Eric Bulson at the TLS:
In May 1975, Michel Foucault watched Venus rise over Zabriskie Point while Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge (Song of the Youths) blared from the speakers of a nearby tape recorder. Just a few hours earlier he had ingested LSD for the first time and was in the process of undergoing what he saw as “one of the most important experiences” of his life. And he wasn’t alone. Two newly acquired companions had brought Foucault to Death Valley for this carefully choreographed trip complete with a soundtrack, some marijuana to jumpstart the effects, and cold drinks to combat the dry mouth. It was all spurred on by the hope that Foucault’s visit to “the Valley of Death”, as he called it, would elicit “gnomic utterances of such power that he would unleash a veritable revolution in consciousness”.
For decades, the details of this trip have remained sketchy. The most extensive account appeared in James Miller’s 1993 biography, The Passion of Michel Foucault, but anyone following the footnotes would have realized that the specifics, the ones above included, were based almost entirely on the documentary evidence of a self-proclaimed disciple, Simeon Wade.