The Guardian (USA)

From Al­dous Hux­ley to the Bea­tles: how LSD has in­spired art

- Ni­cola Davis Narcotic Drugs · Society · Aldous Huxley · Aldous Huxley · Thomas Henry Huxley · The Beatles · John Lennon · George Harrison · Paul McCartney · LSD (group) · Lucy In The Sky · Susan Sarandon · Joe Roberts

While the neu­ropsy­chophar­ma­col­o­gist David Nutt and col­leagues cam­paign for rules around psychedeli­cs to change to aid re­search, such drugs have a long history in cre­ative cir­cles.

LSD was im­por­tant to the Bea­tles, whose song Lucy in the Sky With Di­a­monds is thought to be a nod to the drug, with psychedeli­cs re­ferred to in Day Trip­per among oth­ers. LSD is also thought to have played an im­por­tant role in the cre­ation of the al­bum Re­volver. John Len­non and Ge­orge Har­ri­son were en­thu­si­as­tic about tak­ing the drug, whereas it took Paul McCart­ney some time to be­gin tak­ing it.

In Novem­ber 1963, as Al­dous Hux­ley lay dy­ing from cancer, he asked his wife, Laura, to give him LSD. The re­sults were recorded in a let­ter from Laura to Hux­ley’s brother. “Sud­denly he had ac­cepted the fact of death; he had taken this mok­sha medicine in which he be­lieved. He was do­ing what he had writ­ten in [his utopian novel] Is­land [which fea­tures psy­che­delic drug use], and I had the feel­ing that he was in­ter­ested and re­lieved and quiet,” she writes.

De­sign­ers in­clud­ing Michael English and Nigel Way­mouth cre­ated hun­dreds of bright, swirling posters during the late 60s. Writ­ing in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, the founder of Oz magazine, Richard Neville, re­mem­bered English and Way­mouth telling him that “all our ideas come from trips”.

While psy­che­delic trips are of­ten con­nected with artists from the 1960s, modern painters have also ex­plored the im­pact of mind-al­ter­ing drugs. Among them is Joe Roberts, who has pro­duced works in­spired by trips from LSD, DMT, and psilo­cy­bin. In 2018, he ex­plained his think­ing: “Per­haps the most im­por­tant thing is to in­spire some­one to see for them­selves what the psy­che­delic ex­pe­ri­ence is. I think they are in­cred­i­ble tools or teach­ers that we have ac­cess to, and they should be used. And like any tool, they should be treated with re­spect and used with cau­tion.”

Within the act­ing com­mu­nity, Su­san Saran­don is among those known to ad­vo­cate for psy­che­delic drugs, in­clud­ing LSD. “It’s not go­ing to solve all your prob­lems,” Saran­don told the Daily Beast “But, yes, I’m to­tally sup­port­ive of that means to re­frame your uni­verse.”

 ??  ?? The Bea­tles in 1967, the year they recorded Lucy in the Sky With Di­a­monds. Pho­to­graph: Mark and Colleen Hay­ward/Getty
The Bea­tles in 1967, the year they recorded Lucy in the Sky With Di­a­monds. Pho­to­graph: Mark and Colleen Hay­ward/Getty
 ??  ?? The nov­el­ist Al­dous Hux­ley with his wife, Laura. Pho­to­graph: AP
The nov­el­ist Al­dous Hux­ley with his wife, Laura. Pho­to­graph: AP

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