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inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #0 of 75: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 29 May 13 12:08
    
A bit of psychedelic history: R.U. Sirius is joining us for the next
couple of weeks to discuss his new book, _Timothy Leary's Trip Through
Time_, which means a broader talk about the historical context for
Leary's psychedelic voyages - the book combines historical accounts and
anecdotes about Leary with bits of Leary's writing.

R.U. (real name Ken Goffman) is a writer and editor living in Northern
California.  He was co-publisher and editor-in-chief of MONDO 2000,
the first popular technoculture magazine from 1989 - 1992.  He has been
editor of several web periodicals since then, including GettingIt.com,
NeoFiles and H+ Magazine. His writing has appeared in mainstream and
subculture publications including Time, Rolling Stone, Salon and Wired.
He was a regular columnist for ARTFORUM International and San
Francisco Examiner.  He has authored or coauthored ten book, among them
MONDO 2000: A User's Guide to the New Edge (with Rudy Rucker), How To
Mutate & Take Over the World (with St. Jude), Design For Dying (with
Timothy Leary), 21st Century Revolutionary, Counterculture Through The
Ages From Abraham to Acid House (with Dan Joy) and, of course, Timothy
Leary's Trip Thru Time. 

In addition to his activities as a writer and editor, in 1993,
Sirius's band, Mondo Vanilli, recored a never-released album, i.o.u.
Babe, for Trent Reznor's Nothing Records. It is currently available at
MONDO Vanilli Band Camp http://mondovanilli.bandcamp.com/. His podcasts
from the early 2000s, The R.U. Sirius Show and NeoFiles, have largely
disappeared down the memory hole.

He is currently working on his Magnum Opus, Use Your Hallucinations:
MONDO 2000 in 20th Century Cyberculture while also editing an untitled
collection of Timothy Leary's best writing and gathering the evidence
for an extended political rant against plutocracy and authoritarianism
titled Steal This Singularity.
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #1 of 75: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 29 May 13 12:10
    
I'll start with an obvious question: what led you to write this
particular book? I know you've been working on the Mondo 2000 history -
did this spin off from that work?
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #2 of 75: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Wed 29 May 13 17:20
    
I was asked by Denis Berry from the Timothy Leary estate, Futique
Trust, to write a timeline to be included in the TimothyLeary.org
website, which they're preparing to be very much live and dynamic by
the time the New York Public Library opens Timothy Leary's archives to
the public this fall. She probably chose me because I completed Leary's
last book, Design For Dying, and because I'm pretty knowledgeable
about his life and philosophy and because I can write (or at least some
people seem to think so.)  And I'm very pro-Leary but at the same
time, she knew I wouldn't write a totally uncritical hagiography or a
sort of psychedelic superman comic book... which would come off as
really false.

As the discussion progressed, it became clear that it would have to be
substantial.  You couldn't just nail this complicated life and work
down with bullet points and a couple of sentences. Once it was written,
it became clear that it should really be available for people to read
in book format. And so it went.
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #3 of 75: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 29 May 13 18:23
    
Did you know Leary personally?
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #4 of 75: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Thu 30 May 13 00:00
    
Yes, I first met him in 1980 in Rochester New York when he was touring
night clubs with his Stand Up Philosopher act. Then, in 1984, I'd
moved to the S.F. Bay Area and started a psychedelic magazine with a
tech edge called High Frontiers. I contacted him then and he was very
friendly and enthusiastic. Eventually, by 1988, the magazine was called
Reality Hackers and he became a regular contributor which continued
when we changed yet again to MONDO 2000 the following year.

So I got to be one of the several thousand people who he made to feel
like one of his great friends... the Leary network, if you will. He'd
stay in Berkeley at the place that became known as the MONDO house and
I visited his home in Beverly Hills a couple of times.   

Shall I data dump? Yes, I shall...

This is from Use Your Hallucinations (in progress) describing meeting
Leary.  Some of it may be a bit out of context since it's part of a
larger body of text...

