LSD sessions—by 1959 Hubbard was claiming he had conducted seventeen hundred LSD sessions.
    It was a terrible experience. During those hours in Hubbard's apartment, Stolaroff relived his birth, the actual physical birth, gasping and writhing for what felt like days, until he broke through to the world, which actually smelled of ether. Although it was a torturous few hours, Myron emerged from the LSD womb convinced that many of his personal eccentricities and neuroses could be traced back to the trauma of his birth. This was not a radical possibility as far as psychoanalysis was concerned; Otto Rank, one of Freud's last disciples, had explored the effects of birth on the emerging psyche in numerous articles. But it would have taken psychoanalysis years to attain the level that LSD had reached in one climactic rush. Stolaroff returned to Ampex convinced that LSD "was the greatest discovery that man had ever made."
    Over the next few years Myron and Al grew increasingly close. Stolaroff was a businessman, an engineer, a manipulator of things, not words, and he was a welcome change from the hyperintellectuality of the Heard-Huxley-Osmond circle. Gradually a fantasy took shape out of their late-night confabs: using LSD, they would turn Ampex into the most creative, successful, and lucrative corporation in the world. They would use the drug to stimulate not only creative insight, but also mental health, doing away with all that debilitating egotism and neurosis, the petty jealousies, the failures of communication. Using LSD, they would foster an environment in which individuality would flower and mesh with the budding genius of everyone else's individuality, thus creating a corporation that served the impossible task of enhancing not only the individual, but the group as well. And the bottom line would be: lots of money for everyone.
    Hubbard was a perfect example of how reality can warp the best-laid fantasies. It had seemed a simple enough task back when it had first popped into Huxley's mind—just turn on enough people of sufficient caliber to tip the cultural balance—but he had forgotten that not everyone might share his Oxbridge assumptions. Huxley preferred a kind of quiet diplomacy that would spread the word "in the relative privacy of learned journals, the decent obscurity of moderately highbrow books"; American TV, with its audience of "Baptists, Methodists and nothing-but-men plus an immense lunatic fringe," should be avoided at all costs. But decent obscurity was not Al's forte. He seemed determined to sell LSD as a specifically Catholic nostrum. "Would it not be best to let Hubbard go his own way within the Church?" Huxley wrote Osmond. "It is evidently there that he feels increasingly at home. It is evident, too, that his loyalty to the Church makes him increasingly anxious to use LSD-25 as an instrument for validating Catholic doctrines and for giving new life to Catholic symbols." But the irritation lasted only until their next dinner, when Hubbard again charmed Huxley with his geniality and vigor. "Please ignore what I wrote in my last letter about him," he told Osmond, adding, "I still have doubts about the general validity of his methods."
    But Hubbard's methods generally worked, and in late 1957 his campaign within Vancouver's Catholic hierarchy won a rather astounding victory in the form of a notice issued by the Cathedral of the Holy Rosary, which read, in part:
We are aware of man's fallibility and will be protected in our studies by that understanding and recognition of the First Cause of all created things that govern them. We therefore approach the study of these psychedelics and their influence on the mind of man anxious to discover whatever attributes they possess respectfully evaluating their proper place in the Divine Economy. We humbly ask our Heavenly Mother the Virgin, help of all who call upon her to know and understand the true qualities of these psychedelics, the full capacities of man's noblest faculties and according to God's laws to use them for the benefit of mankind here and in eternity.

    Today the Catholic hierarchy of western Canada, tomorrow the first psychedelic corporation—Al's aspirations certainly weren't modest. But in this case the one precluded the other. Although Myron Stolaroff had laid the groundwork perfectly, persuading Ampex's new general manager to overlook Al's flaws and give LSD a chance, the result was disastrous. The general manager was Jewish. The last thing he wanted to do was look at pictures of Jesus Christ, but that's what Hubbard kept waving at him.

