Harvard Gazette on a treasure chest for anyone looking to explore the darkest corners of human experience:
Harvard’s newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection is the largest of its kind in the world. It includes a vast collection of boxes, drawers, shelves — whole rooms — full of art, literature, and popular culture artifacts dating back to the 16th century, related to the chief avenues to altered states of mind: sex and drugs.
The Santo Domingo collection is on long-term deposit at Harvard. “We do not own it,” said Morris, but the owners “want us to catalog it, and they want it available for research.” The largest collection of its kind in the world, it will gradually be available to scholars of literature, fine art, photography, film, history, medicine, popular culture, and more.
It has an estimated 30,000 books and 25,000 posters, photographs, and other ephemera assembled by Colombian businessman Julio Mario Santo Domingo Jr., who died in 2009. As a student at Columbia University in the 1970s, Santo Domingo had been drawn to French poets of the late 19th century. Charles Baudelaire, for one, created a brand of romanticism that hinged on sex, death, and the pleasures of the senses. It was influenced by his use of hashish, opium, and alcohol. Baudelaire described the effects of such drugs most aptly in the title of his 1860 book, “Artificial Paradises.”
Read the rest at the Harvard Gazette