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April 11, 2009
John Wilcock - January 5, 2008

 

  The column of lasting insignificance
     


also posted:



2011
November 26 2011
November 19, 2011
November 12, 2011
November 5, 2011
October 29, 2011
October 22, 2011
October 15, 2011
October 8, 2011
October 1, 2011
September 24, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 10, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 27, 2011
August 20, 2011
August 13, 2011
August 6, 2011
July 30, 2011
July 23, 2011
July 16, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 11, 2011
June 4, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 21, 2011
May 14, 2011
May 7, 2011
April 30, 2011
April 23, 2011
April 16, 2011
April 9, 2011
April 2, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 19, 2011
March 12, 2011
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011
January 29, 2011
January 22, 2011
January 15, 2011
January 6, 2011

2010
December 25, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 11, 2010
December 4, 2010
November 27, 2010
November 20, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 6, 2010
October 30, 2010
October 23, 2010
October 16, 2010
October 9, 2010
October 2, 2010
September 25, 2010
September 18, 2010
September 11, 2010
September 4, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 21, 2010
August 14, 2010
August 7, 2010
July 31, 2010
July 24, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 10, 2010
July 3, 2010
June 26, 2010
June 19, 2010
June 12, 2010
June 5, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 15, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 1, 2010
April 24, 2010
April 17, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 3, 2010
March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 6, 2010
February 27, 2010
February 20, 2010
February 13, 2010
February 6, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 23, 2010
January 16, 2010
January 9, 2010
January 2, 2010

2009
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 12, 2009
December 5, 2009
November 28, 2009
November 21, 2009
November 14, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 17, 2009
October 10, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 26, 2009
September 19, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 5, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 8, 2009
August 1, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 11, 2009
July 4, 2009
June 27, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 13, 2009
June 6, 2009
May 30, 2009
May 23, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 9, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 25, 2009
April 18, 2009
April 11, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 28, 2009
March 21, 2009
March 14, 2009
March 7, 2009
February 28, 2009
February 21, 2009
February 14, 2009
February 7, 2009
January 31, 2009
January 24, 2009
January 17, 2009
January 3, 2009

2008
December 27, 2008
December 20, 2008
December 13, 2008
December 6, 2008
November 29, 2008
November 22, 2008
November 15, 2008
November 8, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 25, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
September 27, 2008
September 20, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 6, 2008
August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
August 16, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 12, 2008
July 5, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 21, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 7, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 17, 2008
May 10, 2008
May 3, 2008
April 26, 2008
April 19, 2008
April 12, 2008
April 5, 2008
March 29, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 15, 2008
March 8, 2008
March 1, 2008
February 23, 2008
February 16, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 2, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 19, 2008
January 12, 2008
January 5, 2008

2007
December 29, 2007
December 22, 2007
December 15, 2007
December 8, 2007
December 1, 2007
November 24, 2007
November 17, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 3, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 20, 2007
October 13, 2007
October 6, 2007
September 29, 2007
September 22, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 8, 2007
September 1, 2007
August 25, 2007
August 18, 2007
August 11, 2007
August 4, 2007
July 28, 2007
July 21, 2007
July 14, 2007
July 7, 2007
June 30, 2007
June 23, 2007
June 16, 2007
June 9, 2007
June 2, 2007
May 19, 2007
May 12, 2007
May 5, 2007
April 28, 2007
April 21, 2007
April 14, 2007
April 7, 2007
March 31, 2007
March 24, 2007
March 17, 2007
March 10, 2007
March 3, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 17, 2007
February 10, 2007
February 3, 2007
January 20, 2007
January 13, 2007
January 6, 2007

2006
December 30, 2006
December 23, 2006
December 16, 2006
December 9, 2006
December 2, 2006
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 4, 2006
October 28, 2006
October 21, 2006
October 14, 2006
October 7, 2006
September 30, 2006
September 23, 2006
September 16, 2006
September 9, 2006
September 2, 2006
August 26, 2006
August 19, 2006
August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 



