Starting Points

Points (n.) 1. marks of punctuation. 2. something that has position but not extension, as the intersection of two lines. 3. salient features of a story, epigram, joke, etc.:  he hit the high points. 4. (slang; U.S.) needles for intravenous drug use.

Advertisements

Rich Dubiel Meets Glenn C.

Rich Dubiel

Editor’s Note: Today we present the second installation in our roundtable series celebrating the work of AA Historian Glenn C. Richard Dubiel, formerly Professor of Communications at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, was an early beneficiary of Glenn’s work with Hindsfoot Press, which published his insightful “Sober Sleuths: Lawrence Block and James Lee Burke” in 1999. Here he describes the journey– undertaken with Glenn’s help– towards his important history The Road to Fellowship: The Role of the Emmanuel Movement and the Jacoby Club in the Development of Alcoholics Anonymous (iUniverse, 2004).

To talk about my relationship with Glenn C. requires some exposition that will appear a bit egocentric. But, truth be told, it was my book, or rather a tattered manuscript back then, that brought me to the Hindsfoot Foundation and, of course, Glenn.

The book, , wasn’t really my idea either. At one time, like when I was nine or ten, I wanted to be a pal with Roy Rogers, maybe Gene Autry. I was torn. But I wound up being an associate professor of communication, pursuing the books and files of the Pittman Archives in Center City, Minnesota. That of course is Hazelden. I was honored as the first academic researcher to use the archives (July-August 1995) courtesy of a development grant from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

I was in search of a topic for a monograph, or at least a couple of academic articles. I knew about alcoholism and Hazelden. I’ll leave it at that. Moments of grace do happen.

AA Historian Bill Pittman, 1947-2007

The first just such moment occurred when I met Bill Pittman in the archives. We chatted informally. He asked me if I would be interested in working in an area that could surely lead to a book. A book? You betcha. I was soon back in my department in a meeting with my colleagues, hoping that my sabbatical could take place during the summer of 1997. In the meantime I began my research on the influences on the early AA thinkers. Bill sent me a couple of boxes of books to get me started. Guided by Ernie Kurtz’s Not-God, I read in and around the history of AA, discovering new names.

During the summer of 1996 I made a trip to Boston, funded by the Hazelden Foundation. Most of work was done in the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Episcopal Church Archives, Diocese of Boston. The experience, especially in the Mass Historical Society, was one of hushed silence, wearing white linen gloves when handling papers, and organizing material that was being photocopied. I mailed a complete manuscript to Bill Pittman on August 15, 1997. Now a different type of task unfolded, one that would require the encouragement, friendship, expertise and professional know-how of Glenn.

The manuscript sat until spring 1998 when Bill Pittman informed me that new material on Rowland Hazard III at the Rhode Island Historical Society would make a valuable and relevant addition to the book. I spent a week that summer gathering and organizing material, and in the fall mailed the new chapter on Rowland Hazard to Hazelden.

No word regarding the fate of the manuscript. A sense doom closes in. I expressed my concern to a few prominent AA scholars. None less than Ernest Kurtz advised me to develop some options. Hazelden’s support was instrumental in the eventual creation of the actual book; I am grateful to them and certainly to Bill Pittman. (Hazelden currently has my research notes and photocopied archival material in their archives. I am likewise grateful for this.) To this day I am not sure what happened their; perhaps a change in management philosophy?

This was a dark period. My manuscript was read by a university press, and received a positive evaluation but one that concluded with “sorry.” It was understandable given the then (and now) publishing environment. My book was certainly specialized and wasn’t going to generate the revenue that university presses needed. I figured I could simply post the manuscript in cyberspace and that would be that, perhaps as a link on my university webpage. I more or less lost interest.

His name is Lawrence, and he’s an alcoholic.

During this period I began work on an AA-related paper: “Sober Sleuths…”, comparing the crime fiction detective heroes of Lawrence Block and James Lee Burke. Things looked bleak except that Bill White and Ernie Kurtz were in my corner and wanted to see my book published. They paved the way for me to seek a solution to the problem: The Hindsfoot Foundation, and, of course, Glenn C.

I got in touch with Glenn and during 2003 letters, papers, computer discs and the like flew back and forth. Glenn received my material and I thought it was all but done. Not so. There was all the permission business, an index, and the need for some
punching up here and there. Plus, I admit to being a person who needs a push now and then. Glenn’s sincere interest and drive kept me going. But, truthfully, it was he who did most of the driving and reading and rewriting, additions and deletions, that needed to be done.

dubiel cover
The Long & Winding “Road”

Even the earliest emails from Glenn, say March 2003, were filled with an interest in my work, not only this book, and my thoughts on AA. Over the distance, via the internet, I had made a colleague and true friend. Though we had never met, not spoken to each other, we developed a true scholarly camaraderie, dare I say a kinship. The production of The Road to Fellowship moved quickly. I was guided through all the legal and technical consideration by Glenn, who sensed my own fatigue and was a forgiving mentor. The publication date was 2004.

