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We Knew Paul:
Conversations With Friends and Students of Paul Rosenfels [1990]

Edited and with an Introduction
by Dean Hannotte

Dean Hannotte is the editor of the Paul Rosenfels Collection and sole copyright owner of these works.
To learn more about Paul Rosenfels, visit Wikipedia or The Paul Rosenfels Community.

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Table of Contents

   Introduction    
   Frank Aqueno   The thing that strikes me most about Paul was his overwhelming simplicity in life as in his understandings, getting down to that which is most simple, most basic in some way. I was overstimulated by this simplicity.
   Laurie Bell   We can live up to what he stood for by being as true to ourselves as we can be. And having as much integrity and honesty as we can at any given moment. Having the intention of serving ourselves and the people around us with our greatest openness. You know, sometimes we do that by saying we need help.
   Nick Cirabisi   It's very evident to me how a greater understanding of truth and right are needed in the world. I think Paul stood for sanity, and the world needs it.
   Robert Fink   I think a lot of cynics in society and doomsayers just say, "Oh, society is useless, let's blow it up. It's not worth saving." But that's not what Paul saw about people. He saw their beauty and he saw their goodness and he saw that they wanted something better in their life, the majority of them. That's what's so wonderful about working with this material.
   Carl Luss   None of us will probably be here to see this millennium of psychological maturity, but I'm sure it's going to happen. It started in the mind of one person, and it took his lifetime in order to get it out in some form that could be useful or communicated or demonstrated to others. Now it's in the mind of maybe twenty other people who are trying to use it in various ways to get it out to the people they're involved with. That's the way any great system of thinking evolves.
   Kim Mulcahy   Rather than the conventional world being so big all around you and you being like this tiny little thing trying to protect yourself from it, he showed me the conventional world is like this tiny little thing and you are way out there, like all over the place. And the creative world you're in and the creative way of looking at life and looking at people, it's like it's bigger than the conventional. You're beyond it, you're free of it.
   Edith Nash   Paul had by far the most expanded intellect of any of the children in the family. I think that he also identified so closely with my mother and wanted to be the manager of everything -- the role that she had -- to such an extreme extent. And I think that this added to his difficulty, but I think it also added to his ambition.
   Walter Ross   For myself, Paul's science has been a liberating influence, changing the way I view the human scene. It has brought the harmony of understanding in place of the disharmony of half-knowledge. It illuminates the truly consequential matters of living through a process of magnificent discovery.
   Tony Rostron   Paul just took off like a bat out of hell when the Center started. This was a dream come true for him, wasn't it? He was just the most alive guy around. All these new ideas kept churning faster than he could write them down. There was that energy, that intensity -- in poetic terms that magic -- that was happening. The real power of it was happening right before our eyes. There was just this splendid event. It was like Camelot in the making. It had that romance to it, that adventure to it, that excitement, that energy, that power.
   Larry Wheelock   I don't clearly recall what Paul had to say, but I clearly recall that he addressed me directly at one point without knowing my name. . . . Well, by the time I left I realized I was dealing with a whole different level of civilization than I had ever, ever dealt with anywhere.

Introduction

Paul Rosenfels is a man most people have never heard of, but his effect on those who came into contact with him was extraordinary. There are many unconventional psychotherapists around who attempt to liberate people by sanctioning their deviancy, but few who offer demonstrable techniques to remove internalized obstacles to growth. Fewer still concern themselves with the wider social implications of psychological growth, or who have a vision large enough to encompass the whole of civilization as we know it. Paul not only helped creative people break free of the intimidating and seductive pressure of social norms, he also developed a comprehensive theory of human nature which allowed seemingly unique aspects of one's personal history to be understood in terms that applied to everyone.

Paul's view of human nature owes very little to the intuitive psychoanalytic school of Freud and his heirs, but took its origin in the democratic values born in ancient Greece and the universal love and faith found in early Christianity. Born and raised in Illinois, he had studied the writings of men like John Dewey and Bertrand Russell, and was deeply influenced by the climate of social liberalism he found at the University of Chicago. But their beliefs in the common man, in the inherent goodness of human nature, and in learning through experience, were only a backdrop to his original discoveries concerning the dynamics of personality. Over many years, and working alone, he forged a wide-ranging and eclectic synthesis -- integrating his new insights with earlier psychological findings -- and slowly gave birth to what may someday come to be regarded as a science of human nature itself.

Although he became a board-certified psychiatrist and was trained at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, he turned his back on these disciplines in mid-career and decided -- as so many others have since -- that they had very little to offer the average man. His patients had often received better advice from co-workers and tea-leaf readers than icy mental health professionals whose code of ethics included an explicit injunction against caring about patients on any personal level.

Paul did, in fact, care about his patients very much. He cared when the Freudian gobbledygook he was handing them didn't help them to live the better lives he felt they deserved. And he was disturbed that his attempt to adjust to a heterosexual marriage was failing. So in the late 1940's he decided to leave his wife and young son, give up his career, and forget what the textbooks said -- in order to go off and decide for himself what was really important about human beings. For years he applied his growing insights to himself and the few people he counted as friends. Only after he published his first book in 1962 did he offer psychotherapy again, this time on much firmer ground.

Paul found it inconceivable to imagine a scientific study of human nature being undertaken on the basis of anything less than a deep love for humanity. You might certainly be able to find a cure for cancer without loving people, but you can't understand what love is until you experience it yourself. And he felt that a therapist or teacher must set an example of the advice he gave. So his new patients were much more than clients now: they were men and women he could love. He thought of them as his students, and found nothing unethical in becoming friends with many of them. His lovers, too, came from the ranks of these new colleagues.

Three themes predominate in Paul's teachings: creativity, homosexuality and polarity. He felt that personal growth was synonymous with learning how to live a creative life, at least for the kinds of students he wanted. But by creativity he meant not merely unleashing a talent to paint or to sing, but developing psychological resources in a much deeper way, a way that would lead to caring about people and about making a lasting contribution to society. Teaching creativity for Paul meant creating more love in people's hearts, and expanding their power to act responsibly toward their world.

Homosexuality is central to Paul's work because this most primeval love is still an unacknowledged need in the lives of most people, yet clearly an asset too great to leave off the balance sheet of human fulfillment. Haven't all men been loved by their fathers? Haven't all women tried to love their mothers? Having spent much of his adult life trying to adjust to a difficult marriage, Paul saw that our capacity to obey arbitrary rules about who we shouldn't try to love is a pointless obstacle to living life to the fullest.

And, just as Trotsky had observed that schoolboys who had once found the courage to defy academic authority later became leaders of the October Revolution, Paul saw that those who were capable of rejecting society's lies about sex were often better equipped to face its dishonesty and cowardice in other arenas as well. His counseling practice in New York's East Village confirmed his suspicion that, at least in his time and place, gay people were in the forefront of mankind's search for psychological liberation.

The idea of polarity for Paul is similar to Carl Jung's hypothesis of introverted and extroverted character types. If everyone is either introverted or extroverted regardless of whether they're male or female, then homosexuals can have relationships that are as truly mated as heterosexuals, for the simple reason that opposites attract. Seeing that the polarity between introverts and extroverts is the basis of all lasting mated relationships, Paul had already gone far beyond Jung. And since he liked to use ordinary words rather than psychiatric terminology, he decided to abandon "introvert" and "extrovert" and use "feminine" and "masculine" instead. To this day the very first mistake people make when hearing about Paul is to assume that he sanctioned culturally oppressive terminology, when just the opposite is the case.

Where Jung had gone on to muddy his analysis by dividing each of the two basic personality types into "thinking," "feeling," "sensitive" and "intuitive" subtypes, Paul had much more interesting questions to think about. Since society demands that men be "real men" and women be "real women," he wondered, just what happens to feminine men and masculine women? Indeed, what price had he himself paid in never acknowledging his own femininity before now? Paul concluded that, when they gave in to society's pressure to conform, masculine women ended up passive, obsessive and masochistic caricatures of true femininity. Feminine men likewise ended up aggressive, compulsive and sadistic caricatures of real masculinity -- they become the very guys who give power a bad name. This discovery shed great light on the age-old conflict between the individual and society, particularly between the individual's need to grow and society's need to be stable, and was the subject of much of his writings.

Paul found in his practice that surprisingly common psychological difficulties often stem from a simple failure to accept one's inner polarity, from trying to be what you just aren't. His patients sometimes reported startling progress in overcoming lifelong problems which previous therapists had seemed to regard as either incurable character flaws or "just human nature." He helped masculine women to get over their feelings of helplessness, and feminine men to "get under" their reckless behavior. Masculine men and feminine women were helped too, because they now had a better grasp of what healthy masculinity or femininity looked like -- untainted by society's misguided glorification of aggressive men and passive women.

Although Paul used ordinary words to describe human nature, he gave subtle nuances to the names he chose for qualities that were analogous between the types. Here are some of the "analogs" you can watch out for in the pages of this book:

FEMININITY MASCULINITY
submission dominance
love power
faith hope
thought action
honesty courage
depth vigor
insight mastery
truth right
teacher leader

He also used analogous terms for the "defenses" of the human personality:

compulsion obsession
aggression passivity
perversity addiction
sadism masochism

Once Paul understood how all these aspects of human nature fit together, he found that his attempts to help his students were far more successful than they had ever been. And since truth is worthless if it can't be freely shared, he was pleased when his students' attempts to share his insights with their friends met with similar success. In 1973, his students opened the Ninth Street Center to teach these ideas to more people than they could reach personally. In our first year, Paul's Saturday Night Buffet Suppers drew hundreds of people from all over the city. Soon the Ninth Street Center Journal was being sold in gay bookstores throughout the country.

And Paul continued to learn new lessons from the work we were doing. He saw, for instance, that incessantly striving to be creative could strangle one's joy in living and lead to a state of exhaustion he called "creativity poisoning." He identified four equally important compartments of life -- creativity, romantic love, fun and pleasure, and a successful adaptation to one's time and place -- each of which required the balanced functioning of the others if the personality was not to become distorted.

Paul's understanding of human nature, his warm friendships with his students, and his openness about homosexuality were what made the Ninth Street Center such a mecca to young gay men in the 1970's. Gay Magazine, for example, called him "the Giant of the New Free Gay Culture." As the Center slowly outlives the ghetto climate in which it was founded, we find ourselves serving a growing community of lesbians as well as gay men, ambitious straight people as well as gay -- anyone, in fact, who believes that human potential, in the words of one of our pamphlets, "is too important to leave to psychiatrists and politicians."

This book is the product of eleven men and women who, though some of them now live in other parts of the country, came together to paint a portrait of a man they see as one of the great figures of our time. The conversations were conducted in New York City between January 1988 and July 1989, all but three on audiotape. Nick Cirabisi and Paul's sister Edith Nash both preferred to respond to written questions, Nick in writing and Edith on audiotape. Paul's brother Walter Ross decided to contribute a statement rather than submit to a formal interview.

Jennifer Minichello spent nearly a hundred hours transcribing the tapes and, after I had translated vernacular speech into written English, spent another eternity proofreading; since I reviewed her work, I take responsibility for any errors that may have crept in. Jennifer trimmed my words more vigorously than I could, deleted most of my war stories, and offered crucial suggestions on the shape of the work as a whole. Some of the participants clarified or elaborated on their comments, while others preferred verbatim spontaneity. Robert Fink and John Calhoun gave financial support to the project. Mark Addis, Len Albert, Eleanor King, Richard Milner, Hope Nachtaler, Paul Ratner and Ellen Rapp each had something original and important to say about the sections they read.

Today -- twenty years after his last book, and five years after his death at the age of 76 -- it is perfectly clear that we will never stop learning from Paul or from the example he set. All of us who put this book together hope that these conversations evoke the real spirit of the man more vividly than any biography ever will, and can be enjoyed by anyone who applauds the example of a genuinely original life lived to the fullest.


The thing that strikes me most about Paul was his overwhelming simplicity in life as in his understandings, getting down to that which is most simple, most basic in some way. I was overstimulated by this simplicity.

Frank Aqueno

DEAN: How did you hear about the Ninth Street Center?
FRANK: I saw the ad that was running in the Village Voice that said "Tired of the Bars and Baths?" That was fourteen years ago. Actually I saw two ads that day. There was an ad for a conference going on at Columbia sponsored by the Gay Academic Union or something, and there was the Ninth Street Center ad. Well, I went to the Columbia conference. And I was there only an hour before it reminded me why I had been thrown out of teaching. They had various conferences on various topics in various rooms. Somehow I mentioned the Ninth Street Center, and a lesbian psychologist who had a practice in the Village warned me not to go there. Obviously she had a lot to lose, but I didn't know that then.
DEAN: What was the reason for her not wanting you to go to the Center?
FRANK: That it was psychologically a dangerous place. She said it had done damage to a number of people she knew. So I had my guard up about coming down.
DEAN: But you came down anyway. What did it sound like, what did it feel like?
FRANK: First I couldn't find it, because nobody had said anything about it being downstairs in a basement. So I called and Mark told me it was down the stairs. And when I entered, there were Mark and Paul in the back by themselves hemming and hawing and farting and burping. Nobody said anything.
DEAN: This was before the talk group had started?
FRANK: Yes, and they were the only two people there. I sat down. I think one of them may have told me about coffee or something like that. Then other people began to arrive and the group got started. I was not impressed. It was not what I was anticipating.
DEAN: Because it was a slow night, or because Paul was the only one talking, or . . .
FRANK: Because of its simplicity. The thing that strikes me most about Paul was his overwhelming simplicity in life as in his understandings, getting down to that which is most simple, most basic in some way. I was overstimulated by this simplicity, by people standing around and not talking but just farting and burping and exhaling air. I don't think I had a fantasy about what it would be like, but having been to similar kinds of things I guess I expected name tags or people saying "What's your name?" or "Hi, welcome."
DEAN: Or, "We'll make you feel like part of the family."
FRANK: "We'll take the tension away."
DEAN: "We'll make everything easy."
FRANK: That first impression was in a way the most lasting, although I really haven't vocalized it, I don't think, until now.
DEAN: Did that same feeling persist as the group started and Paul started talking? That it was unimpressive?
FRANK: I don't want to be sounding like I'm defending myself here, but I think anyone that comes for their first time, comes with their own baggage. My baggage was "I know a lot." I think most people come in with that. We're not taught in any way, shape or form to deal very much with what we don't know in any kind of honest or courageous way. Our postures and our facades are all about what we know and what we understand, or what we can do and what we've done.
DEAN: Our credentials.
FRANK: Right. I was -- though not consciously -- doing what I would have done at any other meeting: I was saying, "Here's who I am. I know a lot." And that wasn't going anywhere. It didn't work. No one was impressed by that. No one was mean-spirited about it, especially Paul, but nobody said, "Oh, that's real interesting, you've lead a marvelous life, you're doing just fine." Instead, people would say things like, "Well, why did you come down? If everything's so fine, what are you doing here?" Not asked in a hostile way, but certainly with the intent of undercutting my facade. I now think that's what it's like when there's warmth present.

Paul had a great capacity to probe and confront. Not all the time -- there were times when he didn't really want that. But in open talk groups very often he asked such provocative questions of people that it literally pushed them back against the wall. And that happened several times to me.

DEAN: Paul developed an ability to love ordinary people, knowing full well how ignorant and how undeveloped most of us were. He wanted to show through his warmth that he would love you in spite of your incompleteness and your deficiencies and all the credentials you didn't yet have. For me and for many other people, to experience that warmth and that love was a little disorienting.

I had an analogous problem to the one you had. I felt that I was very talented: I was musical, I was mathematical, I played chess, I was interested in the great books of the Western World. I felt fucked up, yes, but I wasn't prepared for anybody to just come out and say, "I know you're fucked up but I love you anyway because I see what you can become. That's what I'm good at." I think people who learned to use Paul's influence had to trust the fact that they didn't have to be wearing their medals in his presence. They could just be simple.

Did something prick your conscience to make you want to come back, or did you stay away after that since you weren't impressed?

FRANK: Two things were going on after that, one very obvious and conscious and one subconscious. I didn't come very many times before Jurgen was at a group, who was like a definite "imprint." I don't ever remember him saying much at all, it was just that he was masculine. Masculine/feminine polarity was being talked around in the group, but I had no conscious registration yet of polarity or the fact that people were being talked to differently by Paul or that the topic of polarity was underlying everything.
DEAN: You hadn't tuned into that frequency yet.
FRANK: I hadn't had an opportunity. I was still going on everything I knew and trying to fit everything into that, bringing it around so that I could bring up some incident from my life that related to what was being said -- generally in some stupid way or ignorant way that didn't really relate or that exposed just parts of myself to the group. But anyway it was mainly because of Jurgen that I kept coming back. I wanted to see more of him. I was following an attraction, an instinctual biological kind of thing.

This is the way choice works, you see. Psychological choice does not work by saying, "Oh, my, this is a different world. I think I'll go back there because they're challenging me a lot and, although I don't like being challenged, it's real stimulating and they're asking important questions of me."

DEAN: That all comes later.
FRANK: Right. That you see only in hindsight. And it's parallel to choosing a homosexual lifestyle. You don't see it immediately. You look back and say, "Oh, yeah, women were treated differently than men and I probably noticed that."

So, the things that I can talk about in that area are all from hindsight. But I'm as sure of them as I'm sure that one has a choice about the lifestyle one's living. The subtlety that was going on was in the simplicity of the groups and their overwhelming psychological content, that people would sit for two hours and talk about such things.

DEAN: And not mention movies or the gay bars.
FRANK: Or if they did, relate them to their experience in terms of what they were trying to get away from, in terms of problems in their lives or how they were trying to lead a better life in some way. And this was just not in my world.
DEAN: But you were in your thirties by then and you'd thought about life. You'd been living an unconventional life for years. Would you say that you had never had the opportunity to really focus inward in a psychological, consistent way?
FRANK: Oh, definitely. My hedonistic bent protected me from that for a long time, because seriousness was grim. When my parents were serious they were not talking to each other.
DEAN: Were you also "fighting the establishment" at your school jobs?
FRANK: A lot of energy had been expended in investing myself in political importance. First of all in jobs, which my father had taught me, and then in terms of making it my own in some fashion by being rebellious in political ways, in the school district or the army or whatever the authority was. I had just come out of a relationship that had been modeled after my marriage basically.
DEAN: You mean a gay relationship?
FRANK: Yes, my first real gay relationship of any extent in time. It wasn't the first that wasn't purely sexual, but close.

I went to Paul once to see whether he would counsel me, and he asked about this relationship with Jim. I was giving a lot of details and he stopped me and said, "Was there love in that relationship?" And I thought to myself, "I don't know. I haven't thought about that. Why is he bringing this up?" It was just like him to cut through the crap.

Questions like that were asked in open talk groups, too. And not only by Paul. I don't remember them all. There was all this undermining going on: that's the way I would look at it. I kind of look at this now, when new people come in, in terms of How do I undermine here? And if I'm good and at my best, I do it with a lot of warmth, so they can swallow it. And if I'm not, they get my brittle pride.

That's definitely what was going on: I was being undermined. And it was very . . . stimulating, I guess is the best word. It had elements of "They'll know who I am," and other kinds of phobias like "What kind of secret cult is this? Where are the rules? Why are they all talking this language I don't understand? Why does it seem like a number of them know what they're talking about and I don't?"

DEAN: Or, "Why is it that some people can say anything they want and nobody challenges them, but when other people say things everybody jumps down their throat?"
FRANK: I left five or six times with the intent that I'd never go back.
DEAN: Were you ever confronted personally?
FRANK: Yes, by Little Eric of all people. The little seventeen-year-old whippersnapper zapped me good. I was talking about my straight friends -- I still had a few at that point -- and he asked, "Why are you holding on to them?"

It was very frightening for me to even entertain the idea of giving them up, because there was nobody else. My relationship with Jim had just ended and I was in fragile, fragile shape. This was my first failure in this realm and I didn't know why it had failed. In fact, it took me many years to figure that out.

DEAN: Was that failure one of the reasons you started looking for stimulation at the Center?
FRANK: Yes. It had failed in the spring and I had gone bananas with credit cards during the summer. I just had a great hedonistic time. And of course, those things run their course. It ended in the fall when other things were dying as well. Things looked pretty bleak. If you can't continue living the life of Riley, what are you going to do now? I had defended myself well over the summer but when one has gone so much in that sexual/celebrative direction, it's a big let-down to try to be simple.
DEAN: When you say you went on a credit card binge, did you also get into a sexual promiscuity binge?
FRANK: Oh sure, but that's been a part of my history for a long time. So that wasn't anything new.
DEAN: Was that literally bathhouse kinds of stuff?
FRANK: I don't think I was into baths. Mostly picking people up.
DEAN: Where it was understood that you didn't want to see them afterwards?
FRANK: No, not by me. It just generally worked out that way. My defense of promiscuity at that time was well structured. It had come from this idea of how males are sexualized in this society. Something about how if you go straight, you are arbitrarily pushed in the direction of monogamy. I probably talked myself into being bisexual all the way up to that first relationship with Jim. I had put myself in the bisexual category although I wasn't really that interested in women at all. The defense was that this was a good thing to do: you could explore this and you got it out of your system. It doesn't hurt anybody.
DEAN: In those days, people generally thought sexual liberation meant promiscuity. "There's no reason not to have sex with a new person. It's healthy. We'll learn what it means through experience. Let's not inhibit ourselves just because people from the church wag their finger at us."
FRANK: Well, this question from Eric was very direct and firm. I remember the tone of it more than the actual question. Something about, "Why don't you just leave these people behind?" I was livid. First of all, it was from a snot-nose kid. That was my attitude then, and it's real humorous now. I now think it's just fine for people to say about me, "Ooh, that bald old man, who does he think he is!"
DEAN: Did you tell Eric where to go?
FRANK: I probably got very quiet. But his question had its effect. It was legitimate. I may have been numb in many ways or ignorant, but I wasn't able to dismiss it as much as I tried. I would go back to saying "No, no, I can't go back there any more. Who do they think they are, snot-nose seventeen-year-old kids." But it had validity. One could not dismiss the question. It would always come back. That was probably November or December of '74 or '75. That February I moved to St. Mark's Place, just around the block from the Center.
DEAN: You'd been living uptown?
FRANK: Coming down from the Upper West Side.
DEAN: Did you move just to be closer to the Center?
FRANK: Definitely. I began counseling with Tony. To be quite honest, it was kind of a devious way to find out information about Jurgen, who I'd learned was his lover. Not totally, but that certainly was part of it; and I suspect Tony knew that. But also because Tony was vocal in groups then and made a lot of sense and was counseling other people. I really didn't know him well enough to know what kind of shape he was in then. Eventually, under Paul's advice, he gave up counseling about three months into seeing me, which was very shocking and disappointing.
DEAN: When you stopped counseling with Tony, did you just go back to the talk groups and focus on that as a learning experience?
FRANK: Once I realized this was a place I was going to come back to regardless of how straining it was, I wanted to be closer to it and closer to the people that I had already made some minimal contact with. Later I counseled with Tom and then Steve, but first I was going to groups a lot. I was probably pretty socially "promiscuous": I went to many people's groups, like most people do. And I knew there was something different about Paul's groups.
DEAN: When did it occur to you that this man not only knew a lot, but had forged a synthesis of insights that constituted something new in the human scene? Or was that not important?
FRANK: Oh, it definitely was, but only when I began to understand my own femininity, when that became real enough that I could begin to see who was masculine and who was feminine, not only at the Center but in the work world or wherever I happened to be.
DEAN: When were you told you were feminine?
FRANK: There were two periods of time when a space opened up in Paul's counseling schedule, and I got neither one. But finally I did get to see him. And I remember kind of whining about my difficulty identifying whether I was masculine or feminine. It was specifically in using the ideas in Homosexuality: The Psychology of the Creative Process. And I remember Paul getting kind of angry at me.
DEAN: That was the first book of his you read?
FRANK: Right. I would read one paragraph and think I was feminine, and then I'd read the next paragraph and I'd be masculine.
DEAN: Like everybody else who reads Paul for the first time!
FRANK: And I was reporting that to him, and he said, "Don't you know that even yet??"
DEAN: He could be testy sometimes.
FRANK: It was quite unfair in a certain way, and I was quite intimidated by him. Today I would say something like, "No, I don't know that yet. That's one of the reasons I'm here."
DEAN: One of the reasons Paul was always throwing himself at masculine youths -- all of the people he courted at that time were in their early twenties -- was because he had a real burning anger towards anybody who looked anything like a professor. That's why he named his dog "The Professor." There may have been something about your demeanor which said, "I'm an expert too!" Or the attitude that some sanctimonious feminines have of, "I am what I am and don't need to be typecast." And Paul would have found that very hard to take.

After he dropped out of the professional world, Paul never got close to any really developed knowledgeable older feminines. The only feminine his own age he had in his later years was Doug, a very monk-like, subservient sort of guy with whom Paul could feel safe. I don't think he felt very comfortable with feminines who thought they could teach him something too.

FRANK: Paul knew in some sense -- if not consciously at that point, certainly subconsciously -- that things were winding down for him. It wasn't too long after this that he basically stopped taking any new people at all. And not long after he wasn't doing groups any more.
DEAN: He had a lot of people -- hangers-on who'd been in counseling for years -- that he ultimately didn't like very much and who ultimately didn't do very much with his ideas. In the early days, of course, Paul literally just took anybody. When he first opened his practice he took straight people. He hardly was selective at all. As long as they were young and open to being taught something, he didn't mind who they were. Then he became more selective, first taking only gay people, then taking only gay men.

I guess anybody who does any kind of work as a consultant, as you and I both do, wants to work in a situation that's comfortable. If you have a choice, you'd rather work with something that's esthetically more pleasing than just whoever happens to want to hire you, even though that's going to annoy the people you turn down.

But you must have interacted with Paul in talk groups or heard him speak in talk groups. When did you see that this was something earth-shattering? After all, it's one thing to find a group of people who gather around a good therapist -- if you believe that every large city has a dozen or so good supportive therapists -- but did you come to a point when you realized that there was something categorically different about this man?

FRANK: I was just saying that when I saw Paul that first time I wasn't yet able to get in touch with my own femininity, to identify my own polarity. Well, although his reaction was abrupt, that abruptness had a payoff. It said, "This is important! This is where you've got to start."

I always had the sense that Paul liked me. I never felt that he didn't like me. I had some disappointment in not getting to counsel with him, but now I'm really glad I didn't. I think I would have just battled him because he would have been another authority.

DEAN: Maybe he sensed that.
FRANK: Knowing my history of idolizing thinkers, I would have just looked to him for answers. And that would have driven him up the fuckin' wall. I know how he would have responded. It would have been like his response to my "I don't know my identity, yet. Come on, you can tell me. I promise to be helpless if you tell me," his anger about, "Don't you know that even yet? Let's get working here. This is your life, not mine!" There was a lot of that behind it that I didn't see for a long time. And -- I don't know -- he may just have had gas that day.
DEAN: I'm glad you're illuminating the fact that this was not a man to be idealized. One of the things that drives me crazy is when new people -- and some older members -- make him sound like a perfect god who could do no wrong. It wasn't usually the things he did that were worth thinking about and returning to, it was the things he taught.
FRANK: You asked about when the "overwhelmingness" of his insights hit me. It never did. I don't think it does with most feminines -- not in the way that it might to a masculine. To find truth that's been hidden all the time is not surprising to me. It's seems very natural. It was very humorously correct, in fact, that all of this would be taking place in a basement on a little street in the East Village. When you look at the real history of the world and ask, "Okay, where in the world would the right place be to go for truth?", it would be a basement on Ninth Street. It would be some incongruous setting. It would not be some huge cathedral, it would not be some institution of renown. So there's almost for me -- and I'm guessing at other feminines -- this like sliding into it, a feeling of "Oh, yeah."
DEAN: Paul used to say that if Jesus came back he would walk right past St. Patrick's Cathedral and come down to Sixth Street where he and I used to live and say, "So, how are things going with mankind?"
FRANK: It was always much more ironic or even funny than it was the "Wow" kind of thing you're talking about. That may be your experience, you see, so I don't want to take it away or diminish it.
DEAN: Well, the "awesomeness" of my own experience was actually twofold: the scientific objectivity of his insights, yes, but more importantly the fact that a man I could respect was willing to love me. It didn't matter whether he was Paul or anybody else. This was just something that was tremendously moving, something that I had always wanted although I didn't know it. And when I got it, I felt much better about being Dean than I had ever felt.

But I also feel qualified -- because I award myself the qualification, not because I have academic credentials -- to have the opinion that this very pure system is on a higher level and has a wider scope than the other systems available as yet. I haven't read more than one or two books on any one period of psychological thought, but it's clear that Paul evolved a very eclectic and very sound system. He didn't care who he learned truth from. It's heavily influenced by the Greeks, by Christianity, by the humanism he was exposed to at the University of Chicago. Some of his prescriptions for avoiding being overstimulated by the so-called real world come right out of hospital psychiatry.

But it's not a sloppy kitchen-sink kind of "everything you always wanted to know about human nature" system. He's thrown out all of the conventional magical baggage that doesn't work. And he doesn't pretend to tell people how to be more masculine or how to be more feminine, he merely says what happens when you do. And that's really a different kind of presentation than you might get, say, from a self-help book.

A lot of thinkers have tried to use their abstracting capabilities to come up with what you might call "a useful overview of everything," which is what philosophy usually degenerates into. If you look at somebody like Hegel, who's kind of the height of absurdity in this direction, you see a system which is all words and no matter. It's more and more about less and less. It has none of the simplicity that you were talking about before. Not only is Paul's work abstract to the degree necessary to be both coherent and comprehensive, but it is also true, it's also factual. It seems to state how things actually work rather than being science fiction in the form of psychology.

FRANK: The more you talk about it, the more I believe that there is a difference between how feminines and masculines perceive that kind of thing. It's so much a part of my nature to have been searching for truth since my early years -- in reading, in college, in trying this and that, in getting married, and all of those things that I entered: psychiatry, psychology, the theater.
DEAN: You entered psychology?
FRANK: I mean in dealing with psychologists or psychiatrists who were treating me. All that experience really was just a part of a search which lead in most cases to dead ends. When I reached one that worked, you see, it was not so surprising because that's what I was doing: I was looking for something that would work.
DEAN: You knew it was there. You just hadn't found it yet. Whereas I had no idea that these ideas could even exist.
FRANK: It's a part of my nature to know that there is truth. So when I run into something that's true -- and Paul used to talk about this -- it feels like it's been there all the time. It's no great surprise. I just ask myself, "Why didn't I see this before?" Sometimes it's euphoric or there's a celebration to it. But it doesn't have the same resonance that I think it has in a person like you who's really dependent upon other people to bring it out. I'm always ordering things, so when an order is laid out in front of me by somebody else, what I do is try it on. And in this case I tried it on and it fit.
DEAN: You're probably more aware of the incompleteness of it also, because it's much easier for somebody like me to just designate it as being the correct system. I never find a need to really question the system per se. I can always find a way to interpret new data within its framework.

When we first got together, I had trouble with Paul's personality because he could get moody and cranky. But even when I was fed up with him, I never doubted the truth of his system. I conducted a thought experiment after we had lived together for six months. I had actually broken up with him and moved out. I took a look at Love and Power or something and said, "Yep, it's still true. It's all true. I'm never going to 'get over' this stuff. Even if I never talk to Paul again, I'm always going to be using these ideas." Once I saw how true it all was I knew his irritability and recklessness were just noise that I didn't have to take seriously.

Another thing that told me that there was something both wonderfully true and yet almost entrapping or at least captivating about this system was that whenever I was angry with Paul and we were not getting along, I would use his concepts to think about our problems. I would say the relationship is too passive-aggressive, or "That was a sado-masochistic moment." And I would stop myself and say, "Think of how you're seeing this. You're still using his words. You're being the loyal student even when you're fed up with him personally."

I saw at that point that I had become completely Rosenfelsian. It was now just how my mind worked. It wasn't going to do any good to say, "Gee, I wish I could get away from this stuff." I was going to have that stuff in me forever. And this spooked me. I told Paul one day that I felt as if my brain had been washed -- but he didn't exactly appreciate the compliment!

FRANK: His ideas are not as foreign to me as they sound when some people talk about them. It's in the nature of truth that, once it's passed on, it belongs to no one man. It doesn't have Paul's name on it. What he gave is mine to use as much as it is yours or anyone else's. It's not owned. I'm not ungrateful for the work that he did, but that only takes me to this moment. That can't be a stopping point. It has only taken on that quality to me when I've become a disciple and have tried to sell the system to others, mainly to hear myself talk or to impress myself with how much I know.

When you mention the incompleteness of this, I always have an underlying feeling of irony that this should be taking place at all, that this should exist: a place in a basement on Ninth Street, a community in the East Village. And the fact that most people who run into it reject it, or don't even hear it let alone reject it.

Most people don't even get to hear anything coming close to the truth that is in our words. I used to be so disappointed with that -- as you get at times -- getting caught up in proselytizing, in really not understanding why someone won't hear it. But nowadays it's very clear to me why people won't hear it. Truth is not something that can be force-fed. Somebody has to be looking for it or they're not ever going to see it. Never. You can't shove it. You can't force-feed it. That's why their dissatisfaction with where they're at is so key.

When I go to groups, what I try to ask is, "What level of dissatisfaction is being expressed here?" Often I can pinpoint this by asking a question like, "Well, why did you come down?" If somebody says, "Oh well, there was nothing else to do tonight," that tells me at once that I'm there to entertain them. Well, I'm not going to be entertainment. But I am going to shut up.

Now, if somebody says, "Well, I had a few lovers and it didn't work out. I was just looking around. I don't know what to do. I kind of don't like the way things are," then I say, "Oh, tell me more!" If they don't have that openness, you're just flapping your mouth. You're just jerking off in public.

DEAN: I may be having a problem with that with someone I'm counseling. He's a very bright man and I tend to want to be stimulated by his brilliance. He knows he's feminine: he accepted my diagnosis instantly and didn't have any trouble with it. He's capable of asking interesting questions and is somewhat malleable and compliant. But it's not clear to me yet exactly what he wants from me. A lot of times he'll just come and talk about his little "adventures in dating" and bore me to death. We have to work on that. We have to figure out whether he really wants something from me or is just using me to convince himself that he's so bright that he can even master this Rosenfelsian system without thinking much about it.
FRANK: One thing that Paul was so good at in open talk groups was cutting through the bullshit and just going for the heart talk. So a question like "What do you want from me?" in the midst of this chattering ought to silence him up. It would silence me or take it to another level, so to speak. It was that kind of question, the most obvious, that made it all so simple. When you look back on it, it wasn't like Paul sat there a long time thinking, "Now, what question will push this guy back up against the wall?" It wasn't that sadistic at all. It was very much a keen sense of listening to the person and knowing so much about defenses that he could just see what was coming at him, and just go around it.
DEAN: Nor was it a matter of Paul giving such brilliant lectures that we would all love hearing every word. He would often be rather quiet. But when he spoke people listened because they found that he would say things that nobody else in the room knew how to say, or would dream of saying, but really hit home. I guess that's what a teacher is versus an entertainer.

I'm always looking for people who may be similar to Paul in their psychological writings and that I could include in this history of psychology I think about writing. Do you get psychological knowledge from any other books or writers?

FRANK: I don't look for that so much. I look for applying what I know is true to what I'm reading generally, which is often fiction. If it's nonfiction, it's generally biographical or historical. Things like the new book on AIDS or Bonfire of the Vanities.
DEAN: Did you have fun with The Lost Language of Cranes?
FRANK: Yeah, I finished that and passed it on to Tony. Another book I like is Edmund White's The Beautiful Room is Empty, his follow-up to A Boy's Own Story.

It's real helpful to be able to see if a writer is feminine and, if he is, to empathize with a lot of his experience and be able to read him in a way that I wouldn't have before. It enables me to see his level of ignorance, his level of intelligence, how far it goes, what he knows, doesn't know.

DEAN: Somebody who thinks we're just a cult might ask, "Well, Frank if you're so interested in psychological insights, which are available in the writings of other thinkers in the world, why aren't you looking through those other books? Or if you have, what other books or writers do you think are related in spirit and substance to Rosenfels? Do you find this such a satisfying system that you can imagine going no further?"
FRANK: It's not that I won't go any further. But there's a simplicity to Paul's unraveling of the way things actually work in the human scene that I don't really expect to find anywhere else. It's really a kind of measurement of my own time. I've been around for quite a few years. I'm open to reading. I read lots of reviews. I keep my eye on things that are of a psychological nature. I often pick books up with lots of hope and throw them aside after ten minutes.
DEAN: So this is really a categorically new kind of system?
FRANK: Not until it's been absorbed more do I expect to see any other writings that would be of benefit to me or of interest. It's not that I don't read things.
DEAN: This is interesting to me because of my current hobby of studying the history of psychology. You know, masculine scholars are really shameless in a way. They just collect data, and arrange the data, because it pleases them. It's like books on a bookshelf: there is no inherent logic to how the content of different books relate, so you simply establish your own convention, you know? 100 is reference, 200 is mythology, 300 is religion. But most books could go in two or more categories. So it's fun for a masculine like me to just arrange things and to know his own little private system, because it always works and who's to say it's not true? It has nothing to do with truth, it has to do with arranging and organizing things in a pleasing, consistent and useful pattern.

Maybe what a masculine historian does is draw lines from one thinker to the next or one event to the next without having to ask himself whether there actually was a causal link between the people or the times or whatever it is he's connecting. I'm sure I'll find these lineages to Paul if I go looking for them.

I'm going to give a talk in June at the Center on the history of polarity theory, just as an experiment -- really jumping off the deep end to see if I swim. I have a number of books that I can draw from which refer to polarity or constitute early versions of polarity theory. Jung really deserves a lot of credit. He wrote a book called Psychological Types in which he talks all about polarity. He really is talking about the real polarity, but he doesn't understand a lot about it. He doesn't understand how friendships evolve or why people mate, for starters. He's usually talking about a level of culture that's very shallow and superficial. It doesn't relate much to the kind of lifestyles that people at the Center have chosen, lifestyles of honest inquiry and real experimental courage, establishing new forms of truth and right at a human, simple level. But at least he would have wanted to understand this stuff, unlike Freud who was happy being cynical and famous.

But it's interesting to sift through this material, and I think a summary of some sort may encourage university people to approach Paul's work -- which I think is what Paul had in mind when he suggested I do this. People may see that Paul isn't simply coming out of left field, that there is a history of this kind of talk and that a lot of other people have seen it too. This could be a really constructive contribution for me to make some day.

FRANK: Where Paul separates from these other thinkers, of course, is his incorporation of homosexuality into the picture, using his own experience. But when he says in his autobiography that he was laying in bed that night and said, "I'm feminine," that was an awesome moment. That's where everything started. Consciously. And it was from that point that all hell broke loose in his personality.
DEAN: Let's be more explicit about that. There have been lots of thinkers and writers who we now know were homosexual. It's a big business now to prove that X or Y was homosexual. So you're not saying that it's enough to be homosexual. What we are talking about here is embracing homosexuality or celebrating it or -- well, what are we saying really?
FRANK: Well I wouldn't dismiss the homosexual element at all, but actually I think the most important thing he said was, "I'm feminine." He didn't say, "I'm homosexual." It's actually the opposite of where I came from. I was homosexual and then found my femininity. Most of us have misplaced our identities into being homosexual or being heterosexual, when what we should be saying is "I'm feminine" or "I'm masculine." That's the real revolutionary idea.

