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Perils of drinking

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recently cataloged items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


img0003  L’antialcoolisme en histoires vraies is a volume that deals with the history of alchoholism and the various effects on all of society.  Crafted as lectures and lessons that go with official programs it was written by Dr. Emile Galtier-Boissière.  Galtier-Boissière is probably most well known for his work on Larousse medical illustré de guerre, which is an illustrated guide to medical care during World War I.  The illustrations throughout this volume dealing with alcoholism are particularly sensational and most likely hope to shock the reader with the effects of alcohol on people’s health and subsequent lives.

There is an entire chapter about the effect alcoholics and alcoholism has on the family.  For example this depiction of a woman clutching her baby in her arms while her husband is stumbling

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and drunk knocking furniture around their house is an indictment of the dangers of drinking.  There is also a visual of how alcoholism can change the health and appearance of a person.  In the later half of the 19th-century alcohol consumption in France was quite low compared to other countries like Russia and Sweden.  However by 1900 the average amount of what a person was drinking was sharply up so France launched an aggressive anti-alcohol campaign and managed to get it down from 4.88 liters per inhabitant to 3.76 liters by 1906.  You can see this reflected in the graphic in the volume which includes representations of the countries laboring under the weight of alcohol.


L’antialcoolisme en histoires vraies / par le Dr. Emile Galtier-Boissière,.. Paris : Larousse, [1901?] can be found in Widener’s collection. 

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post.

Cautionary tales

artaud-3This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recently cataloged items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

As Nazi occupation expanded into France, Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), the avant-garde dramatist, actor, poet, and theorist of the Theatre of Cruelty, was committed to a mental hospital in Rodez. There he came under the care of Gaston Ferdière, a medical doctor and poet, who subjected Artaud to hundreds of electric shocks across 51 sessions of electro-shock therapy, then a new and experimental treatment. It was during this period that Artaud annotated this copy of Les nouvelles révélations de l’être, his astrological pamphlet of 1937. Nouvelles révélations contains a number of prognostications, among them the rise to power of a world-conquering autocratic ruler – Artaud himself. Perhaps seeing in the war a parallel to his earlier prophecy, Artaud inscribed this copy with a dedication to Hitler:


To Adolf Hitler, in memory of the Romanische café in Berlin one afternoon in May of ’32, and because I pray God give you the grace to remember all the wonders by which HE has GRATIFIED (RESUSCITATED) YOUR HEART, this very day, Kudar dayro Zarish Ankkara Thabi. Antonin Artaud, 3 December 1943.*

(It bears mentioning that Artaud did claim to have met Hitler personally, as both frequented the Berlin café scene in the early 1930s, during Artaud’s time as a film actor; in some retellings of this story, Artaud asserts that the encounter ended in a fistfight.)


Artaud also annotated this copy extensively with additional passages and corrections to the text. This extraordinary copy comes to us from the Santo Domingo Collection in a similarly extraordinary case, designed by the French binder Renaud Vernier in 1990. The tan calfskin enclosure mimics the red and black type of the pamphlet’s cover with stamping, and the whole is housed in an additional slipcase.

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As for Ferdière, he would write, in an article published in a special issue of the poetic journal La tour de feu dedicated to Artaud, that the dedication to Hitler was a “specific example of Artaud’s mental derangement … One recognizes here the faulty memory (so frequent with Artaud along with mistaken identity), mystical ideas, glossolalia, etc….”* But the doctor’s assessments were not uncontroversial, and neither were his practices. A subsequent patient of Ferdière’s, the Lettrist artist and poet Isidore Isou, lashed out against Ferdière’s diagnosis and treatment of Artaud in a book-length screed, Artaud torturé par les psychiatres.

*Translations from Antonin Artaud anthology (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1965), by the editor of that volume, Jack Hirschman.

Les nouvelles révélations de l’être: FC9.Ar752.937n (B).

Thanks to bibliographic assistant Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.

Mad Dog’s i

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recently cataloged items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

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Today’s post features an artist named Richard Stine and his book Smile in a Mad Dog’s i.  Stine self-published this first edition in 1974 with 4000 copies.  Inspired by the receipt books that newsboys used to carry in the 1950s he used two metal rings to bind the loose pages.  Stine also liked the idea of being able to add pages in the future though he never actually did it.  According to Stine he spent $9000 to publish it, at the time his entire life savings.  There is another edition that was published in 1976 by Carolyn Bean Associates.  I really enjoyed his text and drawings so I choose a few of my favorites to share below.  To learn more about what Stine is up to these days you can check out his blog Zen Dogs Blog.

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Smile in a mad dog’s i : drawings / Richard Stine. Ojai, Calif. : Richard Stine, [1974]. NC1429.S66 A4 1974 can be found in the Fine Arts Library’s Collection.

