by Alex

Julio Santo Domingo Jr was part of a Columbian business dynasty, straitjacketed by the trappings that came with moneyed social convention. Thoughout his life, though, he developed a seemingly insatiable appetite for collecting materials on ‘altered states’, sex, magick, and the occult, which he amassed from bookshops, auctions and galleries across the globe. Filling warehouses and mansions with rare first editions, pulp novels, letters and posters, after his death the collection was bequeathed to Harvard University, and a book appeared in 2017, Altered States, to accompany an exhibition at the Houghton Library, documenting the development of the collection and Santo Domingo’s vision and mentality.

It’s difficult to emphasise enough the sheer scale of the archive. Some estimates suggest that it numbers 100,000 individual items, and would fill at least three terraced houses. I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in October 2018, foraging for material that…

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