Encountering the Theory
Shortly after my book on homeopathy was published in 1982, I met Robert Briggs at a party in Berkeley. He told me about Arthur Young, an inventor and philosopher whom he represented as literary agent. Briggs thought that I might be able to help Young with his writings. I was intrigued. Soon thereafter I met with Briggs and Arthur at the latter’s Berkeley residence, also the home of the Institute for the Study of Consciousness. The Study of Consciousness! That sounded like a worthy subject.
In the course of researching and writing The Complete Book of Homeopathy I had gone through a conversion experience of sorts. At first I had resisted the project because the basic precepts of homeopathy seemed preposterous to my conventionally-educated mind. But as I heard the stories of patients achieving healing, and personally observed the effects of homeopathic remedies, my scientific world view was turned upside down. I was learning from experience rather than from abstract academic principles. I was ripe for my encounter with Arthur Young.
Arthur gave me a typewritten manuscript, prepared some years earlier, and asked me to retype it with minor edits. I was astonished at the contents -an account of the adventures of Arthur and Ruth Young during what he called their “Gee Whiz!” years, when they investigated unusual phenomena such as radionics, séances, psychokinesis, ESP, and dream telepathy. It was love at first sight. I felt the limits of my credulity being stretched, my imagination exercised.
I began to attend lectures at the Institute, and delved into Arthur’s books. When I first read The Reflexive Universe, my mind was repeatedly blown as I progressed from one insight to the next. Everything fit into place so perfectly. I was particularly moved by Arthur’s integration of scientific fact with the gut-level truths of ancient myth.
Most of all, I was drawn to Arthur’s fundamental humanity. He lived at once in the heady world of ideas and the heart-filled world of profound concern for his fellow beings. His pale blue gaze sparkled with humor and intuitive insight. Here was a man who truly cared, and who had created an evolutionary paradigm that gave feeling, meaning, and purpose equal space with the clockwork laws of science.
Arthur’s boundless curiosity led him to explore subjects that were considered off limits by more conventional thinkers. He shared with me his interests in UFOs, astrology, radionics, art, music, poetry, as well as the esoterica at the cutting edge of science. An afternoon with Arthur always propelled me in fascinating new directions. I found the topics we discussed making their way into my poetry and my personal investigations.
I learned to decipher Arthur’s elegant but difficult cursive, and transcribed endless pages from his handwritten journals into computer files. During the final years of his life, we returned to that first typewritten manuscript he had given me, and we wrestled a draft of his astrological autobiography into shape. The original narrative ended in the early 1960s. Arthur said that should be enough. I protested that we needed the rest of the story, and so I had the honor and the pleasure of developing the final chapters of Nested Time through a process of guided interviews, participating with a sometimes reticent Arthur in bringing his story up to date.
Since Arthur’s death, I have worked with Anodos Foundation to preserve and apply his work. His unconventional, inclusive mode of thinking and all-encompassing cosmological vision have had a more lasting appeal for me than the compartmentalized approach I experienced throughout eight years of higher education.
Over the years, my research and writings have promoted tools for self-sufficiency such as alternative medicine and renewable energy. I derive great satisfaction from making music, poetry, and art, and encourage those around me to be fearlessly creative. My continuing work with Arthur’s ideas blends seamlessly with these personal quests. The theory of process provides a vocabulary and perspective for understanding creativity and artistic production, just as it does for the phenomena of the natural world. Most notably, the arc of process and its all-important turn have resonated enduringly with me. There is a profound optimism as well as an archetypal power in the concept of the turn. It has helped me over rough spots and creative impasses, challenging me to draw upon my inner resources and carry the light forward into unfamiliar territory.
I shall always be grateful for the chance encounter that led me to Arthur and the gift of his beautifully conceived, life-affirming vision. He continues to guide me as teacher, exemplar, and friend.