Body and Mind
An Interview With Stephen Gaskin
We’re becoming so bland now, and I really pray that we get to see another burst of energy. When the sixties happened, it lifted me up and blew my mind and informed my consciousness in a way that was a million times heavier and more interesting than anything I’d experienced before. I think it did that for many people. And now, knowing that such a thing can happen, I can just sit here and wait for it — like “Yeah, here it comes again!”
Monday Night Class
Sixties icon and self-styled “nonviolent social revolutionary” Stephen Gaskin died this past July at the age of seventy-nine. Gaskin was a prominent figure on the countercultural scene in San Francisco in the late sixties and went on to found the long-running intentional community the Farm, which is still thriving in rural Tennessee.
The oaks and the pines, and their brethren of the wood, have seen so many suns rise and set, so many seasons come and go, and so many generations pass into silence, that we may well wonder what the ‘story of the trees’ would be to us if they had tongues to tell it, or we ears fine enough to understand.
I met Dabber Jansen in 1979 on a trip to Arcata, California, to see my ex-girlfriend, who was his girlfriend at the time. He was at work driving a truck for Eureka Fisheries when I arrived, and my ex warned me before he got home that Dabber was a redneck. To my surprise, the “redneck” turned out to be a self-styled radical intellectual, like me.
Behind the restless movement of the mind is the stillness of being, the stillness that has no name, no reputation, nothing to protect. It is the natural mind.
Today I walk the shoreline only in my mind, when I so wanted to walk by the sea, to feel the wind, to walk through the stormy weather, unafraid. I’m “being held,” I heard them say. For my “protection.” My body and the rest of me, aged eighty-seven years, sit in a tiny cell with whitewashed walls. I might pretend this to be a cubicle inside a monastery were not the devil wailing in the corridor, making free with a man’s body, crying with his voice a pagan slander on the day, possessing a man he’s bought at some slave auction where souls are up for sale. The devil buys the soul and gets the body in the bargain.