A NYTimes book review
October 19, 2002 6:15 AM   Subscribe

A NYTimes book review of Richard Davenport-Hines' 'The Pursuit of Oblivion' by Christine Kenneally talks about trying to help erase the stigma of drug use by placing it in a historical context that 'sees it as part of the repertoire of normal human activities'. Looks like one to put on the shelf next to 'Writing on Drugs' and 'Food of the Gods' :D but I was also thinking it might help raise popular awareness that might support research efforts like HRI's and MAPS!
posted by kliuless (5 comments total)
Thanks for the heads up on The Pursuit of Oblivion and the thoughtful reminder in general--but tell me, what does that riff on Ferngully: The Last Rainforest have to with erasing the stigma of drug use?
[Otto] Whoa dude, you musta been high when you wrote that, man...[/Otto]
Or am I having a flashback in theory or practice?
Apart from that, well posted.
posted by y2karl at 2:16 PM on October 19, 2002

trying to help erase the stigma of drug use

Placing drugs into a historical context is important but it doesnt remove the social stigma. Drugs go back to primitive man indeed its part of the animal kingdom and can't really be classified as a human only trait. How we deal with the human desire for drugs and the potential destruction it can cause is somthing each generation has to deal with. It has always been with us and always will be. One only has to walk the streets of Baltimore at night to see what a city with a population of %10 heroin users can do to a society and why its a decision everyone is involved in not just the drug users.
posted by stbalbach at 3:08 PM on October 19, 2002

just hopped up on day-quil!

what does that riff on Ferngully: The Last Rainforest have to with erasing the stigma of drug use?

it sort of came near the end: "Speaking of magic plants, it should be mentioned that rain forest movies are perhaps the only mainstream movie sub-genre that does not demonize drugs..."

erik davis is prolly my favorite non-fiction writer right now and i was just reading through some of his older stuff and thought that essay was pretty funny. perhaps 'Victorian Dope' or 'Welcome to the K-Hole' would have been more apropo :D

Placing drugs into a historical context is important but it doesnt remove the social stigma.

i was thinking raising awareness and research to foster understanding might help. as it is drugs are by and large kind of considered 'counter-cultural', 'subversive' and 'criminal' and stuff. hence, their easy dismissal by 'society' and not worthy of serious inquiry.

to a degree the stigma i believe is perhaps largely deserved. alexander shulgin, who synthesized MDMA, for instance has expressed dissatisfaction at its appropriation as a party drug.
"I don't think it's being used the way it should." He disapproves of the potentially dangerous doses clubbers often take, and he worries that recreational use of his drugs will overshadow their higher purpose. Psychedelics are a means for adults to gain insight into themselves, Shulgin says. "The best words I can use are research tools."
perhaps that's naive of him? i dunno, but recreational use and abuse has of course been an integral part of the drug experience, or like as ethan brown puts it in some kind of dialectical narrative, "the schism between those who see psychedelics as a way to expand the senses and those who see them as a method to unlock the mind."

and the stigma is perhaps greatly deserved for the kind of urban blight you describe that reach epidemiological proportions. but i can't help thinking that drugs are an escape in such situations, a symptom of poverty and hopelessness, and not the cause of it!

indeed its part of the animal kingdom

i kind of wondered if cows ever nibbled on the shrooms :D
posted by kliuless at 5:24 PM on October 19, 2002

Reality itself is a drug, and, like all drugs, a pitiful substitute for the real thing.
Thanks for the tipoff kliu. I'm putting next week's crack money down on this book.
posted by quercus at 5:25 PM on October 19, 2002

Great lead on the Davenport-Hines volume, thanks.

That aside, citing Erik Davis on drug use is like quoting John Ashcroft on freedom of expression: you are guarandamnteed to get one-and-only-one side of a deeply multifacted debate.
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:37 AM on October 20, 2002

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