July 31, 2020:

Another unexpected milestone, this time from the bargain bin at FedMart.

I picked up LSD: The Age of Mind by Bernard Roseman expecting run-of-the-mill anti-drug propaganda. Why else would it be in a store? I had not yet been exposed to the concept of contested ideologies. So that I was gobsmacked to find psychedelics presented as tools for enlightenment, with passages from Huxley and an elated first-person account. I had never encountered any narrative contesting a dominant one. It blew my mind more than the drug ever did.

I began taking LSD, when I could find it. The bikers had it but wouldn't sell me any. Scruples! Another nail in the coffin of the legend of rape and pillage. I had to get it at school, which I hated. I felt it opened me to a kind of vulnerability my truancy never did. I could invent excuses for truancy which I knew from experience would be accepted by bureaucrats who did not care. Drug sales and drug purchases were a different order of ontology. With their laser-focus on repressing overt rebellion they'd be thrilled to lock us away.

I did not have transcendental or enlightening experiences. It was more like super-speed, a 12-hour buzz which like all speed calmed me down, with my reverse response to most drugs. Sometimes if I waved my hand I'd see trails and I did often see enhanced colors, which, with my fascination with brightness I certainly appreciated. I did not see God, or the connections between things, or a rain of atoms or flowers that could talk. At first it was disappointing. I felt that Roseman had lied to me, and Huxley had lied to him. But I carried on doing it because as far as speeds go it was much the best bang for the buck.

I did injure myself. I have a small flattened spot on the top of my skull from where I fell, jumping up and down on my bed high on LSD, and hit my head on the headboard. Like all scalp cuts it bled like a motherfucker. I had to scrub the headboard, clean my head, launder the sheets all before my mother returned from work. She very seldom entered my room, but you never know. If she ever looked closely at the pillow there'd have had to have been explanations. Far as I know she never did.

It wasn't the drug then which impacted me. It was the book. In a deeply and abidingly subversive way it opened a door, not of perception, but of skepticism, where for the first time at least one voice in my head found it legitimate to question. It would be years before those questions became the right ones, triggered by another book and a history report. But, and this is important, Frances Fitzgerald was only able to have a seismic impact on me because Roseman had already softened the ground.