R.D.Laing (1927-1989)

R.D.Laing – London, 1985 (printed 1996) – “Dr. R.D.Laing, friend & sympatico Anti-psychiatry radical therapist, his office study in Hampstead, difficult period drinking considerably, longtime marriage & household break-up, London, April 25, 1985” (photo and caption by Allen Ginsberg – (c) Estate of Allen Ginsberg – collection National Gallery of Art)

R.D.Laing, Boulder, Colorado, 1987 – “Dr. R.D.Laing, friend & sympatico Anti-psychiatry radical, his front porch  Mapleton Street. After two years’ visiting faculty at Naropa Institute & some stormy drinking, he was planning departure, lecture tour voyage. Boulder, Colorado, July 7, 1987   (photo and caption by Allen Ginsberg – (c) Estate of Allen Ginsberg – collection National Gallery of Art)

R.D.Laing, Boulder, Colorado, 1987 – “R.D.Laing on his front porch Mapleton Street Boulder Colorado. Then in residence at Naropa Institute he planned voyage on lecture tour, invited me to make usable photo. July 7, 1987” – (photo and caption by Allen Ginsberg – (c) Estate of Allen Ginsberg – collection National Gallery of Art)

R.D. Laing. Boulder, Colorado, 1987    “R.D.Laing in residence at Naropa Institute, planning to voyage on lecture tour, asked me to visit and make useful photograph. Boulder, Colorado July 7, 1987 – (photo and caption by Allen Ginsberg – (c) Estate of Allen Ginsberg – collection National Gallery of Art)

Four photos of the controversial “anti-psychiatristR.D.Laing. The first, from a visit with him in London in 1985, the next three from a visit to Naropa (University) two years later. These last years, as Allen’s caption notes, were difficult and challenging years.

“Lies of Love” – their 1987 Naropa conversation can be listened to here and continuing here

Tom Shandel and Kirk Tougas‘ 1989 documentary,  Did You Used To Be R.D.Laing?, made shortly after Laing’s death, is essential viewing

More footage of Laing – R.D.Laing In The USA (1972) –  and an interview with Mavis Nicholson, from 1977) here and here

Allen, of course, met him in his hey-day, back in the ‘Sixties, notably appearing with him in   London in 1967, at the famous conference to “demystify human violence in all its forms, and the social systems from which it emanates, and to explore new forms of action” – the Dialectics of Liberation – (see filmmaker Peter Davis‘ account, “How I saved the life of Allen Ginsberg..Well Probably..Well Maybe” for a curious side-note on that)

Further essential viewing is the interview between Allen and Laing that took place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (ICA) in 1980 ( as part of their “Writers In Conversation” talk series).  That can be accessed (with a transcript) here 

RDL: Well, it goes without saying, but I’ll say it, a great privilege as well as a great pleasure, to introduce Allen Ginsberg to you….My main reaction when I first glanced at this (Howl) was, a tremendous sense of consolation, and gratitude for that consolation….

AG:  ..thank you… for tolerating such intimacy, because that’s the one element, I would say, that has been lacking in our community, or our society, some common-sense awareness of each others sacred intelligence, or some common-sense recognition or acknowledgment of the emotions of the sacred world that we inhabit together, and of the delicacy and the sensitivity that we all bear…”

R.D.Laing and Allen Ginsberg, London, April 22, 1985 – photo:  courtesy Stanford University Libraries / Allen Ginsberg Estate

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