Dr. Timothy Leary remembers Benn Posset
I love Benn,
So wise he was, and funny, practical, impractical, poetic, intellecutal,
cool. Now and then spacey. Always un-reliable, street wise, dependable.
Benn was the Jack Kerouac of Europe 1980. He guided me around the
continent on two wonderful "on the road" tours. Linz, Vienna, Heidleberg,
Hamburg, Berlin, Amsterdam and a few others. Sailing on gossamed wings
through Dutch East Europe.
Hey, I forget the details. But, I remember this wonderful guy. People
get to know each other on these improvised, off-the wall road trips.
Renting planes to fly to Hamburg. Late parties. Wheelling Deeling.
Driving through East Germany, hour after day.
Benn, you know, was alway ready for adventure. and philosophic pranks.
Benn had pictures taken of us looking at the remains of the Berlin
Wall. A memorable moment for which I thank him. Benn arranged that
I would be the first Westerner to lecture at Humboldt University,
the Sacred Academy of Totalitarianism during the Kaiser and the Nazi
and the Communist empires.
What a spooky thrill. Benn led me through the fabled Brandenburg Gate
into the legendary tree-lined boulevard- Unter den Linden. I marvelled
again at the grandiose, pompous, bombastic, ostentatious, pretentious,
in-human architecture designed to make us individuals feel small and
insignificant. The State Opera, St. Hedwig's Cathedral, Humboldt University,
Formerly the Frederich William University. Crown-jewel of East-European
scholarship. Further east, on the Unter den Linden is the immense
Marx-Engels Square, where formerly stood the Royal Palace. "Heavy
Historical Shit" said Benn. We walked up the broad wide, imposing
marble staircase of Humboldt University and gaped up at the enormous,
monumental stained-glass mural-wall. It gleamed with the gigantic,
stern, spooky faces of Stalin, Lenin, Engels and, of course, Abraham
Lincoln, the manic, depressive father of modern industrial militaristic
Union-parties. And the totalitarian psychologists Ivan Pavlov, B.F.
Skinner. Here is the Vatican University of militarism. The Harvard-Yale
of Federalism. The West Point, the Annapolis of Modern Totalitarianism.
What a roster of world famous professors and teachers. Adolf Hitler,
Ph D, the great protector of the Union. Herr Professors Ulbricht and
Honecker, models for the Hoover Institute and the Moscow Center of
Education. The Hermann Goering Air Force Academy. The brilliant, loose-cannon
Rudolph Hess (The Ollie North of the 1930's). And P.J. Goebbels the
revered Father of all TV commercials (ABC, BBC, CBS, CBB). Walking
up the marble stairs of All-star totalitarian philosopy, Benn and
I exchanged a knowing smile.
Yeah. We winked, exchanging the universal wordless message. of free
"Let's see what irreverent mischief we can stir up here".
The Regal Vatican Lincoln monumental Grandeur of the university was
grossed out by certain tacky ominious control signs: Nichts Rauschen.
We were led through the magnificant mahogany auditorium into the back-stage
Also elegant and regal. First thing we did, naturally,
was to light up cigarettes. One of our hosts pointed to a three meter
wooden-pole on the floor around which was wrapped a gaudy red-yellow
black flag emblazoned by the dread symbol of totalitarianism: "The
hammer and sickle". Our host proudly reported that this flag, which
formerly emblazoned the entrance to the university, had been taken
down after the wall-fall.
At this point I noticed on the wall of this palacial waiting room,
certain elegant golden bronze metal letters.
the words: Marx Engels
Auditorium. Benn and I exchanged a glance. "I don't think you should
lecture in a hall which glorifies these totalitarian bozos" said Benn
with a smile.
I nodded agreement and made a turning motion with my
hand. Benn, always resourceful, pulled out this pocket knife. He then
explained to our two student guides, in German, that the Herr Professor
would like to be alone to meditate before the lecture. They nodded
We locked the door. Then we went to work trying to pry out
the metal letter M. No luck. Benn's knife was too small.
not stop my beloved, resourceful Dutch friend. Benn stomped around
back-stage and triumphantly produced a strong chisel. Yeah. So we
went to work.
It was a fantastic Mc Luhanite sabotage of literacy.
Benn liberated the M and the A and the R and the X. He handed me the
chisel and I freed the E and the N and G and the E and the L and the
S. We quickly stuffed the metal icons in the pockets of my overcoat.
Then our eyes fell on the flag lying in the corner. Without a word
Benn produced his knife. I held the pole as Benn cut the strings.
We quickly folded the looted trophy of Mc Luhanite triumph and folded
the flag inside my overcoat. We unlocked the door and the students
led us to the stage. The huge auditorium was jammed with an enthusiastic
crowd of German students. Most of them came from West Berlin, we were
told. After the lecture we left. I carried my coat carefully under
We had a wild, happy triumphal dinner on the Kurfurstendam
(sp). Later on this drunken night of celebration I whispered to Benn
that we should get some sleep. Benn replied "Don't worry, we have
plenty of time". Next morning we had an early plane to catch. Benn
Posett did not show up in the lobby. I called his room and he said
"No hurry, No worry, we have plenty of time". After ten minutes the
very worried cab driver said we must leave for the airport. I phoned
Benn's room. And once again he calmed me down by saying "Don't worry,
Tim, we have plenty of time". Ten minutes. No Benn, I phone again.
Once again Benn laughed and said "Don't worry, we have plenty of time".
This time I agreed. "Don't hurry, Don't worry, Benn. I'm leaving for
the airport now. The driver will come back in an hour. You can get
the 11.00 plane to Amsterdam".
In 35 seconds Benn boomed out of the elevator with a big smile. "Don't
worry, Tim we have plenty of time". The frantic driver gunned that
fucking car. Drove like a racer, Zoom. Close to lightspeed. We skidded
up to the KLM terminal with five minutes to go. The boarding gate
was closed, but Benn, with his smile and charm, persuaded them to
open up and let us board. We staggered to our seats and the plane
took off before we could even fasten our belts. Whew. As I mopped
my brow in relief, Benn turned to me with that wonderful, wise, calm,
happy smile. He said "See, I told you we had plenty of time".
Benn, I love you, you were right.
But I wish....I wish... I wish...
we had a little more time, beloved friend.