Timothy Leary and Harvard, Reunited At Last

Dr. Timothy Leary and Dr. Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), Harvard, 1961

Nearly 50 years after Timothy Leary and Harvard parted ways over the psychedelic drug scandal that made him, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), and LSD a national story, Leary has been welcomed back (at least symbolically), thanks to the university’s acquisition of the most extensive collection in existence of works by and about him.

Harvard’s Houghton Library, one of the greatest special collections libraries in the world, has received on long-term loan a large portion of the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library of Geneva (incorporating the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library of San Francisco), from the vast personal collection of Julio Mario Santo Domingo, put together over a decade with unprecedented commitment and resources to establish the greatest library of psychoactive drug history, literature, science and culture on the planet.

Harvard's Houghton Library

“It’s staggering to realize what Julio Santo Domingo (1958-2009) accomplished in the tragically short number of years allotted to him to pursue his dream on the scale he did,” says Michael Horowitz, Leary’s former archivist (and our contributing editor).

“Julio acquired the Ludlow Library in 2003, the only collection of its kind before his, and he was just getting started. He was attracted to the ethos of the Beat and Sixties countercultures, along with other cultures and subcultures where psychedelic plants and drugs played a central and often defining role. He created a museum and art gallery in addition to a library of tens of thousands of books.”

One of the jewels of the Ludlow-Santo Domingo collection is its Leary holdings, the primary resource for the Annotated Bibliography of Timothy Leary (1988). Now that the Leary Archives (letters, manuscripts, personal artifacts, memorabilia) are housed in the New York Public Library, and his printed works (books, offprints, mimeos, journals, magazines and other forms of media) are at Harvard’s Houghton Library, Tim’s acceptance by the academic world, which turned its back on him in 1963 (not to say he ever looked back), has begun in earnest.

As the Harvard Gazette article, A Collection Unlike Others, explains, the collection is now being “unpacked, examined, described, and indexed at Harvard,” in a process known as “accessioning.”

The Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library of Geneva collection, is, as Leslie Morris, curator of Modern Books & Manuscripts at Houghton Library, explains, “…boxes, drawers, shelves — whole rooms — full of eccentric treasures dating back to the 16th century, all expressions of a top cultural engine: altered states of mind.”

The Santo Domingo collection is on long-term deposit at Harvard. “We do not own it,” said Morris, but the owners “want us to catalog it, and they want it available for research.”

She goes on: “I always explain it as sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll, but the music collection and related artifacts went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Harvard got the sex and drugs.” This includes the printed works of Timothy Leary, who began his storied career in psychedelic research there in 1960.

Inner Space and Outer Space: Carl Sagan’s Letters to Timothy Leary (1974)

Letter from Dr. Carl Sagan to Dr. Timothy Leary – February 19, 1974

By Lisa Rein and Michael Horowitz

(See full text of letters at the bottom of this post.)

It will probably surprise a lot of people that the great American astronomer, astrophysicist  and cosmologist, Carl Sagan, advocate of space travel and extra-terrestrial communication, visited Timothy Leary in the California Medical Facility, a state prison in Vacaville, California.

Two letters from Sagan in the Leary Archives, from February and March of 1974, confirm this.  Their tone is very friendly and enthusiastic. Sagan was clearly as eager for the visit as Tim most surely would have been.

Similarities between Leary and Sagan abound. They were both scientific explorers and political activists – men of ideas and action.  They were geniuses at communication, not only in their books and talks, but as showmen, with extraordinary abilities for communicating their theories and beliefs to a mass audience.  Tim, with psychedelic theatrical events and multimedia lecture tours in a variety of venues, and Carl, with his hugely successful television show (Cosmos) and NASA projects.  They were prolific writers.  Both knew how to use the media to illuminate big ideas about inner space (Tim) and outer space (Carl).

Though space travel to another galaxy is not yet possible, simply sending radio signals and actual artifacts to distant star systems is. Sagan, with Frank Drake, creator of the Drake Equation, who came along on the prison visit, pioneered SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). SETI was the first scientific attempt to communicate with intelligent entities in other galaxies, by sending messages via radio signals into deep space, in the hope of establishing contact.

The subject that most connected them at the time of their meeting, in April 1974, was the question of whether intelligent life existing elsewhere in the universe could be contacted. Leary, a lifetime devotee of science fiction, became interested in space travel and space colonies after he was captured and returned to prison in 1973. During the first year of his new prison term,  inspired by reports of the approach of Comet Kohoutek,  he collaborated with two other prisoners on the book Terra II,  which Joanna Harcourt-Smith Leary published privately, in January 1974.

Leary felt a certain sense of urgency about the concept of Space Migration, which represented a chance for the human race to escape our dying planet.  It mirrored his situation as a political prisoner, looking at spending the rest of his life behind bars.  (Link above goes to a scan of a transcription of one of Tim’s talks in the 1980’s, complete with handwritten edits by Tim in pencil, regarding the “three classic novelties” of Space Migration, Intelligence Squared, and Life Extension.)

Terra II is probably one of the least known of any of Leary’s books. However, when Leary wrote to Sagan, and included a copy, he wrote back, enthusiastically, about an in-person visit. People with Sagan’s reputation and level of success generally avoided Tim like the plague, but Sagan took him seriously enough to come to one of the worst prisons in the country to talk to “the most dangerous man in America” (as described by President Richard Nixon in 1970).

Two years earlier, Sagan sold NASA on the concept of attaching a gold-anodized aluminum plaque to the unmanned spacecraft Pioneer 10, inscribed with a message from planet Earth, describing our place in the solar system, and the form of human life that exists here.

Pioneer 10’s Gold-anodized Plaque

Tim expressed his excitement at Carl’s visit during a prison visit with his archivist, Michael Horowitz. He told Michael that Sagan’s gold-anodized plaque, the first man-made object to leave our solar system, was the most important message and form of media in the history of mankind.

Carl Sagan holding a replica of the interstellar message, now billions of miles from Earth.

