Arts & Culture

The Big Jewcy: Hamilton Morris – Psychedelic Documentarian

Hamilton Morris might just be our generation’s Tim Leary. Read More

By / June 9, 2011
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Hamilton Morris might just be our generation’s Tim Leary.  Morris came on the scene with a drug centric column for Vice magazine entitled “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia,” which examined a host of drug related issues from “LSD Use Amongst Hassidic Jews” to “Anti drugs” (how drugs intended to have the reverse effect of certain drugs.)   His first documentary NZAMBI focused on a powder used by Haitian Shamans to induce death like symptoms in human beings, and was in turn responsible for the cultural “Zombie” phenomena.  The documentary followed Morris to Haiti where he attempted to buy the powder and take it himself.  Morris approaches his study of psychedelics from a fairly academic standpoint but is nonetheless always willing to use himself as a test subject. Some of his most recent work has focused on a missile silo in Kansas which operated as an LSD factory, that was formerly responsible for producing the majority of the LSD in the US, to the proliferation of new synthetic drugs that has exploded in recent years due to information sharing on the internet. His work is serious, yet fun.  All in all, as the son Errol Morris, of one the most famous and prestigious documentary filmmakers alive, Morris is blazing a hazy trail all his own.

Since NZAMBI, Morris began studying at NYU to further his understanding of the brain, we caught up with Morris to discuss what the future holds.

Is there a single drug that most fascinates you?

Certainly not one single substance, like everything my interest cycles. After accidentally poisoning myself with a mislabeled batch of ibotenic acid I became deeply interested in the pharmacology and toxicity of isooxizole based psychedelics, but now I am more interested in the current working being done on N-benzylated phenethylamines.

What role if any, does Judaism play in your life?  Is there any kind of connection between Judaism and hallucinogens?

I find Judaism interesting culturally, especially Hasidic Jews. I have ingested large quantities of LSD with Hasidim and canoed around ponds in the Catskills and watched Hasids vomit and ride motorcycles after snorting fat lines of piping hot ketamine. I was also bar mitzvahed in Israel at Masada.

Whats next?

I may go to the Yucatan peninsula to hunt bees that feed on the nectar of psychedelic ololiuqui flowers and collect their honey. Apparently ololiuqui honey was one of the most prized substances in the ethnogynecological pharmacopoeia of the ancient Mayans so I may apply a small quantity to my labia to examine the effects.