To Lois D., July 1989
I seem to lead a pretty fast life, never quite enough time for contemplation, for friends, for talks and words, which are not connected with some sort of business, be it alternative schools or Paul and Edith Geheeb or computer programs or something like that. Well. Before I crawl into bed and hide from all business for a few hours I want to at least say hello. Hello! I am still alife and active, as you can tell from this letter. I am sitting in my room with its wooden floor, its window, with the tick-tick-tick of my alarm clock in the air, with my friend and roommate sleeping next door. I have been cleaning up my place these days, I have put braille labels of all cassettes which began to pile up higher and higher on my desk and I put them away, where they belong - into the different music and book corners or where ever they had to go... My room feels good now, and I am sure the little palm tree in front of my window likes it too.
I am looking forward to the end of this week, when I will be back and ready to dig into my work once again after so many weeks of hectic travels and too many different things to do. - "My work" is at present the biography of Paul and Edith Geheeb, a project that I have pursued for quite some time now, working at it, whenever I had a few days with nothing else to do. Since last October this project has become my main work and my main source of income. The amount of work involve in the project (research, reading, getting publishers interested, corresponding with archives and, last but not least, writing) is enormous; the amount of money I get for what I am doing is not; it's enough however to keep myself alive, to feed my and to buy the things I need and want.
You may have heard that the alternative school book, that I was working on when we met two years ago, came out last November; I compleated the manuscript last summer after almost three very interesting and rewarding years, during which I have learned quite a lot, not only about alternative schools, but also about writing, about publishing, about history and about organizing people, who seem to have a common cause. The Geheeb-Book has not yet been as satisfying as the alternative school book, but I hope that this will change within the next two or three months, when I will finally leave the research stage and get into the actual writing of the story. Besides the book-making business I have continued to work with groups, but I have reduced this kind of work considerably last year and I am glad I did! I am still not very happy with my group‑leader-identity -, too many fears and doubts, maybe too many and too high expectations onto what I should do and be as a "group‑leader" -, I don't really know. It just doesn't feel comfortable yet.
Tomorrow I will leave for Ins, a nice place somewhere between Bern and Biel. There is an alternative school in Ins, somewhat similer to the Ecole, and they organize a conference on educational issues every summer. I have participated at one of those conferences some four or five years ago and I have decided to go their once more, not only because the theme of the conference (school under criticism or something like that) interests me, but also because I like the way the week long happening is organized: lectures in the morning, discussion groups in the afternoon, concerts and other nice things in the evening and all kinds of artistic and handicraft activities to counterbalance the headwork and talking (at least two or three hours every day!). When I was in Ins last time I was carving stone; this time I might work with clay or (if that's possible) with wood! I am very curious as to how the five days will be this time and I am especially looking forward to the crafts and arts part, because that's something I really miss in my present life!
Another new experience is the computer I got last december: so many new things to learn, such a strange world for a stubbern humanist and philosopher as I am: clear command, tons of either / or decisions, a lot of emphasis of quantitative productivity and visible efficiency and speed, everything very upbeat and futuristic. Technology will do it for you and us! Get yourself the news "how to be happy" or "how to write to your friends" program, load it into your most powerful and modern personal computer and everything will be just great!!! Life is only a question of hitting the right key at the right moment ... - That is the feeling I get when I look at the way, computers and computer programs are being marketed and sold. These computers are certainly a good way of getting ever more deeply involved into the rat race of todays money-making society, another weppen to fight with in the civil war between those, who are making it and those who are not... - Well. I got such a machine with a special braille adaption after having said no to it for some years. It does in a way facilitate my work; since the thing is portable, I can also move my entire study, with all my notes, all addresses etc. from one place to another without any problem. I don't have to carry seven suitcases from Basel to the Hasliberg, when I want to work up there for some time. I can share my notes with whomever I want, without having to transcribe them from Braille into "normal" script first and so on. Many "advantages" - and a big loss at the same time, for who knows why seven suitcases and the trouble of transcribing is necessarily something bad? - Well, however. I got the thing and I enjoy playing with it, learning how to work it, getting to know the specialties of my programs and so on. Whenever I am bored with Geheeb, whom I know so well in the meantime, I turn (with a bad conscience and guilt feelings afterwards) to my computer and enjoy the newness of everything in this world!
My social life is interesting, although at times I still miss the great love affair and the complete happiness that comes with (as they keep saying). If it did come, I would certainly not oppose it, but ... - My roommate, Urs, has become a real good friend since we have begun to share the apartment at Landskronstrasse with each other. Life with him is really good: good talks, a lot of mutual understanding, sharing of dreams, hopes and fears, a lot of tolerance toward each other, a lot of openness not only for the good and nice sides within us, but also for the strange and difficult, asocial and complicated emotions and reactions in us. Yes. I am very thankful for having encountered him again (we have known each other before) just at the time, when I was looking for a new place to live
My renewed connection with the Ecole is also quite rewarding: somehow I really love the idea of this school and I love the kind of community-life I have experienced upthere in my times, and I will jump into the full Ecole experience once more in September, combining or at least trying to combine my academic work for the school with the role of a part-time family-head and giving up the role of a guest, which I have played since last October. I am curious, whether the experience will be different from what it was 10 years ago and I am somewhat uncertain how well the intensified involvement up there will go together with my attachment to Basel and to my life here, the friendship with Urs and the relationships to my other friends down here ...
I was just checking my watch: almost 4 a clock in the morning! I really got into it: the friendly "Hello" across the Atlantic has become a full grown letter, I'm afraid! And I haven't asked you one word about all the things, which are going on or could be going on in your life or about the things, you'd wish to go on in your life! - I do know very little as far as you are concerned and almost nothing as far as Steven, Kevin and Amie are concerned (I hope I didn't misspell all their names!). - How are they and how are you? How and where (Eugene? Between both???). How has life been for you these last few months? This year? Last year? My last memory of you involved you, Dan and Amie, a restaurant, good food, Berkeley, Harmonic Convection, your good old BMW, my return with Dan and Amie into down town San Francisco and your return to the farm, the kitchen, the trees and the people, the bells and the beach there, beyond the northern hill... - I would love to hear from you. If you feel like writing or talking onto a tape, do it one of these days! If you feel like writing to my parents, I would enquire there. I am really interested to know, how you have been, since we have seen us last!
If you do get a chance, say hello to the "kids"; I wonder, what they are doing? Say hello to the old house in Eugene, too, if the old relationship to it is still there and say hello to those, who still remember me, if there are any left - Joy Poust, Roberta Richards, Gerry Diller ??? - I hope to hear from you! - much love, Martin