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Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change

Product no.: 978-1101974513
Part memoir, part history, part journalistic exposé, Trip is a look at psychedelic drugs, literature, and alienation from one of the twenty-first century’s most innovative novelists.

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Publisher's Synopsis
While reeling from one of the most creative–but at times self-destructive–outpourings of his life, Tao Lin discovered the strange and exciting work of Terence McKenna. McKenna, the leading advocate of psychedelic drugs since Timothy Leary, became for Lin both an obsession and a revitalizing force. In Trip, Lin’s first book-length work of nonfiction, he charts his recovery from pharmaceutical drugs, his surprising and positive change in worldview, and his four-year engagement with some of the hardest questions: Why do we make art? Is the world made of language? What happens when we die? And is the imagination more real than the universe?

In exploring these ideas and detailing his experiences with psilocybin, DMT, salvia, and cannabis, Lin takes readers on a trip through nature, his own past, psychedelic culture, and the unknown.

“His rendering of tripping is perfect—better even, for me, than Aldous Huxley’s elegant and evocative passages in The Doors of Perception, because Lin’s account conveys reverence and immersion without grandiosity. And that allows humor to leak through."       ~Bookforum

"Drawn to psychedelics by the life and work of Terence McKenna, an advocate for psychedelic drugs, Lin begins documenting individual trips on substances like psilocybin and salvia as well as the history of each substance. In detailing his own history of drug use, Lin separates addictive, mood-changing drugs like cocaine and caffeine from mind-altering psychedelics, which he credits with providing the imaginative, profound experiences that have reshaped his lonely, empty worldview into one more routinely populated by awe and magic. The psychedelics Lin zeroes in on are all naturally occurring, and he is best at examining and questioning the illegality and societal suppression of substances that he contends allow him to safely explore topics like time and consciousness... a level of personal clarity that perfectly punctuates an introspective work of this depth and caliber."      ~Publishers Weekly

"In his first full-length nonfiction book, Taiwanese novelist and poet Lin (Taipei, 2013, etc.) probes deep to expose his struggles with drug addiction and isolating depression, two suffocating encumbrances that threatened to extinguish his artistic creativity and even his life. In this peculiar yet addictive patchwork of memoir, biography, and meditative self-analysis, the author explores how studying pro-psychedelic mystic Terence McKenna (1946-2000) liberated him from an amphetamine, psilocybin mushroom, and opiate-fueled 'zombielike' state while finishing the final draft of his previous novel... A kaleidoscopic fever dream of ideas, idolatry, and lots of drugs: uniquely produced and curiously intoxicating."       ~Kirkus Review

"Seated at my desk, part of me felt like the mushrooms wouldn’t do anything. I hadn’t had psilocybin in around two months, so had forgotten the strangeness and potency of its effects and reverted somewhat to my view of psychedelics prior to eating mushrooms three years earlier—that they probably weren’t as intense as people claimed. People seemed to use the same words to describe food and naps and images and normal reality—amazing, profound, mind-blowing, unbelievable—as psychedelic experiences not, I’d realized over time, because they were lying, and not necessarily because they were being characteristically hyperbolic, but because the phenomenology of psychedelics was difficult 'to English,' as McKenna said in In the Valley of Novelty (1998), observing that psilocybin and DMT seemed to particularly affect 'the language-forming portions of the brain,' which resulted in 'bizarre states of mind' because it was these portions that explained what was happening.

Psilocybin’s initial, rumblingly stimulating effects prodded me from my near-catatonic state, gazing at things with slow eye movements and no distinct thoughts, a common status for me in 2013, into a healthier mode of detail-oriented, collegial behavior: I began packing my other 2.5 grams of mushrooms to mail a friend, who was at Yaddo, to nurture her interest in psychedelics. My calm productivity continued as I emailed her a photo of the package and a block of phone-typed text, recommending she eat the mushrooms alone at night with no obligations the next day (which was my situation) and sharing a little about my mushroom experiences:
  1. I’d eaten mushrooms ten to fifteen times in the past three years. 
  2. I’d rarely eaten them alone. I’d eaten them before a reading, before going to the American Museum of Natural History, before seeing movies in theaters, at social gatherings, and with friends in the city and elsewhere. 
  3. Around five times I’d concluded, for minutes, that I’d died. 
  4. The most I’d eaten at once was probably 3 or 4 grams. That night was the first time I’d weighed a dose. 
  5. Whenever I ate more than maybe around 1.5 grams, the intensity and alienness of the effects re-amazed me, causing me to think, 'How could I have forgotten this?' 
After sending my email at 1:44 a.m., my room began to feel spaceship-like. In my liver, 36-atom molecules of psilocybin were breaking down into 31-atom molecules of psilocin, which were entering my brain, where they were interacting with serotonin and other receptors. I felt myself leaving Earth in an intimidatingly disquieting manner, like I was on a vessel I hadn’t suspected to exist, departing a place I’d assumed was the only place."       

Author Lin, Tao
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 320 pp.
Publisher Vintage 2018
Browse these categories as well: Neoshamanism and Entheogenic Healing, Metaphysics, Mysticism and Initiation, Spiritual Biography and Autobiography, Noteworthy Releases 2018

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