Stab Magazine | Surfing, According To The King Of Acid

Surfing, According To The King Of Acid

“It’s perfectly logical to me that surfing is the spiritual aesthetic style of the liberated self.” — Dr. Timothy Leary

style // Apr 8, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

What does surfing mean?

There’s no definitive answer to that question.

On the surface, it is taking a flotation device into the ocean and dancing around waves on it. But in that same vein, life is an explosion out of a uterus and a somewhat less rhythmic dance to a hole in a cemetery. Point being: we give meaning to things based off how they make us think and feel, and that enables them to transcend their surface value.

And, speaking of transcendence, there was a fella named Timothy Leary who was all about it. Dr Tim happened to be a respected psychologist around the same time the US government started testing LSD as a mental health drug. Turns out there was a huge gap between psychiatric and psychedelic, and so the gov hooked right and classified it as very illegal while Leary went left and dedicated his life to waving the LSD flag high. Literally.

Leary’s the guy behind the “Turn on, tune in, drop out” that you’ve probably seen a stolen and misinterpreted version of somewhere. SURFER Magazine also interviewed him in 1978. I recently discovered that interview in my dad’s garage and pulled a few quotes for you:

Surfers have somehow been able to get in touch with the infinity, with the turbulence of the power of their own brain. You can talk about surfing brain waves as you would about surfing external waves.

There’s a great sense of timing. If you study how evolution works and how the DNA code builds bodies and builds species, timing is of absolute importance. Being in the right place at the right time. You can’t create a wave, you know; it comes and there’s a time to move and a time to lay back. It’s almost Taoist poetry. Almost Einsteinian.

It’s a merging of your own body neuromuscular, or brain body, with the power/energy/rhythm of nature. That’s what’s so jewel-like about mind/body/sea energy interfacing together. One thing I like about surfing is that it is all out. You can’t be half-hearted, or you can’t be thinking about something else. You’ve got to be totally there.

I want to have film of a surfer moving along constantly right at the edge of the tube. That position is the metaphor of life to me, the highly conscious life. You think of the tube as being the past, and I’m an evolutionary agent, and what I try to do is to be at that point where you’re going into the future, but you have to keep in touch with the past. That’s where you get the power…and sure you’re most helpless, but you also have most precise control at that moment.

The danger of the vulgar surfer philosophy is that, “Oh man, nothing is important; just kick back, wait for the wave, just hang out.” That’s beautiful, and it’s a step forward, but in a sense it’s a dilettante situation. The next step is to create the future, to take responsibility for it.

The key to post-terrestrial living is going to be grace and aesthetics… There’ll be no more constraints on linearity, of four walls; a building can be any shape at all. It’s tied to surfing because it means that we’ll be freed from gravity, and we can be totally into style and grace. And it may seem strange to be talking to surfers about post-terrestrial living, because surfing is water, and we’re talking about air or a vacuum. But it’s perfectly logical to me that surfing is the spiritual aesthetic style of the liberated self. The reason I define myself as an evolutionary surfer is because surfers have taught me the way you relate to the basic energies, and develop your individual sense of freedom, self-definition, style, beauty and control.

So…is that what surfing means?

Yes. Also no. Much like acid, surfing means different things to different people. To some, LSD is a conscious-exploding tab of spiritual wilderness that shoots ripples through your psyche and dramatically loosens your grasp on reality. To others, it makes you giggle for a night and dance to shitty Phish songs. Just like some people use surfing a vehicle to express athletic superiority and use it to access a uniquely tangible cosmic breeze.

So, if nothing else, this look into the acid king’s brain should serve as a reminder: life is life, but perspective is up to you. You can choose to sulk your way towards a tombstone. Or you try to connect with forces that may to may not exist. Decide now.


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