Thanks to Donna Viscuglia, Cataloger, and Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post.

More Blanchot!

Since the archive of French philosopher and author Maurice Blanchot arrived at Houghton Library in 2015, exploration of the papers by Harvard students and by scholars from around the world has been intense. When a number of important Blanchot manuscripts appeared on the market in April this year, there definitely was interest in adding them to the Harvard collection. These new manuscripts came from a source other than Cedalia Blanchot, from whom the Library had purchased the archive, but could we afford them all? The answer was “no,”—but by combining funds from across Harvard Library, and a substantial gift from a donor who had supported earlier Blanchot acquisitions, one group was secured.


MS Fr 662, box 22 © Maurice Blanchot

Thomas le Solitaire is a very early version of became Thomas l’Obscur, and differs significantly from that published in 1941.  Thomas was Blanchot’s first published work and his first fictional work. First books always have a particular interest, in showing how the novice works to structure and shape his work; as can be seen from the photographs, there is a lot to work with here. Along with the manuscript, the Library acquired this later, typescript, version.


MS Fr 662, box 22 © Maurice Blanchot

This purchase was funded by the Bayard Livingston and Kate Gray Kilgour Fund, the Amy Lowell Trust, the Keller fund in the Western Languages Division of Widener Library, and the Class of 1952 Manuscript Fund.

But that’s not all!

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MS Fr 622, box 21

Cidalia Blanchot has forwarded, for inclusion in the archive, a number of letters to Blanchot and other items that emerged after the archive had been shipped to Cambridge. This includes three new photographs of Blanchot, on various official documents. Blanchot was reclusive in his later years, and very few photographs of him are known. Two are reproduced here, showing the 20-year-old student (1927), and the now-famous philosopher (1970).

These new additions are open for research and may be accessed in the Houghton reading room.

Thanks to Leslie Morris, Curator of Modern Books & Manuscripts, for contributing this post.

Sinner man

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Img0045 “Here, in this taut, fact-crammed volume, you’ll be taken into the fifteen most infamous vice centers of the entire hemisphere, you’ll see for yourself how crime flourishes within each city.”  America’s cities of sin is an anthology of articles from popular 1940s and 50s magazines targeted for men.  It is a fascinating look at public sentiments of the time regarding drugs and sex.  The text of the articles is taken without abridgment from the serial publications of Male, Stag, and Eye.  The editor, Noah Sarlat, states that these three magazines turned the spotlight onAmerican sins including crime, prostitution, gambling, and drugs by writing exposes that informed the public.


Hooked is another anthology that takes articles exclusively dealing with drugs from Challenge for Men Magazine and Man’s Magazine.  Editor Phil Hirsch compiled a number of articles with extremely sensational titles such as

“I Peddled Dope for Houston’s Cops!”

“Pep Pill Junkie” and

“$500 a day Habit.”  If you have been reading these posts regularly it may not surprise you to learn that we have already processed a few of the original issues of Man’s Magazine which can be found in Hollis+.  The covers of all of these publications are designed to snag the viewer with pulpy images which are accompanied by incendiary statements about sex, drugs, and death.

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These delightfully lurid and sensational covers are not all that different from popular tabloid journalism of today.  The following titles can be found in Widener’s collection:

America’s cities of sinselected and with an introduction by Noah Sarlat. New York : Lion Books, 1951 

Hooked / compiled by Phil Hirsch. New York, Pyramid Books [1968]

Man’s magazineNew York : Almat Publishing Corp., 1962-

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

 This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

img0002Inspired by Election Tuesday and in light of Massachusetts Ballot Question 4 I thought it might be interesting to look at a few ephemeral examples of the legalization of marijuana I recently uncovered within the collection.  For those who do not know Question 4 is a measure that would allow the use, cultivation, possession and distribution of recreational marijuana for individuals at least 21 years old with certain regulations similar to alcohol.  If you currently live in Massachusetts and are wondering to yourself “Didn’t we already vote on pot?” you are correct.  In addition to the use of medical marijuana the current law on the books in Massachusetts, enacted in January 2009,MGL c.94C, s.32L says that you can possess one ounce or less of marijuana and if you get caught by the cops you will face a $100 fine and they will seize your pot, but no other criminal or civil penalties would apply, in essence decriminalizing marijuana of a certain amount.  As I looked to the collection I realized that we have the actual posters and other ephemera which display some of the history of marijuana legalization.


Both of the images above are from a Legalise Pot Rally in 1967 which took place in Hyde Park in London with about 5,000 people.  It was a peaceful demonstration with attendees being warned by the cops “not to trample the tulip beds.”  You can see film footage of the “flower children” attending.  The push to make marijuana legal never succeeded and it remains illegal to this day in England.


