"Dying To Know: Ram Dass And Timothy Leary," a 2014 film, is playing to packed audiences at independent theatres like the Loft, Tucson, Arizona.
It was medium genius, Marshall McLuhan, who instructed Leary to always smile, always transmit the message that he was in control. And that Leary did, even when being arrested, even when being carted off to prison.
The era was ready for Leary's ideology and performance art, just as so many are embracing Trump's. After the conformity of the Eisenhower era, people of all ages and all classes were yearning to break free. Leary helped out with that. His sidekick was Richard Alpert, who morphed into mystic Ram Dass. Trump is responding to a hunger for a clean sweep in politics, economic policy, and mindsets.
And like Trump, Leary had many wives.
But one takeaway from "Dying To Know" that we don't find in TrumpLand is that Leary taught his followers how to die. After he was diagnosed with cancer, it switched his mission to enlightening humans how to turn dying into a laboratory for learning. That theme has become sticky.
For example, in her most recent book "Nothing Was the Same," Kay Jamison had explored the dying process. A professor of psychiatry her earlier books had been about mood disorders. All generations are flocking to spiritual centers to learn to become at ease with our mortality. Last Tuesday at a Buddhist temple, a Millennial noted in the discussion that he was going to die someday and he better get used to the idea. He laughed. So did all the rest of us.
Who knows, if Trump does become U.S. President he might commission a reality show on how to approach death strategically.