The “Starseed Transmission” in binary code, first printed in Terra II (1974), a manual for space colonization written in Folsom Prison by Tim Leary and L. Wayne Benner.

On a subsequent space mission, Voyager 1 in 1977, Sagan followed  up with the Golden Recording (JPL Golden Record page) of the sounds of Earth, produced in collaboration with his soon-to-be wife, Ann Druyan. (Druyan is currently writing and producing a new series titled “Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey,” scheduled to be aired on Fox and the National Geographic Channel in 2014.)

There’s little doubt Leary was inspired by Sagan’s extra-terrestrial messaging, when he composed his own message in binary code and reproduced it on the cover of the book Terra II, as a transmission from “Higher Intelligence,” an imagined response from a distant galaxy to Sagan’s Pioneer 10 message. (Terra II is also a complex prison escape plan, arguably one of the most bizarre ever conceived, but that’s another story.)

In the 1960s, through his talks and books, Leary had tried to convince the government and various professional leaders of the profound evolutionary importance of consciousness-expanding drugs, which he later termed “intelligence-enhancing drugs.”  Like Aldous Huxley, and others, he strongly believed that substances such as LSD  represent an evolutionary leap for mankind. For Leary, “Exo-psychology” was the psychology of the future, when men and women would migrate into space.  His message from 1974, through the rest of the decade, was SMI2LE, an acronym for space migration, intelligence squared, and life extension.  He also adopted the idea of pan-spermia (that life on our planet was “seeded,” perhaps by intelligent life in other galaxies, or perhaps by “accident” on a comet or piece of asteroid that landed here),  first theorized by the Swedish scientist, Svante Arhennius, in the first decade of the 20th century.

Soon after Timothy was released from prison, he and his archivist, Michael Horowitz, brainstormed the idea of creating a television show modeled on Cosmos, with the subject being Inner Space rather than Outer Space. The theme was the discovery of psychedelic plants and drugs, and resultant brain change in the species, with Leary taking Sagan’s role as host.  But it never got past the planning stage.

Letter from Dr. Carl Sagan to Dr. Timothy Leary – March 20, 1974

Despite his mainstream fame, genius, and awards, Carl Sagan was open-minded about mind-expanding substances, and politically active against nuclear weapons testing. It was disclosed in a 1999 biography that he was a user of cannabis, and an advocate of its benefits, from the 1960s onward.

Disguised as “Doctor X,” to protect his reputation,  he wrote this for his friend Lester Grinspoon’s book, Marihuana Reconsidered, in 1977:

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serendipity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

At the time of his visit,  Sagan was surely aware that Leary had been originally sent to prison for possession of less than a joint of cannabis.

Like Leary, Sagan also exemplified the connection between mind-expanding drugs, which increased intelligence, and scientific breakthroughs. In “The Amniotic  Universe,” an article drawn from Sagan’s book Broca’s Brain, and published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1979, Sagan shows a deep and perceptive familiarity with the effects of LSD, MDA, DMT and Ketamine in his review of Stanislav Grof’s extensive and revolutionary LSD research. He writes about the effects of LSD in particular, speculating that “the Hindu mystical experience” of union with the universe “is pre-wired into us, requiring only 200 micrograms of LSD to be made manifest.”   Eminent psychedelic historian Peter Stafford, author of Psychedelics Encyclopedia, placed Sagan in a list of famous people who have taken LSD. Sagan was also number 1 on io9’s recently published list of “10 Scientific and Technological Visionaries Who Experimented With Drugs.”

Sagan’s political activism was evidenced in his joining anti-nuclear and peace activists in 1986 and 1987 to protest President Reagan’s “Star Wars” (SDI) plan as destabilizing to world peace. With hundreds of others, he stormed a chain-link fence at a nuclear bomb test site in Nevada, and was arrested there on two occasions.

The discovery of Leary’s letters to Sagan, presumably in the Carl Sagan Archives, should throw more light on their relationship. We will have a chance to find out sometime in the near future, as Sagan’s archives were recently purchased by none other than Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane, who subsequently donated them to the Library of Congress. (Right on, Seth!)

Leary and Sagan both developed cosmologies that integrated the landscape of the mind with the journey to the stars. Both of these giants passed away in 1996, within six months of each other. Although Carl’s ashes are rumored to have been blasted into space, he chose a traditional burial in Lakeview Cemetery, in Ithaca, New York. Tim’s ashes however, were sent into space aboard a rocket (along with Gene Roddenberry’s, creator of Star Trek) that orbited for many years before burning up upon re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

These letters can both be found in the Timothy Leary Archives at the New York Public Library, where the archives now live, and are currently being processed.

Letter #1:

February 19, 1974

Dear Tim:

Thanks for your last note and the book TERRA II. I have no problems on chance mutations and natural selection as the working material for the evolutionary process. In fact, with what we now know about molecular biology, I see no way to avoid it. But I loved your remark about the "transgalactic gardening club." Of course, if extraterrestrials are powerful enough, they can do anything, but I don't think we can yet count on it. I'm enclosing an article on "Life" that I did for the Encyclopaedia Britannica which you might like.

On the basic requirements for interstellar exploration, I doubt if a manned expedition to Mars could be done within the next 25 years for less than $300 billion. Try really costing your spacecraft and see what it would cost. In fact, maybe the reason we haven't been visited is that interstellar spaceflight, while technically possible, would beggar any planet which attempted it.

If we can do it, how would you like a visit from us in the last week in February? I have no idea what the visiting privileges are, but if your and my schedules permit, Linda and I would love to visit you in Vacaville on the morning of Thursday, February 28. Frank Drake has also expressed an interest in such a visit, as has our mutual acquaintance, Norman Zinberg of Harvard Medical School. What's your feeling about it? Write to me at the St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, where I'll be staying beginning Sunday, February 24, and I'll try to firm up the visit, if it seems possible, shortly thereafter.

With best wishes,


Carl Sagan

P.S. The enclosed poem, "The Other Night" by Dianne Ackermann of Cornell, is something I think we both resonate to. It's unfinished so it shouldn't yet be quoted publically.

