Alexis Turner

Political Life of LSD

Alexis is currently writing a dissertation on the political life of LSD in the United States from 1949-1980.

By 1969, depending on whom you asked, LSD was going to help the United States government win the Cold War, because it was a truth serum and mind-control substance. It would help you make more money on the stock market, become more creative at work, or understand complex mathematical formulas with ease. "LSD will cure alcoholism and unlock the mysteries of schizophrenia," others insisted. It will help you write your way to fame. Better yet, eat it with a cube of sugar. You will self-actualize. Your aesthetic sensibilities will be heightened, and you will become open to the poetry of the world in motion. You might even see God. You won't need some government man telling you what to do, some job holding you back from the fruits of your own labor. A little drop of acid will tear down the state. Everyone will make sweet love, and there will be peace on earth. If these were not already enough to make you run right out and try some, it turns out there was also money to be made selling it, it was the devil's work, destroying the youth of our nation, spurring human evolution, and keeping some lazy, apolitical, jive ass long-haired honkies from letting the Revolution unleash itself on the world. It was some good shit and some bad news. It was insidious and subtle. It was dangerous and terrifying to behold. It was also often but not always a rather interesting shade of mauve. Except when it was sunshine orange. Such is the power of LSD. Even its color cannot be agreed upon. It is ontologically, structurally, politically, and affectively unstable.

My research explores the public life of science and technology. What happens when an object comes out of the laboratory and into the wilds of the world? How does our relationship to science affect the political sphere, and our relationship to politics infuse our science? How do we come to imbue objects with lives of their own in ways that lead them to elude our hopes? There are perhaps more serious ways to think about these questions than with LSD. But they would not be nearly so fun.