Category Archives: intentional community

Critical Mass

debate sized

Three separate threads weaving in escalating intensity over the past weeks are resolving now, forming a fabric greater than the individual parts.

Here I’ll briefly describe the parts and how each illumines the others.

First, throughout, I was listening along with the one respectfully called Old Avatar to YouTube videos published by KrisAnne Hall and her husband/co-host, Pastor J.C. Hall at Liberty First University. (I would prefer Truth First, but that’s just me.)

In any case, their mission is to educate Americans about the Constitution. In the process, they analyze current events by that standard. How true are the actions of government officials, elected or appointed, to the Constitution they’re sworn to uphold?

Not a pretty picture.

Increasingly curious, OA went to original sources for first hand answers. First he read a through a collection of the Federalist Papers written in support of ratifying the Constitution.

Critical thinker that he is, OA was impressed, but also found flaws in their reasoning. He wanted to know what arguments were made by the Anti-Federalists – those who opposed ratification. So we found two volumes which present both sides of the coin, pro and con, side by side – not exactly easy reading : )

Book on Debate

Some say God smiled on the Founders. Ratification was a miracle,” he winked.

How is that,” I asked. “Were the Founders were so flawed that coming to agreement seemed impossible?”

Something like,” he answered. “You know,” he added. “You’re the one who’s so interested in intentional communities. That’s what creating the Union was about. On a large scale.”

Wow! I never thought of it that way before. But you’re right!”

OA is a man of few words. Usually, he keeps opinions to himself. But recently he took exception to a program where the Halls, outraged, exposed a pattern of abuse by federal officials. Members of both parties systematically steal tax payer monies, living like royalty, impoverishing those they only claim to serve.

This was exactly what the Anti-Federalists foresaw,” he pointed out. According to them, it was only a matter of time until the country would come full circle, back to the critical mass of power abuse which drove colonists to separate from England. Back to another revolt.

Why not contact the Halls,” I asked. “Ask them to comment on the Anti-Federalist papers and their concerns.” He declined, doubting they are ready to admit we’ve arrived at that point.

A second thread, over the past week-end, was the converging holidays of Easter and Passover. Passover marks the exodus of slaves from Egypt. (“Set my people free.”) Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ, freeing humans from the heavy burden of past sin. Both holidays repeat the pattern of yearning for freedom from oppression — a pattern of sacrifices made to throw off the yoke of enslavement, whether internal or  external.

These same yearnings were reflected in the passionate forces that drove the debate over the Constitution’s ratification.

At one point, looking up from his book, OA commented, “This speech was really dramatic.” He continued, “The founders were totally committed – emotionally, financially. They put everything on the line. They knew how high the stakes were. They were willing to sacrifice everything to prevent falling back into the same mistakes that drove them to leave Europe, to create a form of government that would not drag their heirs down back into the same pit.”

He shook his head. “They were idealists,” he said. “Optimists.

The ratification went forward only because Anti-Federalist fears were respected by adding the Bill of Rights.”

What happened,” I asked. “What went wrong?”

People got lazy. It is impossible to live continuously on the razor’s edge, perpetually alert and on the lookout for danger. They went back to their ordinary lives. They got immersed in farming, running businesses and raising families.”

They let things slide,” I said. “It’s an I Ching thing. The zenith of achievement doesn’t last forever. Success has to be maintained with constant vigilance and adjustments. Over time things naturally degenerate. No legislation can prevent unraveling. The cause is deeper. Metaphysical.”

The Founders knew that,” he responded.

But people got stupid,” he continued. “This has been a problem from the beginning of time. Even Samuel Adams, who was supposed to be this great defender of liberty. He got stupid. He listened to his wife yapping in his ear. To protect his pride, prevent others from accomplishing what he failed to do, he passed detrimental laws against negotiating with foreign nations that have not to this day been repealed. He lost perspective. He got caught up in the illusion of his own self-importance.”