Letter #2:

March 20, 1974

Dear Tim:

I also am very much enjoying our exchange of letters.

Note that the noble gases were called noble in the mistaken belief that the nobility did not "mix" with the peasantry. My view on interstellar spaceflight is not the one you quote. That was a statement originally made by Purcell at Harvard. Frank did repeat it in his AAAS speech. I think it's possible for a society only a century or two more advanced than we, but "out of sight" for us. Here I'm talking about relativistic interstellar spaceflight: that is, at speeds more than 99 percent the speed of light, so that the Lorentz time-dilation becomes important. I don't know of any scheme -- including Orion -- which gets us up to relativistic velocities with any feasible technology of the immediate future. It's a glorious dream -- just a century or two too early.

I loved your sentence "You are a true profit". I'm not sure if that is a conscious or accidental pun, but I'm trying to figure it out! I think you're probably right about the mixture of elements in the last proposed visit to Vacaville. It was just too complex, plus the fact that I had been, the few days before, flat on my back with some particularly unpleasant virus.

In any case I hope to be able to see you on the morning of April 1, either alone or with Frank. I'll be in Berkeley the night before, and intend to call Joanna then to arrange for the trip.

I have shown your letters to Linda, and she would very much like to meet with you and Joanna. Sometime soon, I hope.

See you on April Fool's day ....


Carl Sagan

Dock Ellis, Timothy Leary, LSD and America’s Favorite Pastime

This image was created by Monarch-Corona Printing Company in 2010. The company brilliantly copies the design of original cards, then adds new information on the back. The Dock Ellis card is available directly from them. They did another series called the Legacy Series with Tim pictured, also available.

By Lisa Rein and Michael Horowitz

Patrick Hruby has written an extensive piece for ESPN Outside the Lines on the epic Dock Ellis no-hit baseball game, which he pitched while under the effects of LSD on June 12, 1970, a feat which has been called “the greatest achievement in the history of sports” (Lysergic World, a 1993 publication commemorating the 50th anniversary of the discovery of LSD.)

Any lingering controversy over whether the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher was telling the truth is largely dispelled in this article.  His colorful description of the experience of pitching a major league game while high on acid rings true.

“I didn’t see the hitters.  All I could tell was if they were on the right side or the left side of the plate…. There were times when the ball was hit back to me and I jumped because I thought the ball was coming fast but it was coming slow… I caught the ball coming back from the catcher with two hands because it was a big old ball and I thought it was small… It was easier to pitch with the LSD, because I was so used to medicating myself. That’s the way I was dealing with the fear of failure–the fear of losing and the fear of winning.”

Hruby’s piece deals in part with the authenticity of Ellis’ claim that he was on LSD during what he called his “no-no,” which most people concede at this point,  and secondly, whether there is any truth to Ellis’ claim that he got the acid from Timothy Leary himself.

Dock Ellis in the dugout after pitching his no-hitter. Photo from the book: Dock Ellis: In the Country of Baseball, by Donald Hall with Dock Ellis, 1976.

One of Hruby’s sources said Ellis told him that Leary had been “interested in researching the effect of LSD on professional athletes. The professor had approached the pitcher: Would Ellis take a tab of LSD, play, and then report on the experience?”

Although it sounds like an experiment Tim would have loved to conduct,  given his fascination with LSD, baseball, and experiential science, the fact is he was in prison during the 1970 baseball season, nor did he ever mention it to Michael, although they discussed Dock’s feat on several occasions.  Dock might have been told the LSD originated with Tim,  as the man and the drug were virtually synonymous back then, but there’s no evidence they ever met in person.

From the ESPN piece:

Timothy Leary carried Dock Ellis' 1971 Topps baseball card, a gift from his archivist, Michael Horowitz, in his wallet.

“Leary’s personal archivist, Michael Horowitz, said that the Leary-Ellis connection is highly unlikely — but that when Horowitz first heard about the no-hitter, he bought two copies of the pitcher’s 1971 Topps baseball card and gave one to Leary.

“Tim proudly carried it in his wallet, and showed it to any fans of sports and psychedelics he ran into,” Horowitz said.

Tim was a huge baseball fan from his childhood. He played shortstop on his high school baseball team. Although he grew up in Massachusetts, he chose the Brooklyn Dodgers over the Boston Rex Sox and continued following his team when he settled to LA in 1977 after he was freed from prison.

He had a close friendship with the recently retired Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro, who brought him to the Dodger clubhouse on a few occasions, where Tim picked up autographed baseballs for his stepson, Zach, and his goddaughter, actress Winona Ryder.

Michael Horowitz, contemplating a signed baseball commemorating the LSD no-hitter, under the gaze of Timothy Leary and Dock Ellis. Photo by Cindy Horowitz.

Michael notes that, in Tim’s autobiography, Flashbacks, he describes how he once played a pick-up baseball game while on acid, in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, in the summer of 1962. He and his fellow Harvard researchers, and some of their graduate students, had gone there to establish a temporary “psychedelic summer camp,”  where they could study LSD in a more natural setting away from the confines of Harvard.
The gringos from Harvard agreed to play a local Mexican team.   All the gringos were stoned on LSD taken the night before. Leary describes the game in Flashbacks, detailing what the experience of playing baseball on LSD was like:
“The acid distorted our perception of time.  Everything moved slowly. When the ball left the pitcher’s hand, it seemed to float toward the plate, allowing plenty of time to count the stitches, examine the Wilson label, speculate about the history of competitive sports since the Greek Olympics, and feel the muscles contract reflexively to hit the ball.  It’s the busy worrying mind, after all, that keeps us from performing with animal grace…”
And  even from throwing a no-hitter…

Here’s a 2-minute “performance” of the no-hitter by Robin Williams, who was good friends with Tim.  They used to surf the net on Tim’s computer in the early days of the Internet.

Here’s a link to an awesome animation by James Blagden, with live recordings of Dock Ellis himself describing the event.

