“When a man is truly creative he works single-handed and he wants no help. A man acting alone, on faith, can accomplish what trained armies are incapable of doing. “–Henry Miller, AN OPEN LETTER TO SURREALISTS EVERYWHERE.
One night in 1968 walking home from the bar blind drunk I sat down in Queen’s Park to gather my wits. I was twenty-two. A fellow came along. We talked. He asked if it was okay to sleep in the park. At that time it anyone without at least $5 on their person and a place to stay could get arrested for vagrancy. As well, it was supposed to rain. I told him that then asked what his problem was. He said, “I had a fight with my father. He said if I did not like it I could leave home.”
My heart went out to him. I told him he was welcome to come home with me. He wound up becoming a very important person in my life. One day he said, “Come with me.”
We went to a party. I saw a fellow sitting on the floor with a gold covered book in his lap. I asked him what it was. He said, “It is THE I CHING.”
As he told me about it I determined to get myself a copy. I have gone through many copies of it over the years as I keep passing them on. Got to get a new one now.
I realized that if I decided to live the life it teaches people would say I was crazy. That is nothing new. People have been saying I am crazy from when I was a kid in New Brunswick.
THE I CHING teaches that the best of us serve neither kings nor princes. That meant I could not look for work. “This is going to be interesting,” I said to myself.
THE I CHING also teaches that when we trust our selves eternity finds its home in us.
Today, 46 years later, I can speak from experience. I can say that this is true.
In 1970 a friend invited me out to Hollywood, California. I went by bus taking with me a copy of THE NEW TESTAMENT which I had found at the home of my uncle, Douglas Hartt, in Ottawa. My uncle had studied to be a priest before entering the public service where he had risen to become Director General of Public Works Canada. What I did not know when I read it was that that was a uniquely powerful translation of THE NEW TESTAMENT. I discovered that when I had to replace it after tearing it up in front of a Bible idolator when I said to him, “We can’t worship this book.”
Reading THE NEW TESTAMENT I found in it many of the ideas I had met in THE I CHING.
By the time I arrived in Hollywood I had read THE NEW TESTAMENT cover to cover five times.
“Do you know what we gave those guys from Texas,” a fellow in the house where I was staying said. He continued, “We gave them LSD in their drinks. Know what we have you? We gave you an elephant knock-out pill. That is something used to knock out an elephant. In a few moments you will not be able to move.”
In THE NEW TESTAMENT Jesus says, “If you trust mean they give you any deadly thing it will not harm you.”
I did not give a damn whether I lived or died so I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I composed myself, got up, walked out and kept walking until I found a place where I could be by myself until the drug either killed me or I lived through it.
I had one hell of a interesting night.
When I returned to the house the fellow who had given me the drug said, “I did not think I’d see you alive.”
“Do this to me again and you might not see another day,” I told him.
Then I went for a walk to clear my head. As I did I decided to let the wind lead me. When I got to a crossing I took my direction from the wind. I did not know it then but the word “spirit” means “wind.”
I found myself walking by a shop that sold used home movie equipment. A young man my age was asking questions the clerk could not answer. I said, Pardon me, but I work with those. Would you like me to help?”
The fellow invited me to his home.
“Would you care for a coffee?” he said. When I said I would he told me to take a seat in the living room. I did. He walked in with a mug of coffee which he sat down the arm of the big easy chair I was in. When I reached to take hold of it I saw in front of it the same copy of the Wilhelm/Baynes edition of THE I CHING which I had left with a friend in Toronto. “Don’t you want to take that with you?” my friend had said. I replied, “If I need it, it will be where I am.”
I asked my new friend, “Are you into that?”
“No,” he said, adding, “We had a fellow staying here who was into that. When he left he left it behind. We asked if he did not want to take it with him. He told us that if he needed it it would be where he was and that there was someone coming who would want it.”
I knew at once he had left it for me.
With permission I borrowed it. I spent the next few weeks in Hollywood Cemetery at the grave of Douglas Fairbanks because it was an ideal spot to meditate.
THE I CHING teaches that if we accept what it has to say we become the children of Heaven.
THE NEW TESTAMENT teaches that if we accept what it teaches we become the begotten children of God and that our birth is not by flesh, blood, nor by the will now power of men but by God.
I realized not only that both teach the same thing but also that every word in both is true.
In the East they say, “The nearer the temple the farther from The Buddha.”
In the West the same is given as, “The nearer the church the farther from God.”
Which is why you will not find me in a temple or a church.
When the attacks on myself began I was shocked by their viciousness.
Then I reflected that the God who had not acted to stop Jesus from being crucified was not going to stop these attacks on myself. Furthermore I began to understand how I could use them to make myself stronger.
A boxer needs sparring partners. If his sparring partners pull their punches because they are afraid of losing their jobs they are not doing the boxer a favor as the man he is going to meet in the ring is not going to pull his punch.
My father always stood up for people. When he needed someone to stand up for him it broke his heart that those he had stood by were nowhere to be found.
I learned from my father not to expect people to do for me what I will do for them.
The more I studied THE I CHING and THE NEW TESTAMENT the more I learned what to expect from others thus I was not disappointed by the fact that so many stand by in silence when good men speak.
By this time I had also begun to study the ideas of Native American Shamen particularly the great Sioux spiritual leader Black Elk among others.
I learned from them that after Crazy Horse came down from his vision he had said, “The world is a ball.” This is important because the world of the plains appears flat to the eye. That means he had gone up far enough that he could see that the world is not flat. He added that in a short time there would be terrible fires all over the world and that men would be brutal to women everywhere but that God was coming to judge the world. Shortly after this Crazy Horse was murdered.
I have to laugh at my attacker and at those who trough their silence empower him.
