Gregory Sams
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Review and Comment - Uncommon Sense

Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 09:57:18 +0100 From: "Mike Jay"

Hi Greg,

Your psychonaut mailing prompted me to get in touch and trade some book news.

My book on Syrian Rue, harmaline and soma ("Blue Tide: The Search for Soma") is just out from Autonomedia in the US, probably shipping here via Central Books in the next few weeks. At one point I briefly describe our evening round at your place (a partial solar eclipse it was!), your 'rue brew' and your experiences with it.

I also wanted to say how much I like 'Uncommon Sense' - I've bought several copies for people who've then done the same. I think it's the best expression yet of the coming force in (non-)politics which I hope will transform the next century. We've been living too long with the 19th century dualist struggle between capitalism and central-state communism. People forget that there was a third force in there - the syndicalists who were thrown out of the International by Marx for not being 'statist' enough, and were called 'anarchists' and relegated to the lunatic fringe. I think your book shows that the ideas of Proudhon, Kropotkin etc. have more staying power than Marx's, and the true struggle is between state and mutual networks.

All the best
Mike Jay


AND here's a bit more information on that book

BLUE TIDE: The Search for Soma


Autonomedia US 1999 ISBN 1-57027-088-0

In the beginning, there was soma. The Rig Veda, the earliest sacred text of the ancient Indo-Europeans, includes dozens of hymns in praise of this hallucinogenic plant which, when drunk, takes its subjects to the realm of the gods on its "blue tide". But, in the later Hindu tradition, soma is declared to have been 'lost', and its use abandoned. The botanical identity of soma remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of the ancient world.

Blue Tide tells the story of the search for soma, and uses a wide range of approaches - travelogue, popular science and history, detective story and first-person drug experiences - to examine the question of its nature and identity. The search takes the author from drug rituals in Brazilian churches to the high Indus Valley in the Himalayas. In doing so, it sheds light not just on the mystery of soma but on the broader question of the relation between drugs and religion throughout history. Both drugs and religion claim to offer the key to experiencing the divine, but their relationship is characterised by struggle and conflict. Blue Tide follows this question back to their common origins at the dawn of history.
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