WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30, 2008 R.I.P. ALBERT HOFFMAN, AGE 102
Dear dear man, a ball of energy, and so useful and kind to spirited people, and women, and all of us, sadly, he's gone.
I was fortunate that he lived long enough for me to meet him, he kindly invited me up to his house, just 4 weeks ago. March 24th. Life has some twists and I caught one. Sad, but good. At 102, yes.
I had given a speech at the World Psychedelic Forum in Basel, home of historic medieval alchemists, over the weekend, and was honored to be asked to meet the great wizard himself. It was a lovely ride up into the hills, going from Easter flowery spring, to howling winter in a few klicks. His house perches over a great fall of fields down to France on one side, and back to solid snowy Switzerland on the other. It's a a concrete flat-roofed modern home, not large, set with cherry trees and swaying alpine firs, pasted with ice.
His dear wife had just passed away around Christmas, after a long illness, and you could see how hard it had been for him, that he'd been through a terrible ordeal.
He was so sweet to me, chatted and joked about musicians and black market LSD, chocolate and cherry trees, instructed me very seriously about the importance of hanging upside down every day, to improve the blood flow to the brain.. The snow flying outside, I sat on the warm polished wood bench by the window and he sat in a small ornate chair, with an ornate brocaded footstool. We compared chocolates. His old friend Juri Styk brought along some little cakes which we split up but no one touched.
I asked him about purification of LSD, wasn't it a long process? He denied it vigorously, saying " LSD is very easy to make, you just do the recipe and if it crystallizes, that is it, it's done and very pure. No need to do anything else. " And then launched in to a rapid exchange in German with his lovely daughter sitting on the couch, a petite elegant mother of two paying very close attention to her father. ( Juri later told me it was about Dr. Hofmanns eldest son, who had rejected LSD all his life till just recently, and then absolutely loved it and wanted more.!)
I wish my German had been better, I could have spoken to him more easily. His English was excellent, anyhow, and I told him a little about the Grateful Dead, and he lit up and said he had always been hearing about them, they played existential music, yes? And from small beginnings, it got large? With the help of LSD, the energy and telepathic melting together as they played... he understood that. He asked about Jerry. And Juri reminded him about the Acid Tests, and he lit up again and said "Oh yes, the Acid Tests. and the Grateful Dead played there long ago?, and you were there? " And I smiled, yes, and pulled out the Acid Test diploma I had made for him. I presented it in the usual fashion, saying that he had proven beyond doubt that he had fulfilled all the requirements and had certainly passed the Acid Test, and had earned this Acid Test diploma!
He took it and tried to read the PaulFoster decorations, and then had me sign it, with both my names, and date it. He said it was no good unless I signed it. I took a picture of him holding it up. He was really delighted! Not just being polite, either, but actually giggling.
Dr. H. bragged proudly that he now had three women to look after him. And he hoped they wouldn't argue about him.
And then it was over, and we stood up, and Dr. Hofmann staggered , almost fell as he got to his feet, and I steadied him up. He must have weighed about 85 pounds, so small and light. And perfectly mannered, took my arm and walked me to the door. Juri took a final picture of him with my camera, and the doctor smiled and asked me to come back, and bring the sun please. The wind whipping the snow out of the trees as silent puffs of feathers. The walkway to the car was thick with ice. A few cat tracks showed the way. I didn't get to meet the cat, who sleeps on the doctor's bed since his wife passed away. Now wheres the cat sleeping tonight?
I had been thinking hard yesterday and today, about getting this meeting all written down, as the conversation ran to many topics in my short hour or so with him. I wrote a couple of letters to friends today, about my visit with the great man, and didn't realize he was dying today. Chances sometimes only come once, and I'm so glad I took this one. I'm really sad, mostly for myself. Wanting more, not to be.
All my love to my dear, living friends, MG