After that, I was reading in other areas of Christian theology and would occasionally have a question. One example was my puzzlement with various interpretations of atonement. A more prosaic person might have thrown a few references at me, perhaps a comment or two, and have sent me on my way. But not Glenn. I still have pages of his downloaded emails, explaining not only atonement but any other idea or thought that I was having. He knew of my dissertation on Paul Tillich and the graduate work I had done at Drew University as part of my Ph.D. program at Purdue. Perhaps those two factors linked us and provided the basis for our scholarly friendship. And it has continued. That continuation exists in that his The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program… and God and Spirituality: Philosophical Essays sit on my nightstand. My scholarly and spiritual journey continues as a gift of my Higher Power, but it has been in no small way guided by this truly magnanimous man. I am grateful to have had the help and friendship of Glenn.

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

AA History as Opposed to AA Myth

The first in our series of testimonials to the work of AA Historian Glenn C. comes from Art. S., who came into AA in the mid-1980s. A voracious reader of AA literature from his earliest days in the fellowship, he became an AA historian in 2001, when he took up the position of Archivist for his home group in North Texas.  In this role, his background in the tech industry and skill with data analysis were formative. Working in dialogue with Glenn C. as he began Hindsfoot Press and founded the AA History Lovers listserv, Art has made major empirical contributions to the national history of AA as represented on the Internet, helping to quash myths and rumors about the fellowship’s origins and growth. His magisterial “Narrative Timeline of AA History” is a sterling example of the ways in which digital publication has brought powerful tools for analysis and publication to people outside of the academy.– Trysh Travis

My testimonial to Glenn is primarily devoted to digital material he authored and the use of the web for the propagation of AA history as opposed to myth. He is a prolific author and quite skilled in digital archiving.

I was introduced to Glenn through “digital channels” around fifteen years ago. It occurred through the web-based AA history special interest group “AAHistoryBuffs” which later became “AAHistoryLovers.” Nancy Olson, an accomplished historian, and close friend of Glenn, started both special interest groups. Glenn was one of the premier historians who actively participated, along with Ernie Kurtz and William White. Glenn’s solid academic standards, and clarity in writing, provided a wonderful example to emulate.

I corresponded mainly through email with both Nancy and Glenn who inherited responsibility for managing AAHistoryLovers when Nancy became ill and passed away in 2005. Glenn has composed a wonderful history of AAHistoryLovers and a touching memorial to Nancy O. He recently has withdrawn from moderating AAHistoryLovers but over the years has provided a legacy example of academic discipline regarding the material posted and the type of commentary deemed appropriate.

Glenn  also administers a first rate digital repository at Hindsfoot.org. It is a rich collection of historical religious and spiritual writings together with biographical material on many historical names in AA history, such as Richmond Walker, Rev Ralph Pfau and Father Edward Dowling. Many of his published works are noted and explained on the website together with a rich assortment of AA history and memorabilia images and documents.

I enjoyed a wonderful research experience with Glenn collaborating, via email, with him in Indiana and Tom E. in New York. It resulted in an academically disciplined paper addressing AA recovery outcome rates and the myths and errors circulating at the time that AA has only achieved a 5% to 10% success rate. The latest version was released in 2008.

I first personally met Glenn at the 2010 AA International Convention in San Antonio. Subsequently, the opportunity to spend more personal time with him occurred over the course of three “long weekend” AA History Symposium events held at the Mago Retreat Center in Sedona AR in 2015, 2016 and 2017. A friendship flourished that I treasure highly today.

AA History Symposium, Sedona Mago 2016

As a prolific author of books and articles focused on religion, spirituality and AA History writings, Glenn is both diverse in subject matter and quite generous with the distribution of complimentary copies of many of his works in digital form. His latest contemporary works on Father Dowling, the history of black AA members and groups, plus an exposition on how the earliest AA meeting were conducted, provide a rich source of material that can be found nowhere else.

In my judgement Glenn is one of the top AA historians today.

 

 

Happy (AA Historical) New Year: Roundtable on the Work of Glenn C.

