Shulgin has been the world’s foremost researcher of psychedelic compounds for many decades and has written about his research in several engaging books, including the notorious Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved.
The Sunday Herald finds him still with a huge enthusiasm for his work and eager to continue exploring.
“Primarily, it is about the conversion of a structure,” he tells me. “It’s a fun process and it’s tremendously fascinating.” He is more animated when speaking about the details of how he managed to alter a drug to change its effect than when asked about the effect those changes had when he tested the new compound on himself. In fact, for a man who has had so many psychedelic experiences, his stories of his ‘trips’ are disappointingly dull, while listening to him talk about experiments and chemical structures and hearing complex chemical names trip excitedly off his tongue is thoroughly entertaining.
“Chemistry is a music form to me,” Shulgin says and, for the past 70 years, he has been composing at a rate Beethoven would have been proud of.