Master Addicts, From Paracelsus to William S Burroughs

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Opium has fueled people’s dreams since the dawn of creation. Some of history’s greatest writers have been partisans of the poppy. Michael Aldrich, drug scholar, explores the laudanum literature in the November, 1982 edition of High Times.


Opium, raw opium—the best painkiller known since the dawn of creation: yet historians, delicately embarrassed, seem reluctant to admit its profound influence on world leaders and events. The history of the human race might be interestingly revised if all the great opium eaters would rise up and dance where they died. Who are these famous monsters, these immortal addict shades?

They pass before us in a dream, revealing all states and conditions of humanity: Marcus Aurelius, Plotinus, Avicenna, Paracelsus, Ronsard, Savonarola. Baber, first Mogul emperor of India, and his heirs, poisoning each other with slow-acting poppy juice in a blood feud for control of the subcontinent.

Cardinal Richelieu appears, dueling through eternity…

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