Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dr. Timothy Leary: Criminalizing the Natural


Criminalizing the Natural and Naturalizing the Criminal

Dr. Timothy Leary

Originally from: The Psychedelic Review in the early 1960s

Updated in the 1989 for inclusion in Psychedelic Monographs & Essays Vol. 4

Updated in 1992 for inclusion in Stiletto2: The Disinherited.

Everyone knows that Life on this planet emerged way down south in the hot, thick, steamy stew of the tropics. Way back then the first life forms were lazy, single-celled, amoeboid, hot-tub hedonists with ambitious appetites. Everything was organic, natural. Nothing was immoral, unauthorized or illegal.

In time, however, pre-programmed, mutually-stimulating food chain competitions among the squishy unicellulars led to programs of physical fitness and careerist self-improvement.

This, in turn led to acquisitive materialism and the popularity of Young, Upscale, Port-Protozoa technologies such as shaper vision, high-fidelity aural reception, hinged-thumbs.

There was, a few hundred million years ago, a predictable consumer craze for high-tech hunting and fishing gear such as fangs, bones, teeth, tusks. And high-fashion seasonal obsessions for erotically attractive fur coats, feather boas, leather-ware, snakeskin hip-huggers.

Later, younger generations of self-directed organisms developed auto-mobile bodies equipped with tentacles, wings, legs which allowed the social-climbing, trendy forms to squirm, crawl, walk, or fly uptown to the more exclusive, temperate, classier neighborhoods, namely 30th to 45th streets., north and south latitude.


Down south in the lush, luxurious jungles of the equator, our first ancestors needed no artificial technologies for survival. The glorious, dark-skinned naked body was the instrument with which to original individual human related to the environment.

Transportation downtown in the tropical jungles was by pedicab.

Food gathering involved manual delivery systems.

Social relations and communication involved gestures, spoken words, dancing, strutting. The semioticians call this "Body Language." There was direct, skin-tight experimental contact with the commodity markets and energy centers upon which human survival depends.

We're talking about real estate basics here. Solar energy; pure spring-fed water supply; cavernous homes with wood-burning fireplaces. Conventional neighborhood access to natural foods found in the handy vegetable, fruit, fowl, fish, meat departments.

Our new-born ancestors, 25,000 years ago, were equipted with an additional powerful survival appliance. They had brains calibrated like ours, with 100 billion neurons. And each neuron, we now realize, has the thought-processing capacity of an IBM-PC or Machintosh. The software (ie. the thoughts) which operated this awesome neural equipment was programmed to react to information from the local environment.

The brand-name for our species is homo sapiens, sapiens. This means "Human, the information processor: the thinker about thinking."

With all that main-frame, super-power, parallel processing, Neurological-Intelligence (N.I) built into our black, fuzzy, tropical skulls, not to mention the infinity of megabyte memory bank tellers, there had to be a whole lotta figuring going on in the heads of our ancestors. Just as our bellies are designed to digest food, our brains are designed to digest and process information. This inevitably leads to thinking about why things keep on happening like they do.

What, for example, must we do to satisfy the Power-Light-Water-Grocery-Suppy sources?

For example, why droughts? Have we forgotten to pay the water bill? And to whom?

Why do the animals whose flash provide our dinners decide to migrate? What have we done to our furry and feathered friends to cause them to walk out on us?

From whence the powers of fertility, pregnancy, birth?

Why illness and death?

The first human tribal cultures to emerge down south involved nature worship and was understandably polytheistic. Survival Pantheism tailored to the conditions. Since the information each tribe recieved was limited to the neighboorhood network, religion was hands-on, personal, practical. The Gods (i.e. the Higher Powers & Utility Companies) were local, reachable, available to the individual.

So each tribe developes its own mythology. And each person selects the rituals for making theological deals. The powers of the Gods flow through the individual body. Most pagan religious ceremonies involve the ingestion of sacred plants which produce altered states of trance, posession, vision, triggering-off intense dialogues with the Supremes.

Religiousrituals involve the body: drums, chants, dance. Since the body is the only available appliance of survival and worship, it is flaunted and glorified in its naked, center fold beauty. The role of women in pagan cultures is naturally elevated because Her body is seen as the producer of Life.

Tropical latitudes produce natural attitudes about the gods, man and law. Nothing was illegal.


