The good Lord—or maybe it was natural selection, but, when you look at the outcome, how plausible is that, really?—gave us, in addition to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field, the fantastic variety of fungi with which we share this awesome planet: yeasts, rusts, mildews, mushrooms, and molds. Among them is ergot, a fungus that destroys cereal grasses, particularly rye, and that, when eaten, can cause hallucinations. Ergot is the natural source of lysergic acid, from which lysergic acid diethylamide is readily synthesized—LSD. What purpose, divine or adaptive, this substance might serve was once the subject of a learned debate that engaged scientists, government officials, psychiatrists, intellectuals, and a few gold-plated egomaniacs. Timothy Leary was one of the egomaniacs.
Leary belonged to what we reverently refer to as the Greatest Generation, that cohort of Americans who eluded most of the deprivations of the Depression, grew fat in the affluence of the postwar years, and then preached hedonism and truancy to the baby-boom generation, which has taken the blame ever since. Great Ones, we salute you! Leary was born in 1920, in Springfield, Massachusetts, which is also the home town of Dr. Seuss, of whose most famous creation Leary was in many respects the human analogue—a grinning, charismatic, completely irresponsible Lord of Misrule. Leary’s father was a dentist whose career was ruined by alcoholism; he abandoned the family in 1934, ending up as a steward in the merchant marine. Leary’s mother was a fierce guardian of her son’s interests, which required a considerable amount of guarding. Leary was intelligent, and he did not lack ambition, but—as Robert Greenfield meticulously documents in his exhaustive biography, “Timothy Leary” (Harcourt; $28)—his education was a game of chutes and ladders: Holy Cross (where he came near to flunking out after two years), West Point (from which he was obliged to withdraw after being charged with a violation of the honor code), the University of Alabama (from which he was expelled for spending a night in the women’s dorm), the University of Illinois (from which he was drafted into the Army, where he served in a clinic for the rehabilitation of the deaf, in Pennsylvania), Alabama again (which he talked his way back into and from which he finally graduated, by taking correspondence courses), Washington State University (where he got a master’s degree), and, with the help of the G.I. Bill (a welfare fund for Great Ones), Berkeley, from which, now married and with two children, he received a Ph.D. in psychology, in 1950.
There was no more opportune moment to become a psychologist. Psychology in the nineteen-fifties played the role for many people that genetics does today. “It’s all in your head” has the same appeal as “It’s all in the genes”: an explanation for the way things are that does not threaten the way things are. Why should someone feel unhappy or engage in antisocial behavior when that person is living in the freest and most prosperous nation on earth? It can’t be the system! There must be a flaw in the wiring somewhere. So the postwar years were a slack time for political activism and a boom time for psychiatry. The National Institute of Mental Health, founded in 1946, became the fastest-growing of the seven divisions of the National Institutes of Health, awarding psychologists grants to study problems like alcoholism, juvenile delinquency, and television violence. Ego psychology, a therapy aimed at helping people adapt and adjust, was the dominant school in American psychoanalysis. By 1955, half of the hospital beds in the United States were occupied by patients diagnosed as mentally ill.
The belief that deviance and dissent could be “cured” by a little psychiatric social work (“This boy don’t need a judge—he needs an analyst’s care!”) is consistent with our retrospective sense of the nineteen-fifties as an age of conformity. The darker version—argued, for example, by Eli Zaretsky in his valuable cultural history of psychoanalysis, “Secrets of the Soul”—is that psychiatry became one of the instruments of soft coercion which liberal societies use to keep their citizens in line. But, as Zaretsky also points out, leading critics of conformity and normalcy—Herbert Marcuse, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, Norman O. Brown, Paul Goodman, Wilhelm Reich—thought that it was all in the head, too. For them, normalcy was the neurosis, for which they prescribed various means of personal liberation, from better drugs to better orgasms. In the early years of the Cold War, personal radicalism, revolution in the head and in the bed, was the safer radicalism. The political kind could get you blacklisted.
Leary spent the first part of his career doing normative psychology, the work of assessment, measurement, and control; he spent the second as one of the leading proselytizers of alternative psychology, the pop psychology of consciousness expansion and nonconformity. But one enterprise was the flip side of the other, and Greenfield’s conclusion, somewhat sorrowfully reached, is that Leary was never serious about either. The only things Leary was serious about were pleasure and renown. He underwent no fundamental transformation when he left the academic world for the counterculture. He liked women, he liked being the center of attention, and he liked to get high. He simply changed the means of intoxication. Like many people in those days, he started out on Burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff.
