copyright 2004 by Delv
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Here is another, quite different picture of life inside Kerista.
I became friends with the Keristans – Jud, Eve, Geo, Way, Sym, Pep, Laf and Fir – over the winter of 1976 and spring of 1977. During this “quiet” period the family (Purple) was small and intimate; relationships within Purple were smooth and took little energy; each individual lived her/his life with meticulous care, courtesy, respect, and philosophical introspection. Utopian Eyes (Volume 1, Issue 1) documents the idealism and feeling-tone of this period. (Eve describes a hike on which she stops to remove a tiny pebble from her shoe: in Utopia, the smallest irritation is analyzed and resolved).
Utopian Ideals. Eve’s highest ideals were “Religion and art”. Utopian ideals were a major focus. Each member renounced negative conditioning, rejected romantic coupling, and attached her/himself to Utopian ideals (ideals-centered relationships). Bluejay Way: “We major in creating Utopia and minor in conditioning (struggles with jealousy, depression, etc).”
Eve defines Utopian philosophy as a search for the fundamental principles – the eternal truths – which illuminate “the one true path to human happiness”, the realization of the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. For Eve, these ideals are felt with the numinous intensity of religious experience: “We Keristans must never allow the Flame of Liberty to be extinguished!”
Kerista in 1977 is poised to evolve into a highly effective social-change agent. Utopian Eyes is the “journal of record” to document the resulting transformation of society.
Personally, I feel the quest for utopia (as described in Utopian Eyes and in Aldous Huxley’s Island) has not diminished in the intervening 27 years, and I cannot understand how Kerista in the 1980’s was allowed to drift into mediocrity (to judge by the post-mortems). Please, let’s not forget the original mission: To free humanity from the bonds of conditioning!
Best-friendships. For me personally, the Keristan “scene” of 1976-77 beckoned with a welcoming atmosphere of idealism and philosophical inquiry, an ideal environment in which to form lifetime best-friendships. The Kerista “toolbox” included the Utopian Eyes quarterly journal, social contracts, and the gestalt process (throwing forks in the road). I feel great appreciation for these days, during which I met two of my lifetime best friends.
Flaws. At heart I’m a scientist. Conclusions require evidence; “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”. The “one true path to human happiness” Kerista dogma of 1977 is too narrow for my sensibilities. This dogmatic uniformity of Keristan thought, I would suggest, is a fundamental flaw -- we only discovered what people really believed after they left the commune! Exhibit A is Eve’s 1993 essay: Her criticisms could never have been forcefully expressed from within the commune, and yet they were obviously inside Eve’s head back in the 1980’s.
Eve’s 1993 essay: ”…Our communistic approach to life effectively immobilized people”. A narrow perspective, dogmatically enforced, crushes the human spirit. “A society which outlaws every form of adventure, makes its own destruction the only possible adventure.” If we examine the dynamics of creative partnerships and collectives – in music, art, technology – we will discover contrasting ideas, tenaciously held and forcefully expressed. Given a receptive, supportive environment for critical ideas – and a high standard of personal honesty and integrity inside the commune -- each person’s creative spirit and life-force shines through. As a consequence, leadership energy would no longer be concentrated “within a small percentage of the membership”.