Yes.”

And then the third strand. We have followed the Parkland shooting and its aftermath, getting increasingly more suspicious. It looks more and more like a set up.

The shooting itself was long foreseen: eminently and egregiously preventable. From start to finish, response by law enforcement was botched beyond belief. The protests which followed have played out like a badly written grade-B movie, tailored to extremists’ ends, designed to escalate public opinion towards critical mass.

David Hogg, a self-proclaimed student representative, is remarkably uneducated either by schooling or experience. He is illiterate, unable to navigate the basics of English grammar. He demonstrates ZERO understanding of the history behind the hard-won Bill of Rights. Nor does he have a clue about the critical difference between a democracy and a republic. (He asserts, “Our parents don’t know how to use a f***ing democracy.”

Substituting posturing and self-righteous self-pity for genuine passion, DH projects an intensity of rage and hatred that triggers equal animosity in return. Tweets pun on the animal connotations of his last name (“media hog,” “piglet,” etc.).

And then, there’s the irony of his first name, David, a personal hero of mine. Nor was the biblical comparison lost on mainstream media. “David Hogg Took On His Own Media Goliath,” reads one headline.

But the original David fought in the Name of the Lord. This pawn of Soros-driven media is the antithesis of the biblical King David.

For example, DH declared all-out war on Laura Ingraham, vengefully demanding that her advertisers jump ship. (How is this for disrespecting First Amendments rights, much less the Second?) He along with far-left supporters were all too quick in the attempt to ruin someone who simply happened to disagree with him.

Yet in the same breath, he had the gall to turn around and claim the higher ground of civility.

Ben Shapiro rightly nailed this blatant hypocrisy. “You don’t get to play the LOVE THY NEIGHBOR Card.” DH pretending to represent Christ’s new law is obscene.

The timing of the shooting aftermath resonated with holy week themes. Notably, Laura Ingraham picked up on Easter implications. At the start of her week vacation, she tweeted out Psalm 143, a Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies, reminding her followers of the true David, forefather of Christ.

For thy name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In thy righteousness bring me out of trouble!

Even the KrisAnne Hall and her husband at Liberty University picked up on the irony. They commented that David Hogg, a puppet of anti-constitutional forces, is “driving his generation over a precipice.”

Phoenix - sized

So. Where does all this leave us now? In the cycles of history, are we again reaching the point of critical mass? Historians repeatedly point out similarities between the fall of the Roman Empire and the current state of the U.S. Stefan Molyneux recently described an End of the Empire.

Those on the far-left would have us believe that the U.S. Constitution is an outdated document, along with the faith of the Founders who debated it with such fierce passion.

But I would answer, The American Constitution along with its Bill of Rights represent a passion for Freedom and yes, Truth, far deeper than any historical event or physical political document. Even if  today’s brainwashed, woefully misled youth have forgotten its origins and timeless significance, the ultimate concerns of mankind, remain constant and valid — what psychologists call “archetypal.” It is underlying belief in the “American dream” of freedom — not just material wealth — that has inspired sincere aspirants from every nation to relinquish their past in the quest for a better life. (Dinesh d’Souza’s story comes to mind.)

I think about the I Ching view of the hope which remains latent even in degeneration. Just as Christ appeared at the nadir of an earlier cycle, ushering in a ray of hope, the vigilant today will recognize the seeds of possibility present, however dormant, in current ugly times.

IC 49

In this context, foresight and preparing are essential to deciding the direction of long-term outcomes. (Remember Joseph in Egypt storing grain during times of plenty, anticipating future famine.)

Further, recognizing what America’s great constitutional debate has to teach us now about immediate dangers might be helpful in building future alternative communities.

Is it time to think about a Fresh Start,” I asked OA. “After critical mass, will we begin another cycle and rebuild even better?” He answered with a silent shrug, seeming to imply, “Too early to tell. The jury is still out. Depends on . . .”

