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Letters and Notes from the early to mid 1960s
1950 - September: enter DUS
1951 - 5th grade DUS - summer in England - September DUS
1952 - 6th grade DUS - summer in Milford - September DUS
1953 - 7th grade DUS - summer in Milford - September DUS
1954 - 8th grade DUS - summer in Milford - September at GPUS
1955 - 9th grade DUS - summer in Milford - September at Bloomfield Hills high school
1956 - 10th grade DUS - summer in Detroit (caddying, welding) - September at Cranbrook
1957 - 11th grade Cranbrook - summer at Telluride - September at Cranbrook
1958 - 12th grade Cranbrook - summer in Milford - September at Yale
1959 - freshman year at Yale - summer in Europe with Bunts - September at Yale
1960 - sophomore year at Yale - summer at Wall Street Journal - September at Yale
1961 - writing at home - summer in Michigan & Europe - language school in Germany
1962 - language school in Germany - summer in France & Germany - work in Germany
1963 - junior year at Yale - summer in Michigan writing - September at Yale
1964 - senior year at Yale - summer and fall in Rutgers course
1965 - in Minnesota - summer and fall at work at Minn. Dept. of Public Welfare, St. Paul
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Tactics employed by the enemy:
Yesterday the principal demand was the haircut. Mother asked me about 5 times to get the haircut and I replied that I did not need one. Finally she left the house on an errand, and I thought I had finally won. But Dad called from the office and asked me to get one. She had called him. He threatened to come home if I did not get a haircut, interrupting his work. Tired of this line, I dared him, and he never came.
When I started writing my poem, Mother came in and started arguing that I ought to be entertaining Nicolas. I finally agreed to take Nicholas & Karen Vanderkloot to Orchard Lake, and get my glasses. Luckily Karen Vanderkloot had a car, and did both. But I was so agitated by the argument I could not finish or start my writing. When I had agreed to take them, she started bickering to get me to bring them back also.
She wanted me to go swimming at Orchard Lake in the later afternoon.
Today she organized a party, unprecedented as of yesterday. This is always good as an obligation which would necessitate abandoning my projects. Karen V., Lydia Moore, Benjie & Mrs. Moore, Betsy Wright, Hal Weckler, etc. are all invited to dinner. Why this? It was just announced to me.
When Karen arrived, she asked me to get the door, etc, then to make ice water for the group.
In the late afternoon, she asked me to pick up Margaret, saying she was too busy.
Now to get dressed 1 hour early, take a bath, etc. Also some of these: “Bill, come here. Mother wants to speak to you.” (Margaret) I refused and she came to me.
When I was outside having ignored her demands to get dressed, etc., Mother came out with her breasts bare, and looked rather pleased at the effect. I asked “why are you doing that?” She thought I was covering up before the ladies which Andy deplores.
P.S. I got my haircut today on somewhat for compromise.
My strategy of resistance is crude yet, but it will improve. I will remain at home for awhile, but must meet the onslaught with deliberate policy. I have several regrets however: This will absorb time from other activities. It might also warp Mother’s psyche as she has tried to do to me. How will she accept defeat? Commit suicide? What will be the effect of this turmoil upon Dad? Am I qualified in embarking upon battle? Now I am confused and faltering.
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June 24 - Vanderkloot torment
1/2 hour late to 2 obligations.
Got me to drive her date to and from party.
Hinted twice that she loved me with the ambiguity of sarcasm.
Invited Nicolas to get up to help with the lighting.
Laughed at me at Ford party saying I was drunk.
Called an old friend over to cut in on me.
Told Mother I had rescued her from a drunken bore.
Gave David a gift for his birthday, said scarcely a word to me.
Accepted an invitation from Andy for a date.
(the day before) Jokingly got Nicholas to have me invite her to Scottish & Ukrainian music festival.
Talked about Andy to me at festival.
Brought Andy a rose & was eager to get him included in evening.
After my date, did not talk, but played instruments while I waited.
Had a raucous evening with Andy which lasted until 2.
Did not pick up Nicolas Friday afternoon as she had promised.
Got several dates during the Jazz Festival & ignored me.
I ignored me completely at her home this evening.
More to come undoubtedly.
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November 6. (early 60s?)
A Proclamation of Self-Policy:
Ever since freshman year at Yale (the autumn of 1958) and in a concentrated dose since the waning of 1959, I have been trying to improve my reading facility by means of a determined policy to substitute sight for sound. Thus, I became depressed after ****** in reading printed material ****** contact with the printed page, though ****** was inspired by the theories advanced in the ****** in the fall of 1951 which suggested that ****** My faith continued into today though ******
But after three years I have failed to improve ****** at all, but rather have declined, both in speed and in no ****** My forehead has grown during this period, to be sure, and I thought that these signs indicated a natural improvement in reading ability. Oh, how vain! And meanwhile my facility of ****** degenerated appreciably. I wallow more in confusion.
Therefore, let this suppressive practice come to an end though it might have borne fruit had I given it enough time. But there is no Indication of success, certainly not enough to its continuance. Why drive a wedge between eye and ear that the reading doctors never intended? I’ll fuse the two. I’ll free to readers and understand as I will. Never again will this monstrous belief Interfere with my understanding. Let it be experience of failure. But let it be first.
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To the world and to my parents especially, this new outgrowth looked like desperation, a trading of the better for the worse. These pet ideas which a youth could produce would certainly not have the objective here I attributed to them, which caused me to rely upon and cherish them so strongly. Coupled with this retreat into myself (into a stupor as they saw it) was my lack of social prowess which is the worst shortcoming which Americans recognize. I made no headway with them and seemed to be some sort of a freak.
It is no wonder that my parents came to love me less and less. For their original impression of me was that of having (been) overshadowed by Andy. They could tolerate me with some respect as long as I maintained my grades in school. Then came the “relapse”, the lack of achievement, the falling grades, the failure at the Daily News, the departure from Yale. And in the face of this I maintained the conviction that there was no relapse, that I knew best about myself, for my philosophy made me arrogant.
