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The Drug Essays
- Aleister Crowley's Reflections on Hashish, Cocaine & Absinthe
- Narrated by: Henry Schrader
- Length: 2 hrs and 57 mins
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The essays in this collection represent Aleister Crowley's ideas and meditations on drugs. Part one explores Crowley's experiences with hashish and its uses in mystical rituals. Part two examines cocaine and looks at whether it should be regulated by law. Finally, part three delves into the sensuality of absinthe and its role in society.
The essays are fascinating, both for what they reveal about Crowley's views on drugs, and for the way they tap into some of the occultist's chief preoccupations: the quest for transcendence and the marriage of science to mysticism.
Crowley wrote that intoxication - whether from wine, drugs, or art - was what made it possible for man to rise above his "grub" life and achieve transcendence. He said it well here:
"The surplus of Will must find issue in the elevation of the individual towards the Godhead; and the method of such elevation is by religion, love, and art. These three things are indissolubly bound up with wine, for they are species of intoxication."
Those lines come from Crowley's essay about absinthe, which is by far the most rhapsodic in this collection. Crowley makes no bones about his adoration for the liquor. He gets downright poetic about the drink's "opalescent" appearance and about the "rapture" it provokes. "Absinthe" is perceived as pure beauty, liberation from the grayness of the day-to-day.
Perhaps that's the gift that these essays can give us. Perhaps, rather than examining them too closely for truth and accuracy, it would be wise to read the essays in this book as objects of beauty. They are not cold, hard, facts. They are ideas, as opalescent as the absinthe in Crowley's glass. They sound best when we can set aside our doubts and give ourselves up to the enjoyment of what this eccentric man was able to produce.