There are many obvious reasons-climatic, psycho-geographical, logistical-why the next stage of more complex human cultures emerged in the Mid-Temperate (30th and 45th) rather than the frosty Cold Temperatures (45th and 60th) or the Tropics.

Next time you look at a world-map, turn it upside sown and notice how most of the land lies north of the equator. Note how most of the inner waterways, the seas and lakes and rivers are located on the affluent, busy north-side. Suppose the Mediterranean had been in the middle of Africa with the Nile flowing south to it and the Congo too and that big Gibraltar mouth opening to the Atlantic around Angolia.

Notice how almost all the enduring civilizations emerged in this narrow geographic zone=30th to 45th streets. Life north in the Mid-Temperate is more demanding. Your Hunter-GatherCredit-Card won't get you faruphere, lad. Natural technologies no longer suffice. There are few neighborhood fruit stores and local delicatessens north of 30th street. You gotta start whittling and chipping artifacts. Tools. During the years of 4000 BC to 1500 AD, the strip between the 30th and 45th degrees became the frenetic, high-tech genetic runway.

Run your finger left to right along this interstate road-map. Recite the names of the exits. China. India. Persia (still a big tourist attraction). Babylonia. Egypt. Rome. Venice. Spain. Portugal.

Can you feel the action?

Alone this thin highway moved the camel caravans, horse-drawn carts, the legions, the sailing ships, the galley cruise-liners, the iron-age technologies.

All this movement was made possible by new hand-tool technologies for transporting people and for communicating ideas. Literacy and the alphabet made long distance communication possible.

Can you visualize how small, tribal gene-pools numbering hundreds and then thousands of sould became absorbed into nations numbering millions? These centralized feudal empires were held together by collective labor and strict cultural rules.

The individual becomes a dependant cog in a vast hierarchical social structure. In ancient Rome, food, water, lodging, security were not obtained through natural-physical actions. The goodies come from Caesar's utility departments.

Politics is no longer a personal confrontation with the family next door. It involves submission to the ruler.

Religion is no longer a personal hand-shake deal with the local G.O.D.S. (Gods of Duty) but a complicated political coda of instructions, commandments, rewards, recorded on marble tablets and illuminated manuscripts, mediated by a bureaucratic priesthood which claimed to be fronting for the Almighty Ruler who allowed no violation of his moral code and laws.

When the neighborhood 30th to 45th streets was happening, the individual was vassal, totally dependant and submissive. Tropical folks felt some primative pride in their personalability to put food on the table and avoid enemies-via their own bodily skills, jungle-smarts and bribery deals with the utility companies. But the Feudal person did not share this personal sense of self-confidence.

The most revealing insights about any human culture or gene-pool probably come from observing attitudes towards animals, the human body, and the femal body in particular. Polytheistic societies totematically worship natural forces. Animal spirits and the naked forms of the attractive healthy human. Check the religious art framed in the cave-galleries of pagan people.

Feudal societies, by grim contrast, are organized around the monotheistic principles of One Elderly Male God, the Almighty Ruler, who sits on a Throne awathed in Regal robes. The Monotheistic God who rules things along the 30th to the 45th is never seen running around town bare assed. flaunting his naked beauty and grace. Can you imagine Jehovah on the cover of Rolling Stone?

Monotheistic religions tend to derogate the natural, scorn the body and manifest a "puritantical" hatred for the naked female form. In orthodox Christian, Jewish and Moslem cultures, woman is covered by black dresses and veils. This is tacky, low-fashion garb, designed to conceal Her life-affirming image. But life in hierarchical feudal societies is not all submission and puritantical repression. The man can always beat his wife, his kids, his camel. But the greatest source of pleasure and pride for True-Believers is this: you can always strap on your sword and head down-town below 30th street and exhibit the superiority of your God and your gene-pool by kicking innocent, nature loving tropicals around.

For 10,000 years and more, northern folks have invaded, conquered, enslaved Southerners, Kill 'em, loot 'em, rape 'em in the name of God and Country because tropical people don't count. They are heathen, pagan, illiterate, immoral, naked primitives. They have rejected The One God and that's why we have the metal swords, the written bible, the cavalry, the ships. And they don't.

