Category Archives: drugs

RIP Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009)

Thriller (1982) – Michael Jackson []

I’ve mentioned Michael Jackson twice[1][2] on this blog, once when I was amazed by his choice of footage in “They Don’t Care About Us[3], and once when I did the obituary of James Brown when I mentioned that Brown’s “rapid-footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson”.

Jackson was the embodiment of things gone awry as the result of mediated fame in the 20th century, when he was catapulted from child prodigy[4] to natural freak[5].

With more than 100 million albums sold, Thriller (1982) is the bestselling album of all time and is iconic in the history of 20th century popular music, where he is the natural heir to Elvis Presley. Beyond both dying from an abuse of prescription drugs, parallels beween Presley and Jackson are numerous (Graceland/Neverland). Lisa Marie Presley, for a short time married to Jackson in the nineties wrote at the time of Jackson’s death that he knew “exactly how his fate would be played out” and feared his death would echo that of Elvis Presley.

Jackson dies, long live Jackson.

Shinehead‘s reggae version of “Billie Jean.”

Here he is reincarnated in Shinehead‘s reggae version[6] of “Billie Jean.”[7]. But one of the earliest samples of “Billie Jean” was in 1983, when Italian studio project Clubhouse mixed Steely Dan‘s “Do It Again” (1981) with “Billie Jean” as the “Do It Again Medley with Billie Jean[8] .
*Daryl Hall has claimed that Michael Jackson admitted to copying the bassline from “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)[9] in his song “Billie Jean“.

PS. For those of you who miss the Jahsonic old style of haphazard blogging about anything he finds, please check Jahsonic’s microblog[10] at Tumblr.

Salute to Bacchus

Today is the feast of the Roman god Bacchus, known by the Greeks as the Greek god Dionysus. In my hometown Sint Niklaas, there used to be a bar called Bacchus. That was in the late seventies and early eighties.

I had to wait until the 1990s and the first issue of Wired Magazine to be properly introduced to Bacchus via Camille Paglia’s interview on her recently published Sexual Personae in which Paglia mentions the Nietzschean dichotomy of Apollonian and Dionysian.

Popular perceptions of Dionysus and Bacchus

Dionysus was seen as the god of everything uncivilized, of the innate wildness of humanity that the Athenians had tried to control. The Dionysia was probably a time to let out their inhibitions through highly emotional tragedies or irreverent comedies. During the pompe there was also an element of role-reversal – lower-class citizens could mock and jeer the upper classes, or women could insult their male relatives. This was known as aischrologia – αἰσχρολογία or tothasmos, a concept also found in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Bacchus is less wel documented in text, but all the better in painting (Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio). His name is connected with bacchanalia, a term in moderate usage today to indicate any drunken feast; drunken revels; as well as binges and orgies, whether literally or figuratively.

Bacchanal by Rubens



The bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman and Greek god Bacchus. Introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (c. 200 BC), the bacchanalia were originally held in secret and only attended by women.

Bacchanalia by Auguste (Maurice François Giuslain) Léveque  The Bacchanalia were traditionally held on March 16 and March 17

The festivals occurred on three days of the year in a grove near the Aventine Hill, on March 16 and March 17. Later, admission to the rites was extended to men and celebrations took place five times a month. According to Livy, the extension happened in an era when the leader of the Bacchus cult was Paculla Annia.

Cornelis de Vos Triumph of Bacchus

Cornelis de Vos

Paculla Annia

Paculla Annia was a priestess from the southern Italy who, according to Livy, largely changed the rules of Bacchanalias so that regarding nothing as impious or forbidden became the very sum of Bacchuscult. In the rites, men were said to have shrieked out prophecies in an altered state of consciousness with frenzied bodily convulsions. Women, dressed as Bacchantes, with hair dishevelled, would run down to the Tiber with burning torches, plunge them into the water, and take them out again. The rites gradually turned into sexual orgies, particularly among the men, and men who refused to take part were sacrificed. It is said these men were fastened to a machine and taken to hidden caves, where it was claimed they were kidnapped by the gods.

Prohibition by the Roman Senate

The festivities were reported to the Roman Senate which authorized a full investigation. In 186 BC, the Senate passed a strict law (the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus) prohibiting the Bacchanalia except under specific circumstances which required the approval of the Senate. Violators were to be executed.

John Belushi @60

John Belushi, American actor (19491982)


A Youtube tribute to Belushi set to the RamonesMy Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)“.

John Belushi would have celebrated his 60th birthday today, had he not died from a drug overdose in 1982, aged only 33.

John Adam Belushi (19491982) was an American comedian, actor and musician, notable for his work on Saturday Night Live, National Lampoon’s Animal House, and The Blues Brothers.

Cult fiction item #10; unabashed male opinions


My edition of Cocaine (in a 1982 translation by Frédérique Van Der Velde for the Dutch-language imprint Goossens, which also published translations of Thérèse philosophe, Villon, and Aretino)

“Not since Of Human Bondage have I read a more poignant rendition of the human condition,” and “after The End Of The World Filmed By An Angel possibly the second surrealist novel” wrote American literary critic Sholem Stein in a rare review of Cocaina in 1922.

Cocaina is a 1921 Italian novel written by Pitigrilli, a pseudonym of Italian journalist and author Dino Segre.

The novel, set in Paris and dedicated to cocaine use, was banned when it was published due to its liberal use of explicit sex and drugs.

