The Unabomber, acrylic, 58" x 48," $2500
The Unabomber's Berkeley Journal, Berkeley, CA, 1967-1969
NOTE: Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was the artist's classmate, Harvard '62, and taught at Berkeley during the same two years as the artist.
June 15, 1967 The Faculty Club The University of California at Berkeley
Professor B greeted me at the San Francisco Airport. "Look," he said in the car, "What you must do is buy a house." "A house I" I said to myself, and when he began to talk about the advantages over a period of years I knew I had "arrived." Professor B looks much younger than when he interviewed me in Ann Arbor and he claims to be a poet. He took me to the Faculty Club, dropped me off at a bank, and then I walked about the campus. I felt dwarfed, disoriented, exhilarated. I rode to the top of the Campanile but couldn't see much because of the clouds. Then at 3 I dropped by at the Math Dept, met the secretaries, was given an office with keys etc., and then Professor B drove me to the Housing Office where a woman gave me valuable suggestions. I walked down Telegraph Avenue and felt I was in Paris.
This is now Abstract Intelligence speaking. The aim of this composition will be a description by Abstract Intelligence of the entity commonly known as T. This entity T is now viewed as secondary to Abstract Intelligence. An explanation is in order. Today something important happened to T. He awoke at 9 and then began to masturbate-- much against his will and his intelligence. T believes that masturbation is a pernicious habit not only because of the vile images it conjures up but even more so because its fantasies enslave the mind. Let it be said to the credit of T that for several months now his control over the habit has become stronger so that he has been able to abstain for whole weeks. But whenever he does masturbate he feels very guilty, especially because the habit 'violates his religious aspirations. T has become a pseudo-Christian. At times he wears a crucifix around his neck. T doesn't exactly believe in the divinity of Christ, but he hopes that some day he may possess sufficient faith to return to the Church. At the present the crucifix is a symbol of his commitment to morality. It may even be considered a talisman to ward off the desire for masturbation.
T had a light breakfast today in his new apartment. Indeed, this fellow is fortunate. He is in seemingly perfect health. He now has his own place. He is an assistant professor at Berkeley, the only university in America that wetted his interest. His Ph.D. thesis is the envy of everyone who has read it. He has seemingly no problems. His intelligence, erudition, and imagination will without doubt earn him fame. When all of T's assets and liabilities are weighed in the balance, it is axiomatic that he is one of the fortunate inhabitants of the planet. But despite this cornucopia of abundance T realizes that it comes to naught. The apartment, the Berkeley professorship, the absence of problems and worries, the promising future are all merely embellishments of an ego that T now regards as his enemy. When T contemplates his ideal condition, it is not as he is now. Not homo humanus but homo Dei is his ideal in this life. As a man of erudition T realizes that the most potent force against spirituality is the ego. To have a professorship, an apartment, fame and fortune, and yet to regard these only as ephemera-- here is the mark of a spiritual athlete. After breakfast T began to read a very unusual book which disturbed him no end. It was Seeds of Contemplation by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton. T underlined several passages whose sentiments echoed his own thoughts:
Everyone of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.
This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy.
My false and private self is the one that wants to exist outside the radius of God's will and God's love-- outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.
All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality of life to which everything else in the universe is ordered.
