illustration: Clayton L. Luce
Meet Margaret Ann Harrell whose resume includes Harrell Communications, Columbia University, and the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich and the following books: “Keep This Quiet! My Relationships With Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, and Jan Mensaert.” “Keep THIS Quiet Too!” “Keep This Quiet! III; Initiations.” And in this series “Keep This Quiet! IV: More Initiations.” Other titles by Margaret include “Toward A Philosophy Of Perception,” and “Marking Time With Faulkner.” Oh, and she was copy editor for Hunter S. Thompson’s “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.” That was 50 years ago.
C.A. Seller: Primarily, I wish to focus on your latest work, “Keep This Quiet! IV: More Initiations.” Forgive my lack of vernacular, this is no novel but a historical record of a synchronistic journey. Would that be close or am I off the mark?
Margaret Ann Harrell: Interesting. It was said of the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, oddly enough—that he was a walking synchronicity all his life. And it led him to the Nobel Prize. I like to think of a synchronistic life as one where you go where your energy is. Jung called it “being led by the unconscious” (the personal and collective). For a long time I put all of my intuition into my writing (I thought I was a novelist), and one day I realized that that intuition I was putting into my novel writing, I could as well put into my life. It required believing my intuition knew things my conscious self didn’t—which events proved to me. And as unexpected things happened, the more I was “led by the unconscious,” everything I believed about what was possible in life began to change. So, yes, as I eventually listened to myself, the more I began to find myself in synchronicities.
Carl Jung once said about Pauli, in relation to his dreams, that he must excavate his own microcosm. I tend to think of everyone, on some level, in that way. Everyone has a story and everyone’s story will bring them their very own synchronicities if followed. This is one reason I benefitted so much by knowing Hunter. He wasn’t afraid to listen to himself and act on it, starting when I met him back in 1966. At the time I wasn’t so confident that I could act outwardly as boldly as part of me felt on the inside. The part of me that received all those intuitions as a writer.
Pauli used the term “meaning correspondence,” to emphasize that two parts of a synchronicity might not be synchronous, in time. Here I could give an example that relates to Louisville. When I was very unsure if I would ever get published, I informally asked a woman in Belgium, a budding psychic, about the possibility. She said, yes, I see a book by you in a bookstore window. I took that with a grain of salt till a year later, in the US at a Parapsychology Association Convention in 1995. It was a party, and I again informally asked a woman if I would be published. She told me she had done psychic work for the police in—New York, I believe it was. And she answered the exact same way: I see your book in a bookstore window. Now for the next nineteen years I pondered if this would ever happen. And then I came to Louisville, and there they were, Keep This Quiet! and Keep THIS Quiet Too!, in Carmichael’s window. I marveled that this happened at a Hunter Thompson event, associated with his energy and with Gonzo. The prediction might have been psychic, but the fact that there was energy to bring two events together meaningfully—the prediction and the actual blossoming of it—was a synchronicity. So if we all “excavate [our] own microcosm,” I found that that focus and passion brought to bear leads us to these sorts of synchronicities—all our own. The Pauli and Jung encounter, I go into in Keep This Quiet! III.
CAS: You write that your relationship with Hunter was a spiritual breakthrough. Without giving away IV, can you tell our readers just a little bit?
MAH: Thanks for asking that question, which is very perceptive. I have touched on it above. But to give a little detail. Hunter was unafraid—fearless, uncalculating, if you will—if he really believed something. Or took it into his head to make it important. I don’t mean to imply that he couldn’t be calculating as well, which he could. