William Burroughs Conversation continues – 6. (Burroughs and Leary)

William Burroughs and Timothy Leary, Lawrence Kansas, 1987 – photo by Philip Heying

Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and William Burroughs 1985 Naropa conversation continues from here

WSB: But the point is this was sort of the start of the whole psychedelic thing and Leary had invited me over to his place.

AG: No, no, he invited you to a psychedelic conference in Scandinavia.

WSB: No, no he didn’t at all, Allen.

AG: I thought you went with him there.

WSB. No!

AG: Ok.

WSB: Good heavens!  He invited me to come to Harvard and meet (Richard) Alpert.  No, they were both the Harvard professors then with some sort of psilocybin program. And I did go there, and I also gave a talk in New York before some psychological society with Gerald Heard, who was there, and I did go and stay with Leary in Newton, Massachusetts, and I went to his classes (he also had programs in prisons). And they were going great guns and they, both of them, looked like, you know, they were all clean-shaven and everything, seersucker suits, looked like regular professors. And, but very shortly after this they were discredited in all the… the whole thing collapsed. They thought they had the fix in, you know, that they could fix it at the top, and it turned out, apparently, they didn’t at all.  That was the beginning of the ‘Sixties.

AG: You went there thinking that, since they were at Harvard, they would have all sorts of complicated equipment, like, immersion tanks.

WSB: Sensory withdrawal.

AG: Sensory deprivation and immersion tanks.

WSB: Yeah. Well, it turned out they weren’t into..

AG:  ..any kind of experiment.. with scientific instruments

WSB:  …any kind of experimentation on a scientific level. They were just sort of fooling around – The Man Who Turned On The World! – that’s the way  (Michael Hollingshead) (described him)

AG: I remember you wrote me a note telling me Leary was  “a horse’s ass”!

WSB: Well, I became quite friendly with him, I am quite friendly with him now. Yes. What? What? [GC whispers to WSB]

AG: Come on Gregory talk to the microphone.  Come on Gregory talk to the microphone [GC refuses]

GC: See, I said it right, I did it right. I did what I did right. It ain’t gonna come out here.

AG: What’s next?

to be continued

[Audio for the above can be heard here beginning at approximately seventeen-and-a-quarter minutes in and continuing until approximately nineteen-and-a-half minutes in}

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