The video: A recently discovered clip of a 1950s housewife on an acid trip became a viral-video sensation this week. (See video below.) In the eight-minute video, Los Angeles doctor Sidney Cohen administers a dose of acid to a self-described "normal" woman who had volunteered to participate in a study on the effects of LSD. Hours after taking a dose of the drug, the woman is clearly in the grips of a hallucinogenic revery, agape at the wonders of the world around her. In a trippy conversation with the doctor, she rattles off a number of memorable observations, such as, "I've never seen such infinite beauty in my life." She also says, "I wish I could talk in Technicolor," and "I can see all the molecules, I'm part of it. Can't you see it?" The clip originally aired on television in 1956, when the drug was a still-legal curiosity — years before it became a controversial, and illegal, counterculture touchstone of the 1960s youth movement.
The reaction: "As every college student knows, says Max Read at Gawker, "there is almost nothing funnier than watching a person try to narrate her acid trips." But while that hilarity has stayed consistent over the last 55 years, says Carmen Lobello at Death and Taxes, the video is also a reminder of how times have changed. In the early days of LSD, advocates touted its healing powers. For instance, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous thought the drug could "could be a useful tool for recovering addicts." But "while dropping acid may feel exactly the same in 2011 as it did in 1956, it's hard to imagine it being seriously suggested today that the best way to cure addicts is to give them more drugs." Watch the acid trip in action below:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Even critics of the euro didn't see this coming
- The real reason conservatives should be outraged that police killed a white youth
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Paul Allen's 'bitter' Bill-Gates-bashing memoir
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- Your literary playlist: A guide to the music of Haruki Murakami
- 8 ways you're probably overspending without even realizing it
- Why the West should accept ISIS as a sovereign nation
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
Subscribe to the Week