Remarks on Timothy Leary’s Politics of Ecstasy by Allen Ginsberg (December 12, 1968)


“By the late ’40s of this memory Century the people I knew best and loved the most had already broken through the crust of old Reason & were dowsing for some Supreme Reality, Christmas on Earth Rimbaud said, Second Religiousness according to Spengler’s outline of civilization declining through proliferation of non-human therefore boring technology; Blake had called ‘O Earth O Earth return!’ centuries before, echoing the ancient gnostic prophecy that Whitman spelled out for America specifically demanding that the Steam-engine ‘be confronted and met by at least equally subtle and tremendous force-infusion for purposes of spiritualization, for the pure conscience, for genuine aesthetics, and for absolute and primal manliness and womanliness —’ Ezra Pound’s mind jumped to diagnose the dimming of the world’s third Eye: ‘With Usura the line grows thick.’ One scholar who transmitted Blake’s kabbalah, S. Foster Damon, can remember his sudden vision of tiny flowers carpeting Harvard Yard violet before World War One, an image that lingers over 60 years in mind since his fellow student Virgil Thomson gave him the cactus Peyote to eat. Damon concludes that rare beings like Blake are born with physiologic gift of such vision, continuous or intermittent. William James, whose pragmatic magic probably called the Peyote God to Harvard in the first place, had included shamanistic chemical visions among the many authentic ‘Varieties of Religious Experience.’ His student Gertrude Stein experimented in alteration of consciousness through mindfulness of language, an extremely effective Yoga since mechanical reproduction of language by XX Century had made language the dominant vehicle of civilized consciousness; her companion Alice B. Toklas contributed a cookbook recipe for Hashish Brownies to enlighten those persons over-talkative in drawing rooms unaware that ‘the medium is the message.’ This synchronism is exquisite: William S. Burroughs also once of Harvard shared Miss Stein’s mindfulness of the hypnotic drug-like power of language, and collaborated on cut-up rearrangement of stereotyped language forms with friend Brion Gysin, who had originally given Miss Toklas the recipe for her famous Brownies. Burroughs among others had begun experiments with drug-shamanism after World War Two — for the author of ‘Naked Lunch’ it was a pragmatic extension of his Cambridge interest in linguistic Anthropology. …”
Voice
NY Times: Tune In, Turn On, Turn Page (Jan. 2010), amazon: The Harvard Psychedelic Club
[PDF] The Politics of Ecstasy by Timothy Leary

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This entry was posted in Alan Watts, Allen Ginsberg, Books, Burroughs, Hippie, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, LSD, Marijuana, Poetry, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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