MANIPULATING THE PSYCHE
In 1955, at a mature age, Michaux took part for the first time in an experiment with mescaline, an alkaloid extracted from the Mexican cactus known as peyote. Michaux was assisted for the purpose by doctors and scientists close to the literary world, including a neurologist from Bilbao, Julián de Ajuriaguerra. Dazzled by the psychic and sensorial mutations caused by this and other psychoactive substances, such as psilocybin and LSD 25, Michaux underwent numerous sessions up to the early 1960s, reflecting them in such well-known literary works as Miserable Miracle and Infinite Turbulence. At the same time, he produced a large number of minute drawings following a graphic matrix already intuited in previous years. This was a pattern of furrows and arborescences, often ascending, saturated with symmetries and micrographs. Both these graphic works and his literary output brought Michaux to prominence as a doyen of the incipient psychedelic culture and the underground mystique, although he always insisted on defining himself as a sober “water drinker” with no interest whatsoever in artificial paradises. In the years after he stopped experimenting with chemicals, Michaux continued to develop a “mescaline” style while working at the same time on his other series and his great artistic obsessions. In all of them he found fertile ground for the cartography of the imagination.