Jim Haynes newsletters

Newsletter No. 20
Expectations and all that...

1976 is over. Another year of life. Another filled with people, projects, ideas, plans, friends, visitors, trips, love. Ah love! And letters. What a great way to begin a day: a hug, a kiss from a lover and a letter from someone giving forth their news and good cheer. Hooray for friends and lovers! Hooray for letters!

Looking back on '76, it is amazing how quickly it came and went. Trying to pin down the highs and the lows is almost impossible. Lots of journeys as always: to Zurich to see a dear friend, to Mollie and Martin Lehberger's to celebrate the completion of their "chateau" (in Drome) and Martin's 40th birthday, to Cannes for another mad film festival - all in the month of May; to the Avignon Theatre Festival (July); to London and to the Edinburgh Festival, and later to the Frankfurt Book Fair (Sept); London again (Nov); and ending the year with a trip to Amsterdam, Breda, and Dordrecht. In between all this there were classes at Vincennes, late night dinners and meetings at home and at the Coupole, attempts to write, to help out at the Print Shop, to distribute Hello, to keep up my end of a large correspondance, to assist Videoheads, to love, to laugh, to sing, to be. A number of projects inched forward (several books and a film script), our tiny cable TV station expanded over the garden wall, and seeds were planted for a video-cinema in Amsterdam and Paris.
What expectations do I have for '77? For sorne time now I have looked upon "expectations" as a source of un-necessary pain. "High expectations" (when we expect a lot from someone or something) lead to disappointment. "Low expectations" (when one doesn't expect nor demand anything from anyone/anything) rarely disappoints, often brings pleasant surprises. Build-up can kill. Critics can destroy. One must be aware of ballyhoo, hipe, oversell. If I hear that someone has told another that I am funny/great/superb/or whatever I panic. Then one has to try to live up to these high praises (and alas one rarely does). I prefer to understate and to personalize (i.e. I liked it, maybe you will too, but maybe you will not).
Of course let us aim for the stars. Nothing is impossible. Anything can be done. One only needs intelligence, energy, tenacity, plus connections and luck.
I regret when I fail to assert myself, to take an action. If I see someone who looks nice, lovely and/or interesting and I do not say "hello", I feel ill later. One can never know what might follow. Many people who are near and dear to me are the direct result of my asserting myself, of my saying "hello". People like to meet people if it can be done tenderly, warmly. I find public transport exciting because of the random opportunities to meet. In a Stockholm metro station some ten years ago, I asked. Birgitta Jansson for directions, and we have been friends ever since. Lynne Tillman and I met in Shakespeare & Co in 1968, and I invited her to visit me in London. Through these random accidental meetings, many people have been brought together. A meeting can be like a stone thrown into a pond, one can neyer know the full implications nor just how far the waves will go.

Here is my one sentence definition of "liberation" (the same sentence for women, men, and children): "Women's Liberation is the recognition by both women and men of the Right and the Need for each and every woman to assert herself." To assert is to take action, to take a chance, to open up, to act, to be. Of course one must be aware - as far as possible - of the ramifications of one's actions (or non-actions). This is implicit. We must develop a sense of personal responsibility. Yet we can never really know what will be the end results of our acts.
This involves value judgements: good or ill for whom and when. But we can at least concern ourselves with the various possibilities and inflict (as far as we are able to know) as little pain as possible upon others. I try, I really do, but...

Sometimes I feel that I "know" everyone; that is, if I don't know them personally, I know a friend of theirs. Sitting in the back of a Paris bus recently, I began a conversation with a lovely lady next to me. Within two stops we realized we had a common friend in New York. Suddenly two distant silent strangers were transformed into two people full of good cheer for each other. On the train to Amsterdam on Christmas Day, another conversation with a silent stranger, more common friends discovered, and later dined in Paris with new friends as a direct result of my action. Hello Anna, Hello Dominique, Hello Russell...

It is pleasant to discover that many people have read and enjoyed Hello I Love You! With some 12,000 copies in circulation (English, French and Italian), it is a secret best seller. Swedish and German editions soon. The feedback - letters and conversations - has been generally good. (Only one crank letter -- unsigned).

One woman wrote me from New Zealand that Hello had literally saved her life. Having separated from her lover, she was contemplating suicide when a friend loaned her Hello. After reading our opus, she apparently gave up the idea and wrote me a warm letter of thanks. Another, a student of mine, reported that he gave a copy to his girlfriend's husband and now the three of them are friends. Yes, pleasure instead of pain. Hello is a vaccine. Swedish and German editions coming soon. We still seek translators - any language - (for 10 or more pages).