    We could continue in this vein for another hundred pages, describing all the little eddies that sprang up in LSD's wake, and perhaps we should describe just one more, as it shows how far afield the psychedelic message was ranging. In 1958 Gerald and Sidney Cohen traveled to Arizona to run a session for Henry Luce, founder and president of Time-Life, Inc., and Luce's wife, the cosmopolite Clare Booth Luce. At one point during the evening the tone-deaf and unflamboyant Luce wandered out into the yard, conducting an imaginary symphony; and later on a short colloquy with God assured him all was well with the American Century.
    The only problem that anyone could foresee was the possibility that somewhere down the road LSD might turn out to be physically harmful. One couldn't forget Freud, who had thought cocaine an innocuous panacea and had become addicted. But even if this happened, it wouldn't be fatal: "If the psychologists and sociologists will define the ideal," Huxley said, "the neurologists and pharmacologists can be relied upon to discover the means whereby the ideal can be realized." LSD and mescaline were just the tip of the psychedelic iceberg.
    The first new psychedelic to surface was DMT, an abbreviation of dimethyltryptamine. It was introduced into the Los Angeles scene by Oscar Janiger. Besides exploring the possibilities of LSD, Janiger had been intrigued by the Osmond/Smythies thesis that psychoses might be caused by a metabolic malfunction of the adrenal system. Just as serendipity had led the two Englishmen to the molecular similarity between adrenaline and mescaline, Janiger had stumbled across a similar connection between brain tryptamines and a South American vine used in shamanic rites called ayahuasca. The psychoactive element in ayahuasca was dimethyltryptamine. Janiger searched the medical literature for any references to DMT. He found only two, both in Hungarian. Surmising that the Hungarians must have tried DMT and lived to write their monographs, Janiger had a local laboratory make a batch, and one afternoon while he was alone in his office he filled a syringe and shot it into his arm—"a dangerously stupid, idiotic thing to do."
    Compared to DMT, LSD was like a lazy summer picnic. Janiger felt like he was inside a pinball machine, bombarded by flashing lights, clanging bells, infernal messages. There was no insight. He was lost, disconnected, and when he later regained consciousness (the DMT lasted only thirty minutes) he was convinced he had been "totally stark raving crazy." Which was terrific! Perhaps he had found the elusive M factor.
    Janiger gave DMT to Bivens, who agreed that it was too much; then he called up Alan Watts and bet him that he had a drug that could finally shut him up. Watts took the bet and the DMT, and for thirty minutes he lay there staring at Janiger, who kept repeating, "Alan, Alan, please say something. Talk to me. Your reputation is at stake." But Watts never said a word. The next time Al Hubbard passed through town, Janiger gave him a supply of DMT for his leather bag and asked him to distribute it along the circuit. "This isn't a gift," he said. "I want reports back." Everyone who took DMT agreed that it was a hellish half hour, with absolutely no redeeming qualities.
    The same couldn't be said, however, about psilocybin, which descended on the psychedelic scene like an eager debutante from a well-known society family, in this case, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals.

    A rather odd set of circumstances led Sandoz to psilocybin.
    To begin at the beginning would be to start on a forest path in the Catskills in the summer of 1927, at the moment when Valentina Wasson spied some mushrooms growing in the woods and ran to pick them. Her new husband, for they were on their honeymoon, watched aghast as she "knelt in poses of adoration before one cluster and then another of these growths." When it became clear that no amount of argument could deter her from cooking them for dinner, Gordon Wasson began to prepare himself for the new status of widower, for there was little doubt in his mind that by morning she would be dead.
    She wasn't, of course. Born in Russia, Valentina Wasson had been raised a mycophile, a lover of mushrooms, and she was knowledgeable in the specifics of their use. Gordon, an Anglo-Saxon, represented the other extreme, a mycophobe, a hater of mushrooms. Being educated sorts—Gordon was a Harvard man and financial correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune; Valentina a pediatrician—they began to analyze the different cultural heritages that could have produced such opposite reactions. Was it possible to imagine a similar disagreement over lichen or walnuts? In fact, once they had delved a little deeper, they discovered that whole areas of Europe could be designated either mycophile (the Slavic countries, with pockets in Bavaria, Austria, and Italy, and parts of southern France and Spain) or mycophobe (the rest of Europe). Appetites whetted, they plunged into an investigation that would continue for the rest of their lives.
    In 1928 Gordon Wasson gave up journalism for banking, and took a job in the securities division of Morgan Guaranty. When an act of Congress prohibited banks from owning stock, he transferred to the regular staff of the bank, where he eventually rose to the position of vice president. During these years whatever spare time the Wassons had was devoted to their mycological quest. They tramped all over Europe, combing the language for echoes of the split that must have occurred millennia ago. They sought out uneducated peasants and interviewed them regarding the local fungi.
    Gradually a thesis emerged. The Wassons began to suspect that a mushroom had played a formative role in the Ur-religion of tribal Indo-Europe. Their prime candidate was the fly amanite, considered by mycophobes to be the most poisonous mushroom of all, although there was no solid evidence that anyone had ever died from eating a fly amanite. What did occur was a species of delirium that, to quote from Cooke's Plain and Easy Account of British Fungi (pub. 1862), caused one to "prophesy wildly, engage in feats of prodigious physical exertion, and enjoy illusions of miraculous mobility and metamorphosis." Lewis Carroll apparently knew his Cooke—in Alice in Wonderland the caterpillar is puffing a hookah atop a fly amanite, which Alice promptly eats with memorable results.
    Because the thesis that a narcotic mushroom lay at the heart of Indo-European culture was a trifle radical, the Wassons confided in very few people. One of their confidants was Robert Graves, the English poet who was living in balmy isolation on the island of Majorca. The Wassons had become friends with Graves when they collaborated on the historical question of which mushroom the Roman Empress Agrippina had used to poison the Emperor Claudius, the main character in Graves's most popular novel, I, Claudius. Marshaling the available evidence, they decided that she had probably served him a dish of his favorite mushroom, Amanita caesarea, a harmless and tasty fungi except when it is stewed in the juice of Amanita phalloides, the only lethal mushroom available to Agrippina. Because a man poisoned with phalloides lingers on for five or six days, they concluded that a booster poison, most likely colocynth, had to have been administered via enema; and within hours Claudius was dead, and his stepson Nero was the new emperor.
    In September 1952 Graves came across a magazine story that mentioned the discovery of "mushroom stones" at various archeological excavations in Guatemala and Mexico. The archeologists speculated that the stones had been objects of worship, or at least adoration, which suggested the existence in pre-Columbian times of a mushroom cult. Although the Wassons had planned to confine their study to Eurasia, they left for Mexico at the first available opportunity.
    What they found was much more tangible than their European hunt through old folklore and linguistic probabilities. A number of sixteenth-century Spanish chroniclers had actually mentioned the existence of a narcotic mushroom known in the native Nahuatl as teonanacatl, or "God's flesh." And the Franciscan friar Bernard de Sahagun had even gone so far as to describe the alleged effects of teonanacatl:

