The last few years have brought a flurry of works intended to recenter psychedelic drugs as life-enhancing therapies. Fans of the genre will be pleased to know that two more such books are coming to market in 2018. The one destined to top the best-seller list is How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan, the high priest of health-conscious boomers via his copious earlier work on food. But don't sleep on Tao Lin's Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change.
The child of Taiwanese immigrants, Lin captured the attention of New York's alternative and literary media in the mid-2000s with his weird fiction and his belief that no detail was too trivial or personal to share with his readers. Upon finishing Taipei, his third novel, Lin was exhausted by his reliance on amphetamines to write. He then heard about Terence McKenna, the California-based psychonaut who rose to prominence in the 1990s for his meandering, outrageous soliloquies on the nature of consciousness, time, and evolution. Lin became a quick convert.
Trip is consistent with Lin's earlier writings in structure and weirdness. He lists glyphosate (an herbicide) and thimerosal (an ingredient in vaccines) in a section about drugs he's consumed. Another section features a weirdly specific list of voice memos he's accidentally deleted ("2 minutes of Finn talking in the garden").
Trip is a valuable contribution to psychedelic literature in that it avoids the dry policy proposals that so many contemporary drug writers focus on. Like McKenna, Lin is an anti-guru focused on how to be the ideal version of himself. What you do with you doesn't really concern him.