The protagonist is Tito Arnaudi, a young Dostoevskian nihilist who travels from his home town Turin to Paris after a failed love story. There he discovers the joys of cocaine, takes a job as a journalist and meets two women: the exotic and orgiastic Kalantan Ter-Gregorianz and the tawdry cocotte Maud Fabrège. Maud, who later in the story is renamed to Cocaina (she is the personification of the effects of cocaine, at first lively and spirited, later jaded and blunt) is his femme fatale. Tito falls in love with her despite her apparent infidelity and despite of her sterilization which he knows is bound to make her ugly and less feminine.

The novel is full of unabashed male opinions on women and love and ends with an original “Russian roulette” twist.

I read in three days, and never felt the urge to quit reading. I laughed out loud at least three times. An underrated masterpiece. See also drugs in literature and cocaine in literature.

More covers:

Cocaine (1921) – Pitigrilli [] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Go ask the physiognomists, phrenologists, pathognomists and characterologists

“I love this word decadence, all shimmering in purple and gold. It suggests the subtle thoughts of ultimate civilization, a high literary culture, a soul capable of intense pleasures. It throws off bursts of fire and the sparkle of precious stones. It is redolent of the rouge of courtesans, the games of the circus, the panting of the gladiators, the spring of wild beasts, the consuming in flames of races exhausted by their capacity for sensation, as the tramp of an invading army sounds.” — Paul Verlaine, Les Poètes maudits (1884)


Heliogabalus or Elagabalus

Heliogabalus was a remarkable example of psychopathia sexualis; but in his age there were no Krafft-Ebings to submit his case to scientific observation,” said John Stuart Hay in 1911 in The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus. Heliogabalus, or Elagabalus as he is also called, is indeed a prime example in the category of Roman decadence, along with other notorious emperors such as Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero.

Keywords in the history of Roman decadence are inbreeding, bacchanalia, orgies, vomitoria, Great Fire of Rome, gladiators and pederasty.

The classic account of Roman decadence is Edward Gibbon‘s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788, a book that was instantly put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. The history of Roman decadence is a necessarily a hybrid mix of truth and fact, but is interesting to note that the view Europe had of Roman antiquity during the Renaissance was that of an highbrow ideal. It wasn’t perhaps — although the existence of Latin profanity was already known to Antiquity scholars – until the excavations of Pompeii and we found the erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum in the second half of the 18th century that our view of the Romans started to change. This gave rise to the very first secret museum, the Secret Museum of Naples.

Back to Heliogabalus.

Two years ago in Amsterdam, I saw a pleasant man who served us in a bar while we were having dinner. His face struck me as perverse. How can someone have a perverse face? Is the nature of your character readable on your face? Go ask the physiognomists, phrenologists, pathognomists and characterologists and they will answer “yes“. Their sciences are long out of fashion and definitely politically incorrect, but I concur, without of course, casting a judgment. You need only look at the face of Heliogabalus.

Albert Hofmann (1906 – 2008)

“I suddenly became strangely inebriated. The external world became changed as in a dream. Objects appeared to gain in relief; they assumed unusual dimensions; and colors became more glowing. Even self-perception and the sense of time were changed. When the eyes were closed, colored pictures flashed past in a quickly changing kaleidoscope. After a few hours, the not unpleasant inebriation, which had been experienced whilst I was fully conscious, disappeared. what had caused this condition?” —Albert Hofmann (Laboratory Notes, 1943)

Albert Hofmann (January 11 1906April 29 2008) was a Swiss scientist best known for synthesizing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Hofmann authored more than 100 scientific articles and wrote a number of books, including LSD: My Problem Child.

Some LSD visuals:

Film poster for The Trip (1967)

The Acid Eaters (1968) – Byron Mabe
Tagline: The film of anti-social significance.

images from here.

Psych-Out (1968) – Richard Rush [] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll


Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll” is a modern variation of Wine, women and song. In the 20th century, particularly in Western usage, the expression “drugs, sex and rock and roll” often is used to signify essentially the same thing. The terms correspond to wine, women and song with edgier and updated vices. The term came to prominence in the sixties as rock and roll music, opulent and intensely public lifestyles, as well as libertine morals championed by hippies, came into the mainstream.

Enoch Soames and proto-pomo-lit

My brother’s recommending the short story “Enoch Soames“, and the anthology above looks like a nice place to read it in. The story is well-known for its clever and humorous use of the ideas of time travel and pact with Faust. Another good place to read it would be The Book of Fantasy (1940), an Argentianan anthology edited by Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, and Silvina Ocampo. A site dedicated to Hunter S. Thompson has this:

Published in 1979 by St. Martin’s Press, this collection edited by Duncan Fallowell contains a number of stories, including “The Dinner” by Thomas Love Peacock, “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe and “Enoch Soames” by Max Beerbohm. Hardly the kind of works you would expect “The Heat Closing In” by William S. Burroughs to be surrounded by. HST [Hunter S. Thompson’s] part is called “A Night on the Town” , the part from FFLV [Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas] where HST describes his encounter with an acid guru, when he lived near Michael Olay. —

More on Duncan Fallowell:

Over the years he has worked extensively with the avant-garde music group Can whom he first met in Cologne in 1970. It was in St Petersburg that he recently wrote the libretto for the opera Gormenghast, inspired by Mervyn Peake’s trilogy, the music for which has been composed by Irmin Schmidt, Can’s specialist in keyboard and electronics. They have also written many songs together. —source

See also drugs in literature.