Bibliography of Timothy Leary – Preface


Timothy Leary

My first meeting with Michael Horowitz occurred in the summer of 1970 when I was headquartered in a state prison faced with thirty years incarceration for a small amount of marijuana. Michael was interested in organizing my personal archives, a dozen or so file cabinets containing records of historical interest about the beginnings of humanist psychology in the 1950s and about the origins of the psychedelic drug culture in the 1960s. I was more than eager to turn these records over to Michael and his comrade Bob Barker because at that very moment I was busy planning a “midnight express” departure and feared that the archives would be seized by government agencies if and when the escape plot succeeded.

After the escape, during the years of exile, Michael became my closest link to the old country. He forwarded documents to me in Algeria, visited me in Switzerland and in various prisons where I was to be found after my recapture. By this time the archives contained records of historical interest about the cultural and political conflicts of the stormy 1970s.

During the 1980s our interaction has occurred in less melodramatic zones—under the redwoods in Michael’s Mendocino commune, at Dodger Stadium, around the dinner table with Barbara Leary and our son Zachary and Michael’s wife Cynthia and their children Sunyata, Jubal, Noni and Uri.

The publication of this conscientious, scholarly review of my varied “published” transmissions (1942-1986) is, for me, a celebration of this pre­cious collaborative interaction. In looking over the manuscript I am overcome with admiration for Michael and Karen Walls and Billy Smith, that crack squad of “private investigators” who have dedicated so much time and talent to tracking down evidence, checking leads, interviewing witnesses, dusting for ink-stained fingerprints, patiently collecting clues from the scene of the time.

At this point it should be pointed out that Michael Horowitz is not an ivory-tower academic sitting in a musty library pouring over yellowing documents. Michael and his wise partner Cindy have been actively involved in the cultural events which are covered by this bibliography. They have had in-depth interactions with sages like Aldous Huxley and Albert Hofmann, shaman women, mainline ladies, alchemist poets. They were engaged partici­pants in the San Francisco Renaissance. They conducted the “longest permanent-floating drug archive in history” (The Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library) all the while managing to perform numerous miracles of front-line scholarship.

According to the James Boswell Theory of History the true heroes of culture are those who preserve reality for the future—those who know precisely what our descendents must remember if they are to learn frqm us how to create better futures. These are the archivists, the literary archeologists, the bibliographers who preserve and transmit the idea of one time to another.

The twenty-first century, we are told, will be the Century of Information-Communication. The Golden Age of Psychology. The Time of Brain Power. If this comes to pass then Michael Horowitz could well become a legend. Indeed, the biography of Michael Horowitz could become a recognized classic of the twenty-first century. Come to think of it, in The Bibliography of Michael Horowitz the book which you hold in your hand would be just one item!

Reading this book has taught me a lot about myself. Reviewing this list of published transmissions spanning a period of some forty years I see a clear pattern of thematic repetition that is almost robotic. I am humbled to see that I have been a cheerful cricket in a summer garden scraping out one unchanging note. I can now recognize with embarrassment that my behavior has been predetermined as fixedly as the simplest tropism. Until very recently I have had little understanding or control of my behavior. I have been swept along by an evolutionary wave, enjoying the surf, that’s true, feeling great about the surging motion which was surely moving us in the right direction, but still uncertain about where we were going.

There is one word which describes this genetic process of which I have been a passive, unwitting part: interaction. THIS BOOK IS A CATALOG OF IDEAS ABOUT INTERACTION TO WHICH CHILDREN BORN IN THE 1920S WERE EXPOSED.

This interactive stage in our development hit the western world at the turn of the century when Einstein focussed on the relationships among events. And quantum physics defined matter/energy as clusters of probabilities shuttling between on/off states. And Heisenberg pointed out that we can never study anything in nature; since our observations determine the event, all we can ever understand is the interactions we are involved in.

