Magico-Psychedelic Realism

The Aleph is what happens when consciousness recognizes the allegory of itself and communicates with itself as through a mirror, world of divinity communicating with the earthly realm, signaling like a satellite of love.

What if Borges had “accounted” for his encounter: his experience of simultaneity, oneness, and infinity? What if he hinted, for instance, that his friend Carlos had slipped him acid: a drug first synthesized in the laboratory of Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hoffman two years prior, on April 19, 1943? (Borges published “The Aleph” in 1945.) Or, given that the postscript attached to story’s end is dated 1943, perhaps it was mescaline, a synthetic variant of peyote.

Did Borges and other magical realists experiment with psychedelics? How about indigenous plant medicines? Is that why Borges denounces the experience, calling the thing he encountered “a false Aleph” at story’s end? Is its illumination a profanation of the divine?

Forgetfulness wears away at the glimpse of paradise gleaned while high, much as it wears away at Borges’s memory of the face of his beloved Beatriz.

Borges and Huxley pair well together, thinks the Narrator. Both are blind prophets: mind manifesters gifted with inner sight.

Tuesday April 20, 2021

Trees bloom, flowers grow wild in the grass as Bicycle Day gives way to 4/20. Cardinals alight on branches, visiting throughout the day. I delve again into World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love’s a Real Thing. The cover notes describe the compilation as “an African assimilation of the psychedelic revolution — distorted, political, hallucinogenic, and, of course, danceable. Thousands of miles from the Summer of Love’s utopian origins, yet somehow, not so far away…” It’s an amazing collection: twelve tracks of funky West African psychedelia from the early 1970s. Tracks like Moussa Doumbia’s “Keleya.”

External influences interact with indigenous traditions and vice versa. “Acid rock as something familiar if not entirely home-grown,” writes Ronnie Graham, who hears on the album “the African beats missing from Monterey and which Woodstock lacked.” One longs for a transnational history of psychedelia. Brazil, Japan, Germany, the countries of West Africa: let us tell of how minds manifested in these countries. In the meantime, though, let Luaka Bop and its World Psychedelic Classics series serve as our guide.

Thursday September 19, 2019

Honey bees forage around a fence overgrown with ivy, the latter’s blooms providing the bees with sustenance this time of year, the early weeks of autumn. I sit beside them, imagining myself a visitor to their utopia, newly arrived via miniature Montgolfier balloon. A package arrives by mail containing Brian Blomerth’s beautiful new graphic novel Bicycle Day. The bees doing their thing, I enter the book’s retelling of the story of “mystic chemist” Albert Hoffman’s April 19, 1943 discovery of LSD. Intense stuff, particularly upon entering the trip proper, the famous bicycle ride home from Sandoz. In some sense, these scenes reinvent the classic superhero tale: the sudden, terrifying discovery of superpower. Hoffman didn’t know what was happening: the event was without precedent, a burst of pure novelty. He feared he’d lost his mind until his blissful day after, a time of rainbow-colored well-being and renewal. “Everything Glistening in the Soft Fresh Light,” he wrote afterwards of the experience. “The World was as if…Newly Created.”