Saturday, July 28, 2018

Curation #96 from my Kerouac bookshelf: White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg by Peter Conners

Item #96 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 2010 City Lights Books (no printing number) edition of White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg by Peter Connors. 308 pages, it measures about 5-3/8" x 7-7/8" and is in very good condition. The provenance is that it was a review copy sent to me by City Lights.

This City Lights publication tells the inside story of how Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary launched the psychedelic revolution together. I searched in vain for whether I reviewed this in the past on The Daily Beat, and, if I didn't, my apologies to City Lights. Now that I'm retired, that won't happen again with review copies of books. I honestly can't remember if I read this book, but I see in thumbing through it that it includes the transcript of the "Houseboat Summit," a meeting on Alan Watts' houseboat between Watts, Ginsberg, Leary, and Gary Snyder that was published in #7 of the San Francisco Oracle. That alone likely makes this a worthwhile addition to your Beat Generation or 1960s book collection.

But, does it belong on your Kerouac bookshelf? I can't say. It depends on how you define the parameters of said bookshelf. It's on mine because I received a review copy. Would I have purchased it? If I knew in advance about the Watts et al. piece -- probably. I own so many Watts books I almost need a Watts bookshelf.

Below is the back cover blurb:
In 1960 Timothy Leary was not yet famous -- or infamous -- and Allen Ginsberg was both. Leary, eager to expand his experiments at the Harvard Psilocybin Project, knew that Ginsberg held the key to bohemia's elite. Ginsberg, fresh from his first experience with hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico, was eager to promote the spiritual possibilities of psychedelic use. Thus, America's most conspicuous beatnik was recruited as Ambassador of Psilocybin under the auspices of an Ivy League professor, and together they launched the psychedelic revolution and turned on the hippie generation.

Actor and founder of the Diggers, Peter Coyote, who ran in such circles at the time and knew both men well, gave White Hand Society a very positive review.

The question remains: What does the term, "White Hand Society," mean? You'll have to read the book to find out....

Below is a picture of Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (16th from the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Nobody's Wife: The Smart Aleck and The King of the Beats by Joan Haverty Kerouac.

Shelf #3 of my Kerouac bookshelf

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