Peter Matthiessen

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Peter Matthiessen (May 22, 1927 – April 5, 2014) was an American novelist, naturalist, wilderness writer and CIA agent. A co-founder of the literary magazine The Paris Review, he was a three-time National Book Award winner. He was also a prominent environmental activist.

  • "We [referring to his second wife] were both interested in LSD, we were doing a lot of drugs."
  • "the late 50s into the 60s really turned me round. My politics went off the scale and I was an early pioneer of LSD. The first guy I worked with was a renegade shrink and he used my wife and I as kind of guinea pigs. He said he could treat 40 people more effectively than he could work with one person in conventional analysis." Does he still think LSD is of value? "I think so, but you need to know what you are getting. I know from my kids and other kids telling me their experiences on acid that whatever they were describing it was not acid. It was some dangerous, combustible mix. As long as it was controlled by the pharmaceutical company in Switzerland who were the only people making it at the time, you knew what you were getting. Virtually anyone who was not seriously disturbed, and even then if under medical supervision, could benefit from LSD. It could clear away neurosis so much better than conventional therapy."
  • "He blames Timothy Leary for ensuring the drug remains illegal. "He almost single-handedly wrecked it. They used to say Timothy Leary was the only LSD patient whose ego was not soluble in LSD. He brought it into disrepute with his whole 'tune-in, drop-out' thing. He wasn't a bad man but he was silly. Although, that said, he also did say that the drug scene in In The Fields was the best he had ever read," Matthiessen adds with a smile."
  • "He had brought up the subject of The Great Mystery, which is at the heart of all the world's religions, and I, remembering bath to my own arid experiences, to the sense of divine almost-knowing - Focht au - that they brought, the feeling and assurance of a Blakeian and safe-guarding calm presence and centre within yourself that many might think of as Cod, had asked him what use drugs were in the quest for an insight into that mystery. His answer was immediate and straightforward: "LSD can be. When it was being manufactured by a Swiss chemical company? in meas-ured doses in the 1960s, a group of us learned to use it in a way that was not dangerous. It's a very foolish thing to take kr& sponsibly, but taken responsibly with people who know what they're doing, it's enormously instructive and I think almost everyone could benefit from it. But now you can't buy it. It's been made an outlaw thing because of the example of people like Timothy Leary, who made it so through their own ego. les a great shame, because it could have been a very, very useful therapeutic and also a spiritual tool... It rids you of all that litter in your brain. We're like bells that have been stuffed with sticks - there's so much preconception and prejudice in there that we lose the note entirely. LSD clears that out, lets you see clearly and believe that you're having a mystical experience...'"
- West: A Journey Through the Landscapes of Loss By Jim Perrin, p82