Jennifer Ulrich Interviews Michael Horowitz Re: The Archival Catastrophe of 1975 and the Birth of ARCANA

Michael Horowitz, Dr. Timothy Leary’s Archivist, 1970 to the present

Jennifer Ulrich, over at the New York Public Library (where Dr. Leary’s archives now live), has a new post about “The Archival Catastrophe of 1975,” when the Feds took possession of the archives and put Michael Horowitz, Tim’s archivist since 1970, on the stand in front of a Grand Jury.

Quotes from Horowitz’ interview:

“At the last minute — a few days before my appearance — I composed and printed up a fact sheet, announcing the formation of ARCANA (Archival Reality Committee Advocating the Neutrality of Archivists). I was to be the only member of this virtual organization I had founded.

I did my best to stonewall their fishing expedition in the grand jury room. It got pretty tense and I knew I faced contempt charges and jail if I wasn’t perceived to cooperate. There were twenty-three questions posed to me by the U.S. prosecutor: I answered the seven that were harmless, and for the others I refused to answer on the grounds that my status as an archivist made me immune to questioning, for the same reason that the lawyer, spouse, and priest, pastor or rabbi is exempt from testifying against a defendant.

This was a conclusion I came to and that I thoroughly believed — and believe to this day. Archivists are the preservers of history and play a neutral role. The prosecutor had no idea how to answer that; I was vilified for not cooperating, but then dismissed from the grand jury without being found in contempt. Afterwards my lawyer told me that I had established a legal “precedent” with my grounds for not testifying: other archivists, should they be called to testify under similar circumstances, could use this in their defense.

The statute of limitations on his prison escape passed without the federal grand jury indicting anyone in connection with the escape. Leary was himself freed about a year later, and his archives returned to him shortly afterwards. Thus my “archival” defense ultimately averted an archival catastrophe in the making.

No archivist to my knowledge has used the ARCANA precedent set that day, but it’s still in the records if anyone needs to. And best of all, the Leary Archives are today safely housed in the New York Public Library.”

Never Before Published Transcript of a Conversation Between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Timothy Leary and Rosemary Leary – at the Montreal Bed-In, May 1969

Copyright 2012 Dr. Timothy Leary’s Futique Trust

Michael Horowitz, Tim’s longtime archivist and contributing editor to this website, has brought us this transcript from a tape recording of a conversation between Timothy and Rosemary Leary and John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which he found buried in his personal archives.

Photo by Stephen Sammons. Rosemary Leary, Timothy Leary, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, reading the local paper about their "Bed-In."

From Michael: “Back in 1984, Tim gave me this as a present to celebrate the completion of his bibliography. I’d completely forgotten I had it. In an archival lapse, I had put it in an unmarked envelope in a box of miscellaneous papers.”

Below is a scan of the cover page for the manuscript of an anthology Tim was considering putting together for publication around 1978 with the title, “Heroes of the Sixties: Meetings with Remarkable WoMen.”

Title-page of "Heroes of the Sixties: Meetings with Remarkable WoMen" typescript, with Tim's inscription.

A draft of “Part II: The Agents” from the table of contents is below. This transcript was intended to be added to a previously published piece, “Thank God for the Beatles” (The Beatles Book, 1968), “an essay about the Beatles as evolutionary agents sent by God, endowed with mysterious power to create a new human species” (Leary Bibliography, B18). The article and transcript was to be Chapter 16 under a new title, “The Beatles As Unconscious Evolutionary Agents (with Conversation with John-Yoko).” The anthology, a collection of previously published magazine articles and book excerpts, with a few new chapters, was never published.

Michael continues: “After researching the publications in which it most likely would have appeared (the underground press and Rolling Stone) in the late spring and summer of 1969, and in the bibliography and the archives housed at the New York Public Library, I determined that the transcript of this ‘conversation’ has probably never been published.”

Another piece of evidence is a handwritten note on the permissions list when the project was in a very early stage: “Hitherto Unpublished.”

Table of Contents for “Heroes of the Sixties: Meetings with Remarkable WoMen.” - An unpublished manuscript by Timothy Leary.

Michael’s guess is that Tim was given a copy of the tape at the time it was made, or later, and had it transcribed by one of his assistants, whose penciled editorial notes appear on the first two pages, and on the contents and permissions sheets. Michael remembers Tim invited him to assist on the project, “ but he (Tim) was too involved in the Future History Series, where some of these chapters ended up in one form or another, and abandoned ‘Heroes of the Sixties: Meetings with Remarkable WoMen.'”

Montreal Bed-In and what was going on in the lives of the four of them when they held the conversation in John and Yoko’s Suite of Rooms 1738-1744 in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel

The conversation took place in the middle of John and Yoko’s week-long Bed-In, on May 29th, 1969. That makes Lisa 6 months old at the time, and it’s a year before Michael met Tim face-to-face for the first time, visiting him in prison, and became his archivist. Chronologically, it was two weeks after the People’s Park Uprising in Berkeley and less than three months before the Woodstock Music Festival. The Vietnam War was raging. The Black Panther Party was being attacked by the FBI. Less than a month later, the Weather Underground formed, calling for armed revolution to stop the war. Hippies were being busted for pot and acid. The Chicago 8 were under indictment for inciting a riot at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Aug. 1968.

Michael points out: “The enormous personal and political pressures on the four of them are evident here. Despite (or perhaps because of) their global fame, both couples had a difficult time getting through Canadian customs. Both had been busted for marijuana possession the previous year – John and Yoko in London, and Tim and Rosemary in Laguna Beach. A few months after the Bed-In, John would leave the Beatles and move with Yoko to the U.S., where they were closely monitored by the FBI and threatened with deportation. Ten months later, Tim would be in prison; Rosemary would be putting on benefits to raise money for his appeal.”

The Bed-In – An Archetypal “Occupation”

Michael: “The ‘60s was a decade of occupations. Perhaps the strangest and most original was the Bed-In that took place in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, in 1969, 43 years ago, this Spring. John Lennon and Yoko Ono occupied a bed for seven days and nights in a “Bed-In For Peace” as a symbolic protest to end the war in Vietnam, which culminated in the writing and recording of the antiwar anthem, ‘Give Peace a Chance.’