This was, I think, a great shock: for both my parents and for Andy. They had planned to place (me) into an attendant role though a respectable one, but I have refused to go along. A dislocation has occurred (when self-consciousness came to rule my life), though not intentionally. It seems as if I am hoping to ruin myself (being negative) by refusing to cooperate in what people see as the better way for me. And yet I do not have any achievements to show which would justify my independent course. And it is the arbitrary leaving of Yale which they find hardest to stomach.
What are, then, the attitudes toward me?
Mother: Oddly enough, she has adapted to the change better than the others. Over my hesitation to take the Wall Street Journal job, she once said: “Everything which you have done successfully has been something which I have initiated.” I was supposed to acquiesce, therefore, to (her) better judgment. She continues to despise me, but I think less, because I have made important decisions myself and made them stick. Yet, if she really believed in my virtues, she would have typed my philosophy manuscript as the product of 4 months’ work if that com whose motives she wished to understand.
Andy: This dislocation may be one reason for his mental condition. Mother claims it is, though from a different assumption. Yet Andy reacted violently upon reading a paper I once wrote, stating my debt to him. He said that I had failed and now wished to drag him in too. I think he may be aware of my own philosophic progress, though invented, for he has read several papers of mine, and perceives my growing independence.
Dad: Is probably torn between fatherly love and pride and a genuine dislike of me. I have sometimes been tacitly scornful toward and patronizing of Dad, and he resents this. I think my philosophy has made me wiser than he. Yet i show few signs of positive achievement myself. (He remarked in my presence that Andy was the son who showed the most promise. When Mother said jokingly that she thought I could go anywhere, Dad said, for no apparent reason, the contrary. His letters to me here have been cool, few, and at times angry. He resents my arrogance.
In conclusion, the picture which these three have of me is that of Franz in de Rauber. I was destined to Andy’ shadow, have since done worse, and now have become a sort of villain. For months, I remained at home planting evil suggestions which resulted in Andy’s confinement. Andy’s remark bears this out. I also told Andy that Mother had threatened to commit suicide and again that she wanted a divorce. Mother apparently felt that these disclosures were designed to stir Andy’s sensitive nature up. It is easy to cast me in this role because of my sulking, brooding nature, but especially by my access to both my parents and Andy’s ear. But as a matter of fact I told Andy because I respected him and felt unworthy to hide family secrets from him the only plotting was against Mother to resist domination. Otherwise, I ignored my family in my reckonings. I think they are still not able to understand what has happened to me in the past years.
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The sickness of my mind: The rhythm, inherent in life, to which every man is entitled, I have. It is far easier for a young child to secure the rhythm than I. For the child is drawn unfettered into the rhythm and there is nothing to stop him except natural incapacity , in which case he is not aware of missing anything.
When I associate with someone, I am immediately aware of not being able to provide the rhythm myself. I sometimes sustain my role by philosophic commentary - the last flowering of naturalness in me - or by drawing into discussion some dead intellectual generality. But I know no facts, no honest experiences, no content of mind, which seek to complete themselves through conversation with another person.
What is it which sustains natural interest? Somehow that impulse-giving, balanced condition is lacking in me. I apparently feel that detail is unworthy of me. I do not know what I know or what I do not know. Consequently every new bit of experience hits me indifferently. I do not allow it to work out its rhythm in me, and do not remember it.
Universal ? Notes - (after reading Die Rauber)
I am a sort of rejected child, delegated to play an insignificant role. This is what my father has probably instituted for me. I could either acquiesce or play the part of the brother Franz and try to poison my brother (Andy) to my own advantage. That my parents see me in that role is fairly clear, though I had not realized it fully before.
Indeed through my normal (pre-Cranbrook) years, things were developing clearly that I was to play a second fiddle to Andy. In my childhood, of course, I should deal with him equally, but, as in the case of those older who associate with those younger, I should eventually be overtaken, and Andy should discard me when we both left home and he no longer needed to sharpen his faculties upon me. This would not be deliberate cruelty, but the natural growth into positions of greater or lesser strength.
Evidence for this tendency at that time: I was an obedient and inane child. I had few close friends and those I did have were ostensible rather than real ones. Many of those I did have were people Andy brought home or introduced to me. Furthermore, many of the ideas I had and came to cherish were those which Andy introduced me to. It was a discussion with him which first fired my hopes of empire building. It was he who first kept an idea book. He invented the rudiments of a perpetual motion machine which came to dominate my hopes for many months. He read more than I did and much of my information was dependent upon what he told me. I more or less stuck unimaginatively to my school work, but did not cut myself off from the sources of intellectual generation.
At the beginning of my own regeneration of independent thought through self-consciousness, I had several times the uncomfortable thought that everything which was my own of which i was proud had been done before better by Andy, also by Mother. They seemed to be the sources of all my lauded achievements. I was also a bit jealous because I felt myself being cast in a bad role in a story of someone else’s making.
There was Andy - building soap box derby rockets, knowing already quotations from Goethe, and of the education of John Stuart Mills. And I, a school grind, or a plain dull fellow. Nowhere did the differences show more clearly to my discomfort than during the summer vacations (1954, 1955). And I felt also that Dad was proud of what Andy had done, but rather indifferent toward me. (Mother was apt to dilute her sentiments with her motherliness which would single out to unfortunate child for special attention. Both Andy and Margaret have complained of this.)
This began to change when I was separated from Andy and had to board at Cranbrook. Here I was fired by my first clearly distinguishable spark of self-consciousness. I became a leading member of my class - as if in violation of myself. In naivete I sought as much power and play as I could harvest, and overshot my capabilities. For my intellectual background was, and still is, enormously weak. So at Yale and the last part of my Cranbrook years, I withdrew inside of myself and dared not seek those vines of achievement which were beyond my solid grasp. I expanded instead the idea book which found its way into philosophy and whose outgrowth I call my self-consciousness. I was aware that Andy kept similar notes, but did not mean mine to copy or mimic his. My life simply poured into this channel.
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Notes on essay
Rhythm at the piano & the theory
The first sleepless night, the 1st day at the swimming pool
The climb to the peak with Nic & Monique & the thoughts resulting
Christine’s early irritability - climbing the wood pile & thoughts the night spent in the woods & - stopping the return to the house. July 14.
