The Visiting Professor

Perugia is a city apart, an old Etruscan fortress town perched high on a hilltop in the centre of Italy. It never joined in the hurly burly of Italian politics as did Milan, Florence, Sienna and Rome; but remained aloof, introspectively apart, locked away with its own mixture of piety and violence. Taciturn, introspective, and xenophobic, the Perugians were also known and feared as the most warlike people of ancient Italy.

To practice and prepare themselves for combat in the Middle Ages, the Perugini played a ferocious game in which the male inhabitants divided themselves into rival teams. Having padded themselves with clothing stuffed with deer hair and assuming beaked helmets like the heads of eagles or hawks, they stoned each other savagely until the streets were strewn with casualties. It was not unusual for a dozen or so men to die or at least to be seriously wounded in these encounters, but their relatives accepted their deaths calmly as the price of heroism.

In the twentieth century the Perugini became better known for their chocolates and their craftsmanship than for their heroism and their combatitiveness, but despite the fact that tourism became a mainstay of their economy, they never lost their distrust of foreigners. This was ironic because Perugia also became famous for its international university for foreigners.

It was into this tight-knit clanish provincial university town that there came as a Visiting Professor an American specialist in Shakespeare and Elizabethan literature, Professor John Santé. He was invited to Perugia to teach a seminar on Hamlet, about which he had written a distinguished monograph. 

At first he was lonely in Perugia, however, after a short time he found some friends among whom he counted a young psychiatrist, Dottore Francesco Cherubini who regaled him with tales of his patients in the local insane asylum. He also enjoyed the company of a noted art critic and connoisseur, Prof. Bruno L. deVita who taught aesthetics and critical theory at the  Perugia Academy of the Fine Arts. They shared a common interest in Freud’s interpretation of art and artists such as Leonardo da Vinci.

Our professor was married, but had been separated from his wife in the United States for several months before leaving for Italy. He was not really looking for an adventure, but at a party in Perugia one evening he met a young woman with long dark hair who fascinated him. Her name was Anna Maria. She came from a wealthy family in  Cortona, a small town near Perugia. She had married young, but her husband, who was a rich playboy, and a bit of a drunk, had died in an automobile accident a year after they were married. She now lived alone on a small vineyard in the country and  had a caretaker and a few employees who managed the vineyard for her. 

As soon as he saw Anna, the professor knew there was something indefinable about her that fascinated him. He could not figure out what it was, and this made her even more fascinating. She, too, felt attracted to him, and agreed to see him again despite her resolve not to become involved with a man ever again. When he went home after the party that night, he was surprised to note that his only thought was of seeing her again. In fact ,he tried to call her the next day to arrange a date, but failed to reach her. 

Several days later they did go out to dinner at the Hosteria del Olmo, a lovely restaurant in a small village near Perugia. After dinner  he took her home  and she invited him in for a drink. The house was a large stone country house, a casalle, with large light brown wooden  shutters flanking  the windows. In the living room was a large fireplace big enough for several adults to enter. There were stone benches along the sides, indicating that this was a comfortable place to sit during the cold winter months. The stone walls were covered with original paintings, mostly done by Anna herself.

They sat on a couch in front of the fireplace and drank grappa and gazed into each others eyes. He asked her about her paintings and she told him about each one. He thought they were very close when  suddenly she surprised him by saying that it would be better that they not meet again. He was puzzled by this remark. It was obvious that they both had a strong attraction for each other. When he asked her, she told him that although she did feel attracted to him, having a relationship with a man did not fit  her picture of how she wanted her life to be.

“It’s been as wonderful evening, John. I like you very much,” she said,  “but I think you had  better go now. It is best we not  see each other again. Otherwise we are likely to get  involved with each other, and I don’t want that.”

“We are already involved,” I said. “And it’s good for both of us. I don’t understand why you want to destroy this. What are you afraid of?”

“I just don’t want an intimate relationship with you, that’s all. It is too painful, and too dangerous.”

“Dangerous? To fall in love? How is it dangerous?”

“What do you want from me?” she asked. 

“Answer my question first. “How is it dangerous to open yourself to me?” he countered.

“You’d  better not ask. I don’t want to think about it. I’d rather stay alone and safe in my own world, ” she said.

“Tell me,” he insisted.”

“It has nothing to do with you, really. As far as men go, I find you very attractive. I just do  not want a serious relationship with anyone. It means too much responsibility. Eventually  someone is bound to  get hurt or to be disappointed. I don’t want to hurt you. That’s why we must break off this relationship now before it is too late.”

“I think that you want a relationship very much, but are afraid of getting hurt yourself. That’s why you don’t want to get involved. Not because you want to protect me.”

“It is  more complicated than that. You just don’t understand. How could you?  I didn’t want to tell you but I guess I’ll have to tell you my story. Then you’ll see why another relationship is impossible for me. 

“I was  married when I was very young, as people usually are here in Italy. I was only seventeen. My husband was quite a bit older than me. There were thirteen years between us. The first year of our marriage went pretty well. He seemed very devoted. I thought that he loved me. Then I found out that he was being unfaithful to me. With other men. Yes, he was a homosexual. Well, at least it wasn’t another woman. I was hurt and disgusted and I told him that we must separate. He became very angry. He hit me and threatened to kill me if I tried to leave him. Soon after that he was killed in an automobile accident.  Then I discovered that he had been  involved in taking drugs and  had thrown away most of my inheritance buying drugs and paying off his endless gambling debts. All I had left to me was this vineyard and a bit of money. I resolved then and there never to become seriously involved with another man. So you see it’s not you. It’s me that’s the problem.”

“I feel very moved by your story. You have suffered a lot. But that is no reason to cut yourself off from having a relationship that could bring you much happiness.”

She was crying now. He tried to put his arm around her, but she pushed him away abruptly. Wiping her eyes with her handkerchief she snapped: “Happiness? I’m better off alone. I don’t want another relationship. What can you offer me, anyway? You’re only here for a short time, you told me that after the end of the year  you’ll be going back to America.”

He was silent after this outburst. Looking at her sadly he nodded. 

“Perhaps you’re right. I suppose it is better this way, at least for you.” he said with a tone of reluctance in his voice. He began moving towards the door.

“No, wait,” she said. “Don’t go yet.” 

She moved towards him and reached out to him. 

“Put your arms around me and hold me tight,” she said.  “I don’t know what’s the matter with me but I can’t stay away from you. There is a force between us that is so strong. I can’t let you go.” 

He kissed her deeply and she melted in his arms. He pulled her down to the couch. She resisted weakly, then said. “Not here. Upstairs.” And she led him to her bedroom. He undressed her slowly. He kissed her tenderly and gently caressed her body, gradually moving his head down to her crotch where he licked her till she began to breathe more intensely and her body began to girate to the pulse of  his darting tongue. She grabbed his head and pulled  him up to her waiting lips. As they kissed she felt  his fingers penetrating her rectum and her vagina and she soon  was taken over by the delicious rhythms pulsing through her body. When he licked her nipples, she flinched. “Piano, piano,”  she said. “Be more gentle, please. That hurts.” 

He nibbled on her ear. Finally he plunged into her  thrusting  wildly, joyously, abandoning himself to his ecstasy. He held himself back waiting for her orgasm. She screamed and moaned deliriously as she peaked. Then he thrust himself into her vigorously,  giving her all he had till he was empty and slumped exhausted with his head on her heaving breast. 

“Do you have a cigarette?” she asked.

“I’m sorry, I don’t smoke, so I don’t have one.”

“It’s better for me not to smoke, but I would have liked a cigarette at this moment.”

“I’ll be your cigarette. Here, hold me instead.”

“It’s so beautiful and so strange-this feeling I have inside me now” she said, stroking his head tenderly. “It is  as if you were my child, my lover,  and my father at the same time.” 

“I feel good, too. It’s so wonderful being in your arms. I love you.”

“Don’t say that. You don’t realize what you’re saying. It’s not true.”

“It is true.”

“Well, don’t say it. It makes me feel uncomfortable.”

“Why?”

“Don’t ask me.”

“No. Tell me. Why?  What’s wrong with being loved?”

“I told you. It’s not possible for me. You’d better go now.”

“Hey, wait. Two minutes ago we were very close. You were happy. I could see it in your face, in your smile. What happened to that smile? Now you’ve got your hands on your head and you look so troubled. It’s your thoughts that are doing it. That’s all. Don’t let them ruin this experience. Don’t push me away. This is your chance for happiness. Now. Here.  With me. Don’t throw it all away. It’s not easy to find the closeness we have. This thing between us is very special. Do you realize how rare it is. Just feel the energy between us. Can’t you feel it?’

“Of course I can feel it. That’s what frightens me. It’s so strong. If we go one this way what will happen to us?”

“Let’s find out.”

“I can’t.”

“O.K. You win.” He started to get up and to pull on his undershorts.

“Where are you going? No, wait. Don’t go  yet. Hold me.”

He came back to the bed and held her, stroking her head. She purred like a cat in his arms. Their eyes met and they gazed into each others eyes for a long time saying nothing. 

Finally she spoke. “I feel at home in your arms, in your heart. I feel like I have come home at last, when I look in your eyes. I need you. I really do. I don’t  want to let you go. But I know that I must. This can’t be.”

He squeezed her tenderly and continued to stroke her head. “I love you Anna. I love you. I wish you could clear your head of this fixed idea that you must not have a relationship. Let me tell you what I’d like. It’s just a fantasy, but I want to share it with you. We are living together. Right here in this house. I go to work at the university a couple of times a week. The rest of the time I’d stay home and cook for you and take care of you and help you with the farm. On weekends we might make little excursions, to the Lake of Trasimeno or to Florence or Rome or to the beach. Wouldn’ t that be nice?”

Her eyes were glowing as she replied, “It’s a nice fantasy. But of course it is impossible.”

“Of course it is possible. Anything is possible, if you want it enough.”

“How American you are.”

“Well, it’s true.”

“That you’re American?”

“No, that you can have what you want if you really want it.”

“Well, I don’t want it.”

“What do you want, anyway? To live alone forever on this little farm, hiding away from the world? Forever protecting yourself from life? Doing nothing with your life”

“That’s unkind.”

“But it’s true. And I’m saying it because I love you. You are still young enough to marry again and to have children, if you want. You have every possibility in front of you, and you are just throwing your life away on this damn farm.” He shook his fist and then heaved a sigh of resignation.

“What can I do? This is my destiny. You speak of all kinds of possibilities but I see no other possibility for me but this. I have no skills. What else could I do?”

“Anything you want.”

“But I don’t want anything. 

“You don’t you have any wishes, any dreams? I don’t believe you.”

“Well, I sometimes think I’d like something, but then after thinking about it  awhile I sink back into my old self realizing that it is impossible.”

“The problem is one of motivation, Anna. I wish I could build a fire under you, but I can’t. It has to come from inside you. All I can do is to give you a few suggestions and cheer you on. The rest is up to you. You can have anything you want. Just like other people.”

“Perhaps you’re right. In a way I’d like to be like other people, to be able  to have a relationship. But don’t you see, John, I can’t. I really can’t. Something inside me prevents it. That’s the way I am and there is nothing else for me to do but accept it. I feel afraid to even think about having a relationship. I’m sure I’ll get hurt.”

“So your barrier to having a relationship is fear of being hurt. And you protect yourself from experiencing this fear by holding on to the idea that having a relationship is impossible for you. Now, tell me honestly, are you willing to try to change this?”

“I don’t know. I know I can’t have a relationship.”

“Are you willing to try to change this?”

“Don’t play therapist with me.”

“Are you willing to try to change this belief system of yours, or do you want to remain imprisoned in it?”

“Leave me alone. It’s hopeless.”

“This is the last time I’ll ask you this: are you willing to try to change…?”

“No. I’m not. I’d like to, but I can’t. I’m sorry to disappoint you, John, but I can’t change and that’s why we must end this relationship and not see each other any more.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want it. It is too risky for me and for you. Somebody is bound to get hurt.”

“Somebody? You mean you. So what, if you get hurt? That is a risk you must take if you want to change your life and to grow. You’ve been hurt a lot in the past, I can see that. But you’ve survived. And if you should get hurt again, you’ll survive again. But if you want to, you can change your life.”

“You said that fear is my barrier. What can I do about that? Whenever I think of change I feel afraid.”

“Look at your fear; then put the fear aside. Take the risk and go for what you want.”

“But the fear is still there.”

“Yes, fear may come up. But its just an emotion. You don’t have to let yourself be ruled by your emotions. As I said before, be clear about what you want,  acknowledge your fear when it comes up,  then  put the fear aside, take the risk, and go for what you want courageously. You  know, Anna,  living courageously is not living without fear, but going for what you want despite  your fears.

“Well, I’ll think about it. It sounds too easy to me.”

“Translation. I’m afraid that I might get what I want and then I might not be happy with it or it might not work out or… That reminds me of the story of the young student who was walking down the street in Perugia and asked a rather well dressed older man the time of day. The older man looked at his watch, then looked at the student, who was rather shabbily dressed, and refused his request. The student was perplexed and asked the man why he would not tell him the time. Well, the man said, if I were to tell you the time, then we might strike up a conversation and pretty soon I might invite you to come home with me for lunch. At lunch you’d meet my daughter. You might fall in love with her and want to marry her and I don’t want my daughter marrying a poor student shabbily dressed like you. So that’s why I won’t tell you the time.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“And so is this conversation. It’s getting late and I think we’d better call it a night. I didn’t mean to play therapist with you. It just came up. But I see that I can’t change you. It was foolish of me to try. I hope what I told you may be of some use to you. I will call you tomorrow, if I may.”

“I’d like that.”

La Dolce Vita

                                

An exciting phase of my life began in May 1982 when I went to a conference on “Love and Philosophy in the Italian Renaissance” which took place in Naples. There I met the woman who was to be the great love of my life–Giuliana Mariniello.  She was a gorgeous dark-eyed Italian beauty, a Prof of English Literature specialized in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature. Among other things, were both passionate about photography. 

Giuliana was having some marital difficulties at that time, when we first met, and when I told her that I was a psychologist, she thought that perhaps I could help her revive her failing marriage. However, there was a strong physical and intellectual attraction between us and within a few days we had begun dating. Before long Giuliana decided to leave  her architect husband in Naples and to move to Rome to begin a new life there.

In the meantime I was  enjoying my bachelor  life in Florence where I was studying intermediate Italian and running a psychotherapy group for women. I was scheduled to do a few workshops at the Institute of Psychosynthesis in the summer. However, I got restless staying home too much and after a few months I applied for a job as a tour guide with Globus Gateway Tours.  I was hired immediately, but this meant giving up my Italian course and my plans for my workshops at the Institute of Psychosynthesis. 

So now I launched myself on a new career—as a professional tour director. This job only lasted for several months, but I enjoyed it. Every few weeks  I flew to London and was assigned the job of leading a new tour group bound for France, Switzerland, and Italy. The usual tour consisted in a few days of sightseeing in Paris, then a one night stand in Lucerne where the tourists shopped for watches, chocolates and other Swiss products, and then on to Italy, usually with a couple of nights in Venice, and two or three nights in Florence. 

The tours culminated in  Rome. There Giuliana was waiting for me.  After staying for a few days in Rome to be with my lover and to recuperate from the tour job, which could be quite demanding and tiring, I would fly back to London to pick up a new group and start another tour. It was often exasperating and very exhausting, and I soon grew disenchanted with this job, so one day I quit.

 I then took a much needed month-long holiday and went  (with Giuliana) to England to spend a week in Oxford and a week in London and then to Paris and Marseilles.  I was  her hide-away lover, her clandestino, as she had been mine in Paris, Rome, and other places during my tours. We had a wonderful time at a little hotel in Woodstock, a short distance from Oxford,  where we had marvelous time making love in a gigantic antique four poster bed. From Oxford we traveled to London, where we stayed in Chelsea and went to the theatre every night. Particularly memorable was a matinee production  of  “Twelfth Night” performed outdoors in Regent’s Park. 

After our adventures in London we returned via train to Paris and from there took an overnight train to Marseilles and the French Riviera. I recall one time, when I lost track of time while making passionate love in the public park in Antibes, we  missed our train. Another  time,  in Marseilles, I  left Giuliana sitting in the train while I went looking for a mailbox. Suddenly the train  started to move. Giuliana was terrified. There she was, surrounded with piles of baggage. She didn’t dare  leave the train  and abandon our luggage, but she was worried about leaving Marseilles without me— especially  because I had the train tickets! 

When we arrived in Florence Giuliana told me that she had had a good time, but she was tired of me and wanted to end our relationship. I was dumbfounded, and begged her to reconsider and to think about it. She left for Naples that night, but after a few days she phoned me and invited me to join her there.

Shortly after Giuliana left Florence, I was shown a beautiful apartment with a view of the Duomo (cathedral) and all of Florence below and offered not only this but a car as well. Despite the beauty of the apartment, I was undecided  whether I would stay on in Florence. I  felt it was more important to go after Giuliana, my  dear love and win her; so I decided to forget all about the beautiful apartment and pursue the beautiful Giuliana. 

I made a complete fool of myself discarding my self-respect completely and throwing myself at her desperately, rushing  to Naples on an overnight train and  begging her to go off with me to the Sorrento Peninsula and explore the Amalfi Coast.I really didn’t care where went as long as she  agreed to travel with me. Finally she consented.

We stayed at a lovely small hotel in Ravello with a panoramic view of the Amalfi. coast below. It was delightful. However, when we drove back to Naples,  unexpectedly Giuliana drove me to the train station and  told me that she wanted me to leave. She was tired of me again, she said. She wanted to be rid of me once and for all, to be free to do as she pleased. 

Was she nuts? I was stunned, and I just couldn’t believe it. It was like Florence all over again. What was it with this woman anyway? Was she a psycho? A femme fatale?  She reminded me of Henry Miller’s Mona. I begged and pleaded with her and  eventually talked her into  sailing to Capri with me, where we eventually  spent a very peaceful and loving honeymoon like month together.

We rented a small house in the country, high up on the island near the Villa Tiberius. Each day in the mornings I did research and wrote while she read and lay in the sun. In the afternoons when the temperature cooled down we went to the beach for a swim usually at the Bagni di Luigi. In the evenings we often  went for  walks in the town stopping at the Piazetta for a drink. 

Then we went home and made love. 

