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.

Dr. Ralph Metzner Comments A Bit On All the Recent Press

Ralph Metzner and Timothy Leary - Harvard Days (1960-61)

Here’s Ralph’s post on his own blog about the last few weeks of press on the archives.
Ralph was a graduate student at Harvard, working on his Ph.D in Clinical Psychology, which he received.  He took graduate classes with Leary and Alpert, was introduced to psilocybin mushrooms, and became a research assistant on the Harvard Psilocybin Project started by Tim and Richard.   While continuing to study for his Ph.D, he became a central figure in the research project, participating in all the experimental work, first with psilocybin and mescaline, and later with LSD and DMT.

He co-authored the key research papers, was the editor of “Psychedelic Review” (the first journal devoted to psychedelic drugs) through much of its run, and co-authored the seminal text of the era, “The Psychedelic Experience,” based Upon the “Tibetan Book of the Dead.”

After getting his Ph.D from Harvard, Ralph moved to the Millbrook Estate and continued to be a central figure in the Psychedelic Movement, well into the ’60s, performing in the psychedelic celebrations, and co-starring with Tim and Rosemary in the feature film, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”  He also published one of the earliest anthologies of people’s psychedelic experiences, “The Ecstatic Adventure” (1968).

Ralph and Ram Dass recently published a book on these seminal years, “The Birth of the Psychedelic Culture.” We worked with Ralph placing many photos from the archives in the book, which also has a nice introduction by John Perry Barlow.

Of particular interest in this post by Ralph, is his comment to David
Presti’s blog post
published on June 23, 2011:

“Thanks for this sensitively nuanced appraisal of my former colleague and dear friend Tim Leary. Your statement that “the role of Timothy Leary in the early days of contemporary psychedelic research and his impact on society during the second half of the 20th century are far from having been fully explored” is right on target.

I think in retrospect his pioneering contributions will be recognized and appreciated, while his flamboyant and provocative style of self-presentation will be forgotten. More books about him are coming out all the time – the most recent being Peter Conners’ White Hand Society – The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg.

He was the funniest man I’ve ever known. When asked about Nixon’s judgement of him as “the most dangerous man in America” he said “It’s true – I’ve got America surrounded.”

The Economist Weighs In: “Research into hallucinogenic drugs begins to shake off decades of taboo”

Nice to see that, for the most part, the Economist gets it!

This piece keeps an open mind about the potential benefits of this research finally being published and made publicly available.

Acid tests: Research into hallucinogenic drugs begins to shake off decades of taboo

Excerpted from the article:

“These papers will be interesting not only culturally, but also scientifically, as they reflect what happened between the early medical promise of hallucinogens and their subsequent blacklisting by authorities around the world…”

“Which was a pity because, like many other drugs the authorities have taken against as a result of their recreational uses, hallucinogens have medical applications as well. But time heals all wounds and now, cautiously, study of the medical use of hallucinogens is returning.”

“Psilocybin has shown promise in treating forms of OCD that are resistant to other therapies, in relieving cluster headaches (a common form of chronic headache) and in alleviating the anxiety experienced by terminally ill cancer patients. The first clinical study of LSD in over 35 years, also on terminally ill patients, is expected to finish this summer. Peter Gasser, the Swiss doctor leading the experiment, says that a combination of LSD and psychotherapy reduced anxiety levels of all 12 participants in the study, though the statistical significance of the data has yet to be analyzed.”

It’s hard to believe that the paragraph above, and the one below, came from the same article (although the piece resumes its optimistic tone at the very end).

From the article:

“It may, of course, be that LSD has no clinical uses. Even when no stigma attaches to the drugs involved, most clinical trials end in failure. But it is worth seeing whether LSD might fulfill its early promise. And if the publication of Leary’s archive speeds that process up by exorcising a ghost that still haunts LSD research, then the New York Public Library will have done the world a service.”

Dr. Timothy Leary (1920-1996)


As these research papers are gradually made available to the public, it will become clear that the majority of them did not end in failure.

Early research pointed to the use of various psychedelics, in a supportive* environment, with trained professionals, was effective in assisting in the successful treatment of alcoholism, depression in terminally-ill people, pain relief in cancer patients, for breaking the mind-set of imprisoned repeat offenders, for producing authentic religious experiences, and for unblocking creativity.

The concept of “guides,” an idea that came from the Huxleys (Aldous and Laura), was a central part of Leary’s experimental design.   At least one member of the Leary team would remain undosed, and the member tripping with the subject would take a smaller dose.  But usually the researchers relied solely on their own prior experiences to be effective guides.

