Psychonautism in Contemporary Arts and Societies: A Socio-History of a Sensory Experience

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:00-17:30
Location: Seminar 33 (Juridicum)
TG07 Senses and Society (host committee)

Language: English

Psychoactive drug-taking, especially when it comes to hallucinogens but not only, is always a question of alteration of the senses: through heroin injection flashes, LSD mystical trips, ecstasies provoked by chemical drugs... One of the main functions of drugs is actually to explore the depth of the mind and to reach an upper level of reality, according to Timothy Leary’s advocacies in his Politics of Ecstasy (1968), meanwhile “psychonautism” is a word popularized by the German writer Ernst Jünger. 
This session will address several issues about this kind of experience. How can be analyzed the roles of the senses (sight, hearing, touch) in the depiction of the altered or parallel universes created by drugs? From a semiotic point of view, what are the signs, visual forms or landscapes, synesthetic sensations associated with these experiences for creating a new sensory and symbolic imaginary? Who are the figures of “psychonautism” and how did they advocate or not the chemical enlargement of the doors of perception (chemists like Albert Hoffmann or Alexander Schulgin, writers like Antonin Artaud or Henri Michaux)? In a historical and sociological perspectives, in what way drugs have modified the perception of the contemporary world, being nowadays an irreducible part of popular cultures? 
To answer these questions, contributions about the contemporary period (19th or 20th century) are expected meanwhile there is no restriction of cultural or geographical frames. Papers should address the field of sociology, history, anthropology or any interdisciplinary perspective in social sciences.
Session Organizer:
Alexandre MARCHANT, Université Paris X Nanterre, France
Florence FIGOLS, Concordia University, Canada
The “Mandala” Psychonautist Experience in Paris in the 1960s-1970s.
Alexandre MARCHANT, Université Paris X Nanterre, France
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