Morning after - talking with Christine
The barbecue - thoughts about fatherhood
The squandered opportunities with Christine
Trip to Geneva
The 4-day hike around Mt. Blanc centering around that with David & Daniel.
The day at the pool - Christine and her boyfriends
Parties, insults, indecision, confusion & despair
The uneasiness around Mr. Bosquet, David’s arrival, missing the opportunity
Helping Nic on the bike, the party
Breakthrough with Mr. Bosquet, sick in the car
Stalin & Hitler, cigarettes vs. beer
The glances with Christine
The attempt to learn French with the pocket dictionaries
“J’ai mal au Cour” - “I have been doing this for only 20 minutes”.
A picture of it. Anything which looks like a girl .. before it dies away
The morals: Assigning love for brotherhood - hypocrisy of our ***
The considerate leader is hypocrisy unless he is stronger than ***
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A certain young man (named Bill) visited a family in France for the month of July. The son of that family (Nicolas) had visited his family for a month the summer before. The *** he spent at their city home, for the son had to remain in the city to take an examination once more which he had failed earlier. The rest of the family *** for their summer home in the mountains. The morning Bill arrived so that they *** meet Bill’s brother at the airport there *** who had also been invited to visit the *** July.
Bill felt uneasy around Mr. Bosquet during the first few days. It was painful to *** because Bill had nothing to say, and it mattered that such an important person *** Bosquet not to have too poor an opinion of him (for his father’s sake) *** but he hit it off *** only slightly better. Bill’s brother, David, changed planes at Orly *** by morning, so Bill was able to keep him company during the few hours ***
David *** his plane, however. Both Bill & Mr. Bosquet searched for David *** together an ample experience of being unable to go back through customs. Mr. Bosquet cited by the affair. Bill thought it might break the ice, but was worried that it might make him angry.
Mr. Bosquet took a business trip for several days. Nicolas studied most of the day and visited with friends, but Bill had little interest in these activities, inclination so he helped Nicolas repair his motor bike. Moreover, he practiced the *** room. One day particularly he improved quickly and this *** human rhythm. He devised a new method of reading according to *** ment of breath. One day he was scheduled to visit the Renault plant, but *** appointment because the watch was set late. This made him fearful this *** blow up at the general idiocy of the McGaughey and he conspired *** but he met Nic on the way home, and that spoiled it.
One evening he had a discussion over economics with Mr Bosquet *** one, but it broke the ice anyhow. The. Following day they drove to Cordon *** the back & kept quiet most of the trip. Toward the end he made *** patriotism which was a distinct improvement over his earlier *** Shortly after arriving in Cordon he witnessed a discussion between *** felt very excited by it, especially by Christine, and could not sleep that anticipation of the coming rhythms. The following afternoon be practiced at the pool, feeling a physical rhythm. But he was indifferent to Christine *** experience.
That evening Bill, David, Nic, and Monique took a hike to the top of a hill. *** feel the robustness of the climb, and soon realized that *** could make ***
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Objections to the welfare state and to Christianity in practice: Unbearable poverty and sickness are accepted as normal features of these schemes. In reality they are supposed to be exceptions to the social order, whose counter calls or exceptional means *** outright giving. Yet these forms would make the exception on the rule of its operation. And in doing so undermines the moral social order. One might argue that this is necessary to check suffering. Yet these are natural processes which keep these exceptions down to a small scale where the remedy can easily be afforded.
Easter 1962. At the Harlins: My visit so far has been the usual batch of weakness, timidity, and anxiety. Reality should be far pleasanter than this. My life should occur only in a bad dream, which should make me feel lucky when I awoke that I was not there.
An English soldier named James Rucker has been visiting also and as a normal individual has been quite popular in comparison. I have been quiet and working across the grain of almost everyone through my non-participation. Yet, as such it could be mistaken for an intellect dual snobbery similar to that which made Michael Blechmann so popular with Mother.
The worst of conditions has prevailed here - that air of politeness which develops when one is not sure of a personal relationship. I, for example, feel somewhat that I am tolerated as a favor to Mr. Schumacher. This is a decent family, a high-calibre family, which somehow has had the bad fortune to be saddled with a past who does not belong here, but in a peculiar place befitting his uniquely low state of being.
The politeness is a true poison. I stand about dumbly after each meal carrying a few dishes into the kitchen, which probably makes my hosts more uncomfortable than comfortable through the labor it spares the housekeeper. At the table I dare not ask for too much, but am always asked whether I want this or that. Then, true to duty, Peter (Petz) and his sisters have taken us to various places about the countryside and feverishly tried to think up diversions which would amuse us.
Much of my discomfort had been what I imagined were the family’s true regards toward me behind this politeness, which I have arrived at by my own estimation of my worth. But last night I read the jacket of a book written by Peter Harlin (Petz’s father), giving the information that he had died in 1960. So this was a fatherless family! More than anything else this information came as a swish of cold water across my face. The turmoils I had been writhing in the past few days were petty and unworthy. These people were not vicious judges and criticizers but a family still struck down by this blow two years ago - religious and also realistic.
Then I thought - if I only loved them, all these problems would disappear. My politeness is an insufficient substitute for love. They would not be offended whatever I did if I did it out of charity. Oh - it is true. I must now forget myself.
Today I devised a substitute for the sickly course of events (for the Harlins are incapable of correcting it either). Instead of taking part in some amusement, I tried to repair an old bird house - a “work in the garden” - in Voltaire’s sense. My work methods were dumb and insufficient. Peter Harlin and also Jones helped also. But Peter became in - that I go old & it should take so long to repair. He did this because he thought it was irritating to meet be kept busy at work (by definition unpleasant). But I have been so happy in recent weeks. I told him it was for pleasure, and he seemed startled.
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I am trying to cope with the new situation which you have introduced tonight with your telegram. If you want to send me a new refrigerator, that’s your business. But unfortunately it is also my business, and I have a right to be consulted beforehand. I am not going to refuse it upon delivery, though I’d like very much to do this. I’ll just have to put up with the ridiculous idea during this year and hope that you have the sense not to pull another such foolish move. I have enough problems already without being sent additional ones.