Some saw in a vision that they would die in war. Some saw in a vision that they would be devoured by wild beasts.... Some saw in a vision that they would become rich, wealthy. Some saw in a vision that they would buy slaves...

    As far as de Sahagun was concerned, this was devil's work, and the Catholic Church had moved vigorously to suppress the mushroom cult.
    The Wassons were banking on the possibility that the cult had not been eradicated in the sixteenth century, but had gone underground. There was some evidence that this might be the case. In 1936 a team of American anthropologists working in the remote village of Huatla de Jimenez reported that they had been allowed to observe, but not participate in, a ceremony that involved psychotropic mushrooms.
    For three years the Wassons followed rumors, cultivated sources, and learned the Indian dialects. In Huatla de Jimenez they became friends with Eunice Pike, the local missionary and someone who was rumored to know quite a bit about the mushroom cult. Only "when evening and darkness come and you are alone with a wise old man or woman whose confidence you have won, by the light of a candle held in the hand and talking in a whisper, you may bring up the subject," Wasson wrote. What they whispered was tantalizing. According to Wasson's sometimes fanciful sources, teonanacatl were gathered before sunrise at the time of the New Moon; they were picked in some areas only by virgins, who wrapped them in banana leaves and took them to the cathedral, where they were left on the altar to be blessed. Then they were passed from curandero (medicine man, healer, shaman, etc.) to curandero Listening to these whispered stories, the Wassons felt like "pilgrims seeking the Grail," an apt analogy, as the mushroom cult was proving comparably elusive. Wasson described the frustration this way:
Perhaps you will learn the names of a number of renowned curanderos, and your emissaries will even promise to deliver them to you, but then you wait and wait and they never come. You will brush past them in the marketplace, and they will know you but you will not know them. The judge in the town hall may be the very man you are seeking; and you may pass the time of day with him, yet never learn that he is your curandero.

    In the summer of 1955 the Wassons hired a muleteer who knew his way around the Oaxacan mountains and set out for Huatla de Jimenez. There, as the twenty-ninth of June became the thirtieth, Gordon became the first outsider to "partake in the agape of the sacred mushrooms." He later coined the word bemushroomed to describe the state he passed into. Strange information flowed through his mind, visions that seemed the "very archetypes of beautiful form and color" and ideas that reminded him of the "Ideas that Plato had talked about"—ideas that impressed the banker from Morgan Guaranty not as the fantasies of an "unhinged imagination," but as a glimpse of a higher order of reality, against which our daily lives are "mere imperfect adumbrations."
    The Wassons kept quiet about their discovery and returned to Huatla de Jimenez several more times. On one occasion they were accompanied by a photographer named Allan Richardson, who photographed the mushroom ceremony; on another they brought Roger Heim, a famous mycologist and the director of France's National Museum of Natural History. Heim succeeded in identifying the mushrooms as a member of the Strophariaceae family, genus Psilocybe, but was stymied when it came to isolating the active element. That problem he passed along to Albert Hofmann at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, who reluctantly agreed to do what he could. "I wanted to assign the investigation to one of my co-workers," Hofmann would ruefully write in his autobiography. "However, nobody showed much eagerness to take on this problem because it was known that LSD and everything connected with it were scarcely popular subjects to the top management."
    In 1958 Hofmann announced that he had synthesized two new substances: psilocybin and psilocin, both of which were indole compounds with a marked similarity to the neurotransmitter serotonin; LSD now had some less potent cousins.

