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books elevate the mind??



This, seen today on another list:


"Book Fungus Can Get You High"

     By Ellen Warren / Chicago Tribune

 CHICAGO -- Getting high on great literature is taking on a whole new
 meaning.  It turns out that, if you spend enough time around old books
 and decaying manuscripts in dank archives, you can start to
 hallucinate. Really.

 We're not talking psychedelia, "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" stuff,
 here. But maybe only a step or two away from that.

 Experts on the various fungi that feed on the pages and on the covers
 of books are increasingly convinced that you can get high - or at least
a
 little wacky -- by sniffing old books. Fungus on books, they say, is a
 likely source of hallucinogenic spores.

 The story of The Strangeness in the Stacks first started making its way
 through the usually staid antiquarian books community late last year
 with the publication of a paper in the British medical journal, The
 Lancet.

 There, Dr. R.J. Hay wrote of the possibility that "fungal
hallucinogens"
 in old books could lead to "enhancement of enlightenment."

 "The source of inspiration for many great literary figures may have
been
 nothing more than a quick sniff of the bouquet of mouldy books," wrote
 Hay, one of England's leading mycologists (fungus experts) and dean of
 dermatology at Guy's Hospital in London.

 Well, said an American expert on such matters, it may not be that
 easy.

 "I agree with his premise - but not his dose. It would take more than a
 brief sniff," aid Monona Rossol, an authority on the health effects of
 materials used in the arts world.

 For all the parents out there, these revelations would seem ideal for
 persuading youngsters to spend some quality time in the archives.

 But attention kids: You can't get high walking through the rare books
 section of the library.

 Rossol said it would take a fairly concentrated exposure over a
 considerable period of time for someone to breathe in enough of the
 spores of hallucinogenic fungus to seriously affect behavior. There are
 no studies to tell how much or how long before strange behavior takes
 hold.

 Still, this much seems apparent - if you want to find mold, the only
 place that may rival a refrigerator is a library.

 Just last week the Las Cruces, N.M., Public Library was closed
 indefinitely, prompted by health concerns after a fungus outbreak in
the
 reference section. Library director Carol Brey said the fungus promptly
 spread to old history books and onward to the literature section.

 The town's Mold Eradication Team, she said, shuttered the library as a
 precaution. "We didn't want to take any chances," she said. A mold
 removal company will address the problem, which is believed to have
 originated in the air conditioning system.

 Psychedelic mushrooms, the classic hallucinogenic fungus, derive their
 mind-altering properties from the psilocybin and psilocin they produce
 naturally.

 One historic example of this phenomenon, scientists now believe, is the
 madness that prevailed in the late 1600s in Salem, Mass., where ergot,
a
 hallucinogenic fungus, infected the rye crops that went into rye bread.
 Ergot contains lysergic acid, a key compound of the hallucinogenic drug
 LSD. This tiny fungus and its wild effects on the rye-bread-eating
women
 may have led to the Salem witch trials.

 Rossol, a New York chemist and consultant to Chicago's Field Museum of
 Natural History who publishes the newsletter Acts Facts, the journal of
 Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety, said that there have not been
 scientific studies on the hallucinogenic effects of old books.

 But, relying on accounts from newsletter readers who report their own
 strange symptoms - ranging from dizziness to violent nausea - she says
 there is no doubt that moldy old volumes harbor hallucinogens.


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