*Editor’s Note: We say a “supportive” environment rather than a “controlled” environment (sterile clinic rooms, no other trippers, no music or amenities,  doctors hovering over with note pads) because Leary and his team quickly learned that these sort of environments were part of the reason for the bad trips. Also, few of those docs (in the “controlled” environment studies) had ever taken LSD or Psilocybin themselves. Or had only taken one trip, at a very low dosage, in order to keep scientific detachment. In contrast, Dr. Leary and his colleagues quickly realized this was one area where the doctor had to experiment with the drug themselves in order to truly understand what the subject was experiencing.

New York Magazine Article On A Bad Trip

Timothy’s longtime archivist Michael Horowitz sent this comment on the piece in New York Magazine (June 27 issue):

The New York Magazine writer who covered the recent acquisition of the Timothy Leary archives by the New York Public Library seems to have a morbid interest in descriptions of the worst moments of people’s psychedelic trips.  With only a couple of exceptions, the excerpts presented from the original reports deal solely with the confusion and irrational fears that manifest during the onset of effects in people given LSD or psilocybin for the first time.

This highly selective editing ignores the fact that, lo and behold, these same folks in the middle and later stages of their trips, and upon reflection afterwards, concluded it was one of the most uniquely insightful and glorious experiences of their lives.*

Most went on to further investigate, write and speak of the personal and potential societal benefits of these compounds.

This is not to say that psychedelic drugs cannot provoke freakouts, although it should be noted that standard dosages in those days were considerably higher than they are today. Leary and his team innovated the design of a supportive environment with attention  to dosage, set and setting–the parameters that were used 50 years later by the investigators at Johns Hopkins who recently released a followup to their study of a year ago that largely validated the findings of the Harvard researchers.**

*38% described it as “very pleasant” and 32% as “ecstatic.”  See:  Leary, Littwin, Metzner, “Reactions to Psilocybin Administered in a Supportive Environment” (1963)

**Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one
of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience.
See: http://healthland.time.com/2011/06/16/magic-mushrooms-can-improve-psychological-health-long-term/

Here’s the NY Magazine piece: How Was Your Trip, Allen?
Acid commentaries from Timothy Leary’s just-revealed archive.

Nice Post By The Berkeley Blog About Tim’s Legendary Mind

A lovely, historically accurate, trip down memory lane, courtesy of David Presti, senior lecturer of neurobiology at CAL.

The numbered footnotes in the excerpt below link directly to the relevant Johns Hopkins University research study.

Oh boy oh boy, do we have a lot of Johns Hopkins University research studies to talk about! :-)

Here’s an excerpt from David’s lovely blog post:

“Timothy Leary was a visionary.  He explored ideas 50 years ago that psychological research may productively return to in the coming 50 years.  He was deeply interested in the nature of the human mind and in human behavior.  He conducted psychedelically-assisted psychotherapy with prisoners, hoping to have positive impact on their rehabilitation.  He carried out studies of psychedelic substances demonstrating that, with careful preparation and attention to set and setting*, life-transforming mystical experiences may take place.

This finding has recently been replicated and extended by exquisitely designed studies conducted at Johns Hopkins Medical School (4,5), the latest installment of which just appeared a few days ago (6).  Shamans may have known such things for a very long time, but in contemporary biomedical science it helps to have demonstrations with controlled studies conducted at prestigious institutions.

Other recent work has demonstrated the therapeutic efficacy of psilocybin in relieving anxiety and improving mood in terminal cancer patients (7), and the efficacy of a very different kind of psychedelic substance, MDMA, in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (8).  These are all clinical studies of profound importance and, if the trend continues, research like this will continue to expand (9).”

*Editor’s note: “dosage” is often left out of the “set and setting” equation, but it inevitably plays a key role in the experience, as the Johns Hopkins study shows.

Time Magazine: ‘Magic Mushrooms’ Can Improve Psychological Health

Time Magazine has just announced an exciting new study recently released from Johns Hopkins University.

Here’s a link to the full report in the Journal Psychopharmacology.

Michael Horowitz (Tim’s personal archivist) sez:

“The acquisition of the Timothy Leary Archives by the New York Public Library represents a turning point in the academic acceptance of the value of the psychedelic research done by Dr. Leary and his Harvard colleagues in the early 1960s.

The announcement comes within days of the news from Johns Hopkins that, in a 14-month follow-up review of their investigation of the effects of psilocybin taken under optimal conditions of dosage, set and setting, the percentage of subjects describing it as “the best or one of the five best experiences of their lives” climbed from 83% to 94%.  This study virtually replicates the design and results of the investigation carried out by Leary and his associates under the auspices of the Harvard Psilocybin Project nearly half a century ago – which nonetheless led to Harvard giving Leary and Alpert their permanent exit papers from Academia.”

Read the article: ‘Magic Mushrooms’ Can Improve Psychological Health

Excerpt from article in TIME:

Begin excerpt: “The important point here is that we found the sweet spot where we can optimize the positive persistent effects and avoid some of the fear and anxiety that can occur and can be quite disruptive,” says lead author Roland Griffiths, professor of behavioral biology at Hopkins.