But once you begin to explore what that means you see that the only way to explore that in the world we're in is to enter homosexual territory. We're not going to get a healthy heterosexuality till people come dragging through their own homosexual territory into something healthier. That's where Paul leaves everybody else behind. Yin and Yang is one thing, but these other people could not carry it through.

DEAN: There was some awareness of polarity in ancient Greece. I'm sure Socrates knew he was feminine. He was always building up masculine youths the same way Paul used to, with little flattering asides and puffery. I don't think Socrates really talked about polarity though as an important thing. Although Socrates recognized that some men were going to be more vigorous and some men were going to be more philosophical -- as he was -- he never said that homosexuality was important to his philosophy. He never actually said that if you want to be a good philosopher and really understand human nature you have to explore your homosexuality.

Where Paul goes further is in saying that not only are goals like truth-seeking or loving people regardless of gender imprints good, but that they are connected. One really depends on the other. And if you're not good at loving people in the face of gender prejudices, then you are not going to be very good about studying what's really going on in the human psyche.

Do you still read Paul's stuff?

FRANK: I haven't read anything recently. I've been staying away from that kind of stimulation.
DEAN: Are you one of these people who's read everything he ever wrote?
FRANK: I think I read everything at one point in time. I mainly use them now as a reference when my thought process needs some further stimulation or I get stuck on a point or I don't remember exactly how something goes.
DEAN: There are passages that you go back to?
FRANK: There's always something there.
DEAN: I remember you saying once that you didn't like his style of writing.
FRANK: It's not that I don't like it.
DEAN: It's just very dry?
FRANK: It's not even that it's dry.
DEAN: It's like reading equations?
FRANK: You have to be questing, searching, dissatisfied enough to look it up. It's like my walking into the Center that night. It doesn't say, "Welcome, everything is going to be fine." It doesn't say that at all. Maybe an attractive cover could create that illusion. We've often talked about putting nude men on the covers of his books!
DEAN: What do you think turns a man into someone like Paul? Is it just latent in human nature to want to be severely dissatisfied with the world, and every once in awhile somebody like this comes along?
FRANK: He was somebody who had the honesty to stick it through. Not somebody who says, "What do I mean, I'm feminine? Forget about this, I want some toast!" Part is his stoic nature. I don't think a hedonist would have done it. I think a hedonist would have said, "Oh, I think I'm feminine. Now I'll have some coffee and ice cream."
DEAN: A hedonist might accept it and see it but not want to go out in the world and make a fuss about it or try to impress other people in print. Every year or so I used to hear about people who'd come in to his office and say, "Oh yeah, I've always known that I'm feminine," or, "Oh, I realized I was masculine when I had my first lover and he was feminine." It wasn't a big deal for them, and they didn't feel they had to write long difficult books about it, either.
FRANK: It really goes back to that question of choice again, whether a person wants to take the time, initiative and strain of going back and thinking through their life. I've done this to some degree because it was fun a lot of the time.

The question is, can one say without looking any further back than where you are right now, "I choose to live this way, to lead a homosexual lifestyle."

This woman psychologist who was doing a study that I volunteered for asked me, "What does the word gay mean?" And I said I had some problems with that word. I really don't object, but I like the word "homosexual" better. She said, "How would you define a homosexual?" And I said, "Somebody who's chosen to lead a lifestyle of trying to love or take responsibility for someone of the same gender for clear and rational reasons that they can talk about."

That was the first time I'd ever vocalized it. I thought, "Wow, that sounds good. Yeah, I like that." Certainly as a serious homosexual, that's what I would say. They must be able to say, "I have chosen to lead this lifestyle because this and that and whatever." And then they can throw out to you their reasons -- which may be debatable as to whether they are rational or not, but must appear rational at least to the person saying them. And I can do that.

DEAN: Your homosexuality is something you can feel proud of just as one would feel proud of believing in democracy or feeling that one excelled in one's profession or even that one had decorated one's house in a way that was appealing. It's something you've chosen to do, not something you are.
FRANK: If you say, "I was born this way, I never had any choice in the matter, I'm making the best of what was handed to me," you're just in a helpless position. You're not going anywhere.
DEAN: And there's really then no motivation to understand it in psychological terms. When people see a science fiction movie about some superior alien race, they don't go home saying, "Poor me, I guess I was just born to be an earthling." Of course, this is usually because Hollywood filmmakers aren't very good at understanding what a superior anything would look like, but basically there's nothing you can do once you've accepted the finality of something. There is nothing worth thinking about. It's only that which is changeable that is worth thinking about. Nobody I know bothers feeling sorry for himself because he doesn't have a brain twice the size that he does have. What would you do with that kind of self-pity? Paul believed the universe was probably swarming with superior civilizations -- that some of them might even have transcended time and space -- but that we humans have our job cut out for us right here on earth.

Do you think the feminines at the Center are developing the same kind of creative truth-seeking capability that Paul had, to the degree that they will be able in some way to add to his work?

FRANK: I couldn't know, for myself even. Things often look these days pretty bleak psychologically, but I just know from my history that out of bleakness has come some very interesting states of mind and being.
DEAN: Does it feel bleak just to you personally or do you see the whole Center community as being kind of bleak?
FRANK: Oh no, it's me. It has nothing to do with the Center. My absence from the Center community right now is a choice that has to do with me and my mental health and it's no reflection on the Center. If there is bleakness at the Center, I don't know about it. It may be the phoenix rising. I'm not, in my bleakest moments, hardly ever pessimistic. I always can't wait to get up tomorrow.
DEAN: Maybe in that larger sense you're talking about it wouldn't even be pessimistic to think of the Center winking out of existence. The books are out there, we're out there, and we may find some other context or setting in which to live this new way. We might find something else to do that is as important as having a Center.
FRANK: It's hard to say. I really don't have any sense of what's been happening there.
DEAN: I go down there about once every five weeks when it's my group. And I run the Study Group, which tends to be about three people, although last time we had five. I go to the board meetings and I do the Publishing Committee stuff.
FRANK: I hear there's been some new people.
DEAN: I guess there's always new people. I haven't really talked to anybody who sounds like a committed truth-seeker, though.

I'm starting to think that it does us no good to get these books out to other cities. It may only be one person in a million who can pick up on this stuff unless they are actually with a community of people who are working with it.

FRANK: I'm pretty much caught up by the state that I'm in or have been working through. If I have any criticisms of the Center I don't even know how to define them. I know that the realness of Paul's work is made alive by people living it -- made real, made truthful or right. And that's where we're failing, many of us. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't be. But that's where it counts. It doesn't matter how many books are distributed, or how many people have read them. If you can't live up to it in some kind of way that you can respect, then you should do something else for a time. That's kind of the state I'm in. This is a result partially of my last courtship.
DEAN: Isn't that putting too much importance on what that relationship was all about for you?
FRANK: It has raised all kinds of really profound questions and avenues for me to explore. I can get into a state where I can dump it all on him, but I'm not intent on doing that because I know it's not true. But in some sense, through that experience, I suffered a great loss of faith. It was very damaging. I'm not saying that he caused me a great loss of faith. He has some responsibility in that, I had some responsibility in there. Nonetheless, wherever it came from, it came in some kind of really disabling ways at times.

If a feminine doesn't have faith, there's nowhere to go. I'm real good in talk groups and I know I do that well. But here I was in this situation with this other man that failed. And that seemed much more important to work on than to be able to go down there for the sake of boosting my pride up for an hour or two by impressing all these people. I saw the falseness of it, that it would be really detrimental. These people might even benefit from my participation, but I wouldn't. I'd get intimidated into thinking that it was really important.

I'm seeing a guy who lives in New Orleans who I met while traveling last summer. I was down there the last time at Christmas. He was supposed to come up but he got sick. It's wearing thin because you can't do too much long distance, but I'm still considering going down there for an extended period of time.

This only came about in a way because of being able to separate myself from the Center in that sense. If I had been going to open talk groups and connected, I would have really felt like I was leaving something. I don't really think that's the way the Center works. As a Center person who really believes in Paul's work, there is a certain part of me that says people have to be allowed to have their experiments regardless of where it takes them or how bizarre it seems.

DEAN: Growth is bigger than loyalty to a community. If something is true, people will use it. If it's not true, they won't use it. If this information has helped people live better lives, they will live those better lives wherever they go. If somebody wants to ask them how come they're living such a better life, they can say, "Well, I knew Paul Rosenfels, and here's a book I have, and we could talk about it if you want." There's no reason this information can't be shared between people if there's a genuine motivation to do it, and conversely, if the information isn't being shared it's because there is a good reason for it: because it hasn't been made real to them or because it's not good enough yet. We need the next teacher after Rosenfels for that student, or maybe just a century of this information trickling down into what the average educated person knows about science.

I don't get involved in encouraging people to stay at the Center. Maybe it's just because I'm kind of detached and never was a family-oriented person, but three years ago when Tony was thinking of moving to New Mexico, I just got very excited about it and said, "Oh boy, let's talk about what you are going to do there." He wanted to start a Ninth Street Center in Santa Fe. And I thought, I don't think there's anything wrong with this: it may be about time that somebody decided this stuff was important enough to divide the Center and conquer the world. What do they call it when amoebas split?

FRANK: Mitosis.
DEAN: So maybe it's time somebody did that. I don't regard anybody dropping out of the Center as being necessarily a cop out. It's very convenient for some of us to be catty and say, "Oh sure, he stuck around for awhile, but where the hell is he now?"

Well, we just don't know where he is. He might be in a very much better place for him. We can't really know about things we're not in contact with.

I just don't know if a lot is really going on at the Center that "lives up to" the kind of stimulation we were offering one another ten years ago. I don't know why this is. There may be very simple sociological factors. Maybe if you want more stimulation you have to have more people than just the same old twenty faces after ten years.

Do you think we'll be here in five years?

FRANK: I have no idea. But the idea of polarity won't go away. It might be covered up again or not seen for a period of time. We may not be the ones who bring it into the forefront in the early experiments. It may be that we'll die out and somebody else discovers it and starts some other group somewhere else or does something else with it.
DEAN: That would be a loss for all those people who didn't get to learn this stuff, but it's not a tragedy for us, because we got to live better lives because of it. So we should feel fortunate. If those other people are not prepared to open up to it, we shouldn't feel as if it's our cross to bear.

Sometimes when he's lost confidence in himself, Bob -- who has done more than anyone else except Paul's brother Walter to promote Paul's books -- really believes it's our duty to slave and "rededicate ourselves with enthusiasm" and all that stuff. And I just don't see what you get at the end of it, except maybe a stupid Nobel Prize. The fact that when you're eighty you're going to hobble up to some podium somewhere and some bureaucrat is going to put a medal around your neck and say, "Yeah, kid, you did good," leaves me less than wildly enthusiastic.

FRANK: It's a question of Bob seeing his importance. You and I know that Bob would be much more important to each of us as an individual if he would control his compulsive do-gooding. That would have such importance to us. That would really affect our lives and have repercussions everywhere. If he could stop assaulting people with free literature when they came in the door it would have a positive effect. It would affect my respect for him and his ability to exercise self-control. It would have all kinds of repercussions. That's where it gets down, for me, to the nitty gritty. It's not so much what you can say in the open talk groups, it's what life you're living.
DEAN: One of the things that helps people is seeing how empty the administrative work at the Center is. Half of the people who have gotten to be President have dropped out of the Center after one or two terms. I think it taught them that official power wasn't important; what's important is what's going on in their lives. And I guess half of them decided that they were willing and able and interested in pursuing what was going on in their lives, while the rest didn't, at least not at the Center. It may even be that some of those who dropped out didn't have anything else going on inside of them, and so becoming President was a demoralizing experience, similar to what you were saying about your last relationship. You really had to look very deeply, in ways that you hadn't before, at yourself and your life and what you were doing.
FRANK: I guess it's easy for feminines to point at masculines and say, "Look! Clay feet!" I don't guess, I know. But there is an element in truth in saying that. And I wish the masculines could use the groups to talk more about their guilt and their immorality and their clay feet, because that's where the work needs to be done.

If I could talk more about my shame in open talk groups I'd say, "Now, here I was trying to love a man. And, when he was involved with someone else sexually, I let my own understanding of what was going on get in the way of being able to assist him because I knew 'the answer' and therefore couldn't ask the questions. All I could do was give answers. And he had to really turn to somebody else for counsel, someone who could basically just objectively ask the questions. I couldn't be objective. I carry a certain amount of shame for that."

And I'd like to hear him talk about the other side of that, where I would say his responsibility was. "I was attempting to take responsibility for someone, and their surface form got in the way. The way they look did not fit my image of who I could take responsibility for." I firmly believe that was the foundation of his problem. I didn't fit his image of a lover. It's not the first time I've run into that with masculines, so it's kind of familiar to me.

DEAN: What do you think made it possible for me to accept Paul as a lover, given the age difference and the lack on my part of romantic interest?
FRANK: You wanted it.
DEAN: I guess I had such a great need to be loved that if some giant lobster from the ocean had come ashore and said, "I'll love you," I probably would have gone back into the ocean with him. Is this real powerful hunger for love from a man something you learn, do you think?
FRANK: Hopefully.
DEAN: Let me ask you a question about methodology. You've said that the feminines don't come down and talk about their shame and masculines don't come down and talk about their guilt. Instead, we entertain the new people or are entertained by them. Yet, it's always been the case that closed talk groups have been nothing but trouble. In the first year, Art had a closed talk group that a lot of serious and good people came to, and nothing happened but arguing. They all believed in Paul's ideas, and yet they were just exhausting themselves. Paul even didn't understand why this was happening.

I guess we would say now that you shouldn't argue yourself into exhaustion with a bunch of overstimulated people. That's fine. But what I see happening at the Center in the last ten years is that the level of stimulation between people has so gone down that I don't see very many people using one another for psychological stimulation at all, practically. It's like we're all on a permanent vacation.

FRANK: I don't know what's happening in their personal relationships, but I just suspect from my own knowledge that that's where the real learning and progress is taking place. Not that one can't grow in other ways when one is not involved or committed to a relationship, but it's just heightened in those situations. And just because you or I don't see it doesn't mean it's not happening.


We can live up to what he stood for by being as true to ourselves as we can be. And having as much integrity and honesty as we can at any given moment. Having the intention of serving ourselves and the people around us with our greatest openness. You know, sometimes we do that by saying we need help.

Laurie Bell

DEAN: You're the daughter of a somewhat well-known father, William Weinstone.
LAURIE: My father was one of the founders of the American Communist Party, but he was not conventionally well-known, except by people who know the history of the labor movement and the political left.
DEAN: What period of history does this span?
LAURIE: From the early 1900's well into the fifties when he was in jail.
DEAN: How did they get him in jail? What did he do?
LAURIE: They used the Smith Act to claim that an article he wrote constituted a conspiracy to advocate the forcible overthrow of the government. And he was a teacher.
DEAN: I suppose somewhere there are files that could be opened to inspection by the Freedom of Information Act if someone wanted to learn more about this.
LAURIE: It's all on record. He had a tremendous library, and all his papers and books are at Fairleigh Dickinson. They have everything from his books and papers and writings to his personal letters to me when he was in jail.
DEAN: What was it like growing up as the daughter of a famous communist who was in jail?
LAURIE: On a level of day to day living, it was challenging, let me use that word. I was followed around by the FBI.
DEAN: Really? At what age was this?
LAURIE: I was three. They used to follow me to nursery school. My house was tapped, my phone was tapped. They used to follow my mother to work every day. My father was in and out of jail most of the time. And then he was in jail for two years in Missouri, when I was nine or ten. But the essence of it was that it was challenging. I withdrew when I was very young. I became quite disturbed and used to throw up every day. I was very, very sensitive and always questioning. I didn't understand how a man who was fighting for a better world could be having the relationship that he had in his family since he wasn't there. We didn't have a better world in our house. And it was complicated by the fact that we also lived in a neighborhood where we were persecuted because we were Jews. I was told I was going to be crucified when I was little.
DEAN: You had a heavy burden to bear.
LAURIE: Yes, but the other side of it is that I had a consciousness -- a vision of a better world and of the truth of the pain in the world and the injustice in the world -- at a very young age. My father was very deep and, although I was never political in the traditional sense, I did have a heart connection with him and I did grow up with a very wide vision. And I'm very grateful for that.
DEAN: Were there discussions at home about history and about making a better world?
LAURIE: Yes, but I wasn't interested in it because it was so intellectual. My father was really pretty detached and pretty dogmatic when he was young. There were all kinds of politics.
DEAN: Was he a Stalinist?
LAURIE: I guess they would say he was, but I'm hesitant to put him in that category because he was a rebel himself. He wasn't a "personality," you know? He wasn't well known: he was a theoretician, and he was a teacher.
DEAN: Did he publish anything?
LAURIE: Some pamphlets I think. I know that he had trouble writing his autobiography later. People wanted him to.
DEAN: He wrote parts of it but not the full story?
LAURIE: He wrote notes, but he was never able to write about himself easily. He was very much a rebel. He saw everything in terms of a process. So although he didn't support Stalin, nor Czechoslovakia, he did support it in the sense that he saw it as a process. This is where he was similar to Paul. And I was born into that, so it was very natural for me in some ways to flow with that way of thinking.
DEAN: Did you inherit a sense that you wanted to have a very significant life that would change the world to some degree?
LAURIE: I always wanted to heal. From the time I was very little I wanted to help people. I was very aware of pain. In terms of being known, I don't think I really ever thought about that until recently. But significant in terms of making a difference, that's been very strong with me ever since I was a child.
DEAN: At what point in your life did you meet Paul? How did that come about?
LAURIE: I was 18.
DEAN: So you had already gone through some difficult teenage years?
LAURIE: Well, I had a breakdown. I was at City College and I was really phobic and overwhelmed with anxiety. And my parents sent me to a therapist who was also a leftist -- perhaps a communist. I was rebellious and knew that this guy wasn't for me. It was ridiculous and I knew it from the start.
DEAN: I think I'm having trouble picturing a therapist/communist.
LAURIE: Right. I only went to him twice before I had a fight with him. I knew he was going to tell me all my problems came from my father and I didn't believe that.
DEAN: Was he going to translate it to economics somehow?
LAURIE: No. I don't know how I knew this actually, but I was aware that he was going to see me more conventionally than I was. It didn't last. At that time I was working in an office with someone named Edna. She told me that she and her husband Mark were walking down the street in the Village and they came across a Village Counseling Service. They went in and there was this man who was a psychiatrist, but he was dressed like a regular person and he was great. She was going to him. And that's how I got to him.
DEAN: What did you think of Paul?
LAURIE: Oh, I loved him. The first thing he said to me was, "You're feminine, and you will either be an affective schizophrenic or lead a highly creative life." Then he said, "There's not much I can do for you, but I will teach you everything I know."
DEAN: Wow.
LAURIE: That was the first time I saw him. That was it.
DEAN: You knew you had landed a big fish. Well, how did it proceed? Did you find that what he was trying to teach made sense?
LAURIE: Well, yes. He was working out his own theory of human nature at that time. I was very phobic and really on the edge of being schizophrenic, but it still made sense.
DEAN: This was around 1966?
LAURIE: Yes. I saw him twice a week in the beginning. I was worried about whether I might have to go to a hospital, but he would always say, "If you need to go it will be for a rest." He made it very gentle and made me secure really. He treated me like his daughter. He really loved me, he accepted me. At first he only charged me five dollars, and then ten dollars. Sometimes I would go there after I'd bought a record or something and I wouldn't have the money, and he was fine with that. He would bake cookies and give them to me. He'd talk to me about his life and he would tell me that the only way you could ever help anybody is to be involved with them. You couldn't really say we talked about regular psychology.
DEAN: At least not in an abstract schematic way.
LAURIE: No, we talked about life in a real way. And that the only way you ever know anyone is through loving them. I mean the main thing that he taught me in that period was to trust my symptoms as tools. That really transformed my life. That was the key.
DEAN: How does a symptom become a tool?
LAURIE: Well, if you're anxious, then it's telling you something about what's going on within you and around you, you know? It brings consciousness.
DEAN: Did he help you rethink where you were going in life?
LAURIE: I didn't know where I was going in life. And I think that was one of the reasons why in some ways we had trouble. After he began to work exclusively with gay men (except me), he liked to introduce his patients to each other, but he didn't know who to introduce me to because I was a woman -- if I'd been a gay man it would have been different. He did influence me to being friends with Lee, a student of his who was running therapy groups based on Paul's theories, and to being in Lee's group.

In the beginning, I saw Paul regularly, probably twice a week for awhile and then once a week. He was very strong about not seeing him too much because then I wouldn't have involvements and experience to learn from.

DEAN: Was he telling you about homosexuality?
LAURIE: No, but I met someone who was gay about a year after starting with Paul. His name was Colin and he was a museum curator. He was the first gay man I knew, and he lived next door from where I lived on 82nd Street and Columbus. And I loved him. I fell in love with him because he helped me so much. He helped me drop out of school. He was 27, I think. Paul supported that relationship tremendously, because we were really helping each other with our lives. He taught me that this is what it is to love another person.
DEAN: This was a non-sexual love that you had for this man?
LAURIE: Right. That was my introduction to homosexuality. Then Paul started talking to me about it, and it never was a problem. I never before had considered it. I'd never even thought about going to a psychologist. I didn't come from that way of thinking. Colin had gone to Harvard and had had a breakdown, and he understood what I was going through. I mean I was totally flipping out in school. I was just overwhelmed with anxiety. He said, "Why don't you drop out?" And it never occurred to me. Paul also was saying that to me. It was all working together.
DEAN: I guess at this point you had ceased trying to get advice from your mother?
LAURIE: Oh, I'd ceased that a long time before.
DEAN: You didn't get along with her?
LAURIE: Not then I didn't, no.
DEAN: Was she as creative as your father was?
LAURIE: You know, I have to take another perspective because it was such a healing to be with them through their deaths. My mother's life was lived for my father.
DEAN: I've seen that in a lot of masculine women who attach themselves to feminine men who have a large sense of their own identity. It's a big problem.
LAURIE: But she was much freer, internally, than she had access to in her life. She was very celebrative. So I fought with her a lot. She was much more rigid. I mean they both were rigid. I left my parents when I was 16. And then I went back and then Paul supported me leaving again. I think I must have been 17 or 18. I'm unclear about these years.
DEAN: I'm mostly interested in how Paul helped you.
LAURIE: He was very against my being involved with them, on that level.
DEAN: Did you start reading his books or was that not necessary?
LAURIE: I wasn't as good a student as I think he might have expected me to be in some ways. I've never been. I don't read except for information. But I did read his first book then.
DEAN: Psychoanalysis and Civilization?
LAURIE: Yes.
DEAN: There's a lot of poetry in that book.
LAURIE: And I think I read the second one. Now I've read all of them, but then I hadn't. And he would test me sometimes. And I sometimes wouldn't know the answer and he would get angry. He wouldn't get angry angry, but he wasn't happy about it.
DEAN: He didn't want to have to do all the teaching. He wanted you to do some homework.
LAURIE: Right. And he would talk to me about the theory. I remember one day when he realized that eating was a form of celebration, and he was really excited about it. You know, he was still working it out. He would talk to me about it and I would talk to him about things, too. I remember telling him once that the reason I was attracted to the people I was attracted to who cut me off was because we were both polarized in our need to develop our independence so that we would come together to grow. And I remember him saying, "Yeah, right." You know, we would work together sometimes. It was great.
DEAN: Did he talk to you about his relationship with Allan, his lover at that time?
LAURIE: Yes, he talked to me about everything. Paul would tell me what he thought, how he acted. Once when he was with you he told me what he said to you when you were being defiant, "Why don't you just go run naked in the streets?" And he said he had been very cold and was somewhat regretful. He would talk to me as a friend.
DEAN: He had a tremendous respect for you. I think it was as recently as five years ago that he surprised me when I asked who of all his patients and students and friends had understood his work the best. He thought for a moment and then said, "I think probably Laurie." And this was long after you had ceased being actively involved with him on a daily basis. We didn't even know where you were or what had become of you.
LAURIE: I did understand his work. I mean we were very similar internally. And he used our similarity to guide me. Before then I really didn't have a role model. I really was without "a way."
DEAN: I remember what it's like to be a messed-up teenager, not know what the hell you're going to do with your life.
LAURIE: Right, but I was very pure in my lack of knowing. I didn't have any . . .
DEAN: Pretensions?
LAURIE: I don't want to use that word because it's judgmental. Trappings, I guess. I mean I didn't come from a conventional . . .
DEAN: Facade, maybe?
LAURIE: Right, I didn't have any facade. I was just there and in need. I was very receptive to what he was saying and I thought about it constantly. I lived that theory for many years. I tested it, I understood it, I observed it in people. I really studied it very deeply.
DEAN: You also tried to get involved with his other students, and I guess we'll have to see that in some way as a disappointment. They weren't made out of the same cloth that he was.
LAURIE: That's been one of the major lessons in my life. I wouldn't call it a disappointment, no. I would say that it really was a learning process. I really couldn't say that it was a disappointment. It taught me that I was a teacher.
DEAN: A couple of years ago I took another look at a videotape that was made at that time of one of Lee's therapy groups. And this one scene where you're being persecuted by Lee for something petty was pretty disgusting.
LAURIE: Well, I tell you, it gave me an opportunity to be in the world and to develop defenses that I had to learn from. Lee really did come from a pure place. He was a very hurt, angry man, a very, very alone man with a lot of rage and a lot of pain and disappointment. I was grateful for his caring for me. I loved him.
DEAN: It was clear through all of the hostility that he was very interested in you.
LAURIE: We were very close.
DEAN: I'm not quite sure where to take this now. Let's take a deep breath.
LAURIE: I want to say this about Paul. Later, things became more complicated because he began to grow and enter a bigger world based on his own truth. But in my early time with him, he really taught me that love was what was healing. And that is where I come from and what I'm teaching now. He saved my life and really taught me what healing is and what it is to be a healer, and gave me the foundation for my being a healer.
DEAN: I remember him telling Mark that the only times in his life when he really felt depressed was when he had nothing to love. He always needed something to love, even if it was a child or a sick person or cats in the backyard. When we first started living together, he told me that when he got old, if I wasn't able to keep him, it would be okay to put him in the hospital. As long as he could feel for the man in the next bed and just have some kind of compassion in his heart, then he would be alright. That's the central need for a feminine person, I guess.
LAURIE: That's the central need for every person. The difference I think with Paul and the world that he lived in is that the world was bound more by roles at the time. There's more chaos in the world now. I went to a concert for Martin Luther King last Saturday night. I haven't been to anything with such a political consciousness since probably 1964. I withdrew from political demonstrations of any type when I was about 18. I was arrested twice and I realized it was not my way. I was too frightened.

So anyway, this concert Saturday was a good concert, but I really saw there how the energy of the Civil Rights movement in the sixties was very focused and very excited and proud. And I can really feel the difference in the time we're living in now, where the work that's demanded of people is much more inner. It's a much more complex time. The lines aren't as defined. A lot of people are leaving, a lot of people are dying. There's a battle going on, there's a war going on much more internally. Do you understand what I mean by that?

DEAN: I think I do. We're living in a more psychological age. People used to refer jokingly to the 70's as the Me Generation, but the change is much deeper and more permanent than anything that is easily joked about.
LAURIE: The reason I'm working with people with AIDS is that I believe that AIDS is a teaching. And it's teaching people to take care of themselves, to love themselves. It's teaching about fear, and it's teaching about love. It's teaching about the oneness of us all. It's a different time. So I don't feel the fear that I used to feel when I was in my twenties, or the emptiness that I used to feel. And I think part of that is developmental because I've grown and I know myself better. I have a very loving relationship with myself at this point. But it's also because there is such a demand around me -- at least in the world that I'm choosing to live in -- for healing.
DEAN: You radiate something I would hesitate even to name because it has to be seen to be believed. I see it even in the video tapes that were made of you 15 years ago -- even the one where you're baking gingerbread cookies.
LAURIE: Oh my God!
DEAN: It's real cute. Well, I sense that you are a healer and that you are going to attract people to you because you have a quality very similar to Paul's. Paul always used to say how he could get some new person "eating out of his hand in five minutes." Almost as if the world was full of wild hurt animals who needed to be tamed and calmed and just comforted a little. And you certainly have that quality.
LAURIE: Thank you.
DEAN: Maybe we could ask how you use Paul's ideas or his theory today. Obviously when you look for a lover, you're looking for somebody who's polarized with you?
LAURIE: At this point in my life the theory is so integrated in me that I don't look for that. I will just have that.
DEAN: That's interesting. I guess I'm like that too. And I also would have a hard time answering that question.
LAURIE: I only talk about the theory with people who could use it as an intellectual tool without disconnecting to do that, if you understand what I mean.
DEAN: Without making it a cerebral exercise?
LAURIE: Exactly. I don't generally talk about it. I'm really finding my own way of communicating.
DEAN: And yet I'm sure you influence masculine people in a masculine direction and feminine people in a feminine direction.
LAURIE: Right, but I'd like to think that I would do that anyway.
DEAN: Oh, I see.
LAURIE: This just gives me the light.
DEAN: Well, you know, I'm sure that a number of therapists would do this instinctively.
LAURIE: Right. I mean there are people I've told the theory to who have said, "I know that."
DEAN: Once Paul told me he had a theatrical director or something in for an initial interview, and Paul had launched into a fifteen minute lecture on polarity theory. And the man nodded his head and said, "Oh, I figured that stuff out twenty years ago."
LAURIE: That's what I'm saying. I mean it's the truth. The truth is the truth.
DEAN: It's not Paul's theory at that point. It's just how the world works.
LAURIE: Paul's brilliance is that he shed light on the truth. But the truth exists. My work at this point is with people who are on the edge and with people who are dying. I work within a bigger space than to talk intellectually with people. I really am making heart connections with people. Now, that's in my work and that's my basic way of working, but that doesn't mean that I won't explain to someone who is having a problem with a lover why they may be having that problem. And in that moment, I will use the theory. I will talk about masculine energies and feminine energies. I don't talk specifically about the theory.

On the other hand, my last lover, Jon, really took to the theory. He's reading over all the monographs and understanding it on a much deeper level. Since we separated he has developed a much more profound understanding of it, seeing how you have to live it to understand it. For Jon, who can really work with intellectual concepts brilliantly, the theory is very important.

DEAN: He might become a very useful soldier in what Paul called the creative army of civilization.
LAURIE: He is, more than I am, on that level.
DEAN: Well, what do you think makes a man like Paul? Did you ever get a feeling for what his early life must have been like or what he had gone through?
LAURIE: I think of his sensitivity, I think of his capacity for love, I think of the brilliant capacity of his mind to understand, and of his patience. He was much more conventionally -- and I mean this in a good way -- scientific than I am. Hence his ability to work with concepts in a very patient way, to put them together, to come up with a truth that's so clear about why people operate the way they do. And now I'm talking about his identity. You were asking I think also about his surroundings, right?
DEAN: But the identity is the basic thing, I think.
LAURIE: I believe that we attract the surroundings we need to attract based on our identity, so I can't really say it's the surroundings that did it.
DEAN: I agree. It turns out not to be a very fruitful question when I ask people that. It's one of those unanswerable things.
LAURIE: Right. I guess any answer is guaranteed to be too limited.
DEAN: Maybe a more useful question would be this. It would be wrong for us to let the essence of Paul vanish with his corporeal person. It would be wrong for us to let what Paul had brought into the world vanish with his death. We know the books will survive: they're in libraries, and when people are ready to read them they'll be read. But what about this first generation of his students -- his children, really -- what do we have to feel in our hearts to live up to what he stood for?
LAURIE: By being as true to ourselves as we can be. And having as much integrity and honesty as we can at any given moment. Having the intention of serving ourselves and the people around us with our greatest openness. You know, sometimes we do that by saying we need help. And having as much compassion and as open a heart as we can to the pain in the world around us. I mean that's it for me. Does that answer your question?
DEAN: I think it does.
LAURIE: I don't think there's any one way for any person. I think all of us have our own paths and our own lives. Sometimes someone has to be alcoholic and to learn from that, and that may be good. I mean, I see AIDS as a path. For all the people that I've worked with, AIDS leads to the heart.
DEAN: I've seen that. I've seen people just get very much more centered. They get to face the very most important and ever-present facts of existence.
LAURIE: Absolutely. I took care of a man who died in April who I'd worked with for a year. In the last four months, I was his primary care person. The healing that took place in his life and in my life was very beautiful, despite all the anger and the fear and the difficulties at times. He died on Easter and the last thing he did before he died was applaud. He died at peace. And I'd like to think that was partly due to the work that we did, that he did on himself and that we did together.

That's what I've seen. I don't always see it in that form, but I'm working with a woman now who was a drug addict. I've never worked with a woman who had AIDS or was a drug addict. Last Friday she was telling me that she was afraid of dying and what happens on the other side. I don't come from a religious background at all, but with my father and with my mother, I became open to the idea that this isn't all there is. There's much more going on here than we know. I believe that there is body, mind, and spirit. I've read about near death experiences, and I've gone to the Elizabeth Kubler Ross workshop, and I've read Stephen Levine -- he really is one of my new teachers. I believe that we are born to heal ourselves and to learn. That's what life is about, whether you believe there's an afterlife or not. That obviously seems to be what we're here for. When you finish learning what you have come for, you leave your body. And I believe that we are energy and that this energy continues. I don't know what form it takes but I believe the learning goes on.

Anyway, this woman, who comes from a whole other way of living than you or I do, turned to me and said, "Well I'll tell you something. I'm growing now. I'm growing for myself and I'm growing more than I ever did before. I'm not doing it with anybody else but I am growing." And I was just floored since I'd never talked to her about growing. So there's something going on here that's more than we know.

DEAN: I guess that the most interesting kind of human phenomena are found in the tragedies and revolutions of consciousness, no matter what their cause, when people really start questioning and digging and changing their minds -- and realize that they can change their minds. That's when people not only start growing but when you can reach and help people.
LAURIE: Right. I see it with people who are approaching death. Something happens.
DEAN: They want to come clean. They want to stop playing the games.
LAURIE: I don't think they want to. I think it's just part of the developmental process. Dying is a process like giving birth is. Elizabeth Kubler Ross says that as the physical body drops, lets go, the spiritual quadrant opens up. She has a whole theory about that.
DEAN: I didn't know she believed that. I've seen the documentary on TV about her, and it was just wonderful work.
LAURIE: She's very spiritual at this point. Yet she's very grounded. I mean she smokes and she doesn't believe you have to meditate or eat special food or anything like that.
DEAN: That's what I liked about her: she was so down to earth.
LAURIE: She also has worked with people for years, and one of the things that has happened in her own life -- and the same thing has happened in mine -- is that she just began to see that there is a whole spiritual side to us, and that this is not just trippie stuff but is very real. It's an opening of the heart really. And I saw it with my father. As he became closer to his own death, he began to communicate from a deeper, more sensitive space, from his heart.
DEAN: Do you think Paul's teachings are for a small group of people, or do you think slowly his ideas and perhaps even his name will become commonplace in the world?
LAURIE: I don't know because, well, traditional psychology is very limited. You understand what I'm saying? His depth of understanding transcends that. The bigness of his ideas are not only about the theory. They're about and they reflect who he was as a person.
DEAN: And how he approached the purposes of his life.
LAURIE: And what life is about. That life is about growing, is about being creative and being happy and loving, and helping each other reach that. That sounds very simple, and I don't mean to negate or deny the brilliance of the theory in any way when I say that.
DEAN: I guess what you're saying is that science may be only a stage in a larger process of understanding the world that mankind has to go through, and that at some point our understanding will be even fuller and broader than any narrow definition of science might encompass.
LAURIE: And it's beginning to happen already. I've been reading a book called Space, Time and Medicine which shows how the new physics -- quantum physics -- shifts all the concepts in healing, where you're no longer talking about particles and everything being separate. You're now talking about unity and oneness, and that sickness may be a positive step in one's evolution and one's healing.
DEAN: This whole business about "non-locality" is very troubling to the physics guys, but their best tests all come to the same conclusion: that either logic itself has to break down or else the universe is not just a bunch of separate little particles that can't communicate faster than the speed of light. It's in some sense connected in a holistic way, and they don't understand it.
LAURIE: Exactly. This book is very scientific -- it's about physics and the different theories that have emerged about synchronicity and different things to really prove this to someone who wouldn't believe that it's true. It's pretty technical. Yes, that is what I'm saying. I want to be careful in saying it because I love Paul and I value him and he was so important. He was my first teacher. And he and all of my teachers since then have been on that same path of seeing life holistically as a developmental process -- it's about evolution and about love.
DEAN: Will what Paul taught always be true? Will any future teaching have to include as a subset what Paul taught? Or do you think a lot of what Paul taught will be thought irrelevant or too technical?
LAURIE: Psychology is very much in the moment of the time we're living in. So what is true today in four million years may not be true. Paul's theory that men and women are both masculine and feminine was not true of cave men: women were feminine and men were masculine. So I can't predict how that's going to go.
DEAN: It brings up the whole question of to what degree does knowledge allow people to change their own natures -- how does new truth enable more right to exist and vice versa. If same-gender polarity is just a useful adaptation, there may evolve secondary and tertiary polarities. Two masculine guys may develop some new kind of polarity that we can't envision.
LAURIE: Absolutely. I have a friend, a very close friend, who's gay and masculine. Right now he is growing from having relationships with masculine men. Now, they're not the traditional concept of lovers but he is becoming much freer with men who are masculine who are different from him, who are learning from him and who he's learning from. I see this as a stage in his process, but it's just as valid as being with someone who's feminine. I can every once in awhile try and get him to be with someone feminine, you know, but it's not where he belongs right now.
DEAN: Here's another example of that. It concerns someone you used to know from the Center. He always used to memorize all of Paul's formulations and use them as weapons against people to prove how smart he was and how stupid they were. And we had a discussion group around five years ago where I was trying to advocate that, even though non-polarized friendships are difficult, in certain ways you can learn more from them because they can be more challenging or just challenging in a new way. And he immediately came up with a formula. "Well," he said, "anytime you have a non-polarized relationship, it's just buddies, you know? Nothing's going to happen. You're going to go bowling and drink beer." Since I knew how much Paul had helped him change his life, I said, "The most important person that's ever been in your life -- who has taught you more than anybody else -- is another feminine. And you don't even realize that." He didn't seem to get it.
LAURIE: We were all different when we were younger. Kids can be pretty cruel.
DEAN: He died last year of a cancer unrelated to AIDS.
LAURIE: He did? How old was he?
DEAN: In his sixties, I think. He got a lot of support from people at the Center who liked him and got along with him. I think he was in good shape. I saw him for the last time a month before he died. He looked like a Buddhist monk with sunken cheeks and no hair on his head. He looked absolutely hollow physically, but very content in some way. He looked like he was getting ready to go on some trip. He didn't know where he was going, but he was ready.
LAURIE: Wonderful, wonderful. I'm really glad to hear that.
DEAN: We hugged each other. It was a very good parting. I knew I'd never see him again and he knew it also. We left on a positive note.
LAURIE: That's healing.
DEAN: I wanted it to be like that. Well, you know, my last years with Paul were like that too. I had moved out and I wasn't trying to have a deep three-dimensional confrontation with him every day like we used to. I was trying to heal him -- and myself -- from the overstimulation of what we'd been through. We had driven each other crazy for years. And people who have a history like that I think really need to just affirm that they also just like one another and want to be just family in some way. And we had many, many good moments of feeling like a family. And that made a big difference for me because when he finally left, I felt as if I had done my best. I'd given him everything I could. If there was anything that I didn't give him it was because I didn't have it then to give, and maybe someday I'll have it for someone else.
LAURIE: Or maybe it wasn't meant to be.
DEAN: Well, we knew from the start that our lives were going to overlap. He used to say that he'd spent the first forty years of his life getting ready for me and that after he was gone he would live on through me, that my life would be a continuation in some real sense of his life.
LAURIE: That doesn't have to be in any one form either.
DEAN: No, and it can't be academic. It can't just be my writing complicated books about complicated theories that nobody ever reads. That wouldn't be commensurate with his stature or mine.
LAURIE: No. I hope I haven't been too simple in my description of his achievements.
DEAN: I don't think so. I think the basic truth about this man is something so simple that a lot of us forget it.
LAURIE: I think that's true. In trying to understand it, you forget it.
DEAN: We're so used to using our cerebral cortex to understand things like calculus or computers that we forget that the most important things are right in front of us, or in our own hearts. We don't look at them, and we don't know how to think about them. And I think we have to get simpler to get back to that.
LAURIE: That's exactly what I'm saying.
DEAN: I might like to look up Stephen Levine. Is he a doctor?
LAURIE: No, he works with death and dying as an opportunity to awaken. I've read his books. He's part of the new dying movement, really.
DEAN: Oh, is there a dying movement?
LAURIE: There's a death and dying movement that's just beginning. You know, hospices and stuff. And he's quite spiritual. He began as a poet and a meditation teacher. Then he worked with Elizabeth Kubler Ross.
DEAN: I can look him up at Barnes and Noble or Strands. I spend a lot of time just roaming bookstores. It's my idea of an adventure. Some people go to Africa and hunt lions, but I go to a bookstore and get lost in the ideas.
LAURIE: But if you don't resonate with Stephen, don't force yourself.
DEAN: I'm interested in this subject partly because I believe it's like the last taboo in a way. What I went through with Paul was very natural, very wholesome -- if that doesn't sound too cheerful.
LAURIE: No, it sounds absolutely true. I know exactly what you mean.
DEAN: And I really don't think it's right that people are denied the opportunity to experience something that is so central: how we come out of existence.
LAURIE: Exactly, that's exactly how I see it. That's why I do this work.
DEAN: People think that there's something wrong with dying, almost as if the person is at fault. To me, this is one of the social oppressions about dying.
LAURIE: Check out Who Dies. If you like it, let me know.

