BY HENRIK DAHL
Today, April 16, 2023, marks the 80th anniversary of the discovery of LSD’s psychedelic properties. Naturally, this is a cause for celebration among millions of psychedelicists around the world, who have experienced its extraordinary effects on consciousness. Not to mention its impact on the Arts.
Festivities typically occur on April 19, though. This is the date when the first intentional LSD trip occured. In the psychedelic vernacular the event is known as Bicycle Day. Coined by American author Thomas B. Roberts in the mid-1980s, the expression refers to the fact that LSD discoverer Dr. Albert Hofmann rode a bicycle during a portion of the experience.
It is interesting to note that Hofmann’s discovery became associated with the bicycle. For cycling has favourable connotations. If placed in a certain context, there is something innocent, almost romantic, about riding a bike. One may, for instance, have fond memories of pedalling silently through a pastoral landscape on a summer’s day.
The bicycle also has a comparatively very low impact on the environment, which of course is another reason why one thinks of bicycles in such positive terms. If Hofmann had travelled by car instead of a bicycle, it seems unlikely that the event would have been named after the good doctor’s mode of transportation – “Car Day” doesn’t sound right, does it? – especially given Hofmann’s concerns with how humanity is destroying nature.
Like his friend, the German writer Ernst Jünger, Hofmann became a critic of modernity. For instance, he disliked the “wretched noise and filthy pollution” of modern cities. “Once centers of habitation and culture, they have been transformed into centers of traffic and industry,” he wrote in Insights/Outlooks. Although written before the widespread realisation that climate change is the greatest challenge of our times, Hofmann noted in the book that humankind is making the earth “completely uninhabitable”.
For many people, LSD and other similar psychedelics bring profound insights into this matter.
By Henrik Dahl
Posted on April 16, 2023
Henrik Dahl is a journalist and critic specialising in psychedelic culture and art.
Featured image: Richard Anuszkiewicz’s 1964 painting Primary Hue (detail).
1. Hofmann, Albert, LSD: My Problem Child (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) pp. 187-188.
2. Ibid., p. 190.