For a year now T had been observing the dynamics of his own ego and Thomas Merton's analysis could have been his own. But the rigor and the pride of the monk's attitude began to weary him and T then took a lengthy walk along Telegraph Avenue. His mind, however, was too distracted and confused by the sights to think and returning home he threw himself on the sofa. He thought of a book he had finished a day before, Fichte's The Nature of the Scholar, and he began to ask himself certain questions: "Could it be that both Fichte and Merton are deceived, that this spiritual world they both talk about is only a figment of their imagination? Perhaps the more elevated and refined one becomes the more susceptible one grows to these fantasies. An elevated soul like Fichte's represents an historical rarity, a precious jewel to be cherished, certainly, but does he have a monopoly on truth? Could it be that the universe is so complex that truth is many rather than one? Or inversely that man's mind is so frail that truth is an impossibility?" T realized that he could travel just so far along the road that Fichte and Merton had taken and then he must stop. Symbolically T took off the crucifix from his neck and put it into his pocket. What he then realized was that there were two parts to his mind: his ego and his intelligence; and that the ego was a colossal fiction, an excrescence, a festering tumor, which had grown more and more poisonous with the passage of years, even thwarting the strength of the intelligence. If the mind watches itself and grows conversant with the tricks that the ego plays, it may soon learn how to control its inflated self. Inflated self: is it possible to do away with this entirely, to act as if the self were an object, an entity which the intelligence can govern? Here, indeed, would be a task worthy of a sage. It was because T had aimed so high that his ego had become so inflated. From birth the ego had to adapt itself and learn how to control events. It was the growth of a pragmatic collision with the environment. Dreaming of position, the ego had earned a professorship in one of the most prestigious of universities. Now that the ego's vision conformed to reality, the ego could be dispensed with. Intelligence could become Master' of the House of the Inward City and dispense harmony and light and knowledge. Intelligence studying itself-- what an ideal! As T lay absorbed in his own thoughts on the sofa, he realized conclusively that his fundamental nature was mental and that his chief interest in life lay in the study of mind itself.
Today our friend T visited Hippie Hill in San Francisco and the first sight that greeted his eyes was an irate hippie photographing the tourists. Everywhere the tourists have descended upon the hippies. The cars creep along bumper to bumper on Haight Street and almost every passenger has a movie projector or camera. What a farce! Bourgeois America now regards the hippies as just another side show. But it is a circus with a difference. The average American has to rub his eyes to convince himself that the scene is not a mirage. Are these creatures, attired in robes, in capes, in knee-high boots, their long hair and beards flowing in the wind, their necklaces and earrings twinkling as they promenade the street, really their fellow-countrymen? The average age of a hippie is between 18 and 25. Starry-eyed youngsters covered with exotic regalia and weird jewelry-- youngsters who have fled their homes and colleges-- accost the tourists for a nickel or a dime and the tourists are at a loss to explain beggars who are not middle-aged, run-down, lying in the gutter. What has gone wrong with America? Such rebellion, such defiance, such a denial of all values must have a cause more complex than an infatuation with the freedom of Bohemia. Virtually all the hippies take drugs. This is the key to their sub-culture. To read their newspapers and to listen to their conversation is to realize that they all speak a common jargon which is intelligible only if one is familiar with the effects of drugs on the personality. In North Africa where people sit around smoking hashish a whole culture has been afflicted with a plague that is now threatening to engulf America. As long as the hippies remain in their twenties, preaching the gospel of love and squandering their moments in illusive ecstasies, they seem more colorful and fascinating than the student in a library or the apprentice in a shop. But a thirty-year-old hippie is already a bum, and a forty-yearold hippie-- a contradiction in terms-- has no future but indigence.
Our friend T put his crucifix back on his neck and took the bus to San Francisco. His original intention was to attend services at the Vedanta Temple, but finding that institution closed he took a walk down Filmore Street and entered the Calvary Presbyterian Church. He took his seat in a rear pew and followed with rapt attention the service. What are we to think of these weekly conversions? Indecision? Irresolution? The skeptic could use each of these words to describe T's attitude towards his crucifix, indeed, towards Christianity itself. As if a human creature whose brain is a mere hunk of meat could possess the adamantine stability of steel! In the case of a creature so solitary as T the possibility of some larger communion and ideal possessed great attraction. Everything about the service--the Mozart and Handel, the aura of tradition, the moral upliftedness of the sermon with its references to Professor Tillich of Harvard-- was calculated to impress and inspire him. The Presbyterian Church certainly spoke his language. There was no question about the identity of their ideals. For after so many years of study at Harvard and Michigan T firmly believed that the modern secular world represented a disaster for mankind. The older T grew the more conservative he became and the more inimical virtually to all modern isms. His sap perhaps had started to run dry and the hardening of the psychic arteries had begun to set in. The interesting fact about his hour in the church was that he felt completely at home in this temple of Christ. But it was less Christ than the community itself that attracted him. Christ dwelled very far away and wrapped in a haze of moral idealism, but the community conformed to that image of an ideal society from which he was so often cut off by virtue of his obsessive intellectualism and habitual solitude. Only an act of will, he thought, separated him from permanent identity with a community such as he visited today.
