Professional journalists make great effort to keep ourselves out of stories we report. In this case however, I break the rules to both narrate the story objectively and to appear in the story as the central character and subjective narrator. By so doing, we visit the heart of this story on various levels. The Prologue gives the reader a quick sketch of what I was like before undergoing a dramatic personal transformation, starting in the sixties.
In 1967 I was working as an audio editor, radio announcer and reporter at United Press International wire service in New York City. Being the young guy in the office they sent me to cover a massive anti-Vietnam War demonstration when President Lyndon B. Johnson was in town and a Grateful Dead free concert in the East Village. I found myself swept up in the energy. I smoked pot, went to Woodstock, ate magic mushrooms and joined many thousands of my generation in an exciting breaking free of conventional restraints and personal conversion of thinking and lifestyle.
I did not join The Farm commune undercover. I came a couple of years after “dropping out” and arrived on the scene in San Francisco, one of those adventurous human beings looking for freedom, adventure, fun and a fulfilling life. For thirteen years, I was so totally absorbed in living adventures that the idea to write about them did not occur to me until after I lived almost thirteen years collectively, when I moved out of the commune.
Being the only experienced journalist in our remarkable experimental community, it was clearly my karma to write Voluntary Peasants, an endeavor that grew into a thirty-two-year labor of love. The process has provided me with deeper understanding of what really happened back there in California and Tennessee.
Enlightenment, What’s It Good For
A reporter’s journey over the edge in search of enlightenment
Author’s Back Story and Prologue to Voluntary Peasants
This is what Joyce called the monomyth: an archetypal story that springs from the collective unconscious. Its motifs can appear not only in myth and literature, but, if you are sensitive to it, in the working out of the plot of your own life. The basic story of the hero journey involves giving up where you are, going into the realm of adventure, coming to some kind of symbolically rendered realization, and then returning to the field of normal life.—Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss
The words of the prophets are written on subway walls.
—Simon and Garfunkel, The Sounds of Silence