“This is why I do the work I do . . .”
Sasha gave a talk at the Psychedelics Conference held in Santa Barbara in May 1983 to honor Albert Hofmann, who was present at the event, along with many psychedelic luminaries, including: Sasha’s wife, Ann, Humphry Osmond, Walter Houston Clark, Carl Ruck, Terence McKenna, Kathleen Harrison, Andrew Weil, Joan Halifax, Ralph Metzner, Peter Stafford, Cynthia Palmer, Michael Horowitz, Jonathan Ott, Robert Forte, Deborah Harlow, Rick Doblin, and Jon Hanna.
Sasha titled his talk “Drugs of Perception,” and started by explaining that, rather than speak about his usual subjects, chemistry and pharmacology, he would follow his wife Ann’s suggestion to tell his audience “WHY you do the work you do?”
“Just why, for the last 25 years or so, the persistent research into the design, the preparation and the evaluation of new and different psychotropic drugs, be they hallucinogenic, psychedelic, disassociative, or merely intoxicating?”
Sasha proceeded to launch into a 3,000-word talk which held his audience spellbound from beginning to end.
He concluded with these words (starting at approximately 4:56 of this partial recording of his talk online):
“There are a multitude of tenuous threads that tie together the fragile structure of the human spirit. The life-giving with the death demanding side; the exalted voice with the mundane; the strongly centered Self with the drive toward dispersion and loss of center.”
“These all co-exist in all of us, but there is an essential blockade between these inner worlds which, I truly feel, can be penetrated only with the words and tools and the understanding that may be most easily obtained through the area of psychedelic experiences…”
“My personal philosophy might well have been lifted directly out of the writings of William Blake:
‘I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s . . . ‘
“I may be wrong, but I cannot afford the possibility of being wrong. I must do what I can. This is why I do the work I do–and as fast as I can–and make available to all the fruits of this doing, so that some voice may quietly materialize within each individual, as to his or her role in human survival, in an annihilating environment.”
“I will do what I can. As fast as I can.”
Photographs copyright (c) 2014 by Cynthia Palmer