The popular conception of Leary is that he was a distinguished academic who went off the deep end, a Harvard professor who blew his mind. For obvious reasons, this account suited Leary, and even Greenfield refers to him repeatedly as a Harvard professor (as does the Columbia Encyclopædia). Leary did teach at Harvard, but was not a professor. He began his career at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Oakland, where he was the director of clinical research and psychology. His early work involved personality tests; his first book, “The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality,” came out in 1957. It was a success, but, Greenfield says, some of Leary’s colleagues felt that he had failed to credit their research. Even then, he seems to have been blessed with an incapacity for shame, a gift for which he had many occasions to be thankful.
Leary had already had a bad run of personal troubles. His first wife had committed suicide on his thirty-fifth birthday. (When she complained, during a night of heavy drinking, about his having a mistress, he is supposed to have said, “That’s your problem.”) Leary then married the mistress, but, soon afterward, he struck her, the landlady called the cops, and the marriage ended. In 1956, Leary’s father, with whom he had just reconnected, died, destitute, in New York City. Soon after, a former faculty adviser, a married man with whom Greenfield believes Leary was having a sexual affair, was arrested while cruising a public men’s room, and Leary had a nervous breakdown. He travelled to Europe, where he met David McClelland, the director of the Center for Personality Research at Harvard, who was on a sabbatical. McClelland was trying to start a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology, and, impressed by Leary’s charm and intelligence, he offered him a lectureship for the 1959-60 academic year. Leary accepted, and moved to Cambridge. At the end of the year, McClelland advised him to cultivate a less cavalier notion of science, but he renewed Leary’s appointment. That summer, Leary went to Mexico, and there, for the first time, he ate some “magic mushrooms.” He found the experience entirely enchanting, and when he returned to Cambridge he set up, with McClelland’s approval, the Harvard Psychedelic Project.
The hallucinogen obtained from Mexican mushrooms is psilocybin, and in 1960 psilocybin was not illegal. Neither was LSD, which Leary tried for the first time in late 1961. Both were manufactured by Sandoz Laboratories, in Switzerland, and were readily available to researchers. It seemed to almost everyone who encountered them that substances so potent must have a use. Hence the Harvard project, a latecomer to organized efforts to determine what God had in mind when he designed those curious fungi.
The great hippie drug was introduced into American life by the suits: the medical profession and the federal government. Beginning in the early nineteen-fifties, the military and the C.I.A. had hopes that LSD could serve as either a truth serum or an instrument of mind control, and, according to Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain’s history of the drug, “Acid Dreams,” they used it often, both operationally, during interrogations, and experimentally, frequently with unwitting subjects. Clinical psychologists (many funded by government agencies) regarded psychedelics as psychotomimetics: their effects appeared to mimic psychotic states, and they were used to study psychosis and schizophrenia.
LSD was also administered to alcoholics, drug addicts, and patients with emotional blockages. The most famous of these patients was Cary Grant, who took LSD under the supervision of a psychiatrist. “All my life, I’ve been searching for peace of mind,” Grant said. “Nothing really seemed to give me what I wanted until this treatment.” Allen Ginsberg was introduced to LSD at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, in 1959, where his responses were measured by a team of doctors as part of a federally funded research program. Ginsberg eventually became one of the chief publicists for LSD, along with Ken Kesey, who first used it at the Veterans Hospital in Menlo Park, in 1960, where, in another federally funded program, he was paid seventy-five dollars a day to ingest hallucinogens. The experience led to Kesey’s first novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and, later on, to the Merry Pranksters, the subject of Tom Wolfe’s book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” (Wolfe, who reluctantly tried LSD out of journalistic scruple, recalled, “I had the feeling that I had entered into the sheen of this nubby twist carpet—a really wretched carpet, made of Acrilan—and somehow this represented the people of America, in their democratic glory.”) Alan Watts, whose book “The Joyous Cosmology” was published in 1962 and became, as Greenfield says, “the model for the psychedelic experience for millions of people,” first took LSD in a program at U.C.L.A. It seems like quackery now, but Lee and Shlain say that between 1949 and 1959 a thousand papers on LSD were published in professional journals.
