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PRANKS! Excerpt: Timothy Leary

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Dr. Timothy LearyTimothy Leary: I would say, that one of the greatest pranks that I enjoyed was escaping from prison. I had to take a lot of psychological tests during the classification period, and many of the tests I designed myself, so I took the tests in such a way that I was profiled as a very conforming, conventional person who would not possibly escape, and who had a great interest in gardening and forestry.

So they put me on a place where it was easier to escape. And it was a very acrobatic and dangerous escape because it was under the lights of sharpshooters and so forth. And when I hit the ground and ran out and got picked up by the car, I wanted to be able to get out at least to the highway. If they caught me after that, at least I had made that much of an escape.

The feeling that I had made an escape, a non-violent escape, was a sense of tremendous exaltation and joy. I laughed and laughed and laughed, thinking about what the guards were doing now. They were going to discover me, and then they’d phone Sacramento, and heads would be rolling, and the bureaucracy would be in a stew. This kept me laughing for two or three weeks because I felt it had been a very successful piece of performance art–by example, telling people how to deal with the criminal justice system and the police bureaucracies in the sense of non-violent escapes. So that was a good prank…which was never appreciated by the law-enforcement people…

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