I was going to tell you what I wanted to do. I want to, in time, create a community of healers and artists, and have a hospice within this community where these ideas that I'm talking about and my own truth -- the idea that life is a process of learning and of healing, and that sickness and death is part of that process -- is the main way of living, of thinking in this community. So that people can be there who are dying and who are sick and not be isolated but be a part of the bigger process. That's my goal.

DEAN: That's a big goal. I think you mentioned something about that to me a few years ago.
LAURIE: It's getting clearer though. And I'm meeting doctors. I need a doctor who's open-minded, and that's not too easy to find. But that's where I'm going.


It's very evident to me how a greater understanding of truth and right are needed in the world. I think Paul stood for sanity, and the world needs it.

Nick Cirabisi

DEAN: How did you first meet Paul, and what were your first impressions of him?
NICK: When I first met Paul, I didn't talk with him personally. He was running a group at the time. Although I didn't understand much of what he and other Center members were saying, I felt excited and quite at home with the place. I think Paul was responsible for the atmosphere that brought out the best in people. I remember feeling like he could help and understand me, if I had access to him.
DEAN: Relate the history of your relationship.
NICK: It wasn't until a couple of years later that I approached him for counseling. We decided to become lovers instead. I'm not certain about dates. I have a painting which I made when I first moved in which dates 1976.

Paul told me right from the start, "I'll show you what it means to have someone putting his love to work for you." With time, Paul helped me control the fears and horrors that I was having with the world. Basically, he taught me how to first recognize recklessness, then replace recuperating from it with a healthier, quieter lifestyle. It wasn't easy, but I was determined to find alternatives to the crazy world that I was coming from. At one point I recall Paul telling me that I looked like a lion pacing his cage to be set free. But I also remember how good it felt to find new saner ways of dealing with the restlessness and gray periods. I turned to hobbies. Hobbies took on a new experience for me. I wasn't losing myself in them, as I did when I lived with my parents. With Paul around, my hobbies felt unpressured and delightfully useless. I didn't have my father standing over me telling me I should be making money with all these talents of mine. These simple and safe projects replaced my reckless ones.

DEAN: Paul shared his growth process with you. What was that like?
NICK: Paul worked on his problems up to the day he died. Despite his ill health he remained a growing person. When he was exhausted and his pride became brittle, his temper would often flair. He didn't like himself much at times like this. I remember him saying, "I'm very difficult at times, aren't I?" His depth of love is what made my endurance of his problems so easy. Whatever the problem, disagreement or confrontation, I never seriously questioned his love for me. That would have just been masochistic on my part. It was just beyond question and very obvious because of all he was doing for me. He told me that his focus on me was what was keeping him alive. All I know for certain was that it was very important that I use him; and god knows I needed just that.

As well as learning to care for my own mental health and becoming my own therapist, I wanted to care for Paul also. This was another learning experience for me. I wasn't sure how. What I found worked best was taking care of myself first, so that I was clear-headed enough to see what was needed in front of me. Because of his health problems, there were times when my attempted caring turned into obsessive worry. He was quick to point out that it didn't help things any.

For the most part we were ordinary together. Staying surface was good for both of us. He told me that I helped him remain in the here and now, which seemed important to him. The thing that I was so happy to learn early on in the relationship was that Paul didn't know all the answers and felt just as awkward as I. That's what it was all about I guess. We learned and grew together.

DEAN: Do you feel you may be able to further his work in any way?
NICK: Yes. A couple of weeks before he died, he told me, "Now you'll help someone else, as I've helped you." At the time he said it, I didn't want to think about it. I realize now the insight behind his words. While I'm not feminine and make a poor teacher, I am still able to have influence in my mate Ross's life as well as with my friends. My actions and experiences have the potential of leading Ross closer to reaching his personal growth goals.

When Paul expressed his love for me and other masculines, I feel it's these qualities that he was getting off on. He liked seeing his work furthered. Namely, through his students' development.

DEAN: Do you think Paul's work is important to the world at large?
NICK: Definitely. I was in a taxi one day. The driver was getting off on the women he was passing (and sharing all the oohs and ahs with me, unfortunately). I noticed his objects of affection were getting younger and younger as we drove on. After we passed a thirteen-year-old he said, "You know, it's really awful how some men go after very young children! . . . tsk, disgusting, isn't it?" He sounded a little confused to me.

I responded with, "Well, people just don't realize that that's what masturbation is for. You can beat off and fantasize anything. Just don't live it all."

He agreed enthusiastically. When we came to my destination, he ran out and opened the door for me. He had the biggest grin on his face (and I thought a look of relief). He shook my hand and thanked me.

It's very evident to me how a greater understanding of truth and right are needed in the world. I think Paul stood for sanity, and the world needs it.

DEAN: Do you think Paul has changed the potential importance of psychology in the life of the average man?
NICK: No, not really. Not yet anyway.

I still see people searching, even after coming to the Center, reading Paul's books, or attending the groups. I see many settle for magic and miracles, and others taking more conventionally rewarding paths. Someday his teachings may hold a real place in the average man's life, but for now, all I can see is a small handful putting it to use.

I'm glad to see some of the old ways dying out in the conventional world. The shrink telling the horizontal patient about penis envy, for example, wouldn't likely be as tolerated today as before. But as far as I've heard, Paul's work hasn't been used anywhere but the Center.

I've learned that people were being dissatisfied with conventional psychology for as long as I can remember. That doesn't mean that they can incorporate Paul's work into their lives. Those same people could be just as satisfied turning to EST, political options, church, bingo, or Club Med rather than his work. I've given up trying to sell Paul to "serious sounding" people. I'm not a salesman and I'm not getting paid to do the Phil Donahue show. It's just too useful a tool in my life to bastardize it that way.

DEAN: What kind of contribution do you want to make to the task of bringing a better world into existence?
NICK: That question always brings me back to my own growth process. I'm satisfied to work at making my own world a better place to live in. If it has a rippling effect, great. If it doesn't, I still have my world. For me, it's the little baby steps that I take to grow which work best. A SMALL STEP FOR MAN, A GIANT LEAP FOR MAN'S MIND.

Well, it works for me.


I think a lot of cynics in society and doomsayers just say, "Oh, society is useless, let's blow it up. It's not worth saving." But that's not what Paul saw about people. He saw their beauty and he saw their goodness and he saw that they wanted something better in their life, the majority of them. That's what's so wonderful about working with this material.

Robert Fink

DEAN: Just to get the record straight, you were never a patient of Paul's?
ROBERT: No. My only encounters with him were after the talk groups. I came up and talked to him a couple of times. The most memorable experience, I guess, was when I was first coming down to the Center. I came up to him and told him how much I liked his ideas and how stimulating I found all of this, and he said to me something to the effect of, "You are a very ignorant person."
DEAN: Was it said with hostility?
ROBERT: No, it was like he wanted to see what I could do with the information, as if he was saying, "You talk like you're enthused about all this, but let's see whether you can put your mind to work and really do something with it."
DEAN: Put your mind where you mouth is?
ROBERT: That was one of the things that really got me interested and involved. I was going to show him what I could do. It is true that we never had one-to-one counseling sessions, but I remained impressed by him.
DEAN: You used to write him letters and birthday cards and things. What was that about?
ROBERT: There's a funny story in there about my not asking for counseling. I was new at the Center and a bunch of us were walking on the street and we were talking about who Paul was seeing and whatever. And one of his patients said, "Oh, he would never sit with somebody like you." And I believed it. There was a lot of intimidation -- if that's the right word -- or fear in my soul, and I never approached Paul for counseling. So when he did retire from counseling, writing a letter or a card were the few ways that were open to me. I understand that he did appreciate it. He did write me a letter back telling me that I was a person who did not seem to be terribly impressed by success or failure, and a person like that could make real changes in himself and help others. That I thought was a good thing to hear from him. That was very helpful.
DEAN: When you first came down to the Center and heard about this man, what was your first experience of him?
ROBERT: I think that I regarded him as a prophet or a guru and I had finally come upon somebody with all the answers.
DEAN: What made you think that?
ROBERT: Just listening to him speak and listening to the answers that he gave other people. One evening I let one question after another fly at him and the group leader stopped the group and said, "I will not have you treat this man like a prophet. You're putting him up on a pedestal and it's not fair to him or to us." And I listened and I stopped. Paul seemed to have a real understanding of scientific theory and method and what science was all about and I'd always been impressed by science. He was a man who in my opinion was very scientific in his approach.

One evening I asked him something about experiments. If a chemistry experiment is conducted in England you should expect the same result as a chemistry experiment conducted in America. Would the same thing hold true for his theories? They were fine in America, but would they hold true elsewhere? (I had had some organizational psychology courses beforehand which had contrasted management styles in different countries.) Paul said that if we were talking about civilized countries, his theories would hold true. I didn't know whether to believe him at that point, but something in me said, "Trust him, he knows what he's talking about. If he says that they will hold true, believe him." And then later on as I got to understand more about Paul's theories I saw that of course they would hold true. Masculinity and femininity are not isolated to Americans, they're universal in civilized societies.

DEAN: Although, in fairness, it's not easy to see that if you don't have much contact with those other countries. You haven't lived in France or Russia or Japan. Isn't it conceivable that his models might not hold true?
ROBERT: I took his explanation to mean in those countries where a child is permitted to develop on his own, where there isn't a rigid imposition of "You, Johnny, are going to be exactly like your Dad in every respect." The same holds true for women in cases where women are not expected to hold to the traditional female model to the letter. If children are given some degree of freedom in developing identities on their own, then Paul's theories will hold true. I don't have to go to England or France to know that. I've encountered Englishmen and Frenchmen and their identities are not all masculine or all feminine.
DEAN: At what point did you investigate your own polarity and try to figure out how you fit in with this theory?
ROBERT: That investigation didn't begin until I started getting counseled. That was a year and a half, maybe two years, after my first visit to the Center in November, 1975.
DEAN: How often did you come to the Center initially?
ROBERT: I would come to two sessions a week initially, maybe three, and then I started coming once a week.
DEAN: So that means that you had come to about a hundred sessions before getting into counseling.
ROBERT: I didn't trust counseling as a mechanism. I may have thought well of Paul, but I didn't trust the people down at the Center. I had seen too many of them in the bars and on Christopher Street after they had delivered some big sermon about living a creative life. I said, "Wait a minute, I've been had." I can understand now that they were working on those problems, but I thought then that they were lacking in honesty.
DEAN: One of the questions that is always posed about the Center is: Just because Paul was a scientist, does that mean that all followers of a scientist are also scientists? Do you think some of Paul's followers are actually cult members?
ROBERT: I think that's being a little hard. There may be a cult member or two out there, but I think that while they may not all be scientists they have found something which makes their daily life pleasant, more esthetic, more enjoyable and therefore they use it. They just don't have a personal devotion to science.
DEAN: Would you say that they're beneficiaries of science without being part of the group of people who are capable of or interested in advancing science?
ROBERT: I think that's probably closer to the truth.
DEAN: Although you've contributed in the past to the Ninth Street Center Journal, you haven't written lately, have you?
ROBERT: No. My writing right now is confined to writing letters to various press people and libraries and what-have-you, but I haven't written any serious pieces. I'm slowly getting comfortable with my computer and my word processing software. I'm beginning to appreciate your remark that word processors are like religions: after the trauma of learning one you don't want to believe that any other could work as well.
DEAN: That's where our rigidities belong, in areas like word processing and computer software. I don't think our view of life should be conditioned by those same rigidities. This analogy is similar to what Paul said about Freud. I told Paul one day that I had again seen my favorite science fiction movie, Forbidden Planet. The earthlings come upon this ancient civilization that died out even though it far surpassed human civilization, so they're trying to figure out what destroyed it. And it turns out that as this superior race explored their own consciousness they had inadvertently released their id, and it was the monsters of the id which took over the planet and destroyed everything. Paul said, "Yes, that's where the ideas of Freud belong: in science fiction."
ROBERT: I saw that movie. I remember the id coming out and beating up on people.
DEAN: Walt Disney did the animation of the id. It was sort of a cross between a lion and a frog: a lion-mane on a frog body. There's no evidence that Freud ever took a walk in a forest or visited a jungle or petted a lion or anything like that. He didn't know what he was talking about. . . . Oh well, have you been doing counseling in recent years?
ROBERT: My truth-seeking right now is confined pretty much to getting a better understanding of Paul's ideas, sitting with my counselor and asking his opinions and advice. I feel very much like a late-comer at the Center.
DEAN: Still, even after thirteen years?
ROBERT: Yes, very much.
DEAN: But you realize, of course, that the old-timers were there only two years ahead of you?
ROBERT: That's true, but it just keeps cropping up that my understanding of Paul's ideas is not what it should be. Nor is my expression of them what it should be. That's not an excuse for not counseling other people or not getting involved, but I feel very lacking. I think I wrote in one of my letters to you that I really feel like that person in the poem with the broken sword, that there are others out there with very fine-honed swords but who are not doing all that much. I feel that I have a broken sword but I hope to make some real change in society. I hope to do that by promoting Paul's books through libraries and journals and what-have-you, but the others look at me like "Well, he's not really doing anything creative with his life." I'm not doing any one-to-one counseling, but I do lead talk groups.
DEAN: And you speak up in other people's talk groups.
ROBERT: If I meet somebody who's really stimulating to me I will certainly give to them of my time over coffee or whatever. We've had a recent visitor, Bill from North Carolina, a man who said that he had publishing contacts. I spent three evenings with him in very heated discussions. It was exciting. Who knows what will come of it. It's not like I keep myself as a monk in my apartment.
DEAN: I think you tend to have more contact with new people at the Center than many of the old standbys who consider themselves the crème de la crème.
ROBERT: I do make an effort to greet new people. That's a part of my conventional nature, but I don't let it get out of hand.
DEAN: Paying the Center's rent is conventional, publishing Paul's works is conventional, but these are all things that have to be done, don't they?
ROBERT: I'm of that opinion: that it's something that has to be done, that there's no harm in saying hello to a new person and asking them something about themselves and, if they're interesting, getting into a discussion with them.
DEAN: Though in fairness to the others, once you've been saturated with a new science for a few years and have seen how it can clarify the issues of your own life, it's pretty obnoxious to deal with people who haven't been so enlightened. I liken it to dealing with your parents after you've been to college or after you've lived a little bit and know in no uncertain terms what idiots they really are.
ROBERT: I was thinking about that last night after dealing with a crop of new people that came down. It's like doing something that has to be done or should be done. The people that were down there last night were not all that stimulating to me, but what should we do?
DEAN: Did people sense that the new guy who was helpless was masculine?
ROBERT: Oh, the guy that lost his mate. No, and I hadn't thought about it that much either. It was occurring to me last night that he was. He just didn't seem to be a very warm guy.
DEAN: I warmed up to him a little bit because I like people who have been raised by wolves. He seemed to be very independent, the kind of guy who might have spent ten years out to sea or something -- mountain climbing maybe. He seemed like a rugged individualist who was just not that fond of human companionship. As much as we discourage that kind of attitude towards the human scene, you have to admit that a lot of important people have had to take that route.
ROBERT: There is something about him that was appealing or attractive, but not a whole hell of a lot. After his complaining I felt like saying to him, "Well, you've done nothing with your life, you never will do anything, why don't you go home and do yourself in if that's what you want to do?" But I thought, "No, that's not going to be helpful to this man." Instead I said, "Why don't you think about working in a community like this trying to get a better understanding of yourself?" Then I thought to myself afterwards, "My god, you're encouraging this man who has very little feeling and warmth to come down and make this place his own." But, well, why not? You work with what you get.
DEAN: If you wanted to be on record as having had a certain impression of who Paul was, what would you want to say about him?
ROBERT: He is the man that made psychology real for me. He is the man who really spoke the truth about the human condition, put it down on paper, and made psychology something that I could put my hands on and make my own. That's what I'd say about Paul. I had read a lot of psychology in school and in preparation for course work, and it was dry and disturbing and unreal. Paul made psychology real for me.
DEAN: I always had the feeling in reading psychology that these guys were starting from premises which I could not possibly accept as my own. In particular, they were starting with a great deal of cynicism about human nature and a great deal of distaste for much of what is the best in people. Freud seemed to want just to catalog a lot of symptoms and draw grandiose conclusions about a death instinct or the evil id or sons killing their fathers. It had really nothing to do with the way I was living and with the kinds of things I believed in. I was looking for a life of service to the world, a life of increasing interaction with and accomplishment in the world, but Freud just didn't talk about those kinds of strivings. He went on about foot fetishists and people with sexual inhibitions -- peculiar nineteenth-century hangups. It didn't seem he was grasping the essential motivations that creative people nurture in themselves and are proud of.
ROBERT: You've touched upon something that's very important to me about Paul's work. There is something that runs through it that has to do with human nature unfolding, that people do want to become better. They do want to become healthier, they do want to become responsible for each other. I think a lot of cynics in society and doomsayers just say, "Oh, society is useless, let's blow it up. It's not worth saving." But that's not what Paul saw about people. He saw their beauty and he saw their goodness and he saw that they wanted something better in their life, the majority of them. That's what's so wonderful about working with this material. It reminds us that humanity is something that's worth saving, that it wants to pick itself up. We are mired in centuries of ignorance and immorality that Paul talks about, but it's something that people want to get out of. They want to get into the twenty-first century.
DEAN: And the thirty-first century. He always used to say that people liked to make these picayune and petty predictions for the next fifty years or the next hundred years -- but what about the next thousand years, what about the next ten thousand years? If we're here for another million years, we're going to transform ourselves. Problems that look insoluble today may soon appear to be extremely petty. So why are we simply giving up and saying, "Oh, it's human nature, you can't change it"? We've changed it in the past. We can change it in the future, too.

The thing that attracted me to Paul is that he sensed something that I had become aware of in high school, that people choose not to live. They actively select not to hope for a better future and to assume that things cannot be any better. As they rigidify, it becomes intolerable to question their own choices and their own commitments. It becomes too upsetting. They would start realizing, in terms that he later used, that they were living a lifestyle of depression: a "lifestyle depression."

It was essentially his kind of hope and faith in that process of change -- in the growth process -- that made me sense that I was in the presence of someone who could see beyond the depression and the greyness and the failures of mankind. Many people do become crippled and blocked because of the traumas that they have suffered and choose to die inside, but there's always a new generation and there are always young people. He specialized in gathering young people around him. The people who started the Center were all in their twenties, practically. They were people who shared a hope in their own capacity to enjoy life to the fullest and to make something of themselves. He understood that there really is no final reason why we must be cynical or opportunistic, that these don't come out of human nature per se but are merely consequences of living in the twentieth century. Historical circumstance does this to most people: the trick is to live in such a way that it doesn't do it to you.

He used to say that if you can just get through life with your creative capacities intact, that alone will be a tremendous achievement. You don't need to write a great book, you don't need to become a senator, you don't need to have a building named after you. What you have to do is keep your creativity intact, keep your hope and your faith and your awareness of the splendor of humankind alive, because that's what's required in order for people to make decisions that ultimately benefit all of us.

When the Center started, this whole issue of lifestyle depressions became very central to our discussions. If we sensed that a person was talking out of a lifestyle depression -- that they were essentially selling cynicism or opportunism -- we knew right away that we could not accept what they were doing and we'd have to cut them off and tell them that we were starting from a completely different premise. I think the vibrant quality of Paul's message has to do with its premises. His formulations of specific mechanisms are difficult and complex, they're hard to extrapolate from, they're tough reading. No matter how much you love it and are excited by it, it's tough to sit down and wade through this stuff. But what's thrilling to me are his premises, which are full of hope and faith in human nature and the glory of man's future. That to me is a thrilling vision.

And it's a vision unencumbered with religious dogma. Most apocalyptic cults and utopian credos are based on dogmatic assertions of what man is like. But Paul's message wasn't based on dogmatic assertions. He was perfectly willing to admit, for instance, that nobody really gets that much ahead of their own time. He wasn't willing to make hard and fast predictions about what it's going to be like a thousand years from now. The future is always surprising. But he said time and time again that what is important is that we have faith and hope in the ability of human beings to change in accordance with their own needs and purposes. That's all you really need. You don't really need to have a monolithic vision of what the future has to be like, because that becomes just another religion. That's what the Soviets did. They created a society which is a disaster for the human soul. Economic planning is a fine thing when it works, but they tried to plan the evolution of the human soul before taking the trouble to learn shit about what a human soul is all about. That's why they don't know what they're doing, why they're failing. It's much better to leave people free in their private lives, let them decide what they want. Bureaucrats are not psychologists, generally speaking.

ROBERT: It reminds me of that visitor from Michigan the other night who said, "Wouldn't there be chaos if everybody went their own way?" I liked your rebuttal to him, that there would be less chaos if people were permitted to develop on their own with less interference from society, that we would have a happier society.
DEAN: That's the old argument about does society need to coerce people to do good or does goodness come from individuality itself. Paul was always on the side of the individual in that debate. He always thought that society as a whole is merely an adaptive organism that strives to preserve itself, similar to a biological organism. It would always strive for the highest good for the greatest number rather than the freedom of the creative individual who by his efforts can really make revolutionary changes in society. We champion the deviant who needs to live a creative and independent life and does not demand that society follow his own particular way of life in his own time but rather wants the right to live his own way so that those few around him who can follow his lead will keep whatever truth and right he has uncovered alive and can themselves then share it with other people. Not only is the growth process the responsibility of the individual, but the actual teaching and leading occurs at the individual level from one person to another.
ROBERT: I think I have to remind myself of that on evenings when the Center is not so well attended. I remind myself of Paul saying that if there's one other person in the room that you can help to keep creative over time, or even just yourself, that this is a victory. It seems that we used to draw more people at the Center, especially when Paul was speaking.
DEAN: When gay liberation was a new idea?
ROBERT: Yes. During this current time of AIDS or whatever we don't seem to be drawing great numbers of people down at the Center, although there are evenings where we do get a nice turnout -- and we do get young people who are stimulating. There is something going on now which is diverting people, at least from coming to the Center, though I don't know if they're being diverted entirely from leading psychological lives. I have to remind myself that this is a temporary thing, that there will certainly come a time when what Paul had to say will be held as very important and vital and people will want the information that we have gathered. It's an important task to preserve that for them, to pass it on as best we can. I don't want to look at having just one or two people in the room as a failure for all time. People who want to learn can be taught, and you don't need an amphitheater to do it. It can be done in the privacy of a small room.
DEAN: Does Paul seem to you to have been a unique individual? What do you think made him what he was?
ROBERT: I speculate on that to myself. I've encountered other truth-speakers. I had an instructor at a teacher's college in Washington, D.C., who was really a truth-speaker. He'd say, "You think you're learning about the radicals in the newspapers? You're only learning about the Establishment radicals, the people that the Establishment has chosen to tell you about." This guy would go on like that in a course on educational psychology. I was rather impressed by this guy because I'd never heard anybody tell me anything that truthful. But Paul's truth is consistent and usable. It was something that, if I didn't have an immediate use for it in that moment, I knew that there would be a time when I could use it later. What made Paul the man that he was, I just don't know. I can't ascribe it to his education. Maybe his family?
DEAN: You can't use answers like that, because then his family would have been as creative as he was, and we know that they weren't. And certainly not everybody who went through his educational system came out creative. The vast hordes were nerds, although in fairness Chicago University does have a tradition of ambitious social science work. They're humanistic. John Dewey came out of that tradition. The Chicago humanistic spirit probably had something to do with conditioning Paul to believe certain things about human nature. I think we'll have to credit them to that degree.
ROBERT: Do we see Paul as one of those geniuses that comes along once a thousand years, and there's no explanation for it?
DEAN: Well, the reason there's no explanation for St. Thomas, for instance, is because there's no information about his inner life. We don't know what he went through. We know a little bit more about Paul, but I suppose Paul himself would have told us if there was some secret agenda that could make everybody a genius.

I consider Paul to have been almost cursed with a gift that he carried around the last thirty years of his life almost like a hunchback. Once having brought the science of human nature into being, having seen how important it was, it then became almost a horrifying burden. It's like you're a kid and your mother has asked you to carry an ancient heirloom or something to grandma next door and you've gotten lost. It's bad enough that you've lost yourself, but you've lost your mother's treasure, too. It wasn't enough for him to just live a life that was good for Paul Rosenfels. He also had this additional responsibility, and that put terrible pressures on him. It made him neglect himself in some ways. I think it's true in general of people who come upon great discoveries that it often damages them in ways that they don't even realize. They sense this tremendous responsibility to get it out there and have people recognize it, and often the world doesn't want to listen.

ROBERT: There are examples of that all over the place.


None of us will probably be here to see this millennium of psychological maturity, but I'm sure it's going to happen. It started in the mind of one person, and it took his lifetime in order to get it out in some form that could be useful or communicated or demonstrated to others. Now it's in the mind of maybe twenty other people who are trying to use it in various ways to get it out to the people they're involved with. That's the way any great system of thinking evolves.

Carl Luss

DEAN: You were one of the first people at the Center, as I recall. Did you come down in 1973?
CARL: No, actually it was January, 1975.
DEAN: Oh, I always think of you as being there from the beginning.
CARL: I do, too, but I really wasn't. The Center was there, I guess, for a year or so before.
DEAN: What was your first impression of Paul?
CARL: Paul laughed a lot when I would remind him of my impressions of him when I first saw him. And then he would tell me his impressions of me and I would laugh, too. I couldn't comprehend what this old man was doing that could attract so many young attractive guys. All I could think of was just this old crackpot queen, you know? Like heaven knows what he's doing to get all these guys to stay in the room.
DEAN: It was spooky for me too when I first met him and realized that he was sitting on something very unusual, something that seemed like black magic. It was a little frightening in some sense -- that's not quite the correct word.
CARL: I like that word a lot. It wasn't like this is just another stranger, but a force. And yet it's articulate and coherent and human and warm. It contradicted all kinds of perceptions that I had about what a scientist or a psychologist was. I didn't have any previous experience that would let me feel that this was safe.
DEAN: For a lot of us, growing up meant rescuing our identities from the big bad evil world of sick degenerate adults. I didn't want to have very much at all to do with adults, and yet here was this old guy who seemed to have something I wanted very much to get close to and find out about. So I had to summon some degree of courage. It took me a year and a half to really face up to the fact that I really, really wanted to throw the dice and risk everything on being in his life.
CARL: One benefit for me was attending the groups all the time. He was still doing them I think three nights a week when I got there, as well as the Sunday closed group. I manipulated myself into the Sunday group and, although it wasn't as personalized as the counseling would become, a lot of what was being taught to students in counseling came out in the Sunday group. He really did want them set up for people who weren't seeing him or seeing his students, so we'd get some attempt at equal exposure to the ideas that were being discussed. I didn't feel as if I missed a good deal of the conceptual material that was coming along.

But I was afraid to see him for counseling. I didn't talk to him about it for about three years. My eventual counseling period was about a year, I think. And then there were letters back and forth for another maybe six months after that.

What I really liked about Paul was how he was willing to grant that psychological growth was for anybody who really wanted to take themselves seriously. It really cut through some of my fear of this being just another pretentious mumbo-jumbo set-up.

DEAN: You mean a set-up by some status-seeking person who gets degrees or puts badges on or puts titles next to his name just for effect?
CARL: Right. Paul always loved to bash that kind of stuff. Some people approached him with that idea that somehow being in proximity to him would confer some kind of super-psychological status on them that they didn't have to earn by actually making these things their own, and most of the time Paul cut through that. And some of them wouldn't stay around after that. They'd disappear.
DEAN: He seemed to love it when an insight would come from the unlikeliest source, a new person who just looked funny, who looked like they didn't belong on this planet. I remember many strange people who came to the talk groups and didn't look self-important or speak in an academic style, and yet all of a sudden they'd come out with very, very important ideas. That's what he always tuned in on and helped the rest of us to focus on.
CARL: I like that. I remember there were times when I would say something to Paul out of my own experience and he would look at me and say, "How did you figure that out?" He'd be so surprised! And I would look at him and say, "I don't understand. It seems to be obvious to me." And he'd say, "But no it isn't. Don't you see what you've done?"

He was able to confer upon me the status of being an analytic thinker, before I had really learned much about that process. He would show me that there was a connection between some statement or insight I'd made and the process that got to that point, and that I was capable of doing that on a very sort of refined level if I calm myself down and take myself seriously.

DEAN: Unlike a lot of people who achieve important things in the world and feel that they are among the select few, he really hungered to show ordinary people that they could do anything he had done. He loved to praise people for their accomplishments, whether intellectual or methodological. He specialized in making people feel the creativity inside them and feel that they were his equal in some very important basic way. That certainly sets him apart, for my money, from anybody else of his stature that I've ever heard anything about. Except maybe for Socrates, who was also homosexual and also capable of loving ordinary men.

How long were you in New York before you came down to the Center?

CARL: Only probably about four or five months. I used to get the Village Voice when I was in Connecticut and I'd read the back pages and the personal columns and everything. I remember telling Paul I would see the Center's ad all the time that said "Tired of the Bars and Baths?" And it just never changed for the two years that I was up there. So I made a point at some time that I was going to find out what the Center was about, along with the West Side Discussion Group and the GAA Firehouse. I finally called after New Year's weekend.
DEAN: What made you come to New York?
CARL: Ostensibly I came to continue studying, but I basically came to drop out of graduate school. I had to tell myself I was doing it for something big and important so when I came I was doing studio work and theater design.
DEAN: What were you getting your Masters in?
CARL: In fine arts and set design and lighting.
DEAN: Oh, you share that with Kim, then. But you had an undergraduate degree in literature?
CARL: English. Secondary education.
DEAN: You said your first impression of Paul was funny?
CARL: Well, I couldn't figure it out. I thought he was a cranky old queen.
DEAN: What was his first impression of you?
CARL: He said what he remembered about me was that I was very alert, very intense, and that I wore green and blue plaid pants the first time I walked in the room.
DEAN: I remember those green and blue plaid pants.
CARL: Yes, everybody seems to remember them!
DEAN: I liked you at the very first because you would come in to the Center without any self-consciousness. One of the first times I noticed you was during one of these talk groups that was so crowded that people were standing in the back. And you had to stand, too, but you slowly inched forward so you were quite prominent before the rest of us. And you spoke in a very calm and centered kind of voice that spoke to Paul and the rest of us as equals. That I thought was remarkable. It demonstrated a remarkable sense of identity, this intellectual clarity and articulation. I felt right then that "Now we're getting the real people down here. Now we're getting the people who are going to matter." A few people at the Center have what I guess you'd call charisma: the sense of being somebody, of having an identity, of being able and willing to walk into any group and feel equal, or at least give off the signal that you expect to be taken seriously.

What gave you the first idea that there was something special about what Paul was teaching?

CARL: What I liked so much about the groups was the sense that somebody was trying to talk about an explanation for homosexuality in some sensible, organized way. That was always the focus. We've gotten more generalized in the last few years, but that was what really drew me in there. I think I really came to New York for that.
DEAN: I think Kim did also.
CARL: I had so many questions and problems. And I had already gone through various forms of conventional therapy and counseling and things, so I had some idea of what nonsense sounds like.
DEAN: Had you done any reading about homosexuality? Had you read any gay writers?
CARL: None that made any lasting impression, or I'd have them at my fingertips. No, I guess what I liked about what I was hearing at the Center was that it was all drawn from things that happened to you in everyday life -- like right on the streets -- and everything was linked to something psychological. Plus I just liked the idea of independence. It's funny, all I can remember basically is being vastly intimidated, almost all the time.
DEAN: By Paul or the group?
CARL: By the group itself. And I think this may just have been a measure of the phobia that I've always overcompensated for by this sort of brash exterior. Some people find that interesting, some people find that very off-putting. I've never been able to explain it and I don't particularly care to worry about it either at this point. It either works or it doesn't.
DEAN: You've always reminded me of Paul, because he always seemed to have a lot of, well, brashness about him, too.
CARL: That's what I loved so much about Paul. He made me laugh so hard sometimes. We'd sit there and I'd say, "God, you can be such a pig!" He was just so alive and so real and so visceral. There was none of this hyper-pretension of never saying words like "shit" or "hard-on." I felt so relieved because I'd spent most of my life defending myself against the pretensions of being an adult that said you can't describe these things.

When you're trying to talk about human issues to people, you have to use human terms that people understand. Whatever works to get the point across, that's what you use. And Paul understood this very well. It was one of the reasons why his groups were always so tremendously successful.

I don't ever recall him discussing personal histories in the groups the way there is a tendency for I guess some people these days, because I know he knew it was off-putting to many people. It just closed too many people out.

DEAN: You mean talking about the specific history of a particular person?
CARL: Yeah. He really understood the value of generalities, almost like a good writer, and of using material that many, many people could attach themselves to at some level. People felt at ease in participating, like they weren't revealing some deep dark personal human secret, or they had to match his depth or something.
DEAN: That ability to generalize, coupled with his broad knowledge of certain topics like literature, medicine and history, made some of his patients think that he ought to try to use the broadcast media as a platform: go on a talk show or be interviewed on the radio. I always thought that was a little crazy.
CARL: He always knew where that was at. I'd say, "Well, how do you respond to people nagging you all the time to do something like this?" And he just said, "I just tell them that's for somebody else maybe who feels comfortable doing that." He said he didn't really have the time for that kind of division of his faculties.
DEAN: I think that Paul really chose to focus on the creation of a new science, rather than to focus on a lot of other things he could have gotten into to promote or market that science.
CARL: Or make it a cult. It's usually the people who come after the great thinkers or the great leaders who institutionalize the concept or the ability that's been demonstrated.
DEAN: Like open a Center or something.
CARL: My reading of biographies and autobiographies of many of these people, where they exist, indicates that they really did labor in fields of relative seclusion and were regarded as crackpots, and that their followers were those few who really saw something bigger coming through.

I'm sure Paul also was one of those certifiable genius people. I don't think this fact should be given any weight at all that it doesn't deserve, but it is a very handy publicity gimmick. And he knew it. That was one of the things I liked about Paul, too: his being very honest about these things. He told me, "I'm a con artist, Carl." And he said that one good thing about therapy is that you act as a con artist in some respects. You can help smooth problems out or help people over troubled areas. And from the reactions that you get from the insights that you're giving your patients, you find the one or two people who are able to grow.

I was always stunned by that. People like to think that anybody who saw Paul must have been a growing serious big psychological genius mother something or other. And they weren't. They were just ordinary, ordinary people. And Paul even said to me, "You know, sometimes people seem to listen to everything I say. They don't complain or squawk and they go out the door. And I find out later it's like they haven't heard a word. And others give me the most difficult time and yet they're the ones that seem to be able to take something away and make it work." He used to say that over and over again in various ways.

It imparted to me a sense that Paul knew very well that a person grows because they take insight or they take mastery and they make it work, they apply it in some real way in their lives. It isn't some intellectual superstructure. And also that there are people who benefit from the same insights and the same mastery in ways that don't have creative implications.

DEAN: A good example of that is the way he was so proud that so many people benefited from the idea that adaptive pursuits should be simplified and kept in their place. A lot of conventional people down at the Center who never wanted to be creative were benefited enormously just by being able to do that.

You spoke about Paul bragging that he was a con artist. When I was living with him, I didn't like the way he would use terms like that because it sounded like he was bragging about tricking people.

CARL: Ripping people off? Nah.
DEAN: I understand now that he enjoyed using brash words to feel pride in a role which I would now call parental. That is, when you're dealing with a mind which can hardly integrate the simplest of your insights, you're not doing them any favor to dump the whole thing on them. What you have to do is feed them tidbits and see what they're capable of digesting. Then as their digestive system expands and matures, you can feed them more and more. I think of that as parentalism and not as conning people really, or as tricking them.

Were you in counseling with anybody else before you went to Paul, or did you just approach this independently? Did you start to read any psychological material?

