Transform Press is pleased to offer a second sneak peek at new bonus material that will be published in the forthcoming PiHKAL / TiHKAL memorial edition. Last month we posted photos of Ann and Sasha in their earlier days. Now we have an excerpt from one of the essays written exclusively for this edition.
One thing that has stood out to me as I have read the reminiscences of so many people who loved Sasha—including the essay excerpted below—is the frequent mention of his unwavering personal morality.
While most of Sasha’s writing is full of a sort of whimsy, I think the quiet firmness of his political and moral opinions is clear. For example, in Appendix B of TiHKAL (“Current Drug Law”), he refers to the American drug laws as “one of the most complex and self-serving bodies of legal aggression that exists anywhere in the world.” Appendix A consists of the entire text of the Bill of Rights, the ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution that Congress approved in 1789. He strongly believed that U.S. drug laws infringe upon the people’s rights enshrined in our Constitution. And in Chapter 25 (“Galileo”) he recounts how the famous astronomer was convicted of heresy during the Roman Inquisition for arguing that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun, rather than the entire universe revolving around the earth as the Roman Catholic Church then contended. He draws an analogy to current drug laws and pokes fun at today’s legal and scientific “church” that condemns, rejects, harasses, and prosecutes people who commit the “heresy” of acting on their belief that mind-altering drugs have no legitimate use and are not inherently evil.
This iconoclasm was not without its price—the retaliatory search and seizure executed upon the Shulgins by federal drug enforcement agents described in Chapter 1 of TiHKAL (“Invasion”) is an agonizing reminder of what can occur when an individual defies the state, as Sasha did in daring to publish his work. But Sasha was unwavering in his certainty that knowledge belongs to us all.
The following excerpt from the memorial edition is from an essay by Jim Fadiman, a psychologist, writer, and prominent leader in the field of psychedelic research:
At some point in the afternoon, I asked Sasha why he had written the books. That famous twinkle appeared and then the gentle smile. “I wanted to make sure that the government, any government, could not prevent anyone with sufficient skill from moving knowledge forward.” He paused. “Now, I get questions every week from every part of the world.”
While many of us talk endlessly about personal liberation and helping humanity, Sasha seemed to me to have a broader vision: he was interested in liberating knowledge itself.
Yes, lots of strange compounds are now out there, some of them terrible, some of them amazing and more to come. Wanting to keep knowledge free and accessible was his affirmation that human beings tend towards the good. He understood that knowledge is not wisdom yet it is a step in the right direction.
While Sasha personally will be deeply missed, he has ensured that the best of his many discoveries or inventions or whatever you may call them will last as long as humanity itself.
Not a bad legacy, not bad at all.