“Prior to the Bed-In, in the early sixties, leading up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, there were Sit-Ins in the South, occupying “white only” lunch counters; Be-Ins, beginning with the one in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park (1967), and Teach-Ins on college campuses. The Yippies led occupations at the NY Stock Exchange (1967) and the grounds of the Pentagon (1967), and later, Smoke-Ins in Washington DC and elsewhere. A half million antiwar protestors occupied the mall in front of the Washington Monument, six months after the Bed-In. The 1990s witnessed Digital Be-Ins, and wars in the Middle East brought Die-Ins. These were some of the precursors of the Occupy Movement that began in Zuccotti Park last September.”

Thanks to the fame of the couple and the novel concept of their activism, the event got media coverage well beyond the small number of participants involved.

The film Bed Peace was made available for free on YouTube in August 2011 by Yoko Ono, as part of her website “Imagine Peace.” Tim and Rosemary’s participation is also documented in  another video on YouTube (also courtesy of Yoko’s Imagine Peace website), where they are seen singing on the recording of “Give Peace A Chance.”

John Lennon wrote another song that week, the earliest version of “Come Together,” for Leary’s campaign for Governor of California against Ronald Reagan. It was the prospect of Tim debating Reagan on television that, as much as anything, led to his imprisonment for a miniscule amount of marijuana. With the campaign aborted, John decided to rework the song for the Beatles’ Abbey Road.

This conversation, published here for the first time, is a time capsule from an era that has powerful and poignant correspondences to our own.

Conversation between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Rosemary Leary and Timothy Leary, Hotel Queen Elizabeth, Montreal, Canada, May 29, 1969

TIMOTHY: Living in a teepee is great. It’s pretty basic. It’s the first artificial habitat, after all.

ROSEMARY: It’s the sexiest building ever invented.

TIMOTHY: It’s like being in a sailboat, because you have to know exactly where the wind is. You raise the fluttering banners, and just look up through the smoke-flap and you can see how the wind blows. If you don’t have the flaps the right way, the wind will blow the smoke down. We always have to be aware of the wind.

JOHN: Yeah, Yoko had this plan for us two. To blindfold ourselves for two weeks, y’know, and just work it out. We might do that when we get to the new house and find out about it.

ROSEMARY: Yes, it’d be a fantastic way to learn about it.

TIMOTHY: Also, of course, we live with rattlesnakes. That’s groovy because it requires absolute consciousness. You just can’t go thumping through the brush, thinking of what you’re going to do tomorrow. You have to realize that you’re intruding on their territory. We don’t want to hurt you. We don’t want to stumble in and step on you. So your consciousness has got to be focused. And of course it’s always helpful to have dogs. We learn a great deal from animals.

JOHN: How long have you been there, in the teepee? I mean, before you sussed the wind and everything, and you know, got your senses back?

ROSEMARY: We had to put the teepee up three times before it was right. It’s like you can touch it, and it resounds like a drone, and then it’s perfect, the canvas. It’s a wind instrument that plays like a drone.

TIMOTHY: You would really love the teepee, because it’s a work of art which involves all the senses. You start with white canvas. Then you get the pine. Each man has to strip the bark so you get the wood smooth, smooth. You have to line the poles carefully. There are fifteen of these poles, and if you do it wrong you end up with too big a hole. It’s sculpture. Then once you’ve got it built, it’s a light show, because the moon shines through the smoke hole and you can see the stars.

ROSEMARY: If you placed it properly to the east, the sun rises right over the opening, so at one point during the day the sun is full blast down into the teepee.

YOKO: Is it very wide?

ROSEMARY: It’s a little narrower than the width of this hotel room.

TIMOTHY: And at night you have a fire. All right. We’re sitting around, with the fire here in the center. That means your shadow is thrown on the screen behind you, big, and I’m gesticulating like this and you catch my shadow. And the silhouettes flicker. The fire’s dancing. So, if you are outside, you can tell a mile away what’s going on. Then you get the wind coming. It creaks a little. The door, by the way, is shaped like the yoni and you have to bend your head down as you come in, in honor of it.

ROSEMARY: The only thing that comes through the yoni is the sun and the stars and the moon; actually only people go through the lower exit and entrance.

TIMOTHY: It’s a sexy place.

YOKO: All those nasty magazines in London, they all call me Yoni.

JOHN: Yeah. Yoni Ono.

YOKO: John Lingam and Yoni Ono.

TIMOTHY: We sent a message to you, through Miles, that said that next time you come to the United States, if you wanted to get away for a few days, there’s a place…

JOHN: We never got the message from Miles. [Footnote: Barry Miles, UK countercultural activist, helped launched Indica Bookshop and International Times.] We miss a lot. Yeah, we’ve got it now. And if we come…

TIMOTHY: It would have to be done in a way that no one would know you’re there. Once you just get into the valley, it’s another world. Of course, we’ve been doing nothing but studying consciousness for the last seven or eight years, and at Millbrook, we had this large estate. You probably heard about it–this big 64-room house. It became like a mecca for scientists and barefoot pilgrims.

“We’ve been doing nothing but studying consciousness for the last seven or eight years.”–Tim

YOKO: I’ve heard of Millbrook. I mean, it’s famous.

TIMOTHY: Yes, and police informers and television people. But then we saw how geography was important. The land north of the house was uninhabited. As you got there, you got farther away from the people, and the games, and the television, and the police. What we’ve been trying to do is create heaven on earth, right? And we did have it going, for a while–in the forest groves where there were just holy people. Just people going around silently eating brown rice or caviar, and when you went there, you would never think of talking terrestrial. You never would say, “Well, the sheriff’s at the gate.”

JOHN: We were going to have no talking either, for a week.

