of your take (and there are many), Timothy Leary will be remembered
as one of the 20th century's mightiest figures. Psychologist, psychedelic
rabble-rouser, zen prankster, international criminal, cyber-guru,
visionary... the list could go on. Leary said it best: : "You get
the Timothy Leary that you deserve."
of such books as The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality
(1957), The Psychedelic Experience (1964), High Priest
(1968), Exo-Psychology (1977), Flashbacks (1983),
Surfing the Conscious Nets (1995), among others, Timothy
Leary will continue to amaze and confound us for generations to
come. His legacy is well represented by his web site, which he worked
on intensely before his death.
I spoke with
Timothy Leary by phone at his home in Beverly Hills in the fall
of 1995. At the time, the hoopla surrounding his imminent "de-animation"
was in full swing. He was in the upbeat process of what he called
"designer dying." Leary was again smashing cultural taboos. He brought
to the world a new and absolutely positive approach to the meeting
with the unknown. I'd just read Chaos and Cyber Culture (Ronin
Publishing, 1995) and come away with a new appreciation not only
of the creative possibilities of the computer but of the sweet Chaos
which we call the world.
Leary at Digital Be-In 7
What higher power brought the computer into being?
brain. The brain wants light. The brain is drinking our bodies around
to bring her light. We have the equipment waiting there. It's time
to wake up and use it.
that over time this will eliminate the barriers of language that
have been responsible for most war and conflict. Is this the way
to a kind of global, empathetic consciousness?
Most of the quarrels in human history are based on different language
groups. Kids growing up in the 90s are going to be exposed to global
information by the time they're crawling or toddling.
moving at light-speed, isn't it.
an aspiration, a hope of visionaries all the time. They want to
be able to move like light. The metaphors, poetically, have been
there. We're a young, a very, very young adolescent species and
we're now just catching up to the fact that your body is your brain.
That's important. The body is just the vehicle for your brain. Technologically,
we can use that language of the brain, which are light clusters
on your screen.
and Cyber-Culture you talk about the 1967 Human Be-In where
you challenged a crowd of 30,000 people in Golden Gate Park to "Turn
on, tune in, drop out." You call it the dawning of the psychedelic-cyber-netic
age. For nearly 10 years now Michael Gosney has been holding a Digital
Be-In annually in San Francisco in which you've participated. What's
happening with this kind of leap?
that wonderful concept of the Be-In and some of the spirit of that
time and bringing it to the next level of reality, which is electronic
virtual reality and multimedia. Same message passed on in a better
form now because when you get into electronic light media, you're
working with light as a basic language. That's good. Michael's one
of the few great pioneer humanists in the digital world.
neurons need this stimulation?
my brain tells me. It's starved. It wants more electricity. More
light. More change. She can handle a hundred and twenty-five million
signals a second and I'm going along with like one...two...three...four.
[laughs] Big deal. Up it.
towards a transition.
We all are,
the human race. The tide, the surf is there. I've been surfing it.
Calling your attention. Hey, look over there. The big wave's catchin'
up. Get ready for it.
Shrine, Timothy Leary's home
courtesy of Michael Gosney
It first appeared in Zavtone 11 (Japan, 1998) in Japanese translation.
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