Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time (born on October 22 in 1920)

Then this tree, like a cosmic vacuum cleaner, went ssssuuuck, and every cell in my body was swept into the root, twigs, branches, and leaves of this tree. Tumbling and spinning, down the soft fibrous avenues to some central point which was just light.

It’s Timothy Leary’s birthday and for your pleasure, here is the original version of a chapter from Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time

by R.U. Sirius

Timothy Leary AP (After Psychedelics) — The Harvard Psilocybin Project

 

Timothy Leary’s First Trip

When David McClellan, director of the Center for Personality Research at Harvard asked Timothy Leary to teach there under his aegis, he told Tim to “stir things up a bit.” In his later years, Leary liked to quip, “I think he got his money’s worth.”

Leary first heard about the effects of psilocybin in 1959 from his friend Frank Barron, who had recently tried the mushrooms and came away impressed by their visionary properties. Tim reacted negatively to Barron’s suggestion that he try them. Lacking any awareness of psychedelic substances — and in spite of Barron’s vivid description — he thought of drugs, along with such gross physical methods as electroshock therapy, as blunt, harmful, coercive tools that behavioral psychology used to force patients to conform. However, the following year — perhaps undergoing one of those much vaunted “midlife crises” as his fortieth birthday was approaching — Leary suddenly got the urge to try the mushrooms.

Timothy Leary’s poolside psilocybin trip on August 9, 1960 in Cuernevaca, Mexico is an oft-told tale — central, as it is, to the history of Western psychedelic culture.

The ‘shrooms were copped by Leary’s friend, historian Lothar Knauth, from “Old Juana,” a disheveled, hunchbacked old woman in raggedy clothes who led him wordlessly out of town and onto an old dirt road before effecting the deal.

Timothy Leary’s first trip began pleasantly. He felt lightheaded “as if from laughing gas.” One of the people who had not taken the drug had been assigned to take notes. He was nerdily-dressed in oddly mismatched clothes. Leary, seeing him scribbling earnestly in his notepad, went into fits of laughter that only increased as he reflected on the pomposity of socialized professionals, himself included.

As the trip intensified, he had a brief moment of panic, worrying that the effects may be too strong, and that his kids, playing blissfully unaware inside the villa shouldn’t be around a bunch of drug-crazed adults. He had one of the straight adults send the kids off to the movies for the afternoon. Then he let himself go.

In High Priest and other autobiographical books, Leary describes visions of “Nile Palaces, Bedouin pleasure tents, mosaics of flaming color, jewel encrusted reptiles, mosaics lit from within.” And then he re-experienced all of evolution; floating “down through snake time, fish time, giant jungle-palm-time, green lacy fern leaf-time” until “hello, I am the first living thing.”

Read more “Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time (born on October 22 in 1920)”

The Cyberpunk Issue — Pull Quotes from MONDO 2000 Issue #1 (1989)

A cyberspace experience might be a simulation of an entirely imaginary world as long as the space is physically lawful and self-consistent. Autodesk

 

Bush doesn’t want us to know whether he’s telling the truth of lying, but he wants us to be sure he’s not stoned while doing it. Robert Anton Wilson

 

McLuhan seemed to be giving permission for youth culture, rock & roll, and post-print libidinal tactility to finally, mercifully dismantle linear stuffed-shirt Western Civilization. Terence McKenna

 

Gibson has produced nothing less than the underlying myth, the core legend, of the next stage of human evolution. Timothy Leary

His females are shaman ladies, sophisticated wizards, playful, humorous, hip diviners. Timothy Leary

 

Burroughs found 50’s science fiction and used it like a rusty can opener on society’s jugular. William Gibson

McLuhan’s revenge. Media monsters . . . the worst street gang you ever ran into were, at the same time, intense conceptual artists William Gibson Read more “The Cyberpunk Issue — Pull Quotes from MONDO 2000 Issue #1 (1989)”

Is Change Good? An Interview with Former Wired Magazine Publisher Louis Rossetto

 

The change has become so complex that it can only be perceived incompletely and then only fleetingly in the quicksilver shimmering pulse of electrons across the consciousness of the hive mind.

