Interview with Dr. Timothy Leary, September 1995


Full text of Interview with Dr. Timothy Leary

An interview by Russell D. Hoffman on his radio show HIGH TECH TODAY.

The following interview occurred on a live broadcast on radio station WALE. The views expressed are solely those of Russell D. Hoffman and his guest and do not necessarily reflect anyone else's point of view.

Due to a variety of minor difficulties I was only able to introduce Dr. Leary and ask one question. Prior to his appearance on the show I read from his book Chaos and Cyberculture. This interview picks up where he comes on the show. Unfortunately once he got there, we lost him again after the first break!

I talked to Dr. Leary after the show, and we had hoped to re-interview him, but on May 31st, 1996 he died at the age of 75, of prostate cancer.

Plans call for a small portion of Dr. Leary's and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's ashes to be encapsulated in a lipstick-sized container and piggybacked on the final stage of a launch vehicle in the fall of 1996. Although I have protested the intentional and unintentional creation of space debris many times, I want to point out that these ashes will be going on a brief, temporary journey to the lower reaches of space, and will then fall back to earth and be burned up in the atmosphere on reentry. I do not see this as a problem and it is a fitting tribute to these gentlemen. For more information, please visit Celestis Inc., of Houston, Texas.

September 8th, 1995

Russell Hoffman ("Host"), High Tech Today
Dr. Timothy Leary ("TL"), guest.

Host: ... And, I've just been informed Dr. Leary has arrived, and so I will welcome him to the show. Dr. Leary is a philosopher, psychologist, technologist and futurist, to name but a few of his many areas of interest and influence.

A former Harvard University professor, by the end of the late sixties Dr. Leary was without doubt, one of the most important cultural icons of the day. His efforts to expand individual conciousness and freedom of thought are a legacy unmatched. One of the first people to study the positive effects of altering reality, these days Dr. Leary spends a lot of his time in the cyber world of virtual reality, using the Internet and discussing information dissemination via computers.

He recently completed a new book called Chaos and CyberCulture, which we were just reading from. And, Dr. Leary, I'd like to welcome you to High Tech Today!

TL: Well, I'm always happy to be in touch with Providence. Providence is one of my favorite cities. I grew up in Massachusettes and we--I always felt Providence was a way to escape from Massachusettes where I'm still a futive but, I'm glad to be talking to Providence.

Host: And, you're listening to High Tech Today--

TL: Could you talk a little louder, you're not coming through very clear.

Host: Your listening to High Tech Today, and my Guest is Dr. Timothy Leary. Dr. Leary, we've been reading from your new book, Chaos and CyberCulture, which is a wonderful book, I've been enjoying thumbing through it and--

TL: Did I write that stuff you were just reading?

Host: That's what I was reading, yeah!

TL: My god, I thought that was great! (Laughs) I was hoping it was somebody else that wrote it!

Host: Well, I'm sorry! But it is great!

TL: (Both laugh)

Host: I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about the dissemination of information. I think that that's really something that only the philosophers right now can possibly give us a clue as to what's going to happen in the next ten years or a hundred years. How are we going to for example, avoid the waste of time from broadcast junk email and unsolicited faxes, and intrusive phone calls. How are we going to stop, when a thousand people have a thousand cameras aimed at a thousand intersections in a thousand nameless cities, how are we going to find something interesting?

TL: Well, at the beginning of any new information culture--a new media comes along and it just moves human intelligence up so we can deal with our realities. Like the book. Before the book, most people couldn't even write and suddenly, it went out of control. Is it really going to be? There are more and more books, there are libraries, books books books, popular books. How can we deal with the fact that in our little city we have, like ten million books?

(Sarcastically) It's a problem.

You know--indexing, and you have to work around in the files a little bit but, I mean, you know--everyone knows how to operate a library. Boom Boom Boom Boom, you've got three books you want.

Yeah--I'm delighted that there's this chaotic jumble and over-over-overload of information because-we can handle it! We've got to jack up, and speed up our own accelerators and brain--brain accelerators to do it.

I know you can do it in Providence. Of course, 'aid' is a very important thing.

Host: Okay. We're going to have to take a break. It's our last break before the end of the show. We'll be right back.

TL: Call me back because I'm going to change lines, okay?

Unfortunately that turned out to be the end of the interview. There were about eight minutes left of the show and I read selected excerpts from his book again.

Immediately after the show I called Dr. Leary, to apologize for loosing him during the show, of course. I mentioned that I found the comments in Chaos and Cyberculture about getting "letters to the editor" published very interesting, because like him I have made a study of the successes and failures of various strategies of getting letters published. He had found that using a pen name worked remarkably well, but using "Timothy Leary" didn't do so good, especially on mundane matters where he wishes to be just a average citizen speaking his piece.

I told him I personally had a very high publication rate, which is probably over 80%, I think, if you don't count those which I write knowing full well the editor won't publish it. That's close to 200 letters to various magazines published over a twenty year's span. His response is one I'll certainly treasure: "Wow! You're my hero!"

See our interview with Dr. Clifford Stoll for a somewhat related opinion to the things Dr. Leary talked about here.

Related Material Outside this Web Site:

You can still visit Dr. Leary's home page in Cyberspace.

If you enjoyed this interview, here's others
Interview by Russell D. Hoffman
The host would like to add the following to this electronically-circulated World Wide Web Internet Page:

Please distribute this document IN ITS ENTIRETY (as a raw HTML file or printed document). Please link to it rather than placing it on another server. Thank you.

Table of Contents

The Animated Software Company
Mail to:
Last modified March 27th, 1997.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman