Leary, Timothy Francis

(1920–1996)
   A former Harvard professor and counterculture figure for nearly 40 years, Timothy Leary is best known as the leading advocate for use of psychedelic drugs. Leary was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1920, and after attending West Point and attaining a master’s degree from Washington State University, he received a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. After the suicide of his first wife, he accepted a teaching position at Harvard and in 1960 first took hallucinogenic psilocybin mushroom while on a trip to Mexico. He then shifted his work to focus on the effects on humans, of psilocybin, a synthetic of the psychedelic mushrooms obtained through Sandoz Laboratories, beginning the Harvard Psilocybin Project that included volunteer test subjects allen ginsberg, jack kerouac, neal cassady, William S. Burroughs, and charles olson. Though Kerouac (quipping, “Walking on water wasn’t built in a day”) and Burroughs (warning, “That bastard wants to control the minds of the next generation”) were not persuaded that the drug could bring about a revolution of the mind, Ginsberg, Cassady, and Olson were strong advocates.
   Introduced to LSD soon after, Leary became a vocal advocate of the drug, coining the phrase, “tune in, turn on, drop out.” He was dismissed from his position at Harvard in 1963 and founded the Castalia Institute in Millbrook, New York, to continue controlled experiments with LSD. Leary’s approach was diametrically opposite that of ken kesey, another high-profile LSD advocate and counterculture icon. Where Kesey, who visited Leary with Cassady and the Merry Pranksters during their famous bus trip across America, distributed LSD in chaotic warehouse “acid test” parties, Leary’s Millbrook experiments were in controlled environments, ostensibly for the purposes of spiritual, even sacramental enlightenment. Leary documented his opinions on the quasi-religious uses of LSD in several books, including The Psychedelic Experience (with colleagues Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert, 1964) and Psychedelic Prayers from the Tau Te Ching (1966). While he did take LSD as both a therapeutic and recreational drug, Leary’s official opinion on the substance was one of caution, saying, “Acid is not for every brain—only the healthy, happy, wholesome, handsome, hopeful, humorous, high-velocity should seek these experiences.
   . . . Unless you are self-confident, selfdirected, self-selected, please abstain.” Occasional residents at Millbrook included Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Abbie Hoffman.
   In 1968 Leary published perhaps his most important work, HiGH priest, which chronicles experiences on 16 LSD trips taken before the drug was made illegal and tells of goings on in Milbrook during the middle 1960s. Trip “guides” noted in the book include Ginsberg, Burroughs, Olson, and Aldous Huxley among others and each chapter includes an I Ching reading as well as various marginalia to expand further on the experience described therein.
   Leary had been invited as an emcee at the January 1967 Human Be-In. The Moody Blues wrote the song “Legend of a Mind” about Leary in 1968, and john lennon wrote the song “Come Together” for Leary’s 1969 gubernatorial campaign against Ronald Reagan in California. Leary joined Lennon and Yoko Ono at their 1969 Bed-In. Leary spent much of the late 1960s and 1970s either running from the law or incarcerated. Though he did successfully challenge the constitutionality of the Marijuana Tax Act (which the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in 1969), he eventually served several years in prison for various drug charges, having fled to Algeria, Switzerland, and Afghanistan before being caught after he had escaped prison with the help of the Weather Underground. For a short period of time he was placed in the cell next to Charles Manson at Folsom Prison. In 1970 he published Jail Notes as record of his thoughts through this period. Late in life, Leary became very interested in cyber culture and virtual reality, seeing many similarities in these types to his own concepts of “reality as opinion.” His writings on this include Chaos & Cyber Culture (1994), which conveys his philosophy of humanism with an emphasis on questioning authority, independent thinking, and individual creativity in the framework of computers and other technologies. This work and others helped make him a counterculture icon in the emerging cyber– punk subculture as well as keep his philosophies in the contemporary consciousness. He then worked with a group of friends and colleagues to document his own death from prostate cancer in 1996, published as Designs for Dying (1997). The following year, part of his cremated remains were launched into outer space.
 Bibliography
■ Forte, Robert, ed. Timothy Leary: Outside Looking In. Rochester, Vt.: Park Street Press, 1999.
■ Greenfield, Robert. Timothy Leary: An Experimental Life. New York: Harcourt, 2006.
■ Leary, Timothy. Flashbacks: An Autobiography. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, Inc., 1983.
   Chuck Carlise

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Leary, Timothy — ▪ 1997       U.S. educator turned drug culture guru (b. Oct. 22, 1920, Springfield, Mass. d. May 31, 1996, Beverly Hills, Calif.), was considered the messiah of LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs in the 1960s. Urging people to turn on, tune in,… …   Universalium

  • Timothy Francis Leary — noun United States psychologist who experimented with psychoactive drugs (including LSD) and became a well known advocate of their use (1920 1996) • Syn: ↑Leary, ↑Tim Leary, ↑Timothy Leary • Instance Hypernyms: ↑psychologist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Timothy Leary — For the American baseball player, see Tim Leary (baseball). Timothy Leary Born Timothy Francis Leary October 22, 1920(1920 10 22) Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S …   Wikipedia

  • Timothy Leary — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Leary. Timothy Francis Leary Timothy Leary en 1989 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Timothy Leary — noun United States psychologist who experimented with psychoactive drugs (including LSD) and became a well known advocate of their use (1920 1996) • Syn: ↑Leary, ↑Tim Leary, ↑Timothy Francis Leary • Instance Hypernyms: ↑psychologist * * * Timothy …   Useful english dictionary

  • Leary — noun United States psychologist who experimented with psychoactive drugs (including LSD) and became a well known advocate of their use (1920 1996) • Syn: ↑Tim Leary, ↑Timothy Leary, ↑Timothy Francis Leary • Instance Hypernyms: ↑psychologist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Timothy Leary — Timothy Francis Leary Timothy Leary, otoño de 1989 Nacimiento 22 de octubre de 1920 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Timothy Leary — (1989) Timothy Francis Leary (* 22. Oktober 1920 in Springfield, Massachusetts; † 31. Mai 1996 in Beverly Hills) war ein US amerikanischer Psychologe, Autor und „Guru“ der Hippie Bewegung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tim Leary — noun United States psychologist who experimented with psychoactive drugs (including LSD) and became a well known advocate of their use (1920 1996) • Syn: ↑Leary, ↑Timothy Leary, ↑Timothy Francis Leary • Instance Hypernyms: ↑psychologist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Neuronaler Schaltkreis nach Leary — Timothy Leary (1989) Timothy Francis Leary (* 22. Oktober 1920 in Springfield, Massachusetts; † 31. Mai 1996 in Beverly Hills) war ein US amerikanischer Psychologe und Autor …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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