Amanda Feilding Shares Her Memories of Albert Hofmann on Bicycle Day

20/04/2015

in Beckley in the Media

Albert Hofmann“Albert was the most charming and possibly the happiest person I’ve ever met. Even at the age of 100, he had a twinkle in his eye—probably because he knew what a wonderful gift he had given to mankind,” said Feilding. “For a time he was filled with sorrow at his ‘wonder child’ becoming a ‘problem child’ through its misuse, but hopefully now we are entering a new era which will be more careful in the use of his elixir.”

Motherboard by Zoe Cormier 19 April, 2015

A handful of individual drug experiences are known to millions. Aldous Huxley’s mescaline dose, recorded in The Doors of Perception (1954), is one. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1797 opium visions, enshrined in his poem “Kubla Khan,” is another.

But one high is so famous it has a birthday: Bicycle Day, April 19, 1943. The world’s first acid trip.

You know the gist: Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, tinkering in the labs of Sandoz Chemicals, accidentally absorbs LSD-25 through his fingers. Later sold as “Delysid” by Sandoz, it was one of many synthetic molecules created in Hofmann’s quest to prevent post-partum haemorrhaging. (The man who created the world’s best-loved hallucinogen was only trying to prevent the death of women in childbirth. And he succeeded in both respects.) Hours later, cycling home, the world shimmered.

Entirely inexperienced with recreational drugs, the Hofmann was befuddled, and decided on a “self-experiment” to delve further. On April 19, he slugged 250 micrograms at 4:20pm—surely one of history’s most trippy coincidences.

The world’s first trip was far from fun. “A demon had invaded me, taken possession of my body, mind and soul,” Hofmann wrote in​ his book. Though the after-glow was pleasant, Hofmann hated the initial jolt. “The last thing I could have expected was that this substance could ever find application as anything approaching a pleasure drug.” Instead, he hoped LSD “could be for psychiatry what the microscope is for biology and the telescope for astronomy.” A tool to probe the mind. A task, not a treat.

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