Technically, I suppose, each and every day offers us the opportunity for a fresh start. . . . one individual at a time. It’s a matter of personal choice.

So here is the immediate question. What is YOUR choice, today?

Angel Calling

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Fresh Start

 With four equally compelling bogs on the drawing board, it was hard to choose which to complete first. An article Pinned Tweeted to Jordan B. Peterson’s account boiled it down to two.

Tim Lott’s Life Spectator article, Jordan Peterson and the transgender wars, bears the subtitle, “The psychology professor is in trouble with the transgender crowd. He is also one of the foremost thinkers of our age.”

The first choice from this article echoes a book in the works, The Phoenix Response:

He [Peterson – JBP] points out that the INRI inscription on crucifixes has a mystical meaning, apart from ‘King of the Jews’ — ‘Through fire all nature is renewed.’ Which means that in order to renew your soul, you have to die and be reborn repeatedly.

The second choice, however, is closer to practical home. So that’s where I’m starting today. Besides being the eve of a projected doomsday event, Saturday, September 23. 2017 is close to the Fall Equinox, the Jewish New Year — Rosh Hashona — a new moon and to Old Avatar’s birthday. He’s seated at his work desk, mentally traveling through Otherwhere space, to outward appearances reading through a stack of James Wesley Rawles books. “Do not disturb.”

Be that as it may, according to Lott:

More than 90 per cent of his [Peterson’s] audience are men, which seems a pity since there is nothing particularly gender-specific about his teachings. Why the imbalance then?

Because these men’s stress levels are very high,’ he says. ‘I’m telling them something they desperately need to hear — that there are important things that need to be fixed up.

‘I’m saying, “You guys really need to get your act together and you need to bear some responsibility and grow the hell up.”

Lott continues:

At this point, to my astonishment, Peterson begins to weep. He talks through his tears for the next several minutes.

Every time I talk about this, it breaks me up,’ he says. ‘The message I’ve been delivering is, “Find the heaviest weight you can and pick it up. And that will make you strong. You’re not who you could be. And who you could be is worthwhile.”’

They’re so starving for that message. Young men are so desperate for a pathway that they are dying for it. And it’s heart-breaking and terrible that this idea has been kept from them. . . . Some of the young men who come to my lectures are desperately hanging on every word because I am telling them that they are sinful, and insufficient, and deceitful and contemptible in their current form, but that they could be far more than that, and that the world NEEDS THAT. [emphasis added.]

Though hardly the masculine role model young men crave, I too grieve for their plight. But young women are just as much at risk! For many of them, a gentler, yin perspective on his intensely yang presentation of universal truths is what’s needed to bring his skewed audience numbers into balance.

For my story certainly includes gender-confusion issues. Here’s a snippet excerpted from the “Who I Am To Say” section of Rethinking Survival.

The specter of suicidal thoughts haunted my up-bringing. It’s taken me over fifty years to track this demon to its lair and tame it. In retrospect, in simplest terms, I was raised in a family, reinforced by a culture, which disconfirmed my very existence.

A girl who in no way matched demeaning stereotypes — who had no desire to either cynically exploit or fearfully cave into them — was simply a non-being. She could not and should not exist. The tacit message: “Make yourself gone.”

At first I coped with less catastrophic compliance — denial. I reasoned like this: “Women are stupid, fickle and helpless. If I’m not stupid, fickle and helpless, then I’m not a woman.” I disowned the labels associated with gender and escaped into music and books.

Only later, a yogic energy understanding of the difference between feminine essence and cultural molds allowed me to rescue the baby from the bath water, reestablish an identity in harmony with the facts.

Phoenix - sized

In any case, it remains that for those on both sides of the gender see-saw, there’s a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel. Historically, at critical mass, hidden opportunities buried within danger emerge. The dedication to Two Sides reads:

Though it may seem as if [Millennials] have been economically disenfranchised by their elders, material misfortune . . . contains within it the hidden seeds of humanity’s long-term survival.

