Thursday, May 5, Dr. Winifred Barton turns 93.
Most of you have never heard of her.
I certainly hadn’t when I walked in on a meeting hosted by her in 1968.
“If you are interested in that there is a group meeting you should check out tonight,” said the girl to whom I gave my money after purchasing a book on the occult in an Anglican Church Used Bookstore in Ottawa.
That night I dropped a hit of acid. Then I walked to the address I had been given.
The near empty room I walked into soon filled up with about one hundred or more people. I sat in the back row the better to scan the proceedings.
A woman got up, introduced herself as Dr. Winifred Barton, and began to speak. She told us an ancient Atlantean spirit had dictated books through her. She pointed to the books. She spoke for about an hour. While she did I looked around the room at the others sitting there. A fellow on my right seated by the exit door when he caught my eye on him did like people do in the transformer beam on the TV series, STAR TREK. He faded from view.
I kept an eye on that spot. I saw him two more times.
There was a break at which point I walked up to Dr. Barton, introduced myself and told her what I had seen.
“Wait here,” she said leaving the room.
She came back with a photograph.
She asked, “Is this the man?”
I said, “Yes.”
She said, “He is the caretaker. He died yesterday. Where you saw him was his favorite place to sit during our meetings. Would you like to speak to the group after the break?”
How often does THAT happen?
A stranger walks into a meeting and is given the podium to address the assembled?
That never happens.
Well, it did once.
It happened to me.
I spoke for about an hour. When I had done everyone invited me to become a member of their group.
For about a year I hung out with them. I learned about ESP, had out of body experiences, saw auras, the whole nine yards.
To say it was an interesting year is to put it mildly.
At the end of the year I returned to Toronto where I briefly ran a program at Toronto’s Rochdale College. I had been invited to show my films there by Judith Merril and Bernie Bombers when it first opened in 1968. I had no interest in LSD until one night in Rochdale I was given some. I realized that everything I had heard and read in the media about LSD was a complete fabrication. I also realized that until the moment I dropped acid I was literally blind and deaf to the world around me.
When I get interested in something I research and study it. My research taught me what really happened when The Buddha ate the fruit of the bodi tree and became enlightened.
A bodi tree is a fig tree. Through his long fasting The Buddha had lost weight. As well his teeth had become loose. He could only eat food that was decayed so that it was soft. Rotten figs produce ergot. Ergot is natural LSD. The Buddha tripped. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergot )
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since that moment in 1968 when I found out for myself that life as we know it is but a pale shadow. As St. Paul wrote, “We see as if through a glass darkly.”
We are in a time that worships hypocrites. We pay vast amounts of money to people whose only virtue is that they lie exceedingly well.
Hypocrite is the Greek word for actor.
We pay fortunes to movie stars who stand on chalk lines while speaking the words written for them.
That is all they do.
In the old days stunt people did the hard stuff. Today CGI (computer generated images) takes over.
We live in the world seen by Plato in his vision of the cave. We look at shadows, moving shadows.
Don’t get me wrong. I love movies. Always have.
Today people think standing on a chalk line reading lines is a goal to aspire towards.
When ever was being a fake thought being the least bit heroic except now?
On the money most of us could live a lifetime with actors move from movie to movie.
The same with entertainers.
When we shower the people with the songs they want to hear they shower vast amounts of gold back at us.
This is for low level poets as Robert Graves writes in his book, THE WHITE GODDESS which is not an easy book to read though it is a vital one.
Our great poets were driven from the realms in which they lived. Often they were murdered.
It is forgotten that Aesop was not a teller of fables for children but rather a poet whose tongue lashed like a whip across the backs of the hypocrites who eventually murdered him.
There is nothing wrong with being an entertainer. Nor is there with being an actor.
It is wrong, however, to confuse those who play at being with those who are what they appear to be.
This week I stumbled upon the film WALT BEFORE MICKEY. In it is a soul crushing scene where the young Disney has his desk top slammed down on his wrists by his teacher for drawing cartoons in his school text book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAqdGI_U-MU&feature=youtu.be ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8UVLgBJtfU ) .
Too many, far, far too fucking many have had their souls crushed by our schools. The young native Americans seeking retribution from the schools that singed their souls have legions of Non-Native American brothers and sisters.