Giffiths’ study involved 18 healthy adults, average age 46, who participated in five eight-hour drug sessions with either psilocybin — at varying doses — or placebo. Nearly all the volunteers were college graduates and 78% participated regularly in religious activities; all were interested in spiritual experience.

Fourteen months after participating in the study, 94% of those who received the drug said the experiment was one of the top five most meaningful experiences of their lives; 39% said it was the single most meaningful experience.

Critically, however, the participants themselves were not the only ones who saw the benefit from the insights they gained: their friends, family member and colleagues also reported that the psilocybin experience had made the participants calmer, happier and kinder.” — end excerpt.

NY Times: New York Public Library Buys Timothy Leary’s Papers

A Few Examples of the Hundreds of Files In the Timothy Leary's Personal Archives

It is very exciting for us to have the New York Times finally announce the New York Public Library’s acquisition of Tim’s amazing archives.

Thanks to all the members of “Team Tim” over the years that helped to make this all possible!

The below is excerpted from the NY Times article:

Ginsberg’s “session record,” composed for Leary’s research, was in one of the 335 boxes of papers, videotapes, photographs and more that the New York Public Library is planning to announce that it has purchased from the Leary estate…

The archive will not be available to the public or scholars for 18 to 24 months, as the library organizes the papers. A preview of the collection, however, reveals a rich record not only of Leary’s tumultuous life but also of the lives of many significant cultural figures in the ’60, ’70s and ’80s.

Read More »

The New York Public Library Acquires The Archive Of Influential Psychologist And Writer Timothy Leary

Dr. Timothy Leary, wherever he is now, is smiling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The New York Public Library Acquires The Archive Of Influential Psychologist And Writer Timothy Leary

Personal Log Books, Letters, Photos And Much More Provide New Insights About Leary, His Studies, and the Counterculture Movement

The New York Public Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Division has acquired over 300 boxes of material belonging to Influential psychologist and author Timothy Leary, whose controversial research on psychedelic substances and their ability to affect positive behavior change, increased creativity, and spiritual renewal made him a key figure in the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. See official NYPL Press Release here.

The archive amounts to 412 linear feet of letters, manuscripts, research documents, notes, legal and financial records, printed materials, photographs, video and audio tapes, CDs and DVDs, posters and flyers, and artifacts, dating from Leary’s youth in the 1920s until his death in 1996.

There are extensive materials connected to his life as a clinical psychologist, including his times at Harvard University – where he headed the team that conducted the first major studies of psychedelic drugs – and at the Millbrook Estate in New York, where he expanded his research and spiritual discovery. There are also materials pertaining to his childhood, his tragic young adulthood, his eventual imprisonment and exile, and his last 20 years in Los Angeles, California, where he focused on the upcoming computer age.

The materials tell an invaluable story of man called both “the most dangerous man in America” by President Richard Nixon and “A true visionary of the potential of the human mind and spirit” by William S. Burroughs.

“Timothy Leary was, without question, one of the most controversial figures of his era, if not the 20th century,” said Michael Horowitz, Leary’s long-time archivist and bibliographer. “He was a polarizing figure in a time of generational conflict, a bold challenger of the status quo (perhaps his most enduring mantra is ‘Question Authority, Think For Yourself’).  The author of some 30 books and nearly 400 research papers, essays, and articles, Leary’s charisma and ability to articulate both the inner visionary landscapes and the sociopolitical implications of psychedelic experience made him, in Ginsberg’s words, ‘a hero of American consciousness.’ It is fitting that The New York Public Library has acquired this central archive of the second half of the 20th century, for it was at Cooper Union that Leary, along with Richard Alpert (later Ram Dass), gave his first public lecture in a non-academic setting; Greenwich Village venues, where he produced the earliest psychedelic theatrical events; and Hudson Street, where he handed out his own press release at the formal opening of the League for Spiritual Discovery.”

Some key items in the archive purchased from the Leary Estate include:

Thousands of letters to Leary, many from luminaries of the 1960s era, including Aldous and Laura Huxley, Gerald Heard, Alan Watts, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Peter Orlovsky, Charles Olson, Arthur Koestler, Huston Smith, Walter Houston Clark, Walter Pahnke, Humphry Osmond, Al Hubbard, Oscar Janiger, Cary Grant, Charles Mingus, Maynard Ferguson, Michael Hollingshead , Robert Anton Wilson, Gordon Wasson, Ken Kesey and Augustus Owsley Stanley. Other correspondence is with his family – including letters to and from his mother, his wives and his children – as well as publishers, attorneys, politicians, and his numerous adversaries, including G. Gordon Liddy, and law enforcement figures from local sheriffs to Drug Enforcement Agency and Central Intelligence Agency operatives.

