Timothy Leary, 1961


Timothy Leary in 1961. (NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division)

At Wired, Greg Miller writes about Timothy Leary's journey from scientist to "psychedelic celebrity", revealed in new detail by the release of his archives.

Leary may be best known for his role in the psychedelic movement of the ’60s, but in his later years, at the dawn of the internet age he became fascinated by the potential of technology to transform human communication (see the related gallery on video games and other software from Leary’s archives). He also became interested in life extension and space migration, which he discussed in an exchange of letters with astronomer Carl Sagan.

Leary’s main message – and another one of his famous slogans – was to get people to think for themselves and question authority, said Denis Berry, a trustee of his estate. It’s a message that’s still relevant today, Berry said. “Let’s get out of the rut we’re unconsciously following, and start thinking for ourselves and living the life we want to live.”

Prototype dissidents: Timothy Leary and Václav Havel at the dawn of the internet age

A previously unknown connection between Czech dissident Vaclav Havel and American psychologist Timothy Leary is revealed by an inscribed copy of Leary’s 1977 Neuropolitics.

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Tim & Rosemary Leary, John Lennon & Yoko Ono in conversation in 1969 - released for 1st time today

Michael Horowitz*, Timothy Leary's longtime archivist, has permitted the Timothy Leary Archives website to publish a transcription of a tape recorded conversation between Dr. Leary and his wife Rosemary, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono, made during John and Yoko's Bed-In for Peace in Montreal, May 1969. Tim had given it to Michael, in 1984, as a present for finishing Tim's bibliography.

The conversation took place during John and Yoko’s week-long Bed-In, on May 29th, 1969. This is just a few months before John would leave the Beatles and move with Yoko to the U.S. where they were closely monitored by the FBI and threatened with deportation, and ten months before Tim would be put in prison for possessing a minuscule amount of marijuana, and Rosemary would be putting on benefits to raise money for his appeal.

This transcript was intended to be added to a previously published piece, “Thank God for the Beatles” (The Beatles Book, 1968), an essay about the Beatles as "evolutionary agents sent by God, endowed with mysterious power to create a new human species," to be published in an anthology of Tim's shorter writings, but the project was abandoned.

The transcript, as far as we can tell, has remained unpublished until now.

Transcription of a tape recorded conversation between Timothy Leary and his wife Rosemary, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono

*Michael Horowitz was Timothy Leary's archivist, editor and bibliographer. He co-founded the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library and co-edited Moksha: Aldous Huxley's Classic Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience and Sisters of the Extreme: Women Writing on the Drug Experience (with Cynthia Palmer). He currently operates Flashback Books, an online store, specializing in rare and out of print books on psychedelic science, history and literature.