Transmissions from the Eighth Circuit
Channeling Timothy Leary on the Centennial of his Birth, Oct, 22, 2020
His first posthumous interview since his death 24 years ago, channeled by his Archivist, Michael Horowitz and his Digital Librarian, Lisa Rein.
Michael: Where are you?
Tim: I'm guessing this is the waiting room of the 8th circuit. I blew through the 7th while my ashes were sailing around Earth in High Orbit.
M: You were conscious of your ashes orbiting the planet in a spacecraft?
T: I visualized it often during my last weeks in a human body, usually after breathing from a nitrous oxide balloon.
M: It was preferable to having your head removed and kept frozen in a storage container for a hundred years, right?
T: I was worried about waking up in a room full of lab techs holding clipboards. Worse yet, I might have been brought back and re-attached to a body during a Republican Administration!
M: Don't ask.
M: There have been two since you were here. America has no memory. But there was also a black president.
T: About time. And a woman?
M: Almost! Long story. We might have a woman of color as VP soon.
T: That's long overdue.
M: Well, the country's in big trouble.
T: The Huxley kind or the Orwell kind?
M: Actually, the Hitler kind.
T: Oh no! Will America survive?
M: The Resistance is growing. Young Progressives are gaining power.
People are voting in droves. I think we'll squeak by.
T: You know, I really loved the United States. The whole tradition of individual freedom: Thinking for yourself. Questioning authority. But it was going off the tracks…
M: It feels like a slow-motion train wreck.
T: I tried to fix it.
M: You kind of did, for a while. But recognition has been a little slow in places.
T: Doesn't surprise me. The Right Wing? Left Wing?
M: Actually, it's some influencers of the Psychedelic Renaissance who blame you for ruining research.
T: Still? They don't blame the government?
M: There's no shortage of controversy but you're still the boogeyman.
Someone just wrote a book about how your ghost is haunting it called "Acid Revival."
T: Oh no! The last thing I would want to do is haunt a psychedelic renaissance.
But I'm delighted to hear there is one. That's beautiful. I love the idea of an "Acid Revival." What year are you in?
T: It took that long? I thought the techno rave pc surge was going to blow the gates wide open soon after my death. So LSD is legal now?
M: Not yet, but it's getting closer. Back in the '70s, you said that in 20 or 30 years LSD would be sold over the counter like aspirin. It might not be sold over-the-counter quite yet, but it looks like it could be only a couple of years away from being prescribed as an all-purpose therapeutic.
T: That was a good call. Why not push the envelope when you're making predictions?
M: What's the set and setting like where you are?
T: Have you read Finnegan's Wake? It's an ever-changing dreamscape. Right now it's like the lobby of a fancy Las Vegas hotel designed like Andy Warhol's Electric Circus. There are an infinite number of outposts. Of course that's only my current hallucination.
M: Is it like being on multiple hits of orange sunshine? A McKenna dose of DMT? A Lilly megashot of ketamine?
T: It's way past that. It's an eternal plateau. You wander around the lobby not quite bumping into people. More like moving through them. I'm working on my advanced navigational skills. Hey, you know who just got here? Ram Dass and Ralph Metzner!
M: That's great! They both died with grace and dignity. You must be happy to see them.
T: I designed my death differently, I suppose. But yes, I missed them both.
M: What about Baudelaire? Ludlow? Crowley? Are they hanging out in the 8th circuit?
T: You won't believe this, but they run a trafficking ring in hashish and opium.
M: And you score from them? You're putting me on!
T: Must have been having an acid flashback. OK, now can I ask some questions? What year did you say it was?
T: The roaring 2020s!
M: So… Happy 100th Birthday!
T: Thanks! If I was alive I would be 100 years old. But my seventy-five years felt like a thousand.
M: 2020 is making us all feel 100 years old.
T: Tell me, what happened with the Internet?
M: It taken over most of the world, Tim.
T: I got that one right. It's the ultimate information processing machine.
M: Everyone's addicted.
