Some notes for the modern reader: The text which follows is the Third Bardo in The Radicalization of Tim Leary, a three-part article published in The Psychedelic Review back in 1971. This bardo consists of two pieces of writing by Tim Leary. The word bardo refers to the intermediate gap we experience between death and rebirth, according to some spiritual belief systems. Here, it was used merely as a structural conceit to tell Leary's story in the magazine.
The first piece of Leary's writing published below is known as The Eagle Brief, a poem written to the Supreme Court of the United States of America, putting forth Tim Leary's position on his ongoing harassment by hostile 'intelligence' agencies (CIA, FBI, etc), and his imprisonment. The second piece is Tim's Farewell Address, a 'radical' new mini-manifesto distributed after his escape.
Tim had been held captive because his popular philosophy of "think for yourself and question authority," was so challenging to the establishment.
The precise details concerning Tim's agreements with those who helped him escape the jail and those who later gave him sanctuary remain unclear. It seems likely, therefore, that Tim's alleged 'radicalization' after his prison escape may, in large part, have been a consequence of the conditions under which this assistance was given.
Tim may have agreed to publicly advocate the position of the radical-groups who freed him. In this case, these newly-emerged 'radical 'views in Tim did not represent a vast shift in his underlying ideological position. Instead, they may represent a debt-repaid to his liberators and protectors. Certainly, until this point, Tim's position had been one of unwavering non-violence.
Tim's alleged 'radicalization' is supposedly evident in the Farewell Address which is also published below. Yet, it seems probable that Tim's 'radicalization' was a theatrical necessity for his survival; and not an ideological transformation. For example, it is difficult to read Tim's encouragement that his supporters, "hijack planes" as anything more sinister than a clue to the astute reader that he is not serious. In retrospect, the instruction seems absurd; intentionally comical even. There is no information given about which planes (or whose planes) the flower children should (with their vast aviation knowledge) hijack.
Tim's well-publicized 'radical' phase, under close scrutiny, looks more like an amusing set of theatrical-contortions by Tim an intelligent public-speaker as he attempts to reconcile the demands of the radical groups who protect him, with the demands of his own conscience. As a result, the reader is left to wrestle with a series of oddities by the end of this article; not least Tim's hilariously vague and satirical instruction to simply, "hijack planes".
Then there are Tim's more serious statements regarding the American citizen's right to practice armed self-defense in the face of governmental tyranny. It may sound aggressive when Tim writes, "To shoot a genocidal robot policeman in the defense of life is a sacred act." Yet, Tim's position is not radical here; he is in obvious alignment with the American Constitution and will not sound in the least bit controversial to a well-read American citizen.
Tim is quite specific about the only circumstances ("genocidal") under which such action is permissible. The Declaration of Independence is similarly unambiguous on this topic, stating "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."
Tim's position is clearly not particularly radical. His satirical hyperbole on plane-hijacking aside, there is not much to suggest that Tim is acting in any other capacity that the average American would be entitled to, faced with similar threats to their constitutional rights. The press, however, did not see it in this way, and there was a widespread narrative circulating that Tim had jumped the prison fence and metamorphosed into a new kind of militarized-philosopher-guru. We ask modern readers to decide, for themselves, the accuracy of this view, after reading Tim's poem and statement, both published below.
He has preached it the length
And breadth of the land
And i am inclined to the view that
he would pose a danger to the community if released.
You forgot, fools, that times change.
The eagle is no longer our tribal symbol.
The turkey is the national bird.
Look around you, fools.
There are no eagles left in the sky.
The wild birds have vanished.
But all our friends are eagles, hawks, thrushes, larks. We know none but wild birds.
All the eagles have been slain, wounded, caged,
or are in hiding.
The song birds wisely are concealed.
Man, be cool don't fly where they can see you.
Don’t scream freedom. They have sworn to fell you.
Oh we cannot change.
It is the nature of the eagle to float high,
soar serenely, swoop over the valley at sunset,
living symbol of freedom.
If we eagles do not fly high and be free,
This is the danger, Oh judges.
That the wild birds will be forgotten.
They will forget that the eagle is our totem.
They will forget. They will forget.
It has happened before.
We are caged now because we were so free.
Remember, America, we were your free-est souls.
Your wisest, funniest,
beautiful laughing souls,
We never brought you down.
Have you forgotten how we flew over your
green city parks and
your college lawn?
