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Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary: My Psychedelic Love Story Paperback – 4 Jul 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
In 1973 she hooked up with Timothy Leary who definitely knew how to 'score', telling Joanna that he ahd dreamed her up while in prison and that she was "the most intelligent woman in Europe". And initating her to the deeper aspects of LSD.
While Leary's own CONFESSIONS OF A HOPE FIEND "Learytells the story of his escape from jail and his time in Marocco Joanna's book continues from there meeting him during his stay in Switzerland. And following him on his hopeless and unrelaistic journey seeking refugee in Afghanistan.
From there on the story gets a nasty turn when Leary was 'kidnapped' and returned to jail and Joanna did all she could to get him free. Finally adopting the strategy of cooperation and turning snitches/informers. All done in a haze of drugs and sex. She could be called Hardcore-Smith. Apparently she never said no to any man at least not if he were powerful and influential enough. But also the many sexscenes are depicted in an honest way.
Even though she explicitly says she is not out to defame Leary he do come across as a person addicted to drugs and unable to rely on his inner strength without them.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
It narrates a time of tumultuous transformation in our culture shedding light on some of the major players of the times.( and the shadow of the times as well)
This is a story of , love, pain, excess, seeking, historical revelation , forgiveness and ultimately healing.
A good read.
This is the story we have been waiting for a long time, told from close within the inner circle of the mind- and soul-expanding experiments of brave people pushing the envelope for the rest of us. It is a revelation and an inspiration, the missing link that fills in many of the blanks of the written and anecdotal history of a remarkable time.
Thank you, Joanna Harcourt-Smith, for writing this, and for doing so in such a loving, informative, forgiving, and spiritually-imbued way. The book is not only beautiful...it is transporting.
The ability of Joanna Harcourt-Smith to reveal hidden essentials about Timothy Leary's character and substance, her relationship with Leary, the profound ways their lives intersected, and the roles they played in events of the time, set "Tripping the Bardo" apart from any book I've read on Leary, psychedelic experience, and the greater tapestry of events in which they were woven. It is a story of life, love, death, grief, intrigue, and revelation. More importantly, it is the prelude to the birth of Joanna's personhood, of the loving, caring, person who today hosts the vitally important Future Primitive podcast.
Joanna is unflinching with details of her life. Gutsy honesty permeates all aspects of this superbly written book, including her early life as a member of Europe's elite floating cultura, her love affair with Leary, her time as an informer on behalf of Leary to the F.B.I. and D.E.A., and the relationships with the various individuals who are the story's warp and weft. Joanna's candidness unravels tangles of deception that for 40 years have obscured some of the most significant events in human history.
Who was Timothy Leary? Harvard professor, psychedelic researcher, author, media hero, outlaw, prisoner, futurist, and wacky old man – such images of him are abundant. Little has been known, however, about his inner self, including the depth of his ability to flow with changes, the sincerity of his smile, and some of the psy-ops perpetrated on him in prison, which left him a bit broken.
Perhaps no one could reveal Leary’s soul with more insight than Joanna Harcourt-Smith – though she never makes such a claim, and portrays Leary in part as a mystery. Joanna’s own innate ability to dance and adapt linked her with Leary, who in many ways was her cosmic counterpart. The magic of this link manifested in the beginning of their relationship, their “49 Days of Clear Light,” when they were taking Sandoz LSD every day and Leary was simultaneously a media star and a fugitive being chased around Europe and Asia by various police agencies.
The two traveled together, made love, and hung out with friends, strangers, rock bands, dope peddlers, tricksters, informants, and media people. Leary was fearless and unflappable due to wisdom gained through the hundreds of doses of LSD he had taken through the years. Joanna and Leary together flew on love.
Then came the crash and burn: Leary was taken to prison in the United States. The ensuing months became a nightmare for Joanna. Probably for Leary, too, although he always retained his confident smile. While Leary was shuffled from one prison to another, for political reasons and in order to break his spirit, Joanna took it upon herself to secure his release by any means. This included fundraising, media interviews, drug deals, con games, and other risky maneuvers. Leary was her great love, her reason for continuing, and so she was focused on her efforts until he was released and they were again together.
As the years of prison went by, Joanna became Leary’s spokesperson and window on the world. She helped him to get his StarSeed Series books published - books that were critical in the development of my own thinking, particularly in the area of entheogens and their effects on intelligence-enhancement. Even though Leary had a special gleam in his eye whenever Joanna visited, she knew prison was getting to him. She helped him in whatever ways she could, including smuggling him LSD.
Then, one day, Leary was released. Intact in some ways but not so much in others. He and Joanna entered the Witness Protection Program. This in a way was the end of the titular story, for it signaled the end of the love affair between Joanna and Timothy.
For me, however, an even more interesting story involves Joanna’s upbringing by her mother, an heiress and socialite who regularly shamed her as well as taught her the significance of using her thinness and charm to get what she needed from men; a way of surviving. It also discusses her stint as teen-host of an Israeli TV show; the birth of her daughter; days in Spain with her mother; and the death of her mother. I was particularly moved by the poignancy of Joanna’s grief for her mother, which triggered in me a line of thought that I am still pondering, months later: a strangely beautiful sense of personal entitlement in the Joanna of those days, cultivated in her by her mother.
The Joanna in “Tripping the Bardo” had an almost unquestioning sense that she could have or obtain what she needed. Or wished. It was her right by birth - she understood - and so she would do whatever was required in order to make her way in the world. If this survival lesson by her mother meant lying, flirting, or engaging in types of behavior that might be defined by some as sociopathic, she would simply do it as if by animal instinct. This way of living served her well when the money ran out and she had to live on her wits. She would simply believe that something she desired would come to her, or something favorable would occur, and act accordingly. Generally, things worked out.
When her mother died she felt fierce love and loss, in the kind of way that a lion cub might feel for its mother. Joanna felt this way even though her mother had often told her (when Joanna was a child) that she was ugly and worthless. Despite all, Joanna and her mother had loved one another strongly in a way that some non-human animals do.
In fact, it was while pondering the lifestyle of my beloved cat that I realized Joanna’s behavior of that time-period was almost instinctive: lovely in its catlike innocence, its lack of self-consciousness.
Her behavior also reminded me of my own at the same age. Before I had experienced tragedy.
The relationship between Joanna and her mother, more than anything else in this thoroughly excellent book, made permanent grooves in my mind, and will always be a factor for me when I consider love and death, people, human behavior, and relationships.
While the portions of the book concerning Leary are eye-opening and fascinating, as are the events and people surrounding them, the most important element in the book is Joanna’s gestation as a naïf. And while the discussions of LSD are interesting and significant, what is more interesting is the fact that Joanna, despite her beauty, wit, and ability to improvise, had yet to become the wise and soul-generous person she is today.
That would come later with Joanna’s true birth.