 

Louis Rossetto, former Publisher of Wired magazine, and Erik Spiekermann have a successful Kickstarter project — a novel and “a revolution in book printing” titled Change Is Good. According to their Kickstarter site, “Every generation has its creation myth. This is the creation myth of the Digital Generation. A novel about the Digital Revolution, written by Louis Rossetto, co-founder of Wired.” It also promises “A masterpiece of the printer’s art —published by design legend Erik Spiekermann and printed on his own classic Heidelberg letterpress… The proof of concept for a revolution in letterpress printing: Post Digital Printing.” And the thing that really caught my eye (thanks to Eve) is the claim of Post Digital Printing that marries the advances of modern typography & design with the quality & artisanship of letterpress. I liked that they were marrying this artisanal approach to the “edgy” Wired mythology. Erik is even making a customized ink from scratch. 

“What,” you ask? Louis Rossetto, father of Wired, on the MONDO website? Sure. I’ve had my criticisms of Wired over the years, but Louis and his partner Jane Metcalfe (who has her own new project, Neo.Life) have remained friends and they’ve always got some cool stuff going on. Hell, even their chocolates are good.

Kickstarter page

Read On!

 

Why a novel?

LR: With fiction, you can often tell more truth than non-fiction.

When you say change is good, some change isn’t good… or hasn’t been good in the past. What change are you talking about and why is it good?

LR: “Change is good” is what we used to say all the time in the face of the resistance all of us used to get from the status quo. We joked that the only story the New York Times would write about the Digital Revolution was “Internet, Threat or Menace.” It was also a way to keep the disruption moving. If you overthought it, you might falter, or you might miss it. It was a big wave. Had to stay on top. Or if you don’t like that metaphor, there was always Stewart’s: You were either part of the steamroller, or you were part of the road.” But whether change is really good — that’s a question the book tries to address.

I’m intrigued by the classical craftsperson-like choice to use specialized ink and letterpress. Please ell us more about what you guys are doing with that. Is this a mix of the archaic and the novel? 

LR: Erik, I’m sure would have his own — and better — answers.

As for me, my father was a mechanical engineer, worked at Merghenthaler Linotype making hot metal machines — the first breakthrough in letterpress back in the late nineteenth century. Even though he ended his career building computers into his heavy machinery, he was really an atoms guy. How I grew up. Then I became a writer, editor, media guy, web adventurer — my life became increasingly ephemeral, from atoms to bits (pace Nicholas). And then after Wired, I helped start a chocolate company, and suddenly I was confronted with the hard world of atoms again. Chocolate may be based on formulas and scientific abstractions, but when you’re making it, it’s nothing but big machinery, bags of beans, supply chains based on fucking steamships that straddle the globe, and ultimately farmers who are planting, harvesting, and fermenting beans. All to make a slab of atoms that you can only really experience by putting on your tongue.

In other words, I was again immersed in sensuality. And ultimately, that’s what print and paper are about. Screens might have resolution higher than paper at this point, but the experience of using them is not the same. Screens emit, paper reflects — catches the light, which changes as you hold it, changes color depending on the time of day, the source of light. Paper engages more senses — touch, it’s smooth or rough or slick, it’s thin or thick. It smells — the inks, the paper, the glue all have their own subtle yet distinctive odors. Print has a visible past and future, not just a present like the screen; with paper, you can see and feel what you’ve read, what’s to come. I guess you can also hear paper. It rustles or rips. Probably the only thing you don’t do is taste it.

One of the reasons I loved Wired, the magazine, was we tried to push what we could do with print. The press we printed on, we were lucky, was a brand spanking new, state-of-the-art Heidelberg six color press. We were literally the first clients to print on it. Offset is normally four color, CMYK. Six colors means you have two more ink towers you can play with. That’s partially why Wired looked the way it did — we put fluorescents or metallics or double hits of blacks on those extra two towers, and the mag would have colors literally no other magazine was using. We were also on the leading edge of digital production. We used a $100K Kodak proofer at the printer that could not only show us what our pages would look like, but actually replicate the dot gain we would get from the screens we were using on press. So we really knew what a page would look like as we were designing it. We were among the first to go direct-to-plate.

Letterpress has made an artisan revival, because it delivers on the premise of print and paper… the letters being pressed ever so slightly into the paper, creating a well which catches the light, making the page subliminally alive as you move it.

Read more “Is Change Good? An Interview with Former Wired Magazine Publisher Louis Rossetto”

The Invention of Reality Hackers – A “Mutazine” (1988)

Something was starting to surface. Several small subcultures were drifting together, and some of these esoteric groupings included those who were creating the next economy. Clearly, we were positioned to become the magazine of a slow baking gestalt.