On the morning of May 23, 1981 I felt an explosion of pain in my chest so fierce it was crippling. With it came an overwhelming need for the arms of my mother. I learned years later that when young men are killed in combat they have an overwhelming need for the arms of their mothers. This tells me why mothers know the moment their children are killed in war.
I was living with my sister in Hamilton. I had all of my gear stashed in her basement.
In 1980 everyone I knew began turning against me. In April of 1981 I decided to shut down completely, take the summer off and restart in the fall in one of two places I had been invited to work.
My sister said I could store my stuff at her place. Her husband and my two youngest brothers Michael and Mark came in to move my stuff.
Michael literally had a skull, a death mask, marked on him. I said to myself on seeing him, “That boy is not long for this world.”
On the night of May 23, 1981 at my sister’s we were watching a movie on television. It ended with the main character putting a rifle in his mouth.
The phone rang. My sister got up to answer it.
When she returned she said, “Something terrible has happened to our brother.”
On the television screen the man we were watching had his head explode as he pulled the trigger.
The police had found Michael’s body in a baseball park. He had killed himself that morning.
Following Michael’s funeral my family had me placed in McMaster Psychiatric Hospital.
There, on my 35th birthday, my sister brought in a cake.
As I was cutting into it the head psychiatrist came up. He asked, “Do you know what is wrong with you?”
I replied, “Nothing. I am on time. I am on schedule. I am right where I am supposed to be.”
My words, of course, were pure madness to him.
“There will come a time when everyone you know will turn against you. You are going to celebrate your 35th birthday in a psychiatric hospital after you lose someone very close to you. Do not worry about it. When you come out you will become the richest man on earth,” a fellow I had met in a bar told me one night when I was nineteen.
Drinking age then was twenty-one. I had not let that stop me.
On June 12, 1981 what I had laughed at years before had come to pass.
I was forced to realize that life as we know it, as we experience it really is a thing we see through a glass darkly.
I had asked on going into the psychiatric hospital not to be given drugs. I was told I would not be.
On the first morning when I insisted on not being given medication security guards were called. I was forced to take my medication. I was then stripped naked after which I was locked in a room with a huge glass bubble in the door so that staff could look in without opening the door. The lights were left on twenty-four hours a day. I was in that tomb three days and three nights.
On the fourth day I was let out.
By the time I found I could leave staff told me it would take years for the effect of the medication I had been forced to take to wear off.
No one gave me permission to leave.
Foolish people measure wealth by the possession of material goods.
The word “wealth” means well being.
As we learn daily those who possess much material goods are not well at all.
They are hardly wealthy.
True wealth can be measured only by what we have inside us for what we have within us passes with us when we cross over into eternity.
This morning I woke up thinking about Dr. Barton. For several weeks now I have been thinking about my brother, Michael.
He wrote a little poem the night before he ended his life:
Poem By a Young Man About To Kill Himself
I will look upon the evening star
And when you see it, think of me as not far
For in that twinkle, there I shall dwell
In the reaches of immortal Hell.
For I’ve been bad and my last sin
Shall cause me always there to dwell in.
In my quest I do desire
The open challenges of eternal fire.
I wish you luck and never shame
For you to receive that I am the blame.
Never think what you could have done or try
Because I was only borne to die.
Fair lady, I hope weep you not
For I am where I can’t be fought.
Whether for fun or for joy
My best wishes to you I employ
Go to school and do your best
And in that you may find your quest.
Forget me …and always be glad
I would hate to see you sad.
Do not grieve me and don’t ask why
This is my way to say goodbye.
–Michael Hartt, May 22, 1981.
A fellow I met through my programs had a mother who took her own life. His psychiatrist told him they do it so that we won’t forget them. I c an not say that is why people kill themselves. Frankly, I do not for a moment accept that it is. Nonetheless, it is true that I can not forget my brother nor do I wish to.
The year everyone began to turn against me I happened by chance to read a series of articles in newspapers and magazines that said passing through a divorce is like the sudden suicide of a close family member.
My partner of seven years announced in 1980 that he was leaving. What I learned was that to justify their departure the person leaving first murders the person they are splitting from in their mind. They do this by finding fault with their partner. It is we who have failed not them.
As we ask ourself why they left the answer we get may and often does cause us to kill ourself.