April 11, 2009

"My old alma mater, the Village Voice,  has been resurrecting some of the 530 Village Square columns that I wrote for them between 1955 and 1965 running them (without payment, of course) on their weekly blog. I suppose I, too, might as well benefit from this bit of exploitation so here are three they ran recently." JW

Adventure With a Pink Pill

by John Wilcock


A questionnaire arrived last month from Tim Leary, a professor at Harvard who has been doing research on the effects of Mexico's "magic mushrooms" (teonanacati) on human consciousness. The mushrooms, foundation of some Indian religions, have been synthesized commercially into psilocybin, a small pink pill, and Tim Leary's Harvard group has been testing them on people and noting the effects.

I tried psilocybin about a year ago and reported on the enjoyable and highly euphoric effects. What Dr. Leary wanted to know now was whether there had been any permanent effects or changes in my life as a result. I was able to tell him (as, apparently, 62 per cent of his subjects have told him) that my life had changed for the better.

It's always difficult to evaluate what effect a single action has had upon the course of one's life, and to what extent the normal maturing process is responsible, but it's true to say that in the past year I have become happier, more tolerant, less compulsive, and much more of a PARTICIPANT in virtually every phase of activity. I enjoy everything more these days, often with the sort of hearty abandon that wouldn't have been possible a one time in my life.

The simplest things -- reading the newspapers, listening to jazz on the radio, stopping for a hamburger, taking a bubble bath, kissing a girl -- fill me with tremendous anticipation and pleasure. I have become in love with the whole world, while at the same time retaining a healthy contempt for cruelty, greed, inhumanity, and the terrible things that people and countries do to each other.

It would be very unscientific, and potentially dangerous, to believe that these effects came solely from psilocybin, of course, but I do have a suspicion that that one afternoon's experience, coming at a particular time of my life, helped along what would possibly have been a natural course of events. And I take my cue from a statement by Leary's group (the Center for Research in Personality): "We have come to believe that psilocybin has the potential to facilitate for an individual the experience of major insights and problem solutions of an intellectual-emotional nature...It is also our conviction that these insights, enlightenment, or solutions provide a firm educational foundation for change in the social or intellectual behavior of the individual."

In a meeting with representatives of the Food and Drug Administration, which has been kept informed of his research, Dr. Leary's group reported: "We are convinced that these substances can contribute to human welfare in many ways -- in psychiatry and other forms of social rehabilitation, in creative industry, in education, in defense enterprises, in artistic and cultural pursuits."

And a compilation of reports from 98 of the 157 people who tried psilocybin reveals that 70 per cent found the experience pleasant; 87 per cent learned something new about themselves and the world; 62 per cent report it changed their lives for the better; and 90 per cent want to try it again. Leary's initial experiments are now concluded, and he has none of the drug available.

FOOTNOTE BY DR. LEARY:

     The most important single factor that determines whether a person undergoes a heavenly or hellish experience is his expectancy. If, for example, he takes one of these drugs in a hospital setting, where his contract is to behave as a subject in a scientific experiment and where his every move is carefully watched and noted by attending doctors and psychiatrists, he will almost certainly manifest psychiatric symptoms. On the other hand, if the drug is taken together with a group of close, loving friends in a warm, familiar environment and the expectancy is to have a joyful, intellectual experience, then the chances for this to happen are very good.

    However, if the scene is rebellious or secretive -- fear of being caught by the police, guilt of pleasure, sense of doing something shady and illicit -- the chances are that all these things will become magnified out of all proportion.

(Sept. 6, 1962, Voice, vol. VII, No. 46:)

 

A Nation of Letter-Writers

by John Wilcock

The much-maligned (unjustifiably) Eros quarterly sent out hundreds of thousands of mail-order solicitations to potential subscribers before appearing for the first time earlier this year. On the envelope of the mail-order piece were the words, "A message to you from the God of Love," and this seems to have misled some religiously minded types into believing that it contained a religious tract.

