Étienne Sauret’s documentary Dirty Pictures is warm-hearted and appropriately shambolic look at the life of Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, the man who discovered the psychedelic effects of MDMA and a variety of other home-brewed synthetic compounds that alter, expand and raise consciousness.
A former Dow Chemical drug developer who early on saw the light (a mescaline trip), Shulgin moved on to independent research in the mid-1960s. With his wife Ann, he developed and tested hundreds of psychoactive drugs, mostly analogues of phenethylamines (which include MDMA and mescaline) and tryptamines like DMT and psilocibyn.
“I understood that our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit. We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us, and there are chemicals that can catalyze its availability.” A. Shulgin.
Shulgin’s books PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved) and TiHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved) combine autobiography and research into essential reading for anyone who is interested in the science and history of psychedelics and the life of a spiritual revolutionary who has fearlessly led the fight to wrest consciousness from the brain police.