It’s 1980:  I’m at Brockport, New York, near Rochester (the Revolution
having left me stranded.) My friend Brian Cotnoir wants to start an
avant-garde art newspaper. He calls it Black Veins — which comes from
an interpretation of a line from Lautreamont’s epic proto-surrealist
misanthropic horror poem Maldoror — and he signs me on as co-editor. 
The paper features dark, perversely angled bits of poetry and fiction,
but I bring something else in. Since the mid-1970s, I have been nursing
that growing obsession with the neuro-futurisms of Leary/Wilson.

For the first issue, I have a written exchange with Wilson, performed
by the soon to be archaic means of letters sent by mail. As best I
recall, the exchange essentially involves me wringing my hands that the
world is a terrible place and that his optimistic weltanschauung may
actually be a dangerous diversion. (I would later get letters like that
myself at MONDO 2000 and, generally, respond with dismissive quips
intended to communicate my lack of any actual commitment to an
optimistic — or any — point of view.)  My letter includes a
pretentious, portentous quote from a Village Voice review of
Hans-Hurgen Syderberg’s 6 hour film, Our Hitler. 

And then word comes that Dr. Leary himself is coming to Rochester on
his “stand up philosophy” tour.  Brian, his girlfriend Ellen, myself,
and our ex-girlfriend Liz pile in Ellen’s car for the 30-minute drive
to Rochester for the Sunday afternoon performance. Our goal is to
interview the Dr. after the show for the second issue of Black Veins. 
I also plan to film him and incorporate him into an 8mm movie called
Armed Camp I’m making for a film class. (Incidentally, that’s camp in
the Susan Sontag sense.) There is a vague narrative structure to this
odd little attempt and I have reworked it so that it required Timothy
Leary to say a few lines. 

My posse — myself excluded — is negative about mind-altering drugs and
cynical about Leary, and this makes me anxious. As we take our seats,
the end of the Pink Floyd album The Wall blasts out of the loudspeakers
and the cover of Leary’s book The Intelligence Agents — which shows
multiple copies of the same baby attempting to climb over a brick wall
that appears to have no end — is projected onto a screen on stage. 
Then comes Side 2 (The “1984” side) of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs. 
Given his recent byzantine adventures with prison, exile, revolution,
and compromise with the powers of state, it seems as if Leary is trying
to tell us something.  To the final echoes of Bowie singing “We want
you, big brother,” Dr. Leary walks on stage. Liz mutters a bit too
loudly, “Ohmygod, it’s Johnny Carson.”

The performance is not particularly impressive or funny, but Leary
agrees to be interviewed. He unleashes that famous laser beam smile on
each of us, one at a time, and the vibe immediately changes. Instant
intimacy. Timothy Leary is now our special pal and we’re his
co-conspirators. We move into the restaurant attached to the club,
order drinks and peruse the menu. Liz, a slightly moralistic
vegetarian, asks Leary if he eats meat. “I’ll eat anything!” he says
directly to her, smiling. It’s something that has been said a million
times before by both jackasses and geniuses, but it comes out like a
blast of freedom. Everybody feels this.

We all have a roaring great time interviewing Leary about life; drugs;
his hatred of followers; his futurist theories and the 1980 Democratic
primaries (“If I’d done a better job, you wouldn’t have all these
pasty-faced white guys running around New Hampshire.”) We’re all
dazzled, feeling like the host of Planet Earth’s party had lifted the
velvet rope and let us in. As we finish the conversation, Ellen urges
me to ask Tim about appearing in Armed Camp. I’m feeling shy, but I
share the script — such as it is — with him and point him at his
two-sentence part. “What’s it about?” he asks.  A bit flustered, I
blurt out, “Nothing really.”  He laughs and looks at my friends.
“Thaaat’s wonderfullll, isn’t it? Nothing. Isn’t thaaat wonderful?”
Everybody laughs, including me.  He won’t read the lines but he will
let me ask him a question and film his response… which turns out to be
useless for my movie, but a treasure (that I will soon lose)
nonetheless.

