Chaos and Cyber Culture by Timothy (Francis) Leary, Vicki Marshall |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Chaos and Cyber Culture

Chaos and Cyber Culture

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by Timothy Leary

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America's most dangerous man — according to Richard Nixon — and the Pied Piper of Youth is BACK!

This book is about designing Chaos and fashioning your personal disorder: On screens with cyber tools from counterculture perspectives with informational chemicals (Chaos drugs) while delighting in cybernetics as guerrilla artists who explore


America's most dangerous man — according to Richard Nixon — and the Pied Piper of Youth is BACK!

This book is about designing Chaos and fashioning your personal disorder: On screens with cyber tools from counterculture perspectives with informational chemicals (Chaos drugs) while delighting in cybernetics as guerrilla artists who explore de-animation alternatives while surfing the waves of millennium madness to glimpse the glorious wild impossibilities and improbabilities of the century to come. Enjoy it! It's ours to be played with!

Chaos & CyberCulture conveys Timothy Leary's vision of the emergence of a new humanism with an emphasis on questioning authority, independent thinking, individual creativity, and the empowerment of computers and other technologies. Leary's last great work, this book includes over 100,000 words in 40 chapters and 80 illustrations, as well as conversations with William Gibson, Winona Ryder, William S. Burroughs, and David Byrne.

Timothy Leary, the visionary Harvard psychologist who became a guru of the '60s counterculture, has reemerged as an icon of the new edge cyberpunks.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Yes, he's back....the ex-Harvard professor who encouraged a generation to 'turn on tune in drop out' now counts himself as a cyberpunk. 'The PC is the [new] LSD,' he says."
Time Magazine

"An amazingly dense compendium of lengthy provocative essays, philosophical nuggets, intriguing interviews, and useful information — all from the fractured mind of Timothy Leary. Like the culture it explores, this book is organized around chaos. That's not really a problem though, it's more like printed hypertext, where you can jump around from page to page and idea to idea exploring the fringes of reality."
— Factsheet Five

"Chaos and Cyberculture by Timothy Leary. The LSD guru has a lot to say about society, culture, technology and the human mind. This book offers up thirty years of Leary's experience and knowledge. A good retrospective and introduction to his work."
— Skip Stone, Happy Planet

"Timothy Leary's Chaos and CyberCulture is his futuristic vision of the emergence of a new humanism with an emphasis on questioning authority, independent thinking, individual creativity, and the empowerment of computer and other brain technologies. This cyberpunk manifesto describes a new breed that loves technology and uses it to revolutionize communication and tweak Big Brother while being successful, achieving political power and having fun. Timothy Leary is a leading figure in the consciousness revolution of the 1960s. Chaos and CyberCulture brings together his provocative, futuristic writings, lively interviews and cogent conversations with a variety of writers and thinkers. Chaos and CyberCulture defines the emergence of the New Breed of the Information Age, who are creating the cyberdelic politics and culture of the 21st Century. Chaos and CyberCulture is a substantial work (over 100,000 words) consisting of over forty chapters and conversations with leading figures. There are eight main sections and a epilogue."
— Alternative Philosophy

"In the 1960s Timothy Leary was the guru of the hippie generation and now he takes his philosophy of questioning authority, independent thinking, individual thinking to the Silicon Age, and shows that there can be personal empowerment through computers and other technologies. This is Timothy Leary's most important work since the sixties with over 100,000 words in 40 chapters, and over 80 illustrations, as well as conversations with William Gibson, Winona Ryder, William S. Burroughs, and David Bryne. In the age of cyberpunks Leary has reemerged to be the icon of the Silicon Age. Leary interviews William Gibson who explains how the writings of William Burroughs influenced his writings and how Case could of been one of Burroughs wild boys and why Bruce Sterling is one of his favorite science fiction writers. Why computers will not replace real people, computers will only replace middle and low level bureaucrats. How in 1456 Johannes Gutenberg invention of the moveable-type printing press and the invention of personal computer and the development of desktop publishing in the 1980s had the same impact on society. How that freedom in any country is measured perfectly by the percentage of personal computers in the hands of individuals. The definition of a cyberpunk is a person who is a maverick, with bravery, high curiosity, and super self esteem Prometheus was the first cyberpunk, and even Mark Twain, with his fascination of technology and questioning conventions, is a cyberpunk. A look at the works of William Burroughs and a conversation with Burroughs who has had an impact on so many. And so much more that proves that Timothy Leary knows what is going on in the future and how you can be part of it."
— Bookviewzine

"In Chaos and CyberCulture, Leary writes that computers taught him that the human mind (i.e., processes in the brain) could be perfectly explained with this principle of 0 and 1, and that computers helped him to control the processes in his brain and create his own digital realities (cf. ibid.). Leary discovered that computers were actually very similar to LSD. More than that, in an interview with P. Johnston in 1986, Leary said that the computer is a technology for brain change that is even more effective than LSD: "Computers are the most subversive thing I've ever done. [...] Computers are more addictive than heroin. [...] People need some way to activate, boot up, and change disks in their minds. In the 60s we needed LSD to expand reality and examine our stereotypes. With computers as our mirrors LSD might not be necessary now" (quoted in Bukatman 1993: 139). This discovery led Leary to proclaim that "The PC is the LSD of the 90s" (CC cover-page). Leary found out that his experiences with this new medium were far from being unique and original but seemed to be part of an enormous cultural metamorphoses. As a result of personal computers, millions of people, especially the young generation, would no longer be satisfied "to peer like passive infants through the Terrarium wall [TV screen] into ScreenLand [sic] filled with cyberstars like Bill and Hillary and Boris and Sadam and Madonna and Beavis and Butt-Head"(CC 4). People would begin to learn how to "enter and navigate in this world behind the screen" and avoid television dictatorship. Computers would change the young generation's appreciation for their own intrinsic worth and ability to alter reality. Leary had a vision of the emergence of a "new humanism" based on questioning authority, independent thinking, and the empowerment of computers and other technologies. A new global "cybernetic culture" would be emerging, creating a post-political society based on individual freedom."
— Michael Helm, Way Back Machine