My Analysis with James Hillman

  “CALLED OR NOT CALLED, THE GODS ARE ALWAYS PRESENT” –Motto over Jung’s front door.
In late April 1975 I flew from London with my then girlfriend, Kathy, to New York and then on to California to attend my sculptor mother’s 40 year retrospective show at the Janus Gallery in Los Angeles. I was very proud of her. The show included twenty-six sculptures, three found objects, and some of her jewelry. The catalogue included a large photograph of the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona Arizona which she had designed and built in memory of her parents. “The essential nature of her subjects is always conveyed with great strength and a touch of idealization which gives them a strong sense of timelessness,” the catalogue stated “Within the world of Marguerite Staude a search for the spiritual side of the universe is expressed in all forms of her creativity.” After a few days visiting friends in Los Angeles we drove up to Big Sur and stayed there for a week in my mother’s house at Anderson Canyon. From Big Sur I wrote my mother how much I was enjoying the riches of her Catholic library where I found much spiritual and intellectual nourishment. Along with the writings of Peguy, who she so admired, she had assembled most of the works of the mystic Teilhard de Chardin. At that time she had been talking about possibly supporting me in establishing a transdisciplinary research institute in big Sur in the spirit of Teilhard de Chardin. “It is only a dream now,” I wrote, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if you wereto decide to support me in the establishment of a real scholarly foundation here on our coastal land here in Big Sur, something that might be what the Spiritual Life Institute in at the Chapel you built Sedona failed to be, but might have been under proper direction.I stayed up late last night re-reading The Divine Milieu. Though I am devoting my mornings to writing the introduction to the volume of conference papers which I will call ‘The Dialectics of Consciousness in Self and Society,’ my afternoon and evening free time is taken up with working on a comparison between Jung and Teilhard which has fired my imagination. It is a sign to me how much I have changed in the last year that whereas last year when I tried to read Teilhard I could not relate to him and his ideas because of my own need to push myself free of you, now I find that I can easily acknowledge my deep personal affinity with his ideas. “I am also coming to know another side of you through your library. You are a mystic, in your own way, aren’t you? The Church is not made for mystics….The Church we belong to is an invisible church to which the Roman Catholic Church with its antiquated and authoritarian institutional structure is a poor shadow. “Of course, I do not feel any desire to change the Church any more. My church is the world—my workbench is my altar, as the worker priests in France say— and I agree with Teilhard that we worship God simply by uniting our every thought word and deed to Christ, thereby participating actively in the divine milieu in which we live and have our being….It is this Biblical vision, this awareness that we live in that special sacred time between Pentecost and the Parousia that gives meaning to our lives here and now. What I admire about Teilhard is not only his courage, his faith and his hope but his patience and humility. He certainly was a modern saint. Like Jung he kept himself open to the many dimensions of human experience and sought to draw every aspect of life into the illuminating light of Christ.” I then quoted the words my mother had inscribed in the copy of The Divine Milieu she gave me for my birthday January 16, 1961: “Diviniser les vielle formes—voila notre but! [spiritualize the old forms—that’s our goal!] An open sesame to your oncoming year. May it blossom and bear the good fruit!”“Growth takes time and it took almost fifteen years for the seed you planted then to germinate and take root. The blossoms are now appearing; the good fruit is at hand. Thank you. Deo gratias!” 
After a few weeks we returned to Europe. Kathy had an operation on her ankle in Munich and then recuperated in Strobl on Wolfgangsee near Salzburg, “Sound of Music” country. In the mornings I worked on my book and in the afternoons went swimming in the lake (Wolfgangsee).After Kathy recovered, we went to Graz in Western Austria, and down into Northern Yugoslavia to the delightful coastal town of Pirano. On our way back to California we stopped at Ascona to visit James Hillman, who I had gotten to know at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, and was living at Casa Eranos at Moscia, a village on the shores of Lago Magiore at that time. While I had an interview with him, Kathy plunged—naked– in the lake below appearing like a mermaid and waving to us to our delight. I had a good interview with Hillman and at his suggestion that I take advantage of an apartment vacancy at the place, which was a piece of paradise, I decided on the spot to postpone our planned return to California and to settle right there at Eranos, near Ascona, which I adored, and still do. Soon we were installed at Eranos ourselves. The whole thing was like a dream.  Casa Eranos was built by a World War One widow, Frau Olga Kaptyn, who inherited a large piece of land near Ascona on the shores of Lake Maggiore from her father. One day, while reading a magazine calledYoga International, Olga got the bright idea of convening an internationalconference on comparative religions on her property. She invited the editorial board and other scholars to contributed papers for this conference and she had a hall built, Casa Eranos, for the conference, which was to become an annual affair. The name was contributed by Professor Rudolf Otto who explained to her that Eranos in ancient Greek means a shared feast. As it was conceived the Eranos Conference was to bea shared feast in which the contributors provided their papers and Frau Olga contributed food and lodging for the speakers. In August at the time of the conference all the buildings on the property were always occupied, but for the remainder of the year after the excitement of the annual Earnos conferences they were vacant. That was why I was able to rent Casa Shanti when I visited Hillman there in September. It was a one bedroom cottage with a large balcony extending out over the lake. From there I could see across the lake to Stresa and Italy. Wild swans swam up when I threw bread off the balcony to feed them. I was very much in love with Cathy at that time. We spent the next nine months there while I pursued my analysis with Hillman, and attended occasional classes at the Jung Institute in Zurich commuting over the alps. Bill McGuire, Director of the Princeton University Press came to Eranos to visit James and stayed for a while when he was working on his book on Bollingen. He knew a lot about Jung and his associates and was of great help to me. We flew home for Christmas in December 1975 and then returned to Ascona in early January 1976. I had been away from Eranos since November 1975. It took me a while to get readjusted. In the New Year I began to apply for teaching jobs in Religious Studies at universities in the United States, and eventually got a job in religious studies at Iowa State University. While I was in New York for interviews, I visited my former teacher and Doktorvater (dissertation director) Carl Schorske, who had moved from Berkeley to Princeton to teach Modern European Intellectual History. I thought I had changed a lot but he saidas long as he has known me I have always been a Platonist, and my present work on Jung still fits that mould. When I lectured at the International Humanistic Psychology conference in Cuernevaca, Mexico, Eleanor Criswell said that she felt I was essentially still the same John, saying the same things I had been teaching when she knew me at Sonoma State College, so I guess I haven’t changed that much after all!In Ascona I continued my analysis with James Hillman and worked on my Jung book. In the spring, around Eastertime, Kathy and I drove South to Italy, visiting Milan, Bologna, and Florence. We stayed at the charming old Villa Carlotta, a beautifulPensioneon the Arno in Florence. I toyed with the idea of giving up my analysis in Ascona and moving to Florence, to study Psychosynthesis with Robert o Assagioli and Piero Ferrucci, but Hillman encouraged me to stick it out with my analysis with him and to continue working on my Jung biography in Ascona.  Analysis with James Hillman was something unique. Fascinating, but really more intellectual than emotional. As directed by him, I wrote up my dreams and made my own analysis of them each week, and then gave them–or sent them–to him before our sessions. I felt as though I was getting clinical supervision for working with myself as my patient! The focus of my analysis with Hillman was on “clarifying my vocation and my identity”. At that time, I tended to compare myself unfavourably with my friends who had regular jobs, and were publishing their books. “I have nothing. I’m nobody compared to my friends, who have power and position, and know what they’re about,” I said to myself and to my therapist. I was afraid that Kathy was going to leave me, because I was getting old, and I was depressed.  On May 8, 1976 I wrote Hillman: “I feel I am a mess—as bad off as I ever was. You didn’t make me any worse, but I haven’t gotten any better with you either.”And then I developed an imaginary dialogue with Hillman which I want to reproduce here:
Jim: “Better? Better than what? There is no such thing as ‘better’ or ‘worse’ in my book; you simply are your own process. You may accept it or you may fight it, but there is no ‘better’ or any hope of ever ‘getting better.’ Forget it. You are not ‘ill’; you’re simply human.That means that like other humans you must suffer and go through occasional breakdowns, because that is the psyche’s way. That is what I call “soul-making”—you have suffered so much this year because you have relentlessly continued to resist this process and to insist that at some level you (ego) are in charge and responsible for your life. But, John, let’s be honest here. The truth is thatYou Are NOT Responsible.You are simply a plaything of the gods. [“They kill us for their sport,” as the poet said]. Yet in your heroic fantasy YOU still insist that YOU are in charge and that YOU are choosing your own life.”
John: “Exactly and I’ve had enough of this madness now. I am going back home to California soon where the ethic of self-responsibility still prevails, and where I hope to get a job and to get my life back together again before long.”I felt so tickled at getting that letter about my proposed Psycho- Energy Conference from Marjorie. I felt I am really somebody after all, not a nobody as I am around here at Eranos, where I don’t count because I am not 60or 70 years old or more….Being excluded hurts.”
Jim: “You don’t belong here and you know it—not now anyway—You have your own generation to relate to now. There’s time enough later on for you at a place like this. We’re the keepers of the fire of a sacred tradition—But for you—the fire is still alive in your hands. It’s up to you to shape it and express it according to your own lights, to ‘speak the eternal truth’ as Ezekiel puts it. Then, in time, you may be invited here to join us old guys.” 
I was determined to go home now. I had stayed an extra year in Europe living in a vacuum where I could do as I pleased and write and think whatever I wanted. I had kept working over some very basic personal questions about my own vocation and my philosophy of life. Whereas I thought I wanted to work as a psycho-therapist, in my work with my dreams and fantasies with Hillman I discovered that I still had much work to do with myself before I would be ready to guide others. And I realized that what I cared about most was not really people or patients but BOOKS and the history of thought! Despite all my studies of psychology and sociology, I was still essentially an intellectual and cultural historian at heart!“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Hillman said encouragingly. You have a noble vocation, and you can be proud of it. There is nothing to be ashamed of about being a historian.”   I felt doubtful. I was afraid I would be suspect among historians because of the many meta-historical things I’d done. I had broken out of the Ivory Tower and had actually attempted to enter into the social and cultural world of the younger generation in the late 1960s and the early 1970s.
 Jim: “Yes but in many ways you are still in the Ivory Tower, John. You have so little idea of the lives and concerns of the common man.” He was right and I knew it, but I tried to defend my position with whatever arguments I could muster.
Jim: “You still imagine that complaining helps as if by stating your woes a good fairy will touch you with her magic wand and make everything all right. But that doesn’t happen.
John: You’re right, Jim. It is up to me.
Jim: “No it’s not. That’s false ego pride speaking. It’s not up to you; it’s up to the gods.”
John: “But then wherein is my responsibility for my life?” 
Jim: “Your responsibility lies in being fully responsible and responsive to the gods and to their demands upon you as you experience them in your dreams and in your fantasies.”
John: “Suppose what you said were true? Then what? That seems to justify anything and everything!”
Jim: “What are you afraid of? You object because if you accepted this tragic view of life then you’d have no club to beat yourself over the head with. Neurotic egos love the ethics of self-responsibility because it inflates them and makes them feel so overly self-important. Look at Oedipus and Orestes! 
John: “Yes, I see what you mean.” 

 Jim: “Strive to fulfill your destiny to the best of your own lights. Humbly obey the will of the gods. Accept your fate and surrender to the will of the gods. That’s the classical Greek view of life which I have tried hard to teach you.”
John: “Well, ultimately, in the end no one but ME is responsible for my life. To say anything else is a cop out, gods or not. All week long I’ve felt restless. I should have gone back to California long ago to look for a job. Now I’m going to get back to the states all right, but I’ll be too late and all the good jobs will already be gone!”
Jim: “Another torture game. You certainly seem to enjoy beating yourself over the head, don’t you? Whatever you choose to do you seem to have a way of punishing yourself for not having done something else. Don’t you see that that is a losing game? The only payofffor playing such games is PAIN and Avoidance of Responsibility. Instead of making the most out of what you are doing, you fill your mind with regrets about the past and anticipations of the future.You say you once studied with Fritz Perls. I agree with him. You make your life by your daily choices and activities. Surely he stressed to you the importance of living consciously and continually in the Here and Now because there is only the present moment. Everything else is illusory fantasy.”
John: Exactly That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you all year.—that I need to get my life together in the Here and Now and not worry about gods and archetypes, and such.”
Jim: Who is stopping you? Surely, not me!”
John: “My own feelings of weakness and emptiness and helplessness are stopping me. There is something wrong with me—like you say in your chapter on pathologizing in your ReVisioning Psychology book . I’m a chronic pathologizer.”
Jim: “And look how PROUD you are of it, too.”
John:”Well, at least I’m distinguished in some way!”
Jim: “Must you be distinguished? Why? Tell me.”
John: I want to be. I feel I am unique. I want to produce great works of art, philosophy, and literature, and to have something important to show for myself before I die.”
Jim: “To please your mama! That’s it! We never finish with Oedipus, do we? You’re still hooked on that old Oedipal thing. Can you see it?”
  John: “Yes this analysis game can go on for years, but it doesn’t change anything; I’m still stuck being my phoney self, despite all the hours of analysis and insight.”
Jim: “What do you expect? It’s up to you to make the changes. All I can do is reflect back to you what I see you doing, and what your dreams seem to be saying.
John : “And now it’s up to me to go home and make some sense of my life.”
Finally, I decided that wonderful as it was living in paradise, I should return to the USA and get a teaching job. Hillman convinced me that my dreams indicated that I was not cut out to be a Jungian analyst. 

A Sociologist Looks Back Over the Sixties and the Seventies

I am recalling the glory days of “flower power” and the elation I felt in the 60s and 70s when I saw students and faculty at UC Berkeley mobilizing and creating a radical social cultural and educational agenda designed to diminish inequalities between university administrations, faculties and students. Looking around at our America today, including our educational system, I’m here to say:  “Things really haven’t changed all that much in the past half century. And with regards to progress we made in the 60s and 70s in regard to women’s rights, we seem to be actually backsliding and losing ground under the current Democratic administration today. But that’s the way things always go: two steps forward, and one step back. So I say: What we need is nothing less than another RENAISSANCE, what the protagonist of my first book, Max Scheler, called, following Nietzsche, and Vom Umsturz der Werte!  So let’s give ’em hell! Let’s unite together and destroy and rebuild our ever-so-corrupt corporate-capitalist-run educational and cultural institutions (where today considerations about the “the Bottom Line” seem to determine everything most of the time!)           

Yes! I’m a disgruntled 75 year old ex-Hippie and former “radical sociologist,” a disciple of guys like Paul Goodman,–Growing Up Absurd–Paolo Freire–Pedagogy of the Oppressed”– Ivan Illich, De-Schooling Society–and C.Wright Mills. Remember his popular books exposing political and social injustices in corporate America like The Sociological Imagination and The Power Elite?             

Two great radical sociologists that I had the privilege of teaching sociology with at Washington University in Saint Louis were Irving Louis Horowitz and Alvin Gouldner–in fact I was hired there and given a prestigious endowed chair that the tenured faculty had other plans for– by a radical student-junta who that year controlled the Sociology and Anthropology Dept. Search Committee (during the ’68 student-led revolution) and forced the committee to choose me over several older more distinguished sociologists of the day including Bennet Berger, who I later became close friends with here in la Jolla. Once we met, we found that we shared a common passionate interest in (1) participant-observing and writing about Hippie Communes and (2) the social psychology of creativity.           

At that time I was also fortunate to get to know several brilliant radical sociologists          at Brandeis University including the Hegelian-Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse–who moved to UCSD later on–and Lou Coser another former Frankfurt School Critical Theorist,  who was instrumental in getting my first book, Max Scheler, (a study in the origins of phenomenological sociology and the sociology of knowledge) published in 1965.        

I have always felt an affinity with the Frankfurt School theorists, perhaps partly because that was where Scheler was headed for when he died prematurely and unexpectedly only in his mid 50s in 1928. Paul Tillich then took up the call originally directed to Max Scheler. He was followed in 1933 by Karl Mannheim, who continued and further developed the Frankfurt school’s interest in the Sociology of Knowledge, first generated by Max Scheler in 1925 with the publication of his monumental study of Die Wissensformen und die Gesellschaft. Scheler had already made his reputation secure a few years earlier with his Nietzschean exposé of the social psychology and phenomenology of Ressentiment and his  pioneering sociology of the emotions book on The Nature of Love and Sympathy.       

The ex-Frankfurters Herbert Marcuse and Erich Fromm, both of whom influenced             me a lot, guiding me through Critical Theory and Hegelianized Marxism into the magical interdisciplinary alchemy of Freudo-Marxian Frankfurter Social Psychology, such as Fromm’s Escape From Freedom, The Sane Society, and To Have or to Be and Marcuse’s  Eros and Civilization, One-Dimensional Man,  and Negations.          

While I was teaching “Modern European Thought and Culture” & “Historical Sociology” at the University of California in Riverside in the late-60s, I met and apprenticed myself to Robert Nisbet, that great exponent of Grand Theory. His masterwork, The Sociological Tradition, was my favorite teaching tool for years. Bob was a beautiful man with a warm highly cultivated intellect, what I would call a “Distinguished Gentleman,” a model for the kind of person I aspired to become some day, the perfect mentor for me at that stage in my lifelong quest for the TRUTH. It was Bob, a former Dean of the College of Arts  and Sciences at UCR who introduced me to the attractions of European Sociological Theory and its power in comparative analyses of historical data. This was very appealing to a natural generalizer like me. [Many historians eschew generalizations as much as they can, though I believe that is changing with the younger generation of historians coming up today].   Bob loved the humanities and had a profound and extensive knowledge of the History of Ideas, and histories of art, literature, and sociology of culture in general. Although he was politically and socially a Conservative through and through, Bob shared with me, who was temperamentally more of a rebel, a dislike of bourgeois liberalism and its politics of compromise.      

Bob was an inspiration to me. He, more than anyone else, guided me and inspired me in Sociology and Social Theory.He also supported me in my effort to start an Institute for the Study of the History of Ideas at UC in Riverside when I was teaching there in 1965-68. He also wrote the recommendations for me that got me the fellowships that enabled me to do my post-doc in Sociology at UCBerkeley in 1968-1969.

At one point Bob sought to draw together the Humanities and Social Sciences in a fine essay he called “Sociology as an Art Form.” I loved his ideas, and proudly published it several years later in my interdisciplinary Humanistic Sociology and Humanistic Psychology textbook which I called HUMANISTIC SOCIETY. I co-edited that interdisciplinary text with a social psychologist,  John  Glass, who was a disciple of the famed organizational consultants Robert Tannenbaum and Warren Bennis, of the UCLA School of Management and the Institute of Applied Behavioral Sciences there, which meant that John could bring to the table practical and organizational expertise that had not been part of my kit of tools before then. I created the reader under the inspiration and blessing of Carl Rogers at the Center for the Person in La Jolla and my therapist of that era the existential humanistic psychologist James Bugental,then an editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology]

       

What did I mean by  this term. Humanistic  Sociology?  Reading Peter Berger, and Existentialist and Phenomenological Philosophers like Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, Marcel, Scheler, Schutz, and Buber was my inspiration for this sociological perspective. It was radical existential phenomenological philosophy applied to understanding the social world. As “radicals,”[radical comes from ancient Greek: “relating to the roots”] we seek to get at the fundamental essential roots of things. But acquiring a deep-rooted understanding of things and their causes did not completely satisfy my radical intentions. I agreed with old uncle Karl [Marx] that our goal exceeded merely “understanding” the coercive power of social structures and social institutions, like language, sexual exploitation,  and/or courtship or marriage, for example. Our purpose was to use our understanding of society to CHANGE social conditions at their roots for the better, and not in an Evolutionary but in a Revolutionary way. I felt impatient,as did many of my colleagues & students then. 

So what are the fundamental principles of Existential-Humanistic Sociology? First of all–and most importantly, in this alienated-objectified-reified age of “the organization man,” mired in Kafka-esque multi-levelled bureaucracies–we begin at the roots of human existence with the ineffable mystery of human being and human consciousness itself, and of our own personal experience of our own unique individual personhood, at the center of which we find is our own subjectivity. Preceding the famous “Turn to Language” in the late 20th century, this was a turn and for many actually a Re-Turn to the  Self, as Core and Agent and our Goal, as well, when like Eliot we discover that in our end is our beginning and coming home [to the Self] we recognize it for the first time.           

I had first been introduced to the “Existentialists” by Colin Wilson in his book The Outsider written and published in his early 20s, which I read shortly after it came out in 1957 when I was an undergrad philosophy and theology student with the Jesuit fathers at Georgetown University in 1957-1958. The Outsider  made a huge impression on me for many reasons. I identified with the subject at once. It was all about me. What more could anyone want from a book? Furthermore,  I have always loved high level intellectual gossip, and that’s what one finds there (and in most of Wilson’s subsequent books): short acid-etched portraits of reprobates like Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, and of course Proust, all of whom I had already been reading about in another popular book and another favorite book of mine from that decade:  Edmund Wilson’s Axel’s Castle, an introduction to the imaginative literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.]         

A human being is a multidimensional creature and is potentially open to many subjectively experienced and cognitively analyzed and categorized worlds. I observed this through participant observation studies of various religious communes and Hippie groups. Through sympathetic understanding we try to enter into different spiritual, emotional,  and sociocultural worlds–the world of the child, for example,  or the world of the borderline,    the manic-depressive, or the schizophrenic, the world of the actor or playwright, the artist, architect. or sculptor, and the “social circles” within which each of these live and are socially supported and confirmed. Let’s ask ourselves: How does the “world” that we call “reality” look to the viewer/experiencer from each of these different perspectives? We spoke of so-called “reality.” Let’s keep in mind the “social construction” of “fantasy” and”imagination”  as well. The social conditioning of  perception and cognition is generally acknowledged today, but let’s not forget that not only these cognitive functions, but also the the “fantasy worlds”  imagos, and archetypal images that we carry within us shape our perception and cognition as well, andoften influence our actions and reactions in both our inner and outer worlds. Man is a “social animal,” Aristotle famously observed. We are never alone even when we are alone. We experience our world not as private–in fact as Max Scheler discovered–and Martin Buber, Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson later confirmed, phenomenologically we begin our earthly lives within the WE/US [mother/infant] structure, long before we even begin experiencing the “I,” the solipsistic solitary I-centered Ego, so celebrated and cursed by modern poets and philosophers!  In short, already from birth we are born into a sociocultural world of Others, and we live dialogically intersubjectively linked with an Other, no matter whoever we select from our horizon to fill that Anlage/hole/space /role/structure (at least temporarily). From the beginning of conscious life–even within the womb–we are constantly interacting with other beings besides ourselves, whether imagined or real. Just observe a small child converse in imagined dialogue with his imagined friends. [I called my imaginary interlocuter “Mr Bowlie” because I always imagined him wearing an impressive round black bowler hat like Charlie Chaplin did.] Thrown into an alien world,we are forced to find our way, and to come to terms with it somehow, as Heidegger remarked. However, from the beginning we experience this multi-dimensional, ever-changing and evolving puzzling confusing deceiving mysteriously fascinating world as a combination of one nature and many cultures with their subcultures.         

A humanistic view of sociocultural being assumes that man is a “creative”as well as a “destructive” being, individually and collectively. It assumes that the world  of our personal experience is a real and authentic one, a world one can hold as positive unless and until it proves to be deficient in some way. And let us not ignore or forget that we are embodied beings, bodies that have physical and emotional needs–for warmth, love, and tenderness, as well as food, sex, and sleep. We are not pure mental structures or disembodied abstractions in which we tend to become lost when we indulge in fantasies and “flight of ideas.”         

My purpose in assembling our interdisciplinary reader, combining readings from the humanities, humanistic psychology, social psychology, and social theory, was to restore the “person” to its rightful place as the core concept and the principal agent of action in social theory and psychological practice. I insisted that in my view Humanistic Sociology [H.S.]. was more than just one more social or social psychological theory. In fact, H. S. wasn’t really a “theory” as such, but rather more of an “attitude”, a perspective toward the world,  a sympathetic compassionate  way of looking at oneself and at the world “which retains as much of the immediacy, richness, and personal quality of my experience as possible.” in the sense that phenomenologists like Max Scheler, Alfred Schutz, and Petr Berger spoke of the “natural attitude.” The humanistic sociologist might use any and all of these lenses [or theoretical frameworks] on his subject matter, depending on the questions he wished to answer.           

HUMANISTIC SOCIETY was intended to educate a new generation of [hopefully] interdisciplinary and humanistic social scientists. “In dreams begin responsibilities,” said the poet Yeats. The vision of HUMANISTIC SOCIETY was based on the notion that the roots of human motivation lie in our unconscious and these are manifested in our dreams. Despite the enormous power of social institutions and of our instinctual behaviors over us,  shaping the future lies within our reach, at least to some degree. How? Through our dreaming selves.  Our “future” is a “social construct,” a set of “imaginative hypotheses groping toward whatever essential utopias lie in the depths” of our unconscious, from which fragments and traces appear to us in our sleeping and waking dreams. (Paraphrased from Warren Bennis’s paper, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future,” first published in American Psychologist, 25 (1970) and reprinted in HUMANISTIC SOCIETY (1972) p.388.           

After our attempted revolution within the disciplines of sociology and psychology had failed to take hold, and our hoped-for “revolution” had dissipated its accumulated intellectual and emotional energy in short-sighted internal squabbling, as human beings–both inside and outside the Groves of Academe–tend to do, John Glass abandoned academia altogether, creating a new role for himself as a “Clinical Sociologist”–today we’d say a “psychologically savvy organizational consultant” or executive coach, offering to heal the ills of executives and organizations within the larger society. In doing this engaged “action research” John was following the example of Nevitt Sanford (one of the authors of the famous study of The Authoritarian Personality) who was later to be my mentor in Social Psychology when I got my Ph.D. in Psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, in the mid 1970s.