    News of the Wassons' discovery spread slowly but steadily. Robert Graves, writing to Martin Seymour-Smith, mentioned that his "mushroom man is very elated since he actually found the mushroom oracle I sent him after in Mexico, and ate the sacred mushrooms and had them analyzed—and there's the next wonder drug to watch out for. He thinks they were what the worshippers ate at the Eleusinian mysteries to get such terrific visions." When Aldous Huxley learned of it, Wasson's office in the Morgan bank became a stopover on the psychedelic circuit. Osmond, Huxley, and Hubbard all made pilgrimages to hear about being bemushroomed (Hubbard couldn't get over the fact that Wasson had a private dining room with private waiters), but their attempt to recruit the banker failed. Wasson was too absorbed with his own theories, his own discoveries. He "likes to think that his mushrooms are somehow unique and infinitely superior to everything else," Huxley confided to Osmond after lunching with the banker at his "Temple of Mammon." "I tried to disabuse him. But he likes to feel that he had got hold of the One and Only psychedelic—accept no substitutes, none genuine unless sold with the signature of the inventor."
    That particular visit to the Temple came in June 1957 at a time when the Wassons' magnum opus about the Indo-European mushroom cult, Mushrooms, Russia and History, had just appeared in a limited edition of 512 copies, each costing $250. It was a prodigious work of scholarship, but for all its philological and folkloric mastery it was the Divine Mushroom of Mexico that gave the thesis its plausibility. "We have now learned," the Wassons had written, "that many species of these strange growths possess a power such as early man could only have regarded as miraculous. Indeed they may have given to him the very idea of the miraculous, and inspired many of the themes that come down to us in our heritage of folklore.... We have suggested that the divine mushroom played a vital part in shaking loose early man's imagination, in arousing his capacity for self-perception, for awe, wonder, and reverence. They certainly made it easier for him to entertain the idea of God."
    Had Wasson's public exposure been limited to half a thousand copies of a book costing the equivalent of two weeks' pay, our story might have been different. But one day, while recounting his Mexican adventures during lunch at the Century Club, Wasson was overheard by an editor at Time-Life, who invited him to write the experience up and submit it to Life magazine, which had a running feature devoted to true-life adventures. Wasson's account of the mushroom ceremony was published, along with Allan Richardson's pictures, in the July 1957 issue of Life, where it was read by millions, and in particular by a young psychologist named Frank Barron, who was best friends with another young psychologist named Timothy Leary.
    But these are reverberations that properly belong to the future. A better question, for the present, might be: Who was James Moore, and why had he been so eager to accompany Gordon Wasson into the Mexican outback in the summer of 1956?

