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White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg Paperback – November 23, 2010
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"The Black Presidency"
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More About the Author
His other books include the prose poetry collection Of Whiskey and Winter and the novella Emily Ate the Wind. His next poetry collection, The Crows Were Laughing in their Trees, is forthcoming from White Pine Press in spring 2011. He is also editor of PP/FF: An Anthology which was published by Starcherone Books in April 2006. He lives in Rochester, New York where he works as Publisher of the not-for-profit literary press BOA Editions.
Top Customer Reviews
What Conners contributes that is fresh are his excerpts and summations from the Ginsberg archives of his correspondence at Stanford; added to the referenced material from Barry Miles' and Bill Morgan's published research on the poet, Conners maps the trail of where Ginsberg's paths intersected with Leary's over three-hundred readable, well-paced, straightforward pages. While Conners does not credit Michael Schumacher's 1994 Dharma Lion biography, which focused on the poetry itself, his use of Miles and Morgan among others, along with a reliance on Robert Greenfield's excellent 2006 biography (see my review) of Leary, makes for a welcome overview for those seekers who may not wish to tackle those hefty volumes in their quest to find out about what linked, and sometimes divided, these two visionary pranksters.
Conners explains the Society, such as it was: Ginsberg introduces Leary, at the start of the Sixties, to the artists who can influence the Great Society. Leary exposes Ginsberg to "powerful hallucinatory visions." By making psilocybin and mescaline respectable, under Harvard's sponsorship, Leary sought to break out of academia while using his position within it to, at least not yet, drop out. First, he wanted America's elite to tune in and turn on.
Leary dominates most of the ensuing saga.Read more ›
My connection to Leary has always been more to his notoriety, good and bad, as a leader in the psychedelic movement. Even at the time, his making any sense as a social scientist or thinker came and went for me, and I was then, and remain, skeptical of a number of his notions. Sometimes he was strong, sometimes very weak and his antics didn't help the movement. The inclusion of the Houseboat Summit, especially with our hindsight perspective, often shows him to be out of touch altogether (it's a wonderful showcase for the good souls of Allen and Gary Snyder as they come to his rescue or re-direct the conversation).
But, I must also say, the opening Leary chapter helps my understanding and provides clues to what motivated his passionate pursuit of the LSD experience. A number of other moments along the way also show Leary's humanity, and at times his human desperation, in a positive light.
This was quite an era and for someone who lived through it and was at least somewhat "tuned in" it was great to re-live it and to learn more about how it all went down. While the book is thorough it is hardly a textbooky historical account. It is smoothly organized and, its biggest plus, Conners has written it with a flair for storytelling that will keep you turning his pages!
Poetry and trickery.
Courageous psychonauts I salute you in the world beyond, and I bless the author for a sensitive portrayal, warts and all, of the dreams you lived.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written and places all the history of the sixties hippie movement in great chronological order. Refreshed my memory of an exciting and important time of my life.Published 13 months ago by Optics