‘Babylon’, noun and adjective: Any large and luxurious city; esp. one seen as decadent and corrupt.

noun: A contemptuous or dismissive term for: anything regarded as the degenerate or oppressive nature of white

Tripping in Babylon is a platform for research on the role of drugs, the city, and space–and the intersection between them–in British and American culture from the 1950’s onward. With interest in everything from the ‘little magazine’ of the 1960’s, through psychedelic culture, the city as social/liberatory/oppressive space, visual depictions of sub- and dominant cultural norms, to literary manifestations of the urban environment, Tripping in Babylon attempts a distinctly multi-disciplinary approach to transatlantic discourses of the contemporary period.

The primary focus of this general research is to understand the significance behind the shift from Timothy Leary’s ‘Turn on. Tune In. Drop Out’ proclamation of the late-1960’s, to Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 retort of ‘Tune in. Freak Out. Get Beaten.’ The peak of drugs highs in the midst of the contemporary period’s various Babylons–New York, London, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles–appears to result in Thompson’s ‘bad waves of paranoia, madness, fear and loathing— intolerable vibrations’. These urban environments, these dialectial environments–places of creation and destruction; transformation and stagnation; activism and oppression–become the locus of shared and individual existences, with their own rich cultural happenings.

And at the end of it all? No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it off to forced consciousness expansion…



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