CARL: Different people hit on me after I was there for a very short period of time, because everybody loved the "new ones." And I just thought, "Well, I'm perfectly capable of understanding whatever the basis of all of this is about." I mean, I was one of those people who was university trained and that Paul liked to differentiate from the street people -- which I thought at first was a handicap.
DEAN: One of Paul's best students at the time, Rick, felt that way, too. He was always ashamed of the fact that he had a degree in psychology.
CARL: I think I had read some conventional psychologists, but none that sort of jelled. It was all basically "Everything is everything."
DEAN: You mean microscopic analyses of stimulus/response kinds of stuff?
CARL: All kinds of stuff like that. I guess I would have to say my coming to terms with my homosexuality -- at least in terms of seeing it as something worthy of experimenting with, when I felt that it was safe to do that -- happened when I was nineteen and in school. I had one of those startling revelations. I had been going through all the motions of dating this young gal for like a year or so. It was my first heterosexual long-term relationship.
DEAN: A gold star for Carl!
CARL: Yeah. I mean, I did really like this girl, but I had also convinced myself that I must love her.
DEAN: That you should love her?
CARL: No, that I in fact did love her.
DEAN: Oh. As if we shouldn't expect love to be any more than normal friendly feelings.
CARL: So I said, this is just the way it is, I love this gal. But it paled against the next phase, which was when this fabulous new transfer student showed up one day in the college choir rehearsal hall. His name was Patrick. I wrote him long love letters, testaments to how crazed I was, for the first year or so.
DEAN: And you haven't submitted them for publication in the Ninth Street Center Journal??
CARL: Oh they're long gone, I'm sure. But I just. . . . He was one of those people that you think the earth moves under his feet. I was just very, very turned on by his presence, by his animation, the bigness of his personality. He was one of those people I guess that we've been talking about, that has a huge presence, that's very vital.
DEAN: Did he have a similar image of himself or did it just look like this to you?
CARL: I guess what I found very attractive about him was that he was very cocky. I didn't know anything about that at the time. But when I realized that I had this enormous reaction to him and that I had nothing comparable towards Nancy -- who I'd been dating for over a year or so -- I just made up my mind to say, "Goodbye Nancy. Hello Patrick. Let's go see what this is about."

This seems to be what my idea of being alive inside is about: being in the presence of somebody that you are attracted to.

DEAN: I had a similar experience. The reason I was in Paul's life was not because I had latent gay feelings or fantasies that I couldn't cope with or anything like that. I had more pressing problems to think about than sex. And I saw from an early age that sexuality was something which undermined most people. It seemed to corrupt them, at least in the world I was growing up in, and I didn't really look forward to becoming a sexual being. What I wanted to do was become an important person in the world who could help people achieve or gain their own mental health and sanity and sense of creativity. This is why I went to St. John's College, where they study the history of Western thought and claim to be championing the highest ideals of civilization. I went through Jung, and a little Freud -- although he didn't make any sense at all to me.

Then I had my first relationship with a woman. It was a weekend kind of thing. We'd get together to forget about the pressures of school life and find release in playful cuddling and good sex. And the simplicity of that was wonderful -- sort of like the next step up from having a pet cat that you feel good about being close to, you know? But there was no comprehension in her of any of the importance that I wanted to attain in the world. She just could not understand why I would want to help humanity. Trying to talk to her about what I wanted to do with my life was very upsetting for both of us.

And when I met Paul, not only did I sense fairly rapidly that he understood these ambitions but that he also had lived up to it, that he not only wanted to but probably could help me to liberate what it was in myself that I wanted to bring out and make important in the world in some large way. And that reached me. Then, when he said that he wanted to be my lover, that meant a very big step, opening up a very big dangerous door. It was like, I don't know, opening up a spaceship door and all of a sudden it's galactic space you're dealing with. But it's a real space and he's going to teach you how to navigate it. Or, it's time to learn how to walk and suddenly everything you remember about crawling is inappropriate?

You can come up with lots of images of this, but it clearly was a very dangerous prospect. Plus, I didn't know whether I could learn to feel sexual with a man and all that kind of stuff. But like you and Patrick, there was just no comparison between the heterosexual relationship that I'd had and this.

CARL: My heterosexual relationship was nominal, to say the least. We hadn't started sexualizing yet. It was more like having a best friend or something, very sympathetic. I now know that she was a very seduced masculine woman.

I also struggled with the fact that I'd gone to an all-boys school, and I had trained myself not to hear their references to me. I wasn't particularly athletic, and I had a big mouth even then. It was that kind of stress you get into when you're in an all-boys school.

DEAN: They'd make comments about you?
CARL: Sure, all the time. Basically, my idea of dealing with that was to compensate for it by becoming bright and articulate. I knew that's sort of an enviable status even in a parochial setting like a boy's school. I had struggled for some time with being very attracted to different guys, but I never would associate it with the language that was used to describe that kind of feeling, you know: "faggots," "cock-suckers." I mean I really had no idea what they were talking about.

And my friendships with guys when I was in high school and college were always based on our finding ways of being helpful to one another. I had none of the focus that you're describing. I had no idea what the hell I was doing in school. I just got a degree in teaching because it seemed like an acceptable thing to do at the time, and I had to declare a major by the time I got into my junior year. I really hadn't any ideas about, you know, being useful to other people or anything like that.

That was really a good deal of the business of my coming to the Center. A good deal of what Paul was saying directly talked about how fucked up we get when the best part of our personality is not being used appropriately, or is being used in places where it's not needed. And that this is really the cause of all our difficulties, and that you really have a love orientation or a power orientation, and that basically the sooner you accept polarity, the faster you're going to be on the road to health. You realize that you have big goals out there now -- not like getting a job and being successful in New York City or anything like that.

DEAN: I think discovering your polarity is often more of a truly liberating sensation than just coming out of a closet can be. I felt, "Oh my god, I don't have to try so hard to be so loving anymore. I can just develop my self-confidence and let other people fill that other kind of role. The world will still be alright." I'd gotten off on a bad start by reading Erich Fromm's The Art of Loving, which said that the only way to get love is to give love. And I figured, "Well, I'll volunteer to be a loving person. I'll lead the charge and figure out how to be a person who can love humanity." And boy, that was hard!
CARL: Thank goodness you gave that up!
DEAN: There's nothing harder than trying to do something you know is needed but are not constitutionally structured to give. And the only reason I gave up that seduced role was the fact that Paul said, "No, people like me are the people that bring love to the world. You don't have to worry about that, you worry about what you have to offer."

Did you feel that liberation when you heard that you were feminine?

CARL: Oh, I didn't have to hear it. What happened was that I started reading Paul's last book. That, before anything else, was a revelation. It was like someone having a window into your heart, beyond anything I'd heard in the groups. It cut through any sense that maybe Paul was like a cranky old faggot or something. I saw that the man who wrote this book understood the human heart. I mean there was just no question about it. As I read through it, I just knew that the idea that I must be masculine, which some people had formed just by looking at my surface, was nonsense.

It's the same old story that happens all the time when new people come to the Center and people want to be automatic about the business of polarity. You can't be automatic about it. It does not lie on the surface. Some people think it does, and those are the ones who I think don't work very hard at understanding what's going on with people.

DEAN: That's an interesting subject all of itself. There are some people who come to the Center hungry for a cult, and do everything they can to turn what we're doing into a cult. And to whatever degree that they can mobilize their forces and unify themselves, we have to fight cultism within the Center. But I guess on the other hand, you might just as easily say, "Well, they're always going to fail and so we don't have to do a thing. Falsity falls before truth."
CARL: The more experience that I have in dealing with new people, the more I think counseling is one of the best ways to get the kind of scientific experience you really need. It's a much different focus from buddying around on the streets, or going out to dinner with people and all that stuff. They're very nice in their place and time, but it's never the same kind of focus that a counseling relationship brings into existence.

One of the things that I liked about Paul was his capacity to pick and choose where it was necessary to state his point of view firmly. If the people walked out the door when they heard it, then it was no loss. And if they came back again, then maybe they would know the next time that we have something to tell them as opposed to them having something to tell us. I'm sure at times I've gone overboard with this, but I've always felt that this is the primary business of what the Center is about. It is not to sit back and allow ignorance and immorality their day in the hopes that in a hundred years they'll die out, because there's just a tremendous backwash. The world is full of the backwash of ignorance and immorality when good men do nothing.

DEAN: You and I share that. I like to immediately cast down a challenge to people in some mild-mannered way. I try to do it with a friendly demeanor, because I know my words will be very challenging, and that's become a sort of secret weapon I've learned how to develop. They get what for them is a mixed signal, and this catches them off guard. I'll be telling them in effect that they are ignorant, but yet I'll be welcoming their participation. Then they have to ask themselves if they really want teachers who know where their personalities are incomplete. Most people in the world don't really want that.

I had a lot of trouble with a Center member two weeks ago. Some kid came in off the street who was raving about how nice his therapist was, and I said, "Fine. What has your therapist actually taught you?" He said, "Oh, well, you know, he lets me teach myself. He just sits back and makes me feel comfortable."

CARL: I can see what's coming.
DEAN: So I said, "Well, I want a therapist that will actually tell me when I'm wrong so that I can know what is right." And I guess it was just a weak moment for this Center member, but he felt he just had to defend this guy. He said, "No, that's a wonderful therapist. You may never need anything more than that. If it's helping you, what's right for you is right for you, and what's right for Dean is what's right for Dean."

Everything is everything. Well, maybe I should just put this as a question: Are people right to feel the Center is dogmatic and authoritarian?

CARL: In dogma there is no room for expansion or flexibility. At least that's my simple understanding of those things; I don't pretend to be a social historian.

I think it's a skill born in actual experience to be able to be street smart and make a judgment call of when it's necessary to let yourself be clear. And Paul sometimes would make it very clear. He'd just say, "Well, that's gobbledygook." I love that expression! Or, "Everything is not everything in the world." At the same time, he was very, very careful in the language that he used, so as not to induce helplessness or recklessness and undermine the warmth or pride of the people who he wanted so much to reach.

DEAN: With some people he was extraordinarily sensitive in his communication. He sensed that they really could hear him and that he didn't have to raise his voice or use upsetting language.
CARL: I think that it's practical experience and his years and years of conventional therapy that brought that into being, along with his tremendous sensitivity towards what's crazy in the human scene that can't be spoken to and what's crazy in the human scene that can be spoken to if you realize that there is an alertness there and a flexibility.
DEAN: And a genuine dissatisfaction.
CARL: I certainly don't have any consistent access to that technique yet. It's one of those things that I would like to work towards if I expect the Center to keep functioning. And I think it comes and goes, and has to do with the atmosphere in general at the Center.
DEAN: Do you think that we're on the right road, that the Center over time will serve the function of seeing to it that Paul's work is not lost to humanity?
CARL: There's two ways of looking at this. One is just the very practical and adaptive way of managing it. There's a public record of his work that is available: his books are in libraries. Even when books go out of print they still exist in the Library of Congress, you know? The world doesn't stop.
DEAN: A hundred years from now they'll be online electronically to every apartment in the world.
CARL: So in that respect, a practical part of it is taken care of or will be taken care of. But the part that has to do with people growing, with teaching and leadership, is something that can't be conveyed in any of the books. And it isn't. I mean if you look at them, it's not.
DEAN: He doesn't say anything about counseling in the books.
CARL: He makes references to teaching and leadership, but there's no road map any place. And that's the thing that for me makes it non-dogmatic and non-authoritarian. There aren't like twelve steps that you have to go through in order to become a teacher or a leader. That kind of exchange is always going to be the product of two people coming together and sharing mutual therapeutic and student/teacher functions. It's an active one-on-one event. And I think that's entirely separate from books. And Paul understood this very well.
DEAN: Applied psychology I think he called it.
CARL: I'm thinking more in terms of his autobiography where he makes a point of saying that even he used to think that a science of human nature could be handed to him on a silver platter, and that it took quite some time for him to disabuse himself of this notion. It turned out to be something that had to be brought into existence and defined and refined over and over again through successions of relationships. Only the end product is the writing.
DEAN: To what extent do you think this science of human nature can be converted in the next five hundred years to ordinary common sense that everybody will have as their birthright?
CARL: I really don't know.
DEAN: The focus of the Center, and the source of the Center's value, was Paul and his work. And in some sense I today think of it as a scientific or educational center rather than an engineering or leadership center. If his books embody a science of human nature, do you think that at some point some masculine figure will come along and establish an analogous body of engineering -- an engineering system for human nature? Will that become embodied in three books and eight monographs, or is that going to take some other form entirely?
CARL: I've often wondered what that would look like. I think it's an interesting thing to think about sometimes, but I don't know what that would look like.

There's a similarity between the search for truth, on one hand, and the imparting of information the way we experience it in the classroom -- the conventional idea of teaching. But it's only a similarity. They're very, very different in how they're approached. In a lot of ways, what I used to think was the idea of being a teacher is not. It bears no resemblance to how you convey insight.

Paul's writing I think is an experiment in how one person puts down ideas that reflect this parallel universe, and of what masculinity is and what femininity is, in some purely elemental form. Even he knew very well that there was a limitation to his work that was relieved greatly when the Center came into focus, because masculines then began to articulate their own world and their own style. The earliest of his writings and a good deal of his understanding of polarity is very truncated in the area of experience. In a lot of ways, he really did use analytic thought to extrapolate, I guess, from the basic insight, without really having that much actual material as a reference.

DEAN: For my money, it's one of the wonders of psychological technology, so to speak, that this person could fashion an instrument for seeing things that he could not have observed through his own experience. It's like the first microscope or the first telescope, only in this case it's a conceptual instrument. Once he fashioned it, he was able to see things which turned out eventually to be real objects.

Not until we landed on the moon were we finally able to say that, yes, it's a real physical object and not a smudge on our telescope lens. I guess being involved with the Center was like landing on the moon for him. He could really touch and feel and see the whole thing come to fruition in a reality that was bigger than he had ever dreamed it would be.

CARL: I guess then you see what I'm saying. If the notion of what being a teacher is about in psychological or creative ways is kind of an amorphous thing, then there's an equally amorphous problem in the area of leadership and engineering that is not going to be defined at all in conventional terms.
DEAN: One thing I talked to Paul about was the misunderstanding invited by his analoging of communication with demonstration, namely the idea that demonstration must somehow use some other medium than words and language, that it must be seen because you couldn't explain it in words. And it was very clear to us that of course it uses words and language, and that there's nothing illogical about leadership being embodied in a book.
CARL: Right.
DEAN: At the level of grammar, a leader's book might have more imperative sentences than declarative sentences. It might take the form of advice giving. Of course, the advice would have to be given at a very high level of psychological sophistication, but it still might take that form.

I'm experimenting now with an advisory essay for people who come to the Center, discussing ways to deal with the social realities of the Center community. And it's very much a how-to kind of question. It's not a matter of "Let's think of theories and interesting new words that we can throw about," but, "What do you do? How do you handle this weird paradigm shift?" Well, first you do this, then you do that. If that doesn't work try this. It's almost a behavior flowchart kind of thing. We'll see. Maybe some new perceptions of what human engineering is will come out of this experience for me. Of course, it will matter if people actually use it and benefit from it, so I'm going to want a lot of feedback.

I think this is one of the things that Paul always had quite a bit of disappointment about concerning his books. I think he really believed somehow that there were people around the world who could focus on this system at his level of intellectual clarity and respond to it and give him feedback and teach him things in return. It was initially almost a way of looking for teachers as much as students.

CARL: I have to be honest and say that I really don't think that this expectation of the worldwide value of his work was ever a concern of Paul's, or a consideration at all.
DEAN: Oh?
CARL: Just by what he said, by the way he would convey the importance of growth on an individual level. People had often asked him about getting things published, and when I talked to him about it he said, "Well you see, I have a real problem with my audience."

On one hand the conventional world wants all of the trappings of clinical analysis and everything that goes along with what's considered to be scientific journal writing. I think he sort of made a fleeting concession to that when he did the Freud monograph, as if to say, "Well, I guess I know how to write a footnoted essay, too." And, as we've seen, that one is received very well in all kinds of official publications because it has such an official-looking annotation to it.

DEAN: I guess there really are footnotes in that one, aren't there? Do you want to know a joke about that? We intentionally picked the Freud editions that were going to be the most difficult for future scholars to find. We picked the paperback editions that you can buy off any paperback rack and whose pagination didn't correspond to the authorized edition.
CARL: Well, it's all a trick. You've asked an English major, and I can tell you that basically a lot of it is a trick. You find the most obscure things and you make some scant reference to it and then you put your own thinking into the paper and usually somebody walks off with it anyway and says it's their idea. But that's sort of beside the point.

I was trying to think of some specific example that would deflate the notion that Paul was disappointed by the relative lack of influence of his books, and the only way I can think about that was how overjoyed he was. He actually said that the Center was exactly what he had looked for all his life.

I have to take that statement at face value, with the emotional content and everything that it implies, and the subjectivity that it implies. He would say to me that many people make the mistake of thinking that the big world is the world that they want, and that their ideas and their influence needs to be in that big world. He said that it simply isn't true. What's important is the way that ideas grow and concepts start and spread. He used to talk about the grass roots level.

He really did always for me disdain the notion that there was a big world out there that people think is the important place to go with your ideas or your abilities. He said that's a fallacy. The only important place to go is to find the individual or the individuals who really need and want to grow. Those are the ones that you attach yourself to for however long that event can take place.

DEAN: I'm sure you're right and I'm glad to hear that he expressed that to people. It helps me to not think about the years we spent trying to reach out to that big world, and all the people in the publishing world, for instance, who rebuffed us. I hated spending an afternoon trying to convince them that his last book was worth something only to have to come home and see the look on his face. I'm sure he developed this new point of view partly as a result of the Center's having come into existence. When he found a world of real people he could really be involved with in a three-dimensional way, he no longer felt so lonely for those other "great men" out there somewhere.
CARL: He always said that's where it took off. All the rest of this was basically theoretical and he knew it. And he was very honest about it. We talked about this extensively because at that time I was a little more academic in my orientation. It was probably a way of defending myself from the deeper implications of a lot of what he was writing. But there were times when we relaxed our counseling to talk about the evolution of his writing and what he thought about it himself. He was very, very clear about what shit was in his writing: where there were complete mistakes and where he had really overstepped in a burst of enthusiasm for trying to get an idea off and got compulsive.
DEAN: In Psychoanalysis and Civilization he claimed there were masculine families and feminine families. Fortunately, when I read it the first time, I put that idea in the category of "I'll learn about this later."
CARL: There are other things, too, things he hated. He absolutely hated that subjectivity/objectivity idea. He said that was just an exercise in diarrhea on his part. He just hated it. He said it really caused more difficulty than anything it ever illuminated, and he was real firm about it.
DEAN: Was that because it was an example of merely drawing a distinction rather than finding a distinction in the world?
CARL: No, it was that people took it dogmatically as a way of defining themselves and permanently relating themselves to others. And that basically they used it as a further way of limiting who they could love or care about, who they could be involved with and who not. It became a word game.
DEAN: Isn't there a similar problem with his distinction between the hedonistic types and the stoical types?
CARL: Oh, Paul dumped that. I don't know if he ever made that clear to anybody, but he dumped that idea, along with time versus space as something to be explored.

He told me that the hedonist/stoic thing was an observation he made initially from the students that he was seeing. But as they began to develop and flesh out their inner identities and their own awareness of their inner identities, these distinctions faded away. And, in fact, the people who appeared to be hedonistic weren't hedonists any more, and the stoic personalities tended to blend more into being able to be relaxed and a little less serious and driven.

But he said it was purely a product of a lack of growth. It was not an intrinsic distinction. I think maybe it was too specific, analyzed at a level of specificity that Paul realized afterwards got in the way of people understanding the basic business of their polarity.

DEAN: I dreaded these secondary polarities because each time he added a new one into the picture it seemed to reduce by half the number of people with whom you could mate. By the time he had added hedonist/stoic and subjective/objective to the primary feminine/masculine mix, it seemed like only one eighth of the people who came to the Center could ever love someone like me. It was embarrassing to get interested in someone only to find out they were the wrong type!
CARL: I suppose sorting people out is harmless in a way, but I think he also realized that for many people it was a gateway to playing word games.
DEAN: Putting people in little pigeon-hole categories that explain why you don't have to try to relate to them?
CARL: He made a point of emphasizing that it was perfectly possible for people in these various categories to have high quality interactions. I said to him, "God, it seems like you just tortured yourself to get this idea out and what's the point?" And he said, "Well, I hate it."

There were a few things that he was adamant about, and he was very much against intellectualizing the growth process and making something that's alive dead.

DEAN: What did he say to you about space and time?
CARL: He just said, "It isn't important to be thinking about this any longer."
DEAN: But not that the idea might not refer to a real polarity in the world?
CARL: Basically he said that nobody seemed to find it very stimulating or useful.
DEAN: Oh, I see what you mean.
CARL: "And when that's the case," he said, "oftentimes that means you're barking up the wrong tree. People are telling you it doesn't mean that much. It's not the important thing, even though it might be an interesting thing to think about in some private reverie."

He said he had tons of material like that all over the place, but as far as being in some way useful to people, it just proved itself not to be. So he let it drop from his concern anymore. And he said, "This is really how a thinker has to think. He's got to be able to read from the surface down, and when you start finding that it's just not reaching people you better realize not to dig in the spurs and try harder but start looking at something else."

DEAN: What do you think about his illustrating the idea of polarity with reference, say, to national psychologies like those of France and Germany? Was that just another reverie?
CARL: No, I think that was a product of not having one-on-one relationships in order to flesh these things out. He often said that when you lack actual relationships with students or patients or whatever, that you can draw on literature. He often used plays, or characters from history that were vividly drawn in autobiographies.
DEAN: Joseph Conrad's books.
CARL: And he would use those as case histories. And they're perfectly valid in a limited way: you get some sense of what the author has in mind. But Paul was never taken in by any of this stuff. He understood what thinking was all about. And he would say, "You'll never know how much ended up on the cutting room floor," to let me know that it's only a partial picture. But it's a valid and important picture when you don't have anything else to work with. It's perfectly valid to think about polarity in the world in these areas, but it's not to take the place of real life experiences and relationships. That's where everything just takes off.
DEAN: So until you take that final step of matching up your ideas against your personal relationships you're not really being a truth seeker but rather just a theory builder.
CARL: Paul was very severe with me about that because he knew from his own experience that it produces a nervous breakdown if you remove yourself from the world of experience and then try in some way to understand the world.
DEAN: Do you think that's what caused his own depression when he left Ronnie? That he was withdrawing from reality in some way?
CARL: We never really discussed any of that. The only thing I can draw from his autobiography is that he hadn't learned yet how to protect himself from his great desire to be important to somebody, how to put himself first. That caused him severe difficulties. Most of the serious feminine men that I've known have gone through comparable kinds of things like that -- sort of like "mini" nervous breakdowns, if you will -- when their great need to be important and to be needed outstripped their development, wiping themselves out. But I guess you go through that no matter how many times somebody tells you this is going to happen. You do it as many times as necessary until you figure it out.
DEAN: You're one of the few people at the Center who is capable of writing at a conceptual level that approaches Paul's. Do you see yourself as someone who will add to this work in some way?
CARL: I don't know. I don't worry about it.
DEAN: Is it something you feel is almost a temptation to be avoided, or it is something that you wouldn't mind doing?
CARL: I wouldn't mind. Paul's letters at one point stimulated me to write, and that was basically an exercise.
DEAN: In theory building?
CARL: I don't know about theory building. I certainly didn't break any new ground. I think it clarified for me if not for other people the relationship of procreative skills or procreative drives and warmth and pride.
DEAN: By procreative do you mean creative?
CARL: No, biological drives versus warmth and pride. That fascinated me.
DEAN: You mean the desire to have children?
CARL: Yes, the biological relationship of warmth and pride to psychological growth is fascinating. But, you know, if you do a little homework, it's also stuff that Paul all sort of mapped out in his Psychoanalysis and Civilization. So I basically wrote what was there already. I don't consider it new ground.

I don't worry about writing. Everybody used to sit around and joke about how we could probably write a best selling novel because we knew about polarity. And even Paul used to talk about writing a Pulitzer Prize winning novel and then not accepting the prize.

I'm just too busy living my life right now.

DEAN: The only thing I respect about Sartre is that he refused the Nobel Prize.
CARL: I figure if I'm going to write, it's going to be exactly the way Paul did it, and it's going to be somewheres down the road as some kind of natural expression of some need. It may never have an audience.
DEAN: Right now counseling means a lot to you. It's the primary source of your experience with creativity in the world. Is counseling a creative act in itself?
CARL: Sure it is.
DEAN: Because you're learning?
CARL: Yes. People make a great mistake with this. Some of my closest friends have said that you don't have to love the person that you're counseling with, and I think that's just ridiculous. Maybe they say it in a moment of not thinking or frustration.

I mean, it is possible for you to take on a person who's interesting and in trouble, and to speak to them about that in some way that helps them at a practical level -- as long as you don't kid yourself that you're doing anything more than that. But I think that you're not going to do any real business.

I think this is the distinction I was trying to make earlier, and that Paul would make very clear at different points even though it risked putting people off. Equality is about shared growth goals, and that doesn't happen all that often in relationships.

People like to think that serious relationships happen because people walk through the door of the Ninth Street Center. They want to think equality happens because ten people sit down in a room once a week and maybe you see them once a month or something, and then that somehow makes everybody psychological equals. Paul was real clear about that: that's just not true. And you exhaust yourself in some ways trying to deny this or trying to cover it over or trying to pretend it isn't happening. People grow based upon experiences, but they grow at many different rates and some people stop growing.

DEAN: I wonder if this has been harder for me to focus on since, as a masculine, I'm very gregarious. I warm up to lots of people and like to feed them as much as they can handle. It's like Johnny Appleseed: I cast my seed over a wide network of acquaintances and don't particularly care where the sprouts shoot up. Of course, many people don't really absorb that much of what I'm saying, but at least I'm developing presentation skills -- and in that sense this also comes out of an enlistment mentality or skill-building for its own sake. I guess I still find it hard to really face the fact that most of the people who come down there or even hang out there for a year or two are just not going to get it. It still amazes me that people can walk away from this stuff.
CARL: Well I think that's the way this kind of place is. I think that's what growth is about.
DEAN: I know it's sort of pointless to talk about the far future because we're not seers, but do we really expect that in the future people are going to have that much more access to their growth than they do today?
CARL: Of course. It's as inevitable as the sun rising -- unless we drop a bomb on the world. And then the sun will probably still rise except that none of us will be here to see it.

None of us will probably be here to see this millennium of psychological maturity, but I'm sure it's going to happen. It started in the mind of one person, and it took his lifetime in order to get it out in some form that could be useful or communicated or demonstrated to others. Now it's in the mind of maybe twenty other people who are trying to use it in various ways to get it out to the people they're involved with. That's the way any great system of thinking evolves.

I think it's inevitable because it's based on some very basic psychological truths about the need for people to love and care for each other, to bring insight into the world, to discover what's true.

DEAN: So at some point almost anything that Paul ever wrote about probably will be in the mind of the average fifteen-year-old kid?
CARL: You know, it's funny. I always casually look at the New York Times Science Section and I search out the articles that have to do with psychology to see what they're doing.
DEAN: They're unbelievably ignorant.
CARL: Well, I used to look at it with that kind of critical evaluation. But now I look at it to see how much they're finding out that I already know. Or what they're doing to maybe validate in some way some things that we just decided were true and are working on already. Every once in awhile something comes through where I'll be startled and I'll say, for instance, "Oh my goodness, look, somebody's actually discovered that you can separate compulsiveness from obsessiveness and that they can be separate responses to the world."

They didn't read Paul, for sure. But it means there's a fundamental truth here that's lying in the open for anybody to find who's willing to step back a little bit from their preconceptions and their dogma and authoritarianism and their degrees and look at it with some kind of love for what's true or what's right. So I think it's inevitable that this kind of thing is going to go someplace.

DEAN: Do you think in this depressed end of the twentieth century that there are many people outside the Center who can pick up Paul's book and sense the importance of it?
CARL: I don't know what reference you're making as far as being depressed. I think we've gone through far worse times than we're going through right now in history.
DEAN: Do you mean like with the Black Plague and things?
CARL: Oh, all over. I mean World War II, all kinds of psychological fears that we've gone through.
DEAN: But I think anybody who hasn't come to grips with the possibility of a homosexual lifestyle must be living a lifestyle depression, because they must be sitting on some tremendous potential that's not being expressed.
CARL: Well, I know, but this has been around all the time, forever. And I suspect it's going to be around for many, many, many, many generations to come. What's going to happen as far as homosexuality is concerned is that eventually it's going to become tolerated, because there's going to be a consistent and persistent movement by conventional gay people to see homosexuality as just the same as heterosexuality. And that's going to be the high ground that will be used in order to make it legal and not an excuse for prejudice.

But I think most gay people, and probably many non-gay people who have eyes in their head, will know it's not true that homosexuality is just like heterosexuality. And maybe there will be some kind of depressive reaction because of that. But I think that's the way it's going to work if anything is going to happen within my lifetime. That may be the direction it's going to take.

DEAN: Do you think it was worth our while to put Paul's books in all those libraries and universities?
CARL: Who knows? There was nothing in those libraries when I was growing up. Homosexuality was like illness. And I spent tons of time looking for stuff about homosexuality.
DEAN: There are probably hundreds of young kids who get some comfort or something out of reading a page or two of his books. They just haven't written to us and thanked us.
CARL: Let's hope so. We don't know that. But we do know that there are hundreds and hundreds of young people who believe that they can be anything and believe that there's nothing wrong with how they feel, who think that if they feel good about loving men there must be one other person out there who feels the same way and doesn't think that it's sick. And as long as there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of young people like this, gals and guys, generation after generation . . . well, we really don't have anything to worry about.
DEAN: They're what Paul called the "creative army of civilization."
CARL: That's why I don't see it as a depressing end of the twentieth century. I see it as the beginning of a new millennium. Homosexuality is everywhere, even under the veil of AIDS. Homosexuality is everyplace. You can't miss it. Even Kay Gardella makes reference to homosexuality.
DEAN: Who?
CARL: She's this film critic for the Daily News. In evaluating a film today on a kid with AIDS, she brought up an oblique and negative reference to "homosexuals." So even a staunch conservative numbskull like her can find the capacity to spell homosexuality and put it in her national column. When I was fourteen- or fifteen-years-old, you would never even see the word in a newspaper, let alone in a syndicated column across the country. So it's everywhere. And as long as it's everywhere, people don't have to live like they're afraid, or that we're suffering from some plague, or that we are actually in the Dark Ages. I'm going to be here and teach them.
DEAN: When Kim was here he said he doesn't worry about the future because he knows that creative people are going to come along and take charge of it. It's not entirely up to us. I guess I felt for a long time that a lot of responsibility was on my shoulders. I do a lot of worrying about, you know, the world and what my projects can accomplish and do we have enough books for people, and a lot of that stuff. It's sometimes kind of oppressive for me.
CARL: Then let go of it for awhile. I know that's easier said than done.
DEAN: You mean the way some people just stop doing counseling for three years?
CARL: Stop counseling for three years, stop doing groups for two or three years, look as if they're living a conventional life for all practical purposes. You never know what's going on with people. Some people need to rest for three years because they've overstimulated their brain or they're sorting things out. I have no idea.

I mean, I'm going to Acapulco. You couldn't look more conventional than that. I work a real job, I don't do anything unconventional in that department. But nobody has a picture of what's inside my brain.

DEAN: A lot of people look like they're doing unconventional things until you talk to them about it.
CARL: And then you find out what a drag they are.
DEAN: Look at modern art, the theater, performance spaces. With all these people, just scratch the surface and you get Marian the librarian.
CARL: Well, you know, I liked the little quote you used in your group. Save it and use it again the next time.
DEAN: What did I say?
CARL: About the cat with the dirty feet.
DEAN: Oh, the muddy feet! Treat your worries as a pet cat with muddy feet that you calmly but firmly put outside each time he tries to get in. That was the advice my friend Richard wrote to someone who was working himself into an obsessive rut. It's great when you find a simple image that conveys some important psychological principle.
CARL: I used to say to Paul, "Why do you use poetry?" And he'd say, "Honey, I use whatever I can to get their attention." If it works, it works. Don't worry about it.
DEAN: Speaking of everyday symptoms as muddy cats is great because it counteracts the whole Freudian and psychiatric tradition of treating symptoms as big things that are mysterious and which we have to investigate and find the reasons for and so let's go back and let's think about our parents and let's think about whether in fact you did want to kill your father and all that crap.

I like the idea that symptoms are little things that can be controlled. It puts it right where it belongs.

CARL: Well, in that respect then, quite apart from the intellectual rationality of it, the application in your own life should be very clear. Leader, lead thyself. When you sit here and you say something helpless to me about something I know you're perfectly capable of managing if you put your mind to it -- i.e. putting your great sense of responsibility for Paul's writings out of the picture for awhile -- then you need to reduce the importance of Paul's writings and your sense of responsibility to the level of muddy cat paw prints. That's what you gotta do.

And you've got to do it as often as necessary in order to begin to feel some sense of freedom from that again, instead of this kind of seduced obligation that somehow you are the carrier of some great message to the world. In many respects, it's the thing that stands between you and other people who were Paul's students.

DEAN: I sense that, and this is one of my motivations. At the same time, there's something about my commitment which I know Paul really believed in and wanted.
CARL: Well, I think that part of it is simple and practical. But the intensity that you're talking about, this big, big business that's involving your personality, is inappropriate.

Who has a crystal ball about these things? There are people who are out there living and working their lives and running experiments. We may not have the fruition of their observations yet, but I have some faith that this is what's going on. People who take themselves seriously certainly know what's going on with me. I know what's going on with everybody who's in my life in any substantial way, otherwise they wouldn't be there. That's the whole basis for people being in my life. I think you can make yourself crazy worrying about something that sort of isn't real.

DEAN: Worrying about this stuff can be very much like running on empty for me.
CARL: I used to say to Paul, "Can I learn any more by reading all kinds of psychological books? Can I learn any more by reading everything you've written?" And he'd bang the table and scream, "No!" I'd always be so startled! And he'd tell me over and over again, "Just get out there and live it. Get out there and use it in your life."

In a lot of ways, he really made it clear that it's not something to be enshrined in lovely handsome bound covers with gold leafing or anything. If that were the end product of what was going on with his thinking, I think he probably would have stopped. I really do. In fact, I know he would have. I think I am that much attuned to Paul's sensibilities about this.

I think the practical level of it is being taken care of fine, but that's it. And the rest of it is exactly how he lived his life. And he even said his first book was written from the vantage point of only one serious relationship. The vantage point, mind you, not even that it was going on at the moment, but after it had been over with. And that encompasses all the stuff that happened to his life, all of his relationships and his marriage and all of that. And he wrote a book based on one serious relationship. So who knows? Maybe none of us have had that one serious relationship yet, or that one particular experience that's going to suddenly cause this crystallization of all kinds of things that are going around.

DEAN: I like the idea that I don't know what I'm going to be capable of yet. It's true of all of us.
CARL: I know that when you're thinking about this rationally and you're not being driven about it, you've been very articulate about psychological growth and the science of human nature as an open ended process or product. And when you're not at your best and the books become the most important thing, you see it as a complete thing. That's what you convey, that's what you communicate in some way.
DEAN: I don't really see it as complete, but I sometimes see it as something I'm not going to live long enough to fully understand.
CARL: Yes, but who is? There have been times in the last few years when I thought about people I consider pernicious. And all I could think of is, how is it that people like that live and someone like Paul dies? There is no justice in the world. The fates are truly arbitrary and God does not exist, things like that. And at the same time, if I'm not going to make myself sick and crazy about this, I have to realize that Paul many, many times has sent me messages saying, "The future is not for you to worry about. The here and now is how you're going to live your life."

You're born into the time and the place and the year and the physical abilities and disabilities that you have. This is the life you've got to live.

DEAN: He said that about mankind as a whole: that there may be other civilizations out there in the universe, but that our kind has a job to do here and now.
CARL: Who knows what's going to happen in another hundred or two hundred years? Maybe the Twilight Zone is real and maybe there's a parallel universe someplace where everybody's totally developed and they're all looking at us and laughing.
DEAN: It's useful not to worry too much about what fifty thousand years from now is going to bring, because really our job is to straighten out the world as it is today.
CARL: I just try to keep an eye open for interesting people. That's a good point to make about this and I made it in the group the other night. The curiosity or interest that you use as a way of covering up the essential boredom or fatigue of an unpsychological life is not sufficient in order to get you into a growth process. I don't think it ought to be the basis for being involved with other people. So I really follow something Paul said to me. It's been very useful in trying to refine my selectivity, although it hasn't always been successful. And that's to look for people who are really in trouble with themselves and know it. There are a lot of people out there who are bright and articulate and yet in various ways are able to show you the sores and the warts and what's nasty about their human scene.
DEAN: They've been developing in math something called catastrophe theory which reminds me of this.
CARL: I read about that the other day.
DEAN: You could say, for instance, that some personalities are like smooth rubber sheets. They may have fluctuations but they're basically continuous. But the people that I get along with best are the ones that have these discontinuous catastrophes, topological "folding unders," things that upset them and they don't know why, times when all of a sudden nothing makes sense. That kind of stuff.
CARL: This is related to chaos theory, too, although I think they're silly in some of it's applications. One of the things I liked about this one article is the idea that the information that they've been discarding in electrocardiograms as background noise and static in favor of the blips that they always focused on may be exactly the things that they need to be looking at in the framework of this new mathematics of chaos. And I thought, "So we've found out that we've killed a hundred thousand people in the name of a blip that went up instead of a jag that went like this!"

But that's how you advance forward. Who knows how many people we've lost? Paul used to talk all the time about how mental institutions and jails are full of people who might have been great teachers and leaders had they found a world big enough for them to live in. What we need to be doing is trying to create a place in our hearts and, as much as possible, a physical place -- I mean, I think that's certainly an engineering feat -- where people can come and feel like they can start working with themselves.

As long as I find one person once in awhile that I can do that with, I am relatively content. And when I get tired, I go to Acapulco.

DEAN: Going with anybody?
CARL: Nope.
DEAN: I think those are the best vacations.
CARL: This is my first experiment. I'm really excited about this. There's a little trepidation around it. I have some phobia about being in a strange place.
DEAN: Whenever I've done that myself it's been such a relief: I don't have to answer to anybody. Nobody is going to be judging whether I'm getting unpsychological for a moment. I can go to children's book stores, be a spy, take a trolley car somewhere to the end of the line and just sit there for three hours.

I took a few days off in Boston once and, instead of visiting the historical sites, I spent this long snowy afternoon retracing the steps of the heroic mother duck from this true story that was written up in the children's book Make Way for Ducklings. My father had read it to me in an old run-down library in the Bronx one quiet summer evening when I was a boy and we were still friends. Paul had remembered reading this same story to some children he was once helping to take care of.

CARL: That's exactly what this is about. There's a part of me that says, "Now, now, remember you don't have access to freedom." And I go, "Wait a second, wait a second, is there a masculine way and feminine way to take a vacation? Do masculines take vacations and feminines stay home? I mean what is this about, Carl?" So I discard that right away.
DEAN: I think the point of a vacation is to forget about all that, maybe?
CARL: That's it. And that's what I have to remind myself about.


Rather than the conventional world being so big all around you and you being like this tiny little thing trying to protect yourself from it, he showed me the conventional world is like this tiny little thing and you are way out there, like all over the place. And the creative world you're in and the creative way of looking at life and looking at people, it's like it's bigger than the conventional. You're beyond it, you're free of it.

