I Will Remember Albert Hoffman Lying on his Lawn

Albert Hoffman died at 102 years old. He’s the one who discovered LSD. I’m not here to say it is a wonderful thing, but it certainly changed our world. Tune in, turn on, drop out. He had Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary as disciples. Man, what a life!


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The New York Times has Albert Hoffman’s obituary in today’s paper. He has an odd place in history, the inventor of LSD. Hmm. That’s controversial, isn’t it?

I remember first reading about Albert Hoffman in Adam Smith’s Powers of Mind. It’s out of print nowadays, but you can still find used copies on Amazon. Smith, the economist for a long time on PBS, took a break in the early 70′s to explore alternative medicines, realities. . . whatever. What I remember of the book is that the part about Hoffman began with his discovery of LSD. He wasn’t wearing gloves when he discovered it, and it soaks into one’s skin, with the same effects. So he left his lab in Switzerland, Albert did, on his bicycle. And on his way home he took a trip. The next morning he discovered himself and the bike on his own lawn.

What’s odd about the story is that Albert Hoffman, who made his discovery in the 40′sw, supposedly took LSD as a recreational/experimental drug, about once a year throughout his life. At least that’s what I remember from the Adam Smith book I read about 20 years ago.

“Through my LSD experience and my new picture of reality, I became aware of the wonder of creation, the magnificence of nature and of the animal and plant kingdom,” Dr. Hofmann told the psychiatrist Stanislav Grof during an interview in 1984. “I became very sensitive to what will happen to all this and all of us.”

Dr. Hofmann became an impassioned advocate for the environment and argued that LSD, besides being a valuable tool for psychiatry, could be used to awaken a deeper awareness of mankind’s place in nature and help curb society’s ultimately self-destructive degradation of the natural world.

No, I’m not an advocate of this stuff, but I’ll attest to Albert Hoffman as a pioneer who changed lives. I wonder sometimes how many people who were reared in the 60′s and 70′s tried his drug, once, twice, several times. I certainly tried it a few times, and it was a whole lot of fun, though I can’t attest to any long-term intense discoveries as a result. I was a child of my times, and I partook.

There’s no deep meanings in this post, just a remembrance. Albert Hoffman surely meant a lot to the “baby boomer” generation, and perhaps more. Someone ought to put his bicycle in a museum or something.

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

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