Glenn C., 2016

With a nod to everyone who’s decided to abstain from alcohol in the new year, Points is kicking off 2018 with a tribute to one of Alcoholics Anonymous’s most talented historians, Glenn C., founder of the Hindsfoot Press (1993) and long-time moderator of the AA History Lovers listserv (fd. 2002). I first “met” Glenn through the listserv while working on my book about the history of 12-step recovery in the early 2000s.  In what was at that time a veritable wild west of self-published print and online AA discourse, it was invaluable to have someone like Glenn as a guide: a professor of History with a PhD from Oxford as well as a Divinity degree, with a long history of publishing about AA (and moderating AA history disputes!). His mentoring was unfailingly graceful and insightful.

Nearly twenty years later, I had the honor of presenting with him at the Sedona Mago AA History Symposium in the spring of 2017. Nearly every speaker at Sedona noted their personal debt to Glenn as well as to the intellectual community of the History Lovers listserv and to the invaluable resources made available by Hindsfoot. The moment seemed right to make that sense of gratitude public. Over the next few Thursdays, Points will present commentaries on Glenn’s work and influence from AA Historians Art S., Richard Dubiel, Bill White, and Jackie B. Glenn will then comment on their comments, and after that, who knows what will happen.

Connect with ADHS at AHA 2018 in Washington, D.C.!

aha18_web_banner_800x222cropped-adhs_hogarth
Today, historians begin descending upon wintry Washington, D.C., for the 2018 meeting of the American Historical Association. AHA is the largest annual gathering for such professionals and their affiliated societies. Among those represented again this year is the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, with two panels of original research and one roundtable discussion. The date, times, and location of those sessions are listed below. Points readers (and their interested friends!) are invited to meet historians active in the field and learn about their most recent projects. We hope to see you there!

Session 1: Transgressive Marijuana: Cultivating, Performing, and Regulating the Cannabis Culture in the 20th Century

Friday, January 5, 2018: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Roosevelt Room 2 (Marriott Wardman Park, Exhibition Level)Read More »

Travel as Research: A Historian’s Recent Trip to Huautla de Jiménez, Mexico

Editor’s Note: Today’s post was contributed by David Korostyshevsky, a PhD candidate in the University of Minnesota’s History of Science, Technology, and Medicine program. His research focuses on post-Enlightment discourses of intoxication and addiction in the Atlantic world. Contact him at koros003@umn.edu.

 

26238728_10215576634993350_1767057118_o
Oaxaca City (all photos courtesy of the author)

As historians, we are used to traveling to attend academic conferences, visit libraries, and study in archives. But sometimes, we ought to travel just to see the places about which we are writing. I learned firsthand about how fruitful the unexpected results of such a trip can be earlier this year, when I traveled to Mexico City, Oaxaca City, and Huautla de Jiménez. Such travel yields sources and context otherwise inaccessible to the historian.

In 1957, Robert Gordon Wasson, a vice-president at JP Morgan, published an article in Life Magazine in which he described his discovery of and experience with hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico. He found these mushrooms in Huautla de Jiménez, a small village in the northern mountains of Oaxaca inhabited by indigenous Mazatec people. After several trips in the early 1950s, he was finally invited to participate in a ceremony led by a curandera María Sabina. His Mexican mushroom trip made a profound impression on him. Publishing extraordinary descriptions of it in Life, Wasson became an unwitting, and later, reluctant, stimulus for a nascent psychedelic counterculture in the twentieth century.Read More »

Points 2017: Teaching Drugs, Donald Trump’s “Oxy Electorate,” Opiate Addiction in Assam, and More!

This year was an exciting one for Points. We have enjoyed increasing traffic every year since we started in 2011, and 2017 was no exception with more unique visitors than any year prior! Below are some highlights from the past twelve months.


We began the year by sharing a series of perspectives on public drug discourse through the lens of historians, titled “What Historians Wish People Knew About Drugs.” Posts were written by contributors based largely on their remarks during a roundtable of the same name at the January American Historical Association meeting in Denver. Follow each link to read the four-part series by Miriam Kingsberg Kadia, Isaac Campos, William Rorabaugh, and Scott Taylor.
Read More »

Happy Holidays from Points!

We at Points hope you enjoyed the 2017 holiday season and wish you a happy 2018 to come. Later this week, we’ll highlight some of our most-viewed posts of the last twelve months. Thank you for your support of the blog; we’ll see you next year!
happyholidays

CFP: “Bodies That Eat, Bodies That Drink: Biocultural Approaches to Nutrition, Incorporation, and Commensality”

Call for Papers

Conference theme: “Bodies That Eat, Bodies That Drink: Biocultural Approaches to Nutrition, Incorporation, and Commensality”

Date: January 20, 2018
Location: Spain

Subject Fields: Anthropology, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Literature, Public Health, Women’s & Gender History / Studies

The theme of 11th International Symposium of CORPUS will be “Bodies that eat, bodies that drink. Biocultural approaches to nutrition, incorporation and commensality”.