Kim Mulcahy

DEAN: Where did you first hear about the Center?
KIM: From the Village Voice in May of 1973. I had just come to New York. It was my third year of college at Carnegie Mellon -- I was involved in set design at the time -- and I left kind of in a state of identity crisis. I felt sort of like school was a bust.
DEAN: Were you majoring in set design?
KIM: Yes. And Carnegie Mellon was supposed to be a very well-respected theater school.
DEAN: I only finished three years of college, too.
KIM: Actually, I wasn't even going to finish the third year. I was just going to leave like about a month before the end of the year. But this one teacher I was kind of close to convinced me to stay and finish for a month. He's the one that actually suggested I just come to New York. I wasn't really sure what I was going to do. He basically said, "Okay, you think that theater is a crock of shit, but why don't you go and see what it's really like."
DEAN: Why did you want to make a career in it if you thought it was a crock of shit?
KIM: Well, I wanted to make a career in it at the beginning, but there were all sorts of things going on at that age. I'd just come out like the beginning of that year, and without even consciously realizing it I wanted much more serious things in my life, like relationships. I wanted to be able to express love. And a lot of these things were being put into theater which, of course, wasn't fulfilling those needs at all. So I just felt very frustrated by theater. It all seemed so trite and empty and unrewarding and depressing.
DEAN: I guess a successful actor is somebody who deep down is only skin deep?
KIM: And maybe a successful set designer, too.
DEAN: Had you known all along you were gay? Had you ever tried to court women at all?
KIM: I was much more easily intimidated into doing things that externally other people could see rather than changing my inner feelings that no one else could see. In my second year of college, I felt I had to do things like make out with dates and stuff like that. But I always seemed to know how to pick girls who never really liked it that much anyway, so fortunately there was very little of that going on. It was all very kind of empty. I dated, as I'd done in high school, these very sort of queer women who just weren't interested in romance, even though none of us ever said, "We don't want this" or anything like that.
DEAN: At that age don't we just try out what people tell us to try? It's not because we're committed to it, but just because we're invited to taste it. And if we don't like it, we just go on to do our own thing.
KIM: It was a little stronger than that for me. Actually, if I had my druthers, I would never have done it.
DEAN: Did you have a bitter taste afterwards?
KIM: No, I felt relieved afterwards when I finally realized I didn't have to do this anymore. It was much more like I felt intimidated, like I really should try and make myself make this work. And, of course, the other options just weren't real. The idea that sexuality was in any way connected with romance -- like I love this person and that's why you have sex with them -- just wasn't going on. With people I was in love with at the time, it seemed impossible to express it sexually. It seemed like it would just ruin everything if I tried to make it a sexual situation.
DEAN: These were gay men?
KIM: They were teachers or other men who were involved in heterosexual relationships in the town. And even though I came out to some of them I just somehow felt that they couldn't handle it. Maybe I couldn't handle it at the time. It just seemed like to express it at that point would just ruin everything. I just had that feeling.
DEAN: I think that's very wise. A lot of us expressed those homosexual feelings to people who only slapped us around because of it. My first real interest in a man was at the age of 16 in high school. This guy was super bright, just very independent intellectually. He was the only kid in school who was an avowed Marxist. I didn't know what that meant, but it impressed me. We used to take long walks home through the Botanical Gardens and Karl would talk to me about goodness, truth and beauty, and how we should make the world a better place for people to live in. I felt like a door was opening into a much larger world. But the more I showed my need for him to be in my life -- the more I wanted my world to be a better place by having him in it -- the more sadistic he got. And that's all that ever came out of it. And that was very depressing and it made me quite sick for awhile.
KIM: You once tossed off something a long time ago about Marx that I liked, something like that it was fine for one hundred and fifty years ago but that anyone who still takes it seriously in this day and age is out of touch.
DEAN: Whenever I meet a Marxist these days I say, "You know, this Marx was actually a pretty decent guy, and if he were alive today he'd be a Rosenfelsian." It gives me an excuse to explain who "Rosenfels" is.
KIM: I find these people so silly because obviously whatever political system is going to be put out in the future doesn't exist yet. It still has to be invented or else it would be here.
DEAN: Paul said that civilization hasn't yet fully recognized the inherent strength in democratic institutions and the wisdom of Christian spiritual feeling. If Christian spiritual feeling means universal love and brotherhood and that kind of good stuff, I kind of buy that. And I buy the concept of democratic institutions. But how democracy will operate in the future is very up in the air. With everybody having a home computer terminal we could make it a lot more democratic if we wanted. What shall the President do today? You could punch up a menu and the most popular agenda wins. That would be quite a different system from what we have today.
KIM: When people have a psychological life that they can talk about and is real to them and is in the society, politics will just become so unimportant. People will see how just basically adaptive like 99% of all politics is. And we'll just assign computers to make decisions about where the road should be or where the money should be spent. People will just see how utterly practical it will be.
DEAN: Computers can decide how to wire a building, or where to put the pipes, or international commerce. This country has more coal, that country has more wheat, so ship the coal there and send the wheat here. We don't really need human qualities to make those kinds of decisions.
KIM: Think about how different the future is going to be. There won't be countries -- that will be seen as a ridiculous anachronism. All these kind of silly things won't exist anymore.
DEAN: Eventually there may not even be different languages. Maybe there'll be a major language, something like English or a derivative of English.
KIM: Or a richer language with lots of other languages making it up.
DEAN: Last Saturday at the group I was talking about the future, and how futuristic the Center is. I was trying to explain that although most people today think that psychological knowledge about man is impossible to find, at the Center we claim that such knowledge does exist and that we are here to discuss it as scientists or reasonable men and to find ways of pooling or integrating this knowledge. And a lot of the people in the room said this is not what psychotherapy should be about. It should be just supportive. It's somebody there to make you feel good about yourself so that you can work out whatever information or model is right for yourself alone.

I had some trouble with one Center member who does not yet understand that what we offer has an objective quality to it, and who is still very impressed with people who can just make him feel good. And he once had a woman therapist who would sit back and tell him that she once had a fantasy that his deepest aspirations would all come true. And he would feel so good hearing this that he still considers that to be the highest kind of psychotherapy. And that's what he was advocating in this talk group.

Well, if somebody kicks back and tells me all about their daydreams, I'm going to tell them, "Look, I don't care about your fantasies. I want to know how to get where I'm going. If you can't tell me, you're not helping." The kind of therapy I advocate is a quantum leap from where we are today.

A thousand years ago, if you were to ask the average man whether reading and writing were skills that all people could have, they would say, "Oh, no, you have to be especially talented and bright. Only kings and priests should learn it." They didn't realize that ordinary people could embody this tremendous thing called literacy. It's cost trillions of dollars to keep this skill going, but that's what civilization is about. Well, at some point we may be spending trillions on a science of human nature, and it will be taught in schools and in families and in homes, and it will be taken for granted in Congress and any place people communicate.

KIM: Oh, definitely. Also, back in those days a thousand years ago, people basically had no psychological surplus. They lead the lives of dogs, except for the aristocrats.
DEAN: That raises an interesting question, because the image that immediately comes to mind is that all these people must have been completely exhausted all the time. And yet we know that's too simplistic. There was art, there was culture, there was dancing. There were festivals, fools, clowns and circuses. But I think you're right in that very few people really had any real independence of mind.
KIM: Or choice about where they wanted to live or who they wanted to be with. Most people lived their whole lives within ten miles of where they were born.
DEAN: They were completely uneducated. They didn't know they were living on a planet or anything like that.
KIM: So the world is really different today.
DEAN: At the Center, we often ask people to imagine that a thousand years from now is going to be as different from today as today is from medieval times, and then to just extrapolate from that. But that's very hard for them to do. It's a skill they don't learn at school.
KIM: But then again, although it's fun for us to speculate, it's probably not terribly useful either.
DEAN: Well, I think it may be useful but not scientific. I don't think our images are going to come literally true. The future can't really be predicted because nothing important progresses in a straight line.
KIM: That's what's so great about it, fortunately.
DEAN: So you came to New York and you were looking around and you looked in the Village Voice.
KIM: New York was like a real liberation for me. At school I still felt I was very much in my parents' world and the world of all the beliefs and things I grew up with, but coming to New York meant I was free. And I was really ready, very ready. I was really interested in finding other homosexuals. I knew I wasn't interested in bars, because they had those in Pittsburgh. And I had already, two summers before, gone to porno movie houses in Chicago. That had been really the first what you might call gay thing I ever did.
DEAN: Did you have any encounters?
KIM: I went home with guys about five times. The first time was wonderful, but it just got worse each time. It was depressing. So then I stopped.
DEAN: Was it the typical kind of scenario where you would try to make contact and they weren't interested?
KIM: No, we'd have sex.
DEAN: But the day after, you weren't interested in each other?
KIM: While we were going somewhere to have sex, like in their car -- I never did it in the porno theater -- or to their house, I would do things like say, "What's your name? What do you do?" I would try to strike up a friendship or something, but they wouldn't want to talk.
DEAN: That's right, this was 1971 wasn't it?
KIM: I couldn't have told you on the surface what I wanted, but obviously I wanted a lot of things. And one of the things I wanted was to make some kind of deeper contact with other gay men, and that just wasn't happening.
DEAN: Was this in the same time frame as your interest in religion?
KIM: No, the interest in religion was much before that, like starting in the 7th and 8th grades in school.
DEAN: So you had more or less given up on religion by that time?
KIM: Oh, completely. I've thought back on it and I don't think the religion was ever that important to me. It was the life of the priesthood I was curious about. The idea of growing up to be like my parents -- becoming married, having children, having a responsible job -- seemed sick and depressing. Being a priest was like a way out. It's kind of a funny story, because I actually went to a preparatory seminary.
DEAN: I didn't know that!
KIM: Yes, my first two years of high school.
DEAN: So you went public in wanting to be a priest. Your parents knew about it, and it was all socially sanctioned.
KIM: Thinking back on it though, my parents weren't terribly overjoyed. They supported it and they thought it was fine, but I never got huge amounts of praise for doing it. Anyway, the seminary was a horrible place. You really didn't start learning how to be a priest there. It was basically just like a Catholic high school run by Jesuits and some lay teachers. It was in downtown Chicago so I had to take a bus, which was fun.

I found the seminary to be so sick, such an inhuman kind of a sick place, not on some terribly deep sensitive level but just on the most obvious sort of human decency level. There was so much sadism and cruelty going on just as a way of life. I was, of course, very frightened not to let anybody see about my homosexuality, but any of the effeminate guys there were always picked on in one way or another, not only by the kids but it would be supported by the teachers. They were just into heavy discipline.

But the sickest part was when you used to periodically have to talk to these priests. And they would try to talk to you about sex, and they would try to tell you that masturbation was disgusting and that semen was repulsive.

DEAN: Maybe theirs was.
KIM: And they'd ask you questions and give you little tests. It's funny because at the same time I was being appalled about how horrible this place was, I was still having romantic fantasies about things. Nothing could stop my romantic fantasies. I'd always find something to feel about. But anyway, by the end of the second year of being there, in dogma class I was expressing my . . .
DEAN: Did they literally call it "dogma class"?
KIM: Yes, they did.
DEAN: So I guess it's only outside of the Catholic world that "dogma" is a dirty word.
KIM: Yeah, it's nothing derogatory to them. So we'd have these discussions about dogma with the priest. And I would always in some way or another say things like, "Does it really matter that the Virgin was a virgin? What's the difference? Like, what's the main idea here?"

It made them nuts. And that year was actually very exhilarating for me because I felt very much more independent. At the same time, I was a little shit. I was very nasty in my mind about these people.

DEAN: Did you intentionally try to make them feel uncomfortable, asking embarrassing questions?
KIM: There were instances of that which came up. I just knew I had to get out. And no one gave me any problem for it, too. My parents thought it was just fine that I left. Then I went to public high school for my last two years.
DEAN: So you had two years of this Jesuit stuff and two years of regular high school.
KIM: And that's when I got into theater, at the public high school. And I was amazed and delighted at how much more civilized the public high school was. See, in Catholic schools they tell you in so many ways that the world is like a terrible place, that people who aren't Catholic are like nasty people and mean. And that had fed into a lot of the fear of the world I'd had growing up.
DEAN: Well, had you gone to a Catholic elementary school?
KIM: Yes, to parochial school. So, see, I was sort of into it. And I was also like kind of scared of getting out of this because these non-Catholics were sinners, they were nasty. What I really found, of course, is that the students and the teachers in the public high school were much more civilized. The teachers weren't allowed to treat kids the way they did in parochial school. And since they weren't being treated that way, the kids were much more decent. I mean, there are always shitty kids in schools, but basically it was wonderful. And that gave me a huge amount of confidence to try new things, and if something was horrible to leave and try something new.

And I've always done that since. Sometimes it seems to have taken me a long time to move out of something that's unhealthy. But that really opened up my eyes and gave me a whole lot of confidence to sort of go into the unknown, at least in this physical sense. And that the unknown is sometimes much more preferable to the known, no matter how frightening it is.

DEAN: I think Paul always had that quality, too. He said on page one of his autobiography that he was always surprised that he could treat human nature as a subject worthy of complete interest and step outside of his phobias when he was dealing with the unknown in human nature. He was always drawn towards it more than frightened by it, even though in commonplace and conventional situations his phobias would be all over the place.
KIM: Yeah, but still not debilitating him. When you think about where he moved and what he did, it's the opposite of a sheltered or a reclusive life.
DEAN: Apart from the idea that you didn't want to have anything to do with the kind of family you'd come out of, did your upbringing influence your ideas at this time about how to interact with the world? Were they people you could respect in any way?
KIM: There were things about them I was able to respect and still am grateful that they were able to give me. The first is a large sense of self, which I got somehow from them one way or another. My family was extremely stoical, so there was a sense of workmanship and of pride in a job well done, which has been useful in some way or another. I don't think back on this stuff much.
DEAN: Once you start living a real, exciting, healthy life, why bother remembering when you were sick?
KIM: The things that pop in from my memory just don't mean much. There's one thing my mother did that really impressed me, just blew me away. It's one thing I've thought of that I liked and that I've used. It was when I was in high school. It was a rich school, it was a rich suburb, and there were teachers there who were trying to be progressive. So some of these English teachers who had bright kids in their classes wanted to have a much more free-form class, basically a "set your own curriculum" type of thing. Back then they were all experimenting with that. And the school administration was very against it.

And these teachers organized an anti-Vietnam teach-in, they called it, which meant cutting classes and gathering outside. Anybody who was into this was going to be suspended. So I did it and I got suspended. Your parents had to come down, basically, and talk to a counselor so you could get un-suspended. So my mom went down and she gave them hell! And I was really unprepared for it. She stood up for me.

DEAN: She rose to the occasion.
KIM: She really did. I guess I was expecting her to not give me hell about it, but she really yelled at them. And she told me about it. It was wonderful how she could stand up to authority that way and get over her intimidation while it was important for her to do so. That was really nice to see.
DEAN: It's wonderful to have a moment like that. I never had any moments where I could feel proud of my parents. The closest I've come to what you're describing is seeing that there must have been something creative in my father -- not my mother -- just because there were just all sorts of signs and symptoms and things that were odd. One of the things that was odd was that he was always talking about homosexuality.
KIM: In what way?
DEAN: You know, "I heard this actor is a homosexual," or "Is your friend, X, a homosexual?" Always disparaging, always negative, but also absolutely fascinated. He couldn't let it go. At first I didn't know what the word meant. And I didn't want to know, because he made it sound like some kind of disease that catches up with people whether they like it or not. He also was vice-president of the local Little League, which Paul found very suspicious.
KIM: Well, just think: who the hell would be involved with Little League if it wasn't for latent homosexuality? Can you imagine? Who the hell would be the Scoutmasters?
DEAN: So you found this public high school to be much healthier and more human?
KIM: It was wonderful. It was a breath of fresh air. The big bad world was just in my imagination.
DEAN: Yet when you tried to have gay lovers you found that wasn't exactly all sweetness and light, that there were going to be some real problems.
KIM: Oh, definitely. But it was just totally different. In the one, you're like in a place where you're just so ignorant . . .
DEAN: And there's no way to learn.
KIM: Yeah, and it's just like darkness sort of everywhere, and so you just stop trying to stare into the future because it's just too confusing. But at that point I was experimenting with gay lovers. Actually, I wouldn't even say most of them got to the lover stage. It was just experimentation with romance and trying to get close to other people.
DEAN: What Paul used to call "thirteen-year-old" kinds of stuff?
KIM: No, I'm talking more now about like when I came to New York. You see, I never really tried having a romantic relationship where sex could be a possibility until after I was at the Center. It just seemed impossible. Although I always had at least one or two close relationships with men, they always had parameters where they could never become sexualized, just because it would upset them too much.
DEAN: Why did you decide to drop out of Carnegie Mellon?
KIM: It seemed to have been tied up with a lot of things. I threw myself into the work there, and so I got exhausted. I found that the results of my work were unsatisfying. I was able to design a show as a junior, which was kind of unheard of. But I just found the rewards from that being very flat even though it was a big success. On top of that, I was having strong romantic feelings for guys who were unavailable: a teacher, a friend. And it seemed rotten and like unfair or something. I was sick of it. I hated it. And I said, "This is a crock of shit. I'm leaving this place. If the future is going to be more of this, I don't want it." It reached a stage of identity crisis, where I was simply just going to solve it by just leaving and going someplace else. But as I say, this teacher convinced me to stay till the end of the year and offered this friend's place in New York. So that was the hook: that I could get to New York.
DEAN: So that you could stay for awhile?
KIM: Yes, I stayed there for the first two weeks. It was like on Fifth Avenue right near Central Park. It was deathly up there -- but it was New York.
DEAN: Is that how you learned that there are lots of large apartments in New York that need to be cleaned?
KIM: I can't remember what I did back then. I think the first kind of work I got into was window display at department stores. I worked with Paul's student Lee for awhile.
DEAN: I forgot that you knew Lee.
KIM: Oh, sure. I came to New York in May of '73. The second day I was at the Center we all went on the first Gay Pride Day Parade wearing t-shirts that spelled out "NINTH STREET CENTER." So my picture got on the cover of the very first Ninth Street Center Journal.
DEAN: How audacious of you!
KIM: Well, it wasn't audacious, it was just that the minute I walked in the door, someone ran up to me and said, "What letter do you want to be? We need a letter." So I thought, "Well, I guess I'm going to the Gay Pride Parade this year."

The Center was just psychedelic to me at that time. But not for very serious reasons.

DEAN: Because it was gay?
KIM: I had experienced a few gay bars before that and it was like living death to me. The people there just seemed like monsters. But to walk into the Center, I was just blown away. Everyone seemed so attractive and beautiful. Of course, back in those days, we had so much more going on than the talk groups, so it just seemed like my dreams come true.

My first remembrance of Paul was when I must have come down to one of those Saturday Buffet Suppers he was making. He was sitting in the back, very quiet, smiling nicely. I had walked in and had observed all the guys sitting in the front and talking, and everybody seemed so vibrant and alive. And I looked at Paul and he smiled at me, and then I thought, "Oh, isn't that nice, they have something for this nice old man to do so he doesn't have to be left out. They let him make the food, so he can be a part of this place, too."

That's exactly what I thought to myself. And then I was very surprised the first talk group I went to and he lead it. I thought, "Wow! Gee, you can sure trust your first impressions."

DEAN: Did you talk to him at that dinner?
KIM: Sure, but just to say "Hi." He was obviously tuned into what was happening and I was just there to have dinner. He may have said things like, "Oh, you're just new to the city? Oh, that's great. I'm glad you feel so great. Isn't it great?" You know, just stuff like that. It was perfect!
DEAN: So a few days later you came to a talk group and he was leading it?
KIM: Yes. I was just so extremely impressed with him at the first talk group.
DEAN: What he was saying made sense?
KIM: No, it didn't make sense. It was just a huge relief to hear someone say these things for the first time, to have a sense of a world that was so much richer than the conventional world and conventional ideas. You see, at this time I was quite skeptical of psychology -- and psychologists and psychiatrists. As a matter of fact, I was strongly turned off to them and to the very idea of talking psychologically. Everything I had ever experienced up to that point I just found oppressive.
DEAN: You mean the way cocktail party people talk about Freudian slips and things like that?
KIM: Not only that. The world that psychologists and psychiatrists were trying to promote just seemed so depressing to me.
DEAN: The grim specter of normalcy.
KIM: I didn't even think about this clearly. It was much more subjective -- just like gut reactions and stuff. But Paul blew my mind because it was like an opening up, it was like there is a future. And not only that. You know, I take so much for granted now these days, but to think back on those days, before I was even able to talk about my femininity, just the idea of needing to present a facade to the world that had something to do with conventional images of what a man is all about was so oppressive to me, painfully oppressive.
DEAN: And you felt now that you didn't have to bother with all that?
KIM: Yeah. Of course back in those days, too, my ideas of what femininity was were so mixed up with "doing the dishes" and just stuff like that. This was not because of Paul but because of me and not making these things real in my own life. But it was a first step. It was a promise of a better future.
DEAN: I guess he must have had a big struggle before he chose the words "masculine" and "feminine." He could have used the words "introvert" and "extrovert" and taken a lot less heat from people who can't stand it when language changes. But he really wanted to indicate that introverts and extroverts mate, and that's why he needed a more bonded pair of words like "masculine" and "feminine." And this is exactly where Paul goes beyond Jung. Jung didn't understand that there could be real mating between these two types. Quite the opposite, he thought that introverts and extroverts never really get along with each other.
KIM: Well, you see, that's why I just never read any of that stuff. And I still haven't to this day. I've absolutely no desire to read any of it.
DEAN: Do you read Paul once in awhile?
KIM: I'll open it up and just read a paragraph or two.
DEAN: Because you remember most of it as a living part of who you are?
KIM: Yeah.
DEAN: Do you find that you ever learn anything new by reading him, because you didn't understand it before?
KIM: No, not because I didn't understand it before. Well, it's funny. The reason that Paul is very stressful for me to read -- almost painful to read at times -- is not because I don't understand it, but because I cannot read it just in some objective way of like, "Oh, this is what human nature is about." Like, everything I read, I'm immediately applying it to my own life. And a lot of times I have to decide how much stress I want to take on, how much I want to look at, and sometimes it's quite little.
DEAN: One of the great unanswered questions -- if anyone's interested in answering it -- is how a man as subjective as Paul could create a system which to my reading seems like extraterrestrial objectivity about the planet Earth. It's as if some super-intelligent pan-dimensional anthropologist dropped by one afternoon and jotted down the whole story of human nature.

Frank has the same problem with the writings that you do. He just doesn't like the writing style. It's painful for him to read it.

KIM: No, it's not the writing style at all: it's the content. It's very serious. It's like talking to Paul when I do it. And I want to do that when it's healthy to do it. This is basically just the way I am.
DEAN: So you don't need to use it as a didactic tool? It doesn't stimulate you in any kind of healthy way?
KIM: Oh, it does. The thing is that you need to have the experience of these things a lot of times for it to be real, for it to make any kind of sense. You have to experience being separate from your defenses, so that when you read about the defenses then it means something. You've sort of experienced your defenses more vividly. I guess it's an indication of my own growth that it becomes different when I reread it, because intellectually I understood it the first time. I mean, I'm a smart boy and I know all the words.
DEAN: This is sort of new information for me. I have almost the opposite experience. Every time I read it, I almost think I understand less of it because it's so broad and vast. I can memorize the schematics and become intimately familiar with the terrain, but I don't find myself always thinking in terms of these concepts. I know where he mentions different kinds of things. I know how to look things up. It's all familiar territory. But I don't always know how to apply various insights.

He has a whole section on causes and effects versus beginnings and endings. It's one of the more "philosophical" sections. I've read it lots of times and yet, I don't think I really understand it. If I understood it, then I would just use it and not still be wondering about what he was getting at.

KIM: To talk about "understanding all of it" is almost like a crazy thing to say, because it's almost to imply that you would be finished growing then. Use whatever you're able to at any given moment.
DEAN: So you decided that you were impressed with Paul because he was talking about psychology in a way that was more real than ever before.
KIM: Well, I knew that he wasn't expecting me to be something I wasn't, and that who I really was was just fine to him. And that applied to everybody else there too, even though he was very free about confronting people back in those days. It was obviously upsetting when he'd do that, but it wasn't so upsetting that I left, because what I was getting was so much more important than the hurt of being confronted.
DEAN: The first memory I have of the two of you is your coming in and giving different people a big smile and a kiss. And you came to him and gave him a big smile and a kiss and he said, "Kim, it's wonderful to get these smiles and these wonderful kisses -- and I think you should start not giving them to just anybody."
KIM: What he actually said was, "Kim, you have a lovely smile, but you smile at everybody the same."
DEAN: And he felt very free about saying that. I think he always felt very comfortable with you, that you kind of understood him and that he wasn't going to have to fight to get his ideas into your head. Did you feel a closeness with him?
KIM: I always felt when we got together that we both just implicitly understood it was work, and it was work that we both wanted to do. I'm not saying I wasn't a pill or that he didn't have to work with me to get over some of my shit.
DEAN: Did he ever have to raise his voice with you?
KIM: Oh, sure. He didn't do it because I was saying, "No, Paul, I don't believe that." He did it because he had just enough therapeutic experience to know how thick defenses can be and how you can justify your defenses, and how you can filter what someone else is saying to you through your own defenses to support your own defenses. So when he raised his voice to me, it was for very important things, for very important points he was making. And I remember them clearly to this day. He yelled at me the first time I counseled with him.

Let me fill in the chronology a bit. A couple of people at the Center came on to me sexually so I had sexual experiences with a couple of them -- I think they were both feminine. It was boring so I never did that again. It wasn't boring, actually, it was depressing and empty. And I tried a romantic relationship with someone named John who was an actor. It kind of blew up when he was sleeping with someone else and I walked in on it and I started acting like Joan Crawford or something. I remember going back to the Center and announcing to people in general how I had been used and how horrible this was.

And then Rick tried to give me some sense of how undeveloped I was and how my reaction was an indication of this. He suggested going into counseling with him. So I did. I probably saw Rick for about a year, during which time I met Lenny. Rick was trying to help me with problems I was having with Lenny. I was very rag-doll in the relationship and Lenny was very imperial. It made for a very hot romance but we weren't able to do very much else with each other. And some way or another Paul suggested, "Oh, why don't you see me for counseling?"

DEAN: Was this before Paul himself became interested in Lenny?
KIM: This all sort of happened simultaneously, actually. And so I went into counseling with Paul. And our first session -- to get back to him yelling at me and how I remember it -- was, he just started out by saying he was so glad I decided to start counseling with him and he thought there was a lot going on with me. And he said, "So why did it take you so long to want to start counseling with me?" And I just got very helpless and kind of rag-doll about the whole thing and I said, "Well, gee Paul, I mean, I just didn't think you'd want to see me. I can understand your wanting to see Giulio and all these great guys, but I just didn't think you'd be interested in seeing me."

And he screamed at me. He banged his hand on the desk and he said, "You act like you don't have a right to exist on the face of this earth. And I'm just not going to put up with it." And he told me how sick it was, this type of thinking and this type of behavior.

DEAN: Did that make you feel better or worse?
KIM: Much better.
DEAN: Did the violence of it shock you?
KIM: It shocked the hell out of me. I can't honestly put myself back in that place, but I remember it clearly to this day. It made a big impression on me. So much of the way I was thinking about myself had that kind of sick quality to it. I just considered it like normal, even though I started to hate it when he showed me that I could separate myself from it. At that time it was just such a part of me in the way I operated and thought about things.

But then he spent the whole rest of the hour being extremely warm. We talked about what a wonderful person I was, and what happens to very subjective feelingful feminines who don't develop their pride, and what I could look forward to when I did. He was kind of planning out a strategy or showing me that this is what growth would promise me. And lots of bells went off about why I thought about things in certain ways, and why I allowed myself to be put through certain things for so long. It just made a whole hell of a lot of sense. And he only yelled very infrequently after that, maybe one or two more times.

You know, I began to appreciate this more years after he did it when I started being a counselor and being in serious relationships and seeing the entrenched quality of the defenses. When I'm being really defensive and someone's trying to tell me something real in a nice way, I can just turn it around in my mind. And I think Paul knew I kept a lot of things underground as well. One of the wonderful things about him was how he treated everybody differently. There wasn't like one style that he used for everybody.

DEAN: I think he would have written more about therapy if he had a fixed style.
KIM: Well, his style with me was he never pushed me to go faster than I wanted to, which I know he also did for other people. He always waited for me to bring up subjects. So if it would take me two years to talk about masturbation, then that was fine.

I took such a stoical approach to the counseling. I'd usually have a subject picked out in my head before I'd go in there, to start out with. A lot of times I would get exhausted trying to think up something or trying to put it in some kind of focus.

DEAN: Did you want to, like, "do well" in your counseling sessions -- as if it was a class in school or something?
KIM: Probably that was some of it. I think I was trying to emulate his style of thinking about things seriously, to try and think about what had meaning in the week and what didn't. Of course, I was wrong most of the time.
DEAN: Were you trying to be more of a colleague than a student?
KIM: Oh, yeah. Well, both. It was always very clear to me I was a student, but it was cooperative.
DEAN: Yet he did want us to be colleagues. He wanted us to be therapists and teachers and leaders and to understand that these functions are not closed to anybody.
KIM: I always felt like we were working arm in arm together on what was going on. We both rolled up our sleeves. When I sat in that chair I was there to do work, just as he was. Sometimes I just wouldn't be able to say anything at the beginning of a session. I would have exhausted myself trying to think of something to say. He usually didn't do a lot of small talk to loosen me up or stuff like that -- I mean, he did a little bit sometimes. He would just start talking about serious things and I never knew where it was coming from. He'd just start talking about, oh, just aspects of masculinity or things he saw. He would discuss other patients with me, other students -- not for its titillation value but to make points like, "Here's submission," or, "This is a failure of submission going on." He would analyze politicians or people in the news sometimes.
DEAN: I think his therapy became much richer after the Center started and all his patients got to know one another. He could really talk to us about our friends from first hand knowledge then, in the Sunday groups also. The great thing about the Center to this day is that there are very few secrets. I always tell people my life is an open book. If you want to know anything about what I'm doing with my life, just ask. And I don't care who else you tell. It's much simpler that way for me to live. And Paul had that policy, too.
KIM: His insights were always deep enough that you never felt like it was just gossip. Whenever he would talk insightfully about his other students, you'd always just apply it to yourself. It would illuminate or at least help you question similar things in yourself. You'd think, "Gee, now what is my problem in this area like?"
DEAN: It was always really the job of the therapy session to get the person to be honest about his own problems rather than indulging complaints about other people.
KIM: Oh, completely. And that's just one more thing that was such a mind blower, to show you that your own growth had continuity and was well above and beyond any particular relationship you were in at the time. And that success and failure were equal, basically.
DEAN: Did knowing this man and this therapy change your life or make you more yourself? Did it give you different goals about what you wanted to do with your life -- like what you want to see inscribed on your tombstone or something like that?
KIM: It's given me much more than that. It's given me peace about worrying about what the future will be. Whenever I try to think about the future or what I will be doing in the future, it's just always been oppressive.
DEAN: So you live in the here and how and deal with today?
KIM: Yes, with a lot of faith. In terms of my personal relationships with people -- where I know about their growth and they know about my growth -- there is a great deal of faith that is very real to me. But in terms of what the future is going to look like or what I'm going to be doing, I don't get into it.
DEAN: How about those functions that I'm always thinking about that are going to be historically necessary if his insights are to reach out into the world? We're going to have to promote a lot of teaching and leadership from within the Center reaching out into the world for that to happen. Does that attract you personally?
KIM: Oh yes, very much so.
DEAN: What kind of contribution do you think you might want to make as a teacher or a thinker?
KIM: Well, just that. I don't know how much more to say specifically, but just that: however it expresses itself, whatever I can do and whatever is appropriate and needed at the time.
DEAN: I know you have been resting from doing counseling for awhile. Is that something you feel is going to come back into the picture?
KIM: Oh, definitely. See, I felt I was kind of effective, but I was very dissatisfied with how undeveloped I was at it. I'm not still staying away because of this, but I felt very disturbed when Collin killed himself. It kind of gave me a glimpse of a whole level of submission to or acceptance of who another person really is that wasn't real to me before that.
DEAN: You mean that we hadn't really been facing who he was and how fucked up he was, that we were sort of toying with his life?
KIM: Yeah. I wouldn't say I was ever toying with his life. But I was just very willful about making assumptions that just because a person comes to counseling once a week, or shows up at the Center, that they're capable of growing. I was counseling with him at the end. It was a very short period, for two months maybe, and I can't even remember now if he had quit. The counseling was very difficult for me because he brought up lots of issues that I just had absolutely no answer for. I found myself trying to make answers as if he was another independent Center person bringing up these issues, and that just wasn't going to work.

I did a good job and an appropriate job of trying to calm him down and ease some of his exhaustion -- which was fine. But we always assume that we have to support everybody who comes to the Center by helping them cut off their conventional ties or their ties with their parents and take on more independence. And this really showed me there was just a whole level of things I wasn't looking at -- and wanted to look at. So I felt exhausted at that point and stopped counseling right then for that reason.

To me this is something you can't fix just like intellectually or by thinking about it. It has a lot to do with living life and becoming involved in experiences with people and relationships.

DEAN: Are you saying that in the future when you see somebody like that, you'll be more likely to say to them, "Live a more conventional life and don't come to the Center"?
KIM: I may not use those words -- because they may not want to accept it -- but at least it's a question I'm going to be asking myself. Is this cure, this counseling, worse than the sickness? Is it just making them sicker?
DEAN: I, too, don't think the Center's good for everybody. There's a lot of people who ought to stay away from it. Who is the Center good for?
KIM: It's not good if insights, or being in the presence of guys who are demonstrating what's right, is simply confusing and oppressing a person -- if, rather than liberating their identity, it seems to like leave them with a void or a blank. This is a very subjective way of talking about it, but it's how I look at it.

Another person I counseled briefly was very much like this. You take away their defenses -- or you try to ask them to challenge their defenses -- and it's like there's nothing there. Or you attempt to speak to what you believe in or have hope or faith in -- things like beauty or goodness -- and you just don't get a response to it.

DEAN: Do you think a certain idealism about the planet as a whole has anything to do with this, the ability to be truly idealistic, or to have genuine hope, perhaps?
KIM: Possibly, but I think a lot of their images of that are so tainted and colored that you have to just really start with the person. And then once they're feeling healthy and have a healthy sense of who they are, I think idealism just comes naturally as an outgrowth of their warmth and their pride. It's possible to have a future when there's something good or beautiful about you.
DEAN: When I was a kid, I was very stoical and never had much hope for my personal life, but I always thought -- due to my study of evolution for one thing -- that if there was this continual progress built into nature that the far future would have to be a world without people like my parents. And that always gave me hope. That was my way of working around it.
KIM: That episode with Collin was basically very good for me, but of course I got sick about it. I had the same kind of response at the beginning that I did with Paul when he yelled at me, the idea of "I know nothing."
DEAN: It made you feel helpless and ignorant?
KIM: Worse than ignorant. I like to hold on to that feeling of simple ignorance, but this made me feel like worthless or something. But I wasn't so sick that I was unable to say to myself, "You didn't kill this boy."
DEAN: Do you think any good counseling is being done by the Center?
KIM: Oh, see I think I did a lot of good counseling when I was a counselor, and I think people are doing good counseling now. This didn't have so much to do with the idea that I couldn't do an adequate job of counseling. It had to do with me and my needs. So much of what I was saying to people and doing with people were rearrangements of what Paul had taught me. It was like an intellectual process. "Oh, I know what this is, and I know what this is caused by, and I know how it all fits together." Like a puzzle. But what was missing was a lot of the experience. So I tended not to be very good at focusing in on how each person was different from another.
DEAN: You could figure out a brilliant answer that just happened to be wrong?
KIM: It had elements of truth in it, but perhaps it wasn't really the thing they needed at the moment. It's like experiencing each individual more so you see how they're different, seeing how all feminines aren't the same just because they're feminine and all masculines aren't the same just because they're masculine. And how their growths can be very different and how their problems are going to be extremely different.
DEAN: I'm hearing from you a tremendous sense of pride in your ability to understand people and to help them understand themselves better, and to promote and stimulate their growth process as well as your own. How did Paul affect this? I mean, do we give Paul credit for any of this, or is this something that would have come out in you anyway?
KIM: I don't know exactly, but we can give Paul credit for teaching me how to discipline my thinking -- or how to start to learn how to discipline my thinking -- so that my drives to be insightful and helpful, which I always had, might actually be helpful -- more than just stroking somebody or patting them on the head or commiserating with them or something like that.

He was the only one who I ever got any sense of knowing that you had to really work hard, that feeling had to be disciplined, that you had to go to work. And that if you didn't do that, it wasn't only that it wasn't very good, it was that it was wrong and it was bad. It wasn't only like, "Oh, well, so you didn't have insight. At least you made him feel better." No. Half truths, insightful feelingfulness or whatever, are damaging.

So that's what we can credit Paul for, besides being a living example that this is something that ordinary people can do, that this is something friends can do with each other, that you're smarter than psychiatrists, that you don't have to go to college to do this.

DEAN: Do you feel there might have been other people like Paul in his time? Was he unique in some way? Or do we just not know?
KIM: I don't know. It's funny you say that, because I think sometimes that there might be like a masculine counterpart of Paul somewhere on the planet that we don't know about -- possibly because he's not articulate or he's not literary. Probably he might not be.
DEAN: Maybe a leader of a commune or some special creative community?
KIM: I don't know. It's kind of like a moot point and I really don't think about it very much. There may be another person like Paul around. Other psychologists and thinkers have written books, and I know you're interested in reading lots of books by other thinkers.
DEAN: I don't really believe in it that much as if it's going to enhance my own personal, psychological perspective, but Paul wanted me to.
KIM: No kidding?
DEAN: Oh, yeah. I get the feeling sometimes that people think that this is just Dean's hobby or obsession or something -- or sickness, for that matter. But Paul was always wanting me to be the one to place his work in a historical perspective. That was my job as his collaborator. In some ways it stood in my way for a long time, because it left little or no room for an honest confrontation with my own growth process.

But the interesting thing is that he never actually gave up on the idea of my writing these books. And I never have either. We were always looking forward to it happening some day. In a lot of our phases he'd say, "Well, you know, right now you have to do these other things, so don't worry about the books." But he never said not to do it. He always seemed to think that this kind of stuff would be just the right sort of contribution a person like me could make.

Maybe these kinds of books are a masculine thing. I often think this, because they're not the products of truth-seeking in the strict sense. I'm not trying to see, for example, in what ways Freud was true so much as see what part of Paul's truth Freud saw -- something like that. It's more like cataloging or archiving or being a librarian.

KIM: Also, you're not focusing on the living people you're involved with when you're into this research. Truth-seeking is when you're submitting -- or attempting to learn how to submit -- to something that's real right in front of you. Paul had a lifetime of experiences of that and that's why he could abstract to a conceptual level, because he had that lifetime of experiences of a one-to-one nature. He told me so many times in so many ways about this.

I was just talking with Carl about this the other night. Carl was saying something like, "Did Paul ever share his growth with you? Did he ever like say, 'Oh, this is where I have problems in that area'?" And I said, "Very little. Hardly at all, directly. More, the longer I was with him." Carl was curious about like who shaped Paul's growth, who was Paul's counselor.