I laugh because he, despite his worst attacks, can do my no harm. I laugh at those who say silent because what else can we do but laugh at the coward.
My strength comes from THE LORD.
Let him do his worst. My house is built on rock. It can weather the storm.
This I learned not from reading books but from that hardest of all teachers, experience.
“…When at last each man realizes that nothing is to be expected from God, or society, or friends, or benevolent tyrants, or democratic governments, or saints, or saviours, or even that holiest of holies, education, when each man realizes that he must work with his own hands to save himself, and that we need expect no mercy, perhaps then…Perhaps! Even then, seeing what manner of men we are, I doubt. The point is that we are doomed…No God is coming to save us. No system of government, no belief will provide us with that liberty and justice which men whistle for with the death-rattle….What distinguishes the
majority of men from the few is their inability to act according to their beliefs. The hero is he who raises himself above the crowd…To get men to rally round a cause, a belief, an idea, is always easier that to persuade them to live their own lives.
“The role the artist plays in society is to revive the primitive, anarchic instincts which have been sacrificed for the illusion of living in comfort…
‘”I came not to bring peace, but a sword!’ said the great humanitarian. That is not the utterance of a militarist, nor is it the utterance of a pacifist; it is the utterance of one of the greatest artists who ever lived. If his words mean anything they mean that the struggle for life, for more life, must be carried on day by day. It means that life itself is struggle, perpetual struggle. This sounds almost banal, and in fact it has become banal, thanks to the frog-like perspective of Darwin…
“For my part, I will say that whatever else I may want, I know I don’t want work. To live as an artist I stopped work some ten or twelve years ago…Naturally I was not paid to stop work and live as an artist…if one chooses to live his life in his own way he must pay the penalty…I need no leader and no god. I am my own leader and my own god. I make my own bibles. I believe in myself-that is my whole credo.
“…My books are banned in the only countries where I can be read in my own tongue. I have enough faith in myself however to know that I will eventually make myself heard, if not understood. Everything I write is loaded with dynamite which will one day destroy the barriers erected against me.
“…I am against revolutions because they always involve a return to the status quo both before and after the revolutions. I don’t want to wear
a black shirt or a red shirt. I want to wear the shirt to suit my taste…Fuck your capitalistic society! Fuck your Communistic society and your Fascist society and all other societies! Society is made up of individuals. It is the individual who interest me-not the society.
“…Freud created a fiction which helped him pass the time away…
“So long as (man) cannot operate as a savage or less than a savage, and think as a god, or better than god, he will suffer…A man who is full of God is outside of faith…When a man is truly creative he works single-handed and he wants no help. A man acting alone, on faith, can accomplish what trained armies are incapable of doing. To believe in one’s self, in one’s own powers, is apparently the most difficult thing in the world…Whenever an English artist of any value has arisen he has been marked as Public Enemy No. 1.” This is just a brief excerpt. The complete text can be found in THE COSMOLOGICAL EYE by Henry Miller).
The history of the human race has always been, that the theorists (priests) of one generation collect examples and make rules out of them from the lives of the preceding generation, which did not know it was making rules.
“So we shall let the reader answer the question for himself, ‘Who is the happier man? He who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed?”– Hunter S. Thompson (FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS) in his high school year book at 17.
“The child sees more clearly than the adult (who has already decided what he will and will not see),” writes NAKED LUNCH author William S. Burroughs.
“We have the seed of God in us,” writes Meister Eckhart, “Pear seeds grow pear trees. Hazel seeds grow hazel trees. God seeds grow God.”
Let the storm rage. Let my adversary (the word “Stan” means “the Adversary”) cover every telephone pole in the city with his smears. In the end the poison stewing in his heart will poison him. Let him continue to send me anonymous emails saying I will burn in Hell. Let the anonymous messages be left on my phone. Let those who stand by in silence stand by in silence for we can not gather grapes from thistles so why should we expect to?
Every artist understands the need for self discipline. We either master our brush or we do not. Truly great artists learn to allow the mistake to lead them. That is why James Joyce said, “The man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are ones of volition and open new doors.” It is also why Jean Cocteau said, “Whatever the world condemns you for, make it your own. It is yourself.”–Reg Hartt (Proudly Public Enemy Number One).
I discovered THE I CHING by chance which is at it should be.
Reg Hartt when he arrived in Toronto broke and homeless. Until One Is Committed
Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills
countless ideas and splendid plans:that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. –W. H. Murray, THE SCOTTISH HIMALYAN EXPEDITION.
JANE JACOBS, whose books from THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES to her last, DARK AGE AHEAD are must reading, was a regular at my Riochdale College screenings. I sent her a copy of my publication, THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED ROCHDALE COLLEGE. She sent this fan letter in return. Not too many people have a letter like that from her.
The legendary Al Aronowitz at The Cineforum. Al introduced Bob Dylan to Allen Ginsberg and me to New York when I did a presentation at the famed Thalia Theater. We became friends in 1981. Al was epic. We became friends in 1980. He was an awesome friend and teacher.
I first met John Kricfalusi when he was in first year animation at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. John came to my animation festivals. He asked if we could do programs at Sheridan and we did. Today John writes that everything he needed to learn about animation he learned through my programs.
I met Bruno Weckerle by chance the night his father told him, “My way or the highway.”It was a meeting that changed my life forever for the better. Through Bruno I discovered THE I CHING.
Grim Natwick created Betty Boop for the Max Fleischer Animation Studio. He was principal animator on the character of SNOW WHITE for Walt Disney. Viewed by his peers a the finest animator ever of the human female form and character he was looked at by young students animators with contempt. “Grim is senile,” many told me when I announced I was bring Natwick to Toronto.