    As far as Gordon Wasson knew, James Moore was a professor at the University of Delaware. Moore had written to him in the winter of 1956 expressing an interest in the chemistry of Mexican fungi, and upon learning that Wasson was planning another expedition to Huatla de Jimenez that summer had asked to tag along. To sweeten his unsolicited presence, Moore had mentioned a foundation that might underwrite the whole trip, the Geschickter Fund. And sure enough, the Fund had ponied up two thousand dollars to cover expenses. In retrospect, it was barely enough to cover the irritation of Moore himself.
    The man was a complainer. Apparently he had thought a trip to Huatla de Jimenez would be little different from a jaunt to Acapulco; in any case he was unprepared for the diarrhea, the dirt floors, the monotonous food. "I had a terribly bad cold, we damn near starved to death, and I itched all over," was Moore's memory of the journey. To which Wasson has replied: "He was like a landlubber at sea. He got sick to his stomach and hated it all."
    Moore's complaints quickly alienated him from the other members of the expedition, among them Roger Heim, the eminent French mycologist. While Moore grumbled, the others reveled in the raw primitiveness of the adventure. Moore even found the mushrooms a disappointment. While the others soared—"I had the most superb feeling, a feeling of ecstasy," reported Wasson—Moore felt nothing save a disorientation that was compounded by the droning Indian dialects, the dirt floor, and the anarchy of his bowels. Already a thin man, he discovered upon his return to Delaware that he had dropped fifteen pounds. It took him a week to regain his strength, but when he had, he notified Botner that he was ready to work on the bag of mushrooms he had brought back from Huatla de Jimenez.
    Botner was Moore's case officer at the Central Intelligence Agency.
    While Heard and Huxley had been searching for a substance that would open the Door to the mind's higher powers, the Central Intelligence Agency had been looking for a mind-control drug—a Manchurian candidate, to borrow the phrase popularized by Richard Condon's bestselling novel of 1959. Ironically both groups were working the same turf, looking for the answer in that class of drugs that Osmond called psychedelics.
    To understand why the CIA was looking for a mind-control substance, it is necessary to backtrack to World War II and reprise what happened at Dachau, where the medical arm of the German air force had carried out some curious experiments with mescaline. As later synopsized in an intelligence report by the U.S. Navel Technical Mission, the Nazis were looking for a drug that could "eliminate the will of the person examined." Under the auspices of SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr. Plottner (later a professor at the University of Leipzig), mescaline had been mixed with coffee or liquor and given unobtrusively to the subjects Then the subjects were interrogated. According to the Nazi documents, while unable to impose their will upon the subjects, the doctors had been able to elicit the most intimate sort of personal details.
    Although the Nazi mescaline experiments occupied only a few paragraphs in the nearly three hundred-page report—most discussed the famous ice water experiments and other tortures in the name of science—they were paragraphs that struck a responsive chord in the OSS, for the simple reason that the OSS had also been seeking a truth drug. Under the guidance of Winfred Overholser, the director of Saint Elizabeth's, Washington's famous mental hospital, an OSS drug squad had field-tested a number of compounds, including mescaline and scopolamine. Their best luck had come with concentrated liquid marijuana, of all things, which they had injected into cigarettes. They had first used this method to crack the reserve of one August Del Gracio, who was described in the files as a "notorious New York gangster," but its most rigorous test came in a program designed to cleanse the armed forces of suspected communists. Overholser's team would arrive at the interrogation room with a pack of doctored cigarettes and a big pitcher of ice water—intense thirst being a sign that the marijuana was working. Except for one nonsmoker, they broke every soldier they interrogated.
    When the CIA was chartered in 1947, it revived its wartime predecessors' fascination with truth drugs like scopolamine and liquid marijuana. And it also authorized an ambitious search for new and better mind drugs. Within the Technical Services Staff, the Agency's gizmo and gadget boys, was a small semisecret subsection known as the Chemical Division. The Chemical Division was run by a Cal-Tech chemist named Sid Gottlieb, a club-footed square-dance enthusiast who rose every morning at dawn to milk his pet goats before driving to the office and a day filled with mind warfare and germ weapons. Gottlieb also had a pronounced stutter and a patron in the higher reaches of the Agency, a man named Richard Helms. Enamored with the possibilities of chemical warfare on the consciousness level, it was Helms who persuaded Allen Dulles, the then director of the CIA, to authorize the investigation of a variety of "biological and chemical materials."
    On April 13, 1953, while Huxley was dashing off that enthusiastic note to Osmond concerning mescaline, the CIA formally approved MKULTRA, and diverted $300,000 to fund its initial investigations. Although MK-ULTRA investigated drugs as diverse as nicotine and cocaine, a large part of its interest and excitement centered on LSD. Indeed, the CIA considered LSD to be of such promise that in November 1953 they sent two men with a black bag full of cash to buy up Sandoz's entire supply, which they thought was ten kilos.
    The ten-kilo figure was the result of faulty arithmetic. When the two agents arrived in Basle with their satchel containing $240,000, they learned that Sandoz's total output since 1943 was a mere forty grams—not even two ounces. Still, a bargain was struck. The Swiss agreed not only to supply the Agency with 100 grams of LSD a week, but also keep them apprised of who else was requesting the drug.
    Nevertheless, the CIA was uneasy about having to rely entirely on the neutral Swiss, and privately they began pressing the American chemical company of Eli Lilly to come up with a rival synthesis. One of the reasons LSD was so expensive and rare was because it required a supply of ergot fungus, which was notoriously difficult to cultivate. The obvious answer was to come up with a synthesis that bypassed ergot completely, using synthetic corollaries, and in October 1954 Eli Lilly announced that they had succeeded in creating an LSD made totally from available chemicals. Besides giving the CIA a domestic supplier, the Lilly synthesis meant that unlimited supplies of LSD were now available. And this, as the memo to Allen Dulles noted, meant that LSD could finally be taken seriously as a chemical warfare agent.
    Because the CIA lacked the manpower to run all the complicated behavioral and physiological experiments that Gottlieb had in mind, the Agency turned to the psychological community, particularly to those Lab Madness researchers who were already investigating LSD's relation to mental illness. Most were eager to help, provided the Agency picked up the tab. They had few moral qualms: if the CIA wanted to finance basic research in an area ignored by traditional organizations like the National Institute of Mental Health, where was the problem?
    Hiding itself behind two respectable fronts, the Josiah Macy Foundation and the Geschickter Fund for Medical Research, the CIA began funneling dollars to an intercontinental network that rivaled the one being forged by Huxley and Hubbard. Early on they contacted Rinkel and Hyde at Mass. Mental Health, and with Hyde as the principal contact began pouring as much as $40,000 a year into LSD work. Similar approaches were made to Harold Abramson in New York, Carl Pfieffer at the University of Illinois, and Harold Hodge at the University of Rochester. In general the money was earmarked for research that most scientists, in any other climate but that of the Cold War, would have found ethically shady. Harold Abramson, for example, received $85,000 to produce

