Interviewsand Articles


Editor's Introduction, Newsletter #39: Journeys

by Richard Whittaker, Feb 8, 2017



There are four stories of journeys in this edition of our newsletter, plus some reflections on contemporary life vis à vis Joseph Campbell thanks to an exhibit, “The Artist’s Way” at the Cherry Center in Carmel, California.
     First up, Zilong Wang, a young man not faint of heart. To avoid having his life determined via a required standard exam in China, Zilong enrolled at a German university. Then a few years later, he enrolled at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Upon graduation, he left Amherst on a bicycle odyssey, solo, across the U.S and arrived in San Francisco two and half months later. Before leaving on the 3000-mile ride, his most arduous outing had clocked in at two hours.
     On a number of occasions I’d had the chance to talk with Zilong, most of them at Casa de Paz in Oakland, CA, and I was becoming more and more convinced I'd met a rare being. Hearing about his cross-country ride was just one more element to add to an expanding portrait. “How did that ride go?” I asked.
     “The first few days were painful,” he said—because his route started to gain elevation right away. On top of that, he’d vowed not to use money for lodging. So every night he would knock on the doors of strangers to ask if he could camp in their backyard. And for the entire 75 days, every single night he found someone who invited him in. Besides not letting fear stop him, he kept track. His statistics showed that on average, one in five doors opened to a place to stay. Who was this guy? At the time of our interview, Zilong was a just few days away from leaving on an even more ambitious bicycle odyssey. I figured I'd better seize the moment if I was going to get some of Zilong's story on the record.  
     Silas Hagerty’s story is equally remarkable. (How does one measure such things?) The journey he describes was just 330 miles, but on horseback—and profound in other ways. It took place in the dead of winter, through blizzards, beginning in South Dakota and ending in Minnesota. Hagerty traveled with a group of Native Americans participating in the enactment of spiritual leader, Jim Miller’s, dream. Memorably, I heard Miller describe it this way: “When you get a dream from God, you listen.”
     I first heard of the proposed enactment before it took place. Jim Miller had asked the young man from New England to film the journey. Listening to Silas tell the tale, I was fascinated by how it had unfolded. It had the ring of something mythical. “Are you going to do it?” I asked Silas… He did. The film is Dakota 38. Our interview took place a few days after its screening at the Brower Center in Berkeley.
     We can thank my wife, Rue, an artist and psychotherapist in private practice in the Bay Area, for our interview with Gareth Hill. She got to know Hill, a respected Jungian analyst, over a period of two and a half years while he served as a consultant to a small group of practitioners. “He had a very special quality,” I remember her telling me. Perhaps he would be open to an interview with you, I suggested. She liked the idea. Here is the fascinating story of a treasured Jungian analyst.
     Terrance Meyer was journeying when I met him. He was sitting in a coffee shop working on a little painting. It was my regular morning coffee spot. I’d been coming there for years and this was the first time I’d seen anyone in there doing artwork. I could resist walking over surreptitiously to get a peek, just in case. Just in case it might be good. To my surprise, the little painting I saw over his shoulder was quite wonderful. I couldn’t resist giving him a compliment. He looked up, pleased, and we fell into conversation. Which got so interesting, I had to ask him if he’d be willing to be interviewed. Without looking, and even asking a few questions, one never knows what treasures surround us.
     Wrapping up this issue are some thoughts inspired by Joseph Campbell—or anyway, inspired by a little reading of his work. Some while back I was involved in an art exhibit put together by Gail Enns at the Cherry Center in Carmel, California. Enns wanted to do an entire exhibit around Campbell’s essay, “The Way of Art.” “Wouldn’t that be a great idea?” she asked me.
     I hadn’t heard his name mentioned in quite a while, but indeed, it did seem like an good time to revisit Campbell. And what were his ideas about the way of artist? - Welcome.


About the Author

Richard Whittaker is the founding editor of works & conversations and West Coast editor of Parabola magazine.  


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