Coming Together: Love in Cambridge

Radicalism--Part 5ive

Radicalism as a philosophy for change will, and must, have reverberations beyond politics and economics, at the level of social interaction between people. Here then is a discursive examination of our immediate environment, the University, that bears implications for our specific everyday lives.

All radical writing should have some programmatic content, however. This article accordingly does suggest some goals for organized action. Why, after all, to echo one of its questions, is there no student center at Harvard?

Oh it's winter again and the old refrains. Widener girls in turtlenecks. Papers getting done, not done, done. The heads make well-publicized voyages into Lamont. I sing on the street, badly, "Obladi, Oblada life goes on" but the song, the smile doesn't move your face toward a possibility, no, you're walking too fast, you're hurrying even as you race through this (On to the next paragraph, faster, faster) and you're changing my song. And so, from George Harrison: "I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping."

So here we are, folks over breakfast coffee, or in the bathroom, or three days later on a trash-strewn floor, and we are still reading, we are reading the prose of someone who is interested in the prospects for a communication we'll call love, and love in Cambridge at that. If it strikes you as doubly improbable, or not the kind of prose that fits your January, you're right of course. You've always been right about matters like that, which is why you're at Harvard in the first place.

An admission for openers. I am a bit lonely here, I'm bored, and I'm no longer convinced that it's because of the cut of my jacket or the feebleness of my own mind. For what I sense to be happening in Cambridge is that nothing is happening in Cambridge. We've felt so much, tried so hard in so many ways to bring some real humanity into the academy, and we've failed. And now no one's publicly trying very hard any more. The theatres, magazines and this newspaper are largely devoted to more-of-the-same. On both sides, the professional hustler has the game covered; does the definitive headline, the hope for an unearned celebrity, have to dominate The Revolution?


Of course the happy people have always been off in the country somewhere, grooving on the land and one another; there seems little reason to me why anyone whose head is really together would stick around a place like this. Still, we are here, and we count too, but daily we compromise the best in us, daily we make the most outrageous accommodation to an institution that obviously can do little else but feed the technostructure, daily we pretend that we're not really doing this.

In a dingy room in a grim penitentiary, out of my mind, I looked over at the man next to me, a Polish embezzier from Worcester, Mass. I could see him so clearly, I could see every pore in his face, every blemish, the hairs on his nose, the incredible green-yellow enamel of the decay in his teeth, the wet glistening of his frightened eyes. I could see every hair in his head, as though each was as big as an oak tree. What a confrontation! What am I doing out here, out of my mind, with this strange mosaic-celled animal, prisoner, criminal?

I said to him with a weak grin, How are you doing, John? He said, I feel fine. Then he paused for a minute and asked, How are you doing, Doc? I was about to say in a reassuring psychological tone that I felt fine, but I could not, so I said, I feel lousy. John drew back his purple-pink lips, showed his green-yellow teeth in a sickly grin, and said, What's the matter, Doc? Why you feel lousy? I looked with my two microscopic lenses into his eyes. I could see every line, yellow spider webs, red network of veins gleaming out of me, I said, John I'm afraid of you. His eyes got bigger, then he began to laugh. I could look inside his mouth, swollen red tissues, gums, tongue, throat. I was prepared to be swallowed. Then I heard him say, Well that's funny Doc, 'cause I'm afraid of you. We were both smiling at this point, learning forward. Doc, he said, why are you afraid of me? I said, I'm afraid of you, John, because you're a mad scientist. Then our retinas locked and I slid down the tunnel of his eyes, and I could feel him walking around in my skull and we both began to laugh. And there it was, that dark moment of fear and distrust, which could have changed in a second to become hatred and terror. But we made the love connection. The flicker in the dark. Suddenly, the sun came out in the room and I felt great and I knew he did too. High Priest, by Timothy Leary


1. Get a pair of headphones, a lot of dope. See you after a while.

2. Find someone new, if you can, and hope for the best. Or hold on tightly, more desperately, to what you've got.

3. There are no solutions. Console yourself with Wittgenstein.

4. Be a Radcliffe Sophomore reading Leonard Cohen for the first time.

5. Make something happen, something so new and beautiful, so ancient and obvious that our eyes are changed, becoming themselves, again.