General comments of mine- Seemingly the 60's and the advent(?) of psychedelic culture was a yearning to expand consciousness ,to experience gnosis at the same time, possibly. The old mysteries of the ancient world were disciplined in this process with the wise and precedential taking of enteogens to attain to this consciousness under the auspices of the mysteries such as that of Eleusis. The admitted mutations produced in the 60's .at first scientific and sober in the
Harvard Psilocybin Project became an undisciplined yearning for consciousness in an unorganized and undisciplined mode,so it seems, producing mutations and that act is the yearning for the super conscious states beyond the paranormal even, and is an incomprehensible breakaway from what could have been promising research into LSD as an enhancing entogen in the sense others were in antecedent ages when the mysteries such as that of Eleusis had flourished.These innovators had a profound disenchantment with the modern life and its inanities devoid of a purpose and spiritual connections with "other worlds" which past mysteries engaged . Their going on their own produced an even greater degree of chaos and calamity and the use of LSD was not attached to the more pure motives of enlightenment and gnosis, as was done in the past.
These accounts of "psychedelic culture by insightful phrases border on the tragicomic and include the following forgotten parts of the 60's period with its characterization as
an experiment in widening consciousness.
- It was indeed a hilarious terrifying and cultural epoch-when did the 60's really begin?
- The essential tameness of the group that was to become so notorious is only one fascinating feature of discourse to follow between the Project’s second and third most celebrated veterans: Ram Dass ( who as Richard Alpert, PhD, was Tom Sawyer to Tim Leary’s Huckleberry Finn) and Dr. Ralph Metzner (who began as an acolyte and wound up presiding over the remains). QUOTE Note that as with many groups whose popularity enlarges over the short or long course of time, the initial gathering is tame in comparison to the later wild offshoots.Michael Hollingshead meeting Prof Timothy Leary at the Harvard Faculty Club
- The sober, scientific center of the Harvard Psilocybin Project lost its hold on the centripetal edge. The past started to end and the future started to begin. Their ties loosened and disappeared, along with belief in any such prosaic artifact as objective reality and the social conventions that accompanied it. As Leary later wrote in High Priest ( p. 256-257 ): "From the date of this session it was inevitable that we would leave Harvard, that we would leave American society and that we would spend the rest of our lives as mutants, faithfully following the instructions of our internal blueprints, and tenderly, gently disregarding the parochial social inanities." QUOTE After Timothy Leary dropped acid, all changes. The realization of the inevitability of leaving Harvard and spending a lifelong sojourn as mutants is incomprehensible to me.
- Ram Dass had a somewhat more alarmed reaction. "When Tim first took LSD, he didn’t speak for weeks. I went around saying, 'We’ve lost Timothy, we've lost Timothy.' I was warning everybody to not take that drug, because Tim wasn’t talking and he was sort of dull … When I took it, I felt it went so far beyond the astral, beyond form, to pure energy. It showed me that in previous psychedelic sessions, I had been screwing around in the astral plane. LSD was no nonsense. If you weren’t grounded somewhere, you’d go out on this drug." They were both right, of course. These were by no means unusual responses to the experience. Thanks in very large part to the subsequent exertions of Drs. Leary, Alpert and Metzner, the experience was one shared over the following decade by tens of millions of Americans, the larger part of whom found it difficult ever after to take seriously the verities that few in Eisenhower’s America would have questioned. Our paradigm got fucking well shifted. At least mine certainly did. And so, I would venture, did that of the United States of America, during the trip we took between 1961 and 1972.
- The above is a quote and the highlighted speaks for itself .The motives for taking LSD were in large part a profound disenchantment with the modern world ,and its vacuous and meaningless politics and materialism. These disorientations were pronounced and shown in the 60's .The pomp of authority appeared hilarious and the mundane plane appeared in like manner under the influence of the LSD experience, perhaps this realization being antecedent to the experience itself.
- Birth of a Psychedelic Culture is a saga of holy heroism. The people in it were like the Lewis and Clark of the Mind. But it is also a cautionary tale and contained within it is a lot of the real reason that America had such a visceral immune reaction to our sudden, terrifying and transforming “Otherness” in the middle of its consciousness. Before delightedly steering the train off its rails, we were given a glimpse of grace and infinity.
- Like most people raised by hick kids in the mountains, I was a mystic without ever having heard the word. If I could have a direct experience of The Thing Itself, without all that regulatory obligation wrapped around it, I would become whole again. This statement reduces down to the desire for mysticism or the mystical experience,the religious experience, without its concomitant commitment, and the distataste for the "obligations" comes through loud and clear.
