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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Who said this?

Here's a quote from a 1977 interview, in Reason magazine, from a self-style libertarian ("At a political level I'm very much a libertarian.") See if you can guess who said this:

"The great enemy is gravity. The way out is levity. And we are physically and biologically going to do everything we can to leave this planet and we're going to live forever ... or die trying."

If you guess Robert Anton Wilson, you're wrong. It's Jeff Riggenbach's interview with Timothy Leary, which ran in Reason's April 1977 issue. But it sure sound like statements Wilson made many times, and for me it underscores the influence Leary had on Wilson's thought.

Jesse Walker kindly supplied me with a copy of the interview. When I remarked on the above passage, Walker responded, "A fair amount of Wilson's writing amounts to popularizing Leary's ideas (often explaining them better than Leary does). On the other hand, I suspect that with a lot of Leary's post-prison political commentary, the influence went in the other direction."

I still don't know a lot about Leary, but did he notice, perhaps, that when he got into trouble over drugs, it was the libertarians who sided with him against the state?

Riggenbach recently posted an article about Leary and Thomas Szasz.

About the Leary interview, Riggenbach wrote, "When this interview ran in Reason in April of 1977, it created a bit of controversy within the libertarian movement and got Leary invited to deliver the keynote speech at the 1977 national convention of the Libertarian Party, which was held in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend of that year. I was asked to introduce Leary to the assembled multitude, which I did. Leary stressed his personal commitment to libertarian ideas once again.

"He seems to have still felt that way a decade later. For in 1988, he held a fundraiser in Los Angeles for LP presidential candidate Ron Paul. And in 1993, only a few years before his death, when he wrote an Introduction to a new edition of his 1968 book The Politics of Ecstasy, he listed 'libertarianism' as one suggested name for what he called the 'new, post-political society' that he believed 'the Sixties revolution created — and continues to create' in this country. In the original edition of the book, the word "libertarian" hadn't appeared — but then, it was rather infrequently used in the America of 1968."


Jason said...

Are you going to post that interview here? It would make very many people very happy if you did...!

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

I'm a little nervous about copyright issues, but you (or anyone else) can email me and I'll pass along a copy.