Nigerians in Space

ephemera from Deji Olukotun, author of the novel from Unnamed Press

Picasso and LSD

There is a great piece over at Open Culture about how an artist responded to doses of LSD in the 1950s during a science experiment. It’s a beautiful insight into consciousness and creative ability.

It reminds me of Picasso’s Bull series. I first saw this at the National Art museum in Cape Town, South Africa, and it continues to move me. Picasso essentially memorialized his development as an artist over a series of 11 drawings. It begins with a stylized bull and concludes with a line drawing. Picasso’s ability to remember how he learned and tap into that mode of consciousness and reproduce it many years later is astounding. What a mind!

In the experiment, you can see that the very talented artist also did the same, but much more rapidly. The similarities are striking. Note the artist’s excitement about refining his image to one line—just like Picasso’s last bull. But the degree of abstraction is also a warning—the LSD induced new states of consciousness but the artist does not appear to have been prepared for them, as his final comments in the series attest. On a side note, it’s likely that the artist knew about Picasso’s well-known bull series, which he created in 1945, but the accompanying text suggests he was not trying to mimic it.

—Deji Olukotun

Most writers tend to have a deeply reflective side to them. They need that moment to be alone. It may be just one aspect of their personality, though, because they may feel equally at home at a karaoke bar singing Destiny’s Child. The stereotype that most writers sing Destiny’s Child poorly is unfortunately one hundred percent true.

—Deji Bryce Olukotun


My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.

—Noam Chomsky (via noam-chomsky)