Rachel Nuwer’s “I Feel Love: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World”
By LARB Radio HourJune 30, 2023
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Medaya Ocher and Eric Newman speak to Rachel Nuwer about her recent book, I Feel Love: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World. They discuss the drug’s emergence in the Bay Area during the 1960s when pioneers hailed it as a groundbreaking mental health therapy for treating everything from addiction to trauma before the US government classified it as a dangerous Schedule I drug. Eric, Medaya, and Rachel also discuss MDMA's surge in popularity as a party drug during the 1980s and 1990s, as well as inclusion in new clinical trials currently underway to research its effectiveness in treating severe cases of PTSD. Across her account of MDMA’s past, present, and future, Nuwer’s accessible journalistic account informs and challenges what we know about how the drug works and how the government, researchers, and underground renegades have shaped the scientific and cultural discourse that surrounds it.
Also, Kristin Ross, the author of The Politics and Poetics of Everyday Life returns to recommend a range of works that capture and comment on everyday life: Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman, the writing of Mike Davis and Fredric Jameson on Los Angeles, the noir novels of Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald set in Southern California, the detective novels (and even-darker fictions) of George Simenon, and the historical novels of Janet Lewis, including The Wife of Martin Guerre.
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