I merely wrote asking for information on behalf of my roommate, Bill Rieder. He was the one who wanted it, and as long as he was willing to pay for it I would agree to have it in the room. I do not plan to use the refrigerator the whole year. There is enough to eat in the dining halls. It will cost me $18 for extra electricity bills and much effort to have it brought into my room. Then I will have to find someone to buy it next June. In short, it is an inconvenience to me personally, and likely to be a great bother.
I know what a successful businessman and wife you are, but you don’t have to take it out on me. Sure, you can afford something like this many times over. It’s very generous of you not to be spending this money on yourselves, but instead upon your children - whether they want it that way or not. Stop trying to buy me off. I don’t want these things. I don’t like beautiful surprises which upset my plans. You’ve done this before, and apparently I have not objected strenuously enough to have impressed this point in your minds: Don’t initiate action in my behalf, leaving me to bear the consequences. If this letter is bitter and ungrateful, it is to make a point I want taken seriously. Otherwise, it will become progressively more bitter.
I do not mean personal offense and wish you continued success at home.
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Thursday Aug. 4, 1964
Thank you for sending the Managerial Economics textbook.
I hope you will not become upset by what I now have to write: that is, I have decided to drop out of the Rutgers program next week when Mr. (William J.) von Minden, the head of the program, comes back from his vacation. I’m behind in my assignments, but what is more important I do not think the tempo of the program gives me enough time to learn the material as thoroughly as I had hoped. There is no point to working my way through to a passing grade at the end of the term without feeling confident of knowing the subject, as I did at Yale. Getting a business degree means next to nothing to me. This does not mean I will give up plans to become a CPA some day, for I expect to accomplish this by independent study.
What I propose is to go through until the end of next week and then bring all my belongings back across the river. My stock transactions should be in order by this Friday. Then I’ll stay in Milford or New York for 2-3 weeks, putting my things in order at home. Then I’ll pack a manageable quantity of what I need - books, papers, clothing, personal possessions, etc. - in the blue Rambler and drive off somewhere to live. There are several possibilities: North Dakota, Alaska, West Virginia, Wisconsin. There I can find a part-time job or a seasonal job as something which would give me the opportunity to write some more essays, memorize poetry, and later on to study accounting by myself. You will not have to support me any more, and I would not want you to send me money either. What I earn plus a portion of the money from the sale of the AMC stock should be plenty. I would appreciate your transferring the certificate of title of the blue Rambler to me within the next few weeks. When I leave, I would be happy to drive David out to California because it would give me the chance to see some places where I might live. You should not think this rash or a retreat from anything, because I have thought long about this plan and have decided that it is what I want most to do at the present time.
See you this week-end to discuss it with you.
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The life of debauchery is something I wish to avoid. The main focus of my life must be social and intellectual, not sensual. But there must be a period of my life in which I am riotous and unrestrained - a period of loosed pleasure. That is because I would always secretly long for what I had missed. After this period the physical enjoyment must be made part of a cycle - and a subordinate part - like sleeping. Perhaps I should restrain myself at Yale, because it would interfere with my learning. This must be a period of intellectual assimilation. That period should be followed by one of creativity - I.e., organization of my notes and the writing of my philosophy - also the further assimilation of reading. Then, after the bulk of this has been completed, I can enter the phase of debauchery while the creativity remains a habit. Following this period, I must cast my permanent rhythm - marriage, an occupation, social contacts & creative moments. The theory will be set up and gradually merged with my life. At the present time, however, I must forget sexual gratification because it will interfere with my intellectual progress. I am not in a complete state of innocence anyhow. I must resist the pressures to become degenerate, seeing a promise for “in due time.”
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Difficult decision concerning sex:
Probably sexual relations are not morally wrong, provided that infants are (not) born unprovided for, or that one’s partner is not used (the expectation of marriage) and then left. Also, beware of VD.
We. know that having sex is no easy matter. It requires patience and daring. It is a difficult matter to make carnal advances knowing that you might be rejected because of ugliness or clumsiness or some other reason deeply affecting your pride. Also, these acts incur the displeasure of society. One risks dishonor and all its material disadvantages. Blake’s sardonic comment that chastity is not virginity which does not dare to love is definitely true.
It is impossible to conduct any excellent work in life while torrid romance is being carried on at the same time. Poetic creativity may be an exception. The explanation is that this is a short term enterprise. Good poetry can often. be written off the cuff. It requires no patient build up of the result of labor, no long attention-span. Such creativity merely plays out what is already contained.
I must choose -
Either remain committed to timorous chastity, and be more steadfast in it, or seek sexual gratification, throwing all my energies into it at the expense of my work. Work must be primary while I am doing it. I am not at Rutgers merely to pass an educational step. However, it might be possible to work out a cycle between the two. Sexual quest could come once every 2 months, for example, and then be conducted full heartedly & more actively. I am no good at setting exact schedules.
I feel deeply frustrated to be deprived of sexual gratification when others have it in great abundance. Many signs point to how easy it is to have an affair with a woman. Friends acquaintances boast of it. Magazines are full of it. I half-heartedly wish for it, but never commit myself enough to make plans which might work. I must stop wishing when I cannot have sex, and must start working when I can.
Sex is used maliciously by those who are not able to do any excellent work. Since generally the most successful people are those who constantly attend to their work, these usually are inexperienced in love-making. The trick is to arouse sexual interest in these and also the feeling of the inability to be successful in this respect. In this way the inferior ones (in work) have revenge over the much praised ones, and sometimes the latter even go mad worrying about their incompetence in love-making. The malice directed against Harvey, though not on sexual grounds, is related to this. It was directed at me when I was younger. I was sneered at for being immature. I can sneer at others for being incompetent in their work.
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Newark, New Jersey
October 22, 1964
Dear Ms. Feravolo:
Since Mr. von Minden is away for two weeks, I would like to notify you that I am dropping out of the program in public accountings of the end of this week. I will seek a job in the accounting department of a private corporation.
