From Acid to the Body of Christ by Daxx Danzig
Originally published in 2009 ‘From Acid to the Body of Christ’ is an autobiography written by Daxx Danzig. Set largely in Biloxi, Mississippi, the narrative charts Danzig’s life from high-school athlete, through neurotic young adult, to his eventual salvation in middle-age. The story is full of fascinating episodic tales, which at times seem fantastical, however one is reassured by an inscription on the copyright page: “Majority of this story is true with some embellishments.” This, to my mind, is the correct way to put a life into words and Danzig’s is nothing, if not entertaining.
In approaching this book as being drug-related writing, we are faced not with a series of tripping experiences but rather just a single one, which goes to frame the whole book. In the flights of hedonistic youth, having never taken psychedelics before, Danzig pops 4 squares of Purple Haze LSD (which later became the name of what I’m told is a delicious type of cannabis) into his mouth. He notes: “By the end of this night, my opinion would be that Timothy Leary and his drug countercultures from the 1960’s should have stuck their lysergic acid diethylamide right up their beatnik hippy asses.” A few chapters are dedicated to what was a horrific experience, which sent him growling loudly in his friends house all night and that eventually came to a semi-conclusion in meeting a mysterious Christian biker; who left him some money and the word of God.
This acid trip, with its neurosis and paranoia, becomes the model of his behaviour over the following years of his life; as if he is veiled in a permanent semi-psychosis. The story unfolds in episodes, in a patchwork, which appear to reflect the teetering, transient state he finds himself in. There is a circularity to his behaviour that is exemplified by his panic attacks, which cause him to worry about having panic attacks in public, which in turn cause him to have more panic attacks. He refuses to go far from his own town and, in doing so, further confines himself to the neurotic state. I shouldn’t, however, give the impression of this book as being some dark, existential exploration of a twisted mind, a twisted mind maybe (I’m sure Danzig would agree) but one that never loses sight of the comedy of life. The story-telling style is fast-paced, engaging and certainly not on some sympathy vote campaign.
Each biographical episode that Danzig recounts is peppered with attempts, on his part, to find some steady constant in his life. Whether it be in his workplace, or with the colourful characters and partners of his life, there is always a regression to being swept along, Danzig not taking charge of his life. One particularly entertaining section describes him working as a cop. He writes, unlike those who’d prepared to become a cop “I was just a guy who desperately wanted a job. The extent of my law enforcement training was derived from faithfully watching Sonny Burnett and Ricardo Tubbs without interruption Friday nights on NBC.” Danzig is rolled along on the survival treadmill, not affirming himself, yet, in the greatest psy-romantic tradition, there is a colourful and admiring tone that recognises a certain heroism in living one’s life as such; most clearly depicted in the characterisations.
At the heart of the book’s resolutions lies a spiritual and religious thread that comes to light as a buoy and security that Danzig seeks. Unlike the majority of drug-related writing, wherein spirituality and the psychedelic experience are entwined, synonymous, for Danzig, although the path to spirituality could arguably have been laid by his LSD experience, there is an intrinsic opposition. Whereas the drug represents the fantastical, the transient, God is the antithesis because He represents the constant. However, it is only when he confronts his state of mind, his past, the acid trip, the passing of his father, that he is able to come to terms with this constant and fully accept Christianity. In this sense, the book itself has the key ingredient, in that it resolves itself beautifully.
Throughout the text there are musical references to songs and bands, which have the effect of historically grounding the book, however the majority of the themes explored are universal in value and scope. To say that the book is a product of a time-period, although essentially right, is far from the mark. The most endearing quality of From Acid to the Body of Christ is that, no matter your background, the personality of struggle is concurrent across the board and in delivering these themes in a comedic, entertaining fashion, the book manages to deal with seriousness in, at times, a quite surreal fashion. Aside from the fact that the book needs a thorough good edit, the content, Danzig’s life, is riveting and the book’s narrative flow is fluid. Well worth a read. You can buy a copy of From Acid to the Body of Christ here.