Thursday, August 23, 2012


Never Before Has a Boy Wanted More

"I saw a spider on the wall and the spider says, 'hello.' And I said, 'hello, yourself.'"
Famed author and neurologist, etc. , Oliver Sacks, wrote about doing drugs for this week's New Yorker. In the event that you're not a subscriber OR that this here sentence is morphing into a cartoon about that gang of tiny pink cats who keep trying to zip you up into your sleeping bag, you can simply listen to him speak on the subject over at their podcast.

22 Comments / Post A Comment


Talking spiders (ok spiders in general) are EXACTLY WHY I HAVE NEVER TRIED DRUGS. Any drugs. The idea of hallucinating terrifies me.


@MoonBat I'm with you. I'm certain I would have a perma-trip involving spiders.

Caitlin Podiak

@OhMyGoshYouGuys I am terrified of spiders and I enjoy tripping. Once I was sitting outside by a fire and I saw a daddy longlegs near my feet and it looked crazy enormous, and then I started imagining that there were lots of spiders crawling all over every inch of ground but I knew on some level that they probably weren't really there, and when I asked my boyfriend he assured me that while the daddy longlegs was quite large, it wasn't coming after me, and there were definitely not spiders crawling all over every inch of ground, and since I trust my boyfriend I was able to get over it and move on.

That is the only real spider tripping freakout I have ever had, and it wasn't that scary. Sometimes, deep within the darkest point of a particularly intense trip, I'll have a sort of internal hallucination about some archetypical spider figure that represents all my fears in general, but overall I think that tripping has actually helped me confront and somewhat reduce this lifelong phobia. I am less scared of spiders when I am on drugs because I feel filled with benevolence and love and connectedness with everything in the universe and it seems mean and stingy and shallow not to at least try to extend that feeling to include bugs just because they are ugly and have too many legs.


that is very appreciated!@k


Did you just say "Hello"?

No, I said 'allo, but that's close enough.


@Brunhilde Don't go THAT way! Never go that way!


@Chrestomanci If she'd have kept going that way, she would have gone straight to the castle!


@Brunhilde I still don't understand why she didn't go inside and have a cup of tea with the misses. I would have!

Judith Slutler

Oliver Sachs is the oddest person EVER as far as I can tell from listening to all the Radiolab episodes (HE WANTS TO KEEP RARE EARTH MAGNETS IN HIS POCKETS TO HELP HIM FIND MAGNETIC NORTH AND HIS HOUSEKEEPER MAKES HIM THE SAME MEALS EVERY WEEK SO HE NEVER HAS TO EXERCISE SELF-CONTROL IN HIS FOOD CHOICES!) so I can't even imagine what he would be like on drugs.


@Emmanuelle Cunt Ha ha ha ha ha, I forgot about the rare earth magnets. Maybe he is less neurotic on drugs? Did you know he also has prosopagnosia - he can't recognize faces, even his own! I love Oliver Sacks.


@Emmanuelle Cunt His overwhelming, otherworldly weirdness is just part of his charm.


Yes! Can we talk about this? I did NOT GET this article. I'm not at all familiar with the author, so maybe it's just his style, but I found the writing kind of...pretentious? There's a whole bit about him making some concoction to allow him to see “true indigo", and it reads like this whole long justification about how this is a very philosophical pursuit, of COURSE, and ever so high minded, and not just some sort of junkie binge, OH NO, there's a PURPOSE to it. And then he describes putting together "A dash of LSD, for visions, with some amphetamines to keep me going, and just a HINT of cannabis"...as if it's some sort of delightfully insouciant recipe for lemon sea bass and fennel foam. Oh no, he's not trying to get high, you see, it's all in the pursuit of a higher purpose! His is the life of the mind, gentle reader! I might be bringing in my own experience too much though, just because I know people who struggle with addiction and it's NOT some cutesy, intellectual romp. However, those people are usually honest about their struggles, which grated when reading the author's tone of forced breezyness.

And the end, where he's then just like "Oh, and then I never did amphetamines again". And I'm on the subway screaming "I read 4 pages of this, and that's your take-home for me?" I really expected something more out of it, and really wondered what the point of any of it was.


@jule_b_sorry I confess I haven't read the article because I don't have a subscription. But for me, taking LSD was a spiritual experience. I mean, sometimes I took it just to party and that was fun but on other occasions it led me to this sense of connection and 'one with everything-ness' (I'm having trouble not talking in cliches here). And it was never a 'junkie binge'. I know I'm lucky that I was able to take drugs recreationally and I'm sorry that your loved ones have struggled with addiction. I am assuming that Sachs was like me and falls into the romp rather than struggle category. But I should probably find the article to read before commenting further!

Marquise de Morville

@jule_b_sorry He's a biologist/neurologist and writer. So I think for him it was a research thing with himself as the test subject and therefore disconnected from the issues with addiction.


@jule_b_sorry Not every drug experience leads to addiction. Experimentation =/= Abuse.


@jule_b_sorry Oliver Sachs is someone who, yes, might smack of pretentiousness the first time you read him. But I urge you to pick up his books - An Anthropologist on Mars, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat are two books that delve into serious mental illness and he tries to inhabit what these patients must be inhabiting. I think he has a highbrow writing style because, you know, he's old and British and went to Oxford, so he has fun with language, but I wouldn't call him a blowhard or anything. He's actually incredibly genuine and just plain curious about the world.


@yrouttasight Right, but the point of the story is that he was doing it every single weekend for a really long period of time (along with combinations of other drugs). He even gets the DTs, which is a serious sign of abuse and withdrawl. He also mentions his friends being very concerned, but sort of glosses over that fact.

He also talked about doing opiates...I kind of feel I'm getting jumped on as a moralistic tut-tutter by people who haven't read the story, and who are for some reason more willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt about a story they haven't read, (and not giving the same benefit to someone who actually read the story).


@jule_b_sorry I don't think anyone is calling you a moralistic tut-tutter. He didn't go right out and say how troubled he was when he was taking these drugs, but the stories, as I'm sure he'd agree, speak for themselves. He had a pivotal moment when he realized he'd literally spent 12 hours watching his shirt sleeve on the hanger, and that pointed to what being a drug addict (even recreational use on the weekends) can do to your time/your life. I think his very honest description of DT shows his own willingness to expose just how addicted he'd become. I mean, he's lucky he had that epiphany about being this century's great neuroscientist/writer and turned his life around, or else the story could have ended up very differently.

If anyone's giving the author the benefit of the doubt, it's because they know his background (through Radiolab/his books/the New Yorker). "Pretentious" might not be exactly the wrong word for him, but it'd be behind many more laudatory words, because he's generally really funny and observant, and the joy he gets from looking into the human condition is contagious.


@Gone Away Lass It's pretty spectacular, I would recommend listening when you get home!

all the bacon and eggs

Finally, the bf's subscription to the New Yorker pays off! Can't wait to read this when I get home tonight.


JANE! I am so glad you posted this! I was going to send the article to The Hairpin to see if you'd post it, because I just enjoyed it immensely when I read it yesterday, and Oliver Sachs is like an old, British Santa Claus who always brings stories which delight. So - thank you!


I once was on acid and instead of spiders talking to me, the stars started talking to me. They gave me some very good advice that I refused to follow. Oh well.

Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account