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The Sun Magazine

The Sun Interview

An Interview With Warren Barrett

What influenced me most was when Ethel, my first wife, a cancer victim, crossed into spirit, and I started searching, asking, “What’s this all about?”

We were in our thirties, coming along with three fine children, and all of a sudden my world blew up. 1 lost my business, my home, my car, everything, in just a few months.

Ethel had been buried about thirty days when I was driving up from Daytona Beach to Wilmington, where I lived. On the way up, I decided it wasn’t worth it all. I was going to take my life. Between Jacksonville, Florida and the Georgia line, is a long straight stretch of road. Cars, and especially trucks were just balling the jack on that highway.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

All In Common

What Gets Shared (And What Doesn't) In Small Communities

Most communal groups in the United States today (of which by far the largest number are urban) are expense-sharing groups, at least as far as such things as groceries, mortgage or rent, taxes, utilities and vehicles used in common are concerned. Most make some distinction between these common expenses and “personal” expenditures, which may include such things as medical bills, vices, personal transportation, gifts, clothing, perhaps furniture (and sometimes even buildings), record and tape players, and other property over which individuals (or sub-groups such as families) want to maintain control. The “allowances” at kibbutz-type communities symbolize that there are at least some minimal areas of personal choice essential for happiness. If I want to send my mother a birthday present, I may not want to put the matter of how much I should spend up for community discussion. (One mother in community reported receiving gifts from her grown non-member children and finding it ironic that she was not really free to send them gifts. They could come to visit her, being put up as visitors by her community for a small fee, but she was rarely free to visit them.)

True Touch

In the Zen tradition, a line of succession of Zen Masters is supposed to be linked together by transmission of mind — pure thought transferred from mind to mind with no words. I think that with midwives there is a similar kind of transmission of touch. 

The Only Source You Need

There is much talk these days about being in the last quarter of the century, long prophesied to be the time of cataclysmic upheaval and universal distress. Those of us seriously involved in metaphysics are bombarded with gurus, masters, courses, automatically channeled bibles and mail-order pamphlets that all proclaim they have the one answer, the one way out, the one spiritual ointment for your psychic pain. Too often these paths, especially the guru/master/anointed leader cults, are a sad psychological substitute for the all-loving, all-knowing fathers we have each subconsciously craved at some point in our development.

Books: The World According To Irving, Garp, Bensenhaver

Review Of John Irving's The World According To Garp

The first chapter of The World According to Garp introduces a strikingly original character. Born of a family of prominent New England manufacturers, Jenny Fields has left Wellesley to become a nurse, an unspeakable occupation in the forties for a woman of her standing. She has decided, too, that while she wants to raise a child, she wants nothing to do with a man. Working in intensive care during the Second World War, she is on the lookout for a likely terminal case, and settles on a ball turret gunner who has suffered a serious brain injury. Immediately upon being injured, the man had been reduced to a state in which he could speak only his name — “Garp!” —  and in which his only joy, a considerable one, was masturbation. As his condition progresses he loses even these functions: his hands are badly burnt in an accident, and he begins to lose sounds from his syllable; “Arp!” he exclaims, then “Ar!” The man is not just dying, but regressing toward the womb; Jenny first suckles him and then, in a deliberately fantastic and symbolic scene — a patient on one side shouts “God!, on the other side “Piss!” — she mounts him and takes his seed. Eventually he expires, but Jenny has what she wanted, a baby whom she names T. S. (for Technical Sargeant) Garp. Thus our novel’s hero is born not of a marriage, or even lust; he bears the initials of a famous modern intellectual and a last name that is almost a nonsense syllable.

Notes: Fathers

I dreamt last night my father had died. Waking up, I felt thankful it was only a dream. I reached out to him, across that twilight space that separates dreaming from waking. Then I opened my eyes. Fully awake now, I realized he was dead.

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.

Readers Write

Animals

As a child — until the age of 29 — I put more trust in my animal friends than I did most People. Long ago, this made very good sense: my mother was cold, distant, and formal, my father was loving, but unsure of how to express his affection. I got little from either. I was the youngest of 5 children and my older brothers and sister were usually away, playing with their own friends or attending boarding school. I was alone.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.

Emily Dickinson

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