The principal reason for withdrawing is that the pressure of daily assignments not only keeps me from pursuing other interests and activities, but also makes it difficult to generate enthusiasm for the subjects covered in the courses. I have acquired a plodding mentality in trying to keep up with the assignments, which are scattered in several fields, and do not feel I am really learning the material. It would probably be better to read the books on my own and at my own pace, and within a reasonable time I intend to do this. Another reason is that working with a large public accounting firm apparently offers a continuation of the same learning schedules, so that I would be permanently denied the occasion to develop other interests.
I still have great respect for the accounting program at Rutgers, but perhaps I am not the type of person for whom it is best suited.
Yours very truly,
William McGaughey, Jr.
Note: I dropped out of a masters program in accounting at Rutgers in Newark.
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Jan. 18, 1965
It must be exam time now, and although you are probably pulling bits of information together for your courses, I hope you will enjoy receiving this letter from Minneapolis.
I have been here almost two weeks, and have been staying at the YMCA in downtown Minneapolis. It is less expensive than the Newark Y, and generally has more facilities & activities going on than at Newark. For example, the Minneapolis chess club, which I think is a very active one, meets several times a week in one of the Y rooms. I had the distinction of being beaten at least seven times in a row last night by various persons who played simultaneously on several boards. In spite of that experience, I’ve managed to win a couple of games from people of lesser ability. The peace & quiet of living by oneself has also given me the opportunity to read The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, which was assigned last year in Feidelson’s course.
My efforts at job hunting have been less successful, but I have not yet tried very hard to find work. The day after arrival I was interviewed at 3M. My application was sent to the internal auditing department to see if anyone of my description is needed. The. internal auditors have not reported back yet. The only other place I’ve tried has been Honeywell. The interview was today. Here again there was no ready demand for someone with a limited general background in accounting. My application is supposedly to be kept on hand in case anything turns up. Of course there are lots of large companies besides these which are headquartered in Minneapolis-St. Paul - General Mills, Pillsbury, Control Data, Northwest Orient Airlines, etc. However, I have a slight inclination to work for the Internal Revenue Service district office in St. Paul, which needs both full time and part time help at this time of year. Their less exacting standards might give me the opportunity to do some writing or pursue other interests, whiled earning a living & gaining work experience. On the other hand, reviewing tax returns for too long a time might prove irritating.
Minneapolis-St. Paul is a rather large city for its population. It took me an hour & 40 minutes to go from the Minneapolis Y to the 3M headquarters by the city bus. There are a number of modern buildings in the downtown area, but other parts remind me of east Berlin - especially those with large building projects and much vacant space. The weather has frequently been cold - the temperature 10 degrees below zero several days. This afternoon it was 10 above. This doesn’t bother me too much because I seldom have to go outdoors for a very long time.
On the whole, I think I will like living here. There are all types of people there, of course, but generally they seem busy & hard-working & quite pleasant.
Please let me know if you are ever in this part of the country. I expect to do some traveling in my work or otherwise, and so might see you sooner than it seems. Meanwhile, best of luck in your exams.
P.S. If you see Tom Incze, please tell him I lost his address & telephone number. Otherwise, I would have called him during the Christmas holiday. Also, I think Milt Carrigan sent my family a Christmas card this year but here again I don’t know where he is living.
Note: this is a letter addressed to Bill Rieder, my roommate in my senior year at Yale. He was a year behind me.
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March 14, 1965
When I telephoned home last Friday and told Margy that I had found a job, she mentioned that you had quit some work you were doing at a college in Long Island. This, together with the news that your application to Goddard college was too late to get you in for the coming semester, makes me anxious about what you can find to do in the coming months. You were apparently making progress in overcoming your illness, and I hope that you can find some way of life which will pull you the rest of the way to recovery.
What prompts me to write at this moment is a feeling of guilt that I have not done very much to help you in your fight. It is certainly not because I did not find the possible fruits worth the effort, but rather because I did not know of anything which I could do to help. People must find other people they respect, people whose ideals are the same as their own, and in this respect I can be of no service to you. Not only are our political views, but also most of our opinions on other important matters, are widely apart. I believe in mine and am trying to use them to form my own life. The best I can do for someone else is to advise him to believe what I believe, but, of course, this advice is not very attractive unless I have something to show for what I have chosen. At this point I do not. I have neither accomplishments nor friends who share my attitudes and interests. I only have a certain path to follow, the best that I know, which might or might not lead to my salvation. I must follow it rather than someone else’s path because the job is half-finished, but able to be finished. Right now it is a scholarly undertaking, but perhaps some day my efforts can take some other direction.
This is to say I am sorry I cannot recommend anything or do anything about your condition. One poor man cannot give anything to another. You are basically on your own resources, except for help Mother and Dad can give (who have not done too badly in their own lives) and David & Margaret and friends of yours, so I hope you will cut out foolish hopes & activities and continue to cultivate what is productive or enjoyable. Your talents are not small.
Tomorrow morning I start work in the State Welfare Department as an accountant. My work will cover the anti-poverty funds used by the state, but I do not know exactly what I will be doing.
*** ***** *** ***** ***
Plan for my life, as presently seen: August 11, 1965
1. Currently: Emphasis upon writing. Write the short stories & perfect them. Write my philosophical essay so that it is as well & fully written as my political essay was.
2. In 2 years or so: emphasis upon business enterprises. Starting with the card game, go into business for myself. Make increasing sums of money through my string of inventions.
3. When I am financially well off, emphasis upon politics. Invite several of my friends of former times to help me rewrite my political essay, which shall be the focal point of our aspirations. Then launch the campaigns for specific reforms, using persuasion across institutions. Use the money I have made to hire helpers & implement my goals.
4. As these are brought to fruition: emphasis upon the human rhythm. Then I shall experiment with human relationships, both private & public. I shall recite poetry (esp. of Walt Whitman & Shelley) in the parks. I shall cultivate rhythm and do small bits of writing.
*** ***** *** ***** ***
These phases shall leading each other. Right now I am doing writing, earning money to start the businesses, and learning to live more with other people.
Purposes of my job: to support myself, to save money for a future business, to have a steady activity while I am writing, to learn more about people & make friends with my coworkers.