- After that, I read everything I could find about mystico-mimetic chemicals: Gordon Wasson’s 1957 article for Life magazine about magic mushrooms, Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception, Bill Burroughs’s Yage Letters, etc. I wanted a piece of that communion wafer and so did a lot of other kids raised around the dreary wasteland of American piety. The references to Wasson and Huxley here are mentioned in detail in the gnostic lectures of Dr Stephen Hoeller. And ,ah yes, perennial is the desire for the communion wafer in its various guises , in the enteogens.
- Castalia Foundation. Note the reference to the Castalia Foundation.
- Not long after that, I was fully enrolled in the Eastern Orthodox Church of LSD. A great deal more could be said about my initiation and the adventures that followed, but this is not about my long, strange trip. Besides, there are better stories about the perception of mysterium tremendum and its effect upon mere mortals. (Understanding the legend of Dr. Faustus might not be a bad start either. ) When I read these quotes and the allusions the authors make, these are not impressionable youth merely, but educated and well read of religious and world literature, probably an additive to their disenchantment with the vacuity of the modern spiritual scene with its meaningless rules and political games,
The following is adapted from the Foreword to Birth of a Psychedelic Culture: Conversations about
Leary, the Harvard Experiments, Millbrook and the Sixties, by Ram Dass and Ralph
Metzner with Gary Bravo, from Synergetic Press.
LSD is a drug
that produces fear in people who don’t take it. --Timothy Leary
It’s now almost half a century since that day in September 1961 when a
mysterious fellow named Michael Hollingshead made an appointment to meet
Professor Timothy Leary over lunch at the Harvard Faculty Club. When they met in
the foyer, Hollingshead was carrying with him a quart jar of sugar paste into
which he had infused a gram of Sandoz LSD. He had smeared this goo all over his
own increasingly abstract consciousness and it still contained, by his own
reckoning, 4,975 strong (200 mcg) doses of LSD. The mouth of that jar became
perhaps the most significant of the fumaroles from which the ‘60s blew forth.
Everybody who continues to obsess on the hilariously terrifying cultural
epoch known as the ‘60s -- which is to say, most everybody from “my
gege-generation,” the post-War demographic bulge that achieved permanent
adolescence during that era -- has his or her own sense of when the ‘60s
really began. There are a lot of candidates: the blossoming pink cloud in the
Zapruder film, Mario Savio’s first speech in Sproul Plaza, the passage of the
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the Beatles' first appearance on the the Ed Sullivan
Show, the first Acid Test, the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park, the release of
the song “Good Vibrations,” the day Jerry Garcia got kicked out of the army. But
as often as not, if you are a Boomer, the ‘60s began for surreal on the day you
dropped acid. And if that is when the shit hit your personal fan, you may owe a
debt of ambiguous gratitude to the appealingly demonic young sociopath who
conveyed the Stark Bolt of Chemical Revelation to the nice young gentlemen of
the Harvard Psilocybin Project.
The essential tameness of the group that was
to become so notorious is only one fascinating feature of discourse to follow
between the Project’s second and third most celebrated veterans: Ram Dass ( who
as Richard Alpert, PhD, was Tom Sawyer to Tim Leary’s Huckleberry Finn) and Dr.
Ralph Metzner (who began as an acolyte and wound up presiding over the remains).
In some of the photographs of members of the Project, taken prior to the
arrival of Mr. Hollingshead and his Magic Mayonnaise Jar, the learned
investigators are actually whacked on psilocybin and yet, their narrow black
ties are still neatly knotted, their horn-rimmed glasses are on straight, their
earnest civilization is still visibly intact.
Consider that Dr. Alpert’s
first impulse, upon regaining the ability to walk during his first psychedelic
experience, was to head off through the snow to his parents’ house and start
shoveling their driveway. Upon being discovered, his defiant response was to
dance a jig. This is truly a rebel without claws. But a few days after that
fateful lunch with Hollingshead, Timothy Leary dropped acid and everything
changed. The sober, scientific center of the Harvard Psilocybin Project lost its
hold on the centripetal edge. The past started to end and the future started to
begin. Their ties loosened and disappeared, along with belief in any such
prosaic artifact as objective reality and the social conventions that
accompanied it. As Leary later wrote in High Priest ( p. 256-257 ): "From the
date of this session it was inevitable that we would leave Harvard, that we
would leave American society and that we would spend the rest of our lives as
mutants, faithfully following the instructions of our internal blueprints, and
tenderly, gently disregarding the parochial social inanities."
