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Escaping the Mind's Prison Into Neurological Ecstasy
on September 14, 2004
I'm sad to finish this book, as I have walked with Leary with his first mushroom encounter in Mexico, walked with his colleges and friends, from Dick Albert (Ram Dass), Robert Metzner, Huston Smith, Aldous Huxley, Walter Clark, Walter Puhnke, Michael Hollingshead, Alan Watts, Allen Ginsberg - I love Ginsberg - , Gordon Wasson, Frank Barrons and even William Burroughs. From his Millbrook estate to his Harvard studies, prison studies, first LSD trip, to his religious experiential studies and the amazing internal transformations that for myself are greatly superior to static intellectualism. And yet using such intellectual insights coupled with subjective encounters - in allusive non-categorical observance - brings forth the dynamics of Leary's story.
There is far too much information to relate here, the book is enlightening.
All together 16 trips or stories along with various quotes from magazine articles, short thoughts, to excerpts from other books from Ginsberg, Hollingshead, Wasson, Walter Houston Clark, Huxley and others make this book not only informative, but really do capture what is intended to be conveyed - the mystical- religious - subjective - internal - experiential - magical/irrational experience of psychedelics and most importantly, their beneficial use in social, psychological, ontological, neurological, rehabilitative, and spiritual uses. There is no doubt in my mind as to the benefits of psychedelics for the human race.
"Everyone who isn't tripping himself because he's too scared or tired is going to resent our doing it. Sex, drugs, fun, travel, dancing, loafing. You name it. Anything that's pleasurable is going to bring down the wrath of the power-control people. Because the essence of ecstasy and the essence of religion and the essence of orgasm (and they're all pretty much the same) is that you give up power and swing with it. And the cats who can't do that end up with the power and they use it to punish the innocent and the happy. And they'll try to make us look bad and feel bad." P. 79
This quote (and others) reminds me of Ray Manzarek's story in his book, Light My Fire, of visiting a Las Vegas style rat pack record executive who literally flipped out after hearing a tape of The Doors, hearing that they were psychedelic orientated music. The power people can never accept surrender and vulnerability that comes with the internal search as opposed to the external control.
"The threshold of adult game life is the ancient and natural time for the rebirth experience, the flip-out trip from which you come back as a man. A healthy society provides and protects the sacredness of the teen-age psychedelic voyage. A sick, society fears and forbids the revelation." p. 133
Trip 1 is Leary's non-chemical death and rebirth of a physical sickness.
Trip 2 is the story of Leary's discover of the mushroom in Mexico with some substantial quotes from Gordon Wasson on mushrooms.
Trip 3 has Dick Albert, Jack and Timothy Leary flying in Dick's plane. It also contains Leary's Playboy interview, other magazine quotes and quotes from Albert Cohen and Shiller's LSD.
Trip 6 has Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky walking around naked, Ginsberg telephoning his pal Jack Kerouac and some great Ginsberg quotes! The movement to turn on the world - well intentioned, but naive, the power people would never submit nor allow such conscious expansion beyond the control principal to continue.
Trip 7 talks about the rational thinking of Arthur Koestler's verses the irrationality of a LSD - religious experience and how the two don't see eye to eye.
Trip 9 shows the benefits of incarcerated prisoner rehabilitation and recidivism rate decrease from LSD therapy.
Trip 11 touches on William Burroughs and how he thinks on another tribal level, as we all come from different tribal evolutionary thinking. In the end Burroughs drops out of the clan and disapproves of the way Leary, his fellow Harvard and other constituents handle the mushroom therapy - Leary's got a monopoly on love.
Trip 12 is about Michael Hollingshead's famous mayonnaise jar of LSD and Leary's first experience along with the Jazz musician and his wife, Maynard and Flo Ferguson. And amazing account, really. And Leary, as Huxley has written in 1953, was forever a changed man. He had seen the games, the roles played, the human fallibility of truths, statistics, ideals and so forth from an objective standpoint, from the ultimate subjective standpoint.
Trip 15's Good Friday experiment under the coaxing of the intellectual and scholar Walter Pahnke is also an incredible story and ultimately Leary admits that the mind expansive consciousness is not a rational Descartes mind set, but a religious experience and of course, not under any particular religious structure - in this case Christianity is very constraining, limiting and restraining.
I love the explanation in Trip 16 that Leary related from Pat Bolero to a fellow psychologist who not only became fearful when hearing of "drugs" but could not comprehend her words that attempted to point to the clarity outside of the discursive mindset.
This book has some great Allen Ginsberg quotes and stories, great Burroughs stories, Leary's family, Dick Albert, Michael Hollingshead and many other intellectuals, scholars, divinity school students, the Good Friday experiment, artists, poets, theologians. I love his daughter's, Susan Leary, account of her growing up and observing the LSD sessions, of Alan Watts and others. The trip in Tim's place with Dick Albert, both erroneously thinking the pet dog was dying and other stories make this a very entertaining book to read. But ultimately, its the beneficial attributes from the psychedelic sessions weighted against the opposition that really make this book totally worthwhile.
"Reality and the addiction to any one reality is a tissue-thin neurological fragility. At the height of a visionary experience it is crystal-clear that you can change completely. Be an entirely different person. Be any person you choose. It is a moment of rebirth . . . . It is habit, fear and laziness that keep people from changing after an LSD experience. It's so much easier to doubt your divinity, drift back to speaking English, wearing ties, playing the old game. p. 334
"There comes a point in every lifetime when the blinders are removed and the individual glimpses for a second the nature of the process. This revelation comes through a biochemical change in the body. A Twist of the protein key and you see where you are at in the total process. p. 336
One thing I've learned as a prison psychiatrist is that society doesn't want the prisoner rehabilitated, and as soon as you start changing prisoners so that they discover beauty and wisdom, God, you're going to stir up the biggest mess that Boston has seen since the Boston Tea Party. . . sooner or later, as soon as they see the thing you do is working, they're going to come down on you 0- the newspaper reporters, the bureaucrats, and the officials. Harvard given drugs to prisoners! p. 18
I had seen enough and read enough of the anti-vision crowd, the power-holders with guns, and the bigger and better men we got on your team the stronger our position. p. 128
We even ran sessions for parole officers and correction officials (they tripped). Some of them had unhappy trips. People committed to external power are frightened by the release of ecstasy because the key is surrender of external power. One chief parole officer flipped out paranoid at my house and accused us of a Communist conspiracy and stormed around while Madison Presnell curled up on the couch watching, amused at the white folks frantically learning how to get high. He grinned at me. So you call it the love drug? p. 208