Firsts Timothy Leary Design for Dying

ISBN 13: 9780060187002

Design for Dying

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9780060187002: Design for Dying

As the fringe guru himself put it, "Mademoiselle Cancer moved in to share [his] body." But in the days before he died, Leary -- never one to miss an opportunity for a party -- used his approaching death to create an exuberant new vision of what dying can be. Optimism, courage, joy and spirituality were central to Leary's final days and his death. Design for Dying -- Leary's last book -- shows us how we too can make dying the high point of life.

Irreverent, thought-provoking and hilarious, Leary's parting shot pioneers new ways to die and new ways for the living to think about death. Urging us to take control of our deaths (and even to determine when and how we will die), Leary relates his own plan for "directed dying," a death we plan and orchestrate to reflect our own lives and values.

And the psychedelic prophet flings open a whole new range of beyond-death possibilites for the wired generation. From downloading consciousness onto the Net -- so that our souls can outlive our bodies -- to the way technology can enhance the final days of the dying to the far-out promises of cryogenics, Leary provides fascinating insights into how technology may eventually help us improve, and even sidestep, death. A thorough guide to death and dying resources and to online tools and further reading lists completes this surprising, funny and totally original look at the new frontiers of death.

Speaking to everyone who has ever wondered if there's more to death - -if there's life beyond the final frontier, if death really means the end, if dirges and hearses and funeral flowers are really how we want to be remembered -- Leary's flamboyant final statement rteveals revolutionary ways to die and redefines, with Leary's trademark creativity and joy, how the living can think about death.

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Review:

Timothy Leary, high priest of psychedelia and former Harvard psychologist, spent decades enthusiastically investigating the meaning of life with the boundary-breaking, consciousness-expanding assistance of hallucinogenic drugs. It seems only natural that when "Mademoiselle Cancer moved in to share [his] body," he seized the opportunity to examine the nature of death ... and throw a big party. He didn't, as threatened, commit suicide on the Net or have his head cut off and frozen, but instead surrounded himself with good friends at an extended wake in his Beverly Hills home, where he drifted peacefully away.

In Design for Dying, his newly released book, Leary shows people how to die happily and well. "There are common-sense, easy-to-understand options for dealing planfully, playfully, compassionately, and elegantly with the inevitable final scene," he states. "Face it. At this point in human history, we're all terminal. It behooves us to focus some time and energy and courage on regaining personal and group autonomy over the dying process.... Talking about death is the last taboo in our society. And as we've learned, the way to overcome taboo is pretty straightforward. As the man says, 'Just Do It!'" The book includes contributions from R. U. Sirius of cyberculture magazine Mondo 2000; a guide to death and dying resources, online tools, and further reading lists; and an addendum of "Timothy Leary's Dying Performance as Remembered by His Friends." Timothy Leary vowed to "give death a better name or die trying," and Design for Dying attempts to do just that. Irreverent, original, and funny as ever, Timothy Leary urges us to face death with courage and joy, if not with laughing gas and a lava lamp.

From Booklist:

Emerging a year after Leary's death compelled him to take his own famous advice and drop out for good, his last testament is rather a chore to plow through but does afford its rewards. (Sirius adds the occasional remark on the text and appends the best reading in the book: his own and others' responses to two questions about Leary's demise, which Leary once planned to transmit as it happened on his Web home page--so turn on and tune in, kids!--but finally didn't.) After plodding on in his own version of computer-nerdese on the meaning of life, "cybernautics," and language, Leary brightens when he turns to just what you would expect him to liven up about--drugs. He maintains interest while touting his contributions to his original profession, psychology, but waxes soporific again when expounding his theory of drug-assisted human mutation into a better species. The succeeding chapters about dying include giddily attractive advice ("Dying? Throw a House Party!" says one chapter title), speculation about finding immortality via computer information storage and cryogenics, and constant analogizing and reference to various drug highs. One thing is perfectly and charmingly clear: Tim Leary was an antiauthoritarian trickster--for him, the worst of all wars was the war on drugs--bone-deep and to the end. Ray Olson

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