Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 12
SPREAD JOY
September 1975

Everyone in the world is unique - this is what we all have in common our uniqueness!

I contend that everyone is unique and that this simple concept has enormous implications. There has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone exactly like you. Ponder this. Each person is living a unique life, each person is having unique experiences. If this is so, what might we conclude?

Firstly, let us explore "value judgements". We all make them all the time "Was it a good movie?" "No, it was terrible'" "Have you read any good books lately?" "She is a beautiful woman," etc etc. Now what does this mean really? In the case of the movie-goer, it simply means that he/she did not enjoy the film. It does not mean that the film itself is bad per se. You or I might find the same film stimulating. Therefore it was a valuable experience for us, it was not a waste of our time; it was then a good film. But a film is a film is a film. It contains no value as such, it is us who give it a value. Our perceptions of the film experience. But none of us go into the cinema as virgins; we carry all of our past experiences with us. One can conclude then that all value judgements are a product of our experience. We also acquire our values through school, family, religion, and other sacred institutions. This brain-washing also falls under the overall category of experience. Now we have a chicken and egg situation. Is it because we are all unique that we have unique experiences or because we all have unique experiences, we are therefore unique? No matter, my conclusion is the same: all perceptions are invariably subjective.

Our schools. governments, religions, and other institutions all attempt to teach us "their" values, and because the "sheep syndrome" seems to characterize a great deal of human behavior, we fall victim to their authority. One is either a very brave individual or a fool (another value judgement) to stand alone; to stand away from the majority. These institutions teach us to distrust our perceptions and our experiences, rather instead to listen, respect and obey the authorities, whoever and wherever they are. And in this way, most people have their curiosity and personal taste buds nipped long before puberty. One could almost suggest (in an Orwellian Doublethink sense) that this is the main purpose of our school systems - since schools kill creativity and induce submissiveness. One could also argue that the so-called Drop-Out is the real scholar; he/she has decided (implicitly perhaps) to escape this often suffocating brain-washing and to return to real life, real experience. McLuhan suggests that the child slows down his/her rate of learning when it enters the classroom. I agree, but also suggest something even more pernicious. It is not only the child's rate of learning at stake, it is the seemingly systematic destruction of the child's curiosity and independent value-judging faculties.

Children are taught not to trust their experience (and to make their own value system), but rather to accept teacher's values unconditionally. This seems to be the case no matter what the political,national or religious school system; it seems to be in the very nature of the institution itself. This homogenizing effect of our institutions creates for me anyway a number of inherent dangers. First, there is the myth that we are really all the same, we are a tribe, we are a people with distinct goals, with the same objective values. And in a sense, the institution creates a group self-fulfilling prophecy. Not only does the group believes these objectives, they seem to need to believe them. It gives meaning to their lives. Not only am I an American (or French, German, Italian, etc etc ad nauseam), I am also proud of it! My country right or wrong!

Yet if everyone really is unique, it follows that everyone is an earthling, everyone is a country, everyone is Sovereign.

What we now call America was once a great nameless land mass. Then the small nomadic tribes were inundated by people from all parts of our world. Then slowly but surely new institutions were created; these institutions shared and formed a national consciousness, and the American was born.

"We shape our tools and our tools shape us" (again McLuhan). We also shape our institutions (and our language) and our institutions (and our language) shapes us. And in this sense, we are conditioned and trapped by them. But we often forget that we can change our tools, stretch our language. Sure I am a product of my environment but I can also be a producer of it as well!

And here we are at value judgements once again! Who decides (and for whom) what is a "good" change and what is a "'bad" change?

Classically, it has always been POWER who decided. "I am right"(re The Middle East, any majority/minority conflict, etc). "No, we are right." 0k, then: BANG BANG "Now you see, we were right after all..." Needless to say, it is about time we created new ways to settle our conflicts.

