Trip texts


I would have changed the subject today if it wasn’t for spotting a copy of David Solomon’s LSD: The Consciousness-Expanding Drug (1964) in Roger Corman’s notorious and rather creditable stab at psychedelia, The Trip (1967). Corman’s film is an oddity in his run of AIP exploitation films in being far less condemnatory than you’d expect (although Peter Fonda’s character isn’t always enjoying his experience), and must also be the only film in the whole AIP canon with signifying texts.


By the time Solomon’s book makes an appearance, Fonda’s character, Paul, has started freaking out but earlier on, during his conversations with John (Bruce Dern), we have Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems (1956) shouting out of the frame. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…” Okay Rog, we get it.


There’s more, however. Behind Howl there’s another book whose identity eludes me, while behind that you can make out the red typography and white dorje symbol from the 1960 OUP edition of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The only reason I recognised this is because I own that edition so the cover is very familiar. This would be a popular text in an acid-tripper’s apartment; John tells Paul to “Relax and float down stream”, a line that recapitulates the advice given in Leary, Metzner and Alpert’s The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead (1964). Most surprising for me about this inclusion is that The Tibetan Book of the Dead features a lot more prominently in that other major film about psychedelic experience, Enter the Void (2009). Am I the only person to have made this material connection? Probably. Does anyone care? Probably not, but I do like recording these associations.



Cover design by Lawrence Ratzkin.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Acid albums
Acid covers
Lyrical Substance Deliberated
The Art of Tripping, a documentary by Storm Thorgerson
Enter the Void
In the Land of Retinal Delights
The art of LSD
Hep cats

3 thoughts on “Trip texts”

  1. Reading this is a trip down memory… etc, another book I remember had a good cover, John C. Lilly, Center of the Cyclone, published by Paladin, that texture on the hands and lower face flashes it all back.

  2. I’ve got a copy of that one as well. Ought to dig it out and give it another read.

  3. The cover of Center of the Cyclone was by Justin Todd.
    I lost my copy in about 1973…

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