Professional and research papers, which will provide scholars a unique opportunity to study Leary’s clinical work from graduate school through his years at Millbrook, including hundreds of reports documenting the psilocybin-induced experiences of Harvard graduate students and faculty, creative artists, prisoners at the Massachusetts State Prison at Concord, and theology students.

Files and correspondence detailing Leary’s experience with Harvard, including his initial acceptance, the University’s eventual resistance to his research, his controversial research methods and his eventual dismissal. These files depict the evolution of Leary’s studies from rigorous, empirical research into more free-flowing, scientifically problematic exploration, as well as the promotion of psychedelics.

The complete records of the organizations Leary formed to continue his research after leaving Harvard, including the Freedom Center, Castalia Foundation and the League For Spiritual Discovery. Session reports from the League for Spiritual Discovery include completed questionnaires and letters describing the mushroom and LSD induced experiences of many notable cultural figures. Letters between Leary and his research partners and these institutions also document their turbulent and intense personal and professional relationships.

Extensive correspondence, legal briefs, prison writings, letters of support and petitions sent to and produced by the four Leary defense funds during his time in prison after his arrest in 1973. There are also materials connected to his exile period in Algeria and Switzerland, including correspondence, notebooks, statements, letters and manuscript material.

Copies of government documents, released to Leary under the Freedom of Information Act, pertaining to various agencies’ surveillance of Leary, as well as his arrest. Leary’s cooperation with the authorities, still considered by many as a betrayal of the counterculture, is also well documented.

Computer generated text, correspondence and material relating to the computer revolution, the Biosphere project, space colonies, cryogenics and more from his time in Los Angeles.

More than 300 videotapes and 300 audiotapes featuring Leary, including about 50 early lectures. A large portion of these tapes are noncommercial and probably represent the only copies in existence.

Manuscripts of published books and articles, as well as a substantial number of unpublished works, some book length. Scores of unpublished essays on a variety of subjects, unproduced movie scripts, fiction and poetry are also included.

“When one surveys the existing and available archival record of the 1960s, it would hard to find a comparable collection,” said William Stingone, curator of the Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Division. “Leary’s papers provide virtually untapped resource for researchers studying the emergence and development of the American counterculture.”

“The estate is thrilled to have these papers in a place worthy of their historic value”, says Denis Berry, Co-trustee of the Futique Trust, Dr. Leary’s estate. “Its availability to everyone is something he would have appreciated.”

The material – kept meticulously by Leary – has a long history before being acquired by the Library. According to Horowitz, the archives were turned over to “a pair of hip scholarly activists” for safekeeping when Leary was sent to prison, and they kept the materials safe until it they were seized by the FBI in the 1970s. Eventually, they were released to Leary, who kept them in storage until the developers of Leary.com, one of the earliest personal websites, sifted through and organized the vast collection. Most recently, the archive was part of the Futique Trust, Dr. Leary’s Estate.

John Perry Barlow, lyricist for the Grateful Dead and cyberspace visionary added “When future historians try to untangle the cultural history of America between Eisenhower and Obama, I can’t think of many whose lives will reveal more about what happened to us during those weird decades than Timothy Leary’s. A potently catalytic figure, he had much to do, for better or worse, with who we have become today. If we are to understand ourselves, it’s a good idea to understand Tim. It won’t be easy, but these papers will help.

Zach Leary, Tim’s stepson says, “Growing up I was always taught the importance of the power of information. I was always being encouraged to document, share and produce my thoughts – but I never understood why. Fifteen years after his death it is a revelation that he had the self realization to share his life’s work with us. These papers represent one of the great databases of the post World War 2 cultural revolution. They are a treasure trove of the intricacies of the human mind, our collective conscious, the confusion and hope of a generation and most of all the works of a brilliant man. My congratulations go to the New York Public library for taking a stand to make this happen.”

Joichi Ito, friend to Dr. Leary and currently Executive Director of the MIT Media Lab says, “Timothy was an amazing super-node at the nexus of so many of the most interesting conversations and work during his life. He was also an avid writer, collector and archivist. His archives hold the answers and keys to many of the period’s biggest mysteries, and provide a crucial perspective for understanding an extremely important period in the history of the world. It’s truly exciting that the New York Public library has the vision to understand the value of the archives and support in making it available to all of us.”

Bruce Damer, historian and speaker/author on the counterculture points out that: “the acquisition of this enormous collection by an institution as respected as the New York Public Library is a major endorsement of the importance of the history and ideas of not only Dr. Leary but of the counterculture itself.”

The remarkable collection will be available to researchers and the public in about two years, after the papers are processed.

Contact: Angela Montefinise | 212.592.7506 | angelamontefinise@nypl.org

Denis Berry, 831 566-0325, denisberry1@juno.com