While he was at Harvard, Leary did experiments that involved, for example, giving psychedelic drugs to prison inmates in an attempt to reduce recidivism rates; Leary claimed that the program was remarkably successful, though Greenfield says that the numbers Leary gave to support his claim don’t add up. But what really attracted Leary was an altogether different theory about the purpose of psychedelics. This was the theory that they were designed to reveal to mankind the true nature of the universe, and its leading exponent was Aldous Huxley. Huxley had taken mescaline, a drug derived from the peyote cactus, in 1953, under the guidance of a British medical psychiatrist named Humphry Osmond. (It was Osmond who coined the term psychedelic, which means “mind-manifesting.”) In 1954, Huxley published a short book about the experience, “The Doors of Perception” (from which the rock group later took its name). He had his first LSD experience in 1955; it provided him, he wrote, with “the direct, total awareness, from the inside, so to say, of Love as the primary and fundamental cosmic fact.”
After his experience with Mexican mushrooms, Leary read “The Doors of Perception” with excitement. This was a style of mystico-pseudoscience that suited him perfectly, a kind of shamanistic psychology delightfully immune to empirical challenges. As it happened, Huxley was then lecturing at M.I.T., and Leary arranged a meeting. They had lunch at the Harvard Faculty Club, which was, and remains, the unlikeliest venue in which to plan the future of a psychedelic movement. But that is what Leary and Huxley did. Huxley’s idea was that, if the world’s leaders could be turned on, the lion would lie down with the lamb, and peace would be at hand. The vision was appealing to Leary. It was, after all, simply psychiatric social work on a global scale, and administered not to convicts and juvenile delinquents but to the political, social, and artistic élites—much more fun. The person Leary eventually teamed up with in the business of spreading acid illumination was not Huxley, who died in 1963, on the day President Kennedy was assassinated; it was Ginsberg, a man who took pride in knowing the address and phone number of everyone who mattered in the cultural world. Turning important people on was their mission.
The Harvard Psychedelic Project started going off the rails in early 1962. Self-administered drug use seems to have been the principal form of research. “A bunch of guys standing around in a narrow hallway saying ‘Wow’ ” is the way one participant later described the scene. Leary and his colleagues were confronted, at a faculty meeting, with charges that drugs were being administered to subjects without medical supervision, and a report about the meeting appeared in the student newspaper. The story was picked up in the national press, which led the F.D.A. to start regulating the use of psychedelics. Leary was compelled to turn over his supply of psilocybin to the university health service, and the project was shut down. But rumors began circulating that Harvard undergraduates were dropping acid, and at the end of the 1962-63 academic year Leary’s appointment was not renewed. This was for the official and sufficient reason that he had stopped meeting with his classes. He had gone to California: he told his secretary to hand out a reading list and then dismiss the students.
Leary was not, technically, fired, but his Psychedelic Project sidekick Richard Alpert was. Alpert was a Harvard assistant professor from a very wealthy family; he owned a Mercedes, an M.G., a sailboat, and a Cessna (and this was at a time when most assistant professors at Harvard could barely afford the Cessna). He was charged with giving LSD to a male undergraduate—according to Greenfield, in exchange for sexual favors. Alpert’s story generated huge publicity, from which Leary, whose case was relatively mundane, benefitted. Both men wisely adopted the pose that they were better off without Harvard, and articles featuring them appeared in Look, Esquire, the Saturday Evening Post, and the Times Magazine. They became famous as the two Harvard professors—geniuses? rogues? who knew?—who had been fired for being too far-out. A large and undiscriminating audience for things far-out was just around the historical corner, and it was an audience for whom being kicked out of Harvard was evidence of righteousness. Leary managed to stay on its stage for about six years before the law caught up with him.