But more than will separated T from Christ, as he later realized while walking through the Haight- Ashbury. Once again, despite all he knew about Christian charity, his mind played devious tricks with his ideals. In the church he gladly gave an offering when the plate was passed around. This charity was abstract and impersonal, but whenever one of the hollow-eyed and hungry hippies asked him for some change all of his bourgeois sentiments swelled up as a defense against their rebellious spirituality. Succumbing to hypocrisy and fear, he hardened his heart and passed by, deriving satisfaction from comparing their disordered appearance with his immaculate dress, their exotic tribal regalia with his Eliot House tie, and their underground religiosity with the stability of his Presbyterian affiliations. It was only later in the Golden Gate Park while on his way to the DeYoung Museum that he began to sort out the conflicting impulses in his mind that had so deviously and rapidly metamorphosed him from an aficionado of the hippies into their most implacable critic. The tapestry of his own consciousness proved an endless source of wonder and delight. It presented a picture whose dominant theme was the conviction that moral idealism can and must conquer the daemonic powers of the soul. These powers were black and unruly, undisciplined and chaotic. Wiser and more fertile minds than his had in past ages assembled with the aid of the imagination an impressive gallery of mythological characters who incarnated these labyrinthine and rebellious inhabitants of the unconscious: the Furies of Aeschylus, the Mephistopheles of Goethe, the Saturn of Goya-- these are only a few of the more imposing portraits which the mirror of art has conjured up from our souls. Without the sense of the Ideal, which is what he most admired in Christianity, human beings and even whole societies crumble before the daemonic. He knew that evil, however one may wish to define it, lurks within the heart of every man and that, though its appearance may change from person to person and from age to age, its essence remains always the same: a numb, defiant, sneering, destructive power that never ceases waging war against the Ideal. Christianity had mythologized the daemonic into Satan, and for almost two millennia the presence of Christ has served as the model of the Ideal. It was all so simple. Even if Satan and Christ were only fictions of the mind, no more real than the Furies and the Prometheus of Aeschylus, it is the supreme duty of man to conquer the daemonic, never to succumb to its beguiling attractions, and always to struggle for the Ideal. The soul of man is a battlefield on which tremendous armies wage war for the possession of our humanity.
Let's stop this nonsense, heh?
Visibly shaken and disturbed, I have just returned from Telegraph Avenue and must comment on the terrible event that just occurred. For a month now I have been coughing up nuggets of phlegm. After supper when I looked at my handkerchief there was a spot of red in a mass of green. Am I doomed? We are all doomed, but suddenly to have death stare me in the face, to realize that all my intellectual promise may never materialize, that all my dreams and aspirations may end in nothing, that I have traveled to California not to flourish but to die, to have to face up to all this changes everything. If I am doomed, then life becomes very simple. I am simply doomed.
