Fungal Hallucinogens In Decaying Archives

JamesWhitehead

Piffle Prospector
Joined
Aug 2, 2001
Messages
12,529
Likes
9,870
Points
309
#1
I found this morsel on the Dead Media Project Website.
It is nearly six years old so it isn't exactly news.

The Dead Media Project site doesn't seem to have been updated
for quite some time. So maybe it is bidding for a place in its own
archives!

http://www.deadmedia.org/notes/36/366.html

Dead medium: Fungal Hallucinogens in Decaying Archives
From: [email protected] Bruce Sterling

Source(s): Ellen Warren in Chicago Tribune (no date given); reprinted in Arizona Republic, October 6, 1996, Houston Chronicle October 6, 1996, and in "Rare Books Newsletter" of the National Library of Scotland pages 59-62 (Autumn 1996)
see also: "Sick Library Syndrome" by Dr. R. J. Hay in "The Lancet" 346, December 16, 1995, pages 1573-1574.

(((bruces remarks: this colorful medical tale of the hazards of decaying media has all the qualities of a Jan Harold Brunvand urban legend. Improbable, yes, but what a bar story.)))
"Book Fungus Can Get You High"
by Ellen Warren, Chicago Tribune
"CHICAGO == Getting high on great literature is taking on a whole new meaning. It turns out that, if you spend enough time around old books and decaying manuscripts in dank archives, you can start to hallucinate. Really.
"We're not talking psychedelia, 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds' stuff, here. But maybe only a step or two away from that.
"Experts on the various fungi that feed on the pages and on the covers of books are increasingly convinced that you can get high == or at least a little wacky == by sniffing old books. Fungus on books, they say, is a likely source of hallucinogenic spores.
"The story of The Strangeness in the Stacks first started making its way through the usually staid antiquarian books community late last year with the publication of a paper in the British medical journal, The Lancet.
"There, Dr. R.J. Hay wrote of the possibility that 'fungal hallucinogens' in old books could lead to 'enhancement of enlightenment.'
"'The source of inspiration for many great literary figures may have been nothing more than a quick sniff of the bouquet of mouldy books,' wrote Hay, one of England's leading mycologists (fungus experts) and dean of dermatology at Guy's Hospital in London.
"Well, said an American expert on such matters, it may not be that easy.
"'I agree with his premise == but not his dose. It would take more than a brief sniff,' aid Monona Rossol, an authority on the health effects of materials used in the arts world.
"For all the parents out there, these revelations would seem ideal for persuading youngsters to spend some quality time in the archives.
"But attention kids: You can't get high walking through the rare books section of the library.
"Rossol said it would take a fairly concentrated exposure over a considerable period of time for someone to breathe in enough of the spores of hallucinogenic fungus to seriously affect behavior. There are no studies to tell how much or how long before strange behavior takes hold.
"Still, this much seems apparent == if you want to find mold, the only place that may rival a refrigerator is a library.
"Just last week the Las Cruces, N.M., Public Library was closed indefinitely, prompted by health concerns after a fungus outbreak in the reference section. Library director Carol Brey said the fungus promptly spread to old history books and onward to the literature section.
"The town's Mold Eradication Team, she said, shuttered the library as a precaution. 'We didn't want to take any chances,' she said. A mold removal company will address the problem, which is believed to have originated in the air conditioning system.
"Psychedelic mushrooms, the classic hallucinogenic fungus, derive their mind-altering properties from the psilocybin and psilocin they produce naturally.
"One historic example of this phenomenon, scientists now believe, is the madness that prevailed in the late 1600s in Salem, Mass., where ergot, a hallucinogenic fungus, infected the rye crops that went into rye bread. Ergot contains lysergic acid, a key compound of the hallucinogenic drug LSD. This tiny fungus and its wild effects on the rye-bread-eating women may have led to the Salem witch trials.
"Rossol, a New York chemist and consultant to Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History who publishes the newsletter Acts Facts, the journal of Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety, said that there have not been scientific studies on the hallucinogenic effects of old books.
"But, relying on accounts from newsletter readers who report their own strange symptoms == ranging from dizziness to violent nausea == she says there is no doubt that moldy old volumes harbor hallucinogens."
Bruce Sterling ([email protected])
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
7,125
Likes
4,845
Points
259
#2
James Whitehead said:
"One historic example of this phenomenon, scientists now believe, is the madness that prevailed in the late 1600s in Salem, Mass., where ergot, a hallucinogenic fungus, infected the rye crops that went into rye bread. Ergot contains lysergic acid, a key compound of the hallucinogenic drug LSD. This tiny fungus and its wild effects on the rye-bread-eating women may have led to the Salem witch trials."
This seems a little - I don't know, gah

oh well - i had a point.
In the articler they don't seem to distinguish between hallucinating and "getting high" - they keep reffering to "getting high" what quite are the effects of the library mould on people? like coffee?:confused:
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
7,125
Likes
4,845
Points
259
#4
it's all a bit pointless... I think it's best to find the fungal hallucinogens in a meadow or park near you and settle down with the books later on...
 
Joined
May 30, 2010
Messages
7,464
Likes
7,155
Points
284
#5
This subject deserves more attention. It certainly prompts consideration of Lew Carrol-type writing as a product of its environment. The trippiest creative writing, and indeed many scientific and magical insights came from deep within these factories. Consider the smell of the old sections of the university libraries. Didn't they make your eyes spin in their orbits when you were perusing the shelves. Little did we know we were bombed when we wrote that ace thesis.

Updated research to come.
 

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
Joined
Aug 9, 2001
Messages
4,972
Likes
9,177
Points
234
#6
The theory might go quite a way towards casting a light on M. R. James’s inspiration for The Tractate Middoth:

‘I’ve no notion what it was that put you wrong, but I’ve got the idea that there’s something wrong in the atmosphere of the library. I know this, that just before we found you I was coming along the gallery with Davis, and I said to him, “Did ever you know such a musty smell anywhere as there is about here? It can’t be wholesome.” Well now, if one goes on living a long time with a smell of that kind (I tell you it was worse than I ever knew it) it must get into the system and break out some time, don’t you think?’

Garrett shook his head. ‘That’s all very well about the smell — but it isn’t always there, though I’ve noticed it the last day or two — a sort of unnaturally strong smell of dust. But no — that’s not what did for me. It was something I saw . And I want to tell you about it. I went into that Hebrew class to get a book for a man that was inquiring for it down below. Now that same book I’d made a mistake about the day before. I’d been for it, for the same man, and made sure that I saw an old parson in a cloak taking it out. I told my man it was out: off he went, to call again next day. I went back to see if I could get it out of the parson: no parson there, and the book on the shelf. Well, yesterday, as I say, I went again. This time, if you please — ten o’clock in the morning, remember, and as much light as ever you get in those classes, and there was my parson again, back to me, looking at the books on the shelf I wanted. His hat was on the table, and he had a bald head. I waited a second or two looking at him rather particularly. I tell you, he had a very nasty bald head. It looked to me dry, and it looked dusty, and the streaks of hair across it were much less like hair than cobwebs. Well, I made a bit of a noise on purpose, coughed and moved my feet. He turned round and let me see his face — which I hadn’t seen before. I tell you again, I’m not mistaken. Though, for one reason or another I didn’t take in the lower part of his face, I did see the upper part; and it was perfectly dry, and the eyes were very deep-sunk; and over them, from the eyebrows to the cheek-bone, there were cobwebs — thick. Now that closed me up, as they say, and I can’t tell you anything more.’

https://www.thin-ghost.org/items/show/158

maximus otter
 
Top