Leary’s immortal message to this audience—“Turn on, tune in, and drop out”—was quickly picked up on and widely pastiched. Greenfield cites a commercial for Squirt: “Turn on to flavor, tune in to sparkle, and drop out of the cola rut.” This is not very surprising, for a couple of reasons. One is that in the mid-nineteen-sixties the language of commercial culture was drug vernacular. Almost everything advertised itself as the moral, legal, and sensory equivalent of a drug experience, from pop music to evangelism. (Billy Graham: “Turn on Christ, tune in to the Bible, and drop out of sin.”) All sorts of products claimed to turn you on, get you high, blow your mind. But the other reason Leary’s phrase was adopted as an advertising slogan is that it was designed to be an advertising slogan. The inspiration came from a fellow pop visionary, Marshall McLuhan. In 1966, McLuhan and Leary had lunch at the Plaza Hotel in New York City; there, in Leary’s account, the media-wise McLuhan offered the following counsel:
The key to your work is advertising. You’re promoting a product. The new and improved accelerated brain. You must use the most current tactics for arousing consumer interest. Associate LSD with all the good things that the brain can produce—beauty, fun, philosophic wonder, religious revelation, increased intelligence, mystical romance. Word of mouth from satisfied consumers will help, but get your rock and roll friends to write jingles about the brain.
Wave reassuringly. Radiate courage. Never complain or appear angry. It’s okay if you come off as flamboyant and eccentric. You’re a professor, after all. But a confident attitude is the best advertisement. You must be known for your smile.
Whether or not McLuhan ever uttered these precepts, they guided Leary for the rest of his public life. He was a counterculture salesman, and he wore, on every occasion, the same blissed-out smile, a rictus somewhere between a beatific, what-me-worry grin and a movie star’s frozen stare into the flashbulbs. One of his ex-wives described it as “the smile of the ego actually eating the personality.”
Leary’s “drop out” advice is one of those things which give historians the illusion that mass behaviors are driven by popular ideas, when it is usually the case that ideas are made popular by mass behaviors already under way. Because of the spike in the birth rate that began in 1946, the number of eighteen- to twenty-four-year-olds in the United States grew from fifteen million in 1955 to twenty-five million in 1970; during the sixties, college enrollment more than doubled, from three and a half million students to just under eight million. Times were prosperous; these were the “go-go” years on Wall Street, the era of guns and butter, Vietnam and the Great Society. Government spending primed the pump. Young people dropped out because dropping out was economically sustainable, and because there were more of them in the pipeline than the system could absorb. The phenomenon was more complicated, of course—social systems don’t self-regulate quite so tidily—but young people found it natural to renounce grownup ambitions in the nineteen-sixties, and they got their mantras from grownups like Leary.
Leary unveiled his slogan at a conference on LSD at Berkeley, in 1966. (Possessing LSD was still not illegal, although its unauthorized manufacture had just become a misdemeanor.) He was on the crest of his personal wave. After leaving Harvard, Leary and Alpert had tried to set up shop at a hotel near Acapulco, where they explored the religious potential of psychedelics and offered customers an experience in transcendental living, but the Mexican government had them deported. They were rescued by a wealthy young stockbroker named Billy Hitchcock, who made available his family’s twenty-five-hundred-acre estate, Millbrook, in Dutchess County, two hours north of New York City. Millbrook became the scene of an extended countercultural happening, a place where dozens of residents (many of them with children, who were fed drugs as well) and a changing cast of visitors engaged in chanting, meditation, sex games, and psychedelic-drug consumption, with Leary and his third wife, Nena von Schlebrugge (later the mother of Uma Thurman), and fourth wife, Rosemary Woodruff, presiding. The god Krishna enjoyed an unexpected surge in prayers directed his way from upstate New York, and the Beatles were on the record-player twenty-four hours a day. At one point, the Merry Pranksters’ bus pulled in, with Neal Cassady, the male muse of the Beats and the hero of “On the Road,” at the wheel. But the Pranksters were accustomed to horsing around with Hell’s Angels; they had little patience for spaced-out peaceniks, and the visit went badly. Bummer.
By this time, Leary had confected a science of psychedelics, which he laid out in a long interview in Playboy, billed as “a candid conversation with the controversial ex-Harvard professor.” LSD, Leary explained, puts the user in touch with his or her own ancestral past and with the genetic memory of all life forms, which is encoded in each person’s genes. In a psychedelic future, Leary explained, “each person will become his own Buddha, his own Einstein, his own Galileo. Instead of relying on canned, static, dead knowledge passed on from other symbol producers, he will be using his span of eighty or so years on this planet to live out every possibility of the human, prehuman, and even subhuman adventure.” The interviewer, an admirable straight man, asked whether this meant that time travel was possible. Leary allowed that it was:
LEARY: That happens to be the particular project that I’ve been working on most recently with LSD. I’ve charted my own family tree and traced it back as far as I can. I’ve tried to plumb the gene pools from which my ancestors emerged in Ireland and France.
