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The Center of the Cyclone by John C. Lilly

The Center of the Cyclone (original 1972; edition 1979)

by John C. Lilly (Author)

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294263,353 (3.57)2
In this long-out-of-print counterculture classic, Dr. John C. Lilly takes readers behind the scenes into the inner life of a scientist exploring inner space, or "far-out spaces," as Lilly called them. The book explains how he derived his theory of the operations of the human mind and brain from his personal experiences and experiments in solitude, isolation, and confinement; LSD; and other methods of mystical experience. It also includes glimpses into Lilly's friendship with such1960s' notables as Oscar Ichazo, Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, Albert Hofmann, Fritz Perls, and Claudio Narajo. Written for the non-specialist,Center of the Cyclone shows an important, modern thinker at his most personal and profound.… (more)
Title:The Center of the Cyclone
Authors:John C. Lilly (Author)
Info:Bantam (1979)
Collections:Your library

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Center of the Cyclone: Looking into Inner Space by John C. Lilly (1972)


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What I would consider one my "hippie days" classics. This book had a profound influence on my development as a person. That a real *doctor* was talking about opening up new worlds was an eye-opener for me at the time. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Lilly was an intelligent scientist who was well known for his dolphin communication studies and research until efforts to force his research center to do military research (turning dolphins into "smart bombs").

He also began experimenting with LSD and Ketamine and using himself as a research subject to explore the inner mind.

Eventually he arrived at the idea of building isolation tanks where one could float in salt water in a dark enclosed space and the sensory deprivation and lack of sound and light supposedly created an effect very similar to LSD. Isolation tanks became a bit trendy for a while and some places rented access to them.

Lilly's personal journal took him to extremes with drug abuse with Ketamine that nearly killed him. When I was in high school this book made a good pair with the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Kesey at one point suggested it was time for the hippies to evolve beyond LSD and suggested that once someone had experienced a psychedelic experience they could do so again without drugs. Lilly seemed to have come up with a practical device to allow drug free experiences, though I think Lilly also used drugs in the tanks and it's arguable whether the effects wold be similar one was not already familiar with a psychedelic experience.

It's been almost 30 years since I read this but I seem to recall his grasp on reality became challenged. Lilly was seen by some as similar to Timothy Leary as an advocate of use of psychedelics, though I think Lilly's tale was partly a cautionary one.

In any case, I found Lilly's book fascinating as a teen, and was a bit wary of LSD and Ketamine because of this, though I always wanted to try an isolation tank.

The book and movie Altered States was a romanticized fictional adaption supposed to have been based largely to Lilly's life and this book. ( )
  malium | Oct 6, 2007 |
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