|Institution:||University of Iceland|
|Full text PDF:||http://hdl.handle.net/1946/20296|
In the middle of the twentieth century, Western writers, chemists, anthropologists and ethnobotanists introduced a hitherto oblivious Western culture to the peculiar effects of what is now called “psychedelic drugs.” Although many of these substances had been well known outside the Western world, often for thousands of years, they were completely novel to their new-found societies. The influence of psychedelics on the hippie generations of the 1960s and beyond was substantial and inspired important breakthroughs of the computer age, as well as in psychology, quantum theory, molecular biology, art and literature. Despite this, the cultural backlash against psychedelics caused governments of the sixties to ban the use and research of these compounds, forcing scientists, artists and writers to do their research outside the law. In the early 21st century there is an ever growing need for re-evaluation of political systems, ideology and man’s relationship to nature. This has coincided with a resurgence of legitimate psychedelic research conducted all over the world that seems to suggest that psychedelics can have positive effects on their users and their quality of life, if taken in a controlled environment. Psychedelic literature of the 20th century often faced ridicule in the face of Nixon and Reagan era anti-drug propaganda at the same time that it provided a healthy counterbalance to the political ideologies of these respective administrations. It often displayed poetic prose that pointed well beyond its time and culture, acting as a natural bridge between Western psychedelia and Eastern philosophy and arguably leaving powerful ideas for the 21st century to play with.