DEAN: Paul had a life that's so different from our lives. We have the advantage of being part of a community of growing people, but he had to do it all by himself.
KIM: I still think about this submission idea in truth-seeking. He made sure I knew that it was much more than just romance. It was essential for the insights that he came up with that he attach himself to masculine personalities throughout his life. Not always masculine personalities that were developed and could lead him in creative ways and help him focus on his psychological problems, but just raw psychological masculinity that was real enough for him to reach a level of submission so that he could discipline his insights and his feelings. And he used this as a therapeutic tool for himself. He had to know when to break off with relationships, when they were making him sick or whatever.
DEAN: Or making the other person sick.
KIM: Or making the other person sick. But how do you grow when you don't have a counselor, how do you grow when you don't have a teacher or a leader? Do you need to be involved with someone who's more developed than you are in most ways? The answer is that, just knowing what you know, you can use what's real in another person -- like their essential masculinity or femininity -- to really help you focus and get out of yourself. It's something very real to measure yourself against.
DEAN: Caring about the mental health of another person is a tremendous motivation, because when you care about that person you're going to find out very quickly what you're doing that's false or fucked up. And you can see it quite as clearly as if they were a teacher or a leader who could say with authority, "What you're doing or saying is wrong."

Even though they can't spell out the answer that you're looking for, at least their reactions can tell you when you're off base. And that's an essential tool for getting somewhere, even if you have to go at a slower pace. I'm sure that we're all growing a little bit more slowly than when we had a teacher who could give us actual answers and actual insights. But we have a full-proof scientific tool by which to test our own development and make mid-course corrections -- simply because we're humans who can attach ourselves to other humans.

KIM: And I don't ever judge it in terms like slower or faster. I think that just doesn't work because there is no such thing.
DEAN: I guess that's school talk, isn't it?
KIM: With so much of what I learned with Paul, you may soak it up in four years, but maybe you have to have twenty years of experience before you begin to see certain things -- even with the best teacher in the world focusing things for you, or perhaps suggesting areas that are richer to explore.
DEAN: I think a good test of whether you've understood something is whether you can then teach it to somebody else. If you find yourself just repeating formulas, and then they disagree and repeat their own formulas, you find out real quick if you have a rich enough understanding to be able to convey it in any meaningful way.
KIM: Fortunately, I'm much less hard on myself now than I used to be about what I have to be doing at a certain point in my life. I guess my faith in myself seems to have proven to be like a lot stronger.
DEAN: I sometimes envy that in you. It's something I struggle with. There are a lot of people who put themselves under tremendous pressure to achieve things, substantial measurable quantifiable things you can put on a resume, and yet who really don't know how to open themselves up inside to honest, genuine questions about their human growth. I think that's got to be the number one priority. Otherwise, we're no different from, say, a school of dentistry. Yes, we can sell Paul's system like laundry detergent. We can promote it like a political campaign. We can write our books about it. But unless we're living in accordance with what it recommends that people do, or shows people that they can do, then we're going to miss out on the major benefits of the system -- in the name of demonstrating those very benefits to other people.
KIM: For some reason, it's very easy for me to accept the inevitability of the world's using Paul's insights. They just seem so logical and right. Not that the work you're doing doesn't need to be done, because it does. All the work you've been doing with these histories and with the publishing is essential.

I like very much the fact that you've made the literature available to anyone who wants it. What I think is perhaps not so necessary is the actual proselytizing. And I don't even know how much of this you do.

DEAN: You mean approaching strangers, writing to people? I've cut that out entirely because it made me sick.
KIM: Oh, that's great. It's not that we shouldn't let strangers know about Paul, but just that a lot of times people have come down to the Center who were familiar with his works and it became very clear that, once they were in the presence of growing people and their own growth was really challenged, they didn't want any part of it. They liked what Paul said because it was comforting or something.
DEAN: It's possible to treat any psychological or philosophical system as an esthetic creation. And a lot of people have made very beautiful philosophical systems, like Hegel, that other people have celebrated and written about, but which have literally almost nothing to do with the real world that we live in, just nothing whatever. Gigantic volumes of just beautiful castles in the sky.
KIM: Enchanting daydreams. I always felt like it's just not necessary to proselytize about this, that there's a need in the human spirit for this.
DEAN: And if there isn't, then maybe they don't deserve to have it.
KIM: It isn't that they don't deserve to have it, but we will just make ourselves sick trying to make them have it.
DEAN: Well, is it necessary, then, that we do anything? What part of this can we avoid doing? I find our having to publish all this great stuff a little depressing. We're marketing treasures that people are trashing.
KIM: Or stuff that they just don't value.
DEAN: It's like pearls before swine, and that hurts me, it hurts my warmth. It builds up a lot of rage inside me.
KIM: I guess you're asking what would be appropriate to give up or what just isn't worth it anymore, like what isn't getting results. And it's funny you're asking because you helped me so much in terms of ending the East Village Counseling Service. You just said something like, "You're only seeing like two people a month? Do you think this is really worth it?" I don't recall what I said to you but the light bulbs went off in my head and I thought, "Well, of course it's not worth it. No one who comes into East Village Counseling is sticking around at the Center."
DEAN: Do you think it's time to drop the Journal, for instance?
KIM: I've always assumed that the Journal was something you enjoyed doing and that's why it's there, but of course the Journal isn't essential to running the Center at all. Yeah, drop it.
DEAN: You don't think it's encouraging people to learn how to be articulate in an objective medium?
KIM: Well, sure, but that's very secondary to people's personal growth. See, I think there's one thing you don't understand -- maybe you do understand this, and if I'm off-base on this I want to know about it. But I don't think you have enough of a sense yet of how long it takes for someone who's serious to write down what's true or demonstrate what's right in some system that can be codified or rigidified or however you want to say it.
DEAN: "Objectified" I think is the word.
KIM: Or maybe subjectified. We're always talking about truth being objectified, but maybe it has to be subjectified. You have a lot of respect for what Paul did, but, you know, there is so much stuff in Paul that I haven't even gotten yet or that I'm still discovering. I honestly don't think the world is suffering, or anybody is missing out in their growth, just because I haven't written my book yet. I have perfect faith that at some point it's just inevitable. If you keep going, you will have enough to say that could actually complement or be different from what's already been said, that it would be worth someone's time picking it up and reading it. Not just another confusing dumb thing that complicates and just adds more wordy garbage to the world. And that's just how I feel about it: that it's there, it exists, it's for us to use it and to share it with people who are interested in it and want it.
DEAN: I know what you're saying is true, because various people have batted around the idea of writing a "popularization" of this stuff, and I don't think that can happen. I don't think one can write a pop-psychology version of Paul. I just don't think there is any way to do it.
KIM: That's funny. Someone once said to me that money should be given to universities to do studies of polarity and that kind of garbage.
DEAN: That would be a complete waste of time. They don't know how to deal with the psychology of creative people at all.
KIM: Universities are the last place you want to give money to for the advancement of the science of human nature. But this guy said he just couldn't understand why someone hasn't written a book that puts Paul into simple language. And what I said to him was, "If you read Paul's books, it's in simple language. You can understand every word you read in those books."
DEAN: He wrote it in the simplest language he could find. I don't think anybody's going to improve on that.
KIM: I said the books are a miracle of simplicity considering not only the complexity of what he's talking about but how disturbing it is to read. What's hard about Paul's books is that they're challenging for people to read.
DEAN: If we believe that these ideas are universally true and that in the future mothers will be able to talk about it with their daughters the same way today they might talk about the values of, say, democracy or racial tolerance, won't there be books that those people will turn to that explain the subtleties of human nature -- not of the profound and complex level of a Rosenfels maybe, but on some other level?
KIM: Gee, I don't really know. Of course, there will still be Paul, but Paul hasn't written everything there is to know about human nature: it would be depressing to think he had. Then again people will also develop tools. I think maybe this is what you're talking about more. Rather than more insight, maybe it's more tools people will develop and use. Of course they will.
DEAN: At the risk of getting into areas of the unknown that we're not prepared to give useful opinions about, is this system going to be for everybody? Will the world get to be so healthy a place that everybody who's born into it can make real use of these insights?
KIM: You mean that they'll be available for people to choose if they want to?
DEAN: I mean will they be part of the "common sense" of ordinary people?
KIM: Oh, of course.
DEAN: Will everybody know most of this stuff?
KIM: Sure. Of course they will.
DEAN: Will everybody have to read Paul or will there be other books that they will read?
KIM: So much of what identity is about gets transmitted through media other than books. I'm thinking now about what it is to be a man, what it is to be a woman, what sex is all about. It just gets handed to you. It's so infused in the culture.
DEAN: Maybe books will become less important in the future because there will be other forms of information transmission.
KIM: Possibly, but I think that when something becomes a part of a culture, there's just a myriad of ways that it's expressed. It's expressed in more codified scientific terms in some areas but in other areas it's just part of movies, it's part of fashion, it's part of everything.

This is still just at the beginning, but just think about how women are flexing their muscles about what they want to be in life. You even hear about kid's books or TV shows and you know that now slowly boys are being allowed to get interested in cooking or having dolls. They're tiny little things and they're not terribly serious, but it really filters down. People just have a sense that there is something much better about this new point of view than the old.

DEAN: So maybe not everybody will need to be an expert on everything that Paul said. They'll just need to know what they need to know to live their particular kind of life. And the science of human nature will be there for people who want to become more knowledgeable, but only on an as-needed basis.
KIM: I guess I never thought about it this way, like if there will be special people who will actually specialize in psychological matters.
DEAN: I would think that there would be, because there always are people who are wiser and stronger. There's a lot of falseness in the conventional world about how to find these people and what they look like, but I think there are truly wiser people and stronger people. Some of them even get to start institutions like the Ninth Street Center.
KIM: Possibly. My fantasy is that it'll really be just something that's such a part of culture and what it is to be a human being. The therapeutic aspect of being your own counselor will just be like today what getting a job or paying the rent is.
DEAN: Or putting on your clothes in the morning.
KIM: This will be seen to be just such a natural extension of what it is to be a human being that if there are certain people like you're describing, they'll be not too different from most other people.
DEAN: Maybe by that time the differentiation between the leading edge people and the conventional people will take turns that we can't possibly imagine today.
KIM: For one thing, the whole concept of careers, of having to do one thing five days a week for eight hours a day in these horribly rigid ways -- well, I just don't think they'll exist in the future. Obviously, there will have to be structures of some sort or another, but they'll be flexible.
DEAN: You'll have to work one hour a week or something.
KIM: Well, maybe like Monday you'll do brain surgery, and then Tuesday you'll sweep the streets cause it's restful and enjoyable. And then the next day, you'll go to the beach. There will be no kind of pecking order of careers or jobs or anything like that. I think this kind of freedom will just be part of the culture.

When people are more mature psychologically, they don't need to be treated like cattle. You won't have to say, "If you want that you have to pay for it, and to earn money you have to go out and get a job." People won't have to need money before they go to work, they'll just know that there's work to be done. And lots of things just won't get done then, of course, because they won't be worth doing for their own sake. So I don't think the world is going to be a shiny place. I think it's going to be much more sloppy and chaotic in lots of superficial ways.

DEAN: More fun, maybe?
KIM: A lot more fun.
DEAN: Less crazy, less suffering?
KIM: Exactly. And we'll all get to go to the beach when we wake up and we decide, "This is just the day to go to the beach."
DEAN: And people like me who never ever want to go to the beach will never ever go.
KIM: That's right, you'll never have to. There will be nothing like that. And they'll be no weekends, because you won't need to recuperate from anything.
DEAN: Is there anything about Paul that you know or learned or think you know that you haven't said?
KIM: Yes, and I'll try and think of some. But, you know, so many of these memories are connected to a specific concept or recall or memory. I don't walk around having these things listed in my head. A lot of them are specifically related to parts of my own growth.

One of the most wonderful and liberating things Paul got through to me, and really that permeates the Center, is that there's something good about being queer or strange. It just seems to liberate everyone and kind of like take advantage of the wonderful gift that homosexuality can give you -- which is that you are kind of set free from the conventional world and you don't have to worry any more about how you fit in to all of those systems. There's something fabulous about being queer.

This ties into when we were talking about parents and their children. Paul had such faith in people that he didn't worry about how they'd turn out, I don't believe. When he was involved in a growth process with someone, it was so different from parents worrying if their children will turn out alright.

DEAN: Parents are really worrying about themselves, aren't they?
KIM: Partly. It's like mixed messages. My parents obviously supported independence in me but they also supported huge amounts of intimidation in me as well. It's just that their conception of the world was so tiny and limited. Because they couldn't live a creative life in their tiny world, they couldn't conceive of how a child could live a creative life in the tiny world they think the child's going to live in. So most parents just won't tolerate any kind of queerness or strangeness or oddness in their kids.
DEAN: It's almost to be regretted that gay liberation is succeeding in the way it is. It's convincing people that gays are "just like" heterosexuals. In a world where homosexuality is tolerated but not appreciated, it may not always be as much of an advantage as it is today to have to go through this kind of differentiation process.
KIM: Except that it isn't really making gays be just like straights. Being "tolerated" is like such a wimp thing, you know? It's essentially useless, except for practical things like laws and stuff. The fact is that homosexuality per se is not accepted by the world and it's not going to be for quite a long time.
DEAN: As Paul said in the monograph where he talks about homophobia in the gay community, even many gay liberation people are not truly what we mean by queer or homosexual or creative. And in that sense this revolution is going to be a very long process and can help people much more than any mere factional kind of effort like demanding rights for Italians.
KIM: The fact is that the gay community hasn't come together the way that so many of these people claim.
DEAN: Not psychologically at least.
KIM: Not in many other ways too. I mean, if you think about even the biggest marches and protests they've had, or if you want to talk about voting as a block and stuff like that, there's a huge diversity in the gay community. A lot of the gay liberationists don't want to recognize that or only want to decry the fact that more gay people don't get political or don't all think a certain way or don't all vote Democratic or something. Gay people just are not coming together in this way. And I take that as a positive sign, that huge amounts of gay people still feel really disenfranchised and alienated from gay culture. They see that what's being presented to them is just another version of "We're going to tell you what to do and we're going to tell you what to say." And a lot of gay people are saying, "Fuck you. I'm going to live my own life." And that's the essence of what homosexuality is like.
DEAN: I reveal quite a bit of myself to people I meet outside the Center, but I don't usually identify myself as "gay" because that's still just so limited an image for most people. They think it means I like sucking dicks or something, and what I mean has so little to do with anything like that that it's usually a waste of time to even get into it. If they press me for sexual information, I'll say "I like sleeping with a person who's in love with me," and let them try to figure out what the hell I mean by that. It's an answer that makes sense to me.

I don't want to be stereotyped. I don't want to be ghettoized. I don't want to be defined by anything as shallow as most people's conception of "sexual preference." I think that what I am and what I represent and what Paul stands for is absolutely essential and relevant for every human being. I don't care about anybody's plumbing or education or anything like that.

KIM: I've always felt that way, too. You come to accept -- and not feel bad about or depressed about -- a real kind of aloneness when you're in a growth process. You learn that you're lucky to have maybe one or two people in your life who you can really be serious with. There's nothing sad about that -- in fact, there's something wonderful about it, because most people have no one at all like that in their life.
DEAN: Including Paul, for most of his life.
KIM: And also I just accepted the fact that people who don't know me are just going to have wrong ideas about me anyway no matter what kind of facade I try to put out or what big group I belong to. If someone just doesn't know me personally, they're always going to have a wrong idea about me, so what's the point of worrying about it? I know that when I tell people I'm gay, they're going to have the wrong idea about it. And actually, that's just fine with me, if they're not in my life.
DEAN: Because it's a way of screening them out?
KIM: Not only screening them out, but in this day and age it's often useful to say you're gay because then you won't get invited to their parties!
DEAN: I think this is why I sometimes like to wear my hair long. It's effortless -- I don't even have to speak to people in order for them to see I have long hair -- and yet it's a real signal. It's regarded as a flag that says, "Don't tread on me." I don't know why, exactly -- it's just hair. But this is the way the culture perceives long hair on men. This is the language of the culture, I didn't make it up. And insofar as it has that kind of effect and sends that signal to them, then it's useful to me. It keeps away the kind of people I want to keep away. And it also may attract people who are funky or queer or out of it or hip or who knows what.
KIM: Actually, I find it often times more disturbing to tell people that I clean apartments than to tell them I'm gay. I'm often using that now more than the gay issue due to the current worship for money and success. You use whatever you can.

I feel so good about talking about things this way and just assuming it as being so natural that you're just not part of the conventional world. And this is all Paul, you know? If you want to talk about the contribution he made, this is Paul. Rather than the conventional world being so big all around you and you being like this tiny little thing trying to protect yourself from it, he showed me the conventional world is like this tiny little thing and you are way out there, like all over the place. And the creative world you're in and the creative way of looking at life and looking at people, it's like it's bigger than the conventional. You're beyond it, you're free of it.


Paul had by far the most expanded intellect of any of the children in the family. I think that he also identified so closely with my mother and wanted to be the manager of everything -- the role that she had -- to such an extreme extent. And I think that this added to his difficulty, but I think it also added to his ambition.

Edith Nash

DEAN: What was it like growing up with Paul?
EDITH: I can't really summarize that whole thing. I'm just trying to understand now what it was like growing up at all. Paul was an important part of my growing up so I could include him in it, but it's a long process. I've just decided that the task of aging is to record your life, so that's what I'm trying to do in writing and in thinking. And I'm really just getting started, so I can't tell you what the whole thing was like. But I can tell you individual episodes that may shed some light for you on what it was like growing up with Paul.
DEAN: What did Paul learn from your parents? How did the contrast between his mother's radical politics and his father's conservative business career affect him?
EDITH: Well, that's not exactly the way I saw it. My mother was very interested in a sort of a liberal political point of view. It didn't seem radical to me at the time. And, of course, it didn't seem radical to me later on because, looking back on it, she was a good deal more conservative than I was as an adult or Paul was, or probably anybody else among the people we knew. She was sort of towards the Center more than the Left.

My father was very involved in business and very conservative in that sense, but as a child he never seemed very conservative to me. As you know, I was the favorite of his and I was the only girl, and there was so much sexual feeling on his part towards me that he seemed wild and irresponsible, more than conservative, to me. So that is just a difference in the point of view between one child and another. He may have seemed very conservative to Paul. I know he was a great defender of capitalist business practices, and when we were older and very interested in a left wing or communist view of things he seemed conservative.

I don't know exactly how that would have affected Paul. I know he identified with Mother very much more strongly than he identified with Father. So her interest in politics and in doing good in the world and all that type of conversation and point of view, I think that affected Paul profoundly. And I think it gave him a lot of interest in political process which he had all his life.

DEAN: Paul had two brothers, a twin named Walter and an older brother named Richard. How did having an older, and according to your account somewhat domineering, brother affect Paul?
EDITH: I don't think Richard was domineering. I think he was sarcastic and made fun of Paul. In the autobiographical piece that I wrote for the Ninth Street Center Journal called "The Dining Room," he was making fun of Paul. I think Paul was very vulnerable to anybody older taking him down in any way. You know, Paul thought of himself as completely grown and the intellectual equal of anybody around, always. In fact, he was. And so he was particularly susceptible to that kind of older brother sarcastic teasing. It affected him very negatively and very badly.
DEAN: Did Paul's father prefer his older brother to him in any way?
EDITH: No, I don't think our father preferred any of the boys actually. I think he just had a hard time with bringing up boys, found them very objectionable and very difficult, and he preferred me. I was the one preferred by my father. My mother preferred Richard. I have a feeling that mother and Richard, even now up in heaven somewhere, are the ones that are truly compatible with each other -- my mother and Richard more than anybody else in our family group.
DEAN: Did Richard have any homosexual tendencies or experiences?
EDITH: I don't really know but I imagine that he did because there was a professor that he went to see and stayed overnight with, when I was an early adolescent, I guess. My mother had a fit about it because he had stayed out all night and not told her where he was. There was an extra layer of fear and negativity about it because of this older man who was a professor at, I think, Northwestern University, and had kind of a reputation as a homosexual. I always thought that was probably Richard's first affair. I don't know that in any other way, except just hearing rumors around the family circle.

Richard was very attached to a high school botany teacher named Kelly something, or something Kelly. He spent a lot of time with him, and I think that encouraged Richard to go into botany as a field. He had a Ph.D. in botany in later years, gained in graduate school. Mr. Kelly came up and visited us at Neebish in the summertime with Richard and spent several weeks there. And they went on a trip by themselves around St. Joseph's Island. It was a three or four day camping trip and they took the boat, and there was a feeling between them as though they might be lovers when I was with them at that time. I don't think anybody talked about it at all but I just had that feeling.

The only thing I really remember about the camping trip was that when they came home, they didn't have any of the maps left that they had taken to navigate around in this unknown body of water. They told about how they had covered the maps with tarpaulins and left them flat on the rocks when they made camp one night, and the fire that they had made crept along the crevices in the rocks and burned up the maps, the tarpaulin and the whole thing while they were sleeping. And the ashes were in the perfect shape of the maps and the tarpaulin when they awoke in the morning. The ash had not been disturbed in the slightest. That's all I remember about their camping trip. But I sort of assumed that Richard and Kelly were sleeping together at that time.

DEAN: How did having a twin brother affect Paul?
EDITH: Well, it affected him his whole life. A twin brother is a very close thing, and I'm sure that they complemented each other. If one did one thing the other did something else. They became sort of at least outwardly one person, so whatever capabilities one had, the other had complementary abilities, and so on. They spent a great deal of time together. I know I envied them a great deal. I wanted to be part of that twin-ship. It seemed to me a much better way to be than to be isolated and alone and the only female and, oh, a whole bunch of other things that I didn't like about my position in the family. I envied them their position in the family.
DEAN: Did Paul tend to be more ambitious than Walter?
EDITH: Oh yes, I think he always was more ambitious. I think Walter was perfectly ambitious but in a much milder way and in a much more gentle way. But I think Walter was probably more tuned in to other people as a youngster than Paul was. Paul was so anxious to be an adult that he really didn't pay much attention to the people that were in his own age group or his own status.

Paul was much more ambitious than anybody else in the family. But he was very adult about it. Of course, to me, he seemed like the intellectually perfect person, the be-all and end-all of intellectual activity. I thought he was right about everything and I thought he was strong about everything and I thought he knew everything.

DEAN: Did Walter's accident when he was in a coma seem to slow him down or impair him in any way?
EDITH: I remember when Walter had a bad automobile accident. I don't remember about the coma part, but I do think that after that he was very subdued. And, of course, he was very much taken down by the nature of the accident. He was in a speeding car and he was out with a bunch of other kids. They were acting up a good deal and maybe drinking, I don't remember that part. It was thought of in the family as a very sinful experience. After he recovered he went out West on a camping trip with some teachers from Oak Park High School, and there he did have some kind of brain difficulty. I don't think he had completely recovered from the accident where his head was injured. There were some blows to his head.

Anyway, on this camping trip, he fainted or passed out or something while they were climbing a mountain and had to be taken down the mountain and taken to a hospital. Then he recovered enough to go to a nurse's home in that little town. That was Buffalo, Wyoming. My mother was very upset and worried a lot about him during that period and called him up on the telephone a lot. I don't think she actually went out there but I think she wanted to. But we were up at the cottage with the rest of the family and she was needed there and she was very upset. That may have been when Walter was in a coma. I never actually heard that he was.

But of all the things like this that you heard from Paul, I'm sure you have the true version. What I have is just what I remember and I was frequently not fully informed. I was frequently a bystander.

DEAN: Did Paul get along with his classmates and his teachers?
EDITH: He had some friends in high school. Johnny Bobbitt and Kenny McNair were two friends of his in high school. I knew John Bobbitt the rest of his life. I kept in touch with him. I think Paul was good friends with both of them. They hacked around together. Paul didn't spend much time with people his own age because, as I say, he already considered himself an adult and spent his time studying, reading and thinking on his own. He wasn't in a gang, exactly.

I do remember some other boys that he brought over that used to hang around the house. George Mann was the name of one. I think he and Walter, together, knew quite a few Bohemian people on the south side of Chicago. At least they used to take me to parties there. So there was a social group of approximately his own age, maybe, that was involved there. I don't think any of this was terribly meaningful to Paul, but maybe it was. It was very meaningful to me because they were the big people, the big brothers and the big brothers' friends that I longed to be a part of.

I remember one time they all came home and went out in the kitchen in the middle of the night to get something to eat. I'd been asleep upstairs and I came downstairs and I stayed there for an hour. I remember eating some cold fried smelts from the ice box during this particular episode and listening to them talk, and I though it was very dramatic and very marvelous to be part of a group of older boys, you know, as they seemed like men to me. I was in high school, I guess. The way they talked and the way they included me in the conversation without paying any special attention to me was a very happy experience. I can only remember it happening once so it probably was not a very common occurrence. In that sense, he did have friends with Walter and with a group of people about the same age.

DEAN: Did Paul seem especially serious as a child?
EDITH: Oh yes, Paul was extremely serious as a child. And even in the childhood pictures that we have now Walter is often smiling but Paul never is.
DEAN: Did he show more interest in adults than in his peers?
EDITH: Well, sure. He naturally showed much more interest in adults because he was one himself in his own mind. It had overwhelmed him.

One time I was discussing my daughter Maggie with Paul and I was saying how advanced she was intellectually. And then I said, "And she doesn't seem to be very competitive in school at all, which I'm very glad about. She just takes it as it comes and she doesn't try to beat the other fellow out at all." And he said, "Well, no wonder she's not competitive, she's competitive with the whole adult world." I realized in later years that he was talking also about himself. You don't have to be very competitive with your peers if you already consider yourself a fully developed adult person. In that respect, Maggie as a child was a little similar to Paul.

DEAN: Was homosexuality ever discussed in your house when you were growing up?
EDITH: No, but heterosexuality wasn't either. Once in a while I had an inkling that my mother was very disturbed by homosexuality. She went to some lectures of Karen Horney when Karen Horney first came to the Institute for Psychoanalysis in Chicago. She had some lectures for the general public and social workers and so on. And one of the things that was discussed in one of those lectures was the development of female sexuality, including homosexuality. And my mother came home and was hysterical. Paul and I were both there and she talked to us about it. She said what a terrible lecture it was and how upsetting it was and how she had always had such wonderful relations with her women friends and there wasn't anything sexual about it. She just got real excited about the whole thing.

There was also a reference to some kind of brother/sister sexual behavior in one of those lectures. And she was equally upset about that. And she kept telling us that she and Herbert had never had anything to do with each other sexually. That was one of her brothers. Well, Paul and I just sat there and listened to it. We couldn't really do anything about it. But it was obvious to us that she was defending herself very strongly against this new information. Maybe there was something sexual between her and her women friends as a young woman, or with her brother.

DEAN: How aware were your parents of Paul's and Walter's homosexuality?
EDITH: I don't think they were aware of it at all. Of course, my father died in 1935, but I don't think he paid much attention to any developing relationships. It was before the war, so it was certainly before even Walter gave any inklings of being interested in other men. And certainly Paul, too. My mother accepted Walter and his friend Bob in later years completely as a couple. Bob was Walter's long-time lover and mate. I don't think she even thought about whether they were homosexuals or not.

They used to spend Christmas with her and she used to go out and see them. Bob was an interior decorator and his and Walter's apartment was very stylishly decorated in, you know, all white furnishings and stuff like that. She used to talk about that. She seemed to be quite fond of Bob. She showed me a Christmas tree that he had made for her, one made out of false material. You could use it every year and she liked it a lot. I think she just said to herself that homosexuality doesn't exist, so she could become friendly with Walter and Bob. Bob died quite soon either before or after my mother. My mother did accept it completely, but she never referred to it as a homosexual relationship; she never did with me.

DEAN: Were they liberal in accepting Paul and Walter's homosexuality?
EDITH: No, the parents were not liberal in accepting it in any way.
DEAN: Did Paul and Walter have to go through some trying times?
EDITH: I think they simply went through concealment. I don't think they had any confrontations with my parents, at least not any that I know about. They certainly never acknowledged it to me until much later. It was after Paul started publishing books on homosexuality that Walter began writing me about a man that he was living with. He never had even mentioned it up to that time. So I think it was a big family secret.
DEAN: Did anybody know that Paul and Walter had sex together as teenagers?
EDITH: I certainly didn't and I don't think anybody else did either. I don't doubt that it's so, but it was not anything that everybody recognized openly at all.
DEAN: Why do you think that Walter found it easier to accept a homosexual lifestyle than Paul?
EDITH: Well, I really don't know. I think Paul was under some kind of enormous pressure to marry, to conform, to be a psychoanalyst, to have a child, to do things that looked like "regular people." I don't think Walter was under that much pressure to conform, and I think he adopted a less visible kind of career and melted into the mass where a lot of people were already homosexual. He sent me a picture of a young man that he knew in the army. He was gone overseas for four years and I think it was during that time that it became obvious that he was homosexual and that it was accepted in the group that he was in perfectly well. I don't remember exactly what it was but, you know, there's lots of homosexuals in the army. It became a perfectly okay thing to be, sort of, during that time, which I don't think it was for Paul. That's really the only explanation I can give.

Walter wrote me a letter one time in recent years talking about his development. He said that as a child he had spent a great deal of time with heroes. He admired people from afar. He said, "Of course, this impeded my intellectual development." And I thought that was interesting. I never thought of it that way.

I know that even as children in school, Paul seemed a lot more advanced academically than Walter. A biologist named H. H. Newman, who wrote a book about twins, gave a biology lecture in a course that I was taking at the University of Chicago. He was just a guest lecturer in a biology course. I went up afterwards to introduce myself and I said, "I think you included my twin brothers in your study of twins." It had been published a good many years before. I told him my name and everything. And he said, yes, he remembered them well. He had interviewed them with I.Q.-type tests in about the fourth or fifth grade. He'd come out to Oak Park and they had given him the list of all the twins that they had. And these were two that he happened to study and interview and give these tests to.

And he said, "Whatever happened to the one that was so smart and the one that was so slow?" And that was his version of Paul and Walter. Of course, it never seemed that way to me as a child. Walter didn't seem slow at all. He seemed entirely different from Paul in his breadth and intellectual grasp and all that. But he didn't seem slow. He seemed very witty and very clever, but, as I said before, not ambitious intellectually.

One time we were sitting around a table in the little room off the kitchen. It was called the maid's sitting room in our house. Somebody said to Walter, "Would you like an egg?" And he said, "Un oeuf is as good as a feast." That was the first bilingual pun I had ever heard in my life and I thought it was terribly clever.

DEAN: When did you first realize there was something special about Paul?
EDITH: Always, I think. Paul was the first person I ever really knew, as you know from my writings. So he seemed extremely special. I sort of adopted him as my parent. I wanted him to be the fountainhead of wisdom and help in growing up, to guard me and guide me. You know, I wasn't too happy with either of my parents so I adopted Paul as a substitute parent. That made him very special from the very beginning.

I never got in adult life any sense that Paul realized how important he was to me as a child. He treated me very pleasantly as an adult. He was quite distant, but he wasn't mean and he wasn't hostile to me at all. But with this enormous load that I put on him as a child, I had him on a pedestal. I don't think he necessarily realized that.

I read a book just recently that said that being on a pedestal is like being in jail. There's so little room to walk around on a pedestal. And I realize that for one child to put another in this enormously exalted and pedestal position is not necessarily a service. So he may have rejected that role and not really joined my desire to put him on a pedestal.

DEAN: When did it become apparent that Paul was going to live a creative life?
EDITH: I think about college age is when I became aware that he was going to lead an unconventional life and, in that sense, the possibility of a creative life. I think in high school he seemed just like a high achiever but a standard person. I think it was after this that he seemed quite different. There was a period at the University at Chicago when he was not in school, and he slept in the day and had an apartment on the south side and did work at night and wandered around the streets a lot. So it was a different schedule than anybody else had. He was writing something on the causes of war at that time, I think. I never read it but I remember him giving it to my father to have the secretary at his office type it. That was one of the things he did during that period. I guess that was when I thought that he was beginning a creative life.
DEAN: Can you think of any reasons why, of all the children, Paul probably had the most unconventional, difficult and ultimately creative life?
EDITH: Well, I think simply by intellectual power. You know, he was the one that had by far the most expanded intellect of any of the children in the family. I think that he also identified so closely with my mother and wanted to be the manager of everything -- the role that she had -- to such an extreme extent. My mother was the manager of that family just, you know, to the nth degree. And I think that this added to his difficulty, but I think it also added to his ambition. He had something really to overcome, which was the mother. It's been very important in my life too. Replacing my mother has been one of my life's tasks. I didn't realize till much later that I was going to make quite a few of the same mistakes my mother made, because I always thought in the beginning that I would never make any of them. But some of those things do recur.
DEAN: Did your parents ever realize that Paul was going to do something much more important with his life than being just another famous psychoanalyst?
EDITH: Well, no. I don't know about my father because, as I say, he died before Paul became a psychoanalyst. I think my mother thought that this was plenty to be, a famous psychoanalyst. I think that she had the usual Jewish pride in, you know, "my son the doctor." I was very amazed, since I had always considered myself the favorite child in the family, to meet some people one time from the south side who came to my mother's house for a meeting of the Abraham Lincoln Center Board that my mother was on for so many years. I was visiting from Washington. And when they walked in and met me, they said, "Oh, a daughter! We didn't know Mrs. Rosenfels had a daughter. All she ever talks about are her sons." It was somewhat of a come-down for me, because I'd always thought I was the most important child in the family, in that sense.

So, I think she did boast a great deal about "my son the doctor" with Paul, and I think it was very satisfying to her. And I think if anybody had said, "He's not going to continue to practice psychoanalysis. He's going to break some kind of new ground in the whole field of human behavior," I think she would have just not believed it. I don't think she would have gotten a glimpse of that exactly.

It's more the people that were sensitive to him that understood something about that. After Paul died, I sent one of the stories about him to my friend, Carol Gardner. She said that she always looked up to Paul a great deal when we were children. Whenever she came over to our house, she enjoyed being there. It was so much safer and calmer than her house. That interested me a lot because I always thought of our house, especially dinner-time at our house, as a real "battle royal," a real hysterical, unpleasant occasion. All the family conflicts came out at the dinner table, in my opinion. But she thought it was very nice and very different from her house. And what she said about Paul was, "I always remember his sense of justice." Even as a high-school-age person, Paul impressed her that way. It's far beyond the ordinary kind of appreciation of a person.

DEAN: Did Paul share his problems, goals, and in general, his growth process with you or his brothers when you were growing up?
EDITH: Somewhat with me. I think he did more when we were younger, yes, about things that were occurring to him. But we mostly talked about intellectual things. We didn't talk about how he felt too much. We talked about Bertrand Russell and we talked about Freud. We talked about that kind of stuff and that's why he was my main teacher. But we didn't actually talk about how he felt most of the time.

He told me about one episode when he went to visit some doctor in a clinic or hospital in southern Illinois somewhere. We had met this man through some friends of ours in Oak Park. There was a homosexual group of men that we knew. And when Paul got down there, he discovered that the doctors all slept up on the roof. And he slept up there with the doctors during their time-off period from the hospital and had sex with at least one of the men up there during that time. This was their pattern of behavior; they went up on the roof to sleep in between their shifts and that's when they had sex with each other, and visitors I guess. He was quite frank about talking about that.

I can't always remember what I knew at the time and what I knew later. It's a little bit mixed up in my mind. I know that Paul went on a walking trip with John Bobbitt during the time that John visited us at Neebish and they walked from where our cottage was or where St. Joseph's Island was up to the Sault Ste. Marie. They took two or three nights to do it and slept out and then came back on the boat, I guess. It didn't seem like they were in a sexual relationship with each other at the time. But years later, after I got to know John and his wife, Del, who's a close friend of mine now, she mentioned that Paul had been very eager to have sex with John during that trip. So some of these things that I now know I don't know whether I knew them at the time or not.

DEAN: Can you describe the phobic anxiety attacks that he had as a child? Did they set him apart? Was he treated differently because of them?
EDITH:

People were very upset about his behavior. One night he came screaming down the hall in the grip of a real anxiety attack. I think my parents took him to some kind of doctor afterwards, and worried about him a lot. I remember they took him to see Mr. Coué at Orchestra Hall. Mr. Coué was a faith healer of that time who had his patients or clients repeat the phrase, "Day by day in every way I'm getting better and better." And Paul did repeat that phrase, for a period of time anyway -- I don't remember exactly how long. When they took him to see Mr. Coué at a public lecture, all kinds of people, sort of like at Lourdes, came to the stage and left their crutches at one side and walked across the stage to the other, showing how "Couéism" had cured them of whatever was wrong with them. I was not there but I must have heard about it from Paul because I think the whole performance was very moving and upsetting to him at the same time -- all these people with these serious physical handicaps and difficulties being present there.

I sort of sensed that he was horrified by illness during that period. Somebody said that he had St. Vitus' Dance. I don't remember exactly who said that. He told me later that was the old-fashioned name for Huntington's Chorea, which he obviously did not have. But he had some tics and jiggles and automatic eye movements, and his hand moved spasmodically from time to time, and that's why they had that kind of diagnosis for him. He obviously outgrew those physical manifestations of anxiety.

Yes, I think we were all very aware that he was bedeviled by something more than just the average childhood fears, and I, at least, felt very sympathetic towards him. I remember loaning him one of my dolls. I slept with a whole bed full of stuffed animal dolls on the porch. Paul and Walter slept on the porch too, and sometimes at night I would loan Paul one of my dolls. I had so many that they took up three quarters of the bed, so I could easily give one up for the evening. It seemed to comfort him.

DEAN: Do you know if he stayed in touch with any other relatives in his adult years?
EDITH: No, I don't think so. But one time when I was visiting Paul in New York, he told me about his son Danny's sort of rediscovering him. He said that Danny had looked him up and come over, and they had a very sort of pleasant reunion after so many years of never seeing each other. One of the things they talked about was Danny's growing up years in Chicago with Paul. He mentioned to Paul that after Paul left home, a lot of drug samples came to the house, just because Paul was on all the medical lists. And Danny used to keep them. He'd take different ones at different times to experiment with them. He was very pleased to be on the receiving end of all of these drug samples that came to the house.

There was a flu epidemic in New York right about that time, and they were discussing that one day. And Paul said, "You know, your mother nearly died in the flu epidemic that swept the United States and the rest of the world in 1919." A great many people did die, and she had it. And Danny said, "But my mother wasn't alive in 1919." It turned out that all these years Joan had falsified her age to Danny by about 10 years or so, so that she would seem younger. And he was very, very annoyed with Paul for blowing the whistle on Joan's deception, and he didn't come back for a long time. That was how the relationship, at least at that point, terminated. I don't know whether they got together later on or not.

DEAN: Have you read Paul's books? Have you tried to evaluate Paul's theories, and if so what do you think of them?
EDITH: Well, I've tried and tried and tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to read Paul's books. I understand the homosexuality book, The Creative Process, that's just been republished. I understand that better than any of the others.

When he first started publishing books, they seemed to me almost like a litany of statements made over and over again in kind of a musical pattern that didn't make an awful lot of sense. They sounded like elegies; it was sort of like reading the Bible. I really didn't know what they meant. Every once in awhile I would get a glimmer here and there, but the style in which they were written put me off and I really couldn't understand them very well.

