LEARY became internationally-known in the
1960s as the high priest of
LSD, preaching the benefits of altered
states and inner exploration to mankind.
The infamy that befell him overshadowed
his previous acclaim as one of the
USs most innovative psychologists,
writer of academically applauded texts,
and seeker of new methods in
was this work that led Leary to Harvard
in 1960 and experiments with psilocybin
(the active ingredient of
magic mushrooms) and later
the then still legal LSD. Learys
investigations unwittingly paralleled
experiments by the CIA in a similar field
but with a less altruistic intent.
Harvard was soon to be 'seething
with drug consciousness' and Leary,
by the middle of the decade, a notorious
figure and author of the famous phrase 'turn
on, tune in, drop out'. This he later
ameded, taking into the account the size
and strength of the younger generation,
to 'turn on, tune in, take over'.
Imprisoned for the
possession of a modest half-ounce of
marijuana, the man escaped to Europe but
was eventually 'informally extradited'
back the US to complete his sentence.
Now 63, Leary is,
ironically perhaps, among the most
highly-paid performers on the lecture
circuit. The debates on politics and
morality between himself and G Gordon
Liddy (ex-lawyer, ex-FBI special agent,
man behind the Watergate break-in)
provides the basis for Return
Engagement, a film by Alan Rudolph
chronicling eight days in the lives of
the pair. Meanwhile, Learys
autobiography, Flashbacks, is
published next month.
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