 

From Freaks In The Machine: MONDO 2000 in Late 20th Century Tech Culture

by R.U. Sirius

Some time in 1988, we made a rash decision. Despite High Frontiers relatively successful rise within the ‘zine scene (where 18,000 in sales was solid), we decided to change the name of the magazine itself to Reality Hackers.

It was my idea.

We’d been hipped to cyberpunk SF and I’d read Gibson’s Neuromancer and Sterling’s Mirrorshades collection. Sterling’s famous introduction for that book, describing what cyberpunk was doing in fiction — seemed to express precisely what a truly contemporary transmutational magazine should be about. Here are some parts of it:

“The term, (cyberpunk) captures something crucial to the work of these writers, something crucial to the decade as a whole: a new kind of integration. The overlapping of worlds that were formerly separate: the realm of high tech, and the modern pop underground.

“This integration has become our decade’s crucial source of cultural energy. The work of the cyberpunks is paralleled throughout the Eighties pop culture: in rock video; in the hacker underground; in the jarring street tech of hip hop and scratch music; in the synthesizer rock of London and Tokyo. This phenomenon, this dynamic, has a global range; cyberpunk is its literary incarnation…

An unholy alliance of the technical world and the world of organized dissent — the underground world of pop culture, visionary fluidity, and street-level anarchy…

For the cyberpunks… technology is visceral. It is not the bottled genie of remote Big Science boffins; it is pervasive, utterly intimate. Not outside us, but next to us. Under our skin; often, inside our minds.

Certain central themes spring up repeatedly in cyberpunk. The theme of body invasion: prosthetic limbs, implanted circuitry, cosmetic surgery, genetic alteration. The even more powerful theme of mind invasion: brain-computer interfaces, artificial intelligence, neurochemistry — techniques radically redefining — the nature of humanity, the nature of the self. Read more “The Invention of Reality Hackers – A “Mutazine” (1988)”

What’s It Like Being God? Pull Quotes from High Frontiers Issue #3

Pull quotes… from High Frontiers issue #3 for you to chew over. (High Frontiers was the predecessor to MONDO 2000.)

HF: What’s it like being God? Rosalie Blue: It’s like Doonesbury suddenly getting up off the paper and seeing that he’s always been flat.

 

 

They had to have a new domestic enemy and, of course, drugs are the perfect scapegoat. People that use drugs tend to be dissident.  Timothy Leary

 

 

…they were working on a combination L-dopa/parlodel on Parkinson’s patients in their 70s and 80s. The old ladies and old men started fucking like fiends. Durk Pearson

 

 

The human brain is 50,000 years out of date. It evolved in a nontechnological world where the basic tasks were hunting, gathering, agriculture.  Anonymous Unit

 

The machines produce immediate effects. I don’t think that they are as powerful and noticeable as the effects you might get from a chemical dose. Michael Hutchison

 

In the electronics field, when you put something out, you are protected only by your speed in putting the next thing out. Lee Felsenstein

 

Fringe scientists are interested in time travel, telepathy, psychokinesis, tantric sex, hypnosis, psychedelic drugs, wild card models of mind, God and universe  Nick Herbert Read more “What’s It Like Being God? Pull Quotes from High Frontiers Issue #3”

Operation Mindfuck Was Too Successful

Sartre said hell is other people. Now, hell is other people’s tweets or posts.They just irritate the crap out of all of us. The feeling is mutual.”

R.U. Sirius & Douglas Rushkoff in converation

I’m inspired by comments here from Grant Morrison and from John Shirley to share this again. It was previously posted on Medium on May 21

Sartre said hell is other people. Now, hell is other people’s tweets or posts.They just irritate the crap out of all of us. The feeling is mutual.”

On April 5, I was on Douglas Rushkoff’s Team Human radio show. We agreed to get the interview transcribed for possible publication somewhere.

I’ve decided that rather than trying to edit a truncated version to pitch to more popular websites, I’m just going to keep it conversational and run it here. Maybe less people will see it, but that’s ok. I get to say what I want.

I’ve added to my own spew as I edited. We hope you enjoy.

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: I came in contact with your work for the first time at a psychedelics conference in Los Angeles. Albert Hoffman and Laura Huxley [Aldous Huxley’s wife] were there. Timothy was there, and I think Ram Das and Ralph Metzner. It was the original psychedelics crowd.

And there were a bunch of issues of your first magazine, High Frontiers. And to me it was like a calling card from the future.

I was in my early 20’s, and your magazine was an amalgamation of everything that I had been interested in yet had never seen connected before: cultural, scientific, biological, cosmic, spiritual, and pharmacological advances, all in one place. How did physics and math and drugs and music and culture and transgender and cultural alchemy all end up considered part of the same strand of cultural information? How did you come up with that?