After he started writing about himself in A Renegade Psychiatrist's Story and the diatribe against Freud, those were written in more ordinary language and I understood those just fine. I have found by knowing you, Dean, and by talking to you about Paul, that I understand a lot more of what he was up to than I did previously. I think it sort of brings it out of the hidden recesses of my mind into the here and now, and I really do understand it better. But I always felt that I was being asked to consider him as the coming messiah. And I really didn't want to consider Paul that way. I wanted to consider him as my big brother. As I told you I put him on a pedestal for far too long when I was a child and so in modern times I would rather consider him as an equal person and not as a holy man coming to rescue the world. So I think I've been sort of negative towards the very high and exalted opinion of him that all the people at the Ninth Street Center have. On the other hand, they really knew him as an adult and I really didn't. So in a way, their opinion is worth a lot more than mine.

DEAN: How do you react to the claims by Paul's students that he has made a significant contribution to the science of psychology, or in fact has actually founded what may come to be regarded as an entirely new science?
EDITH: Well, I think it's wonderful if they think so, and who knows, they may be right. I think he's made a significant contribution. But I have no way of predicting this myself. And it doesn't get through to me in the same way it does to them or to you.
DEAN: Has becoming familiar with Paul's ideas helped you to live better or to understand life differently?
EDITH: I think all ideas that you understand help you to live better. You incorporate them into your daily life. I do not have the feeling against psychoanalysis that Paul had. I had seven years or so of psychoanalytic therapy at a certain point in my life and I found it unbelievably helpful to me. As I often say, it's the work that I put into it that made it helpful. I don't think it was a magic wand that the psychoanalyst waved over me or anything. I think that amount of work in a situation where I was feeling very badly about myself was very helpful to me. I gained the most improvement, I think, about five or six years after the analysis was terminated, showing that it took that long to incorporate all those insights into my actual life.

So as far as Paul is concerned, some of his advice to me directly was good and some of it was not. He advised me not to marry Philleo at the time, because he said I wasn't ready to be married: I hadn't solved my own personal problems to the extent necessary to marry. But I got married anyway. And then, quite a few years later, he said that had been just a jealous remark on his part, it didn't mean anything at all. The point is that I wasn't any more ready to get married than not ready to get married, and he was absolutely right. But on the other hand, marriage was part of the growing up process that we went through. So you can grow up within the marriage as well as outside of the marriage at about the same rate. Paul realized that this had been perhaps a foolish remark on his part.

DEAN: Did you see that you and Philleo were polarized before Paul mentioned it?
EDITH: I don't remember him mentioning that. I understand a part of what he means, that is, that we together made one person, one took one role and one took another, sort of like twins growing up. A part of myself which was really subdued in the marriage has begun to flower quite a bit since Philleo's death. That is true. That shows that the polarization had taken place. If I understand the word polarized correctly, it's quite similar to the complementary relationship that I described among the twins. Since Philleo did his share of the marriage very well, I tried to do my share in a complementary way, not always successfully to be sure. But that part is coming now.

For instance, Philleo used to manage the cranberry marsh. I never had anything to do with it. I wouldn't even look at a piece of paper that had an annual statement on it, even though he wanted me to get involved in it very much. It was only in the last six months of his life, when he found it really necessary, that I even began to read the stuff he wanted me to read. However, I listened to him talk about the cranberry marsh, I suppose, every day of our whole relationship for the last sixty years. So now that I am the manager of it, I do have a lot of history and a lot of lore to apply to it, and I'm also enjoying managing it very much. But I'm enjoying managing it because he's not here to manage it. In other words, I wouldn't do it if he were here. He would have that half. I would show a lot of resistance to it. So if that's what the polarization concept is, I think it is a very useful concept.

DEAN: Do you think Paul's scientific contribution will become important to the world at large?
EDITH: It may be. If it is, it's due to your handling of his writings and the memorial aspect of the Ninth Street Center towards Paul. That's what will make it important to the world at large, the work that you are doing right now.
DEAN: Do you think that a system like Paul's can change the potential importance of psychology in the life of the average man?
EDITH: Yes, it can, if they read the works and if they understand them and if they belong to a community such as yours, a community of supportive people that will read and understand them. I don't think anybody's going to do it alone except very unusual people, but I think it could happen if it's in the format that you are working on now.


For myself, Paul's science has been a liberating influence, changing the way I view the human scene. It has brought the harmony of understanding in place of the disharmony of half-knowledge. It illuminates the truly consequential matters of living through a process of magnificent discovery.

Walter Ross

In a basic sense, Paul describes for the first time the psychology of the creative surplus which lies outside adaptive strivings and where the best in human nature resides. In this core of character, called inner identity, human beings find their most stable source of mental health. In Paul's approach, the narrow limitations of traditional physical science are set aside in favor of new concepts which are defined in context.

Paul's science is a science of creative growth, taking place in an expanding personal world where polarity between interacting submissive and dominant character specializations, whether detached from gender origins or not, is the essence of a high level of psychological achievement or mental health. Inner identity is the product of polarized growth between individuals who have chosen predominantly submissive or dominant roles in the surplus (non-adaptive) areas of living, apart from day-to-day survival needs.

The biological mating drives in lower animals are the replica for psychological mating in civilized humans with no necessary link to gender origins. Polarized submissive love and dominant power, dedicated to the elaboration of truth and right in human affairs, bring individuals a residual lifelong inner resource which is the mark of creative maturity, and maturity in this sense is the life-force or soul of human progress. Truth and right are seen as products of creative growth that have no arbitrary terminal point and thus are never final. The discovery of truth and the production of right in individual lives, when universalized, alters society, changing social institutions.

Paul's revolutionary science says that maturity has been instinctive as a goal since the beginnings of social life, but its unique psychological nature has been little understood. To elaborate this view, Paul has explored broadly and deeply the characteristics of immaturity, thus offering a unified science of human nature. He shows how immature beliefs lie at the core of established social rules and customs falsely seen as mature and are used to ostracize independent creativity as a threat to the social order. Paul shows how false maturity standards promote destructive influences such as lifestyle depression, addictions, criminality and war which place civilization in recurring states of crisis and threaten the success of human tenancy on earth.

Guidelines to the understanding of the three areas or compartments of living are elaborated: 1) adaptive as in family life and careers; 2) gregarious and esthetic as in the art of living; and 3) creative as in psychologically mated love and power relationships whether intra-gender or inter-gender. The optimum placement of the three compartments in an individual's life is fully explained.

Paul shows how the age-old ideals of mankind as expressed in religion, philosophy and literary works can be shifted from the relative seclusion of thinkers to work as a disciplined science in the marketplace of life where they become usable self-knowledge in the daily lives of individuals and thus increase the resources of human contentment and happiness.

The instinctual basis for the seeking of truth and right through the polarity of love and power in paired relationships, when not suppressed by social forces, is universal and central to human beings and is not the province of an aristocracy of intellectuals or talented individuals. When psychological growth in an expanding personal world becomes the first priority of living, independent self-knowledge about what constitutes mental health and the quality of life become superior to authoritarian social and religious dogma as the source of survival for the human species.

Thus, an all-encompassing science provides the means for a lifestyle of growth that can dispel universal fears and anxieties engendered by centuries of ignorance about the real nature of man. The implications for human values and behavior are both radical and revolutionary.

For myself, Paul's science has been a liberating influence, changing the way I view the human scene. It has brought the harmony of understanding in place of the disharmony of half-knowledge. It illuminates the truly consequential matters of living through a process of magnificent discovery.


Paul just took off like a bat out of hell when the Center started. This was a dream come true for him, wasn't it? He was just the most alive guy around. All these new ideas kept churning faster than he could write them down. There was that energy, that intensity -- in poetic terms that magic -- that was happening. The real power of it was happening right before our eyes. There was just this splendid event. It was like Camelot in the making. It had that romance to it, that adventure to it, that excitement, that energy, that power.

Tony Rostron

DEAN: We have an excellent record of your very first meeting with Paul, since it was videotaped from start to finish. Was that the very first time you'd heard of him?
TONY: No, but it was the first time I met him. Jurgen had been telling me about Paul.
DEAN: Were you skeptical about what Jurgen was telling you?
TONY: Of course. Jurgen had made another video tape that you've seen. You're in it: it was the time when Paul's ex-lover Gerry and Gerry's new lover had come to visit.
DEAN: Oh, the after-dinner conversation at Paul's with me on camera.
TONY: So I had seen that over at Jurgen's 63rd Street apartment one night. We had just met and were courting. We were watching this video tape, and here comes this guy making googly eyes at the camera! Jurgen asked me what do I think of him, Paul Rosenfels. And my initial reaction was that he was a dirty old man who had discovered a fountain of youth. I was very skeptical.
DEAN: By "fountain of youth" do you mean he felt young or that he'd found a way of gathering young people around him?
TONY: He found a way of keeping young people around him. I'd say I stopped being skeptical of Paul when I became convinced that he really loved Jurgen. It was in our earlier counseling sessions. Jurgen and I had become lovers. We were living together. And I remember realizing that, "Oh, this man really loves Jurgen. He's on Jurgen's side." He sort of proved that to me. That's when I allowed myself to really be totally open to him and to his influence. Up until then I just went along with seeing Paul as a therapist because it was something Jurgen wanted me to do.
DEAN: What were your impressions, meeting Paul for the first time?
TONY: I had trouble believing anything or anybody. I wasn't leery of him like I was leery of so many other things going on in my life. I liked him. He was warm. I enjoyed what was happening in the moment. But I can't honestly say that I took him seriously. I was afraid of taking things seriously. At least that is what I was telling myself at the time. There were some things that I was taking seriously that were just adding to my depression.
DEAN: Would you say that you were a victim of post-traumatic stress syndrome?
TONY: Delayed stress syndrome, yes. Only there was nothing delayed about it in my case. It was instantaneous. Paul said it was a classic case of battle fatigue.
DEAN: How long were you in Vietnam?
TONY: Eleven months. I started to crumble toward the end while I was still there.
DEAN: Because you were seeing so much death?
TONY: Yeah, and all the dishonesty of it. I was just so totally ashamed of my participation in all of it. What sent me over the edge was when two weeks after I got back Kent State happened where these kids were killed by the militia. I went crazy. I spent a total of about five months in the hospital. Then, since I was still in the army, they sent me back to duty. I was assigned at the Presidio in San Francisco. And that's where I came out, really. Eventually I talked my way out with an honorable medical discharge.
DEAN: When people know they need a rest and know that the only way to manipulate the system into getting a rest is to act a little crazier than they feel, sometimes they fake it.
TONY: Oh, I didn't have to act at all. I was crazy.

I have to tell you a funny story. I had just been transferred from the closed ward to the open ward, which means that rest is exactly what you're there for. You have a lot of sedation. In fact, I was taking 2400 milligrams of thorazine a day. That sounds like a lot, but it was no more than anybody else was getting. It's straitjacket time. You're totally mindless, you do exactly what you're told to do. And what they basically tell you to do is lay down. So that's what you do. And you eat. You eat and you rest.

DEAN: Sounds like fun.
TONY: Not really. You have to understand there's still all this inner torture going on, an identity loss. You really don't know who you are anymore. You don't know what to believe in, literally. I've since said about this experience that I've given birth to myself. I know who I am because I made me.

Anyway, they'd just moved me onto an open ward where there wasn't as close supervision, but you were still in the army. Every Wednesday morning there is a stand-by inspection. You have to clean the barrack. There's a bay of twenty-two beds, eleven on each side. I'm fourth from the end as you go around the circle. So like there's the Colonel, who's Chief of Neuropsychiatry, there's the Major, who's my doctor, there's a lieutenant, who's the nurse, and some aide.

They walk in. They get to me, and my doctor says, "Colonel, this is Specialist Rostron. You remember Specialist Rostron. You spoke with Specialist Rostron last week." And the Colonel says, "Ah, yes, Specialist Rostron, how are you today?" I say, "Well, feelin' a little nervous, sir." He starts chiding me. "Well don't you think that's a good reason for being here?" And I said, "Well, isn't that a Catch-22, sir? I'm nervous because I am here!"

I actually said that. He got furious. He turned red in the face and stormed out, and everybody had to follow. And I looked around with a "What did I say, what did I do?" expression on my face.

I had nothing to lose anymore. I didn't give a fuck. I wasn't playing the game.

DEAN: All you did was say the truth.
TONY: And I swore to myself that's all I was going to say from now on. I wasn't playing the game. I'll just say "sir" and follow orders and do exactly what they say.

So anyway, about ten minutes later, the lieutenant comes back and says, "At ease." Everybody was left standing. Finally he comes back and like you're assigned whatever is available to do. I think we were on our way to the arts and crafts playroom -- occupational therapy they called it. And my doctor grabs me and says, "Rostron, what are you trying to do? I just spent the last half hour with that guy. He wants to give you shock treatment!"

DEAN: They wanted to kill you.
TONY: They weren't going to let me get away with any insubordination. Like speaking the truth.
DEAN: You were still trying to be religious at that time. What denomination were you trained in?
TONY: Presbyterian and Episcopalian -- which is a kind of polarity right there of Christian doctrines.
DEAN: I know that Episcopalian is the American branch of the Anglican church, but what is Presbyterian?
TONY: Presbyterians are very strict Scottish Bible thumpers. Not your born-again fanatics, but they take the Bible very literally.
DEAN: When I was ten I used to love the Bible thumpers on 42nd Street. I could see that the world was fucked up, and I thought, "Hey, what if these guys are the only ones who know what the real truth is? They're the only ones who are even admitting that the world is fucked up. Everybody else is just going along pretending everything's okay." Sort of a variation on the "In an insane society, the sane man must appear insane" theme from Star Trek. I had been naively impressed with the intellectual discipline and sense of purpose I'd seen in my after-school Catholic training. But I soon learned that these people knew only negative things. And that wasn't enough.
TONY: They're just critics. They don't really have any ideas to offer.
DEAN: And they're not even very good critics, usually. They don't criticize the right things. They tell people to be more family-oriented, but I think that's part of the problem. We should be a lot less family-oriented.
TONY: I had a run-in with the Chaplain there at the hospital. We were reading this one section of John quoting Jesus saying that the thief comes in the night using the back door. And having participated in Vietnam that's exactly how I felt. I asked, "Well, isn't he talking about us?" But he wouldn't answer. He didn't want to hear it. He changed the subject.
DEAN: That was his way of saying you were right.
TONY: He was a career soldier. He wasn't taking anybody seriously. It was all sanctimonious.
DEAN: I guess my way of handling the whole Vietnam thing was to just be indifferent towards it. I felt admiration for people who were manning picket lines and burning their draft cards, but every time I thought of following them my heart just wasn't in it.

Did you know that Paul tried to get me to join the army in 1968?

TONY: Why on earth would he want you in the army? Is this something he actually tried to do, or just something he suggested in terms of some sort of enlistment for you?
DEAN: I had not seen him for about a year, after having been in therapy with him for only a few weeks. I had dropped out of college and was slowly getting ready to deal with him. But the minute I dropped out and got a job I just got more depressed and out of it. I needed to just live for awhile on a day-to-day basis and learn the basic ropes of adaptive life: going to work, finding an apartment, making a few friends. But I didn't feel capable of being creative at all and I didn't want anybody to know me.

After another year had gone by I finally got the courage to walk into Paul's office after this long guilt-ridden absence and say hello to him. When he saw how out of it and fucked up I was, he said, "Dean, I wouldn't say this to most people in a period like this, but you know, you could do a lot worse than to go through the enlistment experience that the army offers you. If you found that you were going to be sent to Vietnam and put in combat, you could just let the sickness come out. Let it come to the surface so that they would give you a medical discharge."

I knew what he meant by "letting the sickness out." I had found in high school that it was fun to fake epileptic seizures and convince other kids that I was nuts. And sometimes I even thought, "Well, maybe I'm not faking it, maybe I'm letting real seizures come out." So I started thinking about the army.

TONY: It's not bad advice.
DEAN: No. He didn't want me to actually kill people, after all. I'm sure I would have enjoyed enlisting in a peace-time army and done very well for myself. I like discipline in a team.

Anyway, I still couldn't believe that Paul really wanted to be in my life. But once I allowed myself to calm down a little bit and just accept it and accept my not understanding it, then I could stand to be with him for more than ten minutes at a time -- and without having a drink first. That's when the relationship started to jell. And once I was able to break through this homophobic barrier, then I didn't need to go on with this army idea. Paul said later, "I'm so glad you didn't go into the army. You don't need to do that now."

Actually, what I was suffering from was more like what Paul would have called a psychopathic barrier: an inability to feel the coherence of my life.

TONY: Sometimes just having an alternative like that available to you has enough of a calming effect that you can look at what you needed to be calmed down from. Just to have some kind of objective plan.
DEAN: I'm sure that the army is like that for many people. It may be that societies are really helped by having a peace-time army, even if they don't have any battles to fight. It's a good way for certain kinds of masculine people to just get away from their sickness, to stop worrying about all the stuff they don't understand.

When did you move back to New York?

TONY: That would have had to be the Spring of 1972.
DEAN: Had you been a native New Yorker?
TONY: I'd spent about a year on Long Island, but mostly I grew up in Westchester and Rockland.
DEAN: How soon after coming back to New York did you meet Paul?
TONY: I met Jurgen on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter. I left that weekend to go upstate and visit my old foster parents. And then something happened between Jurgen and me. I met this guy and wound up having a brief affair. I felt very ashamed of myself because he just went away -- even though I knew he was going to go away. It was just an episode, but I was too ashamed of myself to get in touch with Jurgen again. We were sort of separated for about nine months. This was after meeting Paul.
DEAN: Did you drop out of counseling with Paul then?
TONY: I wasn't in counseling with Paul. I didn't start counseling with Paul until Jurgen and I became lovers shortly before Christmas.
DEAN: Was counseling with Paul something that you were doing for Jurgen or for yourself?
TONY: It was something that I was doing for Jurgen. I'd had so many fucking psychiatrists and psychologists and social workers.
DEAN: Had any of them taught you anything?
TONY: Oh, yeah: I learned how to play chess. So that's what I thought I was getting into. And I said, "Alright, if that's what Jurgen wants, I'll do it."
DEAN: What was your first private session like, when the cameras were turned off?
TONY: Paul said, "So, what do you want?" I said, "What do I want?? I want to be me!" And he said, "What the fuck does that mean?" And I told him what it meant, and I guess he liked the answer. Nobody had ever asked me what I wanted. So we got down to work.
DEAN: Did he tell you right off that you were feminine?
TONY: He asked me what I thought. I was pretty certain I was feminine but I wasn't going to admit it.
DEAN: By that time you'd gotten the whole spiel about polarity from Jurgen and you'd read some of the books?
TONY: I had speed-read the paperback in the galleys that Paul gave Jurgen. And I reread it once it was published.
DEAN: Gee, I wonder why Paul gave galleys to Jurgen. The paperback was identical to the hardcover.
TONY: He had like an extra set.
DEAN: Ah, a collectible! So you didn't appreciate being identified as feminine?
TONY: It had too many conventional connotations that I couldn't accept. It took a little while to learn how to be proud of my femininity.
DEAN: Some Center people to this day think that Paul should have kept to his original terms "yielding" and "assertive," or even "submissive" and "dominant." The words "masculine" and "feminine" are so loaded.
TONY: Well, you still find people at the Center who don't even want to hear that they're submissive. They don't understand what that is. I'm very happy with the term "feminine." I wouldn't change it for the world.
DEAN: Some people prefer the term "feeling-based" -- which I guess describes a person who feels a lot but doesn't particularly need to submit to anything.
TONY: Yeah, you just feel a lot, and then talk out of that feeling. Well, I'm sure you'll get all of that down when you interview those people. God, are you in for it.
DEAN: Well, in theory, everybody who knew Paul has something original to say -- even if there are major gaps in their personalities. Hopefully, by recording all these various viewpoints, it'll be like the blind men feeling the elephant. And we have an advantage: we're not blind and Paul's not an elephant.

Everybody has told me millions of times that there are major gaps in my personality, after all, but I don't go lie down and kill myself about it.

TONY: And they're right to say it. And you're right to answer, "Well, I'm working on it."
DEAN: "Give me another couple of decades and maybe I'll get somewhere."

But you didn't like the idea of being feminine.

TONY: I didn't think I was supposed to like the idea. It was almost like an automatic false pride. I had already proven my manhood. Nobody was going to take that away from me. I was connecting conventional images to what "feminine" meant. I think I knew I was doing that because I knew that what was really being addressed here was something much deeper and more profound than that. I didn't really understand it but I sensed it was there. So, when Paul confirmed that I was indeed feminine it was like a burden lifted off me. I believed him, I trusted him.

I can't remember exactly now how he described and explained it. He didn't even really need to. I had already set him up to give that to me. I was ready for it, but at the same time there was this private little tug of war I was having with it that I was eager to lose.

DEAN: What was the theme of your early counseling with Paul?
TONY: A lot of it was just becoming acquainted with the subtleties and nuances of polarity. Jurgen and I were lovers: we had a working relationship and our own little laboratory going there. So there was always plenty to talk about with Paul, plenty of real hands-on experience. I'd say, "This is what I tried and this is what happened," or, "I think this is fucked up, but this seems to be working." There was always plenty of real material to deal with. I wasn't one of these people who sat down with Paul and just theorized.
DEAN: I don't think he entertained that kind of approach from anybody, really.
TONY: I'm still very fuzzy about it, and some of it's still a mishmash. I don't think I really got over the shock of Vietnam. The total impact of all that didn't really lift from me until, say, seven or eight years ago when I finally felt free of the shame of it. This early period of my relationship with Paul is very fuzzy since it all fits into the same bag, the same pot of stew.
DEAN: I always thought of you as a hippie or a counterculture person who was very personable and liked to cut through the bullshit, so I always imagined that you would never have anything to do with a man like Paul unless it was on the basis of a personal friendship.
TONY: Absolutely. When I was convinced that Paul loved Jurgen and wouldn't do anything to hurt Jurgen -- and was there to teach me how to help and love Jurgen more because he loved Jurgen -- that made us friends. That's when I opened up to him, that's when I could take him seriously, that's when I could love him and just be open to his influence. I would have done anything he ever suggested, whether I understood it or not, because I knew I would understand it by the time I finished trying.
DEAN: Paul never really had many friends in the sense of spending time with people outside of counseling.
TONY: Well, he did come up one day to bake bread with me at 63rd Street. He taught me how to bake bread. But seeing people socially had to be a let-down compared to counseling. I understood that.
DEAN: When the Center started, was that exciting for you?
TONY: Oh sure. You remember what it was like. All that excitement, the newness of it.
DEAN: Did it seem like an objectification of Paul's teachings, as if they were now realer than they had been before the Center existed?
TONY: It was different, but not any less or more real. I would have still had a relationship with Paul. But Paul just took off like a bat out of hell. This was a dream come true for him, wasn't it? He was just the most alive guy around. All these new ideas kept churning faster than he could write them down. There was that energy, that intensity -- in poetic terms that magic -- that was happening. The real power of it was happening right before our eyes. There was just this splendid event. It was like Camelot in the making. It had that romance to it, that adventure to it, that excitement, that energy, that power.
DEAN: I guess fundamentally new human institutions can be like that for people.
TONY: I think the best ones have to provide people with that kind of enthusiasm and inspiration somewhere along the line or they never get off the ground.
DEAN: The very first town hall meeting must have been a splendid event, even though today neither you nor I would be caught dead at one.
TONY: Now they're just some sort of mundane ordeal to wade through.
DEAN: So you found that Paul was more alive and seemed more happy with his life when the Center started?
TONY: I think so. And there was all that cooking he was doing for the Saturday Night Buffet Suppers.
DEAN: He really was kept busy all week with just the cooking alone.
TONY: It's just amazing. The personal things I remember, the things that got said and stayed with me, very rarely happened during a counseling session. Something would happen during a talk group where it wasn't theoretical anymore. He was dealing with life in a hands-on way. He was dealing with somebody's problem and you could see the way he was doing it. You could see the truth that he was offering.
DEAN: You could see living examples of ordinary people off the street being loving or powerful, or honest or courageous.
TONY: That's really where the learning took place on my part. I remember we'd had a pretty good session one week. And we had to go over to the Center to pick something up or drop something off. We were walking and I was telling him about my reaction to our previous session, that it had been good and had real impact on me. I can't remember what happened in that session, but I remember what he said on our walk, and that's what has stayed with me since. He said, "The mark of a good therapist, Tony, is to learn his student's pace, then teach it to him." Now that's a golden rule to live by! The mark of a good therapist is to learn your student's pace, then teach it to him.
DEAN: It was a relief for me when he learned about pacing, when he accepted the fact that people couldn't always grow as fast as he wanted them to. But it wasn't as simple as just letting go of a falsehood, because he had to make an important distinction between permissiveness and psychic rest. He wasn't telling people, "Okay, now go do what you want." He was telling people, "You have a right to grow at your own pace as long as you don't get permissive with your defenses or turn away from growth altogether." And that's an important distinction. It meant he wasn't just giving in to just anything people wanted to call a lifestyle. He was still setting a standard, and reserving the right to challenge people.

And I on my part had to learn that just because we spoke up to somebody didn't mean that we were making their life impossibly difficult, and that the people who didn't let us speak up to them probably didn't let anybody else speak up to them either and would probably never grow in this larger interpersonal sense.

TONY: The person involved has to be taking responsibility for his pace, the whole package. This is nowhere meant to be designed as a cop-out for anything.
DEAN: It's not like conventional psychiatry, which valiantly tries to relieve people of the burden of having to do anything significant with their lives.

Paul learned this from observations he was now making about how some people were using the Center to have fun and relax while other people seemed to be getting "creativity poisoning" from it. A lot of strange overstimulated things were going on in those days.

I remember one month when almost all the couples at the Center broke up. Do you have any idea of what all that was about?

TONY: I had no idea that was going on. When Jurgen and I split up it was for pretty good reasons. Jurgen had gone through one of these imperial-dominant ruts, and I couldn't budge it. He wasn't taking me seriously. He wasn't taking anything seriously. He was just on this posturing thing. I needed just to demonstrate to him that, "Well, if you can't take it seriously, I can."
DEAN: So, getting away was your way of saying, "I take it seriously," not, "I don't value this." While you were away from Jurgen, were you still seeing Paul?
TONY: Yes, and so was Jurgen. Jurgen was going through a very reckless period in his life. He was misusing a lot of new-found confidence by going on this delinquent streak. He broke through and gained some new territory, but he didn't develop his responsibility along with it. It unleashed some defenses instead of fortifying integrity.

And I think it's great when that happens. It's not great while it's happening, but sometimes it's the only way to find out about this stuff. This is not just words on paper, it's flesh and blood life. I'm not ashamed really of any of my fuck-ups. I use shame to stop being fucked up. I know what it is to get fucked up, and I know what it is to fuck somebody else up. I don't deliberately set out to hurt anybody, and I'm not a vicious person, but some people got hurt.

DEAN: Do you feel you need a lover in order to grow?
TONY: I think I do, but probably not everybody does. If I didn't have a lover, I'd be actively pursuing one. I like having a mated relationship.
DEAN: We often say at the Center that having a lover may often involve healthy celibate phases. Since everyone has someone they're closest to, couldn't we say that everyone who takes their human involvement seriously already does have a lover in this sense? Don't we grow just by honestly trying to get close to people? Is that a meaningful way of talking about this?
TONY: If it works for you, I guess it is. I don't think I would use those terms.
DEAN: Then what is a lover? How do you know when you have a lover, or when you are a lover?
TONY: You know, I don't even use the word lover anymore.
DEAN: I guess I don't much either. I always disliked the term because it reminded me of flowery romantic poetry or something. What I do with my life is usually more stressful and uncertain than "falling in love." I need somebody who has more to say than just, "Come live with me and be my love." We are talking about real life here.

And I don't think Paul ever quite decided what the purpose of a lover was. Sometimes he'd say, "Dean, a lover is somebody that gives you inner freedom or security and helps complete you, gives you a foundation for life, a home to come to. But the people you learn from are your friends." And other times he would say, "A lover is the person who shows you who you are. You can't grow without a lover." He switched between these two views several times during the years I lived with him.

At the end of his life, when I pointed out how central both Nick and I were to his psychic welfare, he said, "Well, I guess you can have two lovers at the same time after all."

TONY: Jurgen and I have a very rich mated relationship. We count on each other. It's far from being complete, it's far from being a finished thing, but we're still there, egging each other on.
DEAN: I guess I have come to think of "my lover" as whichever person I'm closest to, as long as I'm really helping them or they're really helping me. Of course, you could have a close relationship with somebody who's not polarized with you, so this definition leaves polarity out. But maybe that's alright, too.

I think we need a better way of talking about the importance of these kinds of experience: the non-sexual polarized relationships and the non-polarized ones as well. "My best friend," is often more than "just a friend," he's my best experiment, my best commitment, my best creative expression.

TONY: A bond of identification between two masculines or a bond of empathy between two feminines can be very important.
DEAN: We were talking about how excited Paul was when the Center started, and how when he dealt with real people in a real setting like the open discussion groups, and talked them through or explained their defenses to them, that this made things so much realer to you. Did you get something out of his closed talk groups, too?
TONY: Oh, sure. I can't remember anything verbatim, but they were unique. Maybe I have this blown out of proportion, but I came away from those things feeling that nobody was getting the things out of it that were going into it. We were on the cusp of something so great. We were really doing something so fucking great, so wonderful, so good. I remember the intensity of it. It's kind of hard to pinpoint any of it because I incorporated as much of it as I have. It's me. I can't isolate this facet from that facet.
DEAN: Do you think we're capable really of carrying on a living tradition of creative living, or are we going to live our lives as mere echoes of the larger truth that he represented?
TONY: Well, if we're nothing but mere echoes of the larger truth, then so was he nothing but a mere echo of a larger truth, if you want to see it in those terms.
DEAN: How do you see it?
TONY: I think people go on. I don't think you can stop growing once you've started. You might change your pace. You might grow a little faster at times or a little slower.
DEAN: People like you and I probably continue to grow just because we need to. We're not cut out for conventional living, we're too lopsided. So what did Paul give us that we wouldn't have found on our own?
TONY: A sense of identity.
DEAN: You mean of being masculine or feminine?
TONY: The polarized identity, right. I'm feminine, and I know what that means, and I keep discovering more about what that means.
DEAN: And without Paul, you might still be a good-hearted, liberal, free-thinking person -- but you wouldn't have that feminine identity?
TONY: If I were still alive, I'd be a bum on the Bowery. I'd be neurotic, probably schizophrenic, without that sense of self. And a sense of pride in that self, a sense of the honesty that comes forth from that self.
DEAN: Do you think some people at the Center have stuck it out because they knew the alternative was some kind of personal extinction in the sense that you're talking about?
TONY: I think so.
DEAN: Is what Paul gave us something that we can give other people?
TONY: If other people want it as much as we wanted it. It's literally a perpetual motion machine. It keeps going whenever you find people who are dissatisfied enough. It might or might not work via the auspices of a Ninth Street Center, but it will work someplace, on a one-to-one basis.
DEAN: If what we are offering is bigger than any one of us -- including Paul -- we don't need to feel that guilty or ashamed when we fail with a particular person. Paul probably would have failed with some of these people who have started coming around in the last few years, too, don't you think?
TONY: I don't think Paul would have liked some of them.
DEAN: Now that we're talking about it, I don't think Paul would have liked that professorial masculine that you and I tried to help last year. Paul had no tolerance for masculine professors. I never saw Paul get into quite such a rage as he did a few months after the Center started when there was this elderly masculine pseudo-intellectual lecturing people about Freudian psychology before the group had started. Paul just got livid.
TONY: He wouldn't put up with that nonsense. And some of these people we're entertaining these days would have stormed out a lot quicker.
DEAN: So maybe what we don't know how to do yet is to detect realistically what a person needs, and what we should give him. Is that one of our problems now that we're on our own?
TONY: I think you work on whatever you have to go on. If it turns out that what you're giving isn't needed or wanted, that's when you find out. I don't think that's anybody's fault, and I don't think it's a failure.
DEAN: What should we take away from the experience of having known Paul? How are we going to live differently having known him? Should we just forget that he was there and now just deal with whatever's in our head and whoever's in our life and not remember Paul or think about what he was?
TONY: I don't think you can do that. Let's face it, he had a profound influence in a lot of people's lives. He was truly a great man, and he influenced people, he woke them up, he made them come alive. He made his mistakes, and he drove some people crazy -- I'm sorry and I'm sure he was sorry. He wasn't this perfect human being. He was a scientist of the highest order.
DEAN: Something that he came up with -- which at the time I didn't like at all because it sounded cruel, but which I've come to use more and more in my life -- was this idea that when you are ready to get rid of somebody, you give them more and not less. I've used it in the past few years quite a lot.

What it means to me is that if somebody is sending me signals that they can't handle communicating openly about truth and right, or that they can't handle the idea of my being independent -- of people having their own ideas about the world and developing their own sensibility and their own way of life -- then I sort of give them a full blast of it. I don't lure them on, carrot by carrot, but rather let them see the whole picture so they can reject it with a full knowledge of what they're rejecting -- with a clear conscience, so to speak.

I sort of make sure nowadays that I never tolerate any tacit restriction on my ability to stand up for that, because I don't want the clarity of it to erode over time. By being more myself it sends a signal back to them that in no uncertain terms are they going to be allowed to have their defenses win out against my truth or my right. And that usually makes them angry enough to go away. But it also leaves them with a clear alternative in their mind that they'll be free to choose for themselves someday if they ever get tired of doing what society tells them to do and thinking what society tells them to think.

TONY: Then again, sometimes we inadvertently wind up giving too much. I think we find that out sooner or later.
DEAN: Right. Well, how do you live now? What are you doing with your life that is a result of this amazing experience you've had, having known this man, having been his student?
TONY: Right now, nothing, to tell you the truth. And I don't feel at all frustrated or anxious about what I'm going through. I'm learning to trust it. I'm really in a very inactive period, and I have been for almost a year. But I feel like I'm getting ready for something, only I can't tell you want.
DEAN: Maybe you're getting ready to do your first novel, or starting the New Mexico branch of Ninth Street Center? I remember you thinking you might move to Santa Fe a few years ago.
TONY: Whatever.
DEAN: Santa Fe has a branch of St. John's College, so you could always hang out there and learn about "the great books." What a weird place. Every time I get interesting in reading some esoteric guy like Spinoza, I remember the bad experiences I had at that school, the people who used new ideas as cocktail party fashion accessories -- just like wearing anti-war buttons or military medals. Lots of people impressing the hell out of each other and jockeying for positions of authority, but not a whole lot of educating going on.

But still it's amazing how much truth is out there to find, you know? I mean, I just went through Jung's Psychological Types and learned that people have been writing about polarity for hundreds and hundreds of years. It's like a fire that hasn't quite ignited yet, but it's smoldering? And maybe in another hundred years, it will ignite and then all of a sudden everybody will see it and feel it and be able to talk about it, and people won't understand how they could ever have not seen it. The idea that all men have the same personality structure will be regarded as about as primitive a belief as the divine right of kings.

Jung does a good job of outlining the history of polarity theory. He covers Plato, the medieval scholastics and modern philosophers, biographers and novelists. There's this biographer named Ostwald who wrote up a number of famous scientists and figured out whether they were what he called classic or romantic types -- and his descriptions of them are uncannily Rosenfelsian. Darwin, for example, he would have called a classic type, since he plodded slowly and deeply and only published late in life when he was really sure of his findings -- just as Paul did. Huxley he would have called a romantic, since he was constantly in the fray of battle, dramatically impressive in bearing and broad in influence but having less lasting scientific importance. Ostwald's description of Helmholtz' personality sounds exactly like Paul, down to the last neurotic tic. His moods, his habits -- the way he documented his discoveries even -- are so like Paul. The spookiest thing was knowing that Jung's book was written in the 1920's and that he was quoting from a book that was written many years before that.

It's like this stuff is all around us. It's not just us, it's not just the Ninth Street Center, it's not just Paul Rosenfels. It's the whole planet that is going through this polarization process. Damn, it's about time they figured it out!

TONY: We'd like to think so, wouldn't we? And it would sure make the next batch of obstacles and problems a hell of a lot more interesting.
DEAN: Is that what we're up against? Are we stymied because the thing refuses to ignite? Are we in a rut?
TONY: I've been in a rut. I know what that feels like. I think this is a kind of gestation period.
DEAN: Paul went through those. He went out to California and just thought and thought for years. So maybe you should just lay low, Tony. Get ready for your next performance.

I guess I'm getting ready for my next performance too. Now that Paul's gone, I feel like I have a great weight off my back. I'm very proud of what I gave him, but my entire adult life had been driven by wanting him to believe in me. And now I can live my own way. I don't know what that means, yet, but it certainly means that I can conduct experiments that he would have been shocked by. One thing I'm doing that would have upset him, for example, is letting a woman be in my life.

Do you think Paul was overanxious about the threat of heterosexuality to people who believe in the creative uses of homosexuality?

TONY: No. I think he was something of a purist in that regard, though, you know? I think he was totally convinced that all women are raised to be second-class citizens, and that men really do have an easier time achieving psychological independence. It wasn't a judgment on his part, it was an observation.
DEAN: He was always afraid that heterosexuality was going to take me away from his world. Nowadays, I think that this anxiety was just the price of having had several bad experiences, of falling for young men who were ready to try anything once -- but who always went back to their girlfriends. Plus the bitterness about having wasted so many years in a straight marriage.

He loosened up quite a bit towards the end, though. After I moved out of his apartment in 1975 I started going to dances and events that weren't just for gays only. It was so refreshing, you know, to feel alive, to feel excited, to feel available, to stop denying my attraction to women? I eventually found the courage to tell Paul what I was doing, and, to my great relief he found it in himself not to condemn me for it but to face the truth that for me this was a legitimate exploration. We even spoke one day about this one woman I had slept with -- it was a few weeks after she and I had broken up. It means an awful lot to me now that he finally came to accept my right to experience my psychological needs independently of his theoretical model of who I was. It means he really wanted to be my friend.

I think homosexuality is a great help to conventional people who need a jolt in letting go of the values of their parents -- in the same way that psychedelic drugs can be. But I haven't found as big a difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality for creative people. If you're trying to create a psychological context in which two people can help one another to grow, the problems are going to be similar whether you are dealing with a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, or a man and a man. The important question for me is whether they can see and work on their polarity, and make it go somewhere.

TONY: I agree with that. But in order to work out, to isolate, to locate, to identify the nature of those problems -- what kind of cinder blocks those obstacles are made of -- you have to go beyond your own gender identity. And that's why I think it's going to take somebody who's at least explored their homosexuality to break new ground. I just think it's going to be a thousand times more difficult for a heterosexual than it would be for a homosexual, because they believe in their heterosexuality. They believe in their gender identity. That is who they are. A straight man doesn't want to know that he's submissive, that he's feminine. And if he's masculine, he doesn't want to know that he can be cruel and masochistic -- he just wants to know that he's right.
DEAN: Typically, yes, but I wonder about the dissatisfied ones. I mean, isn't this picture that we paint of stupid ugly red-neck straight people part of the early advertising campaign that we invented for the Center, when we used to contrast the big bad heterosexual world with the good creative gay world that we were trying to build up together? Aren't we in danger of swallowing our own rhetoric here?
TONY: I don't know. . . . It is a big bad heterosexual world.
DEAN: You said you were gestating. Do you still read Paul's books once in awhile?
TONY: Sure, I read his monographs. As reference. Sometimes I use the indexes and sometimes I just remember sort of vaguely where things are.
DEAN: Are you writing?
TONY: I've written a couple of little poems, but just to play with. Nothing serious.
DEAN: Well, I think we can take it for granted that people of the future will want to know about who this person named Paul was. Do you think it's important for them to think about or want to know about what Paul's development looked like?
TONY: Some people would want to know. People who like to read biographies.
DEAN: Is that important or would the world be just as well off without biographies of Paul Rosenfels?
TONY: It adds a more human touch, a personal touch. It's easier to understand somebody's depth once you have a glimmer of their surface.
DEAN: I think one way of developing an appreciation for people is to know something of what they went through.
TONY: It would make Paul more of a friendly, one-on-one thing, rather than this dogmatic, all-powerful deity that you have to -- yuck -- comprehend.
DEAN: But his books will always be like that, won't they?
TONY: Given the subject matter, how else can they be? I find no fault there. But if all you knew about him was the way he thought about the subjects he thought about, it would be very easy to conjure up an image of a very dry, sterile, cold, almost oppressive personality.
DEAN: Like a Freud.
TONY: And he wasn't that. He was a man full of life. He really enjoyed living. And he wanted everybody to enjoy living.
DEAN: I think he did enjoy living much more when the Center started. When I first got together with him, he could get depressed quite a lot, you know? I mean I would come home from working and he'd just be sitting there. I'd say, "Hi," and he'd say, "Hi," but you could see that his emotional tone was like nowhere.

