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Chaos and Cyberculture
by Timothy Leary
reviewed by Steve Brock
Jan 16, 1995
Originally published on Usenet
From: brock@ucsub.Colorado.EDU (Steve Brock)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.books.reviews,rec.arts.books,alt.cyberpunk,sci.cognitive,alt.drugs.culture,alt.cyberpunk.movement
Subject: Review of Chaos and Cyberculture by Timothy Leary
Date: 16 Jan 1995 22:54:19 GMT

Chaos and Cyberculture
by Timothy Leary.
Ronin Publishing, Box 1035, Berkeley, CA 94701.
Illustrated (over 100 black-and-white), bibliography, lists of resources. 292 pp., $19.95 paper. 0-917171-77-1

"The PC is the LSD of the Nineties."
-- Timothy Leary

"Every time you think he's senile, he's not."
-- Winona Ryder, Leary's god-daughter, in "Life" magazine

This compilation of Leary essays, interviews, and profiles from the 1980s (widely printed in a variety of mediums and distributed through several Internet newsgroups), is a user- friendly, if not particularly focused, tour of several stops on Leary's ever-evolving cultural agenda. This incarnation is dedicated to "high-tech pagans and digital philosophers."

In "Chaos," Leary examines digital technology's effects on chaos theory with the help of William Gibson, David Byrne, William S. Burroughs, and others, with a good measure of new-age metaphysics on the side.

As humans further develop their psychological capabilities, Leary says, they become ever-closer to "forming neural-electronic symbiotic linkups with solid-state computers." These linkups, Leary believes, will cause us to operate at higher levels of intelligence - "mapping and colonizing the next frontier - one's own brain," and "protecting [it] from invasion and exploitation from without."

"Chaos" doesn't try to be a significant contribution to the study of chaos theory and digital technology. The book is whimsical, jargon-ridden, undisciplined and frequently off-topic (such as his chapter on war). But it's typical Leary, who, with his team of guerilla computer artists that liven up each page, dares us to "just say know," and to have a good time as we create our mutual digital realities. Grade: B..