Friday, November 9, 2012

Meeting Timothy Leary

I have always  been very interested in religion.  I read the Christian Bible from cover to cover when I was about ten years old.  then, in middle school, I decided to read the Koran... Anything that millions of people believe is worth reading whether or not you believe it.  And then in high school, I started reading about other religions.  I read everything that I could get my hands on, from the Tao Te Ching to Hinduism to Buddhism.  When I was a senior n high school, I started reading about shamanism.  And with shamanism came an interest, purely academic at the time, in altered states of consciousness.  just after graduating from high school, many of my friends began experimenting with LSD.  Being the geek that I Am, I didn't want To try it until I had a chance to study it.  So for a couple of months, I was the baby sitter, shofarring my friends around while they tripped and I didn't.  My research, mostly reading, surfaced many mixed messages on psychedelics.  Most of the propaganda against it seemed sensationalized and lacking scientific merit,  I read some books by Dr. Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, who is now called Baba Ram Das.  But, these were academic books from the library, not the hippy dippy crap that they are more famous for.  I very confused about the safety of the substance.  That summer, the summer of 1992, I was fortunate enough to meet Timothy Leary. We were both staying at the Atlanta Hilton Towers.  He was supposed to there to do a virtual reality simulato  of some sort.  The first day that we met, he seemed to be very intelligent.  And, he had an air about him, a certain charisma that was appealing even those who hate what he represents.  I thought to myself that this man has done more LSD than just about any person alive and he still has his shit together.  He is still smart ans his brain is not fried.  Meeting him gave me the confidence to take the leap and do acid for the first time.  I can't help but wonder just how many lives have changed by coming into contact win Mr. Leary.  I will admit, I was an impressionable  kid at the time.  Looking back, I don't think he was as cool as I had thought at the time.  The reason that I say this is that on day number two, I bumped into Tim a couple of times.  At one point, he tried to read poetry but was too fucked o to read it properly.  Another time, my friends and I got our picture taken with him and a woman who I think was his daughter.  Tim's arm was around my shoulder in the picture.  Then, we all got on an elevator together.  A couple of floors up, two  young teenage girls got on the elevator.  They were tripping but had absolutely no idea who Timothy Leary was.  As the elevator rose, the girls looked a little scared  by the movement.  And, Tim said to the girls, "what would happen if the cables holding this elevator would snap right now?". He delighted in freaking them out.  Looking back on this, I am very disappointed in Tim.  I am amazed that he would fuck with them at a vulnerable moment like that.  At the time, I was young and naive.  I thought it was funny.  But now, after many years of acid experiments, I simply find it hard to believe that Tm would have sunk so low as to play this sort of mind game with these girls on acid.  I now have mixed thoughts about Mr. Leary.  In some ways, he was a marvelous doctor and neuro naut.  He broke new ground and was responsible for much of the mind expansion taking place in the sixties and seventies.  But he also sensationalized LSD and I wonder if he is In part responsible for anti drug paranoia and the harsh drug laws that exist to this day.

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