One of my favorite essays is Timothy Leary’s “The Cyber-punk: The Individual as Reality Pilot,” published in 1988 in the Mississippi Review and reprinted in Larry McCaffery’s reader Storming Reality Studio (1991). Though the essay was published years after Ridley Scott’s epic film Blade Runner (1982), which was based on Philip K. Dick’s culturally and stylistically prescient novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), and and was published after William Gibson’s mind-blowing novel Neuromancer (1984), Leary explored and articulated the contours of the cyberpunk as the cultural figure that would continue to inform this popular sci-fi sub-genre along with cyberpunk in fashion throughout the nineties.
Today, the cyber-punk is precisely the kind of mind that thrives in our technology-driven world: a highly individualistic, self-reliant intelligence which soaks itself in collective intelligence but, self-driven, it moves autonomously, like a self-aware, free-floating atom, piloting its way deftly through fields of techno-stunned, atomized masses.
“Cyber-punks use all available data to think for themselves.
You know who they are.
Every stage of history has produced a name and a heroic legend for the strong, stubborn, creative individual who explores some future-frontier, collects and brings back new information, and offers to guide the gene-pool to the next stage. Typically, the time-maverick combines bravery with high curiosity, with super-self-esteem. These three talents are considered necessary for those engaged in the profession of genetic-guide, a.k.a., philosopher.”
~Timothy Leary, “The Cyber-punk: The Individual as Reality Pilot.” 1988