Ours isn’t the first time in the repeating cycles of history that leaders have squandered national resources. But in the context of Lao Tze’s larger reality, material resources aren’t that significant when compared to the intelligence, inner strength and inexhaustible vitality available to those who choose to access the less tangible but very real levels of inner experience.

Millennials are the ones for whom the results of the current conflict paradigm are so catastrophically dysfunctional that they have no vested interests to protect. They’re the ones prepared to move forward once again into the past, recovering the timeless treasure of . . . the Tao Te Chings wisdom.

They’ve been given the greater opportunity to . . . become the truly radical agents of genuine, positive change. [They have] the means to see through Saul Alinsky’s pseudo-radical pose, answer his twisted rhetoric, and choose the truly radical approach to change.

In work presented elsewhere, I’ve described additional teaching tools which compliment Peterson’s array. BUT . . . I’ve long since come to the conclusion that books and videos aren’t enough. For several reasons.

First, young people need direct interaction with mentors. In addition to psychological advice, they need opportunities to build practical skills. Abstract internet connections are much better than nothing. But they’re not the same as immediate, face-to-face, working relationships.

Second, young people are starved for daily, immediate working environments which support their efforts towards positive change. It’s not enough to walk away from negative pseudo-friends and exploitative employers. There has to be someplace positive, healthy and supportive to go, to live, to sink roots. . . a place where creativity is valued, honesty is rewarded, and personal growth is encouraged.

It’s not only a mental/spiritual pathway young people are starved for. Optimally, they need community: physical locations where they can gather and work together under structured supervision towards a noble goal: human survival, for example.

As it stands now, one of the major reasons many fear change is that personal transformation is the social equivalent of suicide. Too often, there are few rewards and heavy punishments associated with personal growth. In a world where old paradigms are dying, those with vested interests in the status quo are fiercely protective of “normalcy.”

My own university experience is a good example. When I entered the UW-Madison Department of Educational Administration, the doctoral thesis of my choice was “The Origin and Future of Universities.” The plan was to expand on a paper written for an Educational Policy course. It found that universities no longer meet basic student needs and advocated building alternative schools which do.

How naive. Professors married to their comfortable status quo would not allow it.

As a condition of graduation, I was obliged to conduct a statistical research study on women principals in elementary public schools – far afield from my interests in every respect. For a complex set of reasons, including that the Ph.D. credential was essential to accreditation of an alternative school – I completed the study.

Unfortunately, as “fate” would have it, I inadvertently produced statistically significant results that were just as controversial as my original thesis topic. Scratch the surface, it seems. You’ll find problems lurking just beneath.

In this case, analysis of the principal selection process showed that public school administration is a closed-shop monopoly. A pre-selection process grooms candidates who reflect the values and personal attributes of current power-holders. The only teachers who pursue administrator degrees or credentials are those who have already been quietly promised a job. Only pre-approved candidates enter the formal selection process.

Was I rewarded for exposing what insiders already knew? Not in the least!

In retrospect, this career was not meant to be. At least not yet, or as I imagined it then. Within months of my thesis defense in 1978, the rug was pulled out from underneath me. Both of the protectors who guided me safely through the politics of education disappeared. My statistics professor, who was astonished at the quality of my work, died suddenly in his sleep. The job we’d lined up was defunded. My major professor, who never doubted I’d land on my feet, no matter what, retired early and moved out of state (in large part in protest over the way his colleagues had treated me).

I was stranded, left out in the cold – with school loans to pay.

I’m not complaining, mind you. In retrospect, it was the ongoing work of an invisible, friendly hand, closing doors to open windows. But from direct experience, I well appreciate that creative people, no matter how conscientious and agreeable, are likely to find themselves excluded from thoroughly corrupt institutions. It’s simply not a match. Truth seekers and unnatural institutions are – with rare exceptions – a contradiction in terms.