As we wrap up, Tim asks for a ride back to his hotel. He shrewdly
picks Brian to dismantle and pack up the photo projector he’d uses to
backdrop his talk. As we head to the car, night has fallen. Liz is
pawing Dr. Leary, while they both gaze up at the stars. He points and
describes a constellation or two. In the car, Liz continues to stroke
and flirt, offering to come up to his hotel. Leary tells her she is
very beautiful and wonderful, but he’s married. As “Sympathy For the
Devil” pops up on the mainstream rock radio station, we pull up to a
raggedy-ass little hotel that’s near the Rochester Airport and the good
Dr. takes his leave of us.   

Issue #2 with the long Leary interview is published and there ends my
pre-California publishing and editing adventures.
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #5 of 75: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 30 May 13 08:46
    
That's a great story, and one phrase that struck me was "the
neuro-futurisms of Leary/Wilson." It would help set the context for our
conversation if you could flesh that out a bit - describe what those
"neuro-futurisms" were and why they resonated with the younger R.U.
Sirius?
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #6 of 75: Administrivia (jonl) Thu 30 May 13 10:55
    
Link for sharing this conversation far and wide:
http://bit.ly/sirius-leary

If you're not a member of the WELL, but have a question or comment for
this discussion, send it to inkwell at well.com. We'll post it!
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #7 of 75: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Thu 30 May 13 10:58
    
OK, I'll do that later but first...

A: Have we told people that they can get the book at TimothyLeary.org
and that there's a free electronic version? So you can read along while
we chat.  Buying a print copy, of course, is always best.

B: As marvelous as my little bio/timeline is... it's hard to best
this... found on the magical interwebs today.

>>>

 Tim Leary
Tim Leary Timothy Leary, also cognise as Uncle Tim, The messiah of
lysergic unpleasant diethylamide, and The most dangerous spell in
America, was innate(p) on October 22, 1920, in Springfield,
Massachusetts. He went to a public exalted pitch school where he stick
to girls and the ability to attract forethought from those in
authority. After high school he accompany Jesuit College saintly Cross,
only when Tim wasnt satisfied with beatified Cross, so he took a test
to get into horse opera hemisphere Point. He got in truth high tag and
was accepted. Timothy was very enthused and eminent to be at westerly
Point. However, his enthusiasm coloured when he realized that he was
macrocosm trained not to think, scarce to follow.
Ordercustompaper.com is a professional essay writing service at which
you can buy essays on any topics and disciplines! All custom essays are
written by professional writers!
One day, on a return pillowcase from a football game, Timothy was
invited to imbibe with a a match of(prenominal) of the upper classmen
who brought some bottles of whiskey. The extramarital event was
unfortunately observed the next day, and the Cadet enjoy Committee
punished Tim by inflicting a kind of troglodyte confinement: everyone
was forbidden to plow a word to him..
http://custom-writing-paper-blog.blogspot.com/2013/05/tim-leary.html
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #8 of 75: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 30 May 13 11:30
    <scribbled by jonl Thu 30 May 13 11:30>
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #9 of 75: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 30 May 13 11:31
    
Amazing. I'm sure he did get in truth high tag.
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #10 of 75: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Thu 30 May 13 12:29
    
Regarding Leary/Wilson Neuro-theory... I'm going to steal from
something I've written before, because I'm going to be away from the
internets probably until tonight and don't want to stall the
discussion...  This is about the 8 Circuit Brain theory, which is
really just an element of Leary-Wilson Neuro theorizing and politics
(the more important part may be the philosophic relativism related to
an awareness that the brain  produces our sense and opinions about what
reality is and that, for various reasons including the ultimate limits
of the equipment, we don't know shit. 

>>>>
The theory was developed by Timothy Leary in the mid-1970s and then
expanded upon by Science Fiction writer and philosopher Robert Anton
Wilson.  In a reductionist nutshell (and put in a context that will be
appreciated by technophile types), Leary theorized that their were
circuits or potentials for intelligence residing inside the human skull
that were – in some sense – laying in wait for the time when they
would be useful for human survival (and enjoyment).

It was a sort-of evolutionary psychological system that presumed that
human evolution didn’t end with contemporary, unaltered 20 C. humans,
but that we were going to become posthuman in some interesting and
exciting (and pleasurable) ways.