The invasion and colonialization of the south by the north has produced a curious "fenetic stratification" or cultural infiltration. The Northern colonizers built feudal-age cities, towns, cities, roads, ports, churches, bridges in the southern "possessions." And they imposed their new fangled, artificial, man-made, social, political, religions, cultural and linguistic forms on the natives.

The Spanish conquest and settlement of South America is a classic example of the "trickle-down-south" phenomenon. The Feudal system of centralization, monotheism , bureaucratization, hierarchy, military control based in Madrid, produced a colonial replica of life in 15th century Spain.

The South American Indians were gently coaxed into the familiar serf mode of the Iberian peasantry. They shuffled to the fields and the to church and they knelt down and crossed themselves just like the vassals did up in the 30's Spain.


These aforementioned Feudal Empires which emerged along the Mediterranean basin were based on hand-tools used to tame horses, channel water, harness wind-power. People were held together by an intricate web of laws, rules, taboos, ethical prescriptions.

The next stage in human evolution was the industrial. Humans learned how to make tool-making machines. The German, Johannes Gutenberg, started it all with his diabolic printing press which made possible mass-literacy, mass-education, factory technology.

Get out your map of Europe and run your finger along the next step in evolution. The 45th to 60th latitudes. Notice how the great cities where the industrial Age emerged lie in this narrow strip. Milan, France, the Ruhr, Germany, England, Scotland, Scandinavia, USSR.

Dig the sudden brand switch in the God department. The great Feudal religions had been Catholic, Latin, and Islamic. The great religions of the Industrial Civilizations are White Protestant or White Communist. Extremely White Men worship an Engineer God whose ethical commandment is: "Put on your uniform and work!"

The virtuous citizen, like a good machine, is now defined as dependable, prompt, reliable, efficient, productive.

There are many reasons - climatic, geo-psychological, logistic - why industrial civilizations emerged in the cold environment. It's all about heat. A continual, indoor heat-supply was needed to warm houses in the frigid north. And heat requires the manufacture and storage and transmission of Newtonian energies. So it was heat that turned the wheels of the factories. Steam power, Coal-power, Oil.

Mastery of mechanical power produced the industrial empires of the 18th to the 20th Centuries. The factory-made steam vessels and railroads and weapon-machines made possible dreams of world conquest.

The energy-supplies required for the Northern factories were to be found, guess where, in the two lower floors:

- the Mid-Temperate zone, now called by Northern theologians "The Third World"

- and, of course, the Tropics, now called "The Fourth World."

So colonies were established in the Middle East, India, South East Asia, Africa, which zones were efficiently looted for "raw" materials.

Just as the Roman and Arabic and Spanish kingdoms of the Mid-Temperate sailed to the tropics to find black slaves and gold and ivory, so did the white-skinned empires steam and jet south to build railroads, airstrips, tourist hotels to loot these lands of raw materials and to erect the steam-belching, smoky temples of the Mechanical God-factories.

Again, the new Northern culture is layered down over the old customs. These days the typical tropical country, take Haiti or Kenya, is stratified like this: a solid foundation of tribal culture, veneered over by Feudal, Strong-Man military regime, which in turn, is supported by American or European or Soviet mechanical might. This works well for a while. The North exports guns and machines. The guns are used to motivate the tropical folks to dig out of the ground the raw materials which are shipped north to pay for the guns.

But on weekends and full-moons-and sacred occasions, guess what. The natives tend to revert to nature. They joyously perform the old rituals: strip off the veils, paint their bodies, drum, dance, chant, ingest plants that put them into altered states of consciousness, get possessed by God-knows-how-many different natural forces, engage in sexual activities, and just generally party it up in the classic sense of this sacred word. It's the basic, time-honored, religious, ceremony, you recall, a celebration, an innovation and an invitation of the Gods to inhabit, possess, take over the minds and bodies of their worshippers.

Believe me, no one is on his knees during a pagan religious service. Or if the are, it's not in suppliant, begging prayer.

Now the white protestants found this extremely shocking. The basic aim of nothern religions, we recall, was to root out, exorcise, censor, subdue the evil which the bibles say lurks in the hearts and loins of all men. Nature means sin. The Northern priests denounced the native practices as pagan, heathen, devilish, evil.

God fearing, descent, white-folks banded together in mechanical unanimity-unity to condemn nudity, sex, intoxication, possession.