This notion of interaction was in the air when I arrived on the scene in 1920. Einstein’s theories were debated in the popular press. It was said that only seven men in the world understood his equations but the meaning of “relativity” was seeping down into public consciousness. Moralists and educators began denouncing Einstein, probably sensing that if the basic concepts about how-the-universe-is-constructed change, then our ideas about ourselves may have to change. If atoms and protons and electrons and galaxies are not just passive reactive lumps of matter (as feudalism taught), and not sturdy, reliable billiard balls making up a universe manufactured by an engineer-entrepreneur god, himself dying of the black lung disease called entropy (as taught in Newton’s Principia, the bible of the Industrial Revolution); if it turns out that every solidity which we forge into steel is made up of probability bits which cluster into the transient patterns we call matter, and if all these bits are continuously linked into high-energy interplay which continually changes all elements involved, then can the same be true of ourselves? And our societies? All our realities?

Can it be true that we are, each of us, quantum-units defined by our interactions, continually being shaped by the fields of interplay which we inhabit?

The book you are holding in your hand is a direct expression of these philosophic uncertainties which emerged in America during my childhood. Those born in the 1920s were unwitting members of the first wave of inexperienced, untrained shock-troops thrown into brain-to-brain confronta­tion with the quantum future. The first decade of my life was called “the Roaring Twenties” perhaps because these ancient Pythagorean-Taoist ideas about the nature of everything were just about to flame into realization. Become materialized.

The popular music of any era seems to reflect the stage of philosophic sophistication. The identifying music of the 1920s involved improvisation, innovation, a fusion of old earth African rhythms and modem technologies. In this music there were no composers and no leaders or conductors. There was this intense interaction among individual improvisors! It was called jazz.

I wonder if the early quantum physicists understood that their formulae about the universe would, within a few years, be passed on to the species in a new form of down-home music? Some of them did, I am sure. THIS BOOK IS A CATALOG OF IDEAS ABOUT INTERACTION WHICH THOSE BORN IN THE 1920S (IN AMERICA) INCULCATED INTO AND SAW REALIZED THROUGH THEIR CHILDREN.

An enduring cultural change happens when parents switch their books on baby and child care. Feudal parents treat their children as their Good Book says: as serf or chattel. Let us call them Children of God. The Lord’s Kids.

The Industrial Age began when parents began raising their children accord­ing to the Newtonian version of the Bible, preparing them to play roles in the factory-civilization, training them to be dependable, reliable, productive, re­placeable cogs in Management’s Great Machine. Let us call them The Factory Kids.

The Great Philosopher of the Jazz Age was Dr. Benjamin Spock. In his quantum-mechanics version of the Good Book (originally entitled The Com­monsense Book of Baby and Child Care), he said: Treat your children as individuals. Let them improvise and innovate. Harmonize and improvise with them.

Dr. Spock said: Your family members are not like the Vatican Choir, reciting the Gregorian Chant (or the Morman Tabernacle Choir). You as parents are not conductors of the Carnegie Hall Philharmonic Orchestra playing a symphony composed by a dead European.

Dr. Spock said: Swing to the beat of your own rhythm section. Stay in tune.

The children bom after 1946 are often called The Spock Kids.

The books and articles which I wrote during the 1950s were direct spin-offs of the Spock Bible. The key term was interpersonal. The psychologist studied the field of interaction set up between the doctor and the patient. We were unwittingly moving towards a nuclear psychology, a quantum psychology, using “psychlotrons” to measure the behavior-bits which appeared when people collided with each other. We studied the relationships among clusters of behavior-bits. We defined personality as the everchanging patterns of interac­tions within the person and with others. There was much talk about feedback, indices of variability (discrepancy), multilevel assessments, individual patterns of self-determination.