My Experiences in the Seventies


                                 European Odyssey 1971-1975

   In the spring of 1971 I lost my position at Sonoma State College and took off for Europe.  During the months before I left I had a brief affair with Cammie, a sexy young blonde woman then living with Emil White, a painter in Big Sur. (Emil had been a close friend of Henry Miller and through Emil I became interested in Henry and his adventures in Paris and Big Sur.) At that time (the early 1970s) I lived in Berkeley and went to Big Sur on weekends. We bought the tickets and planned to fly to Europe in early March in time to arrive before Easter.  However, a few days before we were due to fly, Cammie disappeared. I finally found her at the Nepenthe restaurant, where she had fled to get away from me, because she had gotten cold feet about travelling with me. She felt I was irresponsible and too moody. I was smoking dope daily and doing ACID often then.She had decided not to go with me. I begged her but she refused. So at the last minute I invited a young man who had been a student of mine, and later my research assistant at Sonoma State, John Marlowe, to come with me in her stead.  We flew to Amsterdam and took a train from there down the Rhine stopping along the way to take a Rhine cruise. Aboard the ship I forget to watch out for my camera bag and it was stolen. I blamed John, of course, being unwilling to take responsibility for unpleasant things that happened to me as a result of my own negligence. We stopped overnight in Heidelberg where I made love to a beautiful American girl we had met on the train. From Heidelberg we continued South to Stuttgart, where I picked up the tan Mercedes I had ordered before leaving San Francisco. In those days it was advantageous to purchase German cars tax free and then bring them back to the States as used cars.   We drove from Stuttgart to Zurich arriving just in time to witness Sechs Leuten, the annual city festival that takes place around Easter time each year. The costumes were marvelous and I enjoyed photographing the parade. We stayed in Erlangen on the Lake just beyond Zurich, and I enjoyed photographing the people coming out of church there with a device timer designed to capture slow processes like the blossoming of a rose. When we looked at the footage we just saw people whizzing by every few seconds. It was both very funny and a big disappointment. I had thought I would do a scientific experiment and be able to determine how many people came in and out of that church on a Sunday morning. John left me soon after this. He was running out of money, and I could not afford to support him in Europe. I felt great satisfaction about  being in Zurich because when I had visited it years before with my first wife, Laurie,  I had felt I would someday return and live there. I also hoped to study at the Jung Institute and now I was about to do that. The procedure for enrolling at the Institute was elaborate. One had to have letters of recommendation and register with the foreign police, all of which I did. The first term I was on probation as a registered auditor. After that first year on probation if one did well one might be admitted as a regular student. I attended lectures by David Miller on Greek Mythology and Marie Louise von Franz on Fairytales, but I did not attend many classes at the Jung Institute. I felt bored by them; so instead I read Jung on my own. After reading Jung’s Memories, Dreams and Reflections, I got the idea of writing an intellectual biography of Jung. At that time there were none in print. Actually, there were several already in the works, but I did not know that.  I was in analysis with Brian Kenny. He tried to help me to settle down, but I felt his approach to be too cold and unfriendly. I recall listening to a record at that time by Dahlia Levi singing the Carol King song “You’ve Got a Friend.” I cried when I listened to it feeling sorry for myself at night alone in my apartment. One day I saw a notice at the Jung Institute advertising a job opening for a part-time psychology teacher at Franklin College a two-year junior college in Lugano. I took my mother to  Lugano with me as she was visiting me when I was invited to interview. I loved Lugano and got the job. I was thrilled and immediately began planning out my courses. When I first got to Zurich, my living arrangements were miserable. I was crammed in a small room in a Swiss family’s apartment. Later I was fortunate to get a lovely apartment on the Tritligasse in the old town with a great view of the city and the lake. It was perfect for me. Unfortunately, I lost it later because of bringing a young woman home at night with me and because we made too much noise. I went to California in the summer to study consciousness and transpersonal psychology at Stanford and returned to Zurich in the fall.    This item needs to be expanded and developed. The first thing I did after I got back to Europe was to drive to the Ticino to look for a place to live near Lugano. I had agreed to teach psychology  at Franklin College. In Lugano I found a lovely country house which I rented.I held encounter group sessions there.This was a great fiasco. I frightened the students and made the mistake of telling the head of the school one day (when I was stoned) that I really was not a psychologist at all but a historian!            The one good result of my stay at Franklin was that I met Kathy Charous there. She was to be my woman for the next ten years.  Kathy was seventeen  when we met, but very mature sexually. She had already seduced most of the other instructors at the school before I got there. She participated courageously in the encounter group and other activities I did with the students and at the end of the day I found her seated in the front seat of my Mercedes ready for any post-workshop activities I could devise.  I invited her to go to a restaurant and have dinner with me. One thing led to another and we spent the night together. After that we were a couple, though we tried to keep it  secret from the school authorities.  On weekends she came with me to Zurich, taking the train back on Sunday nights to be present for her Monday morning classes. Eventually word got around and the dean called me on the carpet and told me I must resign from the college at once. My response was delight. I took Kathy with me to Munich and introduced her to my old haunts in Schwabing. We visited my brother,  Pierre Mendell, the graphic artist, and had dinner at the Luitpold Café, where I was delighted to find that the waiter recognized me although it had been many years since I had been there.  I felt that Munich was much more friendly than Zurich or anywhere in Switzerland for that matter,  and that my life might have been different if I had settled in Munich rather than in Zurich in the first place. Speaking of Zurich I wrote home that I was glad to be  getting out of there. “I’m glad to shake the snow of Switzerland from my feet.”(23 Feb,1973)  In March I flew to Tunesia where I stayed at Djerba la Douce, a Club Med.facility. I felt good, as I did at Stanford, being in a community with many scheduled activities. I had no time to feel lonely, even though I was there alone. After I got fired from Franklin I decided to go south to Florence, Italy  to study Psychosynthesis with Roberto Assagioli. However, my back was giving me problems,  so I drove to London with Kathy to seek the care of Dr. Fox and  Dr. Simmons. It turned out that Foxy was a lecherous old bastard who had his eyes on the pretty—not so innocent—exciting young flesh of Kathy. While I lay in agony with needles injected into my spine, he was busy chatting her up in the next room, and trying to seduce her. Simmons had a nice nurse named Allison. I would hold her hand and look up into her motherly eyes while Simmons injected my spine with some pain killing drug that took my pain away for a short time. This went on for several months and I believed I was getting better.  Meanwhile I got into Jungian  analysis, London style.  To get started I went to see Michael Fordham, the leader at that time, of the London Jungian school, to solicit his help, hoping that he might be my analyst. He declined because he was too busy, and already had a full patient load,  but he referred me to Dr.  Richenda Martin, a JUNGIAN psychiatrist who became my analyst for the next several years.  Richenda was a kind woman in her sixties. She was an MD and practiced Jungian analysis in the London way of having the patient lie on the couch or the floor, while he free associated about his dreams and his issues. Her inquiries and interventions focussed on my early childhood, and I found her to be a healing force in my life. On April 2nd I wrote home that I had decided to stay in London rather than move to Florence for several reasons:

  1. to get my back fixed, and 
  2. to write my book on Jung.                                                   
  3. “I really don’t think I could find a better place than London to research and write my book. The libraries here are terrific.” 
  4. to continue my analysis, and 
  5. because I had been very lonely in Zurich, and I thought I could make friends more easily in London where people speak English. 

Looking back on my experience of therapy in the past year I reflected in a letter home: “I discovered that in many ways emotionally I am a helpless child and that I must not seek a demanding job or put myself  in situations where I may be overextended in the next few years.  I felt  torn apart between the advice of my analyst, which I thought was sound—and the tone of the letter from my trust officer, (probably inspired by Tony) who assumed that I was perfectly well and healthy. I realized that I was violating the conventional banker’s [and businessman’s] view of what a man should do by admitting that I was, in fact, incapable of holding down a regular job, etc—but you destroy a person if you pull him in too many different directions at the same time. “You wanted me to make this analysis to get my life straightened out,” I wrote to my parents, “Well we can’t stop in midstream now. I want to complete my analysis and I hope that you are willing to support me in continuing here—-and later in California—-what I have started and dedicated myself to this last year.” In the end my mother offered to pay my doctor bills and to pay for my analysis. The trust threatened to cut off my payments in June, but eventually agreed to continue to support me for another year. Meanwhile I was fortunate to be invited to be a “Visiting Scholar” at the London School of Economics—an honorary position with no stipend– and was given a very nice office on Goodge Street near Euston Station.  My predecessor in that office was Joseph Gusfield from UCSD. I settled into that office determined to write my book on C.G. Jung. In the spring I had gone to the British Sociological Association conference and met Peter Hopkins an editor from  Routledge and Kegan Paul. He was impressed with my Scheler book and invited me to submit a proposal for an intellectual biography of Jung. I wrote it up in the form of a letter to my mother, with much excitement.  “Here is how the book starts. In the first chapter we see old man Jung in his study surrounded by old manuscripts. The serpent bites his own tail. The end is in the beginning. We begin and end with the old man Jung immersed in his alchemical manuscripts. Along the way we encounter Paracelsus, Swedenborg, and the whole esoteric tradition of which Jung was a part and a continuation.” (Today we can see this same tradition for Roberto Assagioli, James Hillman, and so many other writers and thinkers.)” On the basis of that proposal letter, I received a contract from Routledge, and soon after that one from Basic Books in New York. In London I began by staying with my friend Maria Constintanides at 6 Blithefield Street in South Kensington. From there I moved to the Sun Court Hotel where I had two accidents from letting the bath  run-over causing much damage to the floor and to the rooms below. They let it go by the first time, but when I did it again and again, and laughed when they confronted me with my irresponsible behavior, I had to pay for the repairs. From there I got a small flat in St. Johns Wood which I loved and then eventually I moved to a flat in West Hampstead.  That summer (1973) I  took off for the continent in search of Jung and fun. Kathy and I went by train from London to Paris and then to Lugano. From there I wrote “I’m here in Lugano again—feeling very much at home—staying in a beautiful villa overlooking Lago di Lugano and enjoying Castalia (the Jung –Hesse conference). Among the guests I have particularly enjoyed meeting here are Rabbi Herbert Wiener, whose book 9 and a Half Mystics you must read. He gave a beautiful Sabbath service on Saturday. On Sunday everyone went to mass at the little country church here in Montagnola and I visited Hesse’s grave in the church yard afterwards.  Harvey Cox, Prof of Comparative Religions from Harvard is also here. He’s giving a series of lectures on the Bahavagad Gita. I met him some years ago when he lectured at Duke in 1965. He has acquired a beard and hippie clothes since, but is still as brilliant as ever.  Then June Singer, the Chicago Jungian who I met before in Palo Alto. She just published two new books The Unholy Bible on Blake and Boundaries of the Soul  on Jung. She will be lecturing this morning. There is one core-key lecture each day. Gene Nameche, the director and a real soul brother to me, gave a talk on Hesse and his grandfather—very moving—last night outside by candlelight. I am scheduled to give the key lecture on Jung on Thursday morning.” After Castalia we travelled on to Munich and Vienna and from thence to Graz (Grüss aus Graz!) and then settled in the Salzkammergut at Strobel am Wolfgangsee, not far from Salzburg. We also went south to Venice and from Venice on to Yugoslavia, where we visited  Lubliana and Pirano.  In mid August I attended the Eranos Conference in Ascona. I wrote home: “Here I am back on my own ground in Europe. I feel very much at home here in Ascona.”I had no idea  that I would eventually be living here! I found the Eranos lectures interesting.  I particularly enjoyed Gilbert Durant, Prof.of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Grenoble who had just published a book on The Structural Anthropology of the Imagination. He was a disciple of the great Gaston Bachelard. “We recognized that we were kindred spirits at once and I look forward to maintaining contact with him.”  Another interesting man was Prof Ernst Benz a Protestant theologian from Marburg. “How tortured and obscure the German language can be in  contrast to French clarté-bien  raisonné.  Then today—best of all—a Zen Roshi spoke on “The Interior and the Exterior of Zen” with simplicity, sincerity and profundity that (in my mind at least) put the all of the scholars to shame. All in all it was a worthwhile experience .“I tried to get more information from Frau Jaffe (from Zurich) Jung’s former secretary and editor of the Jung Letters but she’s determined not to reveal anything other than what she brings out in print. I think she’s jealous and possessive thinking that she alone has the right to work on Jung. But I had a good talk with James Hillman—also from the Jung Institute—whose “Archetypal Psychology I admire. He encouraged me to continue writing my book,  and said he thinks it will be very good for the Jungian community to have  a sympathetic outsider’s  perspective on Jung. He’s pretty fed up with the Zurich cult of Jung himself.” Kathy and I returned to London in the fall, and settled in a flat at Lambolle Road in the Belsize area  above Swiss Cottage. We both loved it there. It was so centrally located. We decided to stay in London for Christmas in 1973. We had spent a lot of money on our travels in the summer and felt the need to conserve our resources. My mother sent me a generous Christmas gift plus the $500 which she sent each month. I bought a nice hi fi music system with it.  Meanwhile I submitted a budget to the trust asking them to increase my income from twelve hundred to fifteen hundred a month and begged my mother not to interfere in this. The trust turned me down. I enrolled in a training program with the British Association of Psychotherapists so as to become a certified Jungian analyst. To complete the program would take two or three years. As part of my training I continued my analysis with Richenda Martin. I was scheduled to have my first patient (under supervision) in the fall. The tuition was $500 per year plus the cost of my analysis.  I wrote Tony  some of the reasons why I wanted to become an analyst. “One of the most important reasons  is that as an analyst I can be financially independent and can live where I want (eventually San Francisco). I am also finding that thinking of myself becoming a therapist has given me a new perspective in  reading Jung for my book. It makes me less of an outsider and will give me greater confidence as a person and a scholar.”  I love literature, and began reading my favourite authors from a Jungian perspective. I wrote an essay on Nietzsche, Jung and Hesse which I called “The Daimon of Creativity.”  I was hired to teach “Comparative Sociology” at Brunell University in London and was invited to lecture on Jung to the History of Ideas Seminar at Oxford after Christmas. I also lectured on Fritz Perls at the  famous London Tavistock Clinic relating him to Humanistic and Existential Psychology. Through my work on Scheler and Jung, Mann and Hesse I began to feel that the generation born in 1875 was “my generation,” my specialty. But “in my conversation with my intellectual history colleagues at Oxford I felt quite keenly how far away my own orientation has grown frI am a romantic idealist and Believe in the importance of the imagination. I find that one of the deepest differences between me and them is my religious belief system and my commitment to my own personal vision as expressed artistically —symbolically— rather than in purely rational terms. It has been hard for me to accept the consequences of this, my own inner truth.  “As long as I was seeking to fit-into external standards I could not hear and follow my own inner truth. Having begun to do this now I feel the next step is for me to work out a way of holding on to this and yet being able to live in the world, to be in the world but not of it .” I wrote my mother. In May I went to Amsterdam for a Dutch Philosophical Congress, for the session on Max Scheler and to lead a Gestalt Group. I also had the pleasure of seeing my old friend and former colleague Alvin Goldner from the Sociology Department at Washington University in St. Louis.  I found the Dutch more spontaneous than the English and wrote home that  “for me right now doing therapy with people who want their lives to be more fulfilling is much more satisfying than either philosophy or sociology discussions.”  I was getting established in the international growth center circle doing workshops at places like “Esalen in Europe.” I was scheduled to do a workshop in German at ZIST  in Munich in September. “Sometimes I feel impatient,” I wrote, “in that I’m already being a successful as a Gestalt therapist when I am only an apprentice Jungian analyst.”  My writing was progressing slowly, but I found it hard to get back into it after my travels. In October I began a series of six lectures I gave on the topic “Consciousness in Self and Society” in which I presented my ideas of humanistic sociology to an audience of people interested in humanistic psychology at Quaesitor, a successful new growth center in London.  At the same time I began teaching a course  on “Sociology for the Pastoral Ministry” at the Richmond Fellowship. In early October we moved from Lambolle Rd. in Swiss Cottage up into the center of Hampstead to Redington Road. We were feeling stressed financially. I wrote home: “We are on an absolute minimum expenditure budget now as we are still paying for the fantastic travels of the summer—Norway, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Toronto, Montreal and California! It was expensive, but it was worth it. We both got so much out of it!  And now that winter is settling in upon us again we are taking time to digest and  integrate all of our experiences and recent acquisitions. “Fortunately I took many photographs and films so we can re-live and enjoy our wonderful travels again and again and share them with others less fortunate than we.” ‘Thank you again for your hospitality to me and especially to Kathy. You took such good care of her while I was “about my Father’s business” in Canada (I had attended the world congress of sociology in Toronto.) The experience of California had really changed Kathy—as she is the first to admit. There she met ‘real people’—warm and friendly and imaginative—that she had seldom encountered before, either in the East or in Europe.” Our new abode on Redington Road was a delight. “It has great possibilities as an artists studio being unusually large with huge high windows  to let in the natural light. Kathy and I have decided to decorate it very very simply making the most of the feeling of vast spaciousness in the living room.  In a Zen way I like the idea of keeping everything simple—the walls almost empty—to make room for peopling and decorating them with images from my own inner life—from my psyche as Jung would say.It’s amazing how much most of us externalize our experience ignoring the riches of the inner man within.” “I am presently selling everything I don’t need—especially books—which I had accumulated in the last few years when I felt so insecure and had projected myself into things that I then bought as if to be building up a “collection of bits of myself.” (I recognize the voice of my analyst in these words).  Zen, Christ and Richenda have helped me to recollect that we do not need to lay up riches here on earth where dust corrodes them, but rather to rest in the Sacred Heart and Mind of Our Lord, building the Kingdom of God within our own souls.” One really needs so little to live beautifully! And I have accumulated so much excess and unnecessary baggage along the way on my Quest! So now this autumn as we celebrate the Harvest time, I am consolidating essentials and selling or giving away everything to the needy that  I do not really need. I feel it is sinful and selfish and psychologically unhealthy to horde things (books) as I have done. It is time to embrace Our Lady Poverty, as St.Francis did. Speaking of hoarding, I am watching the squirrels outside my window gathering nuts and food to pack away for the winter. They know just what they need. They don’t take too much—just enough. Would that man (I) was so wise instinctively.!” “I am so delighted with my study here; I want to describe it to you. I call it ‘the tree house’. You’ll understand why in a moment. The living room is very large, as I told you, with very high ceilings and windows to let in the natural light. Well high up near that light trap is my study in the minstrel gallery. I’ve even put a picture of a medieval minstrel on the balcony railing to reinforce the idea. (Unfortunately real live minstrels are hard to find these days!)  Anyway, there is a tiny stairway at the far corner of the living room . I crawl up this stairway to my loft, minstrel gallery, firebox, study therapy room (I have a couch here for my patients) and now that I have got a pot of ivy growing up the pole by the staircase ascending  to the gallery and a nice window box of geraniums hanging out in front as in Austria—I call my nook up here ‘the tree house.’” “To me trees firmly rooted in the ground with their branches reaching up to the stars and heavens are an image of man—rooted in his own inner depths and in the Love of God and reaching out to share God’s love and Grace with his fellow creatures like St Francis whose feast day we recently celebrated. (Oct 4th)” Now that I have started my own garden inside I appreciate more your love of gardening of growing and planting, Mother, which you do so well. I feel filled with love and appreciation of you today, Mother. I wish I could give you a big hug and kiss right now. So take this expression of my filial love and admiration for you (a fellow artist and seeker) from afar from your son. PS Your Butterfly card with the lovely quotations from Blake and St Paul just arrived. Thank you! I look forward to reading your promised letter containing ‘food for thought and action’.  My first reaction to your words was one of fear and dread—as I foolishly felt that old fear that you were about to withdraw the $500/mo we count on. But I know you won’t go back on your promise and your stated wish to share some of your wealth with me now before it is taken away in taxes later.  You know how I suffered from the push/pull, giving with one hand and taking away with the other that you and Tony did to me with the Big Sur land. PLEASE don’t let me down again now that I’ve begun to TRUST YOU and get over my pain and mistrust. Pax Christi!”  We loved the place on Redington Road in Hampstead, but in November, 1974 we were kicked out of that flat after three months because I got too much candle smoke on the ceiling.          

