Forty Years Ago… January 3, 1975

by Alden Cole on January 3, 2015 · 0 comments

“Anyone can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.” – Oscar Wilde • #10 in a series: Sayings for the Twelve Days of Christmas 2014/15, aka One Liners I Have Learned From…

1975Jan3CIBMayberryWPForty years ago, on January 3, 1975, my second partner Robert Mayberry, who had recently moved to San Diego from IU in Bloomington, Indiana, performed a concert at San Diego State U, for which I had created the artwork at left as his advertising flyer. I couldn’t be there in person for the concert because I was cash-poor and living in New York City once more, having only months before returned to the city after a June-to-October sojourn in Maine, testing the adage “You Can’t Go Home Again”.

1974.HolidaysWPThe photo at left shows myself with parents Lois and Richard Cole, plus my brother Clark’s children Mark and Laurie with their mother Georgie, with Clark doing the camera-work. This photo was probably taken shortly before I returned to NYC in mid October. Once there I jumped right back into the job I had left in June, working as an invoice typist for Samuel Weiser Inc., a book publisher/distributor that had started as Weiser’s Bookstore in Greenwich Village. When I returned that October, the bookstore was still in a store-front on Broadway just south of 8th Street, but the publishing office which had been on the fourth floor above the store, had moved to a much larger space a few blocks south, at Broadway and Houston. Here the photo below was taken that fall by Don Weiser, or was it Jim Wasserman, the office manager? At the bottom of this posting is another polaroid taken by Don or Jim of myself sitting at Don’s desk the following spring.

1974WeisersOfficeWPI had returned to Maine in June flush with feelings of impending apocalypse, or at least major changes. My imagination had been fired that spring by a number of books available to me through Weiser’s vast array of alternative ‘spiritual’ interests – Mystical Christianity, Theosophy, Kabbalah, Tibetan Buddhism, Gurdjieff Work, Wicca, Aleister Crowley and Ceremonial Magic, New Age, Astrology and Tarot Card Reading, Numerology and Palmistry, Self-Help, Sufism, Native American Spiritual Studies, Astral Projection, Edgar Cayce; on and on, to the point of virtually overwhelming me with the surfeit of possibilities all claiming to be Paths to Truth, or at least riches. Erich von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods published in 1969, and his 1972 volume Gods from Outer Space, plus further stimulation from a couple books by Charles Berlitz – Mysteries from Forgotten Worlds (1972) and The Bermuda Triangle (1974) had put me onto the Quest. Throw into this mix some heady volumes on Theosophy, such as Madame Helena Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled, neither of which did I read in entirety; plus books on the psychological basis underlying the work of G.I. Gurdjieff, the early 20th century teacher whose ‘work’ draws seekers to this day. There were many others, but the first book I actually purchased for myself when I first started working at Weiser’s was Manly P. Hall’s monumentally comprehensive tome An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic, and Rosicrucian Philosophy, first published in 1928 in a large format edition with color illustrations; by the ’70s it was only available in a reduced format edition with the b&w illustrations. I had first encountered Hall’s volume the year before in the New York Public Library, along with a small monograph on the German Romantic painter Kaspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). Both book encounters transformed my world, signaling the end of my youth, and heralding the transition into a period of uneasy maturity.


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