In California only a few years later in 1972 Proposition 19 was the first ballot measure in the history of the United States which attempted to legalize marijuana.  It would have removed penalties in the State of California for persons 18 years of age or older for using, possessing, growing, processing, or transporting marijuana for personal use.  The measure was defeated with 66.5% voting against it.  The grassroots organizations that supported it were incredibly passionate citing scientific research that it wasn’t dangerous and government experts who agreed that enforcement of criminal penalties was costing a fortune in taxpayer dollars.

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They also argued that it was ruining the lives of ordinary people who may have just smoked a joint and were now serving years in prison for such a minor offense.  You can see this fervor and activism reflected in the posters and petitions in the collection.  Of course opponents pointed to how dangerous and unpredictable marijuana was and worried that decriminalization would encourage drug abuse and damage society.

California tried again in 2010 with another Proposition 19 which legalized various marijuana-related activities, allowed local governments to regulate these activities, permitted local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorized various penalties.  Again it failed with 53.5% of Californians voting no.  Undaunted there is yet another measure this year, Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, legalizing the possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana.  Individuals over age 21 would be allowed to possess, cultivate and sell marijuana; the state would regulate commercial activities related to commerce for recreational use; a 15% excise tax and an additional $9.25 per ounce of flower or $2.75 per ounce of leaf would be collected; and possession and cultivation of certain amounts for personal use would be legalized statewide.  Will California finally fulfill the hope of all of those people that first tried to decriminalize marijuana in 1972?  And will Massachusetts regulate and tax marijuana usage?

Your vote decides.

Check out another special post which explores anti-drug crusaders.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

moloch-2This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Measures to legalize recreational marijuana are on five state ballots this year, including Houghton Library’s home state of Massachusetts. The Santo Domingo Collection naturally includes significant historical matter supporting the movement to legalize, but it also offers the following thundering dissent. Pictured here are two works by Robert James Devine, a reverend who published several vehement tracts warning of the drug’s lethal dangers in the first half of the twentieth century. Devine draws parallels between marijuana and Moloch, the ancient Ammonite god: both are false idols, and both demand the sacrifice of children. Lending potency to this metaphor is J.N. Curry’s cover illustration of The Moloch of marihuana, in which devilish drug peddlers fling hapless figures onto the burning hands of Moloch’s brass statue, while a scholar, a policeman, and other complacent citizens avert their gazes.


The text is a series of news items, anecdotes, and relations of Devine’s own crusading efforts against marijuana; throughout, those who smoke it suffer murderous or suicidal urges, accidental deaths, and other such grim fates. Devine asks: “If it has the power to drive cattle ‘loco’ or crazy (who has not heard of a ‘locoed steer’?) or to make an elephant “run amok” – what will it not do to adolescent youths?” (25) (Here he may have conflated marijuana with the swainsonine-producing “locoweed” family of plants, which can cause neurological damage in cattle that graze on them.)

Perhaps unable to improve on artwork so striking, Devine repurposed his cover image of dread Moloch for a second publication, Assassin of youth!: marihuana. This volume is largely an expanded and rearranged edition of Moloch of marihuana, and includes a frontispiece picturing several “reefers” or “muggles” and a marijuana leaf for the vigilant reader’s edification.


Of the many degradations he describes in its pages, Devine at one juncture exclaims:

After listening to such a sordid story freely given by a mere boy of fifteen nonchalantly describing (from behind prison bars) his gamut of debasing escapades, I felt that I needed to wash out my ears and eyes; indeed my whole being cried aloud for an internal bath. (39)

Collected with these works is this unattributed poster, an enlargement of the Moloch image block-printed in several colors of ink, probably decades later. Whether it hung on the wall of a supporter or an opponent of the drug is left to conjecture.


Moloch of marihuana: HV5822.M3 D48 1938

Assassin of youth!: HV5822.M3D48 1943

Moloch of marihuana (poster): AB9.C9374.975m

Thanks to bibliographic assistant Ryan Wheeler for contributing this post.

Living on Love

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Img0047Ever wondered how you can live like a hippie in the 1960s?  The hippy’s handbook : how to live on love could be just what you need.

This tongue in cheek guide tells you how to save money on rent- hint live in a a 10-person commune with a $60 per month rent.  To save on laundry just don’t wear underwear, if you want to buy beads that is a one time expenditure of about $3 and you can simply pick flowers yourself.  How can you save on food costs?  They recommend implementing economy measures such as “sleep late so you can skip breakfast; writers who are doing hippy stories will be happy to interivew you over lunch ; wait tables- provides an income plus all you can eat free : go home for a meal once a week (your parents will be happy to see you even if they don’t act it) ; free food from digger stores can cut food bills to almost nil.

There is even a handy fashion guide for both men and women within its pages.

