Psychedelic Modernism: Literature and Film

by Raj Chandarlapaty

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Dr. Raj Chandarlapaty’s “Psychedelic Modernism: Literature and Film” is one of the few books that seriously engages with the controversial notion that drug use can induce significant application to the creation of art that can, in turn, challenge society’s values. In his extremely sophisticated analyses, Chandarlapaty chooses to ponder the claims of the proselytizers of drug use and question the easy dismissal of their claims while simultaneously avoiding the romanticizing of drug use to bring about social change. He examines literature and documentary films that focus on drug use with the desire to better understand the interplay of these artistic mediums within societal discourse.

Kurt Hemmer
Harper College

The primary purpose of 'Psychedelic Modernism: Literature and Film' is to trace the development of ideas and perspectives from the writing and private ambitions of 20th-century modernist writers, including Aldous Huxley. The purpose of the book is to offer a rough chronology during which ideas were first given a literary imagination, then transposed onto discussions of science and psychology, and then theoretically democratized to bring fruit to a relatively de-centered process where images, text, and interviews could re-conceptualize the modern Being from an admixture of modernist, historical, and pop roots that could express a greater moment in the human action.

The work includes discussions from scientists such as Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, rock stars such as Jerry Garcia, and unconfirmed mystics such as Carlos Castaneda. The primary focus of this work isn’t literature per se, but the literary imagination as it may correspond to greater, wider, and more impactive goals than the writing of 20th-century fiction. While there is some outreach that favors de-centered models such as the Beat Generation, the author’s primary purpose is to assemble an anthology covering the study and quests for knowledge from as many sides as could power the relative 1960s countercultural movement.

Chapter 1 Introduction: The Problem of Studying Psychedelia
Chapter 2 The Meaning of the Aldous Huxley Collection to Studies about the Author’s Efforts at Parapsychology
Chapter 3 Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception: A Critical Examination of its Contents
Chapter 4 The Mike Wallace Interview, 1958: Modern Prolegomena, and Positive and Negative Techniques for Understanding Thought Control
Chapter 5 “Matter, Mind and the Question of Survival”: Aldous Huxley’s Ascension to Psychedelic Form
Chapter 6 “An Attempt to Understand Things”: Oliver Hockenhull’s The Gravity of Light and Summations of Transcendence
Chapter 7 Our Dear, Beloved Acolyte and Muse: Laura Huxley’s Theorizations and Query about Aldous in Huxley on Huxley
Chapter 8 Brave New World: Reader’s Guide: A Synopsis and the Illustration of Narrative Fact to Illustrate Huxley’s Grand Cultural Theory
Chapter 9 Neal Cassady: The Denver Years and Underclass Developments of the Psychedelic Epoch
Chapter 10 Neal at the Wheel and Beatnik Adaptations of the Classic Form
Chapter 11 Hofmann’s Potion: Canadian and American Connections in the Growth of Psychedelic Form and the Possible Legend of Psychiatry
Chapter 12 The True Multiplicity of Perspectives. LSD: The Beyond Within
Chapter 13 Dr. Timothy Leary and the Popularization of Psychedelic Forms
Chapter 14 The Collective Body of Interpretation of Leary’s Life, Work and Times, and its Relevance to Trends in Psychedelic Film and Literature
Chapter 15 A Shared Spotlight and the Messenger’s Return: O.B. Babbs’ Timothy Leary’s Last Trip and Timothy Leary’s Long Journey
Chapter 16 The Studied Portrait and the Looking Glass at Life’s End: Dr. Timothy Leary’s Special Relationship with Ram Dass in Dying to Know
Chapter 17 Understanding Ken Kesey
Chapter 18 Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Countercultural Objectives
Chapter 19 The Merry Pranksters’ Tripping, Kesey as Prophet and Countercultural Leader, and Pop Perspectives
Chapter 20 “We’re We’re Sadistic Crime”: Neal Cassady Driving the Bus in Magic Trip, Re-Casting Beatnik Glories of the Road
Chapter 21 The Tomorrow Show and the Grateful Dead: Guitarist Jerry Garcia’s Explanations about LSD with Ken Kesey
Chapter 22 Americans and the Quest for Psychedelic Truth: Long Strange Trip
Chapter 23 Carlos Castaneda and Enigma of a Sorcerer: The Positive Value of Psychedelic Science
Chapter 24 The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick: Narcotheorist Projections in the Science Fiction Era
Chapter 25 Truth, Doubt, and Penultimate Anxiety: Modernist Dictations of Future Truth in the Penultimate Truth of Philip K. Dick
Conclusion: Literature and the New Dynamic for Studying Psychedelic Films and Culture
Works Cited
About the Author

Dr. Raj Chandarlapaty studied at the University of South Florida and taught literature, writing, and philosophy courses in the United States and Afghanistan for 17 years. In Kabul, Afghanistan, he was awarded the Most Promising Teacher award in his first year. Dr. Chandarlapaty has since authored four books, which include 'Psychedelic Modernism: Literature and Film,' 'Seeing The Beat Generation,' 'Re-Creating Paul Bowles, the Other, and the Imagination,' and 'The Beat Generation and Counterculture.' He is most interested in American and British authors who write in the fault lines between modernism, postmodernism, and postcolonialism. Dr. Chandarlapaty has published ten journal articles, including 'ARIEL,' 'The Mailer Review,' 'Storytelling, Self, and Society,' and 'The Journal of Urban Education.' With articles on Norman Mailer, Mohammed Mrabet, James Baldwin, and Allen Ginsberg, Chandarlapaty is an accomplished essayist who studies books and articles from the perspective of critical theory and unconscious literary formation. Not borne of any one period, Chandarlapaty chooses to call himself a modernist, and refers to humankind’s incomplete formation of ideas and culture.

modernism socialism analytic philosophy contemporary theory formalism postmodernism

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Psychedelic Modernism: Literature and Film





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

January 2024