From one who knew Alan Watts

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Bill Keeler
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Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2015 3:55 am

From one who knew Alan Watts

Post by Bill Keeler » Thu Oct 01, 2015 5:45 pm

Hello, dear friends of Alan Watts. I’m an old-timer from the Sausalito waterfront in the sixties. I lived at Gate 6 on big barge of a boat called the Omphale. Alan lived a couple of hundred yards toward town at Gate 5, on one-half of the S.S.Vallejo, a scuttled old iron-hulled ferryboat. The colorful and then-famous Greek collage artist Varda and all of his colorful scene and young girls and bohemians and sailing parties were on the other half.
I got into Alan’s books. And marijuana. Both blew my mind. An enjoyable account of Alan and those spiritual times is in my short book (on Amazon, $5.50): Buddha Dropped By: the 1960s. Through various friends and connections and many pageants and parties I got close to him. Sat listening to many of his talks and more formal seminars, there and elsewhere -- couple of times at Esalen in Big Sur, all the way up to Cold Mountain Institute in British Columbia. He knew how avidly I read and listened to him and appreciated him. My favorite name-dropping story is the time I answered a knock at my door and there was Alan with a guy, and Alan said “Bill, this is Owsley.“ (Not much of a name-dropping story except for other old timers. For you kids, Owsley was the first big acid king, practically a god.) Pretty good friends, I guess it could be said, at least I could and did occasionally call him and say hey, wataya doing?, and get invited over with my girl friend, and Alan would usually cook something and there would be wine and much talk, and yes, two times I can remember one of Alan’s ever-lucid sentences trailing off as his body tilted slowly from his chair toward the floor, and yes, both times we caught him and helped him to bed and said we’d see ourselves out.
One reason I’m writing is that too often on AlanWatts sites I’ve noticed undue interest in gossip and tut-tutting about his drinking, and I’m able to add to that, and will.
First, I’d like all who are interested to ask themselves this: what possible relevance does this matter have to the magnificence of the written and spoken words Alan left us? Does such information decrease the potential those words have to impact on us in a meaningful way? Let us not be lost in trivial pursuits.
Alan drank. He liked to drink. And he had a very active and productive work and social life with lots of friends around him to the very end. And his speech didn’t slur and he was always superb. As far as I ever observed he took virtually no physical exercise, and like about everyone of that era he ate too much meat and fat. Tobacco? My memory is that had gone out of his life, along with smoking marijuana, because of the throat effect. But overall, it wasn’t a body being properly taken care of.
Now I’ll tell you a nice story. The last years of his life were lived in a hand-crafted cottage on the eucalyptus-covered hillsides above Muir Woods. From that cottage he would address college audiences around the country and beyond, Alan being represented on stage in the form of a sign and a radio speaker, and Alan himself seated at a small table at home. He had found during his career that he “performed” better with an audience, even a small one, so he would always invite about a dozen or so friends to attend. We would arrive about a hour beforehand, and there would be refreshments and socializing, with Alan mingling and chatting, and certainly not paying any attention to the fact that the student body of some prestigious college was convening to hear his words. Then, with five minutes to go, he would ask us to arrange ourselves and be seated, and he would sit as his table. After, some preliminaries such as making certain the volume was properly adjusted for his audience, he would begin.
His little table was bare, except for the microphone. There were no notes. The usual duration of these talks was a half hour to forty-five minutes. And he would speak for the entire time in perfectly polished paragraphs, every comma in place, the message clear, well organized, and mesmerizing. His secretary once told me that most of his books were in first draft form, that changes from the first typing were almost entirely punctuation adjustments, a word change here and there.
Like thousands, I say “Alan Watts? That man changed my life!”

raw_thought
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Location: trapped inside a hominid skull

Re: From one who knew Alan Watts

Post by raw_thought » Fri Oct 02, 2015 12:53 am

Alan taught me that one can be a materialist and a mystic! It’s all only labels!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE5M8743a1s
I want this video at my funeral. No, sermons about God or how great I was….
Just this,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Opn5iVaRyDU

raw_thought
Posts: 1636
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:16 pm
Location: trapped inside a hominid skull

Re: From one who knew Alan Watts

Post by raw_thought » Fri Oct 02, 2015 1:37 am

I read somewhere that Alan was cremated and that his ashes were stolen. No one knows where Alan is! I think he would like that! A very surreal ending to a life outside the box!

Obvious Leo
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Joined: Wed May 13, 2015 1:05 am
Location: Australia

Re: From one who knew Alan Watts

Post by Obvious Leo » Fri Oct 02, 2015 3:16 am

Welcome to the forum, Bill. As a child of the counter-culture era I was attracted to the thoughts of Alan Watts right from the time I first encountered them. The crumbling old hippy has outgrown most of the adolescent illusions which accompany the journey to one's personal nirvana but the insights of this remarkable thinker still resonate with me and I will remain forever in his debt. Pass the joint and keep the faith.

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