Timothy Leary – Oh, Pleasant Hope MC



Edition of 70 copies. Fullcolour artwork with insert.

“Do not believe anything I say”, Timothy Leary warns the audience during his lecture in Kenfield, California in 1977. And rightly so. For most of the ideas expressed in this lecture may be entertaining and thought-provoking but have hardly any serious scientific value. Leary had been released from Folsom Prison the previous year after having shortened a 15-year sentence by becoming an FBI informant on the radical Weather Underground. Leary’s credibility and reputation as one of the spearheads of the counterculture had been severely damaged when he delivered his speech in Kenfield, which has now been released on cassette by Counter Culture Chronicles as Oh, Pleasant Hope!, a title which must have been borrowed from the final Blue Cheer album from 1971.

In his lecture Leary reflects on the hedonist 1960s, during which, he claims, all aspects of American culture were reviewed. The educational system, the relationship between generations, the pursuit of pleasure and happiness, notions of consciousness and concepts of the human brain were all changed for the better by the “post-Hiroshima generation”. But Leary’s famous 1960s mantra “turn on, tune in, drop out” has now been altered into “mutation, metamorphosis, migration”. Everybody born after 1945 is a mutant, a step to a new species, and it is always the intelligent and visionary that migrate, Leary explains. So far so good. But when Leary claims that intelligence has always migrated westwards the past 5,000 years, his ideas start to derail and lose credibility. What to think of his statement that people on the West Coast (among whom perhaps not coincidentally his audience in Kenfield) are more intelligent than people in the Midwest? That New England is a museum? Or that going to London is travelling back in time 100 years, Paris 150 years and that walls to prevent migration are always built to stop intelligent people from moving west, never east? Three ideas that are going to change your lives the next decades, Leary tells his listeners, are space migration, intelligence increase and life extension (comprised in the acronym SMILE). And yes, a smile, that is certainly what this lecture is good for.