I did, of course, manage to land on my feet. In turn, it has become my calling to facilitate safe landing for as many others as possible.

The alternative school I had in mind earlier was a School-Without-Walls. It would have allowed self-responsible students to define a professional goal and then select all relevant courses combined with internship experiences that furthered that goal. For example, a golfer could study everything from physiology to design and maintenance of greens to teaching golf students to acquiring the business skills necessary to run his business.

JBP speaks of a future Truth University. Yes. That’s foundational. But it’s not enough, especially because the times are growing ever more precarious, on many fronts. There’s no guaranteeing how long the infrastructure that sustains civilization will remain functional. So now I’m thinking more along the lines of monasteries established as islands of survival, community and learning during dark ages, both in Europe and Asia.

The James Wesley Rawles books OA has been browsing are much to the point. Reading these would be an excellent use of time.

Here’s the amazon description of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse:

America faces a full-scale socioeconomic collapse— the stock market plummets, hyperinflation cripples commerce and the mounting crisis passes the tipping point. Practically overnight, the fragile chains of supply and high-technology infrastructure fall, and wholesale rioting and looting grip every major city.

As hordes of refugees and looters pour out of the cities, a small group of friends living in the Midwest desperately tries to make their way to a safe-haven ranch in northern Idaho. The journey requires all their skill and training since communication, commerce, transportation and law enforcement have all disappeared. Once at the ranch, the group fends off vicious attacks from outsiders and then looks to join other groups that are trying to restore true Constitutional law to the country.

Patriots is a thrilling narrative depicting fictional characters using authentic survivalist techniques to endure the collapse of the American civilization. Reading this compelling, fast-paced novel could one day mean the difference between life and death.

One review reads:

I read this book after reading “One Second After”. [a nuclear holocaust scenario] They are two different books by two very different authors. I think it’s a very good follow-up book if you have already read that one. This book is written as a story with integrated prepper “how too” instructions.

From more points of view than can be detailed here, it is becoming increasingly evident that the collapse Rawles foresees is only a matter of time. In fact, it often seems to me as if humans and nature are in a race to see which will do us in and under first.

Who is Rawles to say? From his bio:

James Wesley Rawles is a internationally recognized authority on family disaster preparedness and survivalism. He has been described by journalists as the “conscience of survivalism.” Formerly a U.S. Army intelligence officer, Rawles is now a fiction and nonfiction author, as well as a rancher. His books have been translated into seven languages. He is also a lecturer and the founder and Senior Editor of http://www.SurvivalBlog.com, the Internet’s first blog on preparedness that has enjoyed perennial popularity and now receives more than 320,000 unique visits per week.

Interspersing JBP videos with visits to this website might be an effective way to fortify self-improvement goals. Gathering practical survival information, “real,” survival-related news and other interesting tidbits could make a significant contribution towards future positive outcomes. Today’s quote, for example is, Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophesies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.” Eric Hoffer.

Surely unknown opportunities are embedded within inevitable disasters that loom ahead. However, things are sure to go better for those who proactively prepare to meet them. This includes building viable support systems.

The model of intentional communities I now have in mind is similar to the rural one upon which my alma mater, Oberlin College, was built. Its motto is “Learning and Labor.”

For urban centers are quickly becoming death traps. If and/or when the grid goes down, it may be too late to escape. Better to get out while it is still an option. (Gives new meaning to “safe place.”) Inland locations, not too close to military bases or downwind from nuclear facilities, are preferable. Further, rural settings provide the opportunity to tune in again to nature, restoring harmony with rhythmic cycles which our forefathers took for granted.

Intentional preppers, regardless of their personal beliefs, are dedicated to restoring practical survival skills: learning how to live outdoors and off grid, work with tools to construct basic housing, farm, raise livestock, preserve food, feed and protect their families.