operationally pertinent materials along the following lines: a. Disturbance of Memory; b. Discrediting by Aberrant Behavior; c. Alteration of Sex Patterns; d. Eliciting of Information; e. Suggestibility; f. Creation of Dependence.

    In another CIA-funded experiment, seven drug addicts at a Lexington, Kentucky, hospital were given LSD for seventy-seven days, with dosages doubled and quadrupled as tolerance built up.
    Not all the research was done in the hinterlands, though. Within the CIA itself, Gottlieb and his associates were taking LSD regularly, tripping at the office, at Agency parties, measuring their mental equilibrium against those of their colleagues. Turn your back in the morning and some wiseacre would slip a few micrograms into your coffee. It was a game played with the most exalted of weapons, the mind, and sometimes embarrassing things happened. Case-hardened spooks would break down crying or go all gooey about the "brotherhood of man." Once or twice things went really awry, with paranoid agents escaping into the bustle of downtown Washington, their anxious colleagues in hot pursuit. After one spectacular chase the quarry was finally run to ground in Virginia, where they found him crouched under a fountain, babbling about those "terrible monster(s) with fantastic eyes" that had pursued him across Washington. Indeed every car he met had sent a jolt of terror through his body.
    It was in this spirit that Gottlieb's group invited their unsuspecting opposite numbers in the Army Chemical Corps for a three-day working holiday in November 1953. Naturally there was going to be some carousing, and naturally in some cases the punch would be spiked. Although Gottlieb had been instructed to clear any outside use of LSD with his superiors, he apparently considered the Army scientists to be exempt from that ruling. They were pros and as such would be a worthy test for any mind-control drug.
    The party would have been a great success if only one of the Army scientists, a Dr. Frank Olson, hadn't committed suicide two days later. Thinking he had lost his mind, Olson had jumped out of a New York hotel room window. The flap inside the Agency almost killed MKULTRA.
    Now the CIA is nothing if not labyrinthine, and while MK-ULTRA was studying the nefarious potentials of LSD, another CIA project, ARTICHOKE, was scouring the globe for psychotropic plants. In 1952 a CIA-funded scientist had been sent to Mexico to gather samples of mind-altering plants, in particular the seeds from a shrub called the piule. He had returned with pounds of material and a rumor that deep in the Mexican mountains there existed a psychotropic mushroom cult that dated back to the Aztecs. The next summer, at roughly the same moment Gordon and Valentina Wasson were embarking on their quest, a CIA scientist was arriving in Mexico with a similar brief: locate the mushroom sect and acquire samples.
    To be bested by a New York banker who wanted to prove a maverick historical thesis that had been nagging at him for the last twenty years must have been galling for the CIA, what with its unlimited funds and its Caligarian vision of chemical power; but to the intelligence agency's credit, it knew of Wasson's discovery almost immediately. A Mexican botanist cabled details a few days after Wasson returned from Huatla de Jimenez. Learning that Wasson planned to return the next summer leading a team that included the noted French mycologist Roger Heim, the Agency decided to insinuate its own man into the group in the person of James Moore, a contract chemist with ARTICHOKE. It used its conduit, the Geschickter Fund, to sweeten the deal.
    Moore's nasty few weeks in Mexico were immaterial to his bosses at Langley: what was important was that he had returned with plenty of the prize mushrooms. And should he succeed in isolating the psychoactive element, then it was "quite possible," memoed Sid Gottlieb, that the new drug would "remain an agency secret." So to be bested by the same Swiss chemist and the same Swiss chemical company who had once controlled the world supply of LSD must have been galling. Once again the Agency had to apply to Sandoz—this time for its supply of psilocybin.

