Timothy Leary was a psychologist, writer and lecturer best known for his promotion of LSD in the 60s. Richard Nixon called him “The most dangerous man in America.” However, by his death in 1996 he was a more active proponent of cyberspace and virtual reality than of psychedelics.
In 1969 Leary ran for governor of California against Ronald Reagan and John Lennon wrote the song “Come Together” as a campaign song for him. In 1970 Leary was sentenced to 20 years in prison for possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana. While in prison he was subjected to several psychological tests, including some he designed himself. He was able to get himself transferred to low security prison and escaped later that year. He was smuggled by the Weather Underground to Algeria.
He was eventually arrested and extradited in Switzerland in 1972. He remained in prison until 1976, during which time he feigned cooperation with the FBI during their investigation of the Weather Underground.
During his prison and post-prison years Leary’s interest in futurism blossomed and he became more concerned with space migration, intelligence increase, and life extension. He coined the acronym SMI²LE for his agenda. He also developed the Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness while in prison. In the 90s he was an occasional contributor to the early cyberculture magazine Mondo 2000 and co-authored the book Design for Dying with the magazine’s editor R.U. Sirius.
Leary’s archivist has released a previously unpublished transcript of John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Leary’s wife Rosemary and Leary himself in conversation.
Above: BBC Documentary on Leary Timothy Leary – The man who turned on America
Writings by Leary
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead One of Leary’s most famous works.
Info-Psychology: A Manual for the Use of the Human Nervous System According to the Instructions of the Manufacturers, and a Navigational Guide for Piloting the Evolution of the Human Individual. One of his most important works as he transitioned from psychedelia into hedonic futurism. This is where he outlined the eight circuit model.
Design for Dying. His final book, co-written with Mondo 2000 editor R.U. Sirius.
Digital Polytheism by Leary and Eric Gullichsen, from the proto-Mondo 2000 magazine Reality Hackers
Second Attention: lectures on consciousness expansion Audio of lectures by the likes of Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson and Alex Grey. Plus a couple of videos.
Cyberpunk documentary from 1991 includes interviews with Leary.
Mavricks of the Mind interviews Collection of interview with Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Terrence McKenna, John Lily, Alex Grey and many more.
Writings/interviews on Leary
Will Timothy Leary’s papers turn us on to LSD? by Susan Blackmore
Timothy Leary, the Internet, and libertarianism essay at lewrockwell.com
Viking Youth interview R.U. Sirius and discuss his friendship with Leary
Timothy Leary: Is The Party Over? by R.U. Sirius