Thursday, April 14, 2005

Favorite Authors/my early heros

A recent e-mail from Eric, made me realize that I neglected several authors in my profile. I don't often think of one of my very first heroes as an author but Bill Moyers as well as being / having been one of the most important journalists of our time (mostly on television) has also written several books.

My very first hero was Carl Sagan. I went to see him speak twice. The first time I was nine, at that time I picked up a little from the talk but became infinitely interested in the cosmos because of the great pictures. The second time I was eleven and that's when he became my hero. I watched "Cosmos" before my dad and I went and had prepared a list of questions for the q&a.
Dr.Sagan answered all six of the questions I had in his presentation but I came up with a few more and when I got to asking him I warranted a blurb in the Detroit Free Press to the effect of "watch out Magic, Sagans the new hero" because I told Dr.Sagan he was my hero. And he was and still is. He made a clear enough lecture that I came out with a firm, laymens understanding of celestial mechanics.

When I was twelve I had a class project about myths. The topic I chose was the hero journey. I used "The Power Of Myth" as my main source. In it Bill Moyers interviewed Joseph Campbell. I have read Campbell and found him relatively dry and dull, but Bill managed to format a brilliant interview in which he made Campbell's work come alive.

I also read Orwell's 1984 that year (I actually first found that copy in 1984 but it was a little to heavy when I was 8) which led me to attempt to tackle Thomas Moore's "Utopia" with only moderate success. Then six months later I read Huxley's "Brave New World." I then wrote a paper entitled "The Anti-Utopian Novel - A modern fable" for my seventh grade english class. I knew nothing about Aldous Huxley at the time and even less about Orwell. The premise of my paper was that the social warning about the likely consequence of the "ideal society" would be the loss of the "sacred experience." I hypothized that both Orwell and Huxley were in fact writing a defense for Christianity. I got a D. My seventh grade english teacher marked me down for making up a word in the title, then basically told me I was wrong. She was a fundy and I think she mistakenly thought I was bashing Christians.

Reading Huxley's "Heaven and Hell" and "The Doors of Perception" at fourteen naturally led me to investigate mescaline. I knew less than nothing about hallucinogens and didn't firgure out for over a year that this and the psilocybin mushrooms I actually managed to get were in the same category as the stickers that had LSD on them that we heard about on the 700 Club. I had a friend in my first hour english class who lived on a small farm and who cultivated mushrooms in one of the barns. (his parents were hippies) I ate shrooms once or twice a week for nearly six months when I was fifteen. Then that same friend offered me some acid which freaked me out. It hadn't occurred to me that this was a bad thing, that it could be considered drug use. I had smoked pot before that but I had asked god's forgiveness. It simply hadn't occurred to me that what I had experienced on mushrooms might be sinful but I knew that LSD was cause good old buddies Pat and Ben had told me it was so and we even prayed for those caught in trap of drug addiction. I also re-submitted my Anti-Utopian paper for my sophomore english class with some minor changes in my suppositions regarding Huxley's spiritual motivations and got an A+.

Each of these people coming into my life had a profound impact on my life both individually and collectively. Individually they each made me question who and what I was in different ways. Collectively they made me question the fundamental belief systems that defined me. I love all of them dearly for their gifts but I am not always grateful.

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