Ram Dass had
a somewhat more alarmed reaction. "When Tim first took LSD, he didn’t speak for
weeks. I went around saying, 'We’ve lost Timothy, we've lost Timothy.' I was
warning everybody to not take that drug, because Tim wasn’t talking and he was
sort of dull … When I took it, I felt it went so far beyond the astral, beyond
form, to pure energy. It showed me that in previous psychedelic sessions, I had
been screwing around in the astral plane. LSD was no nonsense. If you weren’t
grounded somewhere, you’d go out on this drug."
They were both right, of
course. These were by no means unusual responses to the experience. Thanks in
very large part to the subsequent exertions of Drs. Leary, Alpert and Metzner,
the experience was one shared over the following decade by tens of millions of
Americans, the larger part of whom found it difficult ever after to take
seriously the verities that few in Eisenhower’s America would have questioned.
Our paradigm got fucking well shifted. At least mine certainly did. And so, I
would venture, did that of the United States of America, during the trip we took
between 1961 and 1972.
One can make a non-ludicrous case that the most
important event in the cultural history of America since the 1860s was the
introduction of LSD. Before acid hit American culture, even the rebels believed,
as Thoreau, Emerson and Whitman implicitly did, in something like God-given
authority. Authority, all agreed, derived from a system wherein God or Dad (or,
more often, both) was on top and you were on the bottom. And it was no joke.
Whatever else one might think of authority, it was not funny. But after one had
rewired one’s self with LSD, authority -- with its preening pomp, its
affection for ridiculous rituals of office, its fulsome grandiloquence, and
eventually, and sublimely, its tarantella around Mutually Assured Destruction
-- became hilarious to us and there wasn’t much we could do about it.
No matter how huge and fearsome the puppets, once one’s perceptions were
wiped clean enough by the psychedelic solvent to behold their strings and the
mechanical jerkiness of their behavior, it was hard to suppress the giggles.
Though our hilarity has since been leavened with tragedy, loss, and a more
appropriate sense of our own foolishness, we’re laughing still.
Birth of a
Psychedelic Culture is a saga of holy heroism. The people in it were like the
Lewis and Clark of the Mind. But it is also a cautionary tale and contained
within it is a lot of the real reason that America had such a visceral immune
reaction to our sudden, terrifying and transforming “Otherness” in the middle of
Before delightedly steering the train off its rails, we
were given a glimpse of grace and infinity. But like all that is utterly true,
the lightning was brief and the thunder rolls still. In the beginning for
me -- and for many of us -- there was the realization that religion
was mostly the creation of God in man’s own image. Just as Tim Leary became
furious at Catholicism shortly after hitting West Point, I bought a little Honda
motorcycle and found that my dopily consoling Mormonism couldn’t seem to ride
along. Like the maddeningly glib Dick Alpert -- and believe me, he was a
man of many words in those days -- I left monotheism for sex and velocity.
But there had been, even in a book as weird as the one the Angel Moroni
purportedly gave Joseph Smith ( Mark Twain called it “chloroform in print”), a
spark of something. It was not religion, but you could almost see it from there.
I sped around with a longing for the Spirit that seemed inaccessible until
sometime in 1964 when I read about the “Good Friday Experiment” in which, on
Good Friday of 1962, Walter Pahnke, Tim Leary and the two battle-scarred saints
of the Unnamable whose reminiscences you can read in the book (Ram Dass and
Ralph Metzner), had given psilocybin to some divinity students in Boston
University’s Marsh chapel and -- mirabile dictu! -- they fucking saw God or
something like It. And all because somebody gave them a pill.
people raised by hick kids in the mountains, I was a mystic without ever having
heard the word. If I could have a direct experience of The Thing Itself, without
all that regulatory obligation wrapped around it, I would become whole again.
After that, I read everything I could find about mystico-mimetic chemicals:
Gordon Wasson’s 1957 article for Life magazine about magic mushrooms, Aldous
Huxley’s Doors of Perception, Bill Burroughs’s Yage Letters, etc. I wanted a
piece of that communion wafer and so did a lot of other kids raised around the
dreary wasteland of American piety.
In the fall of 1965, I entered Wesleyan
University where both the man who was to become Ram Dass, as well as the man who
sheltered and then spurned the Harvard Psilocybin Project, Dave McClelland, had
taught shortly before. I knew about Leary, Alpert and Metzner and had my own
copy of The Psychedelic Experience. But I thought they were still at Harvard. I
was going to go find them.
