My Vision


When I came to men I found them sitting on an old conceit: the conceit that they have long known what is good and evil for man.  All talk of virtue seemed an old and weary matter to man; and whoever wanted to sleep well still talked of good and evil before going to sleep.

I disturbed this sleepiness when I taught: what is good and evil no one knows yet, unless it be he who creates. He, however, creates man’s goal and gives the earth its meaning and its future. That anything at all is good and evil – that is his creation.

And I bade them overthrow their old academic chairs and wherever that old conceit had sat; I bade them laugh at their great masters of virtue and saints and poets and world-redeemers. I bade them laugh at their gloomy sages and at whoever had at anytime sat on the tree of life like a black scarecrow. I sat down by their great tomb road among cadavers and vultures, and I laughed at all their past and its rotting decaying glory.

My wise longing cried and laughed thus out of me – born in the mountains, verily, a wild wisdom – my great broad-winged longing! And often it swept me away and up and far, in the middle of my laughter; and I flew quivering, an arrow, through sun-drunken delight, away to distant futures which no dream had yet seen.

                                          Thus Spake Zarathustra


Let me get personal. Lately I have been thinking: what do I want to do when I grow up? Well, I probably will never really grow up, not emotionally, anyway. But I have been thinking how I’d like to pursue a dream Carol and I have dreamed on and off for some years. I would love someday to operate a study and retreat center something like the one (or what I know of it) over which Joseph Campbell presided at Esalen. It would be a place where people could come for a time of refreshment and personal enrichment. Nature would be near at hand, with plenty of places for private meditation. I picture Carol and me living on site in the compound. I would make my personal library available to those who stayed with us. I would like to offer lectures, even short courses, on all the matters that interest me, including biblical criticism, comparative religion and myth, weird fiction, philosophy, esotericism, theology, free thought, etc. No accreditation, no exams, no credits. Just people taking their fill from the scholarly Smorgasbord. And plenty of discussion. I have always found that what interests me turns out to be of interest to numerous others as well; I’m not so unique. And I would like to have spent my time on earth as a resource for others to find their own way, sharing ideas with them, and information, for them to make their own syntheses. And I can’t think of a more pleasant way of doing it. Sure beats teaching in organized seminaries and colleges with their politics, both departmental and ideological.

We’d invite speakers to offer other courses on other matters, not excluding techniques of spirituality and meditation. I’m thinking of something like the Open Center, the Ecumenical Seminary, and the Interweave Center. You could earn yourself a certificate of academic achievement if my approval meant anything to you. It wouldn’t help you get a job. I envision our “school of the mysteries” as something of a return to monastic learning, as we have entered a sterile period in which academic standards have suffered, in which all academia has been perverted into conservative religious apologetics, or, alternatively, facile political indoctrination. I want to help make available, even on my tiny scale, the resources of the classical Higher Criticism of the Bible as well as theological study.

But there is more than that to consider, more existential issues to be dealt with. There would be evenings of “Heretics Anonymous” discussions, with suggestions on how to take the experience home to plant one’s own ongoing group. Such groups are opportunities for remaking society from the inside out, as attendees are moved to examine themselves, their deep assumptions and unsuspected motives. The greatest heresy is, of course (as the Delphic Oracle and Alan Watts both said), to “know thyself.”

I’m thinking we might also start up our old quasi-church, The Grail. I picture Carol as the spiritual leader. She possesses pastoral skills that I envy, and she has a message of encouragement and possibility to preach. She lives out dreams and interprets dreams.

We’d offer film series like those my old pal and parishioner Bob Jackson pioneered at my old Baptist church. He taught me that many issues can be adequately conveyed only through the director’s art and the camera eye; especially moral and theological issues. Accatone changed my view of morality and poverty. And I recall how my view of abortion was affected by a popular film like The Seventh Sign, my view of assisted suicide by an episode of Millennium. Film, one soon realizes, is scripture, and group discussions of shared films are my replacement for the old Bible study groups I attended in my youth but now cannot bear.

Folks might arrange to come to our center and stay for longer periods as resident scholars. Some might want to live in adjacent apartments, and it could turn into both an artists colony (including writers) and a think tank producing scholarly works or theorizing social programs.

What a way to live! It is a vision I cherish, and I keep my eyes open for opportunities to make it real, as improbable as it sounds in some ways. I believe there are great possibilities out there in the future, even in the present, which we will never be able to recognize and seize hold of unless and until we start forward in their direction. Perhaps others attracted to such a dream could band together with ideas and resources, and what do you know: it might happen!

So says Zarathustra.

Robert M. Price
June 2009


Copyright©2009 by Robert M Price
Spirit of Carolina Web Design