10/17/03 from Aries Rising
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I was really glad to find your site, since I'd like to know what happened to
everyone since. I read your newspapers for years, and met a couple of
Keristans during the few months I lived in the Bay Area. (Did not attend
any rap groups, however, due to schedule conflicts, working 24/7, etc) When
I moved back east, I attempted to start dialogue over the issues in the
books I continued getting by mail from Keristans, which I really enjoyed
reading, and I approved of many of the concepts being laid down in the
books. But I had some problems with the politics (which didn't make any
sense to me), and whether people could disagree politically within the
commune. Politics and study about politics is a big part of my life, so
this was an important thing to me. So, in the 80s, I wrote a series of
letters with rational questions. i.e.: Were people allowed to have sharp
disagreements politically (the current war in Iraq would be a great example)
without being "pressured" to believe one opinion was more "rational" than
the other? Politics is largely OPINION after all. How could you AVOID this
in the Gestalt O Rama thing? There seemed to be a dictatorial approach to
opinion. I also asked about a number of recent books that had been
influential (I think one was "Closing of the American Mind" by Allan Bloom)
and the ideas in them, say, whether American capitalist culture was
inherently narcissistic, thereby inhibiting community and blah blah blah.
Well, first of all, what was annoying about this, is I got a response from a
DIFFERENT PERSON EACH TIME. (oh boy) So whatever had been discussed in my
previous letter, was unknown to the new person. Rational centering, huh?
Also, it was clear the person replying (in every instance) did not have a
clue. Rather than give it to someone who might have a clue, I got the
distinct impression that "answering mail" was somebody's job that week, and
I got the luck of the draw. This really pissed me off. I felt that this
was not a logical approach to outsiders who might be interested in the
commune but had real problems with the ideology. So how "rational" was
Kerista, in that case?
Second, I felt that the Keristans I corresponded with were intellectually
out to lunch. (Because of this, I am deliberately not naming names in this
account, since my intention is not to personally insult anyone.) For
instance, there appeared to be a collective response of DUH to many of my
questions. If I want DUH, I can get that anywhere and don't need to join a
commune full of people to provide it! Keristans seemed to be in ideological
lockstep, didn't read much about philosophy, culture or politics, and didn't
form individual (and therefore diverse) opinions--which made me nervous, as
in cult-like behavior. And I didn't have any use for that.
I finally stopped writing the letters, since I got tired of re-acquainting
myself with a new Keristan every time. Topics discussed in the previous
letters were always unknown to the newly-assigned correspondents--nobody
even seemed to keep files! Each occasion I wrote, it was like starting all
over again, and no "personal" address or PO box was ever provided to start
one-on-one dialogue. In fact, in one instance the Keristan I wrote back to
had left the commune by the next letter. Not a real stable environment!
This lack of organization actually left more of a negative impression on me
than the content of the letters themselves.
Just my take on things. Even though I liked many of the ideals I read about
in Keristan books, and still do.
Nice to see you on the net, and I'll be checking regularly!