Before I could get around to that pilgrimage, I
found myself at a Vassar mixer one late night in late 1965 and met a strangely
luminous Indian Brahmin fellow who stood apart. He asked me if I could give him
a ride to the “religious retreat” where he was staying not far from Poughkeepsie
and I agreed. So we wheeled around shiny narrow roads to Millbrook in a truly
Biblical downpour and the next thing I knew I was looking at the headquarters of
the Castalia Foundation.
He invited me in. I didn’t know who lived there.
Now, at that point, my heroes had not only been cast out of Harvard, but
paradise as well. Inside the house it was not such a pretty sight. The social
order had been whupped upside the head too many times already, but that didn’t
bother me. I had Forrest Gumped my way into the Temple of Delphi.
after that, I was fully enrolled in the Eastern Orthodox Church of LSD. A great
deal more could be said about my initiation and the adventures that followed,
but this is not about my long, strange trip. Besides, there are better stories
about the perception of mysterium tremendum and its effect upon mere mortals.
(Understanding the legend of Dr. Faustus might not be a bad start either. )
I will say that there was a night in late 1966, I think, when I rode a
motorcycle from Millbrook to Middletown during an ice storm and was, because of
the acid, convinced that I could no more leave the road than an electron could
escape the centerline of a linear accelerator. I will also say that by then I’d
switched my academic focus from physics to phenomenology with a particular focus
on Medieval Christian mystics like St. Theresa, St. John of the Cross, and
Meister Eckhart. I had a sign on my dorm room door displaying the following
formula: [picture of me] + [skeletal schematic representation of the LSD-25
molecule] = [ picture of the Buddha ].
The acid was working. What I didn’t
know then was that my best friend from prep school, a kid named Bob Weir, who
had been strangely incommunicado since shortly after he worked on my family’s
ranch, had been right next to another great fumarole of pharmaceutical
whacketydoodah, the Acid Tests. His little band, the Grateful Dead, had been
part of an experiment in mass hallucination which seemed, from our East Coast
view, to make Millbrook look like a Trappist monastery. It sounded to me like
what these West Coast people were doing was a particularly blasphemous form of
drug abuse, the spiritual equivalent of breaking into Chartres Cathedral and
getting drunk on the communion wine.
But, while we were looking down our
long patrician noses at these barbaric shenanigans, they were apparently
producing transformations similar to our own. Five years later, Hunter S.
Thompson recalled 1965 and 1966 in San Francisco like this (Fear and Loathing in
Las Vegas, pg 68):
"There was madness in any direction, at any hour … You
could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that
whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. And that, I think, was
the handle -- that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and
Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would
Yes. That seemed right. Even as we were dismantling the
monotheistic model of God as Abusive Father, we were assembling another
one -- in our own image of course -- more personally available through
mysticism and generally more immanent than the Previous Dude, but still inclined
to lend special sanction to the actions of a particular socio-political cohort
which, happily, turned out to be ours. God, or Something Like It, was on our
side this time. The fact that God might turn up looking like a fat guy with an
elephant head or as an aperture into pure, spirit-scalding Light, or even as
Michael Hollingshead on a bad day, didn’t matter to us. The Apocalypse was nigh.
The Age of Aquarius had dawned, and God was no longer in his Heaven but getting
down, right there inside of us and our holy pills.
By spring of 1967, Leary,
Alpert, and Metzner had already started to feel the arrogance of this premise.
All three had gone to India and two had come limping back. Personally, I was
still accelerating into the radiant fog, and so was a large percentage of my
swollen generational demographic.
The Gathering of the Tribes had taken
place in Golden Gate Park in January of that year. Leary and Allen Ginsberg had
turned up there along with the international press, and the coastal schism in
the Church of Acid had been officially healed. Somewhere in there, Time magazine
ran a cover story on “The Hippies.” A more attentive cultural observer than I
would have known by that sign that we’d reached our high-water mark. Whatever my
earlier misgivings about the Acid Tests, I had learned by then that my dear Weir
had been part of this heresy.
I was tickled to hear that the Grateful Dead
were going to play their first New York gig at a Bleecker Street disco called
the Cafe Au GoGo in June. Early June 1967 was a mighty time, the reverberations
of which are now as ubiquitous in American cultural history as is the Big Bang
in the rest of the universe. As I remember it, the Dead played on June 6th. The
Six Day war had broken out the day before. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
had been released five days before, as had the Grateful Dead’s eponymous first
record. I had helped make arrangements to take the Dead up to Millbrook the day
After the show, which was kind of forgettable, Weir and I wandered
over to Washington Square Arch and were trying to debrief one another. It was
steady work. It wasn’t obvious that he had entirely passed the Acid Test. His
eyes were all pupil, it seemed. He had the longest hair I’d ever seen on a human
with a penis. And he’d become a fellow of very few words.
