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Friday, October 11, 2013

RAW at the New York Public Library's Timothy Leary archive

I have been trying to figure out how much Robert Anton Wilson material is available in the new Timothy Leary archives section of the New York Public Library. I have a pretty good answer to that question now: A lot.

Thomas Lannon, assistant curator, kindly responded to my inquiry and sent me a list of materials, noting that his itemization represents only part of the RAW material that is available. Below is from his email to me; more on this as it becomes available.

From Thomas Lannon's email to

Here are few areas where Wilson appears in the collection.

  • Robert Anton Wilson and Leary began a correspondence while Leary was in Jail circa 1974. They then corresponded throughout the 1980s and 1990s until Leary's death. I have not found the earliest piece of correspondence, but it might be around 1974.
  • In addition to the paper correspondence (1970s-1990s), staff at the Library have preserved digital disks in the Leary papers. There are over 100 electronic documents indexed with the name "Robert Anton Wilson." These include mostly writings, but are also drafts of material sent via fax between Leary and Wilson.
  • While Leary was in jail, Wilson was co-founder of the "DNA Society" in December 16, 1974 along with Robert Reid Newport and Carol Frances Tickner. The DNA Society’s purpose was to promote scientific research in life extension, space exploration, and neurological studies.
  • 1975, Wilson co-wrote "Periodic Table of Energy" published in the Berkeley Barb, original manuscript still owned by Joanna Harcourt-Smith
  • 1976, Wilson wrote the preface to "What Does WoMan Want?"
  • 1976, "Leary Trades Drugs for Space Colonies" Wilson interviews Leary in the Berkeley Barb. There are few other pieces Wilson did about Leary in the Barb.
  • 1977 Wilson co-wrote "Neuropolitics: The Sociobiology of Human Metamorphosis" with Leary and George A. Koopman. Wilson co-authored Chapters 13, 16 and 17.
  • Virtual reality projects. In the 1980s and early 1990s Leary was interested in virtual reality. R. A. Wilson shared this interest and the two worked together on unrealized projects. There is material from the early 1990 documenting a demonstration of the Nintendo Power Glove with Robert Anton Wilson.


Eric Wagner said...

Great work. I look forward to seeing these pieces. This slightly echoes the web researches in the new Pynchon novel.

michael said...

Wow! Great work, Jackson!

I can't wait to see some of this stuff. RAW first met Leary in person at Millbrook, is what my research tells me.

RAW seems to have taken great pains to try to stay in touch with Leary after Tim disappeared into the California gulag archipelago.