We had one more flat in Hampstead before we left England, at 32 Ferncroft Ave. We were there for six months. As usual, I was worried about money. In December 1974 I wrote home that I had not heard from the trust but “appreciate your reassurance that everything will work out so I can continue my training analysis here and  have time to continue writing my book…I want very much to bring it to completion within the next year I would appreciate if you would abstain from commenting on it in your letters, Madole.  “I am doing the best I can. Prodding is not necessary and only produces a contrary spirit in me. I hope you are enjoying yourself and your own creative work.” After Christmas I wrote “Thank you for your generous Christmas present.The money was very welcome indeed.” I was feeling lonely and wrote: “These days we both prefer staying alone together…rather than making further futile efforts to establish contacts here. Am making the best of it knowing that next summer we will be able to return to California for good.”   What about my three year training program? I decided to abandon it. I was just too lonely in London, as I had been in Zurich.  On Dec.28th 1975 I wrote my mother: I love you and hope we will be able to get along better after I return to California next summer. I hope you understand that the resentment you sensed last summer comes from my own inner struggle to free myself from my hold on the mother imago within. It spills over into my attitude towards you against my will. I know that you do love me and want to be my friend and I am working on my own inner self in order to become more capable of carrying on an adult relationship with you henceforth. “I appreciate your agreeing to continue depositing $500 per month into my bank account through July. I feel it is a terrible burden that generates resentment in me when you give me the financial support I need with strings attached. It is infantilizing and very destructive for me.  That is why I have asked you to give me the money freely, simply because I need it to live here now, because you want me to have it—not to prove to you or to anyone that I can do anything or that I have been ‘a good and faithful servant’ as in the Parable of the Talents (which she loved to quote to me).  Of course, I am writing my book and I intend to complete it, but the situation where I am constantly on trial and being called to account for myself must stop now. I feel confident that you understand. I don’t want you to ‘believe in’ me—because then I would have to try to live up to that belief and that produces more resentment and destructive results—no, I simply want you to love me and accept me as I am.  As I se it this is the only way for us to be friends with each other. A friend is someone you can be yourself with, because a friend accepts you as you are rather than imposing on you the demand that you be what they think you ought to be. I am not an extension of you, but an autonomous being with my own inner direction just as you are.” At the end of the year 1975, I wrote a friend, Henry Ramsey, summarizing my progress on the book. I had written seven chapters. The one I was working on at that time I called “World War Within” since the chapter dealt with Jung’s inner struggles during the First World War. In the chapter I sought to recount Jung’s inner journey and to show how it formed the basis for his later work. As an historian I sought to place Jung’s inner quest in the context of other related literary, cultural and artistic developments such as Expressionism and phenomenology. I also sought to analyze the sources of Jung’s creativity and the relations between illness, social catastrophe and artistic creativity through a comparison of Jung and Mann and Hesse during this period. “The problem of the psychological sources of creativity interests me very much right now. I have found a great release  of my writing block through changing my  pattern of work and allowing myself to roam freely from chapter to chapter in my manuscript, depending on what interests me, as opposed to forcing myself to stick to one chapter until it is finished.  By doing this I have changed my inner coding of my activity from ‘work’ to ‘what I want to do.’ Furthermore, by going into my own depression and deadness repeatedly, as both my rod and my roomiv I have begun to discover my own creativity that was hiding behind this deadness. I found the key that opened the door in painting and drawing which I am doing a lot of thee days. I have even drawn pictures of the contents of books I wanted to fall back on to show myself that I really have it inside me now and don’t need to waste my time with endless research I’m moving along at full steam and hope to have a good first draft of the whole book completed by August.” I was painting a lot in those days, so i put up some of my pictures on the walls, particularly the ones with Native American themes. I came to believe that painting and music were modes of expression I could use to let my inferior functions come through. I was blocked when using my intellect alone and having gone as far as I could with that function for the present turned around and dropped down to a more primitive sensuous level and was able to bring into play my sensation and feeling functions. Above all I made progress in my writing when I let my Red Man (Indian) write for me. He is the intuitive one, brother of Raphael What I like best about painting is that I don’t know what is coming next; it just comes along all by itself.  I am sure that Kathy’s accepting attitude helped me recover from the rejections that I had experienced throughout my lfeuntil then.. Before I always felt inhibited by the internalized critic-mother, the professional artist. It is important to me now that I can protect my drawings from her corrections and improvements.  I will never forget the drawing of Pooh I once made that my mother painted over giving it a better shape and then stuck up as my work. I am at a point now where I can create my own shape structure and form and do not want anyone to ‘improve’ me. I still find the mandala structure of a closed circle inhibiting, and prefer to paint from a central point outward develop freely without having to work within the limits of a closed circle. However I feel OK about the limits of a square or rectangular sheet of paper. I like the feeling of having the full space of the page. I was getting to know some of the images in my unconscious through my drawings, dreams and fantasies I hoped that in coming to terms with these I could free myself and my mother from the projections I put onto her that distorted our relationship.  Writing to my analyst I described the following fantasy: I closed my eyes and saw an owl appear before me. It was grey-blue with large black eyes. I remembered what Jung said about not letting an image get away until you have gotten its message; so I kept the owl before me and watched. Pretty soon I saw my mother step out from behind the owl figure, which I now saw as a large idol, with an altar at its feet. My mother bent down nearby and started digging and planting little plants, My two sons appeared and helped her. I had the sense that they were carrying on their normal activities in Big Sur. Meanwhile I remained in contact with the owl idol and saw myself bowing down before it and asking humbly as if speaking in fear and trembling before a god ‘What can I do to please you? How can I satisfy you?’ the owl god answered: ‘Nothing you do will ever be good enough. You can never please me. This is what you live for, to love, honor and obey me. I have spoken.’  As I mused over this fantasy I had a clear sense of how I still keep myself locked into this punitive system, and how it is I who  hold on to my image of my mother inside me now whereas she has let go and is carrying on her own adult life. I am held in servitude to this demanding inner deity. I hate him/her/it, and yet I fear it and do not break free. The resentment engendered by this delusional system spills over into my relationship with my real mother when I am in contact with her, though I don’t with to hurt her and actually love her and would like to be more loving when I am around her. On January 30, 1975  I wrote my mother telling her how much I love her and reporting that I had fallen in love with a new “lady”—painting and drawing. “You introduced me to her in my childhood and in our home. Today looking around my empty flat I saw the walls covered with my pictures! Can you imagine? Not other people’s pictures, as I’ve had for so long, but my own! I take it for granted that I’m no good yet but I feel encouraged that this great French painter, Jean Dennis Maillert, that I met at Maria’s has taken an interest in my painting and even Maria said “You have very good ideas, powerful images, John.” And that’s it. I have the imagination and I have vision. I love to write to photograph to draw and to paint whether in words or music or visual images.  My “Portrait of Jung” is coming along marvellously well since I  gave up trying to do a book to satisfy the critics and sociologists and decided instead simply to sing my song no matter what. I write well and I enjoy writing. I know this is my main medium, but I enjoy painting too. I use it as an exercise in contacting and meeting my “lady” creativity la belle dame sans merci.” Cathy has gone to New York to visit her family and I miss her, but I am getting along well thanks to dear Maria and Richenda and my own internal family and friends such as Plato, Blake, Dante and Jung. I am in good company here in my study…and I have been enjoying getting to know Jean Dennis Maillert. Today I took the plunge and decided to have Jean Dennis do a portrait of me. He is truly a great artist, a famous portraitist in France, here in England in bad shape financially because of family problems. His God was once Degas, then Cocteau and more recently Max Ernst now that Picasso is dead. So he is going to do my portrait. Only a charcoal sketch because that alone costs more than  I can really afford, 250 pounds! As I look at it having your portrait done is like having your horoscope made The value of the ‘chart’ depends upon the artist.” If the sketch is really outstanding I might later want him to do it in oil, but that costs 1000 pounds so it is out of the question for me now. Even so, his works are going to be shown at the National Gallery in May, and maybe his portrait of John-Raphael may be hung there too. It doesn’t really matter to  me, but it would be fun if it happened. When the work was finished, I was disappointed. “What I learned is that it it is more satisfying and salutary for me to continue to work on my own self-portraits (trees, animals, the Big Sur coastline, whatever I draw) than to have a ‘professional’ do a portrait of me. I put up the portrait yesterday in the living room and studied it. One can study if for a long time. It says a lot, perhaps too much. Unfortunately I don’t think he quite got ‘me’ but then I really would not want him to have “me” anyway. I belong to my Self  now and I will no longer serve any other master.  Nietzsche put it all so well in the end of Book One of Zarathustra when he wrote: ‘Now I bid you lose me and find yourselves; only when you have all denied me will I return to you. One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil’  “Yes I learned a lot from Jean-Dennis. But I found that he and his work were  too ‘overpowering’ for me .Therefore the following morning I am putting his portrait of Raphael in the closet to make from for my own creative work.” “Today I told Richenda that seeing my drawings on the wall made me feel that at last I could honestly think of myself as an ‘artist’, too. She encouraged me to channel this excitement I felt  about painting back into my writing.   I agreed and wrote my mother that”I am doing it all as best I can right now, but I must confess that painting has got me tight in its grip now, and I can well imagine that for a while—at least for the immediate future—painting and drawing will be more exciting for me than writing. But that is a matter that will work itself out in God’s good time!” It was a cold rainy London winter that new year, and on Feb 27th 1976                     I wrote my mother gratefully that “spring has come at last—and I hope this    time  to stay. On Hampstead Heath where I roam daily—trees having replaced bookstores as my favorite haunts—nature is resplendent with bright yellows and oranges, blue, magenta, purple and red flowers blossoming everywhere adding a dash of color in fields of green grass all around us. It is most beautiful, and a most welcome change from the heavy deadening atmosphere of the university tombs where  I spent so many years!” “Today I went to hear a lecture on intellectual history by a brilliant young man, Martin Jay, who now holds the position Prof. Schorske had when I was a history grad student at Berkeley. Martin Jay  is now Schorske’s successor, a position I once hoped would be mine! He is my age and we are on friendly terms, though I only met him recently. Yet I was dreadfully bored by his highly technical analytical left brain lecture  and slipped out as soon as I could so I could  go back to my beloved trees and squirrels Hampstead Heath. I would much rather study the  shapes and forms, structures and colours of trees and plants—and  to watch the gentle graceful movement of the birds, squirrels and deer and to converse like a St. Francis  with my friends in the  animal kingdom than to discuss the abstract ideas  most intellectuals seem to thrive on. I now marvel that I ever could have been so narrow-minded and so blind to God’s glorious world all around me!  Looked at functionally most intellectuals’ conversations and debates hardly differ from the pettiness and meanness of pub gossip or locker-room chatter. It is usually just another ego trip, an effort to show off and get attention!  “Yes Mother, you’re so right1 I have changed a great deal during the past year. It was only a few days ago that I became aware how much this change in me is now becoming consolidated. There will be no more turning back now. I have finally ‘found myself’. Not for a minute do I doubt that there will be many changes in my life ahead, and I look forward to continual growth and change. To remain too much the same is to grow old….We must learn that through our creative imagination we can enter into everything like artists transforming ourselves, and renewing ourselves continually.“ “My study of Jungian depth psychology has helped me discover my own center, or Self.  And I have begun to draw on this Self as a guide, as Jung suggested that we do, as Jesus Christ did, in fact….All this brings me face to face with a practical dilemma. I see now that I am a person of strongly artistic temperament and inclinations, not a terribly practical person, but a very imaginative and creative person.  Unfortunately, in our society as it is now constituted a person like myself is bound to have a difficult time in many ways, particularly in supporting himself.  Up to now, I have supported myself through teaching, but this year I feel rather like the painter who, to support himself gives painting lessons, but his heart is not in it. He wants to be painting his own pictures, from inside his own soul, not instructing young people who have quite different interests, experiences and objectives. So I have pretty much decided not to look for another teaching job for next fall, but simply to return to my home at Anderson Canyon in Big Sur and to live there very modestly and attempt to get by on my small income that I get automatically from the trust.  Madole, I do not want to be dependent on you for financial support any more after my return. I appreciate your help; but I want to be financially independent as soon as possible, certainly before the end of next year.  So there is the dilemma. I don’t want to take on another teaching job, but I must find some way to support myself, at least until, hopefully, I can live off the royalties from my creative work.” Meanwhile, at the request and urging of my buddy Prof. Randall Rollins,  I wrote and submitted a very scholarly article to a scientific sociology journal, Theory and Society. The article was entitled “From Depth Psychology to Depth  Sociology: Freud, Jung and Levi-Strauss.” In this article I compared and contrasted Jung and Levi-Strauss’s approaches to the interpretation of myths and symbols of the Collective Unconscious. I find it interesting—looking back on it all now— on the one hand, how I could have been feeling so anti-intellectual, and yet, at the same time, could have written the most intellectual paper I ever wrote! I got an enthusiastic letter of acceptance from the editor of Theory and Society who wrote: “Your recent work radiates energy and real imagination. What I found fault with in your Scheler book…was that it did not go beyond history. I sense that your forthcoming  Jung book will be more than Ernest Jones on Freud and more than Mitzman on Durkheim or Weber; that it will be more intellectually and personally a statement to the current world…” I spent the year in seclusion preferring to commune with my own muse and with my own internal figures than to engage in small talk with the people I was acquainted with in London. At that time I was struck to discover that both Freud and Jung went thorough a similar period of withdrawal, if not several such periods, during their lives, and that these periods were either their most creative ones or led to a creative overflowing afterwards. I felt that this was what was happening to me.  I was pleased with the understanding I had acquired of  Jung’s character and his relationships with Freud and with Hermann Hesse. Nevertheless, I felt that I could never know C.G. Jung the way people knew him who were close to him.  I felt torn between my conscience as an historian, bound by sticking to the facts, the evidence, however meagre, and the writer or creative artist in me who can imagine and create a ‘higher or ‘poetic’ truth that may be more accurate than could be any reconstruction based solely on documentary evidence.  Furthermore I had my own ideas, beliefs and values which I wanted to communicate in my writings. “Where do these come in legitimately in my Jung book?” I asked myself. “It is going to be a very personal book. I hope it will be read by people from many walks of life, not just academics. But I will be satisfied if it is as highly regarded as Jones’ Freud or be considered as solid as my Max Scheler.  “In many ways I am finding Jung more difficult to deal with than Scheler. It is not so much that he is a more complex thinker as that I have changed in the intervening decade, as I am now aware of. Now, there are so many more dimensions of human experience to pay attention to and to account for in my biographical research than used to be evident to me.”  “At the moment I am having a fabulous time pouring through the classical Greek myths and fables and nineteenth century fairy tales, and even the works of  great writers like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and Hugo, Daudet, Maupassant and Robert Louis Stevenson,  as examples of archetypal symbolism… I am also getting a great deal from rereading Nietzsche’s writings, particularly his Genealogy of Morals and his Zarathustra now that I  have learned how to interpret visionary material.” In the spring of 1975, with help from Kathleen Charous  and other London friends,  I organized my first international transdisciplinary conference. The theme was: “Consciousness in Self and Society.” I invited twenty scholars I knew from London, Paris, rich, Berkeley, and Berlin to attend the conference, which was held at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park near Windsor Castle.   In the Call for Papers I posed the following topics for discussion: ‘What is the nature of human consciousness? And what are some of the implications of recent discoveries about consciousness for our personal and inter-personal and transpersonal experience?’ ‘Most conferences have the aim of a meeting of peers of similar professions, attitudes and specializations. We do not have this aim. We propose a dialogue which will be cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural and which will confront directly the individual/social and mind/body dichotomies. Dialogue will address itself to the grounds of common human concern in several areas:1.the nature of consciousness2.Work, leisure and creativity3.Family, Sex Roles, Basic Human needs4. Transpersonal, Spiritual dimensions of consciousness ‘Our intention is to stimulate dialogue with the maximum of participation by conferees. Each day there will be several Lectures presented by specialists to provoke discussion around the theme of the day. In the afternoon we will split into small discussion groups to pursue themes of interest This mini-society experience will be an experiment to foster integration of the substance of each day’s activities. In the evening we will reassemble as a united body to draw things together for the entire community. We hope to use the conference as a source of ideas about human relationships as well as to explore the outer regions of contemporary knowledge about consciousness in self and society.’  The program included the following lectures: John Staude (Brunell University) “The Nature of Human Consciousness,” Zygmunt Bauman. (University of Leeds)  “Emancipatory Consciousness and Society Consciousness, Richard Grathoff, (University of Constance in Germany) “Biographical Frames and Social Consciousness, Herminio Martines (Oxford University) “Consciousness of Time and Change in Social Theory” Paul Walton “Consciousness and the Production of Consciousness in the Mass Media” (University of Glasgow), Hans-Peter Dreitzel (Free University of Berlin) “In Search of Authenticity,” Lillemor Johnsen, “Personal Growth, the Body and the Unconscious” (Oslo, Norway), John O’Neil, (York University, Toronto) “The Self and Embodiment in Montaigne,” Zev Barbu (University of Sussex) “Consciousness and Imagination: On the Limits of Self-Transcendence,” Fred Blum (London. Society of Analytical Psychology) “The Development of a New Consciousness”, John Crook (University of Sussex) “Personal Change and Enlightenment: East and West,”  Christian Delacampagne (Paris) “The Transpersonal Basis for Society” and Geoffrey Whitfield, (University of Sussex) “Personal Transcendence in Zen, Christianity, and Gestalt Therapy”. The conference was a great success. It was attended by about fifty invited guests. Cumberland Lodge, in Windsor Great Park, is a Royal Hunting Lodge and very handsomely appointed. The food was not very good, but then England is not known for haute cuisine, and otherwise everything went well and everyone was delighted and thankful to me for arranging the conference.  I planned to publish the papers and submitted them to Routledge but they declined to publish them, so I started my own academic journal Consciousness and Culture and published some of the papers there. After the conference was over, Cathy and I  rested up at The Compleat Angler Inn in Marlow on the Thames and then  we packed up our things, put them in storage, and flew to California in time to attend my mother’s 40 year retrospective art show at the Janus Gallery in Los Angeles. I have had very good times in London over the years. I loved walking around Hampstead, a writer’s paradise, in the footsteps of D.H. Lawrence and Katharine Mansfield.  Plaques on the walls everywhere remind one of the famous people who preceded us there.. I used to eat at a delightful Italian restaurant in Hampstead and also at San Carlo in Highgate, and to go weekly to analysis with Richenda at her flat in Chelsea near the  King’s Road. But in a letter written from Marlow on April 21st I wrote: “Cathy and I  are delighted to be leaving England at last. We may come back for a visit some day, but I hope not to ever live here again. I still can’t believe that we really are going to get away for good tomorrow. I’ll only believe it when we are on the plane bound for New York.” (I had no idea when I wrote that sentence that fifteen years later I would  return to England and work there teaching for six more years in the nineties!)

My Experiences Studying Acting

I went to Chadwick School in Palos Verdes for Summer School in July, 1952 to make up a credit that I had lost my sophomore year at Webb, because I had failed geometry. While  I was at Chadwick, I not only made up my failed course, I made some new friends. I helped edit the school paper, I sang in the men’s chorus, and I took the lead role in the school play. Also, at that time I started studying the piano seriously and  I worked hard at practicing daily. The play I starred in was called “I’m a Fool.” It was by Sherwood Anderson, the famous author of Winesberg Ohio

In the play, my role was that of  a dishonest young  man who tried to advance himself pretending to be something he was not. What I loved about being at Chadwick was that I was treated well by the other students, as well as by the teachers. Towards the end of that summer, I felt very happy. I really wanted to become accomplished at something before going back to Webb that fall. I took a four weeks course in typing at the Hollywood professional school in Hollywood that summer, but I also  learned dancing, and at that time I also completed a course in self-defense—mainly judo—so that I would no longer be bullied at school, as I had been before. I learned to defend myself and to fight back if and when I was attacked after I returned to Webb school in the fall. 

In the summertime when I was in Hollywood I attended acting school where I was taught by non-other than he great Russian actress, Eugenie Leontovich. Let me tell you something about her.

Eugenie Leontovich (Born Evgenia Konstantinovna Leontovich; Russian: Евге́ния Константиновна Леонто́вич, tr. Evgéniya Konstantinovna Leontóvich; March 21 or April 3 (Leontovich cited the latter date on her U.S. naturalization paperwork; the discrepancy may be between the O.S. (Julian) and N.S. (Gregorian) calendars) in either 1900, which most sources cite and which Leontovich herself claimed, or earlier, i.e. 1893, according to a border crossing manifest from September 23, 1922, which gives her age as 29, indicating 1893 as her year of birth, or 1894 or 1898, according to a different travel manifest. April 3, 1993), She was a Russian-born United States stage actress with a distinguished career in theatre, film and television, as well as a dramatist and a marvelous innovative acting teacher.

She was described as “[o]ne of the most colourful figures of the 20th-century theatre, a successful actress, producer, playwright and teacher.”[11] She was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play for William Saroyan‘s The Cave Dwellers.[4]

Born in Podolsk, Miss Leontovich studied at Moscow‘s Imperial School of Dramatic Art, and then under Meyerhold at the Moscow Art Theatre, which        she subsequently joined. The daughter of Konstantin Leontovich, an officer in the Russian Imperial Army, she suffered greatly during the Revolution.Her three brothers (who were Army officers like their father) were murdered by the Bolsheviks

In 1922, she “found her way to New York and set about mastering the English language”. That year, she joined a touring company of the musical Blossom Time in 1922 and traveled throughout much of the U.S. Her success led to Broadway stardom.

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Eugenie Leontovich as Grusinskaia, the dancer, in the original Broadway production of Grand Hotel (1930)

After touring the country in Blossom Time, she was cast as Grusinskaia in the Broadway adaptation of Vicki Baum‘s novel Grand Hotel.An enormous success, the play, which opened in 1930, was later filmed with Greta Garbo in the part created by Leontovich. After Grand Hotel Leontovich was given the role of Lily Garland (aka Mildred Plotka) in Twentieth Century, a comedy by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. She played the role from December 29, 1932 until May 20, 1933.

She also played the Archduchess Tatiana in Tovarich, a comedy about a pair of Russian aristocrats who survive in Paris by going into domestic service. It was in this play that she made a highly successful London debut at the Lyric Theatre in 1935, with Cedric Hardwicke as her co-star.           During World War II she appeared on Broadway in Dark Eyes, a comedy she wrote with Elena Miramova about three Russian exiles in New York. The play was produced in London after the war with Eugenia Delarova and Irina Baronova. In 1936, she had played Shakespeare‘s Cleopatra at the New Theatre, returning to London in 1947 as a female Russian general in a farce which she co-authored, Caviar To The General, which temporarily displaced Phyllis Dixey at the Whitehall

A year later, she moved to Los Angeles, where for the next five years she had her own theatre, The Stage, where she both produced and performed.

In 1954, she created the role of the Dowager Empress in the play Anastasia on Broadway. (The role was played by Helen Hayes in the film version.) 

In 1972, she adapted Anna Karenina for off-Broadway, calling it Anna K. and appearing in it with success. Leontovich made a handful of films. For most of her long professional life she was identified with the stage. For seven years in the 1960s she was artist in residence at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. She taught acting in California and New York City.

Personal

Leontovich, whose students addressed her and referred to her as “Madame”, lived in a Manhattan apartment surrounded by family pictures and icons. Both of her marriages ended in divorce and she had no children. She became a naturalized United States citizen on September 5, 1929. According to her official biography, her first husband, Paul Sokolov, was purportedly a Russian noble. Her second husband was actor, producer, and director Gregory Ratoff, whom she married on January 19, 1923; they lived in California until their divorce,and she moved to New York.

Broadway plays

Leontovich made her Broadway debut in 1922 in Revue Russe, appearing with Gregory Ratoff, whom she married the following year. She appeared on Broadway in Bitter Oleander (1935), Dark Eyes (1943) which she co-wrote, and Obsession (1946). Her most notable role as the Dowager Empress in Anastasia (1954).

Filmography

She appeared in a handful of films: Four Sons (1940), The Men in Her Life (1941), Anything Can Happen (1952), The World in His Arms (1952), The Rains of Ranchipur (1955) and Homicidal (1961). She also appeared in two episodes of the television series Naked City, once opposite her former Anastasia co-star, Viveca Lindfors, of whom she was a personal friend.


I went to Webb School for high school 1950 to 1954

In the fall of 1950 I began the 9th grade at Webb School on Baseline Road in Claremont, California.  That   year I enjoyed learning English and Algebra, but my favorite class was the one in Ancient History taught by Ramsey Harris, who came originally from Rangoon in Burma and used to regale us with tales of his childhood and youth there. 

Besides reading Classic Comics, I enjoyed reading historical novels like The Egyptian by Mica Waltari and Mary Renault’s novels about Alexander the Great and the lives of people in Greece and Rome. I also enjoyed reading Plutarch’s  Lives and the Stoic Meditations of Emperor Marcus  Aurelius.

