The Harvard Psychedelic Club – Don Lattin


“In the winter of 1960-61, when their lives began to overlap in Cambridge, Mass., Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, Andrew Weil and Huston Smith resembled tweedy extras from ‘Mad Men.’ These future psychedelic pioneers were still buttoned-down intellectuals and careerists, men who leaned more toward martinis than marijuana. Leary and Mr. Alpert (soon to be known as Ram Dass) taught in Harvard’s department of social relations. Leary was a charismatic West Point dropout with a Ph.D. from Berkeley. Mr. Alpert was a brilliant lecturer — later in ‘The Harvard Psychedelic Club’, Don Lattin compares him to ‘a psychedelic Mort Sahl’ — and a closeted gay man whose father was president of the New Haven Railroad. Mr. Weil was a chubby Harvard freshman with an interest in botany. (He’d ultimately write his undergraduate thesis on ‘The Use of Nutmeg as a Psychotropic Agent.’) Mr. Smith, for his part, was a professor of Asian philosophy at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the author of a soon-to-be-classic book called ‘The Religions of Man.’ He had subtly blown America’s mind in 1955 when, while hosting a sober public television series about the world’s religions, he climbed onto a desk while discussing the Bhagavad Gita and casually assumed the lotus position. In this rollicking if lightweight group biography, Mr. Lattin does a lovely, gently humorous job of setting this scene and bringing these men together. The earliest years of the 1960s were a heady time to be in and around Harvard. John F. Kennedy, a Harvard graduate newly installed in the White House, was cherry-picking his cabinet from the faculty. And, thanks to Leary, heady things of a different sort were brewing, too. In the fall of 1960 he had returned to Cambridge after ingesting psilocybin mushrooms in Mexico, an occasion he called ‘the deepest religious experience of my life.’ He began to spread the word. …”
NY Times: Tune In, Turn On, Turn Page (2010)
The mind-expanding ‘Harvard Psychedelic Club’ by Don Lattin
amazon


Ram Dass (Richard Alpert)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Books, LSD, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts, Timothy Leary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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