So trouble, bad trouble, has been brewing down south for many centuries. Starvation, drought, poverty, over-population, racial and religious conflict, endemic war, increasing terrorism and growing anger towards the Northern rulers and cultures.

But now, these scary attitudes no longer seem quarantined down there in the untidy southern latitudes. They are already bubbling up to confront the industrial nations of the north.


The cultural and economic traffic between the tropics and the temperate zones has always been a two way street. The north exports artificials - tools, machines, guns, law books, political constitutions, cultural rules, religious taboos.

The south exports its natural resource-raw materials, ores, precious gems, rare woods, herbs, spices, exotic foods. Oil, of course.

And, most important, human bodies in the form of slaves and migrant workers.

Now, guess what these poor, benighted heathen smuggled in with them in the slave ships and immagrant boats? Exactly those precious gifts which the northern cultures had censored and prohibited in their own hard-working, God-fearing, inhibited folks. Precisely that for which the mechanical-robot people hungered for.

The Pagan Culture. The pantheist ways. The worship of the natural! The wild celebration of life. The exulant embrace of the ancient biological powers. The spontaneous exuberance of the sensual. The street-smart wisdom of the outsiders who, for centuries, had been coolly observing and mocking the "pious white folks" marching around with their guns and crosses.

This insidious cultural invasion surfaced in the Roaring 20th Century when intelligent Northerners began to sense the heavy price they paid for mechanization.

In the 1920's, the pagans revival came above ground in the form of jazz. Musicians no longer followed directors or conductors or printed scores. Improvisation, syncopation, innovation. The jazz musician gets possessed, trances out. In both the USA and the USSR the acceptance of jazz becomes the first sign that the industrial ethos is loosening up.

The definitive explosion of pagan cultural themes happened in the 19060's.

The Civil Rights movement. Black pride. The ghetto riots.

More important was the music. Never has a cultural-religious event changed the world as quickly and pervasively as rock & roll. Why? Because rock is a magical blend of African-polytheistic rhythms and European-pagan-Celtic-Druid lyrics amplified and flung around the world at the speed of light by quantum-electronic technology.

And it is no accident that the religious message of rock & roll was a joyful rejection of the mechanization that Feudal and Industrial cultures glorified.

When Bob Dylan sang: "I ain't gonna work on Maggie's Farm no more," he expressed the spirit of everyone - colored, southern, white - who rejected the alienation of the smokestack-assembly-line Factory culture.

The popularity of psychedelic drugs is another example of the revival of southern culture.

Notice that the neurotransmitters made illegal in Reagan's land are the southern vegetables - the poppy, ground up coca leaves, the flowering tops of the marijuana plant. None of these botanical substances are as physically or psychologically dangerous as the factory-made northern mind-benters - distilled liquor, North Carolina-grown nicotine and prescription euphoriants and tranks used legally by middle-class house-wives.

The southern botanicals - grass, opium, coca - are threatening to the order and conformity demanded by the Factory Culture:

1. Like the natives who use them, these vegetables grow wild. They are non-domesticated. Grown up in mountains, they are hard to control. They are sold on the black market, that naughty, unauthorized, free exchange that operates outside the control of the white bankers and the feudal tax collectors.

Inexpensive, wild, southern herbs compete with the lucrative trade which our Puritan Founders had going with slaves and rum.

2. Native drug rituals are immoral, i.e. banned as sinful by the northern religions. Damn right they are! They incite personal freedom, pagan celebration, self-expression, disordered joy, sensual pleasure. They dramatically threaten the control of the priests. Remember those scandalous biblical stories about Moses and the other high-ranking priests coming down the mountain and finding the tribes stoned, whooping it up around the Golden Calf and other natural icons? Heresy. Sin. Devil Worship.

3. The ingestion of native plants is also criminal. Why? Because the white-men who write the laws and run the police stations say so!

4. The ingestion of natural plants is not only immoral, criminal, and bad-for-business, it is treasonous. It figures, doesn't it? You are a self-respecting native and in come these weirdo white robots brandishing guns, despoiling your neighborhood, your culture, breaking up your family, scorning your gods. Now the most effective, non-violent act of political resistance is to perform your native rituals, get high with a native plant. Neurotransmitters are the ultimate weapons of democracy. A few tokes on an opium pipe and you and your friends have gently and delightfully floated outside the white man's economic, religious, legal and political domination.