In simplistic terms, Leary theorized that when a civilization becomes
advanced enough to offer some of its privileged members leisure time,
this provides them the opportunity to open somatic potentials in the
brain that allow them to experience the brain and body not as merely an
implement for survival, but as something one can drive and control.
One is privileged to enjoy mind states that are sensual, visionary,
playful, fluid and creative. And in fact, some survival value
ultimately comes from all that as well.  He called this the 5th
circuit.  Naturally, this being Leary, the circuit could also be opened
up by drugs… in this case marijuana.

The next circuit or potential was “neuro-electric” and was related to
the idea of shared minds, minds hooked up, speeded up, linked up – your
basic networked, online, twittered world perhaps ultimately extending
out to direct mind link ups and borg like collectivities of mind.  (I
remind you, this was in the mid-70s). Again, Leary theorized that
evolutionary potentials in the brain would open up under these
evolutionary conditions (and of course, you could open them up a bit,
prematurely, using psychedelic drugs).

The seventh circuit would open up when we gained control over biology,
mutating into different physical forms.

The eighth circuit?  Well, it depends which books you read. 
Variously, it represents control at the molecular level, control at the
quantum level (time dilation perhaps?), hyperdimensionality… The
Singularity was mentioned… it was the Singularity of Olaf Stapledon’s
Star Maker.

These theories were written up in five books collectively called the
“Future History Series.”   The books don’t revolve primarily around
science and technology. They’re, in a sense, the works of a former
transactional psychologist on acid and science fiction, tempered by
prison, exile and culture war.  The emphasis is on the personal and
social quality of various mind states — including the less exulted
states common to humanity up until (and into) the 21st century, with
lots of emphasis on the degree to which we are DNA robots and with
methods for deprogramming yourself (frequently with psychedelic drugs).
 They draw on mysticism (it was the 70s) and particularly on Aleister
Crowley and Gurdjieff, and are not for everybody. But even the most
hardheaded radical technology freak will find astonishing bits of
foresight contained therein.
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #11 of 75: david gault (dgault) Thu 30 May 13 13:23
    

reminds me of this old chestnut - now available used at $49.98!

http://www.amazon.com/Programming-Metaprogramming-Human-Biocomputer-Experiment
s/dp/051752757X
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #12 of 75: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Thu 30 May 13 17:42
    
wow. $49.98!

Leary really admired and was influenced by that particular John Lilly
book. But Lilly's thing was very interior and Leary Theory was more
about the interior impact of exterior technological and social change
and vice versa... with the emphasis on vice... versa  
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #13 of 75: david gault (dgault) Fri 31 May 13 11:09
    

good point about the contrast between interior and exterior.

As I recall, Lilly preferred his sensory deprivation tank
for self-programming.  Leary always struck me as a
sensualist, as a person who valued and sought new 
experiences in the physical world.   
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #14 of 75: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 31 May 13 11:57
    
Incidentally, if anyone in the outside world is reading this and wants
to join in with a question, just e-mail inkwell [at] well [dot] com,
and we'll hustle the question right over. 
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #15 of 75: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 31 May 13 11:58
    
I suppose that would be one of the Timothy Learys, no? In the intro to
the book, R.U. says there were several Tim Learys, that Leary himself
said there were 24. Which of these was most prominent? Which most
compelling?
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #16 of 75: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Fri 31 May 13 12:23
    
 Probably depended on the time of day.
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #17 of 75: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Fri 31 May 13 15:13
    
I think the Timothy Leary that Timothy occupied most of the time was
that of a hyper-gregarious social person who thrived on interacting
with lots of human beings in conversations, flirtations, occasional
confrontations and head games, giving cheer to his friends,
particularly the young ones... and sex (although not and sex and sex
and sex and sex as per Mick Jagger). I think of my memory of him at a
psychedelics conference, showing up and then heading to the bar with
about maybe 15 of us who were his friends and spreading good cheer and
naughty rumors, all at the same time. That's the guy, much more so than
the one that climbed on stage later to talk to the crowd... who was a
bit of a natural politician.  That may also be the most compelling,
although I think the guy who punctured the social games (while he never
stopped playing them) of "primates" and then rhapsodized about the
transcendent pleasures that seemed accessible to us was also very
compelling.
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #18 of 75: Ed Ward (captward) Sat 1 Jun 13 07:53
    