Up at eight feeling much better and from nine to twelve I read Henri Fabre, the French naturalist. How extraordinary he was! How much stranger than fiction his writings are! While reading Fabre one line of thought popped up repeatedly: that insects function entirely by instinct ( or some motor process or impulse that we call instinct ), not by reason. A fine illustration of this thesis is the caterpillar. Could I ever forget Fabre 's description of how for days his little caterpillars, those poor unfortunate objects of scientific experimentation, walked in a circle on top of a plant pot because instinctively they always followed the thin ribbon of thread secreted from their bodies? What a saga! How strange nature is! And how dedicated an entomologist must be! His vision of the world is totally different from that of the run-of-the-mill mathematician's. The entomologist sees man in proper perspective as part of nature. If man is superior to the caterpillars and wasps by virtue of his reason, that is no grounds to identify reason with a cosmic consciousness unless the wasps in their own little world are to be described as children of God. They too function only by instinct. First they kill their prey and then bury it. If the prey is taken away, as Fabre did, the wasp still closes the empty burial chamber, so accustomed is he by instinct to follow a consistent pattern of behavior. What about the Preying Mantis? Are they the children of a benevolent deity? The females eat the males after they mate-- and so do scorpions. In the afternoon, inspired by Fabre's book, I journeyed to San Francisco to see the aquarium. I stood in the dark with my mouth open before the electric eels, the sharks, the dolphins, the octopus, the alligators, the iguanas, the giant perch, the King Cobras, the spotted flounders, big fish and little fish, fish as long as my body and as small as my little finger nail, but each with two eyes and a mouth; and I asked myself, "Why? Why in Gods name do these creatures who just function like automatons (except for the intelligent dolphins) exist?" But no answer returned from the fish tanks, only the dumb stare of the fish swimming in circles waiting for food, reproduction, and death-- the eternal round of nature that has been broken only by man's reason. Three cheers for man ! That is what I said to myself, feeling very free, as I walked by the hippies in Golden Gate Park.
In the morning while looking out the kitchen window I saw a spider web about four feet high attached to a tree. Certain spiders such as the Lycosa prove by their behavior that reason is absent from their make-up. The Lycosa follows a predetermined course of behavior, and if the inborn inevitability of its actions is interrupted it will die from the inability to change. Lycosas build burrows in the ground. If after the construction of its burrow, the Lycosa is removed, he will not build another and will die from hunger though his prey still lurks in the neighborhood. To try to picture the consciousness of a spider is an absurdity. There probably is none, for just as we scratch our legs without thinking, so a spider must live his life by instinct-- instinct being nothing more than a non-cognitive urge or itch. Thus in the spider's brain there would be nothing resembling our interior monologue. But who knows? Perhaps some insects have attained such a condition of interior beatitude ( from lying in the sun or looking at grass ) that they have stopped developing. It is man who because of his mind is the unhappy creature, forced to think and therefore to change, seldom satisfied with his condition, usually living in futurity, and thus rarely happy.
My morning spent thinking about spiders. Certainly, spiders are more pleasant than most people. Spiders make no demands upon me. When dealing with spiders I do not have to accommodate myself to their prejudices, their whims, their idiosyncrasies. Near my door a spider has woven a large web in the middle of the air. While contemplating the perfection of its radii, a strange thought passed through my mind: "We may accept the fact that spiders behave like automatons since their lives follow a predetermined progression of behavior. They are born. They propagate. They weave their web. They search for food. They die. Okay, all very simple. But at some point in history some spider had to begin making the first web. Yet that such consummate artistry, such perfect engineering, such rational symmetry should have arisen by chance or by instinct cannot be accepted. It just doesn't make sense to accept the claim of dogmatic evolution that the web represented a mere accommodation to environment. If the first web-weaving spider had to exert intelligence and if all spiders today demonstrate no intelligence, then only one conclusion may be drawn: spiders have deteriorated in intelligence. Could it be that spiders, like bees and ants, developed towards intelligence but that once they had made a complete accommodation to their environment their reason stiffened into habit and finally into instinct? If such is the case then mankind had better take warning from the insects as how not to develop. For a totally rational utopia may do away with man as we know him."
In the afternoon Professor B who stopped to chat outside Sproule Hall found my ruminations about spiders illuminating. But how tedious Professor B is and how much more interesting are spiders! In my office on the ledge of a window sill beneath a spider web which resembles what an imaginative child might construct out of an erector set lie a large number of beetles, bugs, bees, grasshoppers, all dead, their life blood sucked out by the immobile spider who sits stationary up above and adjacent to her two white bags of seed which will sprout at some later date into hundreds of tiny infants all of whom will cover her body for weeks until at some moment they will climb up on a stick or a post, spin a little silk, and then let themselves be cast off by the wind to their own destiny. In front of such phenomena of nature I am amazed. I lift my hands to my mouth in wonder. Far too long, far too long I have inhabited a world removed from nature.