TIMOTHY: Well, this was a place where you only would go if you just wanted to. It was set up somewhat like, you know, the Tolkien thing, with trees and shrines. There was another place where we lived, which we called Level Two, which was in a teepee, and people would come up there, and we would play, and laugh. And then you get down to the big house, and that was where you could feel the social pressures starting. And once you left the gate, then you were back in the primitive 20th century. As soon as you walked out the gate, if you didn’t have your identification, then they’d bust you. So it was all neuro–geography. The place you went to determined your level of consciousness. As you went from one zone to another, you knew you were just coming down or going up.

JOHN: That’s great.

TIMOTHY: Now we’ve got that going again out in the desert.

ROSEMARY: We’re living with a more intelligent group of people this time.

YOKO: What did you do with the place, Millbrook? Is it still going?

TIMOTHY: We were supposed to go there this week. Matter of fact, we may go there tomorrow night. It’s still there. But it’s the old story. In the past, societies fought over territory. They thought, “We’ll hold this space, or we’ll force you out.” It’s an old mammalian tradition. As you pointed out about Reagan, what we’re doing in the United States is transcending this notion of the good-guy cowboy. That’s Governor Reagan: he’s gonna shoot down hippies, shoot down blacks and college students. So we gave up Millbrook, because there’s no point in fighting over the land, and making it a thing of territorial pride. If they want it so much that they’re going to keep an armed guard there all the time, they can have it. We’ll be back. [Footnote: Reagan ordered the California National Guard to shoot at protesting students during the People’s Park uprising in Berkeley two weeks earlier; it was G. Gordon Liddy, later one of the Watergate burglars, who drove Tim and his extended family from Millbrook.]

JOHN: Yeah, that’s where we’re shouting at the kids at Berkeley: “forget the park, move on.” They’re all saying. “Where?” Y’know, I’m saying, “Canada. Anywhere.” There’s plenty of space.

TIMOTHY: There is.

ROSEMARY: Yes, if you fly over this country in an airplane you’ll just be amazed at the amount of space there is.

JOHN: Pioneers. Pioneers are very important today, because people won’t go where somebody hasn’t already gone. Yeah! That’s what we’re saying: what did your forefathers do? How did they make it?

YOKO: And it’s a healthy thing to do, isn’t it?

TIMOTHY: What do the kids say when they talk to you? [Footnote: All day John and Yoko have been talking to every radio station they can reach, and to anyone calling in to one of these radio stations wanting to talk to them.]

JOHN: About peace, or about anything in general? On the phone? Well, if they’re not saying, “Welcome to Canada,” they’re saying, “What can we do?” y’know?

ROSEMARY: That’s good.

JOHN: They’re saying, what can we actually do, and then I say, we say, “well we can’t tell you what to do?” y’know, we can only sort of say, “there’s other things to do.”

TIMOTHY: You’re in charge. You don’t have to ask.

JOHN: Yeah, think about it. But they’re getting it, y’know, I mean they must be. Our voices must be going out solid about every quarter of an hour. And if it isn’t singing, it’s talking, and we’re just repeating the same bit, y’know, and there’s very little “Me eyes are brown and Paul’s…y’know? I mean I do that for the ones that need it. Most of it’s just, “let’s get it together,” and it must be going out now like a mantra. We’re trying to set up a mantra, a peace mantra, and get it in their heads. It’s gonna work.

TIMOTHY: It’s Pierre Trudeau that got us in Canada. Because, about a year and a half, two years ago, there was a big university thing in Toronto [Footnote: Perception ’67, a conference/ cultural event featuring, in addition to the two named by Leary, Humphry Osmond, Richard Alpert, Ralph Metzner, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, Ed Sanders, and Ali Akbar Khan], and they invited people to speak about drugs. Paul Krassner came, McLuhan was there, and I was supposed to come up to give a talk, but the government wouldn’t let me in. So I sent a tape, and they confiscated it.

Then I went to the International Bridge in Detroit and handed it across, and the Americans busted me ’cause I wasn’t supposed to leave the country. That was two years ago, before Trudeau was premier. This time they checked with higher-ups. They kept us waiting about an hour. They were very polite. They were getting instructions from– wherever they get their instructions.

JOHN: They kept us about two hours, searched through everything. Yeah, well, we wanted to get to Trudeau, we’re really headed for Nixon.

“We wanted to get to Trudeau, we’re really headed for Nixon.” — John

TIMOTHY: I am too.

JOHN: We’re just telling them that we want to give them two acorns—a piece of sculpture that we entered in an exhibition. So we wanted to get that to Nixon and tell him all we want you to do is make a positive move, y’know. And then they’d either have to accept it or deny it publicly, and then we’d ask, “Why, why, don’t you give us that time schedule?”

TIMOTHY: How are things in Europe?

JOHN: They’re okay there, you know, it’s relaxed and everybody’s…they’re all smoking their cigars and drinking coffee, y’know, and you go to Paris and Amsterdam, and they’re all just rolling along.

YOKO: And they don’t dislike you for smoking.

JOHN: No, it’s not the same. They get down about it, but there’s none of that…

YOKO: Not hatred.

ROSEMARY: I’m always surprised when I read of any of you being busted in England, because…

JOHN: Oh, it’s again a bit paranoid in England now. It’s getting a bit heavy. ‘Cause there’s a lot of Americans coming in, y’know, sort of refugees, and it’s not even that so much. There’s just more people around, and they’re busting the pop stars. Like they got Mick Jagger and Marianne yesterday. [Footnote: Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull were busted for possession of marijuana at their London home on May 28, 1969.] There’s one guy doing it all, one little Sergeant Pilgrim.

“They’re busting the pop stars. Like they got Mick Jagger and Marianne yesterday.” — John

ROSEMARY: Pilgrim?

JOHN: Yes, I think he’s on a pilgrimage, collecting scalps.

ROSEMARY: Your Pilgrim and our Purcell. [Footnote: Neil Purcell of the Laguna Beach police dept. followed the Learys around for months before pulling them over and busting Tim for two marijuana roaches in the backseat ashtray of their car, on Dec. 26, 1968, which are the very charges that sent him to prison in March 1970.]

