Timothy Leary Letter to Allen Ginsberg – from Algeria, 1970

Here it is the the third (and final) letter we received anonymously, from Timothy Leary to his friend Allen Ginsberg. Things haven’t gone so swimmingly for the dear doctor since his last missive, sent in 1969 from Berkeley.

In January, 1970, Leary received a ten-year bid for possession of two roaches, with a further ten added later, for a previous weed bust in 1965, 20 years in total, to be served consecutively. (Editor’s note: those were the days!) When he arrived in prison, he was given psychological tests that were used to assign inmates to appropriate work details. Having designed some of the tests himself (including the “Leary Interpersonal Behavior Test”), Leary answered them in such a way that he seemed to be a conventional person, interested in forestry and gardening. As a result, Leary was assigned work as a gardener in a minimum-security prison, and in September 1970 he escaped. For a fee, paid by The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, (Editor’s note: yes, those really were the days!) the Weathermen smuggled Leary and his wife out of the United States and into Algeria, where he went into hiding with Eldridge Cleaver, of Black Panthers fame, who was himself on the run from an attempted murder charge. Eldridge wasn’t down with the acid proselytization however, and placed Leary and his wife under “revolutionary arrest.” (Editor’s note: see above notes.)

At the top of the letter are the words “not to be published.” And I can see why—after reading the letter, especially the attached note regarding the “Seventh Liberation,” I can’t help but think of a quote from a film that was in recent release at the time, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, and the plaintive cry from the HAL 9000 computer as his memory chips were being removed one by one by Dave the astronaut: “I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it.”

Click on any image to see it in full size. And if you missed them the first time, check out the first Leary-Ginsberg letter, from Mexico in 1963, and the 2nd, from Berkeley, CA, in 1969.

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–Dr. Timothy Leary