Celebrating love and peace and freedom?
Do you remember the excitement?
And how the young thronged eagerly and
the curious and even the domesticated
to spread wings and fly with us and rejoice in the freedom?
Do you remember how you thrilled to
sound of our wings and cheered and
laughed to be in the presence of high
wild birds and thus regained your wings?
That was before they drove us away with guns.
Before the time of guns.
That was the problem. the young.
You should have stayed hidden on your mountain tops.
You created anarchy in the hen coops
and confusion in the turkey runs.
Judge McMillan was right.
You are irresponsible pleasure seekers.
All the young birds started to fly.
It was a disaster.
They smashed their wings against the bars.
Young chickens beat their wings futilely and wept.
A few, a very few, fell from roof tops.
Many flew so far
they never returned to the hen coops.
Millions were lost to society.
Thousands were bruised and confused.
The orderly process of domestication
The young could no longer be trained
to flap and waddle along the zoo ways.
It is criminal irresponsibility
to tell young birds to become eagles.
Your scholarly friends granted that it was
all right for you to be eagles.
But not to fly freedom in public.
We are not really against eagles.
You are rare birds and we wish you to survive.
Oh no, beloved. We never told the young
to be eagles.
We said, be free. Discover your wild,
deep nature and be true to it.
Do your own thing.
But you made fun of domesticated birds.
The chickens were ashamed and the angry
turkeys have no sense of humor.
Yes, we joked at the spectacle of wild
creatures pretending to be domesticated.
We laughed, telling them it is the nature
of the wild bird to laugh and fly free.
And that was your mistake.
We warned you.
Everyone warned you.
The days of free flight are over.
Illegal wild birds are vanishing.
Poultry, poultry, poultry.
The larks have disappeared and the
swallows. Billions of chickens are incubated,
fattened, packaged pale yellow in saran wrap,
or crowded in metal cages
where eggs roll down metal runways.
Do you know that the fourteen hundred men
in your prison devour 30,000 chickens a year?
Birds are business.
We are caged because we are free.
We are caged because we are
All American Eagles.
Symbols of what may vanish.
Free flight high proud.
What a waste! Eith your energy
and power you could
have become top turkey.
Done so much for society.
You should have flown away
from this poultry land
where eagles are hunted.
flown to lands where wild
creatures live free.
How could we fly away? We are American
eagles. Soul spirits of this broad land.
If we flew away to nest on distant peaks,
Who would remind you, beloved?
You would forget that this
is the land of the eagle.
This is our land. The proud,
free, brave, laughing land.
Oh you forget.
We are caged. Rosemary, Susan, Jack,
Because we were free.
Rosemary sighs waiting for flight.
Susan weeps that she is surrounded by metal.
Proud Jack kept repeating over and over,
"Why don’t they just leave us alone?"
He was arrested fourteen times for the proud
look he could not hide.
Wild creatures cannot live caged,
Eagles must fly high and cry
To the winds at sunrise,
Be patient. Soon you will be freed.
It is sad and painful to be caged.
You cannot imagine
the captive pain of the eagle.
We cannot fly now. We smash our wings against the bars.
Caged we cannot cry Freeeeeeeeeeeeeedom!
For it maddens the poultry.
We sit in captivity recalling the wondrous
history of our species.
The wild times at Stonehenge, Eleusis
along the Ganges, moving west across the
prairies with the buffalo, exulting in free
space and time when swan clouds darkened
the blue sky and songs of wild
ones filled the air.
We will not forget who we are.
We must keep in flight condition
Stretch tensing our wings
Hearing the wild cry, mute,
straining in our throats.
It is so easy to forget
Captives becomes domesticated
We salivate at feeding time, hearing the
clank of metal spoon on metal tray
But when the cage doors open
and we fly away
Then the clink of metal will be
reflex sign of danger
No, we will not forget who we are.
Our wild souls still beat
Our muscles strain in the bonds
When tides of ancient energy surge within
We sit trembling in our cages
We sweat, trembling
It is hard for proud wild to be captive
We will not forget who we are
We pray that you, beloved, do not forget
who you are.
Even your peacock friends who love you
say that you are foolish
Oh beloved, we never told you it was easy
to be a wild bird in poultry time.
We warned of the dangers.
Great God, look up.
You don’t need a government commission
to tell you that it is dangerous to fly too
high or too early before you have tested
You know that in your bones.