There’s lots of to be relearned by those willing to work in the process of sorting out their personal lives. This is a relatively gentle, voluntary way to make a fresh start, one person at a time.

book header bird

Interestingly, from the Taoist canon which Dr. Peterson greatly respects, Numbers 18 of both Lao Tze’s Tao Te Ching and its ancient great-great-grandfather, the I Ching, both speak the point in repeating cycles of time where – out of the ashes of corruption — new beginnings emerge. For it’s not only humans who crash and burn to be reborn, On larger scales of magnitude, entire communities and civilizations do as well.

Passage 18 from Two Sides of a Coin reads:

18

Hexagram 18 from The Common Sense Book of Change describes a positive approach to encroaching chaos:

18 IC FRESH START.jpg

Our collective future depends upon the quality of individual choices. Is it worth going through the testing fires of positive change to get from here to there? The choice is yours. But be aware. Failing to choose is also a choice, one with dire consequences. In any case, the time is NOW.

Jordan Peterson is doing his heroic best to tip the scales of history in favor of human survival. Clearly, he dearly hopes the young men he grieves for will choose wisely. As do I.

For those with ears, let them hear. And do.

Angel Calling

 

Coming next:

  • Yes, AND . . . .
  • The Heart Doesn’t Lie
  • Be an Instrument of Light

 

 

The Wright Connection

 

connection

On two separate occasions, I’ve recently had reason to revisit a blog about Frank Lloyd Wright originally posted elsewhere.

The first was reading about Judith Orloff being jilted because her boyfriend’s rabbi called her a witch. Contact with her deceased grandfather was judged unacceptable. Especially because — though living in Europe with no way to know that he’d died — I had vivid dream warnings from my Grandpa West at the time of his passing. It’s described in Rethinking Survival:

In another memorable dream, I spoke with my father’s father, Hubble West — the one his grandkids nicknamed “Hubba Hubba,” from whom I inherited my Native American looks. Gravely, he warned that I was trapped in a high-rise tower. I was dead and didn’t know it.

I took this troubling message as a warning that important parts of me were atrophied. I was stuck in my head, neglecting my body and failing to listen to my heart. As a result, I was in mortal danger. Later I learned that at the time of the dream, Hub had just passed. This was his parting benediction.

So, to me, the clergyman’s assumption seems most unjust. To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Orloff’s dream guidance had nothing to with witchcraft. The Wright post serves to vindicate her, putting her experience in larger context.

In brief, as I understand it, our experiences of nature or the so-called “supernatural” are pagan only if we  seek them out, especially to the exclusion of or elevating them above their deepest, original Source. Wright overtly courted the pagan god Taliesin, defiantly rejecting Isaiah’s Hebrew God. Dr Orloff’s stated beliefs, however, are completely compatible with the Positive Paradigm shown below.

The second occasion was an email exchange with friend describing a museum visit. She wrote:

Seeing a tapestry/hanging from Frank Lloyd Wright in the crafts section brought you to mind, although I’ve forgotten just how you ended up with your connection to Taliesin. Through music perhaps? The same association came to me as I listened to a talk at the Seattle public library on the history of Seattle architecture just before leaving for Boston.

I reminded her:

The Taliesin connection was music and yoga related. I was at Hill Top for a yoga retreat. It’s just down the road from Taliesin. The owner, Herb Fritz, was one of Wright’s apprentices. Also a cellist, he heard me play violin and invited me back to play chamber music. The rest, as they say, was history.

She isn’t familiar with the context of that connection, however. This Wright post also fills in those blanks for her. For example, as described below, Herb Fritz was sole apprentice to survive the Taliesin mass murder and testify about what happened.

So for those reasons, I’m posting below an edited version of the earlier LinkedIin post.

header

Frank Lloyd Wright Had It Wrong!

Why does it still matter that a century ago, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin burned, torched by an ax-wielding mass murderer?