While we were
struggling with the acquisition of a common language, a pale green Ford Falcon
station wagon leapt the curb fifteen feet away and, like evil clowns emerging in
platoon strength from a tiny circus car, some ten Long Island toughs poured out
of it and headed toward us. You could see with one eye that they weren’t from
our side of a culture war that had already gotten ugly in America. Like T cells
in jackboots, they took us for antigens and meant us harm. As they were
circling, Weir looked up and said mildly, “ You know, I sense violence in you
guys, and whenever I feel it in myself, there’s a song I like to sing.” ( And
I’m thinking, “??!” ) All of a sudden he’s chanting “Hare Krishna,” and what
with my wondering ears should I hear but the toughs singing along. For about
fifteen seconds. And then they beat the crap outof us.
So, as I drove my 550
horsepower Chevy Super Sport up the Taconic to Millbrook the next day, both
Bobby and I looked like Wiley Coyote after a bad run-in with an Acme product.
Also on board was a girl named Bos ( over whom I was totally goofy at the time),
Phil Lesh, and Frank Zappa’s star chick singer, a hot number who called herself
Uncle Meat. We listened to war news from the Holy Land on the radio and we had
on board a copy of Sgt. Pepper’s, which I’d bought on the way out of town and
which none of us had heard yet.
I was trying to explain to my inamorata Bos,
both of whose parents were Jewish psychiatrists, why I felt so moved by St. John
of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul. It was a moment in the ‘60s, that day
was. When we got to the Hitchcock Mansion, it was pretty clear that whatever
else the charming Dr. Leary was trying to tell the world, housekeeping tips were
not being integrated into it.
Few of the regulars remained. Ralph, Tim, and
even Michael Hollingshead had reached a point the year before when they’d found
Dr. Alpert’s manias so alarming that they’d sent him packing off to India.
(Where he was, by this time, already in a dhoti and well on his way to becoming
Baba Ram Dass. He dropped the Baba as soon as the wisdom actually kicked in.)
That night we all gathered in the second floor library and, with
ecclesiastical ceremony, we put on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Nobody
said a word while the record played. Many of us couldn’t have if we’d wanted to.
I was so high I could taste the music and found the purple notes a little hard
to chew. When the London Philharmonic’s last cacophonous notes trailed out of “A
Day in the Life,” there was a portentous silence and … Timmy intoned solemnly,
“My work is complete.”
Little did he know how right and how wrong he was. I
say this because while he and the rest of us crazy angels had truly delivered
some form of apocalypse, it could not actually take effect in a couple of years
or even a couple of generations. No revelation so culturally shattering was
going to be universally accepted overnight. No generation that called itself now
was going to find lengthy evolution palatable, but that was what was on our
Yes, the Beatles had dropped acid and the whole world had
noticed, but not everyone was pleased. The Empire was about to strike back.
Moreover, we had, with our giddy carnival frenzies and darker madnesses soon to
come, sown the seeds of our own disaster. There was a moment in the fall of 1967
that I myself became convinced, with passionate intensity, that we were that
“rough beast” Yeats had described. We were leading society into such a quagmire
of narcissistic, self-reaffirming subjectivism that if we continued to “Storm
Heaven,” as Jay Stevens put it, little of what might be a reasonable basis for
polity or even what passes for civilization would survive our selfindulgence.
I went unhinged. I became psychotic and grandiose and decided to become what
would have been America’s first suicide bomber. I was prepared to sound a
warning with my own spattered flesh and that of innocent others. I would be the
admonition on the front page of every paper that would slow the juggernaut of
hideous Truth. I had the means and the moment. Fortunately, praise Providence, I
was found out and stopped forty-five minutes short of my own vile apocalypse. I
lived on Thorazine for a while after that. But my intended mission attracted
other willing soldiers. In my stead, we got Charlie Manson and Altamont. We got
the behavioral sink of the long autumn that followed the Summer of Love. We got
the Chicago Democratic Convention, the Weather Underground, the Symbionese
Liberation Front, the communes that turned into rural slums overnight.
we got was the Bill. Hunter S. Thompson put it very harshly but with some
accuracy a few years later in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (pgs 178-179): "All
those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and
Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours, too.
