Emperors of Dreams, By Mike Jay

Recent review of Emperors of Dreams: Drugs in the Nineteenth Century at “Emperors of Dreams, By Mike Jay“, talks about Aleister Crowley and Ether:

“If a certain literary allure is present with both opium and marijuana (Theophile Gautier’s description of the food at Club des Hashishins is akin to synesthesia: ‘The water I drank seemed the most exquisite wine, the meat, once in my mouth, became strawberries’), this does not apply to ether, despite its advocacy by the Great Beast 666, aka Aleister Crowley. He maintained that by ‘breathing it as if it were the soul of your Beloved… you will perceive the heart of Beauty in every vulgar and familiar thing.'”


Off the top of my head I don’t recall where that quote is from, but there are a significant number of references to the use of Ether in The Magical Diaries of Aleister Crowley, so it could be in there:

“Note that Ether, imbibed during a positive process … simply strengthens & deepens one’s mental processes, enables one to carry out & carry on any proposed research of type appropriate. When one is taking Ether in silence & darkness, on the other hand, especially when one has not decided on any definite line of investigation, one is liable to these fits of wandering, mental disintegration, &c. This seems to me to suggest that Ether, like alcohol, but more so, emphasises the mood; it appears really dangerous to be slack & negative about it!” [via, p 48]

“It is a good example of the way in which Christianity has confused moral questions. It has made them unrecognizable. It requires endles analysis to disentangle the elements of the problem. It has taken me I cannot say how many hours each second of which was packed with thought at the highest pressure, assisted by Ether & absence of Heroin, merely to ask the simplest question about right & wrong to be imagined. It sounds paradoxical to say that I have simplified the ethical problem by defining Truth as one’s peculiar variety of Untruth.” [via, p 60]


I also note in passing about Ether that one of the points I gathered from The Book of Absinthe: A Cultural History was that many of the deleterious effects attributed to Absinthe might actually have been due to when people ran out of money they switched to Ether.