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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > May-18 > Inner-space travel

Inner-space travel

After more than 100 trips, I’ve learnt how psychedelic drugs can help us deal with the darker side of life. As long as you can cope with corpses playing jazz with human bones
ILLUSTRATION BY LOVATTO

Ifirst experienced ego-death in my oak-panelled room at Exeter College, Oxford in 1979 after swallowing a red microdot of blotting paper soaked with some 150 micrograms of lysergic acid. Things had begun going awry while we were watching an episode of Doctor Who in the JCR—but an ascent of the University Church’s tower in Radcliffe Square didn’t help, and by the time I collapsed back on to my bed, life, the Universe, me, and everything was being sucked into a horrific involute, that took the visual form of the interior of a giant steeple, comprised entirely by gaping mouths screaming the word… “No!”

Worse still, I’d stupidly put a recording of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on the turntable before I keeled over, and, as I thrashed about in the flotsam of my own mind, I was visited with a vision of lower Manhattan, populated by the risen dead. As I watched, from some non-locatable but panoptic perspective, a marching jazz band came parading down Broadway—the musicians were all corpses in various states of decay, and the instruments they tootled, trumped and banged were all made of human bones. Needless to say, I’ve never felt the same about Gershwin—or acid—since.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s May issue: More than a dozen writers critique the current state of economics, suggesting there are still lessons to learn more than a decade on from the financial crash. Howard Reed writes that the ideas we hold about the way economics works need to be ripped up. Ten of the world’s best living economists explain what, in their view, is the single most important lesson economics still has to learn, and Linda Yueh suggests what three of the past masters would think about economics today. Elsewhere in the issue: Vernon Bogdanor outlines why Brexit could cause a constitutional crisis in Britain; Jean H Lee explains why young South Koreans don’t want their country to reunify with their Northern neighbours; Sian Norris writes about the coming battle over abortion and shows where the UK ranks among its European peers; and Sonia Purnell profiles Jacob Rees-Mogg.