    One of the problems the CIA grappled with in its search for a mind-control drug was the problem of how to field-test the various candidates. You could run experiments on imprisoned junkies and impoverished college students, but this was a far cry from knowing whether the drug could crack open a potential double agent or a State Department communist. To address this problem the CIA converted one of its San Francisco safe houses into a behavioral field laboratory. The house, located on Telegraph Avenue, was actually a brothel equipped with two-way mirrors and a squad of prostitutes under the supervision of former narcotics agent George White, who was famous as the man who had broken August Del Gracio with liquid marijuana back during the OSS days. The idea. was that the prostitutes would lure visiting businessmen back to the house, where they would then be unobtrusively dosed with LSD or psilocybin, or any of the other mind-control candidates. From a budgetary standpoint the brothel was an ingenious idea and the whole operation was dubbed, with characteristic preppie humor, Operation Midnight Climax.
    We can only guess what it was like to visit the Other World under CIA auspices, but one of the first things the randy, hallucinating businessman probably focused on was the decor. The CIA decorators hadn't been able to decide whether the proper ambiance was fin de siècle decadent or Fifties chic. Swatches of African fabric and textile hangings competed with Toulouse Lautrec reproductions of Can Can girls kicking up a storm. The tables were covered with black velvet, the curtains in the bedroom were red, those in the hall plaid, with candy-striped ones in the kitchen.
    The drugs were usually administered in a drink, but not always. In one series of experiments LSD was sprayed into the bathroom just before the hapless john wandered in to use it.
    It was operations like Midnight Climax that the CIA's Inspector General had in mind when he raised, in a 1963 analysis of MK-ULTRA, the spectre of ethics. That an arm of the U.S. government had been testing behavior-change drugs on unsuspecting U.S. citizens didn't alarm the Inspector General so much as what might happen if the unsuspecting public ever found out. The secrecy of MK-ULTRA was vital, he warned, not only to protect the reputation of the Agency, but also its outside sources. Noting that "research in the manipulation of human behavior is considered by many authorities in medicine and related fields to be professionally unethical," he warned that loose lips could place the professional reputations of the CIA's many contract researchers in "jeopardy."

    By the time the Inspector General raised these ethical issues the CIA had supposedly lost interest in LSD, although it was still testing other mind drugs, most of which would find their way into the psychedelic underground of the 1970s. Presumably the CIA's active interest in LSD ended sometime around 1958, although the Agency continued to keep tabs on the research scene, a process made infinitely easier by the fact that the Josiah Macy Foundation, an occasional Agency conduit, had begun holding regular LSD conferences in 1955—which is not to impute insincere motives to the Macy Foundation: its interest in LSD was genuine, and had been ever since its medical director, Frank Fremont-Smith, spent an afternoon in Harold Abramson's lab watching Siamese fighting fish drugged with LSD.
    The Macy conferences synopsized the changing direction of LSD research. The first, in 1955, brought together most of the Lab Madness people. The second, four years later, was dominated by the therapists: the Dutchman Van Rijn, the Englishman Sandison, Hoffer from Canada, and a whole platoon from Los Angeles, including Sidney Cohen, Betty Eisner, and the psychiatric team of Chandler and Hartman. Harold Abramson of the aforementioned Siamese fighting fish was also there, and at one point, in an attempt to arrive at a limited consensus regarding LSD, he proposed six points of general agreement:

a) It is pharmacologically safe; very large doses may be given without tissue damage.
b) It is effective in small doses for therapeutic interviews in which the therapist is definitely involved.
c) The patient is conscious, cooperative, and better able to integrate material with psychodynamic significance.
d) The patient undergoes an essentially elated disturbance in ego function, which is also accompanied by integrative forces, so that it may be thought of as "hebesynthesis" rather than narcosynthesis.
e) The drug may be given repeatedly. There is no evidence of addiction. The pharmacological effects usually wear off within 12 hours.
f) Patients usually like the experience of taking LSD in the dose range stated.