He told me when we first got together that his job was to help me find out who I really was, and my job was to help him die in peace. And once the Center got started, he didn't have time for any of that kind of talk.

TONY: Well, he had his moods, you know? He would feel the simple grays now and then. But depressed, no. We used to talk about depression. I haven't experienced any serious bleak black depression in a couple of years. And that's remarkable. That really is truly remarkable.
DEAN: I got depressed as a child starting in about the third grade when I thought the whole world was against me -- which it was -- but I haven't been really depressed since my courtship with Bill fifteen years ago. I just haven't allowed myself to get sucked into anything that undermining. I feel healthy and stable, and I love the fact that I can help people now in the way I always wanted to.

People don't always get the chance to feel that way at the Center. It's not always doing the job of allowing us to unleash these faculties within us. There's something wrong about that. We're custodians of some very important stuff, but how often when you go down there do you really feel like people are gathering around you to learn something important?

TONY: I haven't felt that way in years. Perhaps the Center isn't the place to experience that.
DEAN: Because everybody wants to be teacher now and nobody wants to be student?
TONY: Maybe the Center has sort of become a place to just get acquainted with these ideas. Then you take that into your own life and experience it somewhere else. It's like a library. You borrow the ideas. I think that's a natural part of the process of becoming institutionalized that the Center is going through.


I don't clearly recall what Paul had to say, but I clearly recall that he addressed me directly at one point without knowing my name. . . . Well, by the time I left I realized I was dealing with a whole different level of civilization than I had ever, ever dealt with anywhere.

Larry Wheelock

DEAN: You've been a member of the Center for a long time now. When did you walk into the Center?
LARRY: It was the first year that the Center was open, I think in August or September of 1973. I didn't come terribly frequently. I remember that the following spring, at one of the first Gay Pride marches, I debated whether to march with the Ninth Street Center because I didn't feel that involved yet. That was the one where you all wore T-shirts that spelled out "Ninth Street Center."
DEAN: Did you find the Center because of an ad or through someone you knew?
LARRY: It was somebody I knew named Brian. He had come down on his own and had apparently gotten into a very rousing discussion on permissiveness in relationships. He was a very permissive person. He was very much into the whatever-feels-good "different strokes for different folks" type of attitude. I couldn't see anything against his arguments. Over the phone talking about it I kept defending his points. And he said, "Well, why don't you come down Wednesday?" The groups were big enough that they were using two rooms for two different talk groups. I walked in there and, well, I still remember the feeling. It was brightly lit, which we don't do now -- we should light that place back up again. And it was crammed pack full of people. I don't think I noticed Paul immediately, but as soon as he opened his mouth I did. My friend apparently was in the other room. I didn't see him in the room I was in, so I thought he'd stood me up. I didn't know there was another room.

I don't clearly recall what Paul had to say, but I clearly recall that he addressed me directly at one point without knowing my name. I must have said something to stimulate him to say something to me. Well, by the time I left I realized I was dealing with a whole different level of civilization than I had ever, ever dealt with anywhere. I said to Brian, "There's no way I can support your arguments anymore. These people are making far more sense." I didn't see him after that.

DEAN: So you sensed that this was a place in which you could feel comfortable and which addressed your need for psychological knowledge -- that the discussions were not random, haphazard and reckless as you find in, say, political organizations, but had some real basis in human truth.
LARRY: Those are good terms for it. I think I basically felt very comfortable and at the same time very stimulated. Paul certainly had a major part in it. He's the first person I had ever known who could address something in me that I wasn't even aware of or could put words to myself. I think that what we worked on more than anything in the relationship we had was my trying to become more aware of what value was in me.
DEAN: You mean the value of your dominance?
LARRY: Yes. I remember we worked primarily on anger. He asked me if I could describe or was aware of my anger. It was probably our first session together.
DEAN: Did you immediately become his patient?
LARRY: No, it was some time. I continued to go to the groups first. Rick picked up on me right away. He was very close to Paul at the time. Well, I guess I always try to imagine that the two of them talked about me. I'm sure they did.
DEAN: Oh, we all talked about you, Larry!
LARRY: I'm sure! So anyway, Rick came up to me and asked me if he could counsel me. That he asked me probably says a lot about what transpired in our relationship. But he was helpful for a long time. He got me more in tune with what you might call the mechanics of Paul's thinking.
DEAN: Did you start reading Paul's books?
LARRY: I picked up Homosexuality: The Psychology of the Creative Process right away and I went through it very slowly. I still have that original copy, and it's underlined and annotated all over the place. Some people can whiz right through it, but I need to take my time.
DEAN: I wonder about those people. One of my counselees read right through all of Paul's works, but it turned out in our conversations that he hadn't understood very much of what he'd read.

Was your reaction to reading Paul the same as your reaction to hearing Paul speak? If you had found this book in a library, do you think you would have been as excited by it as you were by seeing Paul in person?

LARRY: I don't think I would have ever read the book if I hadn't met Paul. I guess that the unique thing about Paul was that he became so personally involved with me that he was personally addressing me and my problems as unique, even though they weren't necessarily unique. The way he handled me was useful through his being able to so finely tune himself to my defenses and my assets and so on.
DEAN: Would you say that Paul was capable of seeing people not merely as examples to illustrate his own preordained theories but as real objects worthy of study and worthy of love?
LARRY: Oh, yes. I mean it was a real genuine love.
DEAN: How did you develop a personal relationship with him?
LARRY: I was just very, very sensitive to his attention from the very beginning. I think I spoke to him at one point and said that I would like to be a patient of his. I can remember very few of his words directly -- it's like a lot of subjective awarenesses -- but basically he said, "Let's wait awhile." But at one point I made an appointment to go see him because I was having difficulty moving forward with Rick and I wanted help with that. I presented a challenge to Rick at one point and he didn't pick up on it. I wanted to move my relationship beyond the counseling situation with Rick. Paul was very sensitive to what I was trying to do and he seemed to realize that it was a good time to start a relationship between us. So we started it as a counseling relationship.
DEAN: How did that go?
LARRY: It was good. I always found my time with him unique. It was extremely "quality-time." It was always useful. But it was also very stressful. It wasn't easy.
DEAN: I was never that comfortable as Paul's patient because I found myself feeling as if I were entering a church or a storehouse of knowledge most of which was permanently beyond me. In trying to reach out and contain it all myself, I felt that I was completely unequal to the task. And I felt that too much of the counseling involved him cheering me up for not being equal to the task.
LARRY: He was very much like that with me. He very, very rarely ever got angry with me or raised his voice, as I saw that he did with other people who would make the same mistakes repeatedly.
DEAN: Especially masculines who were obsessive.
LARRY: Right. I think he knew that I wasn't somebody who would repeat a mistake, intentionally at least.
DEAN: You weren't so dense or preoccupied with vanity that you needed to be yelled at?
LARRY: Right. So he was very sensitive then. Everything was like a constant probing, probing out of me. But there was very much of what you were describing. I remember that when we talked I used to confuse the words ideal and idol all the time.
DEAN: He wouldn't have liked that very much!
LARRY: Well, he didn't seem to dislike it. He just slowly corrected me on it. He said, "Do you see anything in your choice of the word idol?" After awhile I began to realize that what I was doing was idolizing him. There was a lot of that. You described it rather accurately that I was putting him on a pedestal of being some vast computerized intelligence or something that I couldn't possibly ever really use fully.
DEAN: And when this vast computerized intelligence says "Oh, this is easy: just dominate me, use me for your own purposes," you sort of wonder, "What the hell is he talking about?" It's such an unexpected request. For me, the request itself became a seduction. I spent all my time worrying that I wasn't dominant enough, instead of just expressing the dominance that was within me, just letting it out.
LARRY: It's taken me years since to realize that this is where he was still learning himself. I realize that he wasn't aware of one thing in me that I'm only now becoming aware of -- or maybe he was and didn't know how to communicate it -- namely the nature of my convictions in relation to my will or confidence. I've always had very strong convictions about things, but I haven't necessarily had the will or . . .
DEAN: The courage of your convictions?
LARRY: Yes, that's the word I was looking for, I haven't always had the courage that matched the convictions at the time.
DEAN: That's a little severe. That sounds as if you're a coward, but that's not what you are.
LARRY: I wasn't aware of my courage. I didn't know what courage I had. It's still something I'm trying to figure out.
DEAN: I think courage is something that you have to have an opportunity for. A guy who's a total milquetoast, if he's in a car accident, can suddenly become a hero just because he decides to do it. He has an opportunity to be heroic and he does it. Maybe it's the opposite of figuring something out?

I think a lot of us at the Center keep our courage and honesty so close to our chests that we end up feeling like a bunch of sidelined saints and heros. The big question for me is, how do we get that good stuff activated? How do we get it energized? Is the problem at the Center that we're ingrown and inbred, that we know each other so well that it's just not exciting any more?

LARRY: I just have to think in my own terms when it comes to that. I think it's getting to a point where in a sense my courage has matched my convictions. I've always felt ashamed about what happened in my relationship with Paul. After the therapy went on for a period, he cut the therapy and asked to start courting.
DEAN: This is about a year after you came to the Center?
LARRY: Almost. We went out of the frying pan and into the fire. Then the pressure was even worse, the stress became even greater. And I wasn't up to the stress. I was very perplexed. I really didn't know what to do -- I just didn't have any idea. He'd had experiences with other masculines that had led him into certain expectations of a normal masculine response.
DEAN: He was very turned on by macho types, whose power drives are kind of raw and vulgar.
LARRY: The "come hell or high water, just do it" type.
DEAN: But a lot of the more civilized types just don't have those qualities, and don't want to acquire them.
LARRY: I've always been extremely sensitive to pain and hurt, and a lot of the more reckless masculine types have an insensitivity to that. I don't want to start theorizing about that.

I remember the time we were hugging and kissing, and he said, "You just keep your arms down and let me hold you." I felt like a rag doll or something. It didn't work, but I don't know if he could see that it wasn't working. He seemed to be very full of himself at that moment. For a long time after that, I was very hard on myself. But I kept trying not to be hard on myself. I concentrated on it, but I still felt that I had failed, that my courage wasn't big enough.

DEAN: Did you split up then?
LARRY: I think that was probably the main key to our splitting up, that little experience that I just described.
DEAN: Is that the closest you got to being sexual with him?
LARRY: Definitely. And I didn't know how to deal with it. Finally, one night I did get the courage enough when we were at the Center right before one of the Saturday Night Buffet Suppers. I just took him into that back area where the bathroom is, and I told him that I just couldn't continue the courtship. It was like deflating a bicycle tire. He sort of slumped. He realized that I had made the decision. He didn't say anything except, "Okay."

It has taken me all these years since to realize what he was doing. The usefulness that he was providing to me -- the value -- was something that in my own way I want eventually to develop. I don't know how long it will take me to develop the kind of strength that will be mine and will truly be useful in the world. I still get hard on myself about it in very conventional ways. I suspect there are a lot of people at the Center who are like this. We're still growing, we're still developing. I still want to have a real strong influence on the world.

DEAN: You want to leave something behind you?
LARRY: I want to leave something behind me that makes the world a better place. I say that all the time. It sounds like a cliché in the groups and stuff but I really feel it. It's in my heart.
DEAN: And yet we don't really know how to do it. Sometimes the most that we can do is just write that monthly check to the Center.
LARRY: Or go down to a group or whatever. Little things happen all of sudden. Somebody came up to me the other day after I'd run a group and said he really admired and liked what I have come to say, that what I was saying now was much stronger and much more directed and more focused and stuff like that. That was nice. Nobody had said that to me for a long time. I guess I feel changes in my ability to communicate and make a clear distinction from my experiences between right and wrong and things like that.
DEAN: You said that Paul was still learning how to be submissive and that he could be quite seductive or quite overwhelming for any masculine who was sensitive. I had a similar experience. When he first proposed that we court, I didn't know what to do. I was put off by his sexual advances because every time homosexuals had approached me before it had all seemed so sleazy. But he also said he loved me and I just had to find out what that meant.

At first I stayed away from him. I went back to college for a year and obsessed about how much I wanted this to be something important even though there was nothing happening. Finally, I got so obsessive about it that I started fantasizing about kidnapping him. It was not something real, and I didn't think I'd ever do it, but it was still quite an upsetting kind of obsession to have. It seemed to be overtaking my esthetic life in a way that I definitely didn't appreciate. Every spare moment I'd be planning this little secret fantasy of spiriting him off to the Canadian back woods in a stolen car. But eventually I broke through my own barrier against dealing with him and called him up and asked if I could see him. It turned out that he had found a lover, but we decided that we could take walks in the park.

That one phone call completely broke through all the obsessions I had about wanting something important to happen between us, because now I could actually deal with him, I was actually dealing with reality. I didn't mind at all that he had a lover, but Paul decided that I was ready to embrace what we would now call a three-dimensional involvement, and I went along with it because I couldn't stand the thought of turning back now. Since it turned out that his relationship with Gerry was basically over anyway, within a few weeks I was living with him.

Entering Paul's life completely lifted my obsessive burdens, but I still didn't feel homosexual. Paul said that in psychoanalysis it was always the repressed homosexual feelings that were the hardest to uncover, and he reassured me with this story about a male pigeon he once saw that had its tail feather pulled out and started submitting to other males. He said that since everybody was latently homosexual, all you needed was to have your tail feather pulled out. It took me years to find out I wasn't a pigeon!

But the real problem was Paul's wanting me to dominate him and my not knowing what that meant. It took six months of our relationship to figure out whether I could survive this frustration or not. I would cry myself to sleep at night because I wanted it to be real but it wasn't. I was involved with Paul because I was now simply less isolated than I had been before. Even though I was now living with him, I was still utterly unsure of how to reach his goodness in any real way.

LARRY: Did a sense of realness ever develop?
DEAN: Sure it did. But in odd ways, very odd ways. I was always wanting to please him, but the only thing that would please him is if I would stop wanting to please him. We were full of these knotty paradoxes. Like, no matter what I wanted, it just wasn't masculine?
LARRY: Right.
DEAN: Remember that? All those existential dilemmas. No matter what you do, it's going to be judged as wrong so you can't do anything and you end up frozen in time and space feeling like an idiot. And he'd get mad when he thought I wasn't listening to him. Well, I'd never had a reason to listen to anybody before and it was hard to learn a new skill, but even when I listened I often didn't think much of the fine points he was going on about and just nodded my head.

But eventually very simple, small-scale, healthy mechanisms that were largely esthetic arose from nowhere -- like the vine falling on a man trapped in quicksand that lets him climb out and rescue himself. It was this esthetic life that reduced to a manageable level both my hysteria about feeling I had no say in what was going on around me and the anxiety attacks and bouts of depression that Paul was suffering from. We could now just simply enjoy a meal or learn how to enjoy watching stupid television shows. He would watch game shows and make nasty cracks at the contestants, and I would laugh hysterically and act like this was the funniest thing in the world. And for a moment in time, it was. We learned to enjoy one another, to goof off when nobody was looking. My dominance grew not because I was controlling his life, but because I was learning how to feel my own purposes in life and my own needs independently of whether it would please him.

Another false start was that he wanted me to just completely retire from the world and rewrite his books. He'd say, "Dean, you're the only person who can explain my ideas in a way that people will understand them. You're not coming from a dense theoretical background and you're just starting out in life. You're the first person who will be trained to see life in this new way. The very tissues of your brain will be saturated with this new way of looking at human nature." He said I would be like an Arthur Koestler or an Alan Watts, someone who interpreted the times for the general educated public but who was not necessarily an original thinker himself. I'd write a dozen books and maybe win a Nobel prize, and maybe in five hundred years they'd build a monument to our collaboration.

The whole idea sounded great, and I was eager to get started. But although I had familiarized myself with his terminology within a few months, I was still a 22-year-old who didn't know anything about the real world. I knew something about how "truth" and "right" interact in the Rosenfels model, but I didn't know what people were like. And I certainly didn't know how to get new information into their heads. All I knew was what the information was in its own terms, not how it related to my own life or to any concrete social reality. So everything I wrote during this period sounds like a high-school civics paper.

LARRY: That's beginning to give me a nice picture of the nature of your relationship. I always wondered what was different between you and Paul versus me and Paul. In a way, you were much more in balance with each other. You were a seesaw. You were able to stick with it, I think, because of the sort of thing you are describing about yourself and your own separateness from the world.
DEAN: A lot of people join the foreign legion because it's just better than what they had before, not because they think it's for everybody. Paul and I would have arguments, and he would denounce me, and I would leave and swear never to return. But for us it was the straight and narrow gate, it was the road to life.

I wouldn't put up with something like that today because I know a lot of ways to avoid those particular kinds of overstimulation problems. But at the time, I didn't know any better, and neither did he. I was the first person he got personally involved with in the sixties who had bigger ambitions than the yuppie artists and musicians who made up the bulk of his patients back then. His earlier lover Ronnie's ambition was to own a junkyard. I was at least somebody who could entertain the notion of becoming a writer and teaching his ideas to the world, of living up to what Paul wanted of me in a big way.

LARRY: Was Ronnie the lover before you?
DEAN: No, there were a lot of intervening people. I was the first one who had lasted longer than six months, I think.
LARRY: It sounds like you and Ronnie were at total opposite ends of the spectrum. These kinds of descriptions begin to make me more aware of the process Paul was going through in his own growth and development.
DEAN: It's so good for me now to see that you can found a science of human nature and still have lots to learn -- that Paul was a growing person and not the infallible science wiz I thought he was. It helps me erase the memories of feeling I was beneath contempt. In those days I just never allowed myself to ask questions like, "Gee, if this guy is such a genius how come he's making me miserable?"
LARRY: Things that you're describing remind me of situations that came up between Paul and me, too. When he described other masculines, I always thought he was trying to present to me examples of genuine masculinity. I think he told me about your wanting to kidnap him and take him away, so I developed a fantasy myself. And I actually told him -- I'm embarrassed to say it now -- that I wanted to take him away to a cabin in the woods. But this fantasy was purely manufactured, a copy-cat thing, because I felt this was something he wanted to hear as genuine masculinity. I'm realizing from what you're saying and my own experiences that he always had difficulty finding words to describe masculinity. He was always looking for masculines to come up with expressions of their experiences. This was all part of that process within him.
DEAN: His basic developmental problem in those days was living in the here and now, to stop being the great brain for a minute and learn to deal with his personal life better. He had single-handedly created an entirely new science in his head, something that hadn't been done since the time of Newton, but what did that mean to the average Village pot-head? He usually didn't even try to talk to his patients about it, but just used it to feather their nests a little and take a fee.

I often wonder how he would have handled a bright sixty-year-old masculine guy who had spent his own life living as creatively and as independently as Paul had. Of course, he never found it, so he had to make do with a few young men who were at most impressed with his intellectual attainments without knowing how to make much personal use of them or having comparable moral attainments for him to idealize. And that pattern left the door open for a certain self-indulgence to take root in his personality about what he could put over on us. He did lighten up over time, but there was always a little of that overbearing know-it-all quality in Paul. It took awhile before I got wise enough to peek behind the curtain and see that this wizard was just a kind-hearted guy bellowing into a microphone.

I remember at the time when I asked you why you had broken up with him, you said very bluntly, "Well, he was too aggressive." One of his classic formulas is that masculines have the power to stop being obsessive but they don't know when they're in that state, while feminines know when they're being compulsive only they don't have the power to stop. He just didn't know how to stop being a 500-pound gorilla sometimes. And nowadays I'm pretty sure that at a lot of his emotional volatility was due to undiagnosed cerebral arteriosclerosis as well.

In our first year together, after we'd been through a number of flare-ups, he said to me that he needed somebody to "sit on him" -- that was the phrase he would use -- someone I guess to just put up a stop light and say, "Ok, that's enough, make my dinner!" I tried, and sometimes it worked. But I didn't really know what masculine firmness was. I thought it was like nastiness, so sometimes I would just be nasty in a kind of effeminate way towards him. And he would shake his head sadly and say, "No, that's not it. If you want to talk like that to me then I'll start fucking you instead of you fucking me."

It took years for me to figure out how to be firm enough to get my way more than once in a while. But I also figured out that my having the role of policeman in his life was not the most creative role for me to have. It certainly didn't help to develop other aspects of my personality, like sensitivity to the subtleties of my own growth. I need to feel a simple security to respond to the attractiveness of gay men, for example, but fighting these battles left me cold and hateful even when I thought I'd won my point.

I moved out after eight years because I felt living in his apartment was still a victimizing experience in some way. But we were friends and we stayed together like a family. I don't believe that shared misery is a necessary foundation for important relationships, but our capacity for sticking with difficult situations stood us in good stead as the years went by. We found that we had developed a shared vocabulary to discuss the world that made it easier for us to communicate with one another than he could with some other people. I think also that we had in common a devotion to a big picture of what life is about, a sense of greatness, a sense of wanting to leave something behind that is astoundingly important, of staying true to your ambitions and following through and giving something more than lip service. He always used to tell me, even when we were not getting along and couldn't communicate about our problems, that he was grateful that we always shared this loyalty to greatness or bigness or the importance of having big goals. That was something that kept us together.

After you broke up with Paul, was that the end of interacting with him on a personal level?

LARRY: Basically. I think I went and talked with him one time, or maybe I just always wanted to. Well, I guess what it boiled down to was that I didn't need to. I had made as much use of him as I was capable at the time and if I had needed to make greater use of him I would have.
DEAN: He was available and was there.
LARRY: He was available, right. So that was basically it. It was never that easy to say until now.
DEAN: I know you didn't feel that the Center's usefulness had come to an end. In what way did the Center now become the source of stimulation for you psychologically?
LARRY: The Center is the only place that I have ever been able to be as much myself as I can deal with. There are people there who I've become close to and with whom I can be as much myself as I can stand to be. I keep developing.
DEAN: What do you mean, "standing to be yourself"? Are there little gremlins inside that you don't want to let out?
LARRY: I'm constantly trying to develop a sense of the right way of doing things, finding the right words for it. I constantly need feedback when I'm experimenting, when I'm testing out things, to find out what is going to work right and what isn't going to work right in the way I deal with people, the choices of words that I use. I'm not going to say the Center is vital, but the need to experiment is absolutely vital. It's that need in myself and that I find in other people at the Center that provides a constant sense of growth and what I'll call masculine enterprise. I really have a much stronger sense of what masculinity is to me now through the process that the Center allows me.
DEAN: Of course, a lot of people in the world find masculinity. It's not something we invented. Are you glad that you found it in this environment with this man who claimed to have established a science of human nature? Has this been somewhat of a distraction from finding your own masculinity or has this helped you?
LARRY: Oh, it's been absolutely a help. Because it's very, very tuned into my sense of civilization. The Ninth Street Center is . . . well, I've never heard of any place that is as civilized.
DEAN: Do you mean it promotes virtues from all corners of the human psyche: honesty, courage, faith, hope, wisdom, strength -- all that stuff?
LARRY: Right. I've developed a very strong sense that there is absolutely nothing in the human world that can't be understood or controlled. I just really have that feeling. If I apply myself, or if anybody applies themselves, they can gain an understanding and control over absolutely any degree of depression, violence, degeneracy, whatever.
DEAN: It's a credit to human nature that we can potentially handle those things. We don't have to let civilization get ahead of us.
LARRY: And just this in itself remains a big enough challenge. No matter what condition my relationships are at any one given time, I know that this challenge lies there waiting from whomever brings it in.
DEAN: I know you've read some of the other psychologists and people who claim to know something about human nature. How would you put Paul into a historical context here?
LARRY: Well, actually I haven't read enough to really say. I just know snippets and bits.
DEAN: Isn't that a new dog food??
LARRY: "Snippets and Bits: The Great Snack for Humanitarians!"

Well, if I sometimes think of Jung, for instance, whose answer to theology was to say, "I don't need to believe in God," I think of that as an example of truth. The only thing I'm really aware of with Freud is that he was the first one to really make scientific the process of human understanding. Maybe he wasn't the first one, but he was the first one to really concentrate on it and make it something that was helpful to us.

I also think of the guy who wrote I'm OK, You're OK. When I first came out, I was involved with a therapy group oriented around his teachings. I remember he was sort of the first one that took a lot of Freudian ideas and made them human, brought them down to normal people's level. I shouldn't say brought them "down to" -- he just simply used the right words or he applied them to more everyday living. Like when he came up with this idea that in all of our personalities we have an adult, a child and a parent. They kind of correspond with the ego, the id and the superego. It was very helpful for me to get some sort of sense of a tool in thinking psychologically, because I can't think psychologically very well. I resist it.

DEAN: When I was nine, I decided it was time to sit down and figure out the universe. I tried to stop my thoughts and examine them and break everything down to primary elements, since I knew that something like this had been done with chemistry. But I soon realized that I was not very good at being introspective. I didn't know what I was doing. It was elusive and discouraging. I said, "I guess I'm not a philosopher." And I still feel that way about analytic thought. When it comes to deep thinking, I only copy what I see other people do.
LARRY: I think that Paul's thinking was beyond all that. He just assumed all of those little truths that all of those philosophers had sort of put together and which some of them had made pop psychologies out of. This is not to put down pop psychology. I think they are very useful; it was to me. But Paul just went into a much more all-encompassing realm of humanism. Creativity was the key to getting ourselves beyond just simply being able to cope -- which most of these other psychologists have done -- and moved into doing something important.
DEAN: He would always disparage adjusting to society or mere survival or adequacy. Just because somebody is adequate at being Vice President at a bank doesn't prove that he isn't a failure as a human being. Paul would always be asking the bigger questions and establishing a higher ground from which to view all of these more petty enterprises that most psychologists want to take as being the sum total of human experience. He really could be said to be one of the standard bearers of civilization, one of those people who say, "It's not enough to be well fed, it's not enough to live in nice homes and to have nice hobbies. You also have to have a devotion to truth and right in the sense of being a creative person. And that means wanting to make the world a better place for ordinary people." You don't get that understanding of the creative life from most of these social science guys. Most of them are just unwitting pawns of the establishment, of the psychological status quo.
LARRY: Probably my greatest difficulty at the Center has been overcoming this atmosphere of, "Let's just make sure everybody gets themselves psychologically comfortable and feels good." I harp on it all the time, and usually I find myself talking to a blank wall no matter how full the room is. I use phrases like "Let's make tomorrow better than today," things that Paul said quite frequently, "Let's try to make the world a little better place to live in." They sound like clichés, but I have to say them all the time. I sometimes get a good feeling back from people who like what I'm saying, but very few people will pick up on it.
DEAN: I sometimes get the feeling that some people at the Center are like on a permanent vacation now that Paul's not around. I don't know what that's about.
LARRY: Well, I'm always one to give somebody the benefit of the doubt. I guess you know that about me.
DEAN: And I'm always one to be impatient.
LARRY: I've seen myself go through long periods where it really was very much like a vacation, and I know a lot of it is just constantly, constantly trying to get a little bit more information, to shift the information I've got and try to develop a focus or whatever. The growth process is slow going. I think some people maybe have very big goals that have to be very distant. I think they realize after awhile that they really have to take a long time to get to those goals. You can't push it.
DEAN: And you don't always get to it by a straight line. You have to make a lot of detours. Opportunities for mated relationships, for example, are few and far between for most of us. And even if what you may be doing may not look involved, you may actually be very much more involved than you've ever been, because now you're taking it seriously.
LARRY: You seemed to have been very sensitive to my relationship with Caesar. That was one of those experiences. I see it now as a detour but I certainly didn't then. It was then more important than anything. I was going to keep this one going as long as it possibly could, until it drove me up a wall. And it did, of course.
DEAN: What was important about Caesar for you?
LARRY: All that I can think about now are things that are very easy to criticize. He was very rag-dollish, but at that point I think that was the clearest evidence of feminine personality that I could use.
DEAN: He made you feel like the man of the house, the boss?
LARRY: Oh, yeah. I was very cruel to him at times.
DEAN: But I mean at least it was a place to start. There's nothing about masculinity that says we don't need encouragement. I feel like I need to be encouraged to express myself. It's not something where I just trot out into the world and dominate it. I want to know that people want me to be dominant, that people want me to be myself.
LARRY: I know. And when it comes, it just makes it all worthwhile.
DEAN: Then you can really express yourself and be yourself. What is great about the Center is that people really share their encouragement and enthusiasm and inspiration in a way that makes you feel that it's okay to be yourself, that you are on the right track, and we're not just playing Boy Scouts or living up to somebody else's ideals. These are our ideals. We are forging this.

I think that in the next phase of the Center the masculines are going to have to take on more responsibility for showing what masculinity is all about. What we express can serve as a working model of right just as what the feminines express has been the working model of truth. It's simply our job. It can't come out of feminines writing books about what the word "right" means to them. It has to come out of us setting an example, of living it, of discovering it in ourselves.

You've thought about Paul a lot. How do you think a man like Paul comes into the world?

LARRY: What do you mean by how he comes into the world?
DEAN: I mean if we wanted to advise the baby-makers. We need more Pauls, I take it?
LARRY: It would be really interesting to know a lot more about his parents and his family. That obviously has a great deal to do with it. You know, throughout this whole conversation with you, I have thought a number of times of my father, who I visited a couple weeks ago for four days. It was a fairly tough visit. About every third or fourth visit with him is tough, but it gets easier and easier. I think about how he slowly changes bit by bit. He's still a growing person, he just doesn't grow very fast. We all know people like that. But I see things in him and in my mother somewhat that allowed me to be the kind of person I am, that helped. My mother was very freeing. She was always encouraging me to spread my wings. And Dad certainly never stopped me. For that matter, he sort of stopped things that probably would have hindered me, like university education.
DEAN: I thought you went to college.
LARRY: On my own I took a lot of courses, partly because I felt I needed to and then slowly out of just the desire to learn more about certain subjects. But he did discourage it. Not really loudly or anything. He did it very, very carefully. He was very wise about it. He just didn't save money for our educations. He said, "If you want to go to school, you make that decision and earn the money yourself." That was his attitude. I really like that now.
DEAN: He knew something.
LARRY: Yeah, really. So I recognize that in my family there were things that helped me get started on the right road. And, of course, there were certain other people as I was growing up. It makes me realize that Paul's own upbringing must have been really good. I would like to know more about it.

Thinking about generations, half a dozen of us have this bridge club that meets every Friday. It's been a nice way of getting to know these people a little better, none of whom I know really all that well. And I've been noticing little things about some of the younger members which are interesting.

DEAN: I think some of them go through what we went through when we were dealing with Paul. A lot of the old timers at the Center have an air of infallibility we seem to have inherited from Paul, and sometimes we create monsters. When we tell people they "should be" masculine, it's like they feel this tremendous pressure to be dominant without really needing it or knowing what it means, and it ends up in posturing. It's like now they can never afford to be soft, they can never be just relaxed.

Well, I guess when you were with Paul and when I was with Paul, it wasn't a time to relax. It was a time to be strong and heroic.

LARRY: I had to change my T-shirt every time I'd see him because I would sweat terribly.
DEAN: Sometimes when new people decide that they believe in polarity theory and want to be "really" masculine or "really" feminine, something takes over them and they get very intimidated and flustered by the older generation of Rosenfelsians. Some of them are so seduced they think the road to freedom lies in hating our guts with all their might. And this goes absolutely nowhere for them.
LARRY: I get the feeling it's a competitive quality. And yet their goals are usually so far reaching and so solid that they're willing to put up with the stress. And that's what counts. They're flexible enough to deal with it.
DEAN: Wanting to be President of our Board of Directors, for example, is a lure that few young turks can resist, but it's a side track for most of them, just extra stress that doesn't really give them anything in the end.
LARRY: Yet the Presidents we've had seem adequate to the task.
DEAN: That's a good point. They don't seem to put much into it in terms of actually accomplishing anything -- and that's okay with adaptive things.
LARRY: It's been so long since anybody thought being President of the Center meant anything other than a very simple adaptive function. It really gives me a nice appreciation for what politics really should be: a simple adaptive function.
DEAN: Somebody once said that anybody who's dumb enough to want to be President is unqualified for the job. We should coerce people into the Presidency who are smart enough not to want to do it.
LARRY: Nobody should want to, yet everybody should be responsible enough to take the job if it's asked of them.
DEAN: Maybe it should be like getting drafted. Everybody should be forced to serve six months as a congressman as a service to society.
LARRY: What century are we talking about? This is like the stuff science fiction is made of.
DEAN: I guess there is idealistic science fiction, isn't there? It's very hard to find because most of these science fiction types are bozos when it comes to psychology. They think the future is going to be just as corrupt and sick as it is today only with fancier technology. It's very hard to find a science fiction writer who has any conception at all of what human development looks like. Olaf Stapledon is the only one I can think of.
LARRY: Other people have made little forays into more psychological understandings, like Arthur C. Clark I suppose. It's made them immensely popular because it really opens up the fantasy realm.
DEAN: Well, what else would you like to say about Paul?
LARRY: My relationship with him was sort of short, rich and sweet. Well, not always sweet.
DEAN: Pungent?
LARRY: That's a good word. While I was showering this morning, I was thinking to myself that if I try to put it in a word, what did Paul really mean to me? The only word I can come up with, which I've already used in this interview, is "useful." He was a really useful person in my life, the most useful person to date in many respects.
DEAN: He changed your life in some way. Or helped you aim where you need to go -- maybe that's a way of saying it.
LARRY: And beyond that almost everything else is just history. I'm sure I'll come up with probably more concise ways of describing my relationship with him as the years go on. I'm sure I will.
DEAN: Well, nothing's stopping you from writing a memoir when you're ready.
LARRY: That makes me think of my relationship with Kim. It's been four or five years now we've been living together. It's a whole completely different quality of relationship, and yet overall it's also filled with a richness too. It's just that I think our balance -- I keep using that term -- our balance happens to work at this time. I think really the thing with Kim is that he keeps me free: he leaves me free and leaves me committed at the same time. I'm very comfortable going through these processes with him at this point. Or I'm confident with it.
DEAN: Paul tried to give me a sense that I should start seeing myself as being every bit as creative as he was, just not as old. And he said, "We creative people live seven years for every one year that other people live. We cramp seven years of experience into every year of our lives." I thought at the time, "Oh, great, I'm ready!" But I see now that maybe there's something overstimulating in that image, too.
LARRY: I remember how Paul used to bring up the whole subject of pacing. It's obviously where his thinking was going, because we were really pacing ourselves and finding equality in pacing.
DEAN: Moving out of Paul's apartment in 1975 was a painful experience for him and me both. If nothing else, it proved that he had to take seriously this slowing down. It just wasn't helping to put people in a pressure cooker situation and say, "You have to grow right now." They have to be dissatisfied out of their own resources. And the level of dissatisfaction they have is just a given: you have to accept it. You can't ratchet it up or inflate it with a bicycle pump.
LARRY: Those are good terms for it. I get impatient with people at the Center when I see that their dissatisfaction is about petty complaints like their lover wanting to go and play around on the side or something like that. But then again, at least they're dissatisfied. It's always good to remember that. Let's get back to the basics.
DEAN: At the Center we're getting much better at being parental, at letting people come along at the pace they need to come along in. And if we don't like the pace that one person is developing at, we can have another friendship going on. There's no reason we can't have as many friends to help as we have helpfulness in ourselves to express. It's sometimes hard to find counselees that are interested, though. Are you counseling at the moment?
LARRY: No. I don't think it's really that important to me right now. There are times when I go down to the Center and see somebody, and I say, "I'll come back down and see if he stays around." And sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Sometimes I try to make myself feel guilty about not having gone back down to see somebody, but then I say, "It's alright, you're giving them a challenge." Then I think, "No, this is just a game you're playing with yourself." That's something I want to work on.
DEAN: The Center has become quiet in recent years, and doesn't have the sense of drama that I experienced when it first opened and when Paul was really an amazing force. A lot of new people come down, see these very dense books, and say to themselves, "How in the world did these people get interested in reading these difficult books? Is this just for intellectuals? Is this like a Mensa group or something?" They don't really sense that Paul actually was a very vibrant and beautiful man who was very easy to be drawn to as long as you had any kind of serious image of who you were.
LARRY: A new person who comes there and stays and gets some sense of what Paul was about through us is going to have to be someone with quite a lot of initiative and self-sufficiency.
DEAN: I wouldn't say we're like an old boys club, but I wonder if we set up roadblocks for people. If you have real information about psychology, and you're constantly confronted with new people walking in who really don't know very much about themselves in the way that we do, it can be very annoying for us just to have to deal with it. It's like dealing with your parents once you've been to college or you've gone to the "big city." When you come back and you see that your folks don't know very much about the world, it's hard to put up with them. I think we sometimes treat new people at the Center like an older generation that's ignorant and doesn't really deserve to be at the Center.
LARRY: There is a lot of that.
DEAN: Are we spoiled? Are we tired of the fact that these people are ignorant and we're going to have to spend a lot of time just encouraging them?
LARRY: The only word I can come up with is lazy, and I'm not sure what lazy means. I've just assumed that lazy meant that something was not really worth taking seriously. But there's something going on, you know? In the conventional world they call it the change of life. You know you are going through it when you reach forty. People reevaluate their values and what they've done through their life. And they either shit or get off the pot.
DEAN: Your relationship with Kim is still very stimulating and valuable.
LARRY: I don't have a clear idea of what more I want from it.
DEAN: Paul and I had a big explosive eight years of living together. Once I moved out it was much less stimulating but far more manageable. And that sort of trailed out for year upon year. That was wonderful, I mean I loved that. You probably really enjoy your life with Kim much more than you realize. It's less stimulating than it used to be, but it's probably tremendously valuable to you in some ways that you don't even know.
LARRY: I'm sure. We've covered a lot of space in what we've talked about. I've gotten a glimmer that I don't think I had before of what the nature my relationship with Kim is and its value.
SUBJECT KEYWORDS: science of human nature, philosophical anthropology, moral philosophy, humanistic psychology, personal development, interpersonal creativity, social progress, introversion, extroversion, femininity, masculinity, psychological polarity, character specialization, homosexuality, gay liberation.

[D:\dh\web\PRC\3\HTP\WKP.htp (6628 lines) 2005-01-03 08:21 Dean Hannotte]