An Autonomous Agent

exploring the noosphere

Category: book (Page 1 of 26)

PiKHAL: A Chemical Love Story and TiHKAL: The Continuation – Alexander and Ann Shulgin

Let me provide a context so that you may understand my amazement with the chemical explorations of Alexander Shulgin. Did you know that the two principal neurotransmitters in the human body are dopamine and serotonin? Did you know that they belong to the phenethylamine and tryptamine chemical families, respectively? I find this simple observation to be of fundamental importance in understanding the human mind/body relationship. And now consider that Ann and Alex Shulgins’ books: PiKHAL (Phenethylamines I have known and loved) and TiKHAL (Tryptamines I have known and loved) explore both these chemical families and their effects on the human mind and body. Quick summary of well-known psychedelic chemicals:

Phenethylamines Tryptamines
Dopamine Serotonin
Mescaline DMT
MDA Psilocybin
MDMA Psilocin
2C Family Ibogaine
LSD? LSD

LSD is complex and has both chemical structures, but most people emphasizes that the effects of LSD are related primarily to its tryptamine backbone and interaction with human serotonin receptors.

Ann and Alexander Shulgin’s books are a groundbreaking revelation for their accounts of psychedelic exploration, therapy, and spiritual development. They are a mix of essays and stories. You will not regret reading the books and learning about the chemicals referenced in the second half of the books.

An interesting note: In PiKHAL, the fictional character Adam Fisher is based on Leo Zeff, a talented psychotherapist who worked with MDMA; you can read all about his therapy work in The Secret Chief Revealed by Myron J. Stolaroff.

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government – David Talbot

I ordered The Devil’s Chessboard, by David Talbot, and let it collect dust for many months. What a mistake! It must be one of the most eye-opening books about covert power structures in America. Thanks to the writing style and organization, it was hard to put the book down. It should be a must read for any serious student of the time period 1950-1970. In some ways it nicely interweaves with the final chapters of Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope which was published in 1964 without knowledge of the many facts publicly released and discovered since Quigley’s publication. Indeed, consider this: in 1927 Allen Dulles became the 2nd director of the Council on Foreign Relations and from 1933 to 1944 he was the Council’s secretary. The are too many astounding observations to write them all here. Do yourself a favor and read the book.
Many reviewers claim that JFK and the Unspeakable is a slightly better book regarding the JFK assassination; however, it seems the overall consensus is that The Devil’s Chessboard is the best book on Allen Welsh Dulles, John Foster Dulles, James Jesus Angleton and the early history of the CIA.

Debt: The First 5,000 Years – David Graeber

Debt: The First 5,000 Years, by David Graeber, is a fascinating and astounding look at the ubiquity of debt in human affairs. It replaces many “accepted” theories on the origins of money and debt and disproves the Myth of Barter by studying the anthropological record. From my own experience, economic theories and models are almost never based on actual historical observations, only upon assumptions about human behavior and interaction that I personally find naive. Just look at the Efficient Market Hypothesis or the idea that humans are rational decision makers — these ideas or their assumptions quickly fall apart with a simple analysis. People can lie and manipulate; they can be greedy or ascetic. It is nice to finally have a down-to-Earth study of actual historical accounts of human interactions without forcing the current paradigm on the past. Graeber’s book provides a wake-up call for people to see a more realistic view of the interactions of humans, debt, markets, government and money.

The Great War for Civilisation – Robert Fisk

The Great War for Civilisation by Robert Fisk provides a comprehensive account of events in the Middle East in the 2nd half of the 20th century. The book, despite being 1000+ pages, is easily readable thanks to Fisk’s incredible stories of adventure, harrowing near death experiences, and interviews with interesting people. Fisk interviewed and reported on some of the areas most notorious figures such as Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, among others. This is the book to read to have a proper introduction and realistic, albeit with a Western perspective, understanding of historical events in the Middle East.

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World – Paul Stamets

Know nothing about mushrooms, fungi, or mycelia? — Paul Stamet’s Mycelium Running opens a door to an exotic universe beneath your feet. Fungi and their interaction with ecosystems upturn all of what you thought you knew about the button mushrooms on your salad or pizza. Fungi, simply and truely, are incredibly important and amazing organisms. And as Stamets proves, they are a powerful tool to maintain the world for all of our descendants — not to mention their ability to provide a healthy and functioning human immune system.

Fungi Perfecti is Stamet’s family owned company for those interested in supporting mycoremediation, mycoforestry, mycofiltration, or mycopesticides.

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