    This was by no means a universally accepted list. The Lab Madness researchers still had problems with the whole idea that a drug they had used to make people crazy was now being used to make them well. A number of the therapists blanched at hebesynthesis as an organizing title—what an awkward product of scientific language mangling that was. But they could understand the motive that had prompted Abramson to coin it. Betty Eisner mentioned how she and Cohen referred to that curious sunlit place in the mind where conflicts disappeared as the integrative experience. But she became tongue-tied as soon as she tried to expand on that: "Obviously the language is bad; I am floundering," she apologized. Then Abram Hoffer volunteered that up in Canada they were calling it the psychedelic experience. What was that, someone asked. "Psychedelic," repeated Hoffer. "I think Dr. Osmond coined it. It comes from the Greek, meaning 'mind-manifesting.'"
    Besides introducing the word that would. ultimately triumph in the public consciousness, Hoffer also briefed his colleagues on the startling way in which he and Osmond were now using LSD. Unlike most of the therapists at the Macy conference, they were not using small doses to "liquefy" defenses, thus speeding up the time needed for a successful treatment. Using Hubbard's curious techniques, they had begun giving their patients massive doses and then guiding them, if they could, into that part of the Other World where egos melted and something resembling a spiritual rebirth occurred. As Hoffer described it, there was scarcely any psychotherapy involved at all: "They come in one day. They know they are going to take a treatment, but they know nothing about what it is. We take a psychiatric history, to establish a diagnosis. That is on day one. On day two, they have the LSD. On day three they are discharged. We make it an absolute point not to give them psychotherapy outside of the LSD experience. We do no follow-up except to find out whether or not they are drinking. The results are that fifty percent of these people are changed."
    Those were astonishing figures, particularly since Osmond and Hoffer were not working with the usual mix of neurotics and volunteers, but with chronic alcoholics, recommended by Alcoholics Anonymous, or brought in off the street by the police. Only those alcoholics who have had the transcendental experience improved, Hoffer claimed "Those who have not had the transcendental experience are not changed. They continue to drink. The large proportion of those who have had it are changed. But this is not an invariable rule."
    Of course the alcoholics didn't just stumble into the psychedelic state. They were led there using a variety of psychological and environmental tricks. We use "sound and music," Hoffer explained, "visual stimuli, such as paintings by Van Gogh; tactile stimuli, such as various smooth or rough objects for the patient to handle. We also take advantage of the heightened suggestibility of the subjects by using persuasion, suggestion, and reiterated demand, with the theme of hope and possibility of change." The results were so promising, he said, that they were thinking of introducing a businessman's special, which would take only a weekend.
    Hoffer's presentation of what would become known as psychedelic therapy—as distinguished from the mainstream small dose/traditional psychotherapy that became known as psycholytic therapy—disturbed a number of therapists. They questioned the wisdom of using such large dosages in a one-shot situation. "I start the patient with small doses increasing the dosage gradually and working through problems to get to that point," said Betty Eisner. "That is the point, I think." "Seventy-five percent of patients will get to the point if they are given enough LSD," Hoffer retorted. And they were disturbed by the mystical overtones that kept creeping into the discussion. What did the Dutchman Van Rijn mean when he talked about wanting "to change something in the totality of the person"?
    Anecdotes started to rise to the surface, slicing through the murky analytical jargon. A number of therapists talked about the serendipitous side effects that they sometimes saw in their patients. They would be in the middle of a postsession interview, perhaps two or three weeks after the original LSD session, and the patient would suddenly say, "Oh and the headache is gone too." What headache? they'd ask. Why the headache I've had for ten or fifteen years, would be the answer. Betty Eisner told how she had once stayed high for three days, which was tolerable since it was a good trip. Had it been bad, who knows what she might have done to herself. Others talked about how in some people the LSD state seemed to spontaneously reoccur—the first whisper of what would later become famous as the flashback. One therapist told of an ex-patient who had re-experienced the LSD state some five years after his original session. But others questioned the whole concept of a flashback. Just because someone had a dissociative experience under LSD one month didn't mean that later dissociative experiences could be attributed to LSD. This was a case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning said one.
    There were a few genuine gleams of insight, however, the most important being the deepening appreciation of just how crucial set and setting really were. Most of the therapists had long ago come to terms with the way LSD magnified the environment, but they were Just beginning to admit that their own personalities, and even their own professional assumptions, were somehow influencing what happened in the LSD sessions. As Arthur Chandler observed, his partner, Mortimer Hartman, was always eliciting violent sexual fantasies, while he himself never got violent sex fantasies, but rather a high proportion of paranoid delusions, something Betty Eisner said she rarely saw.
    But mostly there were dozens of questions that required fresh attention. How did LSD "liquidate" a person's psychic defenses? What kind of therapeutic window did this liquidation open? And how could a therapist best exploit it? Why were some people unable to find the integrative or psychedelic state? How come roughly a quarter of those who took LSD had no reaction? On a more fundamental level, was it really wise to speed up the therapeutic process, to say nothing of reducing it to one climactic session? As the convention adjourned, Sidney Cohen stood up and announced that he was collecting data on side effects and adverse reactions, and would appreciate whatever information those assembled could give him.
    The future of LSD research seemed bright, but already forces were in motion that would change what seemed a complex but ultimately solvable scientific problem into a complex and apparently insoluble social problem.

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