Everyone knows where it is at
We warned you that the heights were dizzying.
We never told you it was secure
and safe to be a wild one
We told you, beloved, that you could fly so far
you'd lose your way back to the hen coop.
That there were no warm, air-conditioned
bird cotes for the wild ones
That you would have to build your own
nests, high and far away.
Our slim tipis on the mountain side
showed you how.
Didn’t you see the pictures of us laughing
for you in front of our tipis?
Eagles cannot live in captivity
Soon we will die if we are not freed.
Do you want us dead?
Do you not know that America cannot live
If we die, you, beloved, will waste away
and die too.
Wild creatures of God cannot live in cages.
Open the gates of metal
Freedom. Freedom. Freedom.
Fly high. Freedom.
Let us fly as is our nature. Freedom.
Fly laughing in the image of God.
The time has come.
We cannot wait.
You must leave now
Take what you need.
You think will last
But whatever you wish to keep
You better grab it fast.
(He’s) leaving home after living alone
For so many years. Bye Bye.
A Silently closing (his) bedroom door
Leaving the note (he) hoped would
Quietly turning the backdoor key
Stepping outside (he) is free...
There is the time for peace and the time for war. There is the day of laughing Krishna and the day of Grim Shiva. Brothers and Sisters, at this time let us have no more talk of peace. The conflict which we have sought to avoid is upon us. A world-wide ecological religious warfare. Life vs. death. Listen. It is a comfortable, self-indulgent cop-out to look for conventional economic-political solutions.
Brothers and Sisters, this is a war for survival. Ask Huey and Angela. They dig it. Ask the wild free animals. They know it. Ask the turned-on ecologists. They sadly admit it. I declare that World War III is now being waged by short-haired robots whose deliberate aim is to destroy the complex web of free wild life by the imposition of mechanical order.
Listen. There is no choice left but to defend life by all and every means possible against the genocidal machine. Listen. There are no neutrals in genetic war. There are no non-combatants at Buchenwald, My Lai or Soledad. You are part of the death apparatus or you belong to the network of free life.
Do not be deceived. It is a classic strategem of genocide to camouflage their wars as law and order police actions. Remember the Sioux and the German Jews and the black slaves and the marijuana programs and the pious TWA indignation over airline hijackings!If you fail to see that we are the victims defendants of genocidal war, you will not understand the rage of the Africans, the fierceness of the Indians, the holy fanaticism of the Palestinians, the righteous mania of the Weathermen, and the pervasive resentment of the young.
Listen, Americans. Your government is an instrument of total lethal evil. Remember the buffalo and the Iroquois! Remember Kennedy, King, Malcolm, Lenny! Listen. There is no compromise with a machine. You cannot talk peace and love to a humanoid robot whose every Federal Bureaucratic impulse is soulless, heartless, lifeless, loveless.
In his life struggle we use the ancient holy strategies of organic life:
Listen Nixon. We were never that naive. We knew that flowers in your gunbarrels were risky. We too remember Munich and Auschwitz all too well as we chanted love and raised our Woodstock fingers in the gentle sign of peace. We begged you to live and let live, to love and let love, but you have chosen to kill and get killed. May God have mercy on your soul.
For the last seven months, I, a free, wild man, have been locked in POW camps. No living creature can survive in a cage. In my flight to freedom I leave behind a million brothers and sisters in the POW prisons of Quentin, Soledad, Con Thien... Listen comrades. The liberation war has just begun. Resist, endure, do not collaborate. Strike. You will be free.
Listen you brothers of the imprisoned. Break them out! If David Harris has ten friends in the world, I say to you, get off your pious non-violent asses and break him out. There is no excuse for one brother or sister to remain a prisoner of war. Right on Leila Khaled!
Listen, the hour is late. Total war is upon us. Fight to live or you'll die. Freedom is life. Freedom will live.
The Castalia Foundation invites the modern reader to consider the following questions: Which parts of Tim Leary's letter and poem to the Supreme Court are radical? Which of the calls-to-action in his Farewell Address are enshrined in the American Constitution, and thereby represent the rights of all Americans? Which of Leary's calls-to-action fall outside this protection? To what extent is Leary's statement written freely; and to what extent under obligation to those who protected him at the time? What was the ultimate outcome of Nixon's presidency? Was he a wise and honest president?