September 23, 2021 10:00 EDT

Books and Manuscripts

 
  Lot 53
 

53

[Counter-Culture] Leary, Timothy
Psychedelic Prayers after the tao te ching

"The essence of anything is the cut-up. Cut up words. Cut up pictures. Boil it down to the essence. Strip off all the irrelevant, redundant. Boil it down in a steamy teaspoon and then shoot it." -Timothy Leary

Kerhonkson, New York: Poets Press, (1966). First edition. 8vo. Timothy Leary's copy, signed by him on half-title. Comprising three copies of the same, cut up by Leary and incorporated into one, with some with halves removed, and many loose from binding but present. Original yellow printed wrappers, spine perished, wrappers separated, some content loose; with an original envelope; in red cloth slip case and chemise.

Timothy Leary's own copy of Psychedelic Prayers, cut up by him while experimenting with the cut-up technique, a literary method first employed by the Dadaists, and later developed and made famous by Beat iconoclasts Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs. In the execution of this aleatory technique, the act of cutting up and rearranging blocks of text was meant to strip the text of its meaning, and Leary believed that this method could textually translate the experience of LSD. The text of Pyschedelic Prayers is based on the Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese text attributed to the Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu. According to his foreward, Leary took nine English translations of the Tao Te Ching and translated them “from English to psychedelese.” Each resulting psychedelic poem, writes Leary, was intended to be read during a certain time in the sequence of an LSD session.

Leary first met Burroughs in Tangier in June 1961, the same year Burroughs published his first work incorporating the cut-up technique, The Soft Machine. Leary, fascinated by the process, began employing it as a way to textually translate the experience of LSD. He invited Burroughs to participate in his LSD experiments at Harvard, and the two remained correspondents and admirers until late in their lives.

Sold for $1,890
Estimated at $800 - $1,200


 

"The essence of anything is the cut-up. Cut up words. Cut up pictures. Boil it down to the essence. Strip off all the irrelevant, redundant. Boil it down in a steamy teaspoon and then shoot it." -Timothy Leary

Kerhonkson, New York: Poets Press, (1966). First edition. 8vo. Timothy Leary's copy, signed by him on half-title. Comprising three copies of the same, cut up by Leary and incorporated into one, with some with halves removed, and many loose from binding but present. Original yellow printed wrappers, spine perished, wrappers separated, some content loose; with an original envelope; in red cloth slip case and chemise.

Timothy Leary's own copy of Psychedelic Prayers, cut up by him while experimenting with the cut-up technique, a literary method first employed by the Dadaists, and later developed and made famous by Beat iconoclasts Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs. In the execution of this aleatory technique, the act of cutting up and rearranging blocks of text was meant to strip the text of its meaning, and Leary believed that this method could textually translate the experience of LSD. The text of Pyschedelic Prayers is based on the Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese text attributed to the Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu. According to his foreward, Leary took nine English translations of the Tao Te Ching and translated them “from English to psychedelese.” Each resulting psychedelic poem, writes Leary, was intended to be read during a certain time in the sequence of an LSD session.

Leary first met Burroughs in Tangier in June 1961, the same year Burroughs published his first work incorporating the cut-up technique, The Soft Machine. Leary, fascinated by the process, began employing it as a way to textually translate the experience of LSD. He invited Burroughs to participate in his LSD experiments at Harvard, and the two remained correspondents and admirers until late in their lives.

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