During the 1960s a new field of interaction emerged: the interplay between the brain and the mind. Western psychologists were discovering that conscious­ness could be experimentally altered. The CIA, operating from a decidedly non-Spockian perspective, vainly attempted to use brain-change drugs for mind control. The Harvard Psychedelic Drug Research Group understood right from the start that reactions to psychoactive drugs were highly subjective, individualized. We demonstrated that the drug experience was determined by the interaction of set and setting. In the scientific mode there was much discussion about how the environment imprinted the brain and how these imprints determined the brain’s interpretation of the environment; levels of consciousness, stages of imprinting, psycho-geometry. In the poetic-metaphorical mode there was much breathless writing about psycho-ecology, the “oneness,” the holistic unity of everything. We were still operating, it seems to me, under the influence of The Commonsense Book of Baby and Child Care. The universe, it turned out, was like a Big Baby Boom family. The trendy thing for our young species to do at this stage in our evolution was to realize that it’s all linked up and, if you learn how to listen, as Dr. Spock suggests, there’s a lot to be learned.

There were many problems involved. The notion of demand feeding and reality menus did create some confusion. Many silly choices were selected. If you treat people (including yourself) as individuals some pretty strange sing­ularities tend to pop out. This bibliography presents ample evidence of the goofiness and wild enthusiasm that gets stirred up when your Good Book encourages improvisation.

It is interesting to note that the managers of industrial America went along with the program. However distasteful they may have found the Good Doctor’s prescription, management never failed to produce the goods and goodies demanded. The Spock Kids viewed the body as an instrument of pleasure and beauty—use it or lose it—so the enormous fitness-style-cosmetic industry emerged. As the first generation of the Information Age they wanted their brains stimulated—use it or lose it—so they got television, stereo, home video, transistors, satellite-dishes feeding electronic nourishment to hungry neurons.

The personal Super-Knowledge-Information-Processing-Intelligence Sys­tem (once called the computer) is the ultimate brain enrichment device. For our young species, the restless bipeds with the big heads, here’s the new brain-powered mind-toy. The inevitable technological climax to the wave that the quantum physicists began back there at the turn of the century. The microprocessor can be seen as an external minibrain processing and feeding back clusters of on/off signals. Available for programming by external mini­minds (the software).

These electronic minibrains are going to change everything. For starters they offer a nice transitional point to end this annotated list of wood-pulp information-carriers—books, pamphlets, broadsides, essays, bumper-stickers, posters—with some later transmissions on vinyl, celluloid and audio-video magnetic tape. Please note that the final publications listed in this book reflect the fact that for the last years I have been learning how to use this electronic brain-mirror which turns out to be designed for intensified interaction between human minds. While I shall never be willing or able to kick the rag-glue habit of the Gutenberg species, I have joyfully accepted the new definition of the human being. Homo sapiens’, the Turing Person. Man/Woman the Knowledge-Information Processor.

The next bibliography will focus on the new form of knowledge exchange: Interactive Books. Commonsense Texts for Child Development. Books that are individualized, custom-programmed to be extensions of our minds.

We are not talking about desk-cluttering arrays of terminals and screens and keyboards and printers and disk-drives, that accumulated residue of the Indus­trial Age. We are talking electronic magazines, the size of Newsweek. The frontcover is the screen. Open up the pages, pop in your interactive texts, stick it in your pocket and head for school or the beach or the mountain trail. Every ghetto child, every Third World youngster will have one of these inexpensive superminds. Everyone in the world can be a Spock Kid with a pocket full of interactive brain-power.

The authors of this bibliography have taken the first beginning steps. The manuscript (electro-script) was prepared as a series of electronic off/on patterns stored on silicon chips and edited in the form of electronic signals on a video screen.

At this moment I am typing these thoughts into a computer from whence they will be modemed to Michael Horowitz and Karen Walls and Billy Smith and then transferred in silicon digital patterns to the printing presses that print the letters which are NOW hitting your retina. My brain and yours thus linked in electronic interaction.

The next time we meet this way I hope you’ll be sending. . . .

Laurel Canyon Los Angeles, California December 1986