Consequently, we invite researchers (anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, philosophers, physicians, psychologists, sociologists, etc.) interested in the bodies that eat and drink to participate at this meeting, especially considering one of the following themes:

  • Cultures of the body that eat and drink: way of eating/drinking, positions and forms of involvement of the body during the eating/drinking processes, use of utensils, etc.
  • Sensory experiences and their cultural transcriptions: epistemology of sensory analysis, cultural use, control and lecture of facial expressions of disgust/satisfaction, biocultural dynamics of taste, etc.
  • Cultural, medical and psychological implications of food/drink incorporation: magic eating, placebo/nocebo, superfoods, ideal diets, aphrodisiac/anaphrodisiac foods, etc.
  • Dietetics paradigms and nutritional knowledges: ancient, traditional and biomedical dietetics conceptions, popular reception of academic nutritional knowledge, etc.
  • Cultural responses to the physiological consequences of food/drink incorporation: management of drunkenness and flush syndromes, aesthetic constructions of slim/fat bodies, material culture and representations of excretion, etc.
  • Eating disorders, malnutrition and their social and political readings.
  • Valorisation and demonization of drinks/foods within the framework of health politics:  forms, effectiveness and social consequences.
  • Gender approaches to forms of commensality, rituals of consumption, etc.
  • Representations of the bodies that eat or drink in arts and advertising.

Presentations will be preferably delivered in English. The proposals must include an abstract (400 words) and a current CV. The deadline for receiving presentation proposals is January 20th 2018. Please use the addresses provided below to send your proposal to Frédéric Duhart, Maria José García Soler y Paris Aguilar Piña. All proposals will be evaluated by an international scientific committee.

There will be no registration fee. Transportation, visa, travel insurance costs and accommodation will be the sole responsibility of each participant.

Contacts:

Frédéric Duhart
CORPUS General Coordinator
frederic.duhart@wanadoo.fr

Maria José García Soler
11th Symposium Coordinator
mj.garcia@ehu.eus

Paris Aguilar Piña
Scientific Committee Coordinator
papcomplex@gmail.com

 

Read More »

CFP Deadline Extended: “Dangerous Oral Histories: Risks, Responsibilities, and Rewards”

CALL FOR PAPERS
*The deadline for submission of proposals is now 10 January 2018.*

Oral History Society – 2018 Annual Conference
Theme:  Dangerous Oral Histories:  Risks, Responsibilities and Rewards

28 & 29 June, 2018
Queen’s University, Belfast

This joint conference of the Oral History Society and the Oral History Network of Ireland addresses the ethical and legal implications of oral history research. It presents a timely opportunity to explore the many issues raised by challenging projects, such as:

  • What is an acceptable level of risk for interviewees/interviewers in the oral history process?
  • What are the new responsibilities of the oral historian in a digital age?
  • What are the rewards for initiating ‘dangerous’ oral history projects on ‘difficult’ topics, and when do the risks outweigh them?

From this starting point, the conference organisers wish to solicit papers on all aspects of risk, responsibilities and rewards – and offer the following suggestions, whilst also welcoming other imaginative proposals addressing our theme of dangerous oral histories.

 Conference sub-themes include:Read More »

Points Bibliography: Interpreting Psilocybin and Peyote

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen. They were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but are now periodically featured on the Points blog. For more information, contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Ego Death Resulting from Psilocybin Experiences: Exploring the Concept Within Mysticism

Author: Bobbett, Michelle

Abstract: The concept of ego-death was explored as a possible subset of mystical experience resulting from psilocybin mushroom ingestion. Participants in an online self-report study were asked to describe their most personally meaningful psilocybin experience, which they also must have deemed mystical or profound for inclusion in the study. Of the 350 total participants, 272 (77.7%) reported having an ego-death experience. This group had significantly higher scores on 27 of 30 items on the Mystical Experiences Questionnaire (MEQ: Maclean, Leoutsakos, Johnson, & Griffiths, 2012) and significantly differed in the form of psilocybin they ingested X 2 (1)= 11.02, p = .004 and dosage of psilocybin X 2 (1)= 13.58, p =.004, compared to those who did not report ego death. An exploratory factor analysis of the MEQ revealed similarities to the factors presented by MacLean (et al., 2012). Lastly, in line with the hypothesis of the study, the ego-death group had significantly higher scores than the non-ego-death group on the Time and Space and Mystical factor loadings. The results of the current study have implications for the practice of clinical psychology in general as well as the specific niche of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies. The experience of ego-death and its potential for personal change, as revealed in the qualitative analysis, is especially relevant for practitioners of psychotherapy.Read More »