Timothy Leary's Dead

A few months age I went to see the movie Timothy Leary's Dead at Cinema Village. The title is taken from an old Moody Blues song with that lyric, but of course it also refers to Leary's recent death of cancer, and his decision to have his head frozen. (My wife was fascinated by the scene of Leary's head being cut off and frozen. I was grossed out.)

That aside Timothy Leary's Dead is a fun and powerful look back at Timothy Leary's life, what it meant, and how it affected our world. Fours stars. Highly recommended.

In any case, the movie got me to thinking. It seems a lot of my heroes have been dying lately. For a while that wasn't the case. I guess it started with Abbie Hoffman back in 1988. Richard Feynman also died in 1988, though I don't suppose I really began to feel like he mattered to me till later. But recently they've begun going faster and faster. Jerry Garcia died in 1995. This year Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg died. I'm starting to read the Times obituary pages with more of an eye to the possibility that someone who was important to me may be gone. That's new.

Until recently I pretty much divided famous people I respected into two categories. There were those who were already dead (King, Gandhi, Einstein, Feynman, many others) and those who were still alive (Hoffman, Chavez, Wilson, Leary, Mermin). But that doesn't work anymore. Now I have to have a third category for those who've left. It's surprisingly disturbing given that I'm not talking about anyone I've known personally.

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Copyright 1997 Elliotte Rusty Harold
Last Modified October 1, 1997