When I go into business for myself, I shall at the same time be learning about the forces within society and be dealing with people. This shall be brought to a climax when I work toward the political goals. Phases 2 and 3 will be similar.
Throughout each of the stages I shall learn to enjoy myself. I shall perfect the rhythm of taking time off from work and loving. This shall culminate in the last stage. Gradually I shall devote more time to raising my children, instilling ideals in others & helping them.
*** ***** *** ***** ***
She dislikes adolescents interests, including rock ’n roll, but likes to dance.
We can dance.
We can go to museums, plays, operas together.
Explain my ideas.
Learn about her background & abilities.
A circle of our own
Advance soon to kissing, holding hands & squeezing her body, but not to intercourse.
Make observations about her & observe reactions.
How our romance will proceed:
I’ll date her Saturday and make advances. I’ll try to set things up so I can see her more often, also kiss her and discuss love.
Something is holding her back - her religion, her unhappy love experience, her plans to improve herself. I’ll find out why.
We will go out every week-end and be together other times. We’ll visit Como Park, the Natural History museum. I’ll visit her home. I would like to arrange for a circle of friends and arrange parties, etc.
We will discuss Plato by ourselves. I will give her dialogues to read, and discuss them with her. I will recite poetry and expose her to culture. This is in line with the theme of My Fair Lady, which we shall see Saturday. I shall judge her intellect through these discussions & thus satisfy my own requirements. They will also permit her to blossom into self-confidence. During this period, she will be strongly under my influence - thus superficially in love with me. Indeed, I want her to think she is in love, as I will be also. But there will be a danger to this.
When she becomes exuberant enough in herself, she will want to discard me, her teacher, when the first attractive young man comes along. I will be too stodgy & familiar by this time. She will feel guilty, but my first commandment to her will be to follow her heart at all times. I will tell her that love is necessarily cruel, and that lovers must realize what a ruthless game they are playing. So I will encourage her tendencies. I will predict our split up in advance. But I will predict that she will again fall in love with me, more deeply than ever. For a period of months, I will be out in the cold. But then when her enthusiasms flag for the other boy, she will come back to me. We will then live happily ever after.
I am perhaps cowardly in plotting this course. I lack confidence. in my own abilities as a lover, because I have failed before. But also I want to make her happy & spontaneously loving of me. When she comes back to me, I will be completely the master. She will feel free in my possession. This will avoid problems later on.
She does not love me now. I can tell that. She thinks she has been through too much experience for me to be capable of understanding her. She wants to profit by me. But she is beginning to weaken. She will succumb if I take the initiative.
*** ***** *** ***** ***
April 11. A disastrous date.
Next time when I meet Joan at St. Mary’s for the Easter service, I will keep the date short. She proposed it, and I do not want to seem opposing Father Kirschner. After the service we will go through a short walk through Loring Park & other parts of Minneapolis before I will put her on the bus.
Two questions to settle: We will not do anything about reversing this date restriction until Joan applies for the annulment. I can’t see much of her until the 5 weeks are up anyway. Things to settle: Get her to have an appointment over towards St. Paul & possibly a job in that direction. Set up dancing lessons for us both. 2nd question: Was she not just trying to defy me by refusing to accept bus money? I will not be bossed by a woman. Try to get her agreement on this.
If things are cordial, I will kiss her before putting her on the bus.
Next date: The Minneapolis symphony, if it is April 23rd or 24th. I must abandon why whimsical romantic manner and talk about cultural subjects.
Do not worry about making no headway to her heart, except at a dance hall. This will happen if use can dance properly. Liquor would help. Kissing her would help, but not profusely. Also flattery. No self-consciousness.
At the next date hold a coherent conversation.
April 13: I must ask about openings for account clerks in the welfare department or other ones. Mrs. Stewart might help me out.
It is possible that Joan wants me to oppose her parents and also the church, and my refusal to do this has soured her on me. Should I make disparaging remarks about Catholicism and urge her to see me more often, in defiance of Father Kirschner? When she saw me on my knees and when I said Father Kirschner threw me off balance & said I wished to comply with his request, she probably lost respect for me.
Now I must discuss this with her after the Easter service. Say I think the Catholic Church has made her accessible to me, so I am grateful. I don’t wish her to make a violent split unless it is necessary, and point out the foolish reasoning behind the ban on our dating. What difference does it make if Mr. Pease’s first wife might have been a Catholic and not married in front of a priest? How does it affect her moral state? Ask her what she sees in Catholicism, what she expects to get from it. I have taken her religion seriously because I take my own ideas seriously in this respect those of others. Otherwise, in the conversation be objective & unself-conscious, and talk a lot.
Another argument: It is not really Fr. Kirschner’s ban which is holding us apart but the great distance live apart.
If I marry Joan, insist upon a ceremony in a Protestant church as well as in a Catholic Church. Otherwise it will be a capitulation. Though I am not religious, I want to align myself with my Protestant forbearers. It is important in love to be demanding & selfish to some extent so that the other will not walk all over you. Neither should give in too quickly.
Later: If I marry her, I’ll be fishing her out of some other man’s bedroom ***
*** ***** *** ***** ***
Question to ask the priest:
1. I am dating an ardent Catholic girl. Is it proper for her to insist that I must become a ChristIan for her to continue dating me?
2. Has the priest any right to insist that I cannot kiss her, that we should see each other once every 2 weeks, and that she should not touch alcohol? Is this not our responsibility?
3. Under the circumstances can she get an annulment? Is there a chance that she cannot remarry?
4. I have made few hard & fast demands upon her, but her Catholicism has governed our relationship to supersede my own will. I have been continually crowded over & ordered to obey her religion's demands upon both of us. I have been continually told that I am 2nd place in her life. Is it a man’s place in a love affair to be led around by the nose in this way?
5. Why should I try to believe something which common sense leads me to doubt? How does he get past the doubt that God is only a fiction, objectively speaking? How does he get past the same doubt which a 6 -year-old child would have about God?
*** ***** *** ***** ***
August 31, 1965
I wanted to talk with you this evening after work, but this letter will have to substitute for what I had to say.
