From People on Psychedelics
James Graham Ballard (15 November 1930 – 19 April 2009) was an English novelist and short story writer.
- "I'm not a drug user myself, I once took LSD, which was a big mistake. I had a sort of classic bad trip in fact, a sort of psychotic episode that made me feel that literally I was losing my mind for a day. LSD relies on tilting or damaging the sensory apparatus so that all colours begin to sort of separate. It's like you look at the world as if through a prism. The colours of the spectrum begin to float apart, time slows down. The interiors of things like trees, or settees, begin to migrate to their surfaces. My imagination works in a completely different way so that LSD was really not the right drug for me. I think my drug is probably alcohol, which has been a good friend to writers since time immemorial.
- Ballard may have only taken one bad acid trip, and disavowed the impact of it on his imagination, but it was difficult for his countercultural readers to believe this, especially when they sopped up passages like this one, from Myths of the Near Future: "Sheppard hesitated by the water's edge, and then stepped on to its hard surface. He felt the brittle corrugations under his feet, as if he were walking across frosted glass. He'd almost ceased to breathe. Here, at the centre of the space ground, he could feel time rapidly engorging itself. The infinite pasts and future of the forest had fused together. A jewelled snake hung from a bough, gathering to it all the embroidered skins it had once shed. Sheppard stepped ashore and walked up the slope. A giant butterfly spread its harlequin wings against the air, halted in midflight."
- - Self on Ballard - BBC Radio 4, 26 Sep 2009.
- "JGB: I took LSD back in ’67. Up to that point I’d smoked a bit of pot. When I was a student at Cambridge, I regularly -– you could then in England buy amphetamines across the counter, in drugstores, without a prescription. And we took them regularly without even thinking about it, if you wanted to work all night, or just feel a bit keyed up. I’d had experiences with drugs, but then I took LSD -- I’ve never taken heroin, never have done. But then I took LSD, and had a classic bad trip, which I won’t bother to describe.
- "I had such a negative trip, a real paranoid journey of despair. It was over in a day, but little vents of hell went on opening for years afterward, as I gather they do. I don’t know, it sort of turned me against drugs. And then people started saying about an early novel of mine called Crystal World, which described a crystallizing world, going beyond time and space -– ah, that book was written after your LSD trip. I said no, that’s not true actually, it was written before my LSD trip. It confirmed, I felt, that human imagination can achieve anything that drugs can achieve. So, I stick to my whiskey and soda."