White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg: an exclusive excerpt

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Alyson Sinclair says: "Timothy Leary, the 'straight Harvard professor,' and Allen Ginsberg, 'the world's most famous bohemian' sat down at a kitchen table in 1960 and made plans to launch a spiritual psychedelic revolution.

"Peter Conners' new book, White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg (City Lights Publishers, Nov. 2010), is the story of how they unleashed that revolution on the world."

Read the excerpt. Buy White Hand Society on Amazon.

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    1. Can someone explain to me the fascination with Leary?

      You mean besides all that boring stuff about being one of the leaders of the psychedelic and cultural revolutions of the 1960’s?

      And it seems to me that this is a damn interesting and evocative letter independently of Leary.

      Now can someone explain to me the fascination with Thelonious Monk? (joke)

    2. He was a Happy Mutant!

      I guess I was about 14 when I picked up a copy of “Design for Dying.” I’m a thinker, but having grown up in a small, southern town, I didn’t have much interaction with other thinkers. That book blew my fucking mind, and granted me the realization that I was not alone; there are those who dig wild, new ideas. “Neophiles” I believe someone once called ’em.

      :)

      Also, his developmental model for psychological types always struck me as intuitively plausible. Not that model exactly, but the idea of basing a theory of personality on developmental psychology. (Like all the wannabe alpha-male dicks wandering around are stuck in their terrible-twos cause an overbearing father blocked their territorial realization. Stuff like that.) Prometheus Rising (Robert Anton Wilson) is a good read on that topic.

      1. Also, his developmental model for psychological types always struck me as intuitively plausible. Not that model exactly, but the idea of basing a theory of personality on developmental psychology.

        That idea can hardly be said to have originated with Leary.

          1. (IANAP)
            According to Wikipedia, “Freud proposed five psychosexual stages of personality development. He believed adult personality is dependent upon early childhood experiences and largely determined by age five. Fixations that develop during the Infantile stage contribute to adult personality and behavior.”
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_psychology

            So, the idea of a theory of personality based on developmental psychology may not have been original, but the developmental ‘stages’ that Leary was using were certainly more developed/nuanced and seem (to me) to be very similar to models currently in use by practitioners of Cognitive Behavioral psychology.

          2. While looking into this question a bit more, I stumbled upon ‘Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development’:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erikson's_stages_of_psychosocial_development

            Leary’s “8-circuit model” and Erikson’s “Stages” have some striking similarities, although Leary’s model also attempts to encompass the spiritual / esoteric realms’ (or what have you):

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:8-Circuit_Model_of_Consciousness

            Interestingly, Erikson taught at Harvard as a Professor of Human Development from 1960-70, overlapping Leary’s time there as a lecturer in psychology 1959-63. I wonder who borrowed from whom? Or maybe they collaborated?

  1. Why “White Hand”…? Couldn’t it had been any other color? All the “white hands” I’ve found online refers to secret military organizations and Irish gangs… Could somebody explain to this curious soul?

    1. Since it’s Ginsburg and Leary, you’d think they would have gone with something like The Dayglo Crocoduck Society.

    2. I’d like to hear that too. I haven’t read it yet, can anyone explain? I think it’s a little too early to be a reference to Saruman’s “white hand”.

      Before he died, I unfairly blamed Leary for scaring the squares about acid – but came to realize they would have been terrified even without the jester.

  2. What does it mean to report a fake letter? I doubt that the letter is in its original form… The font is not from a typing machine and there weren’t PC and printers in 1961

  3. Glad someone mentioned Design for Dying. It’s a fantastic book!

    As for the fascination with Leary: having read all of his main books, there’s a lot to be fascinated about.

    The government put a lot of energy is discrediting the good doctor and a lot of that effort still sticks.

    Leary said it best when he said:

    Everyone gets the Tim Leary they deserve.

  4. Monk’s most recent biographer presents evidence to support the theory that for much of his life he suffered from bipolar disorder – a condition that intensified as the Sixties went on. I wonder whether Dr. Leary was aware of this and wanted to conduct an experiment in psychedelic therapy?

    Then again, maybe he wasn’t. Monk straight was trippy enough – can you imagine Monk on mushrooms?

    The mind reels…

  5. It seems Leary credited Henry Stack Sullivan as his mentor, as for the developmental stages most of Leary’s numerology used 4, 8 and 12 and he did study Freudian psychology som most of his work would reflect that. It seems he credits Konrad Lorenz with the idea of imprinting at certain stages, maybe someone else knows.

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