Walter Benjamin: Arcades and Hashish

The New Yorker: “Over the next seven years, Benjamin participated in drug sessions as either subject or observer at least nine times, but his attitude toward drugs remained vigilantly experimental. He seldom took them when he was alone, and he never had his own supplier, relying on doctor friends to procure hashish, opium, and, on one occasion, mescaline. The sessions were recorded in ‘protocols,’ furnishing raw material for what Benjamin intended to be a major book on the philosophical and psychological implications of drug use. When, in a letter to Gershom Scholem, his best friend from the age of twenty-three, Benjamin, then forty, listed four unwritten books that he considered ‘large-scale defeats’—evidence of the “ruin or catastrophe” that his career had become—the last was a ‘truly exceptional book about hashish.'”

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