“The reason I mention this story is because, since we separated in 1977, this man named Thaddeus Ashby, who became my noisy neighbor living on a 1/4 acre parcel of land inside the crotch of my two-acre “Y” shaped property, recently died.

The day of his death, we suffered the largest storm I’ve ever experienced in South Kona. With tremendous thunder and lightening and wind, 4 1/2 inches of rain fell in one hour causing huge boulders to flow down the hill, breaking down walls and flowing over the road, stopping traffic for hours.Certainly I would not liken Thaddeus to anyone else as he was uniquely Thaddeus Ashby. But a great storm similar to this also blew when our famous neighbor, Terence McKenna, died.”

 

This Thaddeus is the very same Thaddeus Ashby mentioned in Alan’s autobiography, “In My Own Way”, on page 42-43:

“One of the major taboos of our culture is against realizing that vegetables are intelligent—an insight which I owe to an inspired eccentric named Thaddeus Ashby, who haunts and dismays the general area of Southern California, but who is an undoubted genius. Not so long ago he arrived at my door in the rig of a British field marshal, Montgomery-style, except that the golden badge on his beret proved, on close inspection, to be a Buddhist emblem.

He explained that he was a true field marshal, representing the interests of the vegetable kingdom, and gave me a long discourse on the intellectuality, cunning, and compassion of the whole world of plants. This was in line with my own suspicion that every living and sentient being considers itself human—that is, as being at the center of the universe and as having attained the height of culture. He went into the amazingly beautiful and varied methods whereby plants disperse their seeds, and pointed out that fruit is sweet or tangy because the plant wants it to be eaten, so that seeds will be distributed through the alimentary canals of bugs, birds, or people. He further exemplified our dim view of the plant world by the fact that we call decrepit people “mere vegetables,” and deplore homosexuals by calling them “fruits.”

He pointed out that, as distinct from mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish, the brain and the sexual organs of plants are in the same place, and that they do not therefore have the problems over which Freud puzzled, namely the conflict between the pleasure principle and the reality principle. He further suggested that the botanical world was so concerned about human misuse of the biosphere that it had decided to turn us on, psychedelically, so that we would come to our senses, or, if that wouldn’t work, to turn us off by making itself increasingly poisonous.”

 

According to his obituary in the Honolulu Advertiser, Thaddeus was an Army veteran and a newspaper and magazine editor. Brian Doherty’s “Radicals for Capitalism” states that Ashby was “by the end of the 1960s writing guides to lovemaking on mushrooms filled with hippie language derived from Stranger in a Strange Land, the successful novel of another libertarian hero, science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein.”

He “ended up dropping out of libertarian ideology altogether, and pursuing the mad mushroom in Mexico and the bizarre path of Tantric Yoga.”

Thaddeus was also mentioned in “Ayn Rand and the World She Made,” by Anne C Heller:

“[Ayn Rand] began to collect the most interesting young men she could find, those who appealed to her for reasons of merit or like-mindedness. An early example was Thaddeus Ashby, who came to live on the ranch in the Spring of 1945. An irrepressible twenty-one-year-old fan, he had written to her from New York, calling her the most important philosopher living and suggesting that, because he understood the character of Howard Roark better than Warner Bros. Ever could, she should appoint him producer of The Fountainhead.”

 

It would appear that Thaddeus, alongside Rita Ashby, wrote an article entitled “On the Possibilities of an LSD Utopia” in The Oracle of Southern California #3 in June 1967, according to Howard Brick’s “Age of Contradiction: American Thought and Counterculture in the 1960s”

Included below are some links to Thaddeus’ written work and mentions of him by others.

Articles by Thaddeus in Faith and Freedom

A link to Thaddeus’ story “When Are You Going To Turn Respectable?”, first published in Reader’s Digest in 1950

Thaddeus writes for “The Freeman”

A touching eulogy by one of Thaddeus’ neighbors on Hawaii at Dragonfly Ranch:

The mention of Thaddeus chasing the “mad mushrooms” in Mexico:

Rise of the CIA Conservatives