JOHN: And he’s going around nailing us all; and they’re beginning to hound the underground papers now. They never gave ’em any bother before. So it’s getting a bit like that. But it’s nowhere near stateside size yet, and by the time it gets like that in England, the States will have cooled off.

TIMOTHY: It’s not a yin/yang thing. The energy in the United States is accelerating, and you can go on the negative trip and point to all the bad things happening. But the reason these power trips are happening is because the freedom thing is so strong. I give lectures at colleges, and even down south, and up in Minnesota, in religious, very backwater places where you expected…. The kids are just waiting for any voice of honesty and humor.

ROSEMARY: It’s changed. It really has. Even a year ago…

JOHN: Yeah, when we were down there, in the States, it was terrifying. [Footnote: Lennon is referring to the last Beatles U.S. tour, in August 1966.] That’s when they were getting me for saying we’re bigger than Christ. Somebody was letting off balloons, and we all looked around to see which of us had got shot.

TIMOTHY: But the kids there are the same as they are anywhere. Because this thing we’re involved in, it does transcend all the old dichotomies of left/right or conservative.

JOHN: They’re even playing the “Christ you know it ain’t easy” record. [Footnote: “The Ballad of John and Yoko”] down south on some stations. I didn’t think it’d get past the line, y’know, didn’t think they’d play it there at all. I asked them, Jacksonville, Florida or what, “Hi! Y’playing the record?” “Yeah, we’re playing it. Why did you say that?” “Well,” I said. “Uh. Heh…” [Laughter]

TIMOTHY: John, about the use of the mass media . . . the kids must be taught how to use the media. People used to say to me–I would give a rap and someone would get up and say, “Well, what’s this about a religion? Did the Buddha use drugs? Did the Buddha go on television? I’d say, “Ahh—he would’ve. He would’ve….”

“John, about the use of the mass media… The kids must be taught to use the media.”– Tim

JOHN: I was on a TV show with David Frost and Yehudi Menuhin, some cultural violinist y’know, they were really attacking me. They had a whole audience and everything. It was after we got back from Amsterdam…and Yehudi Menuhin came out, he’s always doing these Hindu numbers. All that pious bit, and his school for violinists, and all that. And Yehudi Menuhi said, “Well, don’t you think it’s necessary to kill some people some times?” That’s what he said on TV, that’s the first thing he’s ever said. And I said, “Did Christ say that? Are you a Christian?” “Yeah,” I said, and did “Christ say anything about killing people?” And he said, “Did Christ say anything about television? Or guitars?”

“Did the Buddha use drugs? Did the Buddha go on television? I’d say, ‘Ahh—he would’ve. He would’ve…'”– Tim

TIMOTHY: Marijuana…

JOHN: Yeah. I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t believe that.

TIMOTHY: The trick is, though, not to be pulled off into the bullring thing. You’ve got to keep right on the essence, and if you do that…

JOHN: Yeah, I got a bit lost actually, but I got such a fright. I didn’t expect such…so much from ’em. It was just a sort of David Frost show with a couple of people on, and we’d just got there, and the hatred was amazing. I was really frightened. But Yoko was cool, so when one of us loses it, the other can cover.

Latest NYPL Post on Processing the Leary Papers: Annotations and Fact Clarification

Photo by Jennifer Ulrich, NYPL

Jennifer Ulrich is the archivist in charge of processing the Timothy Leary Papers at the New York Public Library, their new home. She’s been blogging about the entire process, and providing a few peeks inside at a few goodies while she’s at it.

Jennifer’s latest post provides documentation directly from the archives that will correct misinformation and enhance the information we already have. She discusses how Tim liked to annotate documents in his archives, and sign them, just as he was dedicated to revising and updating his books whenever a new edition was in the works.

Jennifer’s second post explains in more detail what the project involves, and what kinds of archival resources will be accessible online when it is completed.

Her first post gave us an introduction to the current goals of the project, and some interesting history about Tim’s Starseed period, which began when he was in Folsom prison in 1973, to serve out the rest of his sentence, plus five years for the escape.

Terra II, referenced on page 63 of Tim’s Annotated Bibliography, is “a manual for space colonization” (and secondarily, a prison escape fantasy connected to the approach of Comet Kohoutek), written in Folsom Prison by Leary and co-prisoner Wayne Benner, with illustrations done by another prisoner, Harold Olson.

From the bibliography:

“The subject of the work is the evolution/migration from Terra I (Planet Earth) to Terra II (an orbiting space colony between Earth and the Moon)…Like the monographs Neurologic and Starseed, the proceeds of the sale of Terra II were intended to help pay expenses of costly legal appeals by Leary to win his freedom from prison.”

Such legal appeals did not work, and Leary wasn’t released until he was pardoned by then and now California Governor Jerry Brown, on April 21, 1976.

In Leary’s own words:

“Terra II…defined migration from the planet as the goal of our species. To me this was the ultimate escape plot.”

In some copies of the book there was inserted as a promotional bookmark, “Ticket to Ride,” designed by Michael Horowitz and Disney artist Dana Reemes who appropriated R. Crumb’s drawing of Tim from El Perfecto Comics (1973).

These were given away to the audience at the “Wake-Up for Timothy Leary,” an event held in Berkeley in 1975 to bring attention to the fact that Leary was being held deep in the federal prison system for many months without anyone having access to him.

At age 53 he was serving a 10-15 year sentence in California and threatened with a 75-year federal sentence, after being labelled the”Hippie Godfather” for his connection to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. (More details about this in a futher post.)

Timothy Leary Makes a Surprise Visit to Liberty Plaza

Dr. Timothy Leary and Anonymous at New York City's Liberty Plaza, Day 13

Michael Horowitz, Tim’s longtime friend and archivist, claims he overheard the following imaginary conversation:

Tim: I like your mask. I had one like that I wore at the Swiss Mardi Gras back in 1972, when Nixon’s agents were chasing me across four continents.

Anonymous: We Are Anonymous.

Leary: I should have been more anonymous, but it wasn’t in my DNA.

Anonymous: We Are Everywhere.