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Do you possess hip-hugger pants, a flowered shirt, tattoos, long hair and a beard?  If you a man that said yes and can borrow a flute you are good to go!  The women’s outfit appears both dos and don’ts, telling her to NOT wear lipstick or a bra but to definitely include ankle bells, silver rings, beads and of course a micro skirt.

The volume also includes a glossary of common words used by hippies such as:

BOO n. marijuana

ELECTRIC adj. having psychedelic powers; as in electric banana or electric Kool-Aid

UP TIGHT adj. in a state of extreme anxiety.

To learn more and see a few digitized pages you can find The hippy’s handbook : how to live on love / by Ruth Bronsteen. New York, N.Y. : Canyon Book Co., c1967 in Widener’s collection. 

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Mushrooms- they are cheap and legal, but how do you ensure that you don’t eat the wrong one?  Hallucinogenic Mushrooms contains information on identification, buying and eating mushrooms, different species, current laws, as well as poisonous mushrooms in Britain.


This handy guide counsels that there is no one test to figure out if a mushroom can be safely eaten.  A common myth is that poisonous ones will blacken a spoon, while edible mushrooms peel easily, and “magic” mushrooms turn blue after they are uprooted.  Be warned this publication states that None of these tests can be relied on!


They suggest that you should go with an experienced identifier until you know your stuff.  And getting a comprehensive fungi guide such as Collins Guide to Mushrooms and Toadstools is a good idea or if you are looking for “magic” mushrooms they recommend A Guide to British Psilocybin Mushrooms (both can be found in the Botany Libraries for reference.)  Img0032Once you have your identification books with you it will be easier to identify fungi in the field.  The physical features of the mushroom hold the key, step one is to look at the cap and observe its shape and color, then determine if the surface is shiny or dull and if there are lines.  To get a look at the flesh break off a bit, smell it, and note the color of the gills and how they are attached to the stem. What shape and color are the stem?  Are there rings on it?  Is there a bulb at the bottom?  Always make sure that it is a mature specimen because a great deal of fatal cases of mushroom poisoning happen when people pick a mushroom before it is fully developed because characteristics revealing its poisonous nature may not yet be present.

Mushroom poisoning can be observed as quickly as 20 minutes after eating or as late as 40 hours, the later it takes symptoms to show the more serious the situation because the poison has had time to circulate within the body.  Medical advise should be sought immediately even if you begin to feel better because is a characteristic of the poison to have periods of recovery followed by eventual demise.

Hallucinogenic mushrooms : a Release guideImg0029 / written by the Release Collective ; illustrations by Grant.  London : Release, 1979 can be found in Widener’s collection.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

What exactly is a Commune?  I’ll use the words from the Commune : Journal of the Commune Movement to explore the concept.  According to Joan (one of the contributors) there are

Img0041many different types of Commune scenes.  You have therapeutic communes who are concerned with curing an ill of their choosing, specifically formed for this one purpose.  We have “hippy” communes which are characterized by lack of commitment to everything, no economic plan or concern for meeting basic needs.  Digger communes are focused on independence from society and making an alternate society of their own.  Ideological communes are focused on a specific ideology such as vegetarianism or religion.  Then we have the ordinary communes where people think that life is more interesting in large groups and that practical and interpersonal problems may be more easily solved within these groups.  There is a mixture of people with different ages, beliefs, financial status, sexual orientations, and they are often oriented towards making a craft that can be sold outside the commune.  Other characteristics are a willingness to contribute to a need of society as a whole but they are typically more interested in creating an alternate economic system.

Img0044For example this helpful article which reveals some basic tips on keeping chickens.  To keep six chickens you want to have a 6ft by 4ft space which will ideally fit the coop and be facing South with plenty of windows to get as much light as possible.

The object of the Commune movement is clearly stated in each issue: To create a federal society of communities wherein everyone shall be free to do whatever he wishes provided only that he doesn’t transgress the freedom of another.

We discovered three issues that span 1969-1974 and give an interesting look at the evolution of the publication itself.  Issue no.30 (1969) which is the green cover below is stapled together and most likely produced with a typewriter.  No.37 (1971) has come quite a bit further for it is mass produced, has a table of contents, and contains well-articulated articles such as the one on types of communes I mentioned earlier.  By the time we reach 1974 with our other issue the greater sophistication is clear with the detailed cover art, illustrations combined with articles, book reviews, and financial details of the organization.

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To learn more about Commune life you can find Communes : journal of the Commune Movement. Taunton (Somerset) : Commune Movement, 1965- in Widener’s collection.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

Bear’s foot?

