Question: Do you miss the 1960s?
Robert Stone: Well, I think you always miss your youth. I mean, in a way you want it back, and that's the time when I was young and my friends were young and we thought we knew the score. And in our way, we were very snobbish in a sense, we really thought we had a lot of things going that nobody in the history of the world had ever had going before. We took ourselves – you know, we had a high opinion of ourselves.
And we had enormous fun with the music and with each other and with the drugs. You know, not everybody was lucky. There were risks; people did not always survive some of those ecstasies.
But I can't wish myself back there, I wouldn't wish myself back there, as much as I might wish for youth again, but it's an imperfect world and it's such a tradeoff what you have to pay to be young and crazy. You have to not know so much. You have to not understand so many risks. You have to be so much braver than you’re going to be later. You're always trading off one thing against another.
I mean, the world around the drugs was strange and very frightening. But there are effects that I had from psychedelics at times that I would never dismiss as illusionary. I mean, there are things; it seems to me, that I saw, experienced, out there on that psychedelic level that I swear are truths about how things are. But I can't defend them or even examine them very rationally. I think one thing you learn from those drugs I think – or your acquire a deep suspicion that what we see normally, is no more than what we need to see as creatures so many feet off the ground. And our perception is really functional and there may be a whole lot more out there than we are normally equipped to see.
Question: Would you advise aspiring artists to experiment with drugs?
Robert Stone: I myself, speaking for myself, I'm not sorry that I ever had those experiences. Well, actually that's probably not true, because there were times when I was so frightened out of my wits that I think I would have traded it all to be out of there. And I couldn’t recommend it to anybody because I've seen too many people really swept away and endangered by it. It's something that one can't recommend. I mean, to recommend it with one person it to really perhaps do that person a great disservice. It's just sort of taking your head in your hands and it may go well and it may not go well. So to suggest to anybody that they try it, I would have to feel I really knew them really well and would feel comfortable about any outcome. I don't think I could get comfortable guessing what would happen to anybody.
Recorded December 9, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen