Non-Keristans Speak

10/17/03 from Aries Rising

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Hey there!

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!

Aries Rising