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Img0002I have to say as we have processed this immense collection one of the things that never ceases to delight me are the names of various plants.  For example Bear’s foot, which is named because it has an extremely fetid smell, which only leads me to wonder how does one get close enough to a bear to smell its foot?  Is this a common occurrence for botanists?  The leaves from bear’s foot are very bitter and acrid so if chewed it will actually abrade the mouth.  Why might you be chewing the leaves?  The leaves will cause vomiting so in the past it was administered to children to expel round worm, but is counseled against in this text because it can be dangerous when given too high of a dosage.

Img0004Authored by George Spratt, a surgeon, the Medico-botanical pocket-book was published in London around 1836.  It is a pocket sized reference tool containing plates that illustrate specific plants, some of which are beautifully hand colored.  The cardinal flower which is native to Virginia was introduced to America by the botanist Ray.  The root of this plant has a taste resembling tobacco and in the not too distant past it was often used to help treat fever sores, cramps, and again induce vomiting if one ate something poisonous.  Apparently the Native Americans often used cardinal flower for both medicinal and ritual usage.  It was both used as a type of ceremonial tobacco and thrown to the winds to ward off storms as well as an ingredient in love charms.


Something that was unexpected in this volume was the appendix which relates information about poisons.  This section gives diagnostic and general symptoms, treatment, and morbid appearances.  Included are various tests for each poison complete with these amazing little drawings that illustrate the experiments.  This particular illustration displays how to test for arsenic in various chemical compounds and the actual colors that result when arsenic is present in them.

The medico-botanical pocket-book : comprising a compendium of vegetable toxicology … ; to which is added an appendix, containing practical observations on some of the mineral and other poisons, illustrated with tests / by G. Spratt. London : Published for the author by J. Churchill, [1836].  Pp Sp7m 1836. can be found in the Botany Libraries.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, Gretchen Wade, Judith Warnement, and Chris Robson of the Botany Libraries for contributing to this post.

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


Marijuana monthly is a periodical unsurprisingly devoted to all things marijuana.  Smuggling, growing, dealing, legal cases and aspects, and even some curious adventures that the staff experienced.

One of the included articles reveals a story of aerial marijuana smuggling between Mexico and the United States.  Martin Houltin who the author of the article says is the “grandaddy of marijuana aviation history” had a particularly interesting story.  Houltin lived in Columbus, New Mexico in 1968 which is just north of the border and when he wasn’t smuggling grass seemed like most other citizens of the small town.  Houltin reportedly didn’t deal or smoke the large quantities of marijuana but only transported them.  By 1973 he was running one of the largest air smuggling rings and though most people in the town were aware of what he was doing no one seemed to care, however U.S. Customs was the exception.  When the DEA was formed in late 1973 Houltin became a “special project” and they focused major resources to bust him.  Operation “Skynight” cost about $2 million and resulted in the arrest of Houltin who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1974.


The people involved in the publication were extremely active in the marijuana movement as editor Rick Sanders outlines their daily lives in his monthly column “From the Head Head.”  In issue no. 5 he reveals to readers that during the previous month they were busted at the border for a joint and he thanks US Customs and the DEA for not giving them 50 years in jail.  Sanders also encourages everyone to join the movement and write to their elected leaders in order to change the drug laws.


I’ll leave you with the words of Rick Sanders- Be Right On.

See the evolution of the various publication issues with digital scans of the covers from Marijuana monthly. Panorama City, Calif., Sanders Pub. Co., 1975- which can be found in Widener’s collection.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


Sometimes it is uncanny how we find materials in the collection that relate to popular culture right now, this week in fact.  I recently watched the new Netflix series Stranger Things, a nostalgic 1980s show which features isolation tanks and the idea of exploring and focusing the self-awareness of the mind to do amazing things.  It all sounds very sci-fi, but imagine my surprise when I came into work and discovered that this basic idea is grounded in research that was conducted by John C. Lilly and features in his book The Deep Self.Img0033

Lilly was a notable scientist whose research interests spanned medical physics, biophysics, psychoanalysis, and neurology.  In 1954 he invented something called the Isolation Tank Method which was to research “isolation therapy” in order to understand and experience new degrees of self-awareness and personal harmony, in other words to explore the nature of consciousness.  In the 1960s with the introduction of LSD and ketamine he began to include psychedelics with the isolation tank often using himself as a subject, which is chronicled in Programming and metaprogramming in the human biocomputer : theory and experiments and The center of the cyclone; an autobiography of inner space both of which are part of the Santo Domingo Collection.  In 1973 there was an opportunity to expand the tank isolation work in Malibu, California with a house that could house five tanks.  Volunteers used the tanks and reported their experiences in these “tank logs.”

