I enjoy THE SUN for the general quality of honesty and self-searching in most of its articles, essays, and stories. However, for my taste there’s just a little too much emphasis on the religious side of our nature. I find it easy to feel close to the wonder of life without evoking gods and lives-hereafter. I think a person can be totally at peace (some of the time) and fulfilled in this life through 1) self-understanding 2) self-expression and 3) open, loving interaction with all the natural resources of the world: humans, animals, plants, and inanimate objects.
I realize I am sounding a little arrogant. To many people, religion is necessary for, or an outgrowth from self-understanding and loving interaction. But aren’t there any of your readers who can approach the problems of life and celebrate its beauty without leaning on organized religions? In the US Section many of your contributors seem to throw in Buddhist or Christian terminology as a sort of name-dropping technique to give their already valid thoughts religious validity. I look at your magazine as a vehicle for sharing experiences. I think we need to share more experiences from the grosser and more accessible side of our nature. I’m not dead yet.
Julie lives upstairs. I think she must have found Ultimate Ecstasy in some mind/soul bending organization called SUMMIT. I know it is important, because she has taken to spending all weekends with them, giving them many of her assets, ’most all of her free time.
Anyway, on her path to Nirvana she dropped off a few copies of THE SUN. I peruse them from time-to-time (after class, or just before the evening’s Wine Cooler, or upon awaking from uncommon dreams).
I would guess that you and I have gone several paths together. Back in 1964, this weird Harvard professor gave a speech in Ellensberg (in Ellensberg!) I was running a small, backyard radio station, KRAB, in Seattle, out of a converted doughnut shop. We sent one of our volunteers out to Central Washington State College to record the talk. Dr. Leary said he had found something very interesting, very interesting indeed. He called it a “psychedelic.” He said it would change people’s perspective. We played the tape of his talk on the air. I figured out he must have seen some of the things I had seen the summer before when my friend Judy gave me some double-ought capsules filled with a noxious brown peyote.
So I wrote to Dr. Leary, and asked him if he would send us some tapes, and he did, he and another Harvard man, talking together. The other man was named Alpert, at least that was his name for awhile. Their words certainly helped to change my world.
I had commissioned myself to change the world, and I thought I should do it by building radio stations which would be accessible to all. Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, St. Louis. God, sometimes I can’t remember if we (we = me and a small passel of equally driven friends) built twelve or fifteen or twenty-two stations. The last time I checked, The National Federation for Community Broadcasters had over a hundred of our somewhat raggedy and informal radio stations on their list.
All this flows from your Editor’s Note of August, 1981. (I bought all your back issues a month ago, and I am working my way backwards to the genesis of your thoughts. It’s not unlike reading Understanding Media backwards which, I understand, is the way McLuhan wrote it.) “He’s right where I am, or where I think I am, or where I think I want to be, or where I think I should want to be,” I think, with the usual clarity.
Ever since Dallas (KCHU, Radio Station #13, or 23, depending on who’s counting) right after the Black Panthers had taken over the station, and I couldn’t take it any longer, and I tried to leave town, and I got as far as the bleak wastes of Midland-Odessa, and I couldn’t drive any longer, I was so afraid. “What were you afraid of?” my friends would ask me. “I don’t know,” I would say. “I kept thinking something would go wrong with the car, and that I would die, of thirst, on the desert,” although Highway 20 is knee-deep in 7-11s, and various watering holes: “The Branding Iron,” “Dead Eye Dicks,” “The Carrousel.” Most of all, I think I was afraid of my mind, whoever that is or was, whoever “I” am, or think I am. You probably know what I mean.
Anyway, my daughter got me out to San Diego, and I moved in with a bunch of Arica folks, and I cooked for them, and spent too much time looking at the wall and counting the flies and wondering how the flies were so quick to escape my swooping hand. My psychotherapist said that I had “encapsulated” some grief-filling experiences from my childhood and later. She was probably right, since she and I explored these sensitive terrors, and would gasp with grief, and marvel that the mind could protect me from such angst, and produce such angst in the process. I played a great deal of pin-ball, and got quite good at one that had a picture of Elton John being openly caressed by three tall-titted ladies in high-heeled boots and slit-thigh dresses.
We never get cured, but we do realize that the pain we feel is not peculiar to us, nor are the scars too damaging to let us putter along with some plans other than changing the World, making all humankind aware of its especial sentient weakness of fear which produces so much horror. I work around the kitchen, making orange/lemon bread, teach two courses (Keats, American Communications) at a small local college, and read books like A Place Where You Are Not Alone and Rajneesh and Milton Erickson because I think someone has to have the answer if I don’t. Your Note reminded me of me.
You have been publishing a lot about suicide lately. I can remember when THE SUN was all light, at times frothy, always sunny, but caring, introspective, etc. And then you apparently began going through some kind of hell, and suddenly, but gradually, I’m aware of all the articles about parting, death, and suicide. Have you noticed this? The magazine must reflect your life like a mirror.
It is alright with me. I’m not complaining, just thinking of you and wondering about your agony. Are you suicidal? I’m like Kawabata, who said he thought of suicide every day of his life. The idea does not scare me. I’m 60 now, so it doesn’t make much difference, but I hate to think of anyone, of you, slogging through the crap of minding suicide. I agree with Prather in 76: I’m trying to say by writing that you have my respect and that you are innocent.
It’s time for me to tell you of the relationship we have, which has happened because of your communications in Editor’s Note. Let me explain what’s been happening these past months.
THE SUN is waiting at my door when I get home, and depending on how I am feeling in my worldly and spiritual self that day, I either immediately create a quiet, private space to sit and read your “Note” and open myself to whatever happens in doing this, or I put THE SUN aside until a time when I feel safer, stronger, and more willing to be touched by you.
You see, your words often put me in touch with the immense oneness of us all. You see us so clearly that your thoughts open a part of me that must need some more opening. And the feelings that arise are often intense — with quick tears of recognition and communion or laughter and understanding that lightens my sense of myself.
Having a deep part of my inner self touched like that so poignantly reminds me of our divinity, and this thing I call my life — a great cosmic game that we’re all in together so magnificently.
Issue 75 did it again: “ . . . I saw, in my own eyes, for one bewitching moment, my beloved.”
So, I would like to see what I can do to bring more of THE SUN to Minneapolis. If you will send me the necessary information, I will contact two or three of our larger Food Co-ops that display and sell mags like New Age, or Coevolution Quarterly, etc. — and I will introduce the appropriate person to THE SUN, and perhaps these co-ops will want to display and sell your magazine too!!
I love the whole magazine — it is a source of joy and light to me.
I love you, Sy. Thanks for being, and creating THE SUN.