R.U. SIRIUS: In a way, it just came together in my head. I assumed that there were other people out there like me. Sort of like what Paul Krassner said about starting The Realist at the start of the ’60s. He put it out to meet the other aliens…

So this was a new generation of aliens.

And to me, the generational aspect of it was important. And the cultural aspect of it was important. Because even though I was from a generation that had a lot of hippies and deadheads and so on, we were also the people who created the cultures of punk and new wave. I was in my mid-twenties when all that came along and it was a refreshing blast to my pot-soaked mind.

So I was adapted for a very speedy, hyper, futuristic mentality by that, as well as by scientific ideas and psychedelic ideas and so forth.

And by the time we were doing High Frontiers in the mid-80s, one could clearly see the so-called digital revolution coming on, and one could be fairly optimistic about it… actually, radically over-optimistic. (laughter) So all these things just felt like the makings of a truly contemporary magazine.

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: High Frontiers really ran the full gamut of hallucinatory experiences. It was a flag in the sand. Leary had said, “Find the others.” And this was saying to a new generation, “Yes, there are others. These are our experiences.”

But then, you turned it into Reality Hackers and eventually Mondo 2000. It became the voice of this 21st century post-television, designer-reality society.

R.U. SIRIUS: Yeah, the Jetsons on DMT, as Mark Dery snarkily labeled it. Read more “Operation Mindfuck Was Too Successful”

Magic Works: An Interview with Grant Morrision Part 1

Given the options, who wouldn’t prefer to be rampaging around in higher planes, interacting with eternal archetypes and pop culture gods?

Interview by Robert Anton Wilson biographer Prop Anon, and Laura Kang, February 2017 in Brooklyn NY

I first encountered Grant Morrison at the Disinfo.com conference of 2000, organized by Disinfo’s founder, media magician, Richard Metzger. As I walked upstairs from the basement hangout zone of NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom, at the beginning of his now legendary lecture, I heard Morrison’s bone-chilling scream into the microphone, which reminded me of another Morrison, and thought “Who the fuck is this guy?’ He then announced that he was drunk and had just eaten some hash and it was about to kick it in, all with a thick Scottish accent. Such punk rock antics won the rapt attention of the wild crowd, myself included, and over the course of the next hour or so, he voiced all the countercultural excitement of the moment. During that cold February day in New York City, Morrison’s message was clear, Magick works, but you should not take his word for it, you have do it yourself to learn how it works. Read more “Magic Works: An Interview with Grant Morrision Part 1”

From “Freaks In The Machine: MONDO 2000 in 20th Century Tech Culture”

From the MONDO 2000 history book/memoir Freaks In The Machine: MONDO 2000 in 20th Century Tech Culture, yes, still in progress

by R.U. Sirius

Definition Of Vital Terms & Concepts (As Used In The Book)

DMT

The extremely powerful psychedelic drug DMT – Dimethyltryptamine — was a big part of the MONDO weltanschauung, subject to quite a bit of use and even more discussion. DMT is smoked and its effects last about 5-10 minutes. It is arguably the most powerful psychedelic experience, although that is not to be confused with deleriants. Deleriants such as Belladonna (Scopolamine) can take you even further from ordinary reality but the experience generally can’t be remembered and offers no insights or alterations to the imbiber. Read more “From “Freaks In The Machine: MONDO 2000 in 20th Century Tech Culture””

William Gibson & Timothy Leary Discuss Neuromancer Game That Never Was (Audio)

 

cover photo by Morgan Russell

We were working on our first Mondo 2000 issue. It was going to be the cyberpunk theme issue and we’d gotten interviews with the major cyberpunk SF writers, except William Gibson. Gibson’s management wouldn’t put us in touch with him. And then we heard that he was coming to the Bay Area and we turned up the heat, but his press agent had him set up for interviews with major outlets only and we were nobody and it was just a brick wall. So somehow, publisher Queen Mu wound up on the phone with Timothy Leary complaining about this and Leary offered to let us transcribe a tape of him and Gibson in conversation about ideas for the game spinoff that would accompany the release of the film of Neuromancer all of this being planned then — back in 1989 (actually, plans began in ’86). Leary was going to lead the development of the game… at least conceptually. (Well, it was all conceptual, ultimately.) Read more “William Gibson & Timothy Leary Discuss Neuromancer Game That Never Was (Audio)”