Interview With Hassan I Sirius, Editor of “Leary On Drugs”


Just in time for the holidays!

A new collection of Leary’s drug writings, Leary On Drugs, has just been released from RE/Search Publications.

We managed to catch up with Hassan I Sirius, who edited the collection, to ask him a few questions about his use of Tim’s archives in compiling the book.

Note: Although the books have not yet been released to the public, they have all been digitized and OCR’d, and are available for use upon request. Please Contact Us if you need access to them for a specific project.

Q: Tim was very excited about the prospects of his archives being made available to academics. How were the archives helpful in your doing the book?

A: The archives were a life saver for me. I got them in the middle of the process of editing the book. I’d gotten books from the actual physical archives before that and then I also had some of Tim’s books that I’d collected myself. So I’d been going through and marking off passages in pencil and with post-its. And I dreaded having to type all that stuff out.

So, just for starters, when I was given the privilege of using the online archives, I could find these passages, copy them, paste them into a word document, and then edit them.

Then there were a number of out of print books that I didn’t have a copy of – for instance, Jail Notes and Confessions of a Hope Fiend. And they were up on the archives. I didn’t use a lot from those books but I really loved the few things I did use. And then I could also go through all the books and do a word search, something you obviously can’t do with a physical book unless the word is included in the index.

The obvious thing was to look for mention of specific drugs. I didn’t wind up using a lot of that because I ultimately decided to go for the best writing rather than to try to include every drug. But I’d still be feeling like something was missing if I hadn’t searched – for instance – for Nitrous Oxide through every
single book.

This medium is just an incredible boon to anyone who is editing a collection.

Q: What excited you the most about having your hands on this material?

A: There were some books I’d never read, so that was a thrill. Some of these books
and monographs from the early seventies, for instance, have kind of a different style from his other stuff. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it has a certain edge to it.

Q: RU Sirius wrote the introduction. People are going to wonder, are you guys related?

A: I probably should maintain that fiction. Hassan I Sirius is a name that RU has used a few times… referring to him as his “great and terrible brother.” But really, I just lifted the name from one of RU’s books. Actually, I asked his permission and he said OK. Now he says the name is all mine, so maybe I’m unofficially his brother.

I guess the difference is that RU uses his name because he likes it, and I used this name because I actually want to remain anonymous.