At the same time that my partner was leaving me my brother’s partner was leaving him.
Jean Cocteau: “Americans, admit a superfluity lightens the soul. Luxury is a noble virtue that must not be confused with comfort. You have comfort. You lack luxury. And don’t tell me that money plays a part. The luxury that I advocate has nothing to do with money. It cannot be bought. It is the reward of those who have no fear of discomfort. It is a pledge to our own selves. It is food for the soul.”
One day in April of 1981 my partner and almost all of those I had thought friends gave me an ultimatum. They said that if I accepted psychiatric help they would stay.
I thought of what I had been told so many years before of celebrating my 35th birthday in a psychiatric hospital. I was determined that this prediction NOT come true.
I said to them, “Goodbye.”
As they walked out of my life I opened the copy of THE NEW TESTAMENT that lay before me.
In it I read, “If you walk with me your father, your mother, your brothers, your sisters, everyone you know will turn against you. If you continue with me you will possess your self.”
In that instant I knew that until I possess my self I possess nothing. I realized also that my self is all that I can possess.
The word “soul” means at its fullest “self.”
As I thought about self possession I realized that theoretically it should be possible for us to possess ourselves right down to the essence of the dust of which we are made.
Jesus said to those who desired his death, “You do not take my life. I lay it down. I will pick it up.”
These trials, these tribulations we pass through are vital to our soul.
For the last fifteen years, which you know if you have been following my posts, one man has done everything he can short of getting a gun and pulling the trigger to murder me.
Yet everything he has done and continues to do only serves to make me stronger.
He who desires my death has done the most to ensure my life.
In researching Dr. Barton this morning I found more than a few things that are disturbing. I found that she dumped her husband in favour of a much younger man who for a time became her lover and then her husband until he left her for a younger woman.
I learned that she vanished for a time. When she returned she said she had been abducted by aliens. Had she? I don’t know.
What I do know is that in the fall of 1968 I walked into a meeting she was hosting where I saw for the first time visible proof that the life we lead here is but a prelude.
“Have you ever had your heart broken?” a young man once asked me.
I laughed as I replied, “What do you think hearts are for?”
Too many are afraid to have their heart broken.
Before we can be born again we have to die.
I have died a thousand, thousand times.
Like the Phoenix I rise from the ashes renewed, made stronger, eager to once again have my heart broken.
I have one life. I live it forever.
Long ago I rescued my brother from the fire he had been taught to believe he would dwell in forever.
My sister, Linda, watched me leave her behind for two years.
Finally the day came when I took her to school.
She was dressed in her best. She was full of joy.
At noon I went to bring her home.
Her face was red from crying.
She had been called to the office where the principal told her she was a bad girl.
She was given the strap.
Think of that little girl of six as once again you watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAqdGI_U-MU .
The French thinker Montesquieu wrote, “We get three educations. The first comes from our parents, the second from our schools, the third from life. The last makes liars of the first two.”
When I was six my first grade teacher told us to draw stick figures of men and women.
While the others drew the standard stick figures I drew men with cocks and balls, women with breasts.
When she saw them she said, “You are an artist.”
In grade two seeing my stick figures my teacher said, “You have a dirty mind.”
She beat me.
That beating was the most important thing that ever happened to me.
I refused to cry. I refused to draw what she wanted me to draw.
I warn you. Stay the fuck away from me.
I have a dirty mind.
If you don’t too bad.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Winifred Barton. You are on time, on schedule and exactly where you are supposed to be. So to, Sue, are you.
As for myself, I am wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of avarice.
Jean Cocteau: “Whatever people criticize in your work keep it. Whatever the world condemns you for make it your own. It is yourself.”
We have more than enough Keanu Reeves, Matt Damons, and the rest. We have more poets than we need who sing for gold.
Yet neither Keanu nor Matt should concern themselves for they are on time, on schedule and right where Eternity wants them. Fall all that, so is the one determined to destroy me.
What we have a shortage of are real heroes. To be one all we have to be is our self. Of course, no one will pay you millions to be yourself. They will, however, pay Keanu Reeves, Matt Damon and the rest millions to pretend to be you. Go figure. Copies in this world are more valuable than originals in the short run. In the long run, originality counts most.–Reg Hartt. 05/03/2016.