PLAYBOY: With what success?
Being your own Einstein sounds pretty cool; still, the magazine’s readers probably felt that other uses of LSD mentioned by Leary spoke more directly to their immediate concerns.
LEARY: An enormous amount of energy from every fiber of your body is released under LSD—most especially including sexual energy. There is no question that LSD is the most powerful aphrodisiac ever discovered by man.
PLAYBOY: Would you elaborate?
But the seeds of destruction were already planted. Leary had been arrested in 1965, in Laredo, Texas, on federal marijuana charges. At the trial, he asserted his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, an argument that the judge, Ben Connally, the brother of John Connally, the governor of Texas, undoubtedly took into account in handing down a thirty-year sentence. Still, the trial was good for publicity. Greenfield says that in the hundred and eight days after the verdict the Times ran eighty-one articles about LSD.
Leary remained free on appeal, but, meanwhile, the activities at Millbrook had attracted the attention of local law enforcement. Leary’s chief nemesis there was the assistant district attorney for Dutchess County, G. Gordon Liddy, who staged a raid on the house, and had Leary arrested on marijuana-possession charges. Then, in 1968, Leary was pulled over while driving through Laguna Beach and, along with his wife and children, arrested again after drugs were found in the car. Leary’s son, Jack, was so stoned that he took off his clothes in the booking room and started masturbating. When he was shown what his son was doing, Leary laughed. Rosemary was sentenced to six months, Jack was ordered to undergo psychiatric observation, and Leary got one to ten for possession of marijuana.
He was sent to the California Men’s Colony Prison in San Luis Obispo, and this is where the story turns completely Alice in Wonderland. Assisted by the Weathermen, Leary escapes from prison and is taken to a safe house, where he meets with the kingpins of the radical underground—Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd. With their help, he and Rosemary (in violation of her probation) are smuggled out of the country and flown to Algiers, where Leary is the house guest of Eldridge Cleaver, the Black Panthers’ minister of defense. Cleaver would seem to be Leary’s type, since his book “Soul on Ice” contains such sentences as “The quest for the Apocalyptic Fusion will find optimal conditions only in a Classless Society, the absence of classes being the sine qua non for the existence of a Unitary Society in which the Unitary Sexual Image can be achieved” and (to explain why white women want black men) “What wets the Ultrafeminine’s juice is that she is allured and tortured by the secret, intuitive knowledge that he, her psychic bridegroom, can blaze through the wall of her ice, plumb her psychic depths, test of the oil of her soul, melt the iceberg of her brain, touch her inner sanctum, detonate the bomb of her orgasm, and bring her sweet release.” But, alas, the visionaries do not get along.
Though the Panthers hold a press conference in New York to announce that Leary, formerly contemptuous of politics, has joined the revolution—Leary’s new slogan: “Shoot to Live / Aim for Life”—Cleaver is eager to get him out of Algeria, an Islamic country not exactly soft on drugs. He begins to harass Leary and his wife, and they manage to get to Switzerland. There Leary meets a high-flying international arms dealer named Michel Hauchard, who agrees to protect him in exchange for thirty per cent of the royalties from books that Leary agrees to write, and then has Leary arrested, on the theory that he is more likely to produce the books in jail, where there is less to distract him. Thanks to his wife’s exertions, Leary is released after a month in solitary, but she leaves him. He takes up with a Swiss girl, and begins using heroin, then meets a jet-setter named Joanna Harcourt-Smith Tamabacopoulos D’Amecourt, who becomes his new consort.
Leary’s visa is expiring, so he and Joanna seek refuge in Austria, where Leary issues a statement that Austria “for us personally and I think for the world at large exists as a beacon of compassion and freedom.” (Half of all Nazi concentration-camp guards were from Austria.) It is not clear that Austria feels equally warmly about Leary, and, after Leary’s son-in-law shows up, a plan is hatched to go to Afghanistan, where there are friends among the hashish suppliers. Leary flies to Kabul—it is now January, 1973—and is immediately busted. The son-in-law, it turns out, had set him up. Leary is flown to Los Angeles in the custody of an agent of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and remanded to Folsom Prison, where he is put in the cell next to Charles Manson’s. King Kong meets Godzilla.