"Crackling with satiric wit and the impudence of a born provocateur, Timothy Leary's essays have delighted cognitive dissidents for many years. The most coruscating of these have been combined in the pages of one book, Chaos and CyberCulture (Ronin) — a cyberpulp graphics book where text is sometimes underwhelmed by visual image. The book was produced and directed by a wizard team of "chaos engineers" who deconstruct words and images and then weave them together like film editors. Leary is merely the writer ("The lowest on the totem pole. Nobody in Hollywood wants to brag that they've fucked the writer," he quips). One is struck by how 'futique' — a Leary neologism for the opposite of antique — his thinking has always been; each essay emphasizes the importance of thinking for yourself and questioning authority. Way back when, he was taking exception to the modern meaning of 'cyber' ("Personal Com-puters, Personal Freedom", discussing info-chemicals and drug wars ("The Case for Intelligent Drug Use"), and decrying millennium madness ("God Runs for President on the Republican Ticket"). But "Just Say Know: The Eternal Antidote to Fascism" is Leary at the top of his form: sane, sweeping, and latitudinarian as he describes the fascist repression that lurks behind paternal protectionism. Fascinating encounters with such luminaries as Keith Haring, William S. Burroughs, David Byrne, William Gibson, and Winona Ryder crop up throughout the book, making this a star-studded tour of the cognitive galaxy with some of Leary's best scientific and philosophic musings. Vintage and golden!"
— Jas. Morgan, Spin

"Chaos and Cyberculture is a dazzlingly optimistic collection of interviews, essays and irreverent stray thoughts on where the universe has been and where it may be going, bound together with graphics, illustrations and a fast-reading layout that makes you feel like you're browsing the Web instead of reading a book."
— Barbara Strickland

Library Journal
The great visionary and psychedelic guru of the 1960s is back. Leary's "cyberpunk manifesto" explores the relationship between the eternal philosophy of chaos and the future of cutting-edge technology. Here, he focuses his attention less on psychedelic excursions and more on "cyberdelic" trips into the uncharted reaches of "Cyberia," extolling the PC as the LSD of the 1990s. This is a fascinating collection of mostly previously published material from a variety of sources, printed and electronic. In one essay, Leary discusses the rapid acceleration of knowledge in our new, technology-based information society. He says the only way to understand and keep up is to accelerate brain function and suggests three possible solutions based on religion (since the apocalypse is inevitable, the only thing to do is pray), politics (grab what you can and protect what you've got), and science (increase intelligence, expand your consciousness, and surf the waves of chaotic change). The message here is that the future continues to spin faster and wilder and that we must therefore position our thinking toward multiplicity, complexity, relativity, and change. An important purchase for most libraries.-Joe Accardi, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago

Product Details

Ronin Publishing
Publication date:
Edition description:
20th Anniversary Edition
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Timothy Leary (1920–1996) was a psychologist, author, lecturer, and cult figure. He was best known for having popularized the use of mind-altering drugs in the 1960s.

Timothy Leary was born October 22, 1920, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was educated at Holy Cross College, the U.S. Military Academy, the University of Alabama (A.B., 1943), Washington State University (M.S., 1946), and the University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D., 1950). During World War II, Leary served in the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of sergeant in the Medical Corps. Subsequently he was an assistant professor at the University of California; director of psychiatric research at the Kaiser Foundation, Oakland, California; and a lecturer in psychology at Harvard University.

Leary and colleague Alpert (Ram Dass) were expelled form Harvard for their LSD research with students. Leary and Alpert then founded the International Foundation for Internal Freedom (IFIF) to promote LSD and similar drugs. In 1965 Leary visited India and converted to Hinduism, announcing that his work was basically religious. The following year, IFIF headquarters at Millbrook, New York, was raided by local police under the direction of G. Gordon Liddy, later to become notorious himself as the iron man of the Watergate scandal.

Leary had been arrested for possessing a small quantity of marijuana in 1965 and again in 1968. He was given ten-year sentences on each count, to be served consecutively rather than concurrently. This harsh sentence was almost certainly a result of his notoriety, as it bore little relation to the offenses, which even then were not regarded as serious. After serving only six months, Leary, with the aid of the Weather Underground, a left-wing terrorist organization, escaped from prison. Thereafter, he resided in Algeria, Switzerland, and finally Afghanistan. In 1973 he was seized and returned to California, where he was given an additional sentence for his prison escape. Leary was not released from confinement until 1976.

Leary's last book, Chaos and Cyber Culture was a hypertext instruction book of sorts, proclaiming that "the pc is the lsd of the '90s." Leary even "wired" his own final days on his website ( in word and image. Leary surrounded himself with friends, famous and otherwise, as well. As Gen X chronicler and longtime friend of Leary, Douglas Rushkoff wrote in Esquire, "On learning of his inoperable prostate cancer, Tim realized he was smack in the middle of another great taboo: dying. True to character, he wasn't about to surrender to the fear and shame we associate with death in modern times. No, this was going to be a party." Originally, Leary had planned to have his brain cryogenically frozen, but decided instead to have his ashes shot into space. Leary died in Beverly Hills, CA, on May 31, 1996. His last words: "why not?"

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