What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style
that he helped to create … a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers,
who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the
desperate assumption that somebody … or at least some force -- is tending the
light at the end of the tunnel.
Who can blame the Rotarians of America for
being alarmed? We became terrifying enough to scare ourselves. The Babbitry came
down with a not ill-considered immune response that, however draconian its
methods, was nevertheless their Apollonian duty just as appropriately as the
creation of Dionysian chaos had seemed to be ours. But perhaps even more
unsettling to the Powers That Had Been was the fact that, as I mentioned
earlier, in addition to calling into question their version of God-given
authority, we now found them amusing.
Since there is nothing authority hates
worse than being laughed at, the authorities resolved to make themselves even
less funny. The harder the acid heads laughed, the more bellicose, pig-headed,
and, well … authoritarian the Powers became. And thus, instead of a quick
abdication by the cultural forces that had been in charge of Western
“Civilization” for two thousand years and a peaceful transfer of power to the
laughing Aquarians, there commenced the forty year Mexican standoff that I call
the War Between the Fifties and the Sixties.
Of course, this conflict had a
lot of other names along the way, most of them delicious with the kind of dark
irony it takes an acidhead to properly savor. There was the Viet Nam War, the
War on Poverty, The War on Terror, both Wars on Iraq, and throughout, interwoven
into every inch ofAmerican life, there was the War on ( Some ) Drugs. There was
also, implicitly, the War on the Bill of Rights.
Whatever its other depraved
social consequences -- the millions jailed, the military dead and maimed,
the deceit and denial at all levels of American society, particularly within the
nuclear family -- the War Between the Fifties and the Sixties endowed us
with a golden age of irony. If you didn’t have a sense of irony, you were
missing most of the fun, and, um, ironically, just about the only Americans who
did have one were the acid heads. This created yet another badly hung loop as
various iterations of “We had to destroy the village in order to save it”
concatenated through the culture and, once again, we were the only ones
And then, lest we forget, throughout much of this period, and
scarcely mentioned by anybody, acid head or Republican Whip, was the greatest
surreality of all: the almost universal belief that somewhere and some time
soon, someone would foul up and launch the nuclear storm thatwould glaze the
planet with our elemental constituents. And if you couldn’t laugh at that, what
could you laugh at?
Now, it seems many of these horrors may be consigned to
the history of a future that never happened. While new horrors surely await us,
very few still believe we’re likely to go “toe-to-toe with the Russkies” in
nuclear combat as Slim Pickens put it in one of the most immortal lines of the
Better still, the worst of the authoritarian prigs have so
magnificently shot their wad during eight long years of Cheney/Bush that only
those savagely beaten by their own fathers or the clergy support them now.
Aside from the coming kerfuffle over war crimes indictments and ongoing
skirmishes along the Mason-Dixon Line, the War Between the Fifties and the
Sixties may be finally drawing to an end. Indeed, as I write these words, the
President of the United States, in addition to being black and self-admittedly
smart and well-educated, strikes me as a fellow who probably dropped acid at
some point. At the least, when asked if he “inhaled,” he replied, “I thought
that was the point.”
Now that the worst of it may be over, perhaps it may
become possible for various members of Congress, federal judges, ranked military
officers, prominent clergy, and captains of industry -- aside from the
peculiarly honest Steve Jobs -- to do as most of these, had they been brave
enough, ought to have done decades ago and say in public: There was a moment,
years ago, when I took LSD. And, whatever the immediate consequences, it made me
a different person than I would have been and different in ways I have been
grateful for all this time.
That would be a mighty moment. Those who still
live are all now older and wiser than we were in those literally heady days, and
we may finally be ready to tell such truths without setting off another round of
Ram Dass has come a long way along the path of the profound since
I first met him as the maddeningly manipulative Dick Alpert. Indeed, at one
point some years ago, I was having dinner with him and confessed to a moral
dilemma that I was having a hard time teasing apart. I can’t even remember what
it was now, but he cut through it snickety-snack, like a sword through the
Gordian Knot, with a few well chosenwords.“That’s the problem with you, man,” I
said, and continued with a concession I would not have made even to Baba Ram
Dass, who turned up first at Wesleyan when he returned from India, still pretty
full of self-promoting nonsense, “You’re just a lot wiser than I am.” His eyes
narrowed. “Don’t you lay that wisdom shit on me, Barlow,” he retorted, thereby
defeating his own argument with its refutation.