I have always had a huge appetite for knowledge and usually read several books at a time. I’ve done that all my life. Whereas my father and my grandfather were into accumulating material wealth, early on in my life I was impressed with the biblical teaching which my mother reinforced in me that we shouldn’t be attached to the accumulation of material wealth but rather should seek to store up the wealth of knowledge and greater understanding of ourselves and of others in our world. I found that reading novels inspired me and enabled me to go beyond my personal youthful experience.

My first Virgilian Guide to books of all kinds was Mr. Lloyd Harkema, a clerk at the Pickwick Bookshop on Hollywood Blvd. next door to the famous Hollywood restaurant Musso-Franks. I don’t recall how old I was when Lloyd first took me under his wing and became my guided mentor in the magical world of books. Perhaps 12 or 14. After that, besides my teachers at Webb, the main voice I listened to about books—and whose reading advice I took faithfully for years—was that of Lloyd Harkema. Lloyd continued to guide my reading throughout my high school years, but sadly, before I left for my Freshman year at Duke in the fall of 1954, Lloyd said farewell to me, assuring me that I would soon meet people better equipped than he was to guide me further. He had taken me as far as he could.

At the end of my freshman year at Webb, in June of 1951, when I was 15, I traveled to Europe with my parents for the first time. My mother was already in Europe when my father and I left. We sailed from New York on the Liberté, a luxury liner of the French line. I never had so much food served to me in all my life. Tony had an affair on the ship, as he had done on the train going from LA to New York before we sailed. My father modeled that behavior for me. After I grew up, I, too, became quite a womanizer, and then, later, an unfaithful husband in both of my marriages.

When we arrived at Le Havre my mother was waiting for us with a little English car, a Humber Hawk. We drove through Rouen to Paris. The sky was grey and it rained and rained. The sky reminded me of the skies in some of the authentic French impressionist paintings that hung in our living room at home.

France was more or less as I had imagined it would be. I had mixed feelings about it. I recall the weird smells in our first Paris hotel room, and the strangeness of the old lady who watched us through a veiled glass door as we entered the building where mother had rented a small apt for us. I learned that such women are an institution in France called the conscierge.I recall the smell of French coffee and pain au chocolat. In the mornings I had hot chocolate rich with fresh milk and hot croissants. Like a  puppy I explored the unfamiliar sights and smells in the neighborhood. I was fascinated with Notre Dame I and particularly liked the Sainte Chapelle.

My mother had acquired an escort, Gerard, and his attractive wife (or mistress) Paulette. I developed a crush on her right away and proposed dancing with her despite the fact that she smelled strongly of garlic. Her full breasts bulged out of her low cut black chiffon dress. Her musky  smell aroused me; so I got an erection while dancing with her. I fantasied all the ways that I might make love to her, but I did not yet know how to seduce a woman, and anyway, she was at least ten years older than me! 

I was was wide-eyed with wonder seeing all the naked women I saw at the Follies Bergere to which my parents took me (without being concerned that it might be not be appropriate for a 15 year old innocent adolescent boy).  After leaving the follies I wrote to my 14 year old buddy, Pete, back home, that I felt I’d seen “too many nudes” and “I never wanted to see another naked woman again”!

Later, we went on to watch a show in Montmartre in which the proprietor told a shaggy dog story in French that was way over my head. But I was puzzled at the end of his story why he unzipped his trousers and pulled out his penis and waved it around the room, acknowledging the applause he received. (Afterwards I when I asked my father to explain the joke I learned that it wasn’t really his penis he’d pulled out of his trousers, but a condom–which puzzled me even more, as I’d never heard of–or seen–such a strange thing before!)

I recall another amusing incident in Paris when I accompanied my parents to the bar at the Ritz Hotel. I ordered a Coke and Bisquit, anticipating getting a coke and cookies. But that did’t happen; instead the barman served me coke with brandy in it. I felt betrayed and spit out the coke in disgust and made a scene, not realizing that “biscuit” means not only a cookie, but a type of brandy as well.

Eventually, we set out to tour France in our little rented English car. We began by driving south to the Loire Chateau country visiting Tours, Poitiers and Chambord which we explored thoroughly for several days before heading south into Provence. When we got to Provence, I was particularly enchanted with Aix en Provence and with Carcasonne, which conformed to my image of medieval France. I had just completed a basic course in medieval history the previous semester at Webb; so now I felt thrilled to actually be able to see a real medieval town complete with towers and encircled by a high stone wall. At Webb I had learned of Simon de Montforte and the Cathars and the Courts of Love of the Troubadours. These tales fascinated me, and I determined to learn more about medieval France someday. I still love medieval towns and medieval art and medieval historical novels.

In June of 1952, at the end of my sophomore year, right after Webb closed for the summer, my parents took  me  to visit their beautiful Doodlebug Ranch in Sedona, Arizona. We spent a very happy three weeks together there, as we did every summer. I had lots of fun riding horseback and swimming in Oak Creek. I had just learned to swim recently, having been taught to swim by my adopted older brother, Pierre, who had since been drafted into the army and sent back to Germany to work as a translator, since having been born and raised in Germany,  he was, after all, bi-lingual.

Speaking of Germans, my social and political education was advanced by a friend of my parents, Dr. Hans Fehling, an émigré German physician who had been a labor rights lawyer in Germany, but was now an osteopathic physician. Hans pointed out to me various flaws and contradictions he saw in our governmental system. He maintained that there were more than a few similarities between corporate America and Nazi Germany, things that I would probably would have never discovered on my own.

Such a comparative political and social perspective came easily to Hans, for he had witnessed every  sort of social deviance in post-war Berlin and suffered police brutality himself both in London and in Berlin. Just in the nick of time, in 1939 before the Nazi invasion of Poland, Hans had escaped the the Gestapo,  left his Nazi-sympathizing wife, and emigrated all by himself to the USA with no one here to welcome him or vouch for him. Eventually Hans landed in Hollywood, opening his office on Hollywood Blvd., near my home,  where he had successfully launched his alternative medicine practice and begun a new life. 

In August 1952 I met my neighbor, Nancy Palmer, who lived up our street only a few blocks away from me. Although she lived nearby, somehow I had never met her before. When we finally did meet, we hit it off at once.  I had been interested in getting to know more girls since I was twelve, but never before had any young female been the least bit interested in me. I was overjoyed now that at last I had a girlfriend of my own to boast about and to write to when I returned to Webb that September.

 I was surprised to find how easily I got along with boys at school who I had actually hated the year before. I was no longer picked on and  I found myself included in parties and activities that I had always been left out of before. When the class elections were held, I was elected Secretary of our Class, a job that  required a lot of work—-keeping the class meeting minutes. I worked at it diligently all year long devotedly. I took this very seriously, for this was my first elected office.

I remember the commencement exercises at the end of my junior year in June 1953. Dr. Hayward was the speaker and John Kinzer was the valedictorian. When we sang the Webb farewell song at the close of the ceremony, and sang the words in the line ending with “farewell,” they meant something special to me for the first time. I felt that I had reached a new stage in my life and that I was saying goodbye to my childhood forever. I was a young man now!

We returned to L.A. by driving all night to avoid the desert heat. During that summer before I began my junior year,  I made friends with some of the neighborhood kids, because we had a swimming pool in our backyard and they liked to swim in it. I was so busy having fun with them that I had little time to myself. In fact, for the first time, I was barely able to finish our required summer reading much less get through all the  interesting books I had gotten from Lloyd Harkema at the Pickwick Bookstore.

That June, when I walked down the aisle at commencement, I received three stars to have stitched on the left top pocket of my Webb School Blazer from Dr. Webb himself. To me, each one symbolized a victory over my limitations in the past.  I had always dreamed of receiving a star to wear on my school blazer and now I had won not just one, but three!  I got my first star for perfect attendance,  a victory over my continual sicknesses. The second star was awarded to me because I had maintained a B average all year and thereby had earned the “room privilege” of studying in my room every night, rather than having to sit with all the other less academically successful boys in the Study Hall. Again this was a great victory for me; before that I had been a C student. My last star was, perhaps, the most important of all to me. It signified my appointment to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Blue and Gold, our school newspaper for the following year.  More than that, it showed that now I, too, had finally carved out a place for myself among the leaders of the class of 1954, thereby living up to the motto of Webb School: Principes non Homines(Leaders not just ordinary men)

At the end of the 1953 School Commencement ceremonies, when I joined the other boys in singing our school song, which begins with the words—that still rouse and touch my heart— “Calm o’er the campus twilight is falling,” my heart was not calm. Quite the opposite. I was excited and felt proud of myself, as I triumphantly marched down the aisle belting out our song joyously, feeling a deep sense of  victory over my previous weaknesses.

During my senior year, I  learned to love Ancient Greek History, Greek Mythology, and Comparative Religion in Gordon Wilson’s classroom. There I first discovered my lifelong vocation–to be a bard like Homer, recounting stories of the achievements and adventures of men and women past and present.  There I first read and came to love and admire Homer and the heroes of Ancient Greece, and he divine Plato, which resulted eventually in my becoming a lifelong Platonist.

I particularly enjoyed Mr. Wilson’s classes in Mythology and in Comparative Religion. He had pictures of figures from Greek myth on the walls of his classroom. It was with him that I first developed a real interest in the meaning of myths and symbols. I also was fascinated with the stories told in Bullfinch’s Mythology and particularly the stories of adventures and heroic journeys like Homer’s epics. When I got to Webb I had an ambition to read every book in the school library, and I just about did. (It was a small library). 

During the summer of 1953 before my senior year began in the fall, I traveled around the East, especially New York and Massachusetts, with my mother getting to know something about the eastern part of United States and visiting colleges to see where I might want to spend the next four years of my life. 

The East meant something exotic to me; it was a place where you could find just about anything you wanted, and it had a high intense energy which Southern California lacked. I felt the difference in energy as soon as I arrived there.  I felt a sense of freedom. You could be and do just about anything there. It was also a place where literature was created and published. As an aspiring writer, New York was mecca for me.
I lived in Manhattan for two months with my mother in the summer of 1953 at the Essex House Hotel hoping to learn how to write successful plays and stories. 
My heroes were Eugene O’Neil and Tennessee Williams. They put their families right out there before your eyes on the stage and I decided early on that I wanted to do that, too. I went to the theater often that summer in New York though I regret now that I can’t remember any of the titles of the plays that I saw. I just adored the theatre and later studies acting and playwriting. New York  was very exciting and I like to write in cafes there very much. Being there in such a lively metropolis was good preparation for my moving to Paris which I did in 1958 after I graduated from Georgetown.

I wish now that I had gone to Columbia University like Thomas Merton did. I would’ve enjoyed studying under great humanities profs like Lionell Trilling, Jacques Barzun ,and Gilbert Highet. I might’ve even met Thomas Merton who was studying there then. 
I went to the theater a lot in New York, and to libraries,  museums and concerts.
Another writer who was popular at that time was Norman Mailer, who I admired for being an outspoken rebel and rabble-rouser.There were also Bohemians in New York whose center of operations was in Greenwich village. I did not know them; I just heard that something exciting was happening there. I also went to museums like the Metropolitan Museum, the Frick,  and other art museums in New York.

Ancient Greece was my first and permanent love and I aspired to become a Classical Scholar. Later, in college, I studied Ancient Greek with the intention of getting closer to Aeschylus and Sophocles and the Greek poets and historians as well as to be able to read Plato and the New Testament in the original, as Nietzsche could do.  The earliest example of ancient wisdom for me was Socrates. I learned about him in Gordon Wilson’s class and later, when I went to college at Duke, I learned more about him and his way of teaching through questioning. I was already old when I was a child, an old soul, as they say. I admired old man Socrates and, like Erasmus, I thought of him as a saint; so I put his picture up on the wall of my room and prayed to him in my imagination. 

In my senior year through studying Greek history and mythology, I became curious to learn more about Greek philosophy, so I selected and read a book from the school library entitled The Five Great Philosophies of Life. This book was by a Christian minister, Rev. William Hyde, and although he presented “Christianity” as the finest philosophy in the book, he discussed Platonism, Aristotelianism, Epicureanism, and Stoicism. I found that  I was most fascinated by Platonism, and that has remained true all my life.

“The purpose of this book,” Hyde said in the preface,  was “to let the masters of these sane and wholesome principles of personality talk using their own words, with just enough interpretation to make clear their points of view, and make us welcome their friendly assistance in the philosophical guidance of life.”

He maintained that “these approaches to life are still so broad, deep, and true that all our modern answers are but varieties these archetypal solutions to the problems of life.” I now recognize this as an over-simplification, but that simplified structure provided me at the time with just the right entry for me into the wondrous world of philosophy and even into the mysteries of the psychology of personality as well.

Well, looking back across the past eighty or so years of my life philosophizing, I wonder what it was, after all, that so appealed to me, as a young adolescent,  about Platonic philosophy, as presented by Dr. Hyde? I liked Plato’s theory of Ideas asserting that these Ideas are fundamental truths and essential objective realities–though not visible to the naked eye of the body —anymore than God is—but only to the eyes of the mind,  of the spirit,  of the soul. This mental or spiritual eye, I’ve always believed is more perceptive and truthful; it is the eye of faith, the eye of what Jacques Maritain called intellectual intuition, and what phenomenologists like Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler were to call Wesensschau. Plato’s Theory of Forms was not really just a  ‘theory’ at all; it was an immediate intuitive realization. An insight into something absolute and irrefutable.

I first began to take a serious interest in the divine and to feel some relationship to Jesus Christ when I was 17 or 18 years old, during my last year at Webb and my first year in college at Duke.  At that time I became seriously interested in mysticism and began to read everything I could about I could lay my hands on.

Webb School’s founder, Thompson Webb, was born in 1887 as the youngest of eight children. His father, William Robert “Sawney” Webb, had established the Webb School in Tennessee in 1870. Thompson graduated from his father’s school in 1907, and continued his education at the University of North Carolina, graduating in 1911. After college, Webb’s health and the suggestions of doctors led him to move west to a warmer climate.                              

He moved to the California desert near Indio, worked as a farm hand, and eventually bought his own piece  of land and started a career as a farmer. He married Vivian Howell, the 20-year-old daughter of a Los Angeles Methodist minister, on June 22, 1915. She joined him in farming. The Webbs farmed together and increased their holdings until 1918, when a diseased onion crop wiped out all their savings. Broke and carrying high debt, Thompson did not have the capital to farm and, because the country was involved in World War I, he was unable to sell his land.

Thompson Webb returned to Tennessee, where his father’s school was experiencing a shortage of male teachers (due to the war) that threatened the school’s existence. Thompson Webb worked as an instructor at the school  in Bell Buckle, Tennessee for four years, after which he returned to California to open his own private residential school. 

The first suggestion that Thompson start a school in California came from Sherman Day Thacher, founder of the Thacher School in Ojai Valley. Thacher told Webb that his school was turning down dozens of qualified students every year and that an empty school near Claremont was for sale. If Thompson opened a school there, Thacher agreed to refer his applicants. Through a proposal to I.W. Baughman, real estate broker  for the Claremont property, Thompson Webb struck a deal that got him his school in 1922. 

Initial enrollment at the school was 14 boys. Over the years Webb built the school through the support of many influential business leaders in the greater Los Angeles community, including the Chandlers, Guggenheims, Boeings, Staudes and many others. 

As the number of students grew in the ’30s and ’40s, Webb added seven major buildings, five faculty homes, and two smaller structures to the campus. Two of Webb’s landmark buildings were constructed during this time: the Thomas Jackson Library and the Vivian Webb Chapel. How much time I spent in those two buildings!

After the school became a non-profit corporation , Thompson Webb continued as headmaster of the school and Vivian Webb as general housemother until their retirements in 1962. Vivian Webb died in 1971; her husband, Thompson, died four years later in 1975.

I went to Webb School for high school 1950 to 1954

In the fall of 1950 I began the 9th grade at Webb School on Baseline Road in Claremont, California. I enjoyed learning English and Algebra, but my favorite class was the one in Ancient History taught by Ramsey Harris, who came originally from Rangoon in Burma and used to regale us with tales of his childhood and youth there. I enjoyed reading historical novels like The Egyptian by Mica Waltari and Mary Renault’s novels about Aleander the Great and the lives of people in Greece and Rome. I also enjoyed reading Plutarch’s  Lives and the Stoic Meditations of Emperor Marcus  Aurelius.

I have had a huge appetite for knowledge and usually read several books at a time. I’ve done that all my life. Whereas my father and my grandfather were into accumulating material wealth, early on in my life I was impressed with the biblical teaching which my mother reinforced in me that we shouldn’t be attached to the accumulation of material wealth but rather should seek to store up the wealth of knowledge and greater understanding of ourselves and of others in our world.I have found that through reading books which illuminated my personal experience.

My first Virgilian Guide to books of all kinds was Mr. Lloyd Harkema, a clerk at the Pickwick Bookshop on Hollywood Blvd. next door to the famous Hollywood restaurant Musso-Franks. I don’t recall how old I was when Lloyd first took me under his wing and became my guided mentor in the magical world of books. Perhaps 12 or 14. After that, the main voice I listened to about books—and whose reading advice I took faithfully for years—was that  Lloyd Harkema. Lloyd continued to guide my reading throughout my high school years, but sadly, before I left for my Freshman year at Duke in the fall of 1954, Lloyd said farewell to me, assuring me that I would soon meet people better equipped than he was to guide me further. He had taken me as far as he could.

At the end of my freshman year at Webb, in June of 1951, when I was 15, I traveled to Europe with my parents for the first time. My mother was already in Europe when my father and I left. We sailed from New York on the Liberté, a luxury liner of the French line. I never had so much food served to me in all my life. Tony had an affair on the ship, as he had done on the train going from LA to New York before we sailed. My father modeled that behavior for me. After I grew up, I, too, became quite a womanizer, and then, later, an unfaithful husband in both of my marriages.

When we arrived at Le Havre my mother was waiting for us with a little English car, a Humber Hawk. We drove through Rouen to Paris. The sky was grey and it rained and rained. The sky reminded me of the skies in some of the authentic French impressionist paintings that hung in our living room at home.

France was more or less as I had imagined it would be. I had mixed feelings about it.
I recall the weird smells in our first Paris hotel room, and the strangeness of the old lady who watched us through a veiled glass door as we entered the building where mother had rented a small apt for us. I learned that such women are an institution in France called the conscierge.I recall the smell of French coffee and pain au chocolat. In the mornings I had hot chocolate rich with fresh milk and hot croissants. Like a  puppy I explored the unfamiliar sights and smells in the neighborhood.
I was fascinated with Notre Dame I and particularly liked the Sainte Chapelle.

My mother had acquired an escort, Gerard, and his attractive wife (or mistress) Paulette. I developed a crush on her right away and proposed dancing with her despite the fact that she smelled strongly of garlic. Her full breasts bulged out of her low cut black chiffon dress. Her musky  smell aroused me; so I got an erection while dancing with her. I fantasied all the ways that I might make love to her, but I did not yet know how to seduce a woman, and anyway, she was at least ten years older than me! 
I was also totally fascinated with the naked women at the Follies Bergere to which my parents took me without seeming to be concerned that it might be inappropriate for a 15 year old virginal innocent adolescent boy. After the follies we went on to watch a show in Montmartre in which the proprietor told a shaggy dog story in French that was over my head. But I was puzzled at the end of hs story why he unzipped his trousers and pulled out his penis and waved it around the room, acknowledging the applause he received.
I recall another amusing incident in Paris when I accompanied my parents to the bar at the Ritz Hotel. I ordered a Coke and Bisquit, anticipating getting a coke and cookies. But that did’t happen; instead the barman served me coke with brandy in it. I felt betrayed and spit out the coke in disgust and made a scene, not realizing that “biscuit” means not only a cookie, but a type of brandy as well.

Eventually, we set out to tour France in our little rented English car. We began by driving south to the Loire Chateau country visiting Tours, Poitiers and Chambord which we explored thoroughly for several days before heading south into Provence. When we got to Provence, I was particularly enchanted with Aix en Provence and with Carcasonne, which conformed to my image of medieval France. I had just completed a basic course in medieval history the previous semester at Webb; so now I felt thrilled to actually be able to see a real medieval town complete with towers and encircled by a high stone wall. At Webb I had learned of Simon de Montforte and the Cathars and the Courts of Love of the Troubadours. These tales fascinated me, and I determined to learn more about medieval France someday. I still love medieval towns and medieval art and medieval historical novels.

In the summer of 1952, a few weeks after Webb closed for the summer, my parents took  me  to their Doodlebug Ranch in Sedona, Arizona, where we spent a very happy three weeks together. I had lots of fun riding horseback and swimming in Oak Creek. I had just learned to swim recently, taught how by my dear brother, Pierre.

In August 1952 I met my neighbor, Nancy Palmer, who lived up our street only a few blocks away from me. Although she lived nearby, somehow I had never met her before. When we finally did meet, we hit it off at once.  I had been interested in getting to know more girls since I was twelve, but never before had any young female been the least bit interested in me. I was overjoyed now that at last I had a girlfriend of my own to boast about and to write to when I returned to Webb that September.

 I was surprised to find how easily I got along with boys at school who I had actually hated the year before. I was no longer picked on and  I found myself included in parties and activities that I had always been left out of before. When the class elections were held, I was elected Secretary of our Class, a job that  required a lot of work—-keeping the class meeting minutes. I worked at it diligently all year long devotedly. I took this very seriously, for this was my first elected office.

I remember the commencement exercises at the end of my junior year in June 1953. Dr. Hayward was the speaker and John Kinzer was the valedictorian. When we sang the Webb farewell song at the close of the ceremony, and sang the words in the line ending with “farewell,” they meant something special to me for the first time. I felt that I had reached a new stage in my life and that I was saying goodbye to my childhood forever. I was a young man now!

We returned to L.A. by driving all night to avoid the desert heat. During that summer before I began my junior year,  I made friends with some of the neighborhood kids, because we had a swimming pool in our backyard and they liked to swim in it. I was so busy having fun with them that I had little time to myself. In fact, for the first time, I was barely able to finish our required summer reading much less get through all the  interesting books I had gotten from Lloyd Harkema at the Pickwick Bookstore.

That June, when I walked down the aisle at commencement, I received three stars to have stitched on the left top pocket of my Webb School Blazer from Dr. Webb himself. To me, each one symbolized a victory over my limitations in the past.  I had always dreamed of receiving a star to wear on my school blazer and now I had won not just one, but three!  I got my first star for perfect attendance,  a victory over my continual sicknesses. The second star was awarded to me because I had maintained a B average all year and thereby had earned the “room privilege” of studying in my room every night, rather than having to sit with all the other less academically successful boys in the Study Hall. Again this was a great victory for me; before that I had been a C student. 

My last star was, perhaps, the most important of all to me. It signified my appointment to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Blue and Gold, our school newspaper for the following year.  More than that, it showed that now I, too, had finally carved out a place for myself among the leaders of the class of 1954, thereby living up to the motto of Webb School: Principes non Homines (Leaders not just ordinary men)

At the end of the 1953 School Commencement ceremonies, when I joined the other boys in singing our school song, which begins with the words—that still rouse and touch my heart— “Calm o’er the campus twilight is falling,” my heart was not calm. Quite the opposite. I was excited and felt proud of myself, as I triumphantly marched down the aisle belting out our song joyously, feeling a deep sense of  victory over my previous weaknesses.

During my senior year, I  learned to love Ancient Greek History, Greek Mythology, and Comparative Religion in Gordon Wilson’s classroom. There I first discovered my lifelong vocation–to be a bard like Homer, recounting stories of the achievements and adventures of men and women past and present.  There I first read and came to love and admire Homer and the heroes of Ancient Greece, and he divine Plato, which resulted eventually in my becoming a lifelong Platonist.

I particularly enjoyed Mr. Wilson’s classes in Mythology and in Comparative Religion. He had pictures of figures from Greek myth on the walls of his classroom. It was with him that I first developed a real interest in the meaning of myths and symbols. I also was fascinated with the stories told in Bullfinch’s Mythology and particularly the stories of adventures and heroic journeys like Homer’s epics. When I got to Webb I had an ambition to read every book in the school library, and I just about did. (It was a small library).

During the summer of 1953 before my senior year began in the fall, I traveled around the East Coast with my mother getting to know something about the eastern part of United States and visiting colleges to see where I might want to spend the next four years of my life.  While living in East with my mother that summer, I persuaded her to allow me to drive her car alone as long as I told her where I was going and what time I would return. Although I had had my driver’s license already for over a year, it was not until then that I was allowed to drive a car alone. As my mother gained confidence in me I gained confidence in myself. When we returned home to California my father had to adjust somewhat to the idea of my gaining such freedom to drive alone, but he came around and soon both my mother and my father began to treat me more and more like another adult.

As a boy I was impressed with the poetry of the English romantic poets. I think this set the tone for my worldview and religious ideas and feelings. I feel there is a strong continuity between my early romanticism and my later idealism. I have never felt willing to accept mundane reality as it is, as the only world we can know and experience. Already as a youth I accepted the notion of multiple realities and the Buddhist view of the world as an illusion, though I often get caught up in identifying with my own personal suffering and am unable to practice this view in my daily life.

Ancient Greece was my first and permanent love and I aspired to become a Classical Scholar. Later, in college, I studied Ancient Greek with the intention of getting closer to Aeschylus and Sophocles and the Greek poets and historians as well as to be able to read Plato and the New Testament in the original, as Nietzsche could do.  The earliest example of wisdom for me was Socrates. I learned about him in Gordon Wilson’s class and later, when I went to college at Duke, I learned more about him and his way of teaching through questioning. I was already old when I was a child, an old soul, as they say. I admired old man Socrates and, like Erasmus, I thought of him as a saint; so I put his picture up on the wall of my room and prayed to him in my imagination. 

In my senior year through studying Greek history and mythology, I became curious to learn more about Greek philosophy, so I selected and read a book from the school library entitled The Five Great Philosophies of Life.

This book was by a Christian minister, Rev. William Hyde, and although he presented “Christianity” as the finest philosophy in the book, he discussed Platonism, Aristotelianism, Epicureanism, and Stoicism. I found that  I was most fascinated by Platonism, and that has remained true all my life.

“The purpose of this book,” he says, in the preface,  is “to let the masters of these sane and wholesome principles of personality talk to using their own words, with just enough interpretation to bring us to their points of view, and make us welcome their friendly assistance in the philosophical guidance of life.”

He maintained that “these approaches to life are still so broad, deep, and true that all our modern answers are but varieties these archetypal solutions to the problems of life.” I now recognize this as an over-simplification, but that simplified structure provided me at the time with just the right entry for me into the wondrous world of philosophy and even into the mysteries of the psychology of personality as well.

Well, looking back across the past eighty or so years of my life philosophizing, I wonder what it was, after all, that so appealed to me, as a young adolescent,  about Platonic philosophy, as presented by Dr. Hyde? I liked Plato’s theory of Ideas asserting that these Ideas are fundamental truths and essential objective realities though not visible to the naked eye of the body —anymore than God is—but only to the eyes of the mind,  of the spirit,  of the soul. This mental or spiritual eye, I’ve always believed is more perceptive and truthful; it is the eye of faith, the eye of what Jacques Maritain called  intellectual intuition, and what phenomenologists like Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler were to call Wesensschau. Plato’s Theory of Forms was not really just a  ‘theory’ at all; it was an immediate intuitive realization. An insight into something absolute and irrefutable.

I first began to take a serious interest in the divine and to feel some relationship to Jesus Christ when I was 17 or 18 years old, during my last year at Webb and my first year in college at Duke.  At that time I became seriously interested in mysticism and began to read everything I could about I could lay my hand on.

Webb School’s founder, Thompson Webb, was born in 1887 as the youngest of eight children. His father, William Robert “Sawney” Webb, had established the Webb School in Tennessee in 1870. Thompson graduated from his father’s school in 1907, and continued his education at the University of North Carolina, graduating in 1911. After college, Webb’s health and the suggestions of doctors led him to move west to a warmer climate.                              

He moved to the California desert near Indio, worked as a farm hand, and eventually bought his own piece  of land and started a career as a farmer. He married Vivian Howell, the 20-year-old daughter of a Los Angeles Methodist minister, on June 22, 1915. She joined him in farming. The Webbs farmed together and increased their holdings until 1918, when a diseased onion crop wiped out all their savings. Broke and carrying high debt, Thompson did not have the capital to farm and, because the country was involved in World War I, he was unable to sell his land.

Thompson Webb returned to Tennessee, where his father’s school was experiencing a shortage of male teachers (due to the war) that threatened the school’s existence. Thompson Webb worked as an instructor at the school  in Bell Buckle, Tennessee for four years, after which he returned to California to open his own private residential school. 

The first suggestion that Thompson start a school in California came from Sherman Day Thacher, founder of the Thacher School in Ojai Valley. Thacher told Webb that his school was turning down dozens of qualified students every year and that an empty school near Claremont was for sale. If Thompson opened a school there, Thacher agreed to refer his applicants. Through a proposal to I.W. Baughman, real estate broker  for the Claremont property, Thompson Webb struck a deal that got him his school in 1922.

Initial enrollment at the school was 14 boys. Over the years Webb built the school through the support of many influential business leaders in the greater Los Angeles community, including the ChandlersGuggenheimsBoeings, Staudes and many others. 

As the number of students grew in the ’30s and ’40s, Webb added seven major buildings, five faculty homes, and two smaller structures to the campus. Two of Webb’s landmark buildings were constructed during this time: the Thomas Jackson Library and the Vivian Webb Chapel. How much time I spent in those two buildings!

After the school became a non-profit corporation , Thompson Webb continued as headmaster of the school and Vivian Webb as general housemother until their retirements in 1962. Vivian Webb died in 1971; her husband, Thompson, died four years later in 1975.

After I graduated from Webb Schoool in the spring of 1954, before enrolling in Duke in the fall, I went to England as an exchange student hoping to learn more about English romantic art, literature, poetry, and religion. I was particularly interested in learning about William Blake  another troubled manic-depressive soul like myself, who I identified with strongly and who has fascinated me all my life.

To get to England I sailed on a student ship, the Arosa Kulm and returned on the Arosa Star. It was lots of fun, but very different from the luxury liners I had sailed on before with my parents.  We sailed from the port of New York. This was the first time I was traveling so far away from home alone. I was excited and anxious. What adventures lay ahead for me? I was to be placed in an English family in Plymouth in Devon. I enjoyed the English lifestyle very much. Thus began my lifelong love affair with England.

I’m a Recovering Catholic

I am a recovering Catholic. I cannot recall when I first became aware of God’s gentle side. For me “God the Father” was an unpredictably angry, frightening, vengeful God. He may have given us our daily bread, but the price he exacted in sacrifice even to the point of filiocide was disturbingly high.  All in all I heard far more about the snares and temptations devised by Satan than I did of God’s love. I recall learning about  the various kinds of sin– original, venial and mortal sin; so, consequently I grew up with an overwhelming sense of shame and guilt. Holy Mass and the sacraments meant nothing to me–except for the sacrament of confession, which I used compulsively as often as I could to relieve my guilt-feelings. By the time I was five, I was forced to attend Mass with my mother every Sunday morning as well as on feast days and on the first Friday of the month. I was so bored at mass especially during the sermons that I often read the funnies or religious comic books, when I was lucky enough to find them at the church entrance. Although mother and I were Catholics; my father was a Wagnerian. He stayed home and listened to the metropolitan opera broadcasts on the radio instead.

When I was seven years old I was packed off to St. John’s Military Academy, where I was indoctrinated with traditional Catholic doctrine and developed guilt feelings particularly regarding my sexuality which manifested itself in compulsive masturbation. The nuns tormented me with their images of Hell and Satan who I feared would punish me if I continued to play with myself and was not a “good boy.” I tried to control myself, but I just couldn’t, and this struggle became the centerpiece of my religious experience. It was almost as if my cock became my cross; it caused me so much guilt and grief.  

St. John’s was conveniently located a stone’s throw away from my grandparent’s house in the West Adams district of Los Angeles. I was sent there, I was told, because I was so “impossible.” Didn’t anybody realize that I was so “impossible” because I was angry about not getting enough love and attention? I called my mother “Madole,” because I was not able to pronounce her mother’s nick-name for her, “ma jolie.” She seemed to be more interested in her art than in me.  Sometimes she encouraged me to draw pictures myself, but then she would draw or paint over them to improve them and show them off pretending they still were my work. I felt so embarassed and inadequate! Usually, though, she would just dump me in her studio with a lump of clay and tell me to amuse myself with it until she she had finished her own art work. I was so bored and felt so lost and lonely there I didn’t know what to do. I had a hard time finding ways to amuse myself; so my theme song became a plaintive “What can I do now, Madole?”

It seemed as if I was always getting into trouble with my teachers and classmates. I was filled with hostility and had difficulty learning to obey rules. I recall once at St. John’s being ordered to write the pre-meal grace a thousand times because I had whispered to my neighbour during the silence which we were supposed to observe before our mealtime prayers. Having misunderstood the assignment, I wrote the word “Grace,” a thousand times instead of writing out the whole prayer, thereby getting into deeper trouble by the minute.  I seemed to attract calamity wherever I went.

I am eight years old, in the third grade at St.John’s. It is  the end of a long Parent’s Day, and the whole student body is parading in dress uniforms. We are ordered to present our arms, holding heavy rifles vertically in front of us for what seems like an eternity. My white gloves have gotten dirty. My shoes are dusty. My weapon is too heavy.  I can’t hold the rifle up any more. I panic and start to tremble. I’m sure I’m going to drop my gun. Then I’ll get punished with more demerits and more penances. 

“Mary, Mother of God, get me out of this horrible place, please!”

A few moments later I am in deep shit again. This time I have turned left instead of right and marched off in the wrong direction, away from my platoon. “Stupid jerk!” someone hollers. They think I’m stupid because I don’t know my left hand from my right, but it’s hard to think when you’re terrified. My mind goes blank and my stomache rolls up into  my throat. To punish me the student officers hit me on the head with heavy books or, better yet, jab a rifle butt into my groin. “Jesus, have mercy upon me. Mary, Mother of God, get me out of this hell hole, please!”

Now Sgt. French, a fat student non-commissioned officer, a real pig, orders me to run laps around the football field. My side is aching and I feel as if I’m about to die of exhaustion.

“Are you tired?” French calls out tauntingly 

“Yes,” I splutter, naively thinking the ordeal Is about to end. “Then run some more, you little bastard; you’re obviously out of shape.” 

I don’t believe this. My God! Doesn’t the fucker realize I’m about to expire?

“Are you tired now?” he taunts, as I come around again.

 This is a trap, I know. I am exhausted but I must not admit it so I say. “I’m OK.” 

“Then you can run a few more laps. It’s good for you. We’ll get you  into shape yet” he said laughing sadistically.

I could have killed him right then, and might have tried given the opportunity, but I was powerless and totally at his mercy. I’ll never forget my experiences of sadism and injustice at that Catholic military school. Like God and the Devil, the sabre and the cowl combined to impress us with the power and capriciousness of their authority.

Years later I saw the film “Sleepers,” which depicts extreme cruelty and sexual abuse in a reform school. Although it was hard to sromach, it reminded me so much of my painful childhood that I returned to see it several times.

As a love child I feel ashamed. The nuns tell me that I was born in sin. I am a little bastard. 

“But I was adopted,” I say. “Is it my fault that my mother did not marry my father before I was born? Or after?” 

“Silence! Don’t be impertinent,” Sister says to me angrily.

She explains that I’m not unique. We are all stained with original sin. Like a dirty milk bottle. You can see the picture in the Baltimore Catechism. But I find this hard to accept and tell her I think it is simply not true. 

“Why must you go on and on about sin, if God is love?” I ask. “If He is a truly loving and just God, why would He be so unloving and  unjust to innocent children?”

Sister is shocked, she says. “You’d better repent soon or else God will  punish you for your sinful pride, and you will burn in hell, or in purgatory if you don’t change your tune. I promise you that. God is not mocked.”

I recall being particularly terrified by frightening stories of hellfire and damnation told to me by an old nun at the convent near my grandmother’s house where my mother parked me after school. Her name was Mother St. Valerian. She  seemed ancient to me. She pierced right through my defences  with her penetrating dark little eyes. I had offended her  because I  was unwilling to take the Bible at face value and insisted that the whole story of the  original sin of Adam seemed unbelievable and unjust. It seemed unfair to me that God, who was said to know everything, should tempt Adam, especially if in his omniscience he knew the eventual result already. I found it impossible to accept the injustice of a God who blamed not only Adam but also his children, and most particularly me, for this original sin of disobedience perpetrated by Adam,  our distant ancestor. 

Finally, warning me that God would certainly punish me for my blasphemy,  old Mother Valerian accompanied me home one day in disgrace to confront my family about my insolence. I recall standing in terror before my grandmother and her two sisters, all draped in black, their faces hidden in dark veils. With their noses in the air, they sat  on a stone bench glaring at me like stony-faced  furies. They judged me, found me wanting, and banished me to the netherworld of the pantry where I was to help the cooks and learn unquestioning obedience. Despite the pressure brought to bear on me by the old women, I got moral support from Annie, our fat Scottish cook, and  stood my ground on this metaphysical and ethical issue, refusing to accept my share of the guilt for Adam’s sin. 

I soon found that I could also count on  my grandfather’s  support in this struggle, for he admired my defiant strong spirit and enjoyed watching the old girls squirm. The fine points of theology were of no great concern to him. After all, he had converted to Catholicism to win the hand of my then recently widowed grandmother, a Creole aristocrat who, as a Catholic, would never have spoken to him, much less married him, if she had known he was a Jew. 

On his marriage license when he married her he changed his father’s first name from “Daniel” to “Charles” to avoid any association with his Jewish ancestors, and his mother’s name became “de la Haut,” after a famous French general. Actually she was a Jew named Lazard. In fact my grandmother, Marguerite Wogan Brunswig, was married for many years before she discovered that Lucien, her second husband, was a  Jew. At that point, she vowed she would never forgive him for his deception. She moved to a separate bedroom and refused to sleep with him ever again. Given her  puritanical attitude to sex, I suspect that she was grateful to find an excuse to avoid  le devoir, her conjugal duties.

Unrepentant and untroubled, Grandpere, who was a womanizer from the word go, simply carried on a long-term  affair with his attractive secretary, as well as openly flirting with other women at the office and elsewhere. He had a lively sexual- fantasy life which he stimulated at home. I recall once wandering into his large dressing room and finding, to my delight and amazement, photographs of nude women on the wall. I was so fascinated  that I just stood there stupified, gazing at these forbidden wonders, until nurse Madeline found me and, in disgust, dragged me out of the closet by my ear. 

I was told that “curiosity killed the cat.”  

“And satisfaction brought it back,” I replied defiantly,  too smart for my own good. 

It seemed I was always getting into trouble. I was too nosey. My eyes, my nose, and my ears were just too long. I was advised to stop poking into adult affairs that were none of my business. 

But Grandpere found me delightfully amusing–in small doses– and welcomed me as a respite from his boring routine.  For him I was always le petit bonhomme, and he usually greeted me with  a gentle smile and a good word, and sometimes even with a story based on his adventures either in the Old World or in the Wild West. I can still recall his descriptions of the marvels of the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and of how he had been nearly caught as a stowaway when he arrived there from France. 

When I enrolled in St.John’s Military Academy he told me how he, too,  had gone to a military school in France.

“It was in Evian, on the Lake of Geneva,” he said with pride. I listened, bug-eyed, to his wild tales, and only learned years later that they were mostly based on his lively imagination with the facts embroidered heavily to make them more entertaining. These tall tales were wonderfully entertaining to a young boy. Grandpere was a great storyteller and he delighted in regaling me with various accounts of his travels and adventures. It was he who first introduced me to the art of the improvised short story and set me on the path to becoming  a storyteller in my own right. 

Grandpere died when I was six,  in 1943. His stature commanded two funerals, one in Los Angeles, and a few days later, when the body arrived by train, another service took place in New Orleans, where he was buried in a splendid pyramid like an Egyptian pharaoh.

To me, Grandpere, with his grand white beard and prominent Jewish nose,  resembled the image I had of God himself, and  it seemed as if he had the power of God in our family. Though he ruled everyone with an iron hand and controlled us with “the golden leash” of money, he was always kind and generous to me.  He inspired not only my curiosity and  love of cooking but a keen eye for the ladies and a cruel  enjoyment of practical jokes at the expense of others.  He egged me on, though I didn’t need much encouragement in my penchant for mischief which included the joy buzzer, exploding cigarettes, and collapsing soup spoons. 

I had too much youthful exuberance for that sombre house, filled with starchy old ladies who maintained that children should be seen  but not heard. Often when the silence enforced on me by Grandmere became unbearable I would burst into a babbling monologue, and my mother would command me to run a few laps around the table, or to  “hop around a little bit” to wear off some of my excess energy.

I am ten years old. Fifth grade. I have been transferred from St. John’s to Black Foxe Military Academy. Even though I don’t have to tolerate the nuns any more, I don’t like Black Foxe. We march a lot and I hate marching; so I join the band. I play the clarinet. Beat, beat, beat. Major Lockheart beats my leg with a ruler to teach me to keep time. I read a lot to escape from my feelings. I feel sad most of the time. I don’t like school because the boys pick on me. 

One day I was doing a stylized military procedure we called “the monkey manual.” When I kicked my rifle behind me, I hit a student officer on the chin and knocked him out cold. Nobody would believe it was an accident, and it looked as though I might be  expelled. I couldn’t believe my good fortune and thought I might be liberated from this house of torture at last. But when the wounded young officer woke up in the hospital, he insisted it was an accident, so I had to stay in that school another two years before I escaped.

I will never forget a scene I witnessed in the gym one day. A white boy, an officer, had a fight with a black boy, a corporal. The white kid took off his shirt so he would not be protected by his rank, and challenged the black private to a fist fight. 

“Come on, what’s the matter? Are you Chicken?” he taunted, gesturing towards himself with his open hands. But the black boy didn’t move. He just stood there and let the white boy hit him and hit him until he fell to the ground clutching his belly and crying. I felt so sorry for that boy, and identified with him as the scape-goat. I, too, knw what it meant to be a victim.

I was a little coward, they said, because when they provoked me I was afraid to fight back. I would just  lay down and let boys attack me. This infuriated them. But who likes having a bloody nose or a black eye? 

“Why don’t you fight? Coward!” they screamed at me. Boys can as cruel as animals, with an instinctive taste for the jugular. They do not stop even when you’re down and bare your neck. That just seems to whet their appetite for blood.

I still feel angry  when I think of those boys.  I used to wonder how they could they be so cruel. But then I saw how I can be cruel towards people weaker than myself, too, just as the boys were to me. No wonder. My tormentors were frighteningly good role models. Perhaps that is why I became fascinated with Hitler and the Nazi atrocities I later saw in films. I had been persecuted by my own “little Hitlers.”  Years later, when I married, my wife called me Hitler when I abused her. “Slaves were freed in 1865,” she would remind me. Perhaps, but I had been a slave to those boys in school; so I later mimicked their cruelty with my wife and children. It’s the old bicycle game. Pass on the pain. Step on the weaker ones under you as you have been trounced upon by those over you who are more powerful.

I am an adult child of an alcoholic. When I was growing up in Hollywood my stepfather, Tony, drank a lot. He often came home from the office with alcohol on his breath, and hit the liquor cabinet as soon as he walked in the door. It was two or three martinis or scotch and sodas before dinner every night. He frightened me when he got drunk, and I used to have to please him, to keep him happy. 

One way of obliging him after breakfast each morning was to sit naked on the toilet, which he required me to do while he masturbated. I remember the sense of awe, powerlessness, and fear I felt as he performed his ejaculations and ablutions. He would get all red in the face, breathe faster and harder ‘till his dark eyes glared like fiery coals. Then, all at  once, his eyes would roll up  into his head and seconds later he would ejaculate triumphantly into the sink. Then with a sheepish grimace of shame he would carefully wipe off his prick with his handkerchief. I felt fascinated, disgusted, terrified. He was sick, I knew, a real monster. At that tender age I decided that if this was what manhood was all about,  I never wanted to join those sordid ranks.

Even though I gagged,  Tony would force me to put my mouth on his penis and suck him off. I resisted as best I could, but I wanted to be obliging, for I was so afraid of his anger. Sometimes he’d put his penis between my legs sodomizing me from the rear. He’d spit on his dick and then move back and forth slowly at first then moving faster and faster, huffing and puffing like a steam engine ‘till he’d climax. I hated it when he’d ejaculate all over me. It was gooey and sticky, warm and wet. It was so distasteful to me that I decided that I would never loose control and have orgasms as he did. Sex turned one into a beast. The nuns were right after all. No wonder Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden after they tasted the fruits of sexual pleasure outside the bonds of holy matrimony!