It matters a great deal. Not because of the tragedy’s lurid details. But because Taliesin East – located in Spring Green, Wisconsin – is an important example of how NOT to organize an intentional community.

Years ago, from stories told in Spring Green at dinner tables and around fireplaces, I learned how powerful an effect Wright’s personality had on apprentices and their families. They remembered him with equal parts awe and dread. He was, so they believed, an architectural genius. He was not, they all agreed, a good neighbor or compassionate, trustworthy friend.

What I learned from those close to him motivated me to read books written by the Wrights, as well as biographies by others – notably The Fellowship. I came to the conclusion that intentional communities like Taliesin – an inherently worthy endeavor — deserve careful rethinking.

I wrote about Taliesin in a LinkedIn email exchange.

Viewing my profile, a connection (“Senior Zen Practitioner and Baseball Umpire”) noticed mention of the time I spent in Spring Green. He emailed me RE. Taliesin West:

My Mom was the Office Mgr. for 21 years…small world

To which I responded:

This particular West has never been to Taliesin, either East or West. But the tales told by scarred survivors (some of whom are very dear to me) sparked keen interest in building BETTER intentional communities. . . . I’m sure your Mom has her share of stories to tell too.

The conversation continued from there. Quoted with his permission, he replied:

“particular West.”…you are cracking me up! My Mom knew everyone, was dear friends with all of them, one-on-one teaching. survivors…you are very wise. my Mom fell down and they fired her because they were afraid she would sue them and she is hard core Catholic and would never sue anyone. . . they broke her heart. . .

Later he wrote:

i just spoke with Mom, she says everything i already told you is true, which i already knew. She said FLW was a slave driver who made the apprentices build the buildings themselves, i did not know that. She said when they cut her loose the yearly tuition was 30K.

Later I responded:

Have been giving much thought to the best ways to use limited time and energy. (Did you see the blog posted over night on rethinkingsurvival.com?)

I mention this because it applies to the article on Wright. It’s important to keep my focus on how to do things RIGHT. Exposing the dark side of Taliesin isn’t my purpose. For the tabloid dirt on FLW, you can easily read The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship by Friedland & Zellman. In fact, you can just look up the book description on Amazon along with the comments to find out all you ever wanted to know . . . and more.

Though I will add that (unless I missed it), the authors omitted a significant detail. The third Mrs. Wright was not only a student of [the so-called mystic] Gurdjieff, but bore one of his illegitimate children (Svetlana the first). Gurdjieff wanted live at Taliesin, but Wright would have none of it . . .

So, moving on. My basic purpose is to address a viable approach to doing intentional communities RIGHT. As an intermediate step in this direction – proof of the larger point — it is instructive to consider what Wright did WRONG.

Here’s my underlying premise: Paradigms are of life-or-death importance. Incomplete, inaccurate beliefs result in tragedy. Achieving more positive, sustainable results requires the foundation of a complete and accurate worldview.

Like Wright, many today strive with all their hearts to accomplish great work. Sadly, even geniuses like Wright, despite the best of intentions, undo themselves, precipitating loss and disaster. In the process, they hurt others as well as themselves. Yet they rail against misfortune as if they were randomly selected, unjustly persecuted victims of fate.

From my point of view, positive solutions start with recognizing a major source of life problems: a knowledge deficit. For example, outcomes would significantly improve by expanding one’s reality map to include three kinds of law. Each regulates its own level of the Life Wheel.

levels of law - sized

The levels are interrelated and interdependent. When they are aligned, integrated and balanced, when they operate harmoniously, all goes well. When any of the levels is left out of the equation, nothing works right. When they are out of balance, so is life. When they aren’t correctly prioritized, all hell breaks loose.

The Positive Paradigm represented by the Life Wheel is a universal standard. In this context, Wright acted without respect for the whole of life. As a consequence, he experienced repeated setbacks — as do many of today’s leaders.

