ANTIFREEZE & DROPPING OUT
A few weeks ago George Peper and I went out on a Monday night to Wellesley College to talk about the various difficulties AVATAR had been having with local authorities. Somehow, neither of us was any too eager to go: the thought of sitting in a room full of girls and talking about Mayor Hayes and councilmen and cops wasn't really appealing, especially in the middle of the production of issue thirteen. But, since George had already committed himself, it seemed necessary that we go.
Everything that we do is necessary, even though at the time of doing we often think we have freedom of choice. On that night it did seem that I could decide whether or not I wanted to go to Wellesley that is, on the surface, on the level of consciousness, the question was either I would go or I would not. But that either/or was only apparent. I had to go and I knew it. All my arguments to the contrary were merely attempts to thwart my will and were at the same time impediments to my freedom, ones cast by myself. Because of that, I was restricting that freedom. I mean, if winter's coming on and my car needs anti-freeze and I know my car needs anti-freeze, the thing to do is to put the damn stuff in the radiator, whether I feel like doing it or not. I can delude myself into thinking it needn't be done immediately, but that's ridiculous. To not do what I know is necessary is bondage of the worst sort, bondage to me, the opposite of freedom to act upon the world; in this case, upon my car.
If all decisions were on the level of anti-freeze, life would be easy enough. But on a subtler and higher level and going to Wellesley was just a bit higher than anti-freeze there are everyday occasions when the only direction to act comes from the will or soul or whatever. After all, I presented some pretty good arguments for not going and staying in the office and working on production of the paper. It was right that I not go, but it was also wrong that I stay since George wanted me to go. What to do? I could only sense what to do and I had to act. No reason either way was sufficient. Later, the reason was apparent.
Anyhow, we soon enough were in that room full of girls and talking about the harassment of AVATAR. That paled quickly as a subject and we got into a discussion of the Fort Hill community, a subject which clearly was of greater interest to the audience. It was at that point that I saw we were regarded as something like six-headed Martians who happened to invade the Wellesley campus. In truth, it felt in many ways as if we were just that. Although Wellesley is only a few miles from Boston, once you are on the campus with all its wooded area the school might as well be located in Vermont. The world we represent really isn't felt there, any more than it is at present in the Figi (sic) Islands (I may be wrong there). So it was with the discussion of the way we live that I first saw how exotic we were to the girls. Were we hippies? We didn't look the part although George might slip visually into the role. Revolutionaries, I said, trying not to remind them too much of the revolution of 1917. Finally one of us said that we were drop-outs.
That was familiar and thus caught both their interest and sympathy. Yes, they could see there was a lot to drop out from. They knew there was something rotten somewhere. But there was also a bit of defensiveness in their attitude. And there was a need for it: we were a threat to Wellesley College, or, more precisely, their presence there.
We talked. And we talked. We talked about drugs, about the basic error in the capitalistic system, about steel mills, about the profit system, and none of these seemed to illustrate for either side just what was meant by dropping out. Why should they make their own steel? Or, what is the basic error in the capitalistic system? Or, why should we drop out? The whole discussion was avoiding something truly important by centering around such bullshit., it was obscuring the main issue, whatever it was.
Then there it was, so obviously right in front of me and around me, the girls themselves. That was the main issue: they were girls would they be women? And I said, listen, this is what we really mean by dropping out. You're going to college for an education to become something or another. Are you, at the same time becoming women? That's the question you must answer. If going to Wellesley helps you become a woman, then do it. But if it stops you, drop out. Being a woman, truly a woman, is the very highest form of art. Beside that, even Eben's art is down here. Nothing approaches a woman.
Thirty flowers blossomed before us.
I went on to say, sure, you can be a woman and a physicist, but by then I was thinking about something else, namely me. If that was true for Wellesley girls, was it not true for me. I had dropped out. Therefore, I had dropped out to become a man. The question then for me was: was I becoming one? Immediately, another followed: what the devil was a man?
Man, the tool-using animal? All right but surely inadequate. Man, the rational animal? Well, that's what I always thought, that is, until I got into this mess called AVATAR. Since then I've done so many purely irrational things, ones which worked, that I can no longer consider the word rational adequate. No, there must be something beyond that, at least for me. When I was in my second year of graduate school, someone had showed me that I hadn't learned a thing in all my education. He meant nothing fundamental. At the time I hadn't the faintest notion of what he meant. My intellectual apparatus was too much in the way.
The intellect weighs what the senses perceive. If it weighs them a bit too long, it gets into intellectualization. When that happens, the immediate world dies. It is gone. Freud spent his whole life being a neurotic. Reich landed up a nut. Yet it is all essential as are the emotions. But does there hang between them a sense which is more than the sum of its parts? Is the brain confined to the head or does it extend throughout the body and into space? Is the skin a barrier to the world or is it an element of the world? Does inside and outside exist? The span of my vision reaches the stars. Do I not ride that span to the stars and to places I've never seen? What made me go to Wellesley and tell those girls something they have been waiting years to hear?
Other events have happened since then. They are too near to me to talk about yet. In the end they may be nothing more than fantasies. There's only one way to find out. 1 must try and be a man. I must try and live on the edge where the words right and wrong are meaningless. There I must act. There I must gamble, do the impossible without knowing the consequences, risk all and everything, discover if all and everything is worthwhile, if anything is worthwhile.
Man, the intuitive animal? Perhaps, but that's only part of it, I'm sure. Yet, as an Aquarian, I can't avoid it. I couldn't if I wanted to. Intuition, that bitch, got me out to Wellesley that night. Intuition, that goddamned window to the soul, got me in trouble with a lot of my family. Intuition, that bleeder of the heart, that fucker with the emotions, has raised havoc with me, havoc, that'll take years to recognize, and I know the havoc's just begun.
Oh well, I've got a lot to learn about other things too. The other night the block in my car cracked.Brian Keating