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The volunteer would climb into the tank and float on a solution of Epsom salts and water with no light and almost no sound.  Here are two experiences from the tank logs:

Lois Bateson, female, 44 yrs “Roamed and sauntered through a kind of cosmic park, full of density but infinite boundaries.  People’s images occasionally came in and out of this but nothing stuck around important to focus on.  Then as wondered on this, sudden enlightenment-there is no such thing as separate consciousness.  My roaming were a kind of total consciousness….”

Paul Brenner, male, 40 yrs

  1. Shouldn’t have shaved-salt is an irritant to the skin.
  2. How do they get O2 into this thing?
  3. I hope it works!- O2 that is.
  4. This must be the closest thing to death.
  5. Nothing’s happening-I’ll try hypnosis…

Two vastly different experiences to say the least.  The Deep Self also outlines standards and guidelines for building and maintaining your own isolation tank in case you want to try it out for yourself.

The deep self : profound relaxation and the tank isolation technique / John C. Lilly. New York : Simon and Schuster, c1977, can be found in Widener’s collection.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

Pict Ale


This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


As the title suggests this is an entertaining read on the history, legends, and facts regarding beer along with clever illustrations.  The self-proclaimed “beer king” Alan Eames covers everything from the invention of beer, drinking habits of various cultures, advice on the best suds in the world, as well as the representation of beer in poetry, song, and popular culture.

I was fascinated to discover within the text something called Pict ale, which according to the author was the first beer brewed in the British Isles and famous for its strength and hallucinogenic potency.  It has been subsequently discovered that dwelling beneath the leaves of the heather plant is ergot fungus which contains LSD-like properties.  Heather ale was made using the flowers of the heather plant which were placed in the bottom of brew vats and combined with malt.  The specific type of heather was a closely guarded secret kept by the Picts, which was eventually lost when they were exterminated by the Scottish King Niall in the fourth century.  Heather ale has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years and is currently produced by a small number of Scottish breweries.

Fraoch FRAΦCH Heather Ale www.heatherale.co.uk ~Sláinte | Flickr ...Fraoch is one of those contemporary heather ales that is brewed by the Williams Bros. Brewing Company in Scotland.  They suggest pairing this original craft beer with venison, haggis, or dessert.

Robert Louis Stevenson famously wrote about the heather ale and its connection to the Picts in his publication of Ballads in 1890.  Houghton has a copy that was once owned by Henry James and includes Heather ale: a Galloway legend where he writes:

“Was far sweeter than honey, 

Was stronger far than wine.”

heatherale_2Another section on beer, poetry, and song reveals that the Middles Ages had many songs written both about the joys and evils of beer.  European history shows that the control and taxation of beer resulted in some of the earliest satiric music.  This musical outrage commonly burst forth in response to the increased price of beer revealing the importance of beer with the general populace.  To learn more from this handy little volume you can find the Secret life of beer : legends, lore & little-known facts[compiled by] Alan D. Eames. Pownal, Vt. : Storey Communications, c1995 in Widener’s collection.  

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post. 



This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

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Plantas que curan y plantas que matan written in Spanish by Arias Carbajal certainly makes a splashy impression with its pulpy cover.  The title translates to “plants that cure and plants that kill” and includes both theoretical and practical information regarding medical botany for curing various diseases.  In one section I discovered hierba de los gatos or catnip.  Img0011The text counsels that it can be used for nerves, headache, suppression of menstruation, scurvy, and people suffering from general weakness (whatever that means).

Since the 1700s catnip tea has been used for many mild ailments including nervous conditions, stomachaches, hives, and even the common cold.  More familiar with catnip as a stimulant for actual cats I was curious if people today still use catnip for any of these ailments.  I discovered that people still brew up catnip tea though there appears to be little hard scientific evidence that these problems are being cured by the catnip.  During the 1960s it was apparently smoked for the euphoric effects many claimed to experience and most people agree that it can be a good insect repellent when used in an oil form.  Img0012

On the other end of the spectrum we have the very poisonous tartago or spurge.  Native to southern Europe, northwest Africa, and throughout most of Asia the seeds, flowers, leaves, and roots are all poisonous and because the plant produces latex it can cause skin irritation when handled.  One animal that appears to be immune to the toxin from spurge are goats who sometimes eat it.  But watch out if you are going to milk your goat because the toxin can still be passed along in the goat’s milk!


Plantas que curan y plantas que matan :tratado teórico práctico de botánica medicinal para la curación de todas las enfermedades /por el Prof. Pio Arias-Carbajal, ex-medico de S.M. Mexico : [publisher not identified], [date of publication not identified] can be found at the Botany Libraries.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, Gretchen Wade, Judith Warnement, and Chris Robson of the Botany Libraries for contributing to this post.







Psychic TV

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.



