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EVERYTHING SHOULD BE UNDER THE SUN
cosmic upheaval is now surging on Planet Earth.
I met F.M. Esfandiary for the first time in 1979. I was nine years old. A bit of a rebel, I naturally found him to be a very unconventional, an interesting sort of adult, as well as a warm and charismatic individual who understood my pre-adolescent mind and accepted me for what I was, a growing, angry & confused young boy.
So strong of an impression he made on me, that by the time I was eleven years old, I had finished reading two of his books, Optimism 1 and Tele-spheres.
During our long walks around London, I had many opportunities to question him about various different issues. FM believed there was not just one way of learning, for school as an institution could not teach you all about the world and its many realities, and that sometimes reading and traveling could open ones mind more than lectures did. Of course the idea of not having to go to conventional school appealed to my sensibilities. I often antagonized my teacher by quoting FMs disdain of conventional education. We also discussed a number of family issues, including the concept of ownership or belonging within the family nucleus, and how this was a breeding principle of neurosis, which also made a lot of sense to me.
At the age of thirteen, during a trip to the United States, I visited FM in LA . Over a meal at restaurant called Montys, I expressed my attraction to the American lifestyle and he invited me to live with him for a while. I was thrilled by the offer. I would leave England behind me and start a new adventurous life in California, away from the conformities of a gray land. Of course my parents did not allow this, and my dream only came true seven years later. FM valued experimentation greatly as a necessary tool for the discovery of ones true self, and the future. He always supported my creative aspirations, and allowed me to come to terms and accept my indecisions. He believed that not knowing what path to follow could actually be the quickest way to finding one. He possessed a naturally philosophical outlook on life, for he, like all great men, understood that any given situation can be looked at from a myriad of standpoints. It was almost as if he were observing the world from a different dimension, a very special observation deck.
I never viewed FM as a mentor or a role model I actually liked him and respected him as a friend. He was also my confidant, a person to whom I could tell anything - without being judged. I was always fascinated by his great psychological insights in his writings, which are philosophically positive, but yet intellectually accessible.
Since a very early age I enjoyed futuristic literature, particularly the works of famous authors such as Isaac Asimov, and Aldous Huxley. Consequently I was prone to find similarities and differences between Aldous Huxley and FM. Both strived towards the advancement of human possibilities, but in Huxleys Brave New World shows a universe devoid of indidualism, FMs concept of optimism thrives upon it.
FM always seemed to have a new view We often spoke about movies, but his way of analyzing them was very peculiar. He did not usually enjoy violent films, but preferred comedies - he loved Peter Sellers. He was was unconventional and certainly didnt tow the popular line when "American Beauty" was hailed the landmark film and the best film in ages: he described American Beauty, as a self-indulgent film, a rehash of suburban insecurities, another film dwelling on the psychological deficiencies of average America. its dealing with unoriginal issues was nothing new he said.
As I grew up, I challenged FM into more and more discussions. I used to interrogate him almost, for our conversations always stimulated me greatly, they made me think, and awoke the truth-seeking side of my personality.
He thought that human beings were becoming less and less violent. I did not understand this idea, for the last forty years appear to me as one of the bloodiest in human history. Although Im still not convinced, FM presented me with an opposite and compelling response to my point of view. He believed the last forty years have also witnessed the growing phenomenon of human rights and peace movements. Our primitive instincts for killing are still present, but since the sixties, our sensibilities have evolved towards the creation of a more global and peaceful society.
FM was a purist in terms of science. He did not indulge in the concept of God or religion, while I was brought up within a somewhat traditional Jewish atmosphere, and have continuously questioned the role of faith within ones life. To me religion still holds the consolation of a peaceful transition between being and nothingness, an illusion of a reward that can sweeten our departure from the world, as we know it. On the other hand, the scientific solution seems to me still a bit harsh, for one either is a part of a bigger organism or dead matter. FMs belief in the possibilities of the future made the bleakness of science easier to swallow. He used to talk very passionately about the leaps and bounds that we were conytinually makingn - he spoke of the human genome project 20 years before it became a rreality. He was very optimistic of the fact that my generation would be able to achieve immortality. He thought the essence of who we are - is contained in the brain, not in the soul, hence his decision to be cryogenically preserved.
Near his death I saw him once or twice, he did not want to see anybody, he didnt like people to see him ill. That was also a very sad time for he genuinely believed he would still be around for the next thirty years. His disease angered him. Somehow technology could not catch up with this mans visions.
Like all great minds, he was a man considerably ahead of his time. A man with a name appropriate for a future society, when a concept of nationality is replaced by that of globalism. A man who once told me "If I wrote a best seller, I would be doing something wrong, and I would not be ahead of the game". He wanted to be a catalyst not a savior, whose legacy are his books, the people he always helped, and his ideas.
FM was a very charismatic individual with a charitable and benevolent character.
He was a visionary. We were like opposites sides of a coin, he loved life, I have always been a little more pessimistic. Our twenty-year long friendship was like a gift to me, I was blessed to meet him.
January 2001, New York