Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A few words of appreciation about Tim Leary

I'd like to say a few words about Tim Leary.

I studied Dr Leary's 8-circuit model for several years and was also emmersed in his earlier theories and practices, invented whilst he was working at Harvard University. I now avoid these ideas as not useful and want to say a few words in retrospect about their wise use.

Tim Leary was a rhetorician of freedom. His words strove to evoke, infer, imply, and insinuate much more than they actually said. To separate the style of the words from the substance is actually to do his ideas a disservice. But to avoid looking clearly at them is to do truth a disservice.

Generally speaking, one might suppose that style and rhetoric came to predominate over substance in the years after Dr Leary left Harvard university. Consequently, if one reads his thoughts on drugs (in the 60s), space exploration (in the 70s), and computer networks (in the 90s) they are basically the same core ideas elaborated over the top of the new fad.

The core or key ideas of Dr Leary, present in his Harvard days already clearly, are quite simply stated. These key ideas are:

1. The evolutionary role of the individual
2. Liberation from and rebellion against all social constraint, and
3. The evolutionary role of group psychological experiments-slash-experiences.

It is helpful to discover and explore these ideas free of the later overlays.

The latter work contains suggestive implications in the structure of the language (ie, in the rhetoric) which presuppose rebellious, hedonistic, attention-seeking behavior - in other words, they are adolescent.

The gloss for this behavior is to explain it as biology. The biological term for adolescent behavior in latter life is "neotony", and for Dr Leary practicing this kind of behavior was a way to evolve, rebel, and have group experiences he wanted.

Primarily this is a rationalisation for self-indulgence, which can in turn be concealed by yet more rhetoric. It is instructive to discover these explanations for oneself, but the risk is that one becomes influenced to use them oneself. They are seductive and easy to use and their use is limited.

Dr Leary's ideas in the 50s were superb and cutting-edge, and well worth exploring in many contexts, including one's personal life, psychotherapy, and social dynamics. I highly recommend them as immensely useful.


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