After Beyard Taylor, the next outstanding commentator in the field of hashish phenomena was the tireless Fitz Hugh Ludlow. This little-known bon vivant of the 19th century literature gave rise to the tradition of pharmaco-roguish literature, which later found followers in the person of William Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson. Ludlow, being a college freshman in 1855, decided to put on himself a scientific experiment on the effect of hashish during a student tea party.
I sat at the tea table when I was in awe. I passed Miss M.’s cup so that she filled it for me for the first time, and when she was about to return it to me, full to the brim with moisture, which invigorates but does not intoxicate, I, unwittingly, calculated the arc, by which her hand reaches me, having passed its way to my saucer. The wall was filled with dancing satires; Chinese mandarins idiot nodded in all corners, and I definitely felt the need to leave the table while I was still not posing.
There is in this report Ludlow about hemp a kind of wonderful quintessence of everything that was amusing for the yank-transcendentalists. Ludlow creates a literary character unlike the poet John Shade in Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire, a hero who allows us to see the problem better than himself. Partly a genius, partly a madman, Ludlow is somewhere halfway between captain Ahab and P.-T. Barnum, this is something like Mark Twain on hashish. There is a wonderful charm in his free spirit, pseudoscientific openness, when he follows his way through the shaky dunes of the world of hashish.
How much hashish sheds light on the deepest secrets of the mind? This is a question that will be dogmatically resolved in two diametrically opposite ways. A person who does not believe in anything that in no way would touch the organs of his body, will instinctively hide himself in the fortress of what he perceives as old common sense, and exclaim from there: “Insane!” He will reject every experience and the facts openly identified as true with the final and unquestioned verdict of abnormality.
And there are people of another class, whose representative, recognizing bodily sensations as very important in the nutrition and strengthening of the human body, is convinced that they give him only the appearance of something: not things as they are in essence and their laws, harmoniously correlated with its source, and only how they affect it through different parts of the body. This person will be inclined to believe that only Mind, with its prerogative of the only self-conscious being in the Universe, has the right and the ability to turn inward to itself for an answer to the amazing riddles of the world …
Arguing this way, a person, although he seems to be a dreamer, a visionary, recognizes the possibility of discovering from the Mind itself (in some of its over-ordinary awakened states) some truth or a set of truths that do not manifest themselves in the everyday state of this person.