It is clear now, even to me, that we cannot be in the same relationship as before, so I have given up hope. If you want to see Rolland every night, or see anyone else, that is fine with me. You said once that we could be “good friends”, because you enjoyed my company. If that is still possible, I would like to accept your offer. You gave me fair warning that you did not love me, yet I was foolish enough to get serious about you, and that was forbidden from the outset. But I am not serious about you now.
Obviously, to persist in seeking to restore the past would do neither one of us any good. Last night your father said that actions such as what I had just undertaken would only serve to push you back into a psychiatric ward. These words made an impression upon me, because, as you know, I have a brother who is presently in one. Perhaps I also should be there. Several years ago my brother and I were very close, but recently there has been a great barrier between us. I think to some extent my pig-headedness contributed to his mental break up. I do not want to work the same pressures upon you.
In general I suspect I have had a bad effect upon most people who have been close to me. Seldom do I contribute to a warm atmosphere between people. As we discussed once before, I am apparently incapable now of being happy and of sharing this feeling with someone else. I introduce instead a self-conscious, self-righteous tone into each occasion, which undermines what it touches. Your statement that I was too polite to you seems absurd as a condemnation, but I know how difficult it must be to get along with someone who is that way. Someday I hope to turn these aspects of my personality into a benefit, but frankly I really shouldn’t be allowed at present to inflict them upon other people.
One taste of bitterness between us at the end was your feeling that you owed me something for the months we were together. You emphasized this both times when we were breaking up. You should realize, however, that I received great personal advantages from being with you. I would have been quite lonely living by myself in St. Paul. All the time you were a source of hope, comfort, or excitement to me. Maybe at times I was some of these things to you also. As far as the money spent on our dates, you should understand that it is the man’s duty to foot the full cost financially, especially when you weren’t earning very much. We are even-steven according to my records. It would be better for us if this were the same on yours.
Still, I should offer a few explanations and apologies for last evening. The reason I waited in front of your house to barge in upon you and Roland was because it was the only way to disrupt the catastrophe I was sure was taking place. A girl simply does not take four or five hours to return home from work unless she has made other plans. Your parents told you that I had called on Sunday, but you chose to become unavailable. Now, under these circumstances, should I really have telephoned dutifully every evening hour by hour, only to be told that one lucky time I finally managed to make connections that you had been going with another man the whole time? I know you aren’t engaged or married to me, so you have a perfect right to play a double game. The only question for me, though, is whether I should take it lying down. You promised me on Thursday not to go out that week-end, and specifically mentioned Roland. You also asked me to call you on Monday. So all your hurt feelings, the neighbors’ complaints, and your father’s calling the police and his angry threats don’t convince me that I had no right to be waiting you as I did. On the other hand, I’’m sorry I attacked you in the car while we were driving home. It was one way of making you do what I wanted, but not the best.
Anyhow, if you like Roland as much as you say you do, I wish you every success in getting him to like you. He is probably not so bad after all. If this doesn’t work out I’m sure someone else will fall for you, perhaps for the same reasons I did, and that you will be happier with him. Maybe you can find some iron disciplinarian who can tame your instincts to wander. Good things will eventually come to you.
If you are intent upon never seeing me again, I can do nothing about it. On the other hand, there were certain things which we were able to do together, such as dancing at Brady’s or going to art galleries. I would like to do these again from time to time. We can skip the unpleasant parts. I won’t try to get in touch with you for several weeks, though. This will give me a chance to start out in a different direction, and you a chance to continue what you are doing without interference. Afterwards it will be strictly friendship. One favor: If you move, please call me or send me a postcard with your new address and phone number. Mine is presently 763 Capitol Heights, St. Paul c/o Schwegler.
(Note: This may have been addressed to Joan Pease.)
*** ***** *** ***** ***
Employed at Dept. of Public Welfare, State of Minnesota, in late 1965 or early 1966:
If I stay at my present job:
- Cultivate rhythm - keep myself mentally and physically fit
- Devise some make-shift principles of my philosophy - ideas on how to cultivate rhythm with other people. Start some projects to see how people react when I use my philosophy on them.
- Be courageous. Do some things which are difficult and carry them through.
- Take the initiative with other people. Propose things. Let the burden of the proposal rest with me. Do the knocking on the door.
- Try to make friends with people I love or admire. Do not always seek out the worst people because it is safe.
- Be decisive. Do not hesitate to reject and forget.
- Do some pleasure reading.
- Try to find someone I really love.
- Occasionally accomplish some work, such as a short story.
1. Welfare administration is not the type of work I want. I am just wasting time doing it.
2. Have money enough to live & conduct a business.
3. I have built up to leaving & can do it now.
4. If I wait a year, I may become muddled in mind & eyesight giving out.
5. Take the tide while it is at the full.
6. Work is unpleasant at times.
7. Too much exposure to women.
8. Show some firmness of decision.
9. Stop fooling other people & myself. Do what I honestly want.
1. Hurt Frank’s feelings & betray the confidence of the department.
2. Am not mentally up to breaking off by myself now. Must leave with full energy.
3. Higher pay.
4. A chance to live spontaneously, to enjoy myself. I must learn to work with people. Going into business for myself would be an escape. If I go into business, I will never again have the chance to live an uncrowded, relaxing life. Money grubbing is hard business.
5. I have barely got my feet wet. After the training period, take the fruits of responsibility.
6. Do not want to start a tradition of dropping out. I know I can pull back.
7. We will have an Accountant I to help with some of the work - also an acquaintance.
8. I will have 9 days of vacation coming. Perhaps I can take a few days off without pay to write essays.
9. I can change apartments and buy some pleasant things.
10. Once I lose my anxiety about work, I may write better things.
11. Since I plan to stay through February, I will only be 10 months longer.
12. The army might break up my business plans.
*** ***** *** ***** ***
Feb. 16, 1966
It seems to me that it’s time fo you to return to the USA. Getting in trouble with the police al over Europe may provide some bizarre experiences for awhile, but it does not do very much for our mental health. What is the use of daring others to buffet you around? After while a person becomes affected by this
It is not too late for you to start other activities in the United States which will pay off better for you. You have certain things going for you such as having an enterprising & likable personality, so if you would only add patience to your virtues you will be all right. In the last few years you have wanted quick and complete victories for yourself, but that just doesn’t happen.