Leary: There are probably almost as many cops in riot gear and plainclothes FBI agents with cameras as people actually protesting here. But you know what? A hundred million people are watching this on their computers and iPhones, or are seeing it on Al Jazeera TV and other progressive websites.

Anonymous: We are not slaves. We are not beaten. We will not lay down and take this any more.

Leary: This is the best possible image the U.S. can put out to the rest of the country and the world right now.

Anonymous: This is what democracy looks like. We Are the 99%.

Leary: Especially to the young people in the Middle East — or anywhere people are rising up to try to get some control over their own futures. Greece, Spain, Toronto, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Madison!

Anonymous: We Are Global.

Leary: Twitter is the most important invention since movable type. Everyone has a global voice. Remember McLuhan?

Anonymous: The medium is the message.

Leary: This is the Twitter revolution. Tweets are to the 21st century what the Gutenberg Bible was to the 15th.

Anonymous: We do have the power. We do have a voice. We are legion.

Leary: They are broadcasting to the world via hand-held digital cameras, smart phones and live streaming video, while the obsolete mainstream media ignores them. Calls them hippies! How about that!

Anonymous: They will hear us, but we have to speak loud.

Leary: This is the wake-up call.

Anonymous: This is our chance America.

Leary: Turn On, Tune In, Take Over.

Anonymous: Expect us.

From Timothy Leary’s Chaos and Cyber Culture (1994), original version published 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall:

It has finally happened: the inevitable and long-awaited climax of the youth revolutions. The next uncontrollable 15 years (1995-2010) will accelerate this dizzying explosion of mind power. The fragmentary remnants of the old centralized social systems of the feudal and industrial civilizations are crumbling down. The 21st century will witness a new global culture, peopled by new breeds who honor human individuality, human complexity, and human potential.

They will be the creative implementers of the new technologies for communicating at light speed. Change-oriented, innovative individuals who are adept in communicating via the new cyber systems.

Follow Occupy Wall Street at: livestream.com/globalrevolution.

Here’s a theme for Occupy Wall Street/Anonymous, “Re-occupy/Expect Us” –  by Lisa Rein.

Special Thanks to Carolyn Ferris for her Graphics Magic!

Occupy Wall Street Photo - Courtesy of Anonops.Blogspot.Com

Rex Morgan Clippings from 1966

From the archives of Michael Horowitz.

Michael sez:

“1966 was the year LSD was banned, Millbrook was raided, and Tim was sentenced to 30 years for the Laredo border bust. Here is evidence that even the comics were on his case.

These two strips are all I have of the story that went on at least a couple of weeks. If anyone can unearth the rest of the strips from approximately the first two weeks of Dec., 1966 please get in touch so we can post the entire story and find out whether Rex Morgan busts Arrodine, if Jack grows to enjoy his flashbacks, and whether he and Veronica drop out of college and go to San Francisco.”

Mr. Arrodine is the Leary-like villain in this very popular mid-1960s comic strip that was syndicated all across the country. “Rex Morgan, M.D.” is still in syndication after 60 years.

Interestingly, it was a psychiatrist who came up with the character of Dr. Rex Morgan, a fictional doctor who solves cases of foul play involving medical issues, including drug abuse.

Sporting a Mephistophelean goatee and cravat (a look more that of Alan Watts than Tim Leary), Arrodine is presented as a brilliant and cultured man who has gone downhill from too many LSD trips. He claims that without psychedelics we are living in the Dark Ages and speculates that even our greatest phllosophers could have benefited from using LSD. Does that sound like someone we knew?

In the first strip below, two college students have come to seek advice from Arrodine, a noted authority on LSD. Veronica’s boyfriend Jack is undergoing flashbacks from a bad acid trip. Arrodine doesn’t see this as a problem: “I so wish it would happen to me!” (Note: the words “All I do is shave and comb my hair!” are not part of the original strip.)

Click on the picture to see a larger version of this comic strip.

In this next strip, they are in Arrodine’s study, with books lining the wall and an adjoining hothouse, suggestive of a future growroom. The comic strip writer might have had the Millbrook Estate in mind when he chose the setting.

Arrodine is holding an orchid which he describes in Learyean language, and is also reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s description of flowers experienced under the effects of mescaline in The Doors of Perception.

Arrodine’s statement about the “limited wisdom of the ages” is exactly the kind of verbal grenade Tim would casually toss to shake up his listeners and show them how to think for themselves.

Click on the picture to see a larger version of this comic strip.

From the archives of Michael Horowitz.

Timothy Leary Speaking Engagement Ad – 1969 Village Voice

Clipping from the Village Voice, December 1969 - The Electric Circus Presents: Dr. Timothy Leary

The Electric Circus (formerly the Dom) was THE venue of the hip heads of the Lower East Side during the mid to late 1960s.

Lots of  60’s rock bands played there. Andy Warhol staged his Exploding Plastic Inevitable there. The Velvet Underground was, for a time, the house band.

Tim headlined three nights there in December 1969.

The joint rolling imagery of this ad tied in with Tim being sent to prison four months later for possession of two marijuana roaches. He was given ten years for that, but escaped inside of six months.

From the archives of Michael Horowitz.

1970’s News Clipping of Rosemary’s “Conspire-In Blowout”

Jerry Rubin (left), Rosemary Leary (top), Abbie Hoffman (right)

Michael Horowitz thought we might enjoy a few tidbits from his own personal archives…

This picture on the left was published on March 25, 1970. We’re not sure what the publication was.

From Michael:

Rosemary did a benefit for Tim after his bail was taken away in an Orange County courtroom. Tim was jailed, and soon to be sent to California State Prison.

The benefit, called a “Conspire-In Blowout,” took place in Manhattan, with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin protesting the “silencing” of Tim.

The Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial had just ended a month earlier, with Abbie and Jerry free on bail while appealing their sentence of five years for “inciting a riot,” whereas Tim’s bail had been revoked, and he was facing ten years.

Rosemary herself was on probation at the time, for possession of a couple of hits of acid.”

From the archives of Michael Horowitz.