Originally published in 2002 ‘Pharmako/Dynamis – Stimulating Plants, Potions & Herbcrafts’ is Dale Pendell’s follow up to his excellent ‘Pharmako/Poeia’, and deals with the Excitantia and Empathogenica classes of psychoactive plants. This review is written from the 2010 updated edition, which continues the author’s stroll through the ‘poison path’, in poetic, scientific and historical fashion.
Underlying the sometimes dizzyingly varied facts of the poison path lies a very literary theory but one that, at the same time, penetrates at the very heart of drug theory: “Books themselves are poisons: revealing, teaching, seducing; the letter of orthodoxy or the seed of subversion” (Preface). Pharmako/Dynamis is no exception to this observation, wherein the author, Dale Pendell, has not shied away from illuminating the dark sides of drug history with the light and vice verse. Yet, having said that, this is not a simple chronology or single line of flight: “The structure is three dimensional and holographic. Start anywhere. Read backwards. A book is linear by nature, but that is only a single projection—other cut-ups might make more sense” (Preface). What makes this text so remarkable is this openness.