What about the guy who destroyed legitimate psychedelic research for
at least two generations, destroyed researchers' careers, and ruined
the lives of the very people he was exhorting to take psychedelic drugs
by hastening their criminalization, all in the name of
self-aggrandizement?
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #19 of 75: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sat 1 Jun 13 10:07
    
While drinking himself into a stupor.
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #20 of 75: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Sat 1 Jun 13 10:53
    
Mostly social drinking. Occasional stuporous drinking came a bit into
play during the '90s. A fun game. Name all the people you admire who
drank themselves into a stupor now and again?
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #21 of 75: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Sat 1 Jun 13 10:54
    
The book deals, briefly, with the canard that he destroyed psychedelic
research.  More later. Must drink (caffeine) myself out of a stupor
(brought on by mere sleep.
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #22 of 75: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Sat 1 Jun 13 17:56
    
Psychedelic research didn't end because the Harvard group had too much
fun. By the time something like this becomes a political hot potato,
the discussion isn't that sophisticated. Psychedelic research died
because there was a psychedelic youth counterculture.

a: Sorry to ruin your specialization, fellas. Seriously though, as
important as psychedelic therapy research was... and is... this
immeasurable cultural wave was more important. It's certainly not
quantifiable, but you can't imagine our country and culture without
popular psychedelia having happened. The Well?... started basically by
Dead Heads?... ad infinitum.

b: The line of transmission that leads to a psychedelic youth
counterculture runs from The Beats in the 1950s to Ken Kesey and the
Merry Pranksters to the effusion that got broadcasted nationwide from
the Haight through just about every music group in the '60s and into
the '70s.  Timothy Leary is in there, but in much less of a leadership
role than simple reductionist history (or Leary himself, in certain
moods) would have it.  The early materials put out by Leary's League of
Spiritual Discovery and the Castalia Foundation was pretty damned
academic and sedate and not designed to appeal to teenyboppers
(although certainly, self serious college students were seen as part of
the audience). For the most part, Leary didn't lead the young people
in the late '60s. They sorta lead him.  
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #23 of 75: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 2 Jun 13 21:32
    
Do you think he had real insight into the nature of consciousness?
That he was particularly self-aware? 
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #24 of 75: R.U. Sirius (rusirius) Mon 3 Jun 13 00:01
    
First, at the level of science, or neuroscience, the general sense
seems to be that none of us know very much about consciousness. Timothy
managed to find time to follow stuff emerging from that field and
probably cherry picked the stuff that delighted him and fit his
intuitions... about novelty and neural plasticity; about imprinting (in
animals)and so on. 

And then, I guess it depends on how much you respect wild visionary
pitches marinated in psychotropic drugs from somebody who, at least,
stayed sober enough to keep up his subscription to Scientific American.
For me, a lot of his writing on the subject just resonates. After
reading his stuff, a decade goes by and I think, oh that must have been
crap and I start reading it again and it resonates still. 

I think there's about a 1% chance that a sort of posthuman culture 30,
50, or 100 years from now will scan the 20th Century and say that this
ridiculous guy came closest. That would occur if we get a posthuman
sort of future and if it's ludic and hedonic.

Second, at the level of Eastern religion and philosophy or Shamanism
or any of those sorts of traditions that presume to understand or know
some tricky things about consciousness, he would probably be considered
a fuck up, or someone who turned his back on enlightenment or
impeccability or whatever. 

Third, personally, yes, I think he was terribly self aware but
probably so very active and social as a way of distracting himself from
spending too much time with it. He often made fun of his own foibles.
There was an interview in Vanity Fair not long before his death where
he had fun with his place in mid-'90s L.A. celebrity culture as someone
"famous for being famous." And on an interpersonal level, I think he
was about as open as anybody else who was hanging around.
  
inkwell.vue.466 : R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary's Trip Through Time
permalink #25 of 75: Clare Eder (ceder) Mon 3 Jun 13 12:12
    <scribbled by ceder Wed 5 Jun 13 11:51>
  

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