By attempting to maintain a childlike sense of wonder, I find that I learn from most experiences, that I am rarely bored. Everything is. In itself, nothing is good or bad, it simply is. If it brings joy, it's good; if it brings pain, it's bad for me. The same thing will not necessarily be the same for you. The opposite could be the case. Only you can say. Each person is the sum total of all their unique experiences. Our value system is based directly upon our experiences. Because each person will have unique experiences, everyone will have a unique set of values. Of course we might share common values, common attitudes, but no one agrees with anyone else absolutely. There is no such thing as a "good" book, a "great" film, an "obscene" photo, a "dirty" weekend". There is simply a book, a film, a photo, a weekend. Each person perceives each one subjectively and correctly for themselves alone. We must realize this, learn to deal with it, and begin to respect everyone's right to their own opinions. Dogma and dogmatism is the enemy.

This leads me to "art" and to all the implications of that loaded term. For me, art does not exist. As a word, it is a linguistic mistake. If one takes the time and effort to trace its etymological journey through time and usage one can see how we became trapped/conned by this slippery word. (an early meaning was to trick/deceive). Today we use the word art when we often mean medium. Theatre, music, painting, film, etc. etc. are mediums for transmiting information. Everyone produces and transmits information. Some do it by talking to another, some write letters, some sing - it is all information - relevant or not/meaningful or not - to you/to me/to anyone. It may stimulate you, annoy you, thrill you, shock you, excite you - whatever - it depends always upon you. Belief in art - like belief in religion - requires an act of faith. I cannot accept either. No one is a god. No one is an artist. No more idols. Stop bowing/stop sneering. You are right for you. She is right, he is right, I am right.

 

Some quick news items: Jans Thorsen still trying to make his sex life of Christ film. Anyone wishing to support Childrens' Lib might subscribe to Valida Davila's C.S.C. Newsletter (P.O. Box 5164, San Diego, Calif 92105). Jack Moore and Videoheads busy. They taped a Santana Concert in Paris for Bill Graham. Beautiful colour, great sound. Lenny Jensen returned to Paris after two months on the road for UNESCO (Egypt, Iran, where he saw Elahe and Bijan's new son - and on to India where he met Marie-Paule Etienne and Chandrika and Francisco). Michael Zwerin recently completed his new novel and a jazz tour of Holland. He, Martine and Ben are back in the South of France. Jean-Francois Bizot's novel - Les Déclassés - recently published in Paris to great acclaim and features yours truly as one of the real characters. I am "real" also in Nicholas Albery's recently published autobiography, Rehearsal for the Year 2000, and again in Tom Wolfe's essay "The ME Decade and the Third Great Awakening" (New York Magazine and Harpers-Queen). A dinner with Tom, Germaine Greer, Anthony Haden-Guest, myself - back in 1969 - is the jumping off point for a discussion of some of my sexual ideas. My so-called autobiography crawls forward. Input please. My memory is failing me. Ricky Demarco recently celebrated ten years successful gallery operator in Edinburgh. Joan Juliet Buck back in Europe and Features Editor of London Vogue. Norma Moriceau returned briefly to London, departed with Ku Khanh and Caroline Baker for India. Ku and Caroline back, Norma in Australia (she promises to return in the Spring when it's warm again). Nu (and I) in love with Barbara Michelin (in Milano). Caroline Baker in Paris now as I write this and maybe might live here. Gunnel Feurer has changed her name back to Blomberg and departs for a "new life" in the Seychellees. Hans Feurer departs for Mexico, two week trip to take great photographs. Hiroko Goevers, Noah Hardy, Jim Hodgetts all seek apartments in Paris soon. (I am still trying to raise cash and/or a bank loan to purchase my atelier. Help!). Humbert Camerlo is now at the Paris Opera. Chantal and. Philippe Lette have a new son (Alexandro). Alexandros Lykourezos newly married and in Athens. Suzanne Brøgger's book "Deliver Us From Love" just out in USA... Xaviera Hollander - now living in Amsterdam - arrived in Paris this morning. Her welcomed telephone call got me out of bed! Anny Gruska returned to Paris after a short visit to San Francisco. I am still in love with her, and Malvina, and Carol Michelson, and Jenny Capitain (thank you Claude) and Ms Buck, Baker, Moriceau, Heuser, Blomberg, Etienne, Lindemann, etc. etc. etc.

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

 
   
   

 

Jim Haynes
January 1977

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

 

 

 

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