Wednesday, January 25, 2012


" It was 20 years ago today Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They've been going in and out of style but they're guaranteed to raise a:

S.M.I.2L.E. ..."

S.M.I.2L.E. represents Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, and Life Extension. Timothy Leary coined this acronym as a formula for the next step in human evolution. The way he put it in his book Exo-Psychology (later revised to Info-Psychology) :

We are designed to use our Heads (I2) in order to Use Time (L.E.) in order to Use Space.
Of these three associated imperatives Intelligence Increase is the most important.

Back in the day, circa late 1970's and into the '80's, when Leary and cohort Robert Anton Wilson were barnstorming around the country and the world communicating this magick formula with boundless enthusiasm, passion and optimism, they expected this vision to manifest quite literally in their near future. Space Migration meant Space Colonization, the development of High Orbital Mini-Earths (H.O.M.E. s), living off-planet. Life Extension meant the extension of the human biological machine beyond normal life expectancy and/or the reanimation of biological life after death. Robert Anton Wilson gives detailed explanations of the S.M.I.2L.E. formula in his book Cosmic Trigger Volume I. Wilson revealed some of the background behind its genesis in Cosmic Trigger by publishing excerpts of letters Leary wrote to him from prison:

By the way, I have always felt that Crowley's "Do What Thou Wilt" is good ... The question then becomes "What do we will to do." Most of the Crowleyites I've met (yourself excluded) seem to have decided that they will make pompous asses of themselves which is fine with me. But I'm delighted that we've found the three obvious steps that a reasonably educated God takes:S.M.I.2L.E.

- p. 167

Nowadays S.M.I.2L.E. seems an overly optimistic, anachronistic product of the cultural explosion that began in the 1960s. Space Migration doesn't appear scheduled to happen anytime soon. The expected breakthroughs in biological life extension have not yet occurred. Intelligence Increase seems confined to a small minority. It seems useful and worthwhile to update, re-examine and revitalize this formula from a XXIst Century perspective. Though circumstances and expectations have changed, the individual aspects of S.M.I.2L.E. remain as cogent as ever. I will show how.

But first, let's look at the overall image S.M.I.2L.E. presents. It obviously evokes the association of positive energy. Cosmic Trigger Volume I closes with a Leary smile:

"What do you do, Dr. Leary, when somebody keeps giving you negative energy?"

Tim grinned that special grin of his that so annoys all his critics. "Come back with all the positive energy you have."

- p. 238

Wilson's last sentence in the book promotes this as the final secret of the Illuminati, also the book's subtitle.

Anyone aware of the histories of Doctor's Wilson and Leary wouldn't confuse this with the insipid, stick your head in the sand wishful dreaming of the typical new age mentality. Both Doctors experienced tremendous hardship and tragedy in their lives, way beyond the norm, yet both maintained this life affirming outlook.

S.M.I.2L.E. recalls the Chesire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, a critter completely invisible except for its smile, who asks Alice where she wants to get to after Alice asks for directions.

I associate the positivity of S.M.I.2L.E. formula with some dramatic instances of the word YES. John Lennon first became interested in Yoko Ono after climbing a ladder at her art exhibition in London's Indica Gallery and looking through a magnifying glass tied to the ceiling by a string to see the word "yes." Together they helped change the world.

James Joyce's Ulysses ends on a similar positive note:

... O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Almameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gilbraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I say yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

Both Wilson and Leary read Joyce, particularly the most experimental works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, avidly. Leary credits this literature with preparing him for inner space explorations. Wilson included Joyce as a character in one of his immortal novels, Masks of the Illuminati.

The character Yassun Dede appears as the narrator in several stories found in Autobiography of a Sufi by E.J. Gold. Apparently Gold originally used this as a pseudonym for one of his most significant musical recordings, Epitaph for an Ego.

The ending of Monty Python's Life of Brian gives a humorous take on positive energy:

This video also shows another interesting key.

A lot of music can be cited that relates to S.M.I.2L.E.'s positivity. The best known classical example occurs at the end of Beethoven's 9th Symphony which uses words from the poem Ode to Joy. A favorite of mine is What A Wonderful World sung by Louis Armstrong. I like the way the BBC production of Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy used it:

I'll be approaching this examination of S.M.I.2L.E. from an esoteric rather than an exoteric point of view, making it relevant to the individual not expecting to move off the planet anytime soon, or hoping to extend their biological lifespan. An archetypal precedent for a magickal formula's dual points of view presents itself in Crowley's cosmology with the twin aspects of Horus, the reigning deity of the New Aeon. The active side of Horus manifest a warrior god known as Ra Hoor Khuit. The apparently more passive side of Horus, called Hoor Par Kraat signifies a more introverted or hidden aspect. The practitioner of magick embeds this archetype in their bones through education by posture in the Star Ruby ritual. Posture invokes mood. It's been suggested that this dual nature of Horus symbolizes the two approaches to Crowley's system, magick and mysticism.

This twin archetype of opposites plays out in Isaac Asimov's The Foundation Trilogy. The Foundation describes a collective meant to preserve art, science, and technology through barbaric times. Largely unknown to the Foundation, another collective called the Second Foundation formed with the intent of preserving the psychic arts.

Leary changing the title of his book Exo-Psychology to Info-Psychology also suggests this archetype. In Cosmic Trigger, Wilson hints at the mystical side of S.M.I.2L.E.:

Space Migration plus Increased Intelligence plus Life Extension means expansion of humanity into all space-time. S.M.I.2L.E. =


to be continued ...


  1. Just want to say how much I enjoy reading your unique perspectives on ideas that I personally find vital. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, michael!

  3. good blog..nice article publishing by you...appreciate on you...thanks for giving detail..
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  4. Great stuff. Even Newt Gingrich wants a moon colony. I think very highly of the S.M.I2.L.E. model.