Friday, January 25, 2019

Arlene Corwin writes

Caffeine Magic

Real writers write
Once they’re had their coffee –
On a tray
In bed before they start the day.
On his deathbed
Asked for LSD.
On mine
I’ll ask for

[Too keep you up? -- DV]

Timothy Leary Poster featuring the mixed media Timothy Leary Collection by Marvin Blaine

Timothy Leary -- Marvin Blaine


  1. In 1951 Timothy Leary began developing the concepts which eventually led to the development of transactional analysis. After receiving a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, he founded Kaiser Hospital's psychology department in nearby Oakland, California, and directed the Kaiser Family Foundation’s psychiatric research. His 1957 tome “The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality” was dubbed “most important book on psychotherapy of the year” by the “Annual Review of Psychology,” and he joined the Harvard University faculty in 1959. A year later, at the age of 40, he tried psilocybin mushrooms (“magic mushrooms”) for the first time. He claimed that he "learned more about ... (his) brain and its possibilities ... [and] more about psychology in the five hours after taking these mushrooms than ... in the preceding 15 years of studying and doing research." Then he launched the Harvard Psilocybin Project, which attracted the attention of beat poet Allen Ginsburg. The 2 men began a decades-long campaign of introducing psychedelics to intellectuals and artists. Meanwhile, he introduced the concept of applying game theory to psychology at the International Association of Applied Psychology in 1961. In 1962 he founded the International Federation for Internal Freedom to study the religious use of psychedelic drugs. Harvard fired him in 1963, but wealthy followers established him in a 64-room mansion in Millbrook, New York, and IFIF changed its name to the Castalia Foundation (named after the intellectual colony in Herman Hesse's last novel “Das Glasperlenspiel“ [The Glass Bead Game]). Charles Mingus played piano at Leary’s marriage to Nena von Schlebrügge (who later remarried and gave birth to actress Uma Thurman). The mansion was frequently raided by assistant district attorney G. Gordon Liddy, who later went to prison due to his involvement with president Richard Nixon’s “plumbers.” In time, Nixon would label Leary "the most dangerous man in America"). In 1966 he reorganized Castalia as the League for Spiritual Discovery, a religion with LSD as its holy sacrament. At the Human Be-in in San Francisco in 1967 he coined the phrase, “drop out, turn on, tune in." John Lennon wrote “Come Together” as a campaign song for Leary’s run against Ronald Reagan’s re-election as governor of California. (Lennon’s earlier song “tomorrow Never Knows” had been inspired by Leary’s 1964 book “The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead.”)

  2. But his drug use led to repeated run-ins with the law. In 1966 he was sentenced to 30 years in prison, fined $30,000, and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment., but 3 years later the US Supreme Court ruled the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 to be unconstitutional. In 1970 he received a 10-year sentence for as 1968 arrest, with a further 10years added for a 1965 arrest. In prison he was given the Leary Interpersonal Behavior Inventory and other tests to determine his work detail, which he manipulated to gain assignment to work as a gardener in a lower-security prison -- from which he escaped in 1970 with the assistance of the Weather Underground Organization terrorism group. In Algeria he associated himself with the Black Panther Party’s “government-in-exile” led by Eldridge Cleaver and then fled to Europe. Captured by US authorities in Afghanistan in 1972, he was held on $5 million bail. Sent back to prison, he established a friendship with mass murderer Charles Manson. Governor Jerry Brown commuted his sentence in 1976. He resumed his association with celebrities, artists, musicians, and writers, and toured with his old Nemesis on the lecture circuit. In the 1980s he became involved with the cyberdelic counter-culture, called the PC “the LSD of the 1990s,” and admonished his followers to "turn on, boot up, jack in." After being diagnosed with prostrate cancer, he engaged in a process he called “designer dying.” He died in 1996. Some of his ashes were sent into space, along with those of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and others, in 1997, and remained in orbit until their rocket burned up in the atmosphere 6 years later. Susan Sarandon put more of his ashes in an art installation, which was burned at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, Nevada, in 2015.


Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?