Here is Wright’s attitude towards each level of law:

  • Divine Law. He rebelled against it. In his equation, the innermost level of law was ruled out. To the extent God exists, the relationship between God and man is one of mutual enmity.
  • Natural Law. Instead of God, he worshiped a romanticized version of nature.
  • Human Law. In his financial and social behavior, he demonstrated an arrogant disregard for fellow human beings, acting as if he were out exclusively for himself.

Ironically, Wright seemed to think his genius (a gift of God) placed him above the laws which ordinary mortals respect and follow. He didn’t pay bills, didn’t honor family commitments, and later in life, presumed to act as if he were a god, dominating the lives of apprentice architects.

And, as the Greeks knew, the flaw of pride – hubris – precipitates tragedy.

From his books, we know that Wright hated and probably feared the wrathful prophet Isaiah. In reaction to the failings of his preacher father, he swung to an opposite extreme – replacing worship of God with deification of nature.

He may well have had valid grievances against his biological father. He may have been correct about the limitations of conventional morality.

But (if you’ll forgive the pun), “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Taliesin (meaning shining brow) is the name of the pagan Celtic god Wright invoked as patron of his unconventional lifestyle. When Taliesin East was built, Wright had just walked away from his first wife and their six children. It was designed as a love nest to share with the married mistress from Chicago whom he felt was his soul mate.

The dynamics of ancient Natural Law (a subject altogether different from Wright’s beliefs) explain the inevitable misfortunes that plagued him throughout life. The Law of Karma (“As ye sow, so shall ye reap”), is quite straight forward. Whatever you do returns in kind.

As a simple, infallible law of nature, if you hurt and harm others, your actions come back to you, in some form or other, at some time or other. (“What goes around comes around,” as they say. Or, “Payback is a bitch.”)

In this case, Wright had remarkable (dare I say, God-given) gifts as an architect. But on a personal level, he was despised by many people, for many reasons. Not all were forgiving. Newton’s law, “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction,” caused his short-sighted desires to backfire in horrific ways.

For example, to all appearances, the mass murder at Taliesin was an orchestrated hit. The assassin, 30-year-old Julian Carlton, an estate worker originally from Barbados, was recommended to Wright by Chicago associates who just might have held grudges. Carlton himself had no motive for butchering Mamah Borthwick or her two children. He didn’t have the education to plan his carefully calculated attack on the apprentices, standing outside the only door of their burning room, ax in hand, waiting to cut them down one-by-one as they tried to escape certain death by fire.

Killing the apprentices was probably a secondary priority. Had all of them died, there would have been no witnesses to the crime. One, however, though gravely injured, survived long enough to run from the isolated rural setting and sound an alarm. A second (Herb Fritz, my Spring Green host) lived to identify the killer.

How would a simple hired man have known to purchase and pack a vial of cyanide to swallow in case he was caught? It scarred his throat so badly he couldn’t have answered questions in jail even if he wanted to. Nor could he eat. He died within a few days of capture, starved, in agony. So today, no one knows for sure who commissioned his crime.

But then again, back in the day, no one really wanted the world to know the facts. Carlton’s death was a convenience not only for the unknown master-mind, but also for Wright and his followers. Being highly invested in their image, whether for personal or financial reasons, they preferred to deny any connection between Wright’s personal life and its logical consequences. Rather than recognizing the opportunity to learn from hard lessons, Wright wallowed dramatically in his grief. Rather than take personal responsibility, he blamed a vengeful God for this (as well as the following string of repeated tragedies – including a later fire at Taliesin which destroyed newly acquired treasures of Japanese art and then the drowning death of Svetlana I).

The lessons set by his example, however, remain useful for us now. Bottom line: communities based on upside-down worldviews are tragedy magnets. They never have and never will work out well.

What remains to be seen is whether, on the basis of a complete and correct paradigm, with sufficient motivation to do things RIGHT, we can do better now.

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