All of the above is the heart of the intellectual crud that has been tossing around in my head for some time now. Some of you have listened to bits and pieces over the years. The seemingly never to be written opus is still entitled "In a Strange Kind of Way, Everyone is Right"; scribbled notes can be found piled in every corner of my room. The book is a plea for more humility, for more sensitivity, for more consideration of the other person's point of view; it calls for an end to dogma and dogmatism, and an end to confrontation politics and violence. If everyone sees "it" from a unique point of view, surely this calls for tolerance and respect of everyone's point of view. Therefore I conclude with the conviction that the world needs, now more than ever, RESPECT. Every individual craves it; all living things deserve it. So do your bit: try to respect Planet Earth and all who dwell on it...

Buckminster Fuller has an interesting question: "On Spaceship Earth, no operating manual was provided." In other words, who makes the rules?

Now this is a newsletter, so perhaps it is not inappropriate to provide some. Since my last one (about a year ago), there have been the usual mad projects, trips, and adventures. I have just returned to Paris from a six week trip te the US of A. With Jesper (who I co-produced some 13 years ego), we visited family and friends in Houston, Shreveport, Fayetteville, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. (There may not be a heaven or a hell, but there sure is a San Francisco!) We both had a great time (and all of you reading this who contributed, let me say thank you again!). It is sad to realize that we cannot live a number of simultaneous lives in different cities around the world. But it was good to visit old friends and to make new ones!

Our printing and publishing venture - The Almonde Press - is more or less established. Founded by Will Reed and myself almost a year and a half ago, we are roughly divided into a printing and a publishing half. Erik Lambert, Ulli Lindemann, and Paulo Sigogneau are the principal associates (i.e. more or less full time), but we welcome volunteer and part-time help. We have an offset press, plus the necessary equipment to produce posters, magazines, and books. (If you need anything printed, contact us; maybe we can do it for you.) To date, we have produced Hello, I Love You! (in English and French editions). We also plan to produce Hello in every major world language (so if you know anyone philanthropically inclined, maybe they might like to help us). We also need translators. We will publish The Spaghetti City Video Manuel, Tom Dunker stories, a series of political/philosophical postcards, and lots of other goodies. Every thing will be in English and French at least, but we also plan to put the postcards into German, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, etc (So send us your postcard suggestions). And with the co-operation of Videoheads, we hope to produce audio and video cassettes. If you would like to help us distribute any of this, you might note we welcome Home Distributors. (i.e. sell Hello to your friends and family, and take your lover or lovers to dinner on us. Better still, take us to dinner as well. Still better still: let us be your lover!) Anyway - for now - the Almonde Press lives!

Quickies: Appointed another year (surprise surprise) at the University of Paris... Attended Cannes Film Festival again (where I saw another Carol Kane winner: Hester Street)... Received a postcard from one of my favorite human beings: Joan Juliet Buck in Los Angeles which had a note attached from Carol Kane! (Every one is a Groupie!). Still trying to raise money to purchase a 20/30 room hotel in the middle of Paris. Still trying to get someone to donate and/or loan me an ocean-going liner to house my educational experiment cum Peace Institute... Still host Videoheads (their Paris base) in my basement (Home of the world smallest cable TV station!)... Jack Moore (at time of writing) is somewhere between Japan and the Philippines; Francisco Pichardo has just returned from Costa Rica; Lenny Jensen is in Teheran on a project for UNESCO. Plan to journey to Amsterdam for the presentation of the Erasmus Prise to Will Sandberg (l9th of September)... Plan to journey to Frankfurt for another Book Fair (9th-l4th October); Michael Zwerin comes too... Hope to produce my "play": "How do You Do?" this year somewhere... Am trying to write; 0K this is the end... World Passport now in seven languages... This letter-junkie needs to hear from you; write now please...

Love from Jim Haynes, Atelier A2, 83 rue de la Tombe-Issoire, 75014 Paris (535-3767)

 
Jim Haynes
September 1975

Atelier A-2,
83 rue de la tombe Issoire,
75014 Paris

 

 

 

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