My childhood ended at the age of ten when Tony initiated me into manhood. At that time I was in the fifth grade at Black Foxe, boarding there while my mother was away in Europe. I looked forward to coming home on weekends, because the student officers were still tormenting me with their sadistic pranks. The attention Tony lavished on me was a welcome relief. I soon discovered that when he wanted me sexually I had a strange power over him, and that was gratifying and exciting.

While my  mother was away I now replaced her in his arms. We took showers together and he’d fondle me and suck on my penis in the shower. In fact, he sucked on my penis whenever he could and would often reward me after our lovemaking with a treat such as ice cream or money. 

Tony also taught me how to masturbate and how to extend my pleasure for a long time. It felt good,  but I also felt that what we were doing, especially in my mother’s bedroom, was wrong. And when he made me swear on pain of death to keep our lovemaking a secret and never tell anyone about it, I knew it was wrong. It was probably at this time that my compulsivity, guilt and anxiety about sex blossomed into obsession. 

I attended a Catholic parochial school for a few months when I entered adolescence in order to prepare for confirmation. I recall that I was fascinated by the emerging beauty of some of the young girls in the class, but I’d been taught that it was sinful to have “lustful” thoughts about women. One should not notice their ripe young bodies, I was told, but rather one should concentrate on their spiritual qualities. With blushing shame I confessed my guilt about masturbating and was told by the priest to hold a rosary in my hand. The pain was meant to prevent me from continuing my apalling habit. It didn’t. of course, and I struggled against my sexual obsessions for many years.

Partly to escape my sordid home and school life in my early teens I became a bookworm and gradually awakened to a sense of the spiritual through poetry and the first stirrings of romantic love. Despite my early sexual orientation, for me God has always been most approachable through the body of a woman. It is She who evoked wonder in me and led me to turn to Him, our creator in gratitude.

In high school I was required to take classes in religion and to read the Bible as literature. The Old Testament bored me, except for some of the more exciting stories and the erotic poetry in the Song of Songs. I could jack off while reading that!  My favorite class was comparative religions taught by Mr. Wilson. It was with him that I first developed a real interest in the meaning of myths and symbols. He had painted pictures of figures from Greek mythology on the walls of his classroom. I was fascinated with the stories I read in Bullfinch’s Mythology,  particularly the stories of adventurous heroic journeys. I tried to read everything in the school library dealing with philosophy, religion and mythology, and I just about worked my way through their small collection.

After graduating from Webb in 1954. I choose to attend Duke, a Southern university, because I wanted to become a writer, and I was inspired by Southern writers such as Carson McCullers, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Thomas Wolfe. I planned to major in English, but I found my English teacher, George Wicks, too pedantic and pickey. His red pencil marks covered my essays. He did not seem to realize what a great writer I was going to be. At Duke I submitted some poems and stories  to the Archive  a literary magazine, edited at that time by Reynolds Price, who later became a distinguished Southern writer, but to my chagrin he rejected my work. I soon discovered that I was better at editing and re-working  material rather than creating it from scratch; so I wrote  copy for the theatre  Playbill.

Even as a freshman I was impressed with the poetry of the English romantic poets, particularly Wordsworth and Shelly. I think this set the tone for my religious ideas and feelings. There is a strong continuity between my early romanticism and my later idealism. I have never felt willing to accept mundane “reality” as it is, as the only world we can know and experience. Long ago I accepted the idea that we live in multiple realities and embraced the Buddhist view of the world as an illusion, though I often get caught up in identifying with my own personal suffering and am unable to practice this view consistently in my daily life.

When I was 18 I discovered that I had a calling to undertake a personal spiritual quest and to develop a personal relationship with God. During my second year at Duke I met Sali Wali an Egyptian mystical thinker who worked on ESP at the parapsychology lab with Dr. Rhine. Through guided reading and Socratic conversations conducted over many months Sali instructed me in the rudiments of Vedanta, Buddhism, and the perennial philosophy. To my surprise I found myself becoming seriously interested in mysticism and began devouring books on the subject. I decided I wanted to become a saint.

There was one English professor I liked very much, Russell Fraser, a distinguished Shakespeare scholar. He organized a literary discussion group for his students which met at his home once a month. It was called Areopagus, after the original Supreme Court of the Athenians, as described in the Oresteia. I was thrilled to be invited to participate. I had never been chosen to be a member of any group before. I was disappointed when he moved to Princeton the next year.

Professor Harold Parker, a brilliant military historian who specialized in Napoleonic battles, influenced me greatly. From him I first discovered that history was not so much a collection of facts or chronologies but the interpretation of the relationships among these facts. Another important mentor at this time was Prof. Ernest Nelson, a Renaissance man, who taught me to appreciate the Greek and Latin classics in translation. Partly as a result of the influence of these fine teachers, I later became a professional historian myself.

The summer between Duke and Georgetown I drove a traveling bookshop around Cape Cod. While on the Cape I met the literary critic Edmund Wilson, and a Russian emigré writer Paul Chavchavadze, who encouraged me as an aspiring young writer. I’ve always had a fascination with Russians, Poles and Eastern Europeans and later in my life I lived in Prague. 

In the fall of 1956 I transferred to Georgetown University in Washington D.C. where I majored in politics and international relations. I found the scholastic philosophy and theology taught  at Georgetown dry and boring. Instead I turned to the French Existentialists and began exploring philosophy through literature. I found great inspiration in a literature class taught by  Fr. William Lynch, who had recently come from several years of editing, Thought, a lively Jesuit journal. 

To this day literature is my favorite way to access  philosophical and religious or spiritual ideas. I enjoy encountering ideas in the context of personal drama.  The evocative images speak to my heart. On the other hand, to evoke my own spiritual feelings I prefer sacred music and art. I was fortunate to study philosophy of religion with the brilliant urbane English Jesuit and Father Martin D’Arcy, the former Master of Campion Hall at Oxford, but unfortunately much of the time I found his discourse to be over my head. 

The one philosophical work I remember reading with great interest while in college, a book that really opened up new religious vistas for me, was William James’ Varieties of Religions Experience. Even today I can hardly recall a work of greater personal significance, for James introduced me to both the phenomenology of consciousness and the psychology of religious experience. At this time I also became interested in the psychology of Freud and Jung, as I was looking for a therapeutic alternative to Thomistic psychology. 

Despite all my courses in philosophy and theology, I was still troubled by intense sexual guilt, and it took years of psychotherapy to enable me to move beyond that quagmire of sexual and religious abuse. I also lost  my first fiancé, Joanie Knowles, during my senior year because of my obsessive guilt about sex. We had been sleeping together regularly at my apartment but I felt so guilty that I usually rushed out to confession the next morning. Before long a less scrupulous guy replaced me in her arms. It took me years to discover that I was a sex-addict as a result of my childhood sexual abuse and still more years to overcome it.

One person and place that had a profound influence on my spiritual development was Father Damasus Winzen, at Mt. Saviour, a Benedictine community in Elmira, New York. I made several retreats there during my senior year before going to Europe. “Incline the inner ear of the heart and listen to the world of God” Benedict said in the prologue to his rule. Through Father Damasus,  Brother Gregory and Brother David Steindl-Rast, I discovered the Fathers of the Church, such as St. Augustine, St. Jerome and Origin, and came to appreciate the beauty of the Bible and the Liturgy. At Mt. Savior I had the sense of being in the presence of God, of experiencing wonder and gratitude at his majesty and glory. With the Jesuits this had been only an intellectual concept. Among the Benedictines I experienced it in my heart.  

In my senior year I also became interested in modern French Catholic literature and philosophy, particularly after reading Wallace Fowlie’s book, A Guide to Contemporary French Literature. Before I graduated I had read some Sartre,  Camus, and Claudel in French, and had even written a one-act play based on one of Claudel’s plays. This led me to Paris to embark for a year of study of French literature at the Institut Catholique and the Sorbonne. Even though I had spoken French at home, I was not proficient enough to read everything I wanted to in the original, so I made this my goal. 

When I graduated from Georgetown I went off to Europe intending to learn French and, of course, to write the great American novel. I was delighted to be in Paris and was determined to learn French properly. I began by attending a summer course at the Sorbonne, but found it was too difficult for me, so I took the train South to Grenoble to enroll in the summer program there. However, I did not have the self-discipline to study as intensely as the program required so on hearing about a pilgrimage in Brittany I decided to join up. It was run by Pax Christi, a group that sprang up after World War Two to help young persons heal their wounds and overcome the stereotypescreated by both war propaganda  and harsh experience.

I visited Germany for the first time later that summer. While I was studying French in Grenoble, my parents were traveling through Europe. They had invited me join them in Düsseldorf, after the Pax Christi pilgrimage. We traveled down the Rhine by train and got off in Stuttgart, where my father picked up a Mercedes he had ordered in America. It was quite a ritual picking up the grand car. I resolved that someday I would purchase a Mercedes of my own, which I did, years later. We drove to Munich where we visited my “brother,” Pierre. Then we moved on to Salzburg and Vienna, where my mother underwent a dietary cure in a local hospital. She and her doctor decided that it would be good for me too, so I  followed suit. 

I returned to Paris in the fall, determined to study hard this time. But there were just too many distractions! Inspired by memories of Mt. Saviour, I tried to stay in a Benedictine monastery in the outskirts of Paris, but the monks soon threw me out when I was caught climbing the wall after curfew.

I then stayed in a Catholic boys college on the Rue de Vaugerard. Again, after a short time, I was given the heave-ho, because I refused to adhere to the early curfew and I did not mix well with the other boys. That college  reminded me too much of the restrictions on my personal life which had oppressed me at Georgetown, until  my mother agreed to set up an apartment for me in Washington so I could escape dormitory life.

At the left-bank parish of St. Severin I encountered my first “worker priests.” Pere Villart, one of the priests there, demonstrated that it was possible to take the fruits of the mystery of the mass out into the world of everyday life. Through him I learned to think of my writing desk as my altar.

When I was not attending lectures or seminars, I spent most of my time reading in my room or walking the streets of Paris, exploring the different Quartier. Eventually, I met an attractive young French girl, Denise, and tried to develop an intimate relationship with her. We never got beyond holding hands, however. As a good Catholic boy I felt ambivalence about sex, and  she had similar hang-ups..

I was lonely in Paris and felt forlorn as  winter set in. It was really then that I first began to suffer the loneliness and anxiety that has plagued me most of my life. One time an old friend of my mother’s, Mildred Brock, invited me to visit her in her room at the Crillion Hotel. She greeted me in a diaphanous negligee and draped herself seductively before me on a chaise longe. I felt confused and uncomfortable, rather like Dustin Hofman in “the Graduate” confronted by the lusty Mrs. Robinson. I couldn’t respond to Mildred at all. Though she was very beautiful, she turned me off, particularly because she was old enough to be my mother and had a son older than me. Pierre (my “brother” ) later told me he’d had a glorious affair with her, and that she “had taught him a lot.” When I told my mother this, she remarked calmly, “I’m not surprised. She’s a nymphomaniac, you know. Like a spider, she pins men to the wall so they can’t escape her lust.”

In time, I got to know a group of German students in Paris, outsiders like me. On the whole, I found them much more open and friendly than Parisians. One of them, named Hanni, invited me to spend Christmas with her in Heidleberg. Another German girl, Maria, whom I had met during the Pax Christi pilgrimage invited me to visit her in Westphalia. So I decided to spend my Christmas holidays in Germany. This was to be a white Christmas and the beginning of my love affair with that awesome country.. 

While I was there,  another German girl moved into my hotel and took a room on the same floor. We soon became friends and  developed a Platonic relationship, which was all I felt capable of in my guilt-wallowing state. However, when I learned that she was doing “it” with other guys, I decided to try my luck as well. I wanted to prove my manhood and my hormones conspired by ignoring my conscience. She was agreeable to doing “it” after I got her turned on in a long petting session, but when it came to the vital moment, I was not able to enter her because I ejaculated before I could even get my penis out of my pants.  I felt so guilty about the whole thing that I rushed to confession the next morning. Being Jewish, Pierre had a more casual and sanguine attitude. “Wash it and its as good as new,” he would say. But, like Lady Macbeth, though I washed and scrubbed, I could not wash away the stain of sin from my guilt-ridden brain. For this it took the magic of priestly absolution.

One time when I was making love with my next-door neighbor I felt so guilty that I actually told the girl while I was still inside her that what we were doing was sinful and that we had to stop. As I recall, the conversation went something like this: 

 “Yes, yes!”  she cried excitedly, moving in  towards me. 

“Yes. That’s it. You’ve found my spot. Yes Yes. Oh! Yes.”

Her face contorted with passion, and she began to run her tongue around her lips as if she were licking off the remains of a delicious meal. I became alarmed when I saw this and began to withdraw.

“No. No,” she cried. “Don’t stop now. Fuck me.”

“I can’t” I said, sheepishly, beginning to withdraw my wilting member.

She stuck her tongue deep into my mouth reigniting my desire. I plunged back into her, and felt the pleasure flow like blood between my  legs.

“Yes, yes, yes!” she moaned. “You’re so good. Do it again.”

I looked at her. She was sweating like a pig and her moist hair had become entangled across her face. Suddenly I felt revolted. Feelings mingled with anxiety were engorging my brain robbing the blood from my erection and it began to wilt again.

“What’s happening, Sweetheart?” she asked pulling me back towards her and embracing me tenderly.

“I can’t go on with this.” I blurted out, feeling ashamed for letting her down. “I feel too guilty.”

“Yeah, right.” she said playfully. “And your grandfather was Abraham Lincoln, right? Come on. That’s not funny. Are you crazy or what?”

“No, really. We have to stop this. Don’t you realize we would go to hell if we died now? What we’re doin is wrong. Fornication is a sin”

“Says who?” she asked, wondering if perhaps I really meant what I said after all.

“God, the Bible, the Church. You know.”

“Uh Huh. Funny you never thought of that before. What’s the deal now. You got another woman? Huh?”

Up to now she thought I might be joking. Now she realized I was dead serious. She responded by lockinging her sphincter muscles around my member then pushed me out in a fit of rage.

“What’d you push me out for?” I asked, puzzled and perplexed. “I haven’t come yet.”

At this piont she must have gone crazy because she started screaming and  scratching my chest as she ejected the rest of me from her apartment. 

Breathlessly I pulled on my pants and ran to the church rectory to get an emergency absolution. The priest, who recognized me, was kind hearted and  gave me a short penenace consisting of only ten our fathers and ten Hail Marys. 

On the way home I bought some flowers.  I’d already finished saying my penance by the time I got home. Seeing my neighbor’s door I couldn’t resist knocking and offering my apologies.

“Who is it?”

“Me. John”

“What do you want?” she asked, opening the door. “Did you forget something?”

“No, sweetheart. I wanted to tell yuou  I’m sorry,” I said handing her the bunch of flowers.

“Forget it,” she said.”You’re just wacko that’s all. I don’t think we should continue dating. I don’t want to see you any more. You’re too freeky.”

“Aw come on, Honey,  let me in. I want to make love with you just one more time. Please?”

“What?”

“You turn me on, Sweetie.” 

“You’ re crazy! Get out of my face” she screamed, slamming the door at me.

“What’s the matter with her?” I thought to myself. “Doesn’t she understand that I can’t help it. I am caught in a real moral dilemma. I have to have sex as often as I can, but then I have  to get absolution afterwards to ease my conscience. That done, I can do it again. In fact I can’t stop myself. I have to.”

I returned to California in the spring after my winter in Paris. I did one term at Stanford University studying drama and playwriting and then transferred to Claremont Graduate  School in Southern Calif where I studied ancient and modern history. I got on the defensive about my religion and wrote papers for my grad seminar in Renaissance Studies  in which I tried to show the truth of the Catholic faith as embodied in Dante’s Divine Comedy. This was not well received by my professors at CGS who demanded more scholarly objectivity from me. For my master’s degree in history I wrote a thesis on Jacob Burckhardt’s Philosophy of History.

The  next year I enrolled in a history Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley where I tried to confront modern relativism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis head on. I had a hard time maintaining my faith in Catholic moral absolutism in the process. I was fascinated with Nietzsche’s critique of Christianity and by the Marxist sociology of knowledge. Their debunking of idealism appealed to my suppressed rage and my overt iconoclasm. 

As I was also interested in philosophical anthropology I finally decided to write a dissertation on Max Scheler, a German Catholic philosopher and sociologist. He was a Catholic philosopher who had lost his job twice for having sexual relations with his students. When called to account by the Archbishop of Cologne, Scheler replied: “I am only a signpost. A sign does not have to go where it points.” His widow told me that he seduced boys as well as girls and that he had his teeth sharpened so he could bite better when making love. It seemed that along with my interest in the phenomenology of religious experience, I could not avoid dealing with startling aspects of sexual experience even in the subject of my dissertation. 

However, work on Scheler, particularly his philosophy of religion helped me find a better intellectual foundation for my faith. Gradually, however, my commitment to Christianity got lost in other concerns.  Formally, I remained a Catholic, but Buddhism and Jungian and transpersonal psychology gradually replaced Christianity as my principal frame of reference, and I began to define myself as a “recovering Catholic.”

My Godfather: Alfredo Ramos Martinez

Alfredo Ramos Martinez (November 12, 1871 – November 8, 1946) was a paintermuralist, and educator, who lived and worked in Mexico, Paris, and Los Angeles. Considered by many to be the ‘Father of Mexican Modernism‘, Ramos Martínez is best known for his serene and empathetic paintings of traditional Mexican people and scenes. As the renowned Nicaraguanpoet Rubén Daríowrote, “Ramos Martínez is one of those who paints poems; he does not copy, he interprets; he understands how to express the sorrow of the fisherman and the melancholy of the village.”

Autoretrato (Self Portrait) , ca. 1938 tempera on newsprint 20 3/4 x 15 1/4 inches; 53 x 39 centimeters

Autoretrato (Self Portrait), ca. 1938

Through countless golden afternoons and well into silvery moonlit evenings, Alfredo Ramos Martinez would wander through Coyoacan, gazing up at its bell towers, strolling through its plazas and narrow streets, all the while taking in the geometry of the huge stones of the walls, the adobe walls, and the rounded cobblestones. After making numerous quick sketches, he would return home to transform his studies into watercolor compositions. This sixteenth century Coyoacan, with its churches and open markets of fruit and flower stalls can be seen in Ramos Martinez’s early works.

Ramos’ friend, the Mexican poet, painter and translator, José Juan Tablada contended years later in his memoir, La Feria de la Vida(“The Festival of Life,” 1937) that these watercolors were among the first artistic manifestations of a revolutionary art, originating as they did, in the observations of “things,” the phenomena of everyday life. Tablada states that it was American tourists who first recognized the beauty and value of Ramos’ surprisingly extraordinary depictions of seemingly ordinary things. These “things” would re-appear decades later as the background of his California paintings and, again, would be admired and collected by Americans.

Born in Monterrey (Nuevo León, Mexico) in 1871, Alfredo Ramos Martinez arrived to Mexico City at the age of fourteen after his portrait of the governor of the state of Nuevo León was awarded 1st prize at an art exhibition in San Antonio, Texas. The prize included a scholarship to study at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and therefore, the large Ramos Martinez family established their home in Coyoacan, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City. Coyoacan had the look and feel of a small village but with a stimulating aesthetic environment for budding artists like Ramos and Tablada.

The Academy in which Ramos spent eight years was undergoing innovations that had originated in the mid-century, including a program of exhibitions by students and faculty that encouraged audiences and emerging art critics alike. An art gallery, dedicated to Mexican art, was established and students were offered fellowships for study in Mexico and abroad.

From the beginning, Ramos disliked the rigid academic program with its institutional bureaucracy and tireless imitation of prevailing European aesthetics. His delight in straightforward observation and the subsequent representation of daily things, along with the open spaces of the emerging urban landscape, conflicted with the stifling atmosphere within the Academy. He resented having to take the tram all the way downtown, only to spend endless hours indoors, drawing and studying poor plaster copies of classical works. He often skipped his classes to return to his outdoor sketching excursions. His rebellion drove the Director to write a letter voicing his displeasure to Ramos’ father. Ramos defended himself on this occasion, standing up for his artistic freedom, and surprisingly there was no further disciplinary action. In view of his future activities, Ramos’ early insistence on an “Open Air” (Al Aire Libre) approach to creating art can be seen as something much more important than an attitude of adolescent rebellion.

He was undoubtedly aware of the Impressionist movement in France through the journals of the time as well as from students at the Academy returning from study in Europe. The Academy encouraged and supported its most talented students to travel abroad and Ramos longed to go to Europe. While Rome, with its ancient classical and Renaissance masters, had once been the most likely choice, the professors in the Academy were now beginning to focus on Paris.

In 1899, during an official visit by Phoebe Apperson Hearst, the American newspaper mogul’s mother, Ramos Martinez’s future was changed significantly. Mrs. Hearst attended a formal dinner hosted by the Mexican President, Porfirio Díaz. Ramos had been asked to create hand painted menus for the occasion. Mrs. Hearst was so impressed with these decorations that she asked to meet the artist. Upon meeting him, she offered to pay him a monthly stipend to study in Paris. The door to Alfredo Ramos Martinez’s European adventure had opened.

PARIS, BRITANNY, THE BALEARIC ISLANDS, THE LOW COUNTRIES

In going to France, Ramos was engaging in a cultural rite of passage familiar to many Latin American intellectuals. Nineteenth century Paris, the Bohemian center and point of reference for all the arts, attracted painters, poets, writers and intellectuals. Experimentation in the arts was the rule of the time and that led to new genres and forms.

Ramos spoke French fluently, which greatly eased his way in French society. The five hundred franc allowance from Mrs. Hearst allowed him a decent existence and while there is no record of formal studies at the art academies, he took full advantage of all the city had to offer.

Shortly after his arrival, he met the Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío (1867-1916). The meeting led to a friendship of immeasurable importance to both men. Darío was already a literary giant and the leading figure of Modernismo, a literary movement that his poetry had generated. He was in Paris to publish his second book of verse, Prosas Profanas(Profane Prose). This work, along with those that followed it, influenced Ramos’ work and intellect for the rest of his life.

