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A Few Corrections
on October 4, 2005
First a few corrections to ooo(Gold Trader)ooo's review just so people don't get confused with misinformation.
first-- the Beatles' song Gold Trader refers to is "Tomorrow Never Knows" on Revolver, and yes, it was obviously inspired by this book. Lennon claimed it was his only song which was actually about LSD. (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was about his son Julian's school drawing, according to Lennon)
second-- the Beatles were HUGE before they were ever exposed to LSD or Leary's manual, The book was written in 1964, the year Beatlemania swept the USA after being huge in Britain for over a year. That year they tried marijuana with Bob Dylan, but Lennon, who wrote "tomorrow never knows" didn't try LSD until 1965, (by accident) and sometime between then and when he wrote the song in 1966 (tomorrow never knows) is when he got clued into this book.
Another complete error already mentioned by other reviewers is about "Be Here Now" which was published in 1971, seven years after "the Psychedelic Experience." In fact, in "Be Here Now" Ram Dass talks about when Leary was writing "The Psychedelic Experience."
The internet has so many factual errors all over it, might as well correct these ones for a start.
As far as the book itself, it is quite interesting and may be of use in guiding one's experience with psychedelics. You should remember the context of this book and the times, though-- at the other pole, reacting against this extremely prescribed method of tripping was Ken Kesey with the Acid Tests, which you can read all about in Tom Wolfe's "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test"
However, Leary's "manual" as this was, for tripping, did have a huge influence. I'd say, read this and the "Acid Test", and Ram Dass's "Be Here Now" which will let you know about some of the pros and cons of psychedelics from a very experienced tripper, then allow them all to influence your experience.
One last thing you can't forget with this "guide" is that it was written before LSD was illegal and by psychologists were using pharmaceutical grade drugs-- not by people getting illegal drugs which they didn't know the quality or strength of. As Leary later says in the preface to "Politics of Ecstasy", the "Psychedelic Experience" and the "Psychedelic Reader" were written for a mature audience of intellectuals, not the masses of kids who would eventually try to use it.