B12 Solipsism

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Hofmann, Jobs and LSD

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Steve Jobs and Albert Hofmann (source unknown)

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I know we’ve discussed Steve Jobs and LSD previously in this space, but I’m too lazy to find the link at the moment…

Anyway, too many of the obituaries of SJ omit this one facet of his life: he was imbued with the ethos of the counter-culture, possibly due to his experimentation with mind-expanding chemicals like Albert Hofmann’s “problem child”

“Dear Mr. Jobs,” begins the 2007 letter from Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann to Apple’s (AAPL) CEO. “I understand from media accounts that you feel LSD helped you creatively in your development of Apple computers and your personal spiritual quest. I’m interested in learning more about how LSD was useful to you.” Hofmann, as students of the sixties will recall, was the chemist who first synthesized, ingested and experienced the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide.

LSD Art
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Steve Jobs, as readers of John Markoff’s “What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry” may remember, dabbled in psychedelics in the 1970s and has called his LSD experiences “one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life.” “I’m writing now,” Hofmann’s letter continues, “shortly after my 101st birthday, to request that you support Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Peter Gasser’s proposed study of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness.”

(click here to continue reading Dr. LSD to Steve Jobs: How was your trip? – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Tech.)

Ryan Grim adds:

The letter led to a roughly 30-minute conversation between Doblin and Jobs, says Doblin, but no contribution to the cause. “He was still thinking, ‘Let’s put it in the water supply and turn everybody on,'” recalls a disappointed Doblin, who says he still hasn’t given up hope that Jobs will come around and contribute.

That Jobs used LSD and values the contribution it made to his thinking is far from unusual in the world of computer technology. Psychedelic drugs have influenced some of America’s foremost computer scientists. The history of this connection is well documented in a number of books, the best probably being What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer, by New York Times technology reporter John Markoff.

Psychedelic drugs, Markoff argues, pushed the computer and Internet revolutions forward by showing folks that reality can be profoundly altered through unconventional, highly intuitive thinking. Douglas Engelbart is one example of a psychonaut who did just that: he helped invent the mouse. Apple’s Jobs has said that Microsoft’s Bill Gates, would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once.” In a 1994 interview with Playboy, however, Gates coyly didn’t deny having dosed as a young man.

Thinking differently–or learning to Think Different, as a Jobs slogan has it–is a hallmark of the acid experience. “When I’m on LSD and hearing something that’s pure rhythm, it takes me to another world and into anther brain state where I’ve stopped thinking and started knowing,” Kevin Herbert told Wired magazine at a symposium commemorating Hofmann’s one hundredth birthday. Herbert, an early employee of Cisco Systems who successfully banned drug testing of technologists at the company, reportedly “solved his toughest technical problems while tripping to drum solos by the Grateful Dead.”

“It must be changing something about the internal communication in my brain,” said Herbert. “Whatever my inner process is that lets me solve problems, it works differently, or maybe different parts of my brain are used.”

 

(click here to continue reading Ryan Grim: Read the Never-Before-Published Letter From LSD-Inventor Albert Hofmann to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.)

Written by Seth Anderson

October 9th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Apple

Tagged with , , ,

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