Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Yankee Psychedelia - Dr Leary, High Priest

…the masters of the Berkeley Renaissance read Gertrude Stein aloud and practiced Poetic kabbalah (charming synchronism that psychologist Timothy Leary met poets Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan in that same 1948 student scene) Neal Cassady drove Jack Kerouac to Mexico in a prophetic automobile to see the physical body of America, the same Denver Cassady that one decade later drove Ken Kesey's Kosmos-patterned schoolbus on a Kafka-circus tour over the roads of the awakening nation. And that wakening began, some say, with the first saxophone cry of the new mode of black music which shook the walls of white city mind when Charles Parker lifted his birdflightnoted horn and announced a new rhythm of thinking, an extended breathing of the body in music and speech, a new consciousness. For as Plato had writ…

"When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake."

The new consciousness born in these States can be traced back through old gnostic texts, visions, artists, and shamans; it is the consciousness of our ground nature suppressed and esecrated. It was always the secret tale of the tribe in America, this great scandal of the closing of the doors of perception of the Naked Human Form Divine. It began with the white murder of Indian inhabitants of the ground, the theft and later usurious exploitation of their land, it continued with an assault on all races and species of Mother Nature herself and concludes today with total disruption of the ecology of the entire planet.

Dr. Timothy Leary takes up his part of the tale of the tribe in a Mexican hut and brings his discovery to Harvard harmoniously and there begins the political battle, black and white magic become public visible for a generation. Dr. Leary is a hero of American consciousness. He began as a sophisticated academician, he encountered discoveries in his field which confounded him and his own technology, he pursued his studies where attention commanded… he arrived beyond the boundaries of public knowledge. One might hesitate to say, like Socrates, like Galileo? …poor Dr. Leary, poor Earth!

Yet here we are in Science Fiction History, in the age of Hydrogen Bomb Apocalypse, the very Kali Yuga wherein man's stupidity so overwhelms the planet that ecological catastrophe begins to rehearse old tribes-tales of Karmic retribution, Fire and Flood and Armageddon impending.

It would be natural (in fact deja vu) that the very technology stereotyping our consciousness and desensitizing our perceptions should throw up its own antidote, an antidote synthetic such as LSD synchronous with mythic tribal Soma and Peyote. Given such historic Comedy, who could emerge form Harvard technology but one and only Dr. Leary, a respectable human being, a worldly man faced with the task of Messiah. Inevitable! Not merely because the whole field of mental psychology as a "science" had arrived at biochemistry anyway. It was inevitable because the whole professional civilized world, like Dr. Leary, was already faced with the Messianic task of accelerated evolution (i.e., psychosocial Revolution) including an alteration of human consciousness leading to the immediate mutation of social and economic forms.

This staggering realization, psychedelic, i.e., conscious expanding and mind-manifesting in itself, without the use of chemical catalysts, was then forced on all of us by images of our own unconscious rising from the streets of Chicago, where city tear gas was dumped on Christ's very Cross in Lincoln Park AD 1968.

The drains are backing up in the cities, smog noise and physiologic poison in food turn us to insect acts, overpopulation crazes the planet, our lakes corrupt, old river-ways become dark fens, tanks entered Prague and Chicago streets simultaneous, Police State arrives in every major city, starvation wastes African provinces, Chinese genocide in Tibet mirrored American genocide in Vietnam, Alarm! Alarm! howls deep as any Biblic prophecy.

Ourselves caught in the giant machine are conditioned to its terms, only holy vision or technological catastrophe or revolution break "the mind-forg'd manacles." Given one by-product of the technology that might, as it were by feed-back, correct the berserk machine and liberate the inventor's mind from captivity by hypnotic robots, Dr. Leary had in LSD an invaluable civilized elixir. For, as Dr. Jiri Roubichek observed early in Prague ("Artificial Psychosis," 1958), "LSD inhibits conditioned reflexes." And this single phrase, for rational men, might be the key to the whole Gnostic mystery of LSD and Dr. Leary's role as unique, alas solitary, courageous, humane and frank Democratic Boddhisatva-teacher of the uses of LSD in America.


- by Allen Ginsberg, from the forward of Timothy Leary’s “High Priest”
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