ALBERT HOFMAN FOUNDATION
Oliver Mandrake, President
John Beresford, Secretary and Board Member
Donald Wylie, Board Member
Myron Stolaroff, Treasurer and Board Member
The Spirit of Basel
by Oliver Mandrake, President
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The Spirit of Basel - there are probably no better words to describe the groundbreaking event that took place in this ancient town over three days in January 2006. Organized by the Gaya Media Foundation to celebrate the occasion of Dr Albert Hofmann's 100th birthday on January 11th it brought together over 80 of the most brilliant presenters and over 2000 people from all over the world to listen to a cornucopia of outstanding lectures.
The event - LSD, Problemchild and Wonderdrug - was held in the modern Basel Congress Center. From the moment of arrival to the end on Sunday evening it was obvious that a lot of work by very skilled people had gone into organizing this conference. Upon entering the big entry hall one could wander for hours enjoying displays of rare books and documents, psychedelic album covers, blotter art, an entire wall of photographs covering Dr. Hofmann's life, an eclectic bookstore with a wide selection of outstanding books, and walls of wonderful artwork. Of course, once the lectures started the hard decision of which presentation to attend, and which one to skip had to be made repeatedly during these eventful days. Lectures where held in several large auditoriums and a smaller side room; other presentations and workshops could be found in walled off areas of the main hall, where a movie screen was also installed showing a wide range of videos, from an ancient Pink Floyd lightshow to old footage of Leary and others and Connie Littlefield's wonderful documentary Hofmann's Potion.
A spacious cafeteria on one side offered food and drink and a wonderful resting place to just sit and take it all in. Filled with colorful people of all ages, from dread locked kids to gray-haired elders, even some families with little kids, the place was bustling with energy. A friendly excitement was in the air and one could feel what a special moment this historic event was.
Of course, the main attraction was the attendance of Dr. Albert Hofmann himself, who spoke on at least two occasions with a lively and clear mind that some half his age don't have. Greeted by standing ovations he gave inspired speeches and was clearly pleased by the attention and all the gratitude that flowed his way. It is impossible to estimate the influence that his discovery of LSD (or LSD's discovery of him?) had on the world and society as we know it today.
There is not enough room here to get into details of any of the presentations; hopefully we will be able to find transcripts of the most important ones online eventually. In regards of the Albert Hofmann Foundation we had the honor to add our members Myron Stolaroff and John Beresford to the list of presenters, both of whom gave great presentations. John Beresford read some wonderful letters by incarcerated drug war prisoners, congratulating Dr. Hofmann to his birthday and thanking him for all his work, despite the fact that it got them into the situation they now find themselves in. Myron Stolaroff spoke on the future of consciousness, a transcript of which will be available on the Hofmann Foundation website soon. CDs and DVDs of all presentations should be available online - though only in the original spoken language, which was probably 50% German. (DVDs - at least currently - are in the Eropean PAL system. While they should play on computers equipped with DVD drives, they might not work on DVD players or TVs outside of Europe.)
This conference set a milestone in so many ways and was a wonderful gift to Dr.Hofmann, celebrating his life and his achievements and making clear that his work will be in the hearts and minds of people for generations to come. Hopefully it will be the spark to initiate many more of these gatherings all over the world and these substances will eventually find their rightful place in human society.
During the ending ceremony Dr. Hofmann was celebrated by an impromptu Happy Birthday sung by the entire audience. Musing during his closing word that this event showed him that his problem child - after all - might have mutated into a wonderchild, we can only agree and will continue to work on making this come true.
We congratulate Dr. Hofmann with all our hearts to his 100th birthday and hope to celebrate many more with this brilliant man! His discovery will sure live on forever.
The Albert Hofmann Foundation
Please also visit http://www.erowid.org/general/conferences/2006_lsd_symposium/2006_lsd_symposium.shtml
as well as www.lsd.info for pictures,
video, and links to more reviews of the conference. We also highly recommend
Rak Razam's outstanding article written for The Age at http://www.theage.com.au/news/in-depth/passing-the-acid-test/2006/02/03/1138836410493.html
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