Podcast 183 – “What Are Humans For?”


Guest speaker: Dr. Timothy Leary


[NOTE: All quotations below are by Timothy Leary.]

“The people who were teaching us about consciousness-expanding drugs were people like Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, even Henry Luce, the respectable conservative founder of ‘Time’ magazine. There was a large group of thoughtful people who told us that the doors of perception were going to open and an avalanche of change would happen.”

“Harvard is there to train Ivy Leaguers to go to Washington and Wall Street and keep the wasp establishment going. They’re not supposed to be turning out new Buddhas and a new brand of science fiction neuronaughts.”

Leon Tabory, Bruce Damer, & Allen Lundell“The history of America is the history of those of us that belong to this wonderful brotherhood and sisterhood of avant-garde inner voyagers. We believe that we’re the American tradition. And so we really weren’t that surprised when the thing exploded in the Sixties. That’s what we’d signed up for.”

“I personally now feel that the concept of generation, the generation you belong to, is one of the most important things in your life, because you’re going to be swimming like a school of fish in this school of your own generation.”

“It’s so simple, too. If you want to change, it’s geography, just move to the place different people hang out, and listen.”

“I see very clearly that the age of the people you hang out with determines your age. … Generations are temporal units, and you can jump generations, you can migrate. And how do you migrate from one generation to another? It’s time travel, just hang out with people of different ages.”

“What are humans for? We’re not here to fight Communism. We’re not here to fight for a job. If we don’t do that any more, what are we for? Well the answer to that is, the function of the human being is to evolve, to grow, to become more intelligent, to become a more advanced form of our species.”


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One Comment

  1. Comments from original blog page: http://www.matrixmasters.net/blogs/?p=1199

    Ahhh…trouble sleeping, 4am…roll out of bed, roll one up, and listen to Tim Leary answer the same old questions, very nice…

    And though he is answering similar questions, I was pleased at how reflective and considered Tim seems here. I find it much better than the talks given in front of large audiences – he doesn’t go for as many laughs, doesn’t try to shock too much, doesn’t play as a clown as much.

    I found it interesting to think about my own “imprints,” in terms of my own adolescent experiences. I am only 23, and so being a teenager is not very far away, but already I can see how these years have shaped how I react to things, my virtues, my vices, my interests, my passions…and I am sure as I get “further away,” the importance of those formative years will become all the more clear.

    Of course it’s also significant to me that I had my first meeting with psilocybin a week after my high school graduation…a definite imprint there.

    Anyway, thanks Lorenzo, for this one…first Leary recording I’ve enjoyed in a while. Usually I prefer his writing.

    One of the best Tim Leary talks I ever heard. He just seems so ‘reasonable’ here. A great and indeed realistic mind he had!

    As per Tim’s comments about what will be remembered in history it’s already happening. See some of the new books on the history here. What an ode to PsYchedelics & Tantra!

    Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
    by Jeffrey J. Kripal

    Amazon reviews
    Book excerpt -“Totally on Fire”
    The Experience of Founding Esalen

    Then there is the 3 or so books on the West Coast culture of Silicon Valley, sort of the From LSD to the iPod/iPhone culture. Mixed in with The Pentagon’s DARPA and the Anti-War Viet-Nam culture….

    John Markoff’s

    Author of “What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computing Revolution.”

    or the most important lsd trip of Stewart Brand and getting the first photos of the Whole Earth.
    From Counterculture to Cyberculture
    Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism by Fred Turner
    Why are they always looking for a non-drug way to change brains? It’s always going to be a metabolic chemical change and why not just go straight to chemistry? Duh?!

    A TED talk that synchronictically meshes with this talk was released yesterday by Seth Godin called “Why tribes, not money or factories, will change the world”. I just listened to these in a row and I think it’s pointing toward the same concept… individual empowerment of collective intelligence. To me it seems that the old up-down pyramid of “progress” is evolving into more of an in-out effect.


    Keep it surreal saloners.

    Thanks for the heads-up on the Seth Godin talk, 7thDirection. And good point about the in-out effect. One thing that is interesting about this tribe talk is that it seems like membership can be pretty fluid–a big step-up from the archaic tribalism I often envision (probably wrongly) when I’m hearing McKenna.

    There’s a lot of personality types, though, and I think some of us might be less interested in the tribe stuff than others are. I like to think that, if I’m taking part in a discussion, or helping with a cause, or reading a book, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m in a tribe. Perhaps the slightly more introverted among us could get by in society-at-large without having to organize a tribe for ourselves. 😉

    Well, I think there is more to this tribe concept than simply the physical equivalent. People who think/feel a certain way about certain things are sharing that memetic concept through their lives all the time and don’t necessarily need to have a group around them all the time to spread the word. I’m an introvert myself and I think when I talk to people is when those minor changes work their way through people into something bigger than I could ever be.

    Yeah, you’re right. I am taking part in an interest group/tribe just by discussing these podcasts, and making the (all-too-rare) donation. I certainly do, from time to time, end up passing on memes that I’ve picked up from some of the great speakers on these Salon podcasts. Having a sense of “community” helps to pool info that interested parties might want to hunt down.

    But I’d rather not see some traditional aspects of the physical equivalent of tribalism (internal power politics, herd behavior, opinions about loyalty, and potential disagreements about the scope of the tribe’s concerns) work their way in, justified by their past association with the word “tribe”. The tech behind this networking is constantly evolving, and let’s be careful that control freaks don’t get carried away.

    Martin Otto
    What I remember as a highlight of this podcast is how the turn from industry to information society allows for the inner journey, expansion of consciousness, personal development, etc. This turn relates to the postmodern turn. The Reagan government surely serves as a strong reminder of what the condition of industrial modernity is all about. Irreverence to authority is what I consider a supreme expression.

    @Martin … re: “Irreverence to authority is what I consider a supreme expression.”

    That is spot on!!! … Very well said.

    Looking into Dr. Timothy Leary « Wake Me Now
    […] on to another Timothy Leary podcast on Psychedelic Salon titled “What Are Humans For?”: http://www.matrixmasters.net/blogs/?p=1199 Trying to give this guy a fair listening. He sounds much more sober in this audio […]

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