For centuries the nothern colonists ignored and tolerated the cultivation and ingestion of neuro-botanicals as long as it was restricted to the native quarters. Let the illiterate wogs get their primitive kicks. Keep 'em blissed and nodding out.

But in the 1960's, the new postwar generations of white folks began turning away from the Cold War and life on the assembly line. The cultural revolution in America produced a vigorous renaissance of the source religions of the south. Pantheist love of nature was expressed as Ecological awareness. Worship of bodily grace manifested in physical fitness. High pagan style becomes hip-high fashion.

The acculturization of psychedelic drugs by Americans in the 1960's provides a powerful endorsement of tropical religious rituals. The psychedelic drugs are all derived from tropical plants. Psilocybin from mushrooms, mescaline from peyote, LSD from rye-ergot, and, of course, marijuana. These are not the euphoriants, or energizers, or intoxicants favored by urban dwellers. Psychedelics produce states of possession, trance, expanded consciousness, spiritual illumination, powerful, mystical empathies with natural forces. These experiences, which are the aim of the ancient pagan religions, are the worst nightmares of the organized religions.

The so-called "drug culture" was not a campus fad; it was a world-wide revival of the oldest religions going. The hippies intuitively sensed this as they proudly wandered around barefoot, playing flutes. Paganism 101 suddenly became the most popular campus elective. Psychiatrists and law enforcement officials and politicians automatically assumed that psychedelic experiences were self-induced bouts of mass insanity. There were no terms or paradigms in the western intellectual tradition to explain this bizarre desire to "go out of your mind."

It is of great sociological interest that the so-called "drug culture" in America and West Europe (and now, we learn, in the Soviet bloc) dutifully re-enacted the rituals of pre-Christian pagans and polytheists. In the 1960-70's, millions living in industrial nations used psychedelics in the context of Hindu and Buddhist practices.

Psychedelic drugs were taken in groups and in public celebrations. The acid tests of Ken Kesey. The love-ins. The communes. The need for social bonding and tribal rituals was intuitively accepted by most psychedelic drug users.

Today, in the Rambo 80's, drugs are tooted, shot, free-based, cracked in secrecy. Usually alone.

The importance of group support expressed in pagan-psychedelic experiences cannot be over-estimated. The psychedelic culture proudly flaunted drug-taking because it was designed to produce nature-loving, tribe-solidarity experiences. The first San Francisco Be-In was advertised as "A Gathering of the Tribes!" This happens today at Grateful Dead concerts when 20,000 "dead-heads" mingle together in dancing celebration.

Drug-taking becomes drug-abuse when practiced in narcissistic solitude. In 1988, 30 million Americans use illegal drugs safely and 50 million use booze moderately. Why? Because they indulge during group rituals which protect against abuse. Beer-busts. Cocktail parties. Smoking grass with friends.

It is important to note that the only effective rehabilitation program for alcohol and drug abusers is A.A. The stated arms and tactic of A.A. are pagan-spiritual. Surrender to a higher power in an intense support-group setting. No churches. No government officials. No salaries. No funding. Just village-type group support.

Perhaps the greatest gift that Southerners gave to the North was a "resurrection of the body." The factory civilization covered skin by uniforms. The role models of the mechanical society were serious, frowning men in business suits, walking heavily, ponderously to their very important office jobs. No man of substance in Washington, D.C. or Moscow or London betrayed humor, grace, flashy style.

Watch newsreels of white athletes in the 1930 and 40's. Stubby little guys with pot-bellies stiffly running around with jerky movements. Watch the white folks dancing in the old movies.

When the Southerners were allowed on the playing fields and the TV screens, everything changed. Latin rhythms. Afro-cubano voodoo beats. Caribbean spontaneity on the base-paths. Black grace and elegance on the basketball courts. This was good. Just plain healing and good for the brittle, mechanical, white soul.

The Southerners also prepared the mechanical north for the post-industrial age. Let's face it, Blacks and Latinos never really bought into the factory society. The Southerners just don't make good robots or engineers.

But during the 1960's, the Southern rituals and styles suddenly took over the younger generation. The walk, talk, dress, attitude loosened white kids up. As Blacks attained fame and wealth in the performance-creative fields, they refused to act like slave-workers. They demanded to be paid whate they were worth as individuals. Wilt Chamerlain is the guy who changed the economic role-model. He was the best. And he expected, logically, to be treated like the best. White athletes had been treated like mill workers, bought & sold like indentured servants. Cheap couch tickets. Rooms in sleazy hotels. Wilt demanded first class. And hotel rooms with beds large enough to fit his grandeur.

It was the Black athletes and performers who came up with the new economic role-model for the 21st Century. In the post-industrial society, if you're good, then you're not a slave or a serf or a worker. You are a performer! A free agent!

The civil war between North and South is not over.

It can be seen in the war on Southern Plants which allows armed American policemen to roam around Central and South America, burning crops and harassing peasants. Here at home, the War provides distractions for politicians like George Bush, who enjoy being photographed with Dan Rather down in the ghetto or barrio, busting into the houses of the poor folks.

As Blacks and Latins exert more power in politics, the old-boy, white angers are revealed. In fun-loving, gun-loving Montana, local rifle-clubs issue bumper stickers saying, "Run, Jesse, Run." With the silent complicity of the Reagan administration, racism emerges not just in the Rehnquist court, but in college campuses and polling-booths.

At the same time, the Southern Migrants grow stronger in numbers and power. Soon, very soon, whites will be a minority in most American cities. The old Confederate slogan comes back again to haunt the bigoted sons of Dixie. The South will truly rise again.

Reprinted from Timothy Leary's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. copies of which are available exclusively from KnoWare, 11288 Ventura Blvd., #702, Studio City, CA 91604

Link: The Psychedelic Review Archives 1963-1971 Free PDF downloads


Sean said...

Um, wow. First of all, I've never come across this bit 'o Leary...and yes, what a damned good one! Thank you again, EROCx1! As a long time reader at DoseNation, I'm really unsure how I've never (or at least never stayed for long) rambled over to your blog before..? I can't wait until I have some time to read some more. Keep the good stuff coming...

Anyways, this is a really interesting perspective...and elements of it are so natural to think about, I think it may obviously be a much more subtle, individuated process than we're envisioning...BUT, this discussion, as a map, works astonishingly well.

Michael Annis said...

Correction: This essay was revised by Leary and published as the introductory essay in 1992 by Howling Dog Press in the book "Stiletto2: The Disinherited." Leary's work wasn't included in "Stiletto One: A Ship of Fools" which was an archival tribute to the writers who were at the River City Reunion in Lawrence, KS in 1987. S-One was published in 1989 and contained the work of Andrei Codrescu, William Burroughs (including one of his paintings, "Twilight's Last Gleaming"), Anne Waldman, S. Clay Wilson, David Ray, Diane diPrima, Denise Low, Gloria Vando, myself writing as Michael l'Rapier, James Grauerholz, George Wedge, and artists Margo Kren and James Dean Pruner. When Leary found out that there was a tribute volume and he wasn't in it, he sent me this essay, and Stiletto2 was born. Stiletto One is long gone, but there are a few copies of Stiletto2 still left. They sell for $25, despite the incorrect price on this page: www.howlingdogpress.com/Publications/Publications.htm Put me on your mailing list: publicity@howlingdogpress.com

Michael Annis said...

Correction: This essay was revised by Leary and published as the introductory essay in 1992 by Howling Dog Press in the book "Stiletto2: The Disinherited." Leary's work wasn't included in "Stiletto One: A Ship of Fools" which was an archival tribute to the writers who were at the River City Reunion in Lawrence, KS in 1987. S-One was published in 1989 and contained the work of Andrei Codrescu, William Burroughs (including one of his paintings, "Twilight's Last Gleaming"), Anne Waldman, S. Clay Wilson, David Ray, Diane diPrima, Denise Low, Gloria Vando, myself writing as Michael l'Rapier, James Grauerholz, George Wedge, and artists Margo Kren and James Dean Pruner. When Leary found out that there was a tribute volume and he wasn't in it, he sent me this essay, and Stiletto2 was born. Stiletto One is long gone, but there are a few copies of Stiletto2 still left. They sell for $25, despite the incorrect price on this page: www.howlingdogpress.com/Publications/Publications.htm Put me on your mailing list: publicity@howlingdogpress.com