On Easter Sunday in 1984, English experimental video art and music group Psychic TV conducted a performance at the Massachusetts College of Art. Physic TV members Genesis P-Orridge and John Gosling were interviewed after this performance, an interview in which they were questioned about the various influences for their art, which included a focus on occultism, serial killers, and bondage, and body modification/mutilation. The performance in Boston included “a tape loop of Aleister Crowley chanting to evoke demons,” backing video featuring PTV members having their genitalia pierced, and “other assorted bondage and discipline films,” along with footage of Jim Jones, Charles Manson, and Roman Polanski. It was paired with a sister event in Reykjavik, Iceland on Good Friday, and Physic TV members hoped that there would be a noted “psychick” influence between the two.



Genesis P-Orridge would continue Psychic TV through the present day, with some breaks in-between. Born in Manchester, Genesis founded the music and performance collective COUM Transmissions in 1969, which evolved into industrial band Throbbing Gristle in 1976. As with the Psychic TV performance previously described, Throbbing Gristle used disturbing and controversial imagery in their performances, including photographs of Nazi concentration camps. Their hope to provoke the audience into extracting themselves from the mainstream and thinking individually earned them an association with the rising anarchist punk scene. Throbbing Gristle disbanded in 1981, with Genesis P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson moving on to form Psychic TV. It has since had two revivals, from 2004-2010, and from 2011 to the present day.


The pamphlet pictured here includes the transcription of the post-Massachusetts College of Art Easter Sunday performance interview with Genesis P-Orridge and John Gosling, in which the pair discuss their goals for their performance group, the often controversial influences upon their art, and the way the English government has attempted to silence dissenting voices. Accompanying the pamphlet is an audio cassette tape containing audio from the interview.


To learn more about Physic TV and Genesis P-Orridge’s other projects, visit their website here. The Psychic TV interview pamphlet and accompanying audio cassette can be found in Widener’s collection: Boston: John Ze’Wizz, 1984.

Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

Poster Swank

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.



For some 40 years, Poster Auctions International has been holding auctions at Rennert’s Gallery in New York City for their collection of rare vintage posters. This collection spans art noveau, art deco, and modern pieces of poster art. Each auction is accompanied by a beautifully crafted auction book, with a hardbound cover and glossy color pages featuring images and details about available posters.



Poster collecting emerged as a popular and expensive endeavor sometime in the 1960s and 1970s, with focus being placed on the work of a handful of 19th century French artists such as Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, and Jules Cheret. As the market and demand for posters has expanded, new collector categories have developed: Mid-Century Modern reflected in post-WWII designs, war propaganda posters from the first half of the 20th century, and travel posters from around the world. Along with those in the Art Nouveau style, war propaganda posters are particularly popular. During the First World War, the United States produced some 2,500 poster designs, with 20 million posters printed, in the span of two years. The power of the poster was recognized and reimagined by the Bolsheviks, and became a staple of war efforts around the world. Other poster styles evolved throughout the 20th century, including Art Deco influenced by the sleek aesthetic of the jazz age, the ‘50s Style using whimsicle design to appeal to broad audiences, and International Typographic Style (or Swiss Style) which was highly structured, orderly, and corporate. Read more about the history of the poster here.



Many of the posters crafted between 1880 and 1930 were printed through a method called lithography, which was replaced by photo offset and silkscreen processes after the Second World War. Printing processes can account for the value of certain posters, along with their connection to the original artist, the popularity of said artist, the subject depicted, along with the rarity and condition of the poster itself. The auctions held by Poster Auctions International include posters from nearly all of the eras discussed here. The auction and Rennert’s Gallery are a staple of New York City, demonstrated by an auction they held two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks where proceeds went to benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.


To learn more, poster catalogs published by Poster Auctions International can be found in the Fine Arts Library collection.

Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

The Drug Demon

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.



Published in 1940, Narcotics: Destroyer of Mind and Body or The Drug Demon warns Americans about the dangers of drug addiction “found not only in the large cities…but also in towns, villages and isolated spots.” The author goes on to draw a parallel between the lies children are told about fairy tales and Santa Clause and about addictive substances. Children grow up to realize these myths are false, and therefore believe the warnings they have been given about alcohol, tobacco, and other substances are also false. The author resolves that young people will inevitably be corrupted by cocaine, opium, etc., “unless material facts proving all the attendant evils are laid before the people.”

The Drug Demon pamphlet goes on to present statistics about drug use in America, citing user increases of 10% annually, noting the commercialization of medical uses of strong drugs such as opium, and calling for new national laws “that will take care of the unfortunate already afflicted.”



The remainder of the pamphlet tells four stories of drug use gone terribly wrong. First addressed is marijuana, which the author calls “one of the most harmful drugs known,” followed by a myriad of violent crime stories linked to the drug. Second, two stories on the dangers of cocaine. The pamphlet is capped off with a summary of the effects of opium, along with an excerpt from Thomas De Quincy’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.