T: Of course. It's the Age of Information.
M: And an equal amount of disinformation.
T: It's all information, Michael.
M: It's pretty chaotic in the matrix.
T: Remember? We called it Millennium Madness. Bob Wilson said it was ruled by Eris, Goddess of Chaos and Discord. I want to hear more about this new wave of psychedelia.
M: It's like a low key, low dose version of the '60s, without the flamboyant cultural revolution. It's very science-oriented. Therapeutics are being transformed with psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, and ketamine. Medicalization is the goal. The country's been traumatized by endless wars, political stupidity, and economic despair.
Oh—and there are sophisticated brain-measuring machines you would have loved.
T: I've always wanted to see the psychedelicized brain in day-glo colors.
Our Experiential Typewriter for communicating during DMT trips was pretty far out for its time. I hope it's in a museum.
M: There are photographs and a lot of notes about it at the NYPL at least!
T: Are people still tripping like back in the day?
M: Yes, but it's more like Huxley's Soma. There's a new trend called microdosing. It took root with the techies in Silicon Valley as a performance enhancer and anti-depressant.
T: Every high tech genius who came around up here thanked me. Steve Jobs told me about his life-changing LSD trips.
M: Acid is losing a bit of its mystique, but more and more people are finding a level of inner peace that's really needed right now. Ayahuasca, iboga, and of course the Shulgin pharmacopeia—they're all in the mix nowadays. The research is on a fast track.
T: Is the government funding it? That worries me.
M: The government is mostly staying out of it. They're too busy screwing up everything else. Money is coming from Wall Street. Big Pharma is moving in. They had great success with marijuana—now called cannabis except by some die-hard Boomers. It's legal in more than half the US. Pot emporiums are springing up in big cities, mom & pop shops in small towns. It's a 14-billion dollar industry and growing fast.
T: And it's being taxed of course.
M: Through the roof!
T: That was the keynote of my political platform for my run against Reagan.
M: I remember. He ordered the judge to take away your bail because he was afraid of debating you.
T: Oh Michael! Let's not re-fight the Civil War of the 1960s.
M: The 1860s is more in vogue now.
T: At least it's not the 1560s. Tell me, where are my archives?
M: I'll let Lisa tell you. Remember her? She did the final text and graphics edits on your final masterpiece: Surfing the Conscious Nets.
Lisa: Hi Tim!
T: Hi Lisa! That was my favorite of all my books. I couldn't have finished it without you.
L: The pleasure was all mine. Nothing like learning desktop publishing on what might be Dr. Timothy Leary's last published work — and not showing him until you are done. No pressure there! Ha ha. Those colorful pages were so intense —- somehow you had layered Photoshop ".psd" files in Pagemaker 4 —- that it took me 15 minutes just to print one page out, and then my whole system would crash every four pages or so. But it was all worth it when you left that wonderful phone message thanking me. I'll never forget it.
T: I remember when you came to visit me at my house. That was the day I made you my Digital Librarian. You know, surfing the conscious nets is what I've been doing ever since I got here! The 8th Circuit is an infinite cluster of conscious nets.
T: But tell me, what happened to my archives?
L: You'll love it! They found a home in the New York Public Library.
Their final resting place is in the eight-level underground vault beneath 5th Ave. and 42nd St.
M: They're sitting in 600 gray boxes on long shelves one aisle away from the archives of Hawthorne, Melville, Poe and your favorite writer, Mark Twain. A first draft of Jefferson's handwritten Declaration of Independence is a few steps away.
T: I'm ecstatic! Tell me more.
M: Next to that is George Washington's personal planting diary, where he describes separating the female hemp seeds from the male.
T: The discovery of sinsemilla by our first president! Two hundred years later I was imprisoned four years for possession of two half-smoked joints.
Now our archives are neighbors. Don't you love the irony?
L: The curator gave us a tour. It's all beautifully organized and there's a guide book, The Timothy Leary Project: Inside the Great Countercultural Experiment.
