Was LSD a Magic Bullet? The Outlaw Romanticism of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in a New Book

A hope for a (r)evolution in cognitive control and ability is part of the NBIC paradigm that motivated the creation of h+ magazine. I’ve always thought that psychedelic drugs, including LSD, were an extraordinarily potent — but also highly uncontrollable (then again, "out of control" is part of the message) — tool for cognitive research and development. For one example, psychedelics, it seems to me, both enhance and distort pattern recognition. Learning how to use this neural technology well, of course, has been taboo… it’s been up to the underground to try to figure it out as best they can.

Orange Sunshine by Nicholas Schou. Photo: sfgate.com/Now we have the publication of Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World. The Brotherhood of Eternal Love was a daring group of enormously successful underground manufacturers and dealers in LSD (and hashish) in the late ’60s//early ’70s who believed they could transform the world by getting enough acid out on the underground market.

I often think about this idea — spread enough psychedelics, transform the world — since it’s a view that I at least entertained for many years. I’ve come to see it as a very comforting illusion, mainly because it simplifies a much more complicated and difficult project. And although it had its dangers (and The Brothers did wind up getting busted big time in 1972), it was a pretty indulgent (I’m not particularly against indulgence) and hugely romantic approach toward world changing. The Brothers could stay high, party hard, and make lots of money, all the while feeling like (and being viewed by many in the underground as) the acid guerrillas of "the revolution." And best of all, they didn’t have to think too hard about what it would take to make a world worthy of the best aspects of expanded consciousness. The singular alchemical key to transmutation was already in a small orange pill!

Don’t get me wrong. I think LSD has been a pretty successful technology, despite the haphazard distribution of the drug and the information about how to use it. As just one example, in 2006, John Markoff’s book, What The Doormouse Said, delineated the connection between the psychedelic culture, other aspects of the ’60s counterculture, and the evolution of digital technologies.

SF Chronicle review of Orange Sunshine

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