In the late, roaring Twenties and the early, uncanny Thirties of the 20th Century, Germanphilosopher and essayist Walter Benjamin went through a considerable series of experimentswith drugs. Not only the renowned ones on hashish (he promised a ‘very important book’ onthat matter), but also opium, opioids and mescaline. Each experiment, except those withopium (which he took in Ibiza with his French friend, Jean Selz), were surveyed by specialistphysicians, who documented the results together with the Versuchsperson, the experimentsubject. An on-the-field study on the potential of intoxication, these writings are filled with keywordssuch as ‘ornament’, ‘play’, ‘series’, which the reader can find in all his contemporaryproduction. His notes on those experiences are a true milestone to penetrate both hisunderstanding of the ‘altered perception’ and the social role of legal opioids in democraticGermany first, and in Nazi Germany later on. Benjamin’s remarks open new perspectives onthe function of intoxicated alienation in the bourgeois society from Baudelaire on. Moreover,he offers truly insightful comments on the reasons why the building of comfort-zones for addicted individuals and groups have ‘economic’ roots in the psychological aftermath of the“struggle for existence”.
Un'indagine delle esperienze e degli esperimenti di Walter Benjamin con oppio e oppiacei