The Gestalt Agent's Handbook


In 1972, Kurt’s later-to-be friend and Diamond Sufi Ranch resident, Walter (Clifford) Barney wrote a thesis about Gestalt Therapy while pursuing a Master’s Degree in Counseling. His collaboration with two friends became as much of the subject of his thesis as Gestalt Therapy itself—his documentation of their interaction a practical demonstration of the Gestalt process. Combining concepts with process documentation, this paper anticipated elements of what is conventionally referred to today as “mindfulness” training, bring attention to body-mind awareness.
Barney writes, “Most people read books in order to learn something from them. By writing a book, we collude with this expectation of the reader. We deal with this trap in two ways: by letting the reader watch our process as we write the book, and so become aware of our dilemma; and by playing verbal tricks on him, so that when he begins to think that he learns from us, rather than from himself, he suddenly finds himself in a blind alley, logically.”

Heinz von Foerster on Computing a Reality


Heinz von Foerster (pictured at left during the AUM Conference), scientist and expert in cybernetics, delivered an engaging talk during the AUM Conference at Esalen in 1973 about the way in which we as individuals form hypotheses about reality, confirm them and then construct descriptions of that reality. He also reviews the function and limitations of our sensory apparatus, and how we know what we know.

Kurt von Meier recorded von Foerster’s talk; his presentation lasts about 30 minutes.

On Audio: G. Spencer Brown at the AUM Conference - Final Remarks


As Clifford Barney has written, Brown departed the AUM Conference in 1973 after only two days of attendance, concluding his visit with these final remarks about Laws of Form and its underlying mathematics. From his tone, one senses Brown felt he'd said everything he had to say; he encouraged his "audience" to ask a couple of questions. What ensued was wonderful; lucid, intriguing and entertaining remarks about The Five Levels of Eternity, consciousness and contradiction, Eastern vs. Western concepts, the use of injunctive language in mathematics, mystic utterances, and that "there's no feedback in heaven." The talk runs about 35 minutes.

Kurt's Conversation with Destruction Artist Raphael Monteñez Ortiz

Raphael Montenez Ortiz, Ralph to Kurt, is a Brooklyn born artist of Puerto Rican decent whose lengthy career as an artist (he is now in his mid-eighties) includes what has been termed "destruction art." Kurt and Ralph became friends early in the 1960s, and Kurt covered Ralph's participation in the Destruction In Art Symposium held in London in 1966 in the pages of Artscanada magazine. Noted for his theatrical art pieces wherein Ralph destroyed pianos with an ax, beheaded live chickens, tore apart mattresses, and spilled buckets of blood, his work was and remains controversial and for many, uncomfortable.
          In this recording made by Kurt circa 1966, Kurt, Ralph and an unidentified woman discuss Ralph's plans for a theatrical art performance to be held in a gallery in Los Angeles, and Ralph exuberantly describes what it will include--namely chickens, mice, snakes, a piano, a harp, paper bags and buckets of blood--in his words "...a whole crazy kind of thing." Kurt suggests the work is a "menstruation ritual" and Ralph explains that his intent is to provoke people to the point where one "can't stand behind all your defenses." Note: Ralph's plans are graphically described; the discussion lasts about fifteen minutes.

November 24, 1963

Kurt clipped articles from newspapers and magazines like crazy, but rarely kept an entire page let alone a section of the local paper. The exception is this, the front section of the San Francisco Examiner from 1963. Of note is the slogan in the paper's masthead: "America First."