Darío reveled in the Parisian bohemian life, often inviting Ramos to join him and his friends in their forays into intellectual salons and bohemian nightlife as well as excursions into the countryside. Through Darío, Ramos had the opportunity to interact with the Symbolist and Parnassian poets, notably Paul Verlaine, Rémy de Gourmont, and with artists such as Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, August Rodin and Joaquín Sorolla as well as the dancers, Anna Pavlova, Isadora Duncan and the actress, Eleanor Duse. Darío’s circle of accomplished, productive bon vivants drew Ramos into a sophisticated environment unlike anything he had known in Mexico. Such experiences led to a maturity and worldliness that would serve him well in later years.

The long, fraternal friendship between Ramos and Darío is documented in essays and two poems dedicated to Ramos. Darío offers us a glimpse into the painterly and literary influences that informed the production of both painter and poet during these four years. For a brief time, Darío even shared rooms with Ramos and his close friend, the Mexican poet-diplomat, Amado Nervo.

Painter and poet traveled together to Belgium and Holland where Ramos immersed himself in the works of Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh. In the Low Countries, his careful study of works from the northern Baroque period subtly influenced his own portraits. Visits to Spain and Palma de Mallorca extended into months and at one point, a period of solitary meditation in a Carthusian monastery. In the course of these travels, Darío’s spontaneity, enthusiasm and knowledge about art, philosophy, music and literature were undoubtedly not only an influence, but also a model for Ramos.

By 1904, Ramos had created a large body of work based on painting trips to Brittany. The palette, dominated by umbers and sepias, underscores the artist’s sensitivity not only to the environment, but also to the harsh poverty endured by a people who live off the land and the sea. Darío commented, “Ramos Martinez does not copy, he interprets; he understands how to express the sorrow of the fisherman and the melancholy of the village.”

The paintings by Millet and Monet led Ramos toward landscapes of windmills and seascapes cast in golden light infused with oranges and blues. These paintings often featured farmers and day laborers at work in the fields. In addition to these studies of everyday workers in their element, an important theme begins to develop here; portraits of women holding children, a variation on the Madonna and Child. Similar images and compositions appear years later in the artist’s California work.

It was also here that Ramos discovered a new medium. During one of his painting trips, his supply of drawing paper ran out. He returned to the inn and asked the concierge for paper. The concierge responded by giving him newsprint. This innovative surface became a favorite medium for Ramos.

In 1905, Ramos began participating in the yearly Salon d’Automne. His work also began exploring different spaces, landscape compositions peopled by women and tinged with eroticism. Reminiscent of Watteau and Fragonard, these paintings depicted mythologies of an eighteenth century kind of Fête galante, with allusions to cyclical rituals in nature. In addition, dark sensual women evoking the decadence of fin de siècle sensitivity began to inhabit Ramos’ canvases. With their dark eyes, luminous skin, half veiled faces and lustrous hair, they embodied a dangerous sexuality that seemed to balance or, in some cases, defy the dancing sprites of his mythological landscapes. There is a masterly interplay between light and shadow, between the strong reds and blacks and the luminosity that pervades the canvases. The landscapes, on the other hand, offer delicate blends of a softer palette that seems to bring light from the ground.

In 1906, Ramos was awarded a gold medal at the Salon d’Automne for Le Printemps, a landscape painting of women, participating in a Rite of Spring. That same year, apparently satisfied with the success of her protégé, Phoebe Hearst withdrew her monthly stipend. In her letter, she informed Ramos that he was now capable of living off his works and encouraged him to do just that.

Without Mrs. Hearst’s support, new hardships confronted him. Earning a living from his art became a huge challenge. Darío tells us that he was reduced to working for a factory making artistic trinkets and illustrating publications for a few cents. In despair, he went off to London carrying a portfolio of watercolors, which were exhibited at the Circle of Watercolorists. Within a few days, the Duke of Devonshire bought one. A solo exhibition was set up at the Carlton.

By 1909, the political and social upheavals in Mexico prompted his return. Unlike his compatriot Diego Rivera, who returned from Paris at the end of the revolution, Ramos came back to Mexico on the eve of the revolution. Hailed as an innovator by the students of the Academy, Ramos would soon become the Assistant Director of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (ENBA), the former Academy. Shortly after, he assumed directorship of the School and, in 1913, fulfilled his dream of founding the Open Air School of Painting.

MEXICO: ART AND REVOLUTION

Alfredo Ramos Martinez returned to a Mexico on the edge of a revolution that would change its political, social, economic and cultural structures. The Mexican Revolution of 1910 unleashed a decade of instability, violence and civil war. It also initiated a new enthusiasm and recognition for national forms in literature, music and the visual arts. Moreover, the socio-political changes that took place during the second decade of the twentieth century created new ideologies in Europe that would have effects in Mexico. As a result, the visual arts would commit themselves to asocial and public art. A fresh awareness of Mexico’s pre-Columbian history and culture, as well as its popular and populist art forms, led back to fresco painting and to an emphasis on graphic art.

Between his initial arrival and his appointment as director of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1913, Ramos returned to Europe only once, to accompany his old friend Rubén Darío back to Mallorca after the latter’s brief return to America. This would be the last time they would see each other. Despite his loyalty to Darío, Ramos wanted to return home quickly, intent on participating in the creation of a new Mexican consciousness.

Hailed for his successes in Europe, Ramos was greeted as a distinguished alumnus of the ENBA and was immediately invited to hold a solo show at the School. The exhibition consisted of 41 oils, 29 pastels, 23 watercolors, and 17 drawings, 110 works in all, with Ramos’ painting, La Primavera, attracting special acclaim by the critics. Eleven days later, Ramos took part in an exhibition at the Academy, as part of the official celebration of the Independence Centenary (1810-1910).

This latter exhibition precipitated a strike by artists and art students that reflected the turbulent political atmosphere. This division between architectural students, painters and sculptors was further complicated by the delineation between part time and full time students. It was this economic division that convinced Ramos to support the striking students. In his view, theirs was a stand against the Old Order and, thus, he stood with them.

Consequently, on August 30, 1911, the striking students called for the establishment of a new “Free Academy” and proposed Ramos Martinez as director of the school. It was under these auspices that Ramos Martinez became first the assistant director and then director of the National School. He later founded the Open Air Schools project, creating the first school with ten boys at Santa Anita Ixtapalapa. The Open Air Schools project was a crucial step in Ramos’ plan to change the curriculum at National School. As director, he was finally in a position to redefine academic understanding of how to train artists. Ramos Martinez’s philosophy was rooted in his instinctual belief in the sureness of an artist’s vision and confirmed by his experiences in Europe with the Impressionists and Post Impressionists. As Ramos Martinez explained, “In this school we are trying to mold a school of action, permitting the students to pursue their own tendencies… the students’ own efforts and inspirations are appealed to as the center of all activities, respecting in the pupil his personal manner of seeing, thinking and interpreting his visions.” Though he did paint during this time period, Ramos largely surrendered his painter’s persona and devoted himself to teaching.

This shift would not come without a price. Political strife and intrigue within the National School worsened. By 1914, Ramos was relieved of his post and his name mysteriously disappeared from the school’s roster. However, throughout the upheavals, Ramos’ Open Air Schools Project prevailed. He managed to open a second Open Air School in Coyoacan. When his students were featured in Exposición de Labores Escolares y Bellas Artes(Exhibition of Works from Public and Art Schools) at the Spanish Pavilion, still later in that same year, their work met with extremely favorable responses.

During this period (1910-1920), a decade dominated by two genres, landscapes and portraits, Ramos’ work reflected his mastery of pastels, yet another innovation he brought to the Mexican art scene of the times. Using the techniques he had so faithfully studied and practiced during his European years, Ramos created works of remarkable size and fluidity. In works such as Flower Vendorand Volcán, subject material that would re-occur after he re-located to California, Ramos demonstrated a masterful understanding of composition and a palette bursting with new and dazzling color. His subsequent utilization of oil and watercolor with the pastels added new dimensions to the medium.

Abrupt political changes continued to affect post revolutionary national life. In 1920, Ramos was re-appointed as Director of the ENBA. He would dedicate the next eight years to teaching and expanding his Open Air School project which by 1924, included volunteer instructors Rufino Tamayo, Jean Charlot (who introduced wood-block printing to Mexican art), Francisco Díaz de León, and Fernando Leal among others. In 1926, Mexico’s President Calles (1877-1945) sponsored an exhibition of works by Ramos’ young artists from the Open Air School. The show traveled through Europe and to Los Angeles and, again, met with great acclaim.

However, by 1928, the development of the nationalist movement in the arts had significantly affected internal politics at the ENBA. Ramos’ life was changing as well.

That year, he married María Sodi Romero and a year later, their daughter Maria was born with a congenital bone disease. She became Ramos’ chief preoccupation. He resigned as Director of the ENBA and Diego Rivera assumed the directorship. The family left Mexico and went to Rochester, Minnesota, for consultations at the Mayo Clinic. The attending physicians advised Ramos that his daughter needed to be in a warm dry climate and would require significant medical attention throughout her childhood. Ramos concluded that for the sake of Maria’s health, the family needed to relocate.

Upon his return to Mexico, he completed Las Flores Mexicanas, a painting commissioned by the Mexican President Emilio Portes-Gil (1890-1978) as a wedding gift for Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. On October 17, 1929, Alfredo Ramos Martinez and his family left Mexico for Los Angeles, California.

CALIFORNIA

At the time of Ramos’ arrival, Los Angeles was experiencing an artistic renaissance. Art clubs, galleries and city-sponsored arts festivals flourished. As early as 1931, Ramos had a show during the Artist’s Fiesta, which included a mile-long walk through the downtown area with department stores functioning as showcases for art. Olvera Street, Los Angeles’ official first street, was home to numerous artist studios as well as the Plaza Art Center.

The burgeoning movie business drew a more internationally savvy and art conscious population to Los Angeles. In the movie theatre, Latin-themed stories, featuring the likes of Ramon Novarro and Dolores Del Río, were increasingly popular. The California Artists Club held meetings in the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Barnsdall Park with lectures by international figures, including the French historian Élie Faure. Ramos’ former student, David Alfaro Siquieros, had been brought to the Chouinard Art Institute to teach mural painting. It would seem to be a propitious time for Ramos’ arrival.

However, in leaving Mexico, Ramos had walked away from almost all of his fiscal and professional support systems. His administrative positions had provided financial support and also helped solidify his reputation in the art world. He was painfully aware that the family’s economic situation depended entirely upon him. Though Ramos had no plans to remain in California long term, he knew he needed to create a new set of relationships there in order to survive.

Ramos’ reputation had preceded him and, shortly after his departure from Mexico in 1929, the boxer Jack Dempsey commissioned him to paint murals, create a series of paintings and decorate a chapel at the Hotel-Casino Playa Ensenada (Ensenada, Baja California). The hotel was in the midst of construction and had been conceived as a playground for the Hollywood crowd. Ramos created a mural filled with the sensual erotica of his earlier work along with several pieces suggesting the changes his work would undergo during his years in California.The remains of these works can still be seen today in the renovated, and re-named, Centro Cultural Riviera Pacifico.

Then in early 1930, William Alanson Bryan, Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art paid Ramos a visit. Bryan knew and had been tremendously impressed with the artist’s work from the 1925 Pan American Exposition. He was also familiar, due to the traveling exhibition in 1926, with the exemplary student work produced in Ramos’ Open Air Schools. He immediately set about arranging a showing of Ramos’ recent works. This led to an exhibition at the Assistance League Art Gallery and favorable press.

However, the canvases exhibited in Los Angeles were markedly different in character from his previous work. The suffering of his infant daughter and his wife had provoked a passionate exploration of religious imagery featuring Madonna and child as well as the virgin Guadalupe. During a particularly arduous period in his daughter’s recovery, Ramos stayed at the Yucca Loma Ranch in Apple Valley painting frescos in every cabin; all a variation of the Madonna and child, each a kind of painted prayer for his daughter. Also, perhaps fueled by his absence from his homeland, he began to paint highly stylized scenes taken from Mexican life. Nostalgic but in no way sentimental, the compositions captured his recollections of daily life with palettes dominated by umbers, ochres and deep greens and punctuated by touches of red or orange or yellow. This vocabulary struck a chord with Southern California collectors.

The following year, 1932, Ramos exhibited at the Fine Arts Gallery of Balboa Park in San Diego and, again, met with great success. Another exhibition, featuring drawings, temperas, oils and murals, followed at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco in 1933. It was there that the artist was first introduced to the noted Bay Area art patron Albert Bender. Bender, whose contributions helped establish the Legion of Honor and the San Francisco Museum of Art, became one of Ramos’ most important admirers. Bender purchased El Indio Solitariofor the Legion of Honor, El Prisionerofor the San Francisco Museum of Art, The Three Sistersfor the Gallery of Mills College and Padre Junipero Serrafor the California Historical Society. Additionally, he acquired numerous works, including the artist’s seminal Adán y Eva Mexicanos, for his personal collection.

As a result of these successes, Ramos was invited to exhibit at the Faulkner Memorial Art Gallery in Santa Barbara. His arrival in Santa Barbara opened the door for his commission to create the majestic murals at the Chapel of the Cemetery of Santa Barbara. Mrs. George Washington Smith, widow of the influential architect and designer of the Chapel, along with violinist and composer Henry Eichheim, initiated the commission and became his life-long friends and patrons.

Ramos’ work was beginning to attract a significant Hollywood following. The interior designer and former art director for Warner Brothers, Harold Grieve, purchased a number of Ramos’ paintings in 1936. As an authentic Hollywood insider and decorator to the stars, Grieve’s championing of Ramos’ work had a tremendous impact on the artist’s finances. His work was placed in the Bel Air dining room of film director Ernst Lubitsch. Hollywood courturier Edith Head collected him, as did actors Charles Laughton and Beulah Bondi. The writer Jo Swerling was so taken with the artist’s work that he commissioned a mural for his Beverly Hills home. The mural still exists though the house was destroyed. Likewise, the Chapman Park Hotel and bungalow complex, adjacent to the famous Brown Derby Restaurant, commissioned a large Ramos Martinez fresco. Unfortunately, the building was bulldozed in 1967 and, in this case, the artwork was not saved.

Given the strong graphics, provocative implied narrative and deep emotion of Ramos’ depiction of his remembered Mexico, it is easy to understand Hollywood’s embrace of this late work. Ramos was an outsider with a great story whose extraordinary technical ability and passion for his work made him, as all artists are, the ultimate insider. Ramos’ simplified forms bathed in resplendent color rivaled Gauguin in their luscious representation of the feeling of life itself. Yet each composition adhered to a rigorous unity of form. The work has a strong decorative quality, but with no wasted space and every line rich with meaning. In essence, Ramos had taken the Mexico of his youth, informed by his vision of its indigenous heritage, and filtered it through his response to the here and now. In Los Angeles, a blossoming urban metropolis – “a city without a past” – Ramos mined his rich history to create canvases of striking modernity.

Additionally, the artist’s maturity and sophistication, forged by his years in Europe and friendships with noted artists and intellectuals, prepared him for the evolving sensibilities of California and Hollywood. With the petty political rivalries of Mexico behind him, Los Angeles became a fresh creative space.

In these late “California” works, Ramos’ highly textured backgrounds are recapitulations of his early fascination with the phenomena of the world around him. The Breton mother and child reappear, the indigenous mother encircling her child, and he returns to creating tempera on newsprint, the medium he had discovered in Brittany. Ramos further returns to woman as subject. But now his large-scale representational portraits of women, La Malincheand La India de Tehuantepec, acquire a mythological significance. These seeming goddesses, along with flower vendors carrying enormous baskets of flowers on their backs, are positioned in the center of the canvas, facing front, giving them the status of divine subjects. Only the divine or the artist could be so portrayed.

This subject material was expressed to great effect in Ramos’ late mural work. Of the five mural commissions Ramos received, three are still on public view: the previously mentioned Chapel of the Santa Barbara Cemetery (1934), the La Avenida Café (Coronado, now the Coronado Public Library, 1937) and the Margaret Fowler Frescoes, Scripps College, Claremont (1945). The latter was commissioned at the behest of Millard Sheets, one of California’s most famous and revered artists and a long-time admirer of Ramos.

From 1942 to 1945, Ramos returned to Mexico City with his family where he painted a series of frescos commissioned by the Ministry of Education for the Escuela Normal (the Normal School for Teachers, now destroyed).

Upon his return, Ramos began the Scripps College fresco project along with designs for stained glass windows for St. John’s Church in Los Angeles. Both projects were left unfinished. On November 8, 1946, he arrived home feeling exhausted. He sought medical aid, and returned home where he suffered a fatal heart attack. Alfredo Ramos Martinez was 73 years old, just four days shy of his 74th birthday.

ARM: MODERNISMO & MODERNITY

For Alfredo Ramos Martinez, modernity and Modernismo are the parameters of his personal state of being. His early years in Mexico, his youthful criticism of the Academy, his interest in natural light, his fascination with everyday things, all lead him toward a modern vision encouraged by his European years.

In Europe, Ramos finds himself in a city that looks toward the modern with its galeries, its broad boulevards created by Baron Haussman. There he also experiences the revolution that is sweeping through the arts. And of course, it is there that he meets Rubén Darío.

Darío opened the doors to the other face of modernity: modernismo. A term embodying a freedom of imagination, a recapitulation of mythological worlds of sprites, shepherdesses, and cyclical and magical rituals that lead to a world of female power, the world of the goddess and the siren.

The interaction between painter and poet, a quasi-symbiotic relationship of writing and painting, enrich and support the young painter. His modernista paintings of nymphs dancing through fields of flowers, of processions of sprites making flower offerings and of sensual, mysterious women leap from the real to the fantastic, from the philosophical to the erotic. Ramos, like Darío and the Latin American poets of that time and space, continues to explore the infinite horizons of the imagination.California is, of course, the turning point, the point of reference.By distancing himself from Mexico at the end of the twenties and from an environment that is slowly becoming more narrow under the weight of self-interests,Alfredo Ramos Martinez creates a new Mexican art drawn from the Mexico of memory but enriched by his understanding of a cultural past (Europe) and a new cultural space (Los Angeles). That understanding of a past within a present that looks forward is what Ramos’ work reveals. Modern and modernista, the world we find in Ramos Martinez’s work takes Mexican art past its borders and toward a new universal space.

Having relocated to Los Angeles in 1929, Ramos Martínez was offered an exhibition by William Alanson Bryan, Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)at Exposition Park. A number of subsequent exhibitions followed, with Martínez developing a strong following in the Hollywoodcommunity.Warner Brothersart director and interior decorator to the stars Harold Grieveacquired a number of works by the artist and championed the artist’s work to his clients. Noted film directors Ernst Lubitschand Alfred Hitchcock, costume designer Edith Head, screenwriter Jo Swerling, and actors Charles LaughtonGary CooperJames Stewart, and Beulah Bondi, among others, were collectors.Ramos Martínez was also exhibited with great success in San Diegoat the Fine Arts Galleryof Balboa Parkand in San Franciscoat the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. It was there that celebrated Bay Areaart patron Albert M. Benderfirst saw Ramos Martínez’s work. Bender became a lifelong friend of the artist and acquired numerous works for his personal collection. Furthermore, he purchased and donated Ramos Martínez works to several San Francisco institutions, including the Legion of Honor, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the California Historical Society, and Mills College.In addition to his mastery of all conventional media including drawingprintmakingwatercolor, and easel painting, Ramos Martínez was an extremely skilled muralistwho excelled in the technically challenging art of traditional fresco painting. Though a number of his murals were destroyed, including those at the Chapman Park Hotel in Los Angeles (adjacent to the famous Brown Derby Restaurant) and the Normal School for Teachers (Escuela Normal) in Mexico City, several important examples have survived. These include the Chapel of the Santa Barbara Cemetery (1934); the La Avenida Café, Coronado, California(1938) (later restored and moved to the Coronado Public Library); and the unfinished fresco project, The Flower Vendorsin the Margaret Fowler Gardenat Scripps CollegeClaremont, California(1945). The Scripps muralwas commissioned by the College at the urging of Millard Sheets, the much loved California artist and long-time admirer of Ramos Martínez. Another fresco, one of Ramos Martínez’ most significant works, the La Guelaguetza, which was named after the ancient Oaxacancelebration of the Earth’s abundance, was commissioned in 1933 by screenwriter Jo Swerlingfor his Beverly Hillshome. Having fallen into obscurity for many years it was rescued before demolition of the residence in 1990.Alfredo Ramos Martínez died unexpectedly at the age of 73 on November 8, 1946, in Los Angeles. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemeteryin Culver City, California. At the time of his death, Ramos Martínez was working on a series of muralsentitled “The Flower Vendors” at Scripps College.[10]The unfinished murals have been preserved as a tribute to the artist.[11]

After the artist’s death, the Dalzell Hatfield Gallery in Los Angeles continued to showcase his paintings and drawings. Maria Sodi de Ramos Martínez, the artist’s widow, saw to it that Ramos Martínez was included in numerous gallery exhibitions. Until her death in 1985, she was the primary champion of her late husband’s work.In 1991, Louis Sternpresented the first major retrospective of the artist’s work since his death. The exhibition, “Alfredo Ramos Martínez (1872–1946),” was on view at Louis Stern Galleries in Beverly Hillsfrom October 1, 1991, through January 6, 1992. This exhibition was the foundation of the monumental Ramos Martínez exhibition, “Alfredo Ramos Martínez (1871–1946), Une Visión Retrospectiva,” at Mexico City’s renowned Museo Nacional de Arte(MUNAL) in April 1992.These two exhibitions became the cornerstones of a re-examination of Ramos Martínez’s work and subsequent development of a secondary market for these works. As with the other major Mexican modernists, indigenous peoples were the principal subjects in the mature works of Ramos Martínez. In recent years, several of these paintings have realized high prices on the international art market. His 1938 painting Flowers of Mexicobrought over $4 million at Christie’s, New York in May 2007.

Louis Stern Fine Artsbegan a public association with Mexican modernist Alfredo Ramos Martinezin 1991 with a retrospective exhibition of works by the artist, who lived in Los Angeles from 1929 until his death, in 1946. In collaboration with his daughter, Maria Martinez Bolster, and art historian Margarita Nieto, the gallery subsequently established the Alfredo Ramos Martinez Research Project to “protect the artist’s legacy and to advance the understanding and appreciation of the artist whom many have deemed the father of Mexican Modern Art.” The Research Project published a monograph, Alfredo Ramos Martinez & Modernismo, by Margarita Nieto and Louis Stern in 2009, and is currently compiling a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s paintings and frescos.[12]