Saturday, September 09, 2006

Walter Benjamin and Hashish

From Very Important Potheads: Debunking Myths About Marijuana


Just as in its 6/26 review of a new Timothy Leary biography (see VIPblog), the New Yorker has again concluded that those who think taking psychedelics leads to a spiritual experience are only getting what they look for. In an August 21 review of VIP Walter Benjamin's "On Hashish," Adam Kirsch writes, "If Benjamin discovered a mystic language in his hashish trance, it is because he so fervently wanted to discover it." Benjamin's attempts to unite the right-brain sense of connection to the divine with the left brain's meager attempts to describe the experience in language are pooh-poohed by Kirsch, especially when hashish is used as a catalyst.

Benjamin theorizes that "God makes things knowable in their names," but discovers, "We stretch out our arms full of love, eager to embrace what we have in mind. Scarcely have we touched it, however, than it disilusions us completely. The object of our attention suddenly fades at the touch of language." Of Benjamin's initial description of his hashish experience, "Boundless goodwill. Falling away of neurotic-obsessive anxiety complexes," Kirsch summarizes, "He felt mellow."

But is one person's mellow the same as another? That speaks to notions of experience which we was Benjamin's forte, his phantasmagoric sensory ideals. anyways. lots more pot head stuff over there

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