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Timothy Leary

One of the major philosophic tasks of the late twentieth century is mapping the different islands or hemispheres or continents in the universe of the brain.

I remember Huxley used the metaphor of the fire antipodes of the brain, or the mind–like Australia being discovered by Captain Cook. This is the first task of the psychedelic philosopher. So over the years I’ve produced dozens of sketch maps of the culvas circles, the circuits or the levels of consciousness. These were crude words to build up a vocabulary or a cartography of inner space. I don’t use the notion of eight circuits now as much as I did, but that’s why I did it.

RMN: Did you ever develop a holographic or integrational perspective for the model, to get rid of the higher and lower stuff?

TIMOTHY: By higher and lower I think you’re referring to the notion of the linear or ordinal system of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. There’s no implication here that seven is any higher or any better than six. An ordinal system just sets up location–it’s the geometry of ideas or thought. Running through all the ordinal systems that we developed was the idea that they’re recursive. Eight merges into one, like a double helix, in the sense of the DNA code, which is a wonderful model of an ordinal system.

Although I certainly agree with your rejection of the notion of hierarchy, I strongly defend the notion of ordinal. Because things do end up in chains of neighborhood location, and you have to get to six before seven. When you get to six you have a choice–you could go to seven or back to five, or you could go to north six or west six. But the notion of topography and, not linear, but ordinal relations, is the key to the digital language of computers, which also happens to be the language of the universe. Quantum linguistics is based upon zeros and ones. They’re off and on just as computers are.

DJB: Timothy, could you give us a sociobiological perspective on the cyberpunk movement?

TIMOTHY: As a result of the many waves of acculturation and popularization of quantum philosophy in the twentieth century–modern art, jazz, digitizing ideas in the form of telegraph, teletype, telephone, and television–it is inevitable that towards the end of the twentieth century we’re developing an entirely new culture. This is going to be an informational culture–a communications culture ;n which most of the values, rituals, and certainly almost all of the laws of the tribal, feudal, or industrial societies no longer hold. We’re taking thoughts and digitizing them so they can be hurled around the world at the speed of light. They can be duplicated. That’s basically cybernetic or digital reality–digital language.

This new society has been described by Ted Nelson, who gives us the architecture of ideas in his Xanadu System, and Bedwood Fredkin, the quantum physicist, who has described the astro-physical algorithmic nature of reality. William Gibson has spelled it out in the most humanist, down, dirty, gritty, comprehensible, novel fashion. His books Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive spell out some of the most important dimensions of the new culture that’s emerging. There’s a new theology, new ethics, and certainly a new psychology. The word cyber-punk-to get back to your original question–is an early and wonderfully vulgar concept of the role model of the twenty-first century.

The twenty-first century person is a cybernetic person. He or she accepts the Heisenberg principle that you create all realities. Therefore you’re responsible for everything that you experience. This identification of yourself as a quantum entity certainly dissolves most of the identification chords to your former culture, your former nation, your former religion, or any other external structure, even to your family, unless family members are redefined as cybernetic entities. The cyber-punk, or the cybernetic person, is a free agent. By the way, nobody uses that term anymore; it’s like one of those words that was wonderful for awhile, then it carried all the freight it could, and it was kind of co-opted by some high-falutin’ literary types, and so forth. But no one uses that word anymore, although we certainly hang it up on the trophy shelf as a wonderful bumper sticker.

DJB: What role do you think it’s playing in an evolutionary sense?

TIMOTHY: The cybernetic person spends a very high percentage of his or her time and energy in what’s now called cyber-space, communicating, mutually creating new realities with other people, on the other side of the screen. The cyber-punk person is a free agent, and the new society is made up of free agents who link-up at a much different level of social connection than family, work, or religious commitment. So the cyber-society is a society of highly skilled, highly courageous, cybernetic people who mutually create what we call “cyberias” or cyber-architectures, on the other side of the screen.


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