I would suggest returning to this country and trying to find a job in some field which interests you. Employment opportunities are very great at this time because of the business boom and the draft calls. Having a job will give you financial independence (which I have found quite important), will give you confidence in your usefulness in society, and experience in some field in which you might make a contribution.
This is what I think you should do, but I wish you the best in whatever you choose.
*** ***** *** ***** ***
March 5, 1966
I enjoy hearing from you, but I wish you would stop writing these crank letters about Scandinavian-Israeli Cybernetics Institutes or the principle behind Litton stock. I know nothing about cybernetics projects to be able to take part in your enterprise, since you haven’t yet told me anything about the ideas which interest you. I bought Litton only as an investment which would grow in value. This one has fortunately gone up to 2 1/2 times its original value, but Sperry Rand has not done quite so well and Texaco (which the stock broker recommended) has even gone down from what I paid for it. I need a certain amount of money to live, to travel occasionally, and hopefully some day to establish a business & have a good income, supervision over others, freedom to develop, etc.
I’m sorry to see you launching forth on another wild tangent as if you were intending something important. We both know, however, that t his kind of project is doomed by its lack of specific content as well as its lack of resources, but it will be followed by something equally flamboyant. It would be a shame for you to live too many years like this. You can probably salvage something from your experiences bumming around Europe, which will make more exciting stories than most people have to tell. However, I would suggest that you find some occupation or role in systems which other people have worked out until you gain more confidence in yourself in succeeding in these. I do not think the McGaugheys have such fantastic intellects that we can succeed in vast enterprises without effort, but, on the other hand, I think we have enough compete once & good judgement to succeed better than most people.
There’s not really much I can do for you or which you can do for me anyhow, so it does not seem to accomplish much by writing letters. However, there was too much sense & human feeling in you when you were younger for me to believe that it has entirely disappeared. There are also good reasons why you took the wild course you have taken since freshman year at college, so I cannot accept the explanation that some mysterious chemical process took over your mind and has made your emotions totally unsusceptible to ordinary human ups and downs. My opinion is that you can make a recovery if you find the right activities, beliefs, and people of strong character, and live in the light of these for a certain period of time.
Your real enemy, I think, has been the educational system, which enveloped your life at an early age, kept your native imagination in a vice for many years, and then left you in the crippled condition you now have to overcome. Your intellect developed at an early age. Then when you were ready to develop at your own pace, guided by your energies & curiosity, you continued to be subject to the same competitive pressures and a constantly oppressive work load. It is all right for people of superficial tastes to pour through thousands of pages of the best scholarship, science & art, but when someone tries to take what he reads to heart he is lost. I am a fanatic on the subject of education. The men who have contributed the most to this country - Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Lincoln, Jackson, Melville, Walt Whitman, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, even Buckminster Fuller, even Einstein - not one of these was a college graduate. Edison’s education amounted to less than 6 weeks altogether. Why is it then that people suppose that creative talents are helped by a college education? It’s a big fraud. The true products of a college education are the thousands of drop outs drifting around Boston, New York, or San Francisco, or else the smooth-shaven junior executives who are short on performance but highly paid. Education is nothing more than indoctrination and constraint of the mind & imagination, particularly when it comes in big doses. It makes me mad to see education billed as the way to improve our scientific progress or our national culture. It has been instrumental in the decline of every major civilization. Why is it then that you who are a victim of the educational system continue to talk its jargon and hold its “liberal” opinions? You have suffered more from it than I have, and should be even further to the right.
As far as your cybernetics projects are concerned - unless you are doing some honest work in this area, it seems to me a waste of time. For awhile they are a good conversation piece and aid to meeting people, but I cannot see how they could be a permanent bond between friends if there is nothing in them. I’m sure you can find different mask to use in public, even if the changeover is awkward for awhile. Even if your role is less glamorous, you will at least have retained your self-respect. After while people appreciate that even by itself.
I’ve just received word that Mother, Dad, and Margy are going to visit the Middle East over the spring holiday. I hope you will think through your situation and make a decision about a more realistic life. You will need their financial support, and their advice & help in what you will be doing.
Say hello also to David.
*** ***** *** ***** ***
Maybe in 2007 - a year before the Sesquicentennial
In response, I received a letter from the Commission’s executive director dated January 8th that included this statement: “We have tried for months to get the three superstars you mention but they have declined our offers.”
Garrison Keillor made a public appearance about two weeks later. I asked him if he planned to participate in the Sesquicentennial celebration. He said no one had yet contacted him about doing anything.
I relayed this information back to the Commission in the form of emails, telephone messages, and a letter over the course of a month. There has been no response. My suspicion is that someone has decided that Garrison Keillor will not be a part of the Sesquicentennial events.
Minnesotans deserve better. Keillor is a unique entertainment personality with a national reputation who, more than anyone else, has created a distinctive Minnesota personality and culture. Yes, if he declines invitations to participate or if he requests an exorbitant sum of money, then his name should be taken off the list. I doubt, however, that this will be the case.
Minnesota has lots of creative talent that might be enlisted in this enterprise. We have a new poet laureate, Robert Bly. Why not commission him to write a poem for the occasion? This year, the Coen brothers and screenwriter Diablo Cody, all Minnesotans, dominated the Oscars. Why not approach them about doing something? Why not commission a Minnesota artist to create a Sesquicentennial sculpture or medallion? Bob Dylan and Prince (Nelson) would, of course, be outstanding participants if they are willing. These are some things that come to my mind as appropriate for a celebration of Minnesota’s 150th anniversary as a state.
It seems to me that even famous artists or creative personalities from Minnesota might contribute something to the celebration for free or for a modest sum of money because participating in it is a great personal honor and the Sesquicentennial celebration is, indeed, a special occasion. In any event, such persons ought to be approached.
Since the legislature is now in session, I am hoping that leaders of state government will make sure that the Sesquicentennial celebration is adequately funded and that the Commission will carry through on its mandate to create a first-rate celebration of this important anniversary of Minnesota’s statehood.
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