The illustrations within are at once cartoonish and haunting, creating a pamphlet surely meant to terrify the reader out of any curiosities about drug use.


To learn more The Drug Demon can be found in Widener’s collection: Chicago: Max Stein, 1942.

Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

Is that a dewberry?

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


Going for a hike in France?  Be sure to bring your favorite pocket atlas!  
Atlas de poche des plantes des champs, des prairies et des bois : a l’usage des promeneurs et des excursionistes was probably a popular reference tool for hikers in late 19th-century France which describes flowers and plants that one might find in the woods.  We discovered Series 1 and 2 within the Santo Domingo collection and the Botany Libraries already have Series 4 in their collection.  The two guides contain gorgeous colored plates and helpful information about location, physical description, and other fun facts about the plants.  For example let us look at Rubus caesius otherwise known as the European dewberry which can be found in forests or areas with rocky basic soil.  It can grow in a light amount of shade up to 2 meters high with prickly stems that are bluish-grey.  The shrub grows a wild fruit of a bluish black (the dewberry) that flowers from June to September.

Img0008Liseron des champs also known as field bindweed or the “Virgin’s dress” comes from the morning glory family.  A climbing or creeping plant it can also grow up to 2 meters high.  Though the trumpet shaped flowers are physically pleasing to the eye it is known as a nuisance weed that chokes out cultivated plants.  This invasive plant can be difficult to get rid of because the seeds remain viable for up to twenty years in the soil and one single plant can produce a whopping 500 seeds.

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Red valerian has a number of different names such as kiss-me-quick, fox’s brush and my personal favorite- Jupiter’s beard!  It can be found in rocky locations at low elevations with a high alkaline content in the soil. Both the leaves and roots can be eaten, in salads or soups, but whether they are actually tasty seems to be in question.  Although red valerian is sometimes reported to have medicinal properties it is probably due to a confusion with true valerian or Valeriana officinalis.  This type of valerian has been used as a sedative, migraine treatment, pain reliever, and antiseptic.  But most fascinating is the use of valerian in medieval Sweden where it was put in a groom’s wedding clothing to ward off the “envy of elves.”

Atlas de poche des plantes des champs, des prairies et des bois : a l’usage des promeneurs et des excursionistes. Série 1 / par R. Siélain. 3e Édition. Paris : Paul Klincksieck, 1895. FL 40 Si52a Series 1 1896

Atlas de poche des plantes des champs, des prairies et des bois : a l’usage des promeneurs et des excursionnistes. Série 2 / par R. Siélain. Paris : P. Klincksieck, 1896. FL 40 Si52a Series 2 1896

Both of these series can be found at the Botany Libraries.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, Gretchen Wade, Judith Warnement, and Chris Robson, Cataloger from the Botany Libraries for contributing this post.

Champion of counterculture

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


Actuel may just be the magazine equivalent of a cat with nine lives. This French publication has seen some three iterations, beginning as a jazz and alternative music review in 1967. Taken over by Jean-François Bizot in 1970, Actuel became a staple of the underground press in France. After a trip to the United States, where he witnessed firsthand the music, people, and substances of the Counterculture Movement, Bizot returned to Paris. A journalist at L’Express, Bizot realized that an article in that publication could not cover all that he had witnessed in the States. Further propelled by the civil unrest in France in May of 1968, where massive demonstrations and strikes were accompanied by the occupation of factories and universities, leading to a freeze of the French economy and widespread concerns of civil war, Bizot was inspired to begin a French underground publication.



And so began the second life of Actuel. The magazine covered everything from drugs to film to feminism, and introduced artists like Robert Crumb to a French audience. Bizot used the platform to lend voices to ecologists, feminists, gay-rights activists, and anti-racism campaigners. The magazine married the works of Rimbaud and Baudelaire with the music of Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa. Its pages were loud and colorful, rarely printed in black and white, and with a layout that would be repeated by underground newspapers and zines for decades to come. After 58 issues in a five-year run, this second rendition of Actuel shuttered its doors.



However, Actuel would have yet another reprisal. In 1979, Bizot and the other members of his original editing team came together to produce a more modern and streamlined version of Actuel . This magazine was big and glossy, with material aimed at the youth of the 1980s, with an emphasis on quality reporting, travel, and photography. Unlike its underground press predecessor, this new Actuel was a mainstream hit, with some 400,000 subscribers by the mid-1980s. With some breaks and restructurings in the process, this final version of Actuel ran until 1994, when Bizot started a new publication, Nova. Bizot passed away in 2007.



To learn more about the life and work of Jean-François Bizot, his obituary is available at The Independent.  Issues of Actuel can be found in Widener’s collection: Paris: Jean-François Bizot, 1970-1975 and Paris: Actuel, 1979-1994.

Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.

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