Digital Angels

May 8, 1996

At the end of the evening, R.U. Sirius tells the story of his last trip to LA to visit Timothy Leary. Dying of cancer, Leary has already done death one better, passing over at hyper-speed to the beatific state as the guest of honor at a virtual wake for a virtual death. A kind of New Orleans auto-da-fe in advance for the wake Leary will never get to attend, his house is the daily scene of the greatest congregation of American writers and musicians and merry pranksters and spies and AI recombinants and hallucinogenic eyes and friends and foes and hangers-on and stars and unknowns and networkers and TV anchors and just-released-from-San-Quentin outlaws that this country has ever witnessed. Everybody has come to pay their virtual respects to one of California's most courageous, and certainly most creative, thinkers - to a spirit that passed over long ago to the side of the digital angels.

But not so fast! Gurgling away in the corner of Leary's bedroom is a state of the art 21st century full-body cryogenic unit, a beautiful bubbling vat of liquid nitrogen, accompanied by uniformed deep-freeze attendants ready on quick-time to snatch Leary's fading flesh away at the moment of death for the big cryo-heaven in the sky. Like Walt Disney before him, Leary is contemplating perpetual life on permanent reserve as a cryogenized icon, deep frozen, staring out with ice-blue nitrogen tinted eyes, liquid cooled for life in the 3d millennium. The twin cryo-heads of Disney and Leary: a perfect metaphor of America, united at last in virtual death.

Just before R.U. Sirius took his virtual leave from the virtual wake for the virtual death, Leary motioned to the cryo-unit in the corner, winked, and said: "Hey R.U. - want to be my roommate?"

June 4, 1996

In the end, Leary didn't have to bother with the cryo unit. And why? Because his image has already been frozen in time, preceding his virtual death with a precession of virtual memories. And if he could mutter "Why not?" at that fateful moment, that's because he was a real mystic, American style.