The rest is bathos. The United States Supreme Court had thrown out the Laredo conviction, but Leary clearly faced major jail time. He met the problem head on: he coöperated fully with the authorities and informed on all his old associates, including his lawyers and his former wife Rosemary, who had gone underground. Leary also wrote articles for National Review, William F. Buckley’s magazine, in which he attacked John Lennon and Bob Dylan (“plastic protest songs to a barbiturate beat”), in order to demonstrate that he was rehabilitated. When he was released, in 1976, he was placed in the Witness Protection Program. He eventually made his way to Los Angeles, where he thrived in a B-list Hollywood social scene. Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler, was a friend, and Leary became a regular contributor to the magazine. He was also a welcome guest at the Playboy Mansion, and he went on the road “debating” his former adversary Gordon Liddy. His new promotion was space migration. He fell out of touch with his son; his daughter committed suicide, in 1990. He died, of prostate cancer, in 1996.
The best that can be said about Greenfield’s biography of Leary is that it will never be necessary to write another one. Greenfield spent a long time with his subject; they first met in Algiers in 1970, when Leary was a guest of the Panthers. He has been thorough, but not efficient. It is good that he interviewed many of the survivors of those years; it is not so good that he let them ramble on unedited in his text. Oral history is an unreliable genre to begin with; in an era when most of the witnesses were intoxicated much of the time, the quotient of credibility that attaches to their anecdotes is low. The job of the historian is to select and condense. Also, to tell a story.
Greenfield’s Leary is a heartless and damaged man. The portrait is convincing. Still, people did find him magnetic—not only beautiful women but colleagues and fellow-celebrities. He was obviously reckless, fatuous, exasperating, and full of himself, but people liked him, and they liked being around him. The career that Leary’s most resembles is that of another renegade psychologist, Wilhelm Reich, whose orgone box—meant to accumulate the energies of the cosmic life force—was a fad among enlightened people in the nineteen-fifties. Norman Mailer used an orgone box; so did Dwight Macdonald and Saul Bellow.
In the early days, LSD, too, was an élite drug. Many people unconnected with the counterculture “experimented” with it: Henry Luce and his wife, Clare Boothe Luce, were enthusiasts. (Mrs. Luce thought that LSD ought to be kept out of the hands of ordinary people. “We wouldn’t want everyone doing too much of a good thing,” she said.) Leary administered psilocybin to the founder of Grove Press, Barney Rosset, who didn’t like it (“I pay my psychiatrist fifty dollars an hour to keep this from happening to me,” he complained). Psychedelics were tried by Lenny Bruce, Groucho Marx, and Arthur Koestler (“I solved the secret of the universe last night, but this morning I forgot what it was,” he said). Leary, in accordance with Huxley’s policy, would have been happy to restrict the use of psychedelics to people like these and to administer them in controlled environments, but at a certain point psychedelics got onto the street, and he found himself preaching to kids. The popularization of LSD wasn’t Leary’s doing; it was the music’s. When he finished listening to “Sgt. Pepper’s” for the first time, at Millbrook in 1967, Leary is supposed to have stood up and announced, “My work is finished.” Psychedelia had become a fashion.It didn’t last long. Congress made the sale of LSD a felony and possession a misdemeanor in 1968, and handed regulation over to the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. In 1970, psychedelic drugs were classified as drugs of abuse, with no medical value. Scientific reports circulated that LSD caused genetic damage; recreational drug use began to acquire a negative aura. And after 1968 the economy began to tighten. It was the Nixon recession; people were anxious about moving on with their careers. Getting wasted was for losers. And where were all those great insights, anyway? Huxley probably believed that LSD provided a window onto the hidden essence of things as a matter of conviction, and Leary probably believed it as a matter of convenience. But the LSD experience is completely suggestible. People on the drug see and feel what they expect to see and feel, or what they have been told they will see and feel. If they expect that the secret of the universe will be revealed to them, then that’s what they will find. An illusion, no doubt, but it’s as close as we’re likely to get.