L: After everything was organized the library directors held a formal opening that turned into a very cool party. Barbara and Zach and all the grandkids came. Denis was there, of course. Allyson and Alex Grey, and Winona and her boyfriend Scott.
Michael gave a talk on the incredible history of the archives when you were in prison and a fugitive, the FBI raid and everything. There was also an awesome exhibit of your digital archives and a wall of computer monitors that people could interact with.
M: My complete collection of your books — you'll never guess — went to Harvard!
T: Harvard! Imagine that! I knew they'd eventually welcome me back.
M: The millennial librarians there are thrilled.
M: Your archives are getting lots of scrutiny by historians and students. We also managed to digitize much of them – thanks to the Internet Archive.
L: We've been writing up our "Timothy Leary Archives" blog for eight years now – using archival materials to tell stories about your life. We've documented your interactions with Vaclav Havel, Marshall McLuhan, Carl Sagan, and even John Lennon and Yoko Ono. We've had almost two million hits so far.
M: Lisa interviewed me on the history of the archives — and a Hollywood studio recently optioned the interviews for a television movie.
L: I did what you asked me to: I found Michael Horowitz and Denis Berry and helped find a safe home for the archives.
T: Right! I remember.
L: Well, it took about 15 years; as you predicted, but they are now living at the New York Public Library — since September of 2013.
T: Good work! I knew I could count on you!
L: Well I had a lot of help! Denis and Michael actually sealed the deal — as you knew they would.
T: I knew you'd love them. Thanks for helping make that happen. And… were you able to scan them all and create a museum in virtual reality for them?
L: Yes. I am in the process of creating a VR museum and art gallery to display your archives and explain your history. I kinda had to wait for Virtual Reality to actually exist before I could get started on that — but now it totally exists and it's amazing! We currently have a little prototype going in a world called "VR Chat" — and soon, we'll have another one in "AltSpaceVR" too, if all goes well!
M: What's next, Tim? Is the 8th circuit the final stop? Is there re-birth after circuit 8? Consciousness doesn't die, does it? We meet ourselves in the future, don't we? We were seeded here by our future selves, weren't we?
L: Maybe this was our hallucination, Michael. Haven't you noticed? He's gone. Let's publish this and call it a night.
References from the interview:
An Annotated Bibliography of Timothy Leary (By Michael Horowitz, Karen Walls, & Billy Smith)
"At Folsom Prison: Interview with Dr. Timothy Leary" (1973) – a film by Joanna Leary, Tom Bullock, F.W.A.P.S.
Neurologic by Timothy Leary (Published while he was in prison)
Dr. Timothy Leary's VR Museum Prototype in VR Chat – The SwartzManning
Message from Dr. Leary to Lisa Rein, thanking her for working on "Surfing The Conscious Nets"
Acid Revival – The Psychedelic Renaissance and the Quest for Medical Legitimacy, by Danielle Giffort (2020)
Clark, Matthew (editor). Timothy Leary's Eight Circuits of the Brain. London: Psychedelic Press (2019)
The Timothy Leary Project: Inside the Great Countercultural Experiment – By Jennifer Ulrich
"Turn On, Boot Up, and Jack In With Timothy Leary's Long-Lost Videogames" by Greg Miller for Wired (2013)
Timothy Leary Videos at the Internet Archive
Never Before Published Transcript of a Conversation Between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Timothy Leary and Rosemary Leary – at the Montreal Bed-In, May 1969 – Michael Horowitz and Lisa Rein, Timothylearyarchives.org
Inner Space and Outer Space: Carl Sagan's Letters to Timothy Leary (1974), by Lisa Rein and Michael Horowitz, Timothylearyarchives.org
Timothy Leary and Marshall McLuhan, turned on and tuned in, by Michael Horowitz and Lisa Rein, Boing Boing (2013)
Timothy Leary and Harvard, Reunited At Last, by Lisa Rein and Michael Horowitz, Timothylearyarchives.org