    At any rate, the rage and hysteria that went up from some of these people when they opened the envelope and discovered that it announced the impending publication of a magazine actually about SEX has to be seen to be believed.

     "All together," says Eros in its second issue, "the critical letters presented a candid view of present-day puritanism in the United States that might otherwise not have been available." The bulk of the letters have been sent on to the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University "for the benefit of future generations of scholars."

    Some, however, have been reprinted in Eros #2, and the viciousness, hypocrisy, savagery, and stupidity of them makes one despair that America will ever grow up. Most of the letters are too vicious or vulgar to repeat here. One of the politer ones reads "Go s--- in your hat; I've told the postal authorities about this."

(Sept. 13, 1962,  Voice, vol. VII, no. 47)

 

The Changing World of Bill Manville

by John Wilcock

It's been much too long since Bill Manville, creator of Saloon Society, last appeared in these pages, but he hasn't been drinking his life away -- at least no more than is necessary to stay attuned to his particular milieu. His first novel, Breaking Up (Simon & Schuster, $3.95), which is about a disastrous marriage, was published a few weeks ago, and he's working on a second, theme not yet announced.

In the meantime, his book Saloon Society (Duell, Sloan & Pearce, $4.95), which was put together from the original Voice columns, has been adapted for a Broadway musical by Stewart Meyers and novelist Rona Jaffe. Book and lyrics are complete, music is still to come, and the production is tentatively set for next fall.

Meyers, a trade-magazine publisher and among the earliest of off-Broadway impresarios with a now long-defunct theatre, says that one of the earliest problems he faced was how to tell the audience who Saloon Society characters are. "Bill's people are not angry young men," he explains, "they look back in laughter; and yet they represent a little world of their own with a distinctive set of attitudes and dialogue. Both Rona and I are determined to recreate that world accurately -- a world of reality utterly unlike the world that Damon Runyon created with his Disney-like hoods."

Manville's biggest asset, in my opinion, is his own ability to bridge the gap between life as we really know it and as it is presented to us via the arts, and that is why I have high hopes for the success of a movie, Headlong, for which Bill has written the script, and which will be produced by a friend of mine, Stan Russell.

     Says Stan, a former RKO editor who recently made a short for the State Department which is now touring Russia: "When most of us go to the cinema it is with the hope that we shall gain some insight into the way other people manage to cope with the same day-to-day problems and circumstances that we have to handle ourselves.

"Usually we come away with a feeling of disappointment, part of which is attributable to the bland emotions which are permitted by the Establishment. The unique quality of Manville's Saloon Society pieces is that they are relatively free of guilt. His characters pursue pleasure openly, wantonly, defiantly, and experience all the pains and sorrows that all of us experience in that pursuit, without the false guilt and remorse experienced by that articulate, repressed minority who exert great pressure on all of our means of communication."

What does Bill himself have to say about all this success -- and potential success? Though I see him quite a lot at parties these days, I wrote to ask him that and various other questions -- notably what he keeps in his refrigerator (to bear out a theory of mine that what's in a man's icebox reflects, to some degree, what's in his mind). Bill's reply:

      "Fascinating that you should ask me the contents of my ice-box. I have 93 different kinds of vitamin pills...not the synthetic vitamins but the real organic pills: rose hips, kelp, desicated liver, bone meal, etc. In fact, taking all these different kinds of pills is one of the principal ways in which I pass the time; it means a great deal to me. I have to take them since I've stopped eating. The name of the next book I'll write is going to be 'Booze Calories Don't Count.'

     "I'm determined to look haunted and neurotic if it is published and so just go without food. Lost eighteen pounds so far. I'm shooting for another ten -- or perhaps beri-beri. People come from miles around to watch me not eat. I drink a lot, though, and go dancing often. I have some scallions left over from an old love affair (she liked to cook, so she's out) and the manuscript of a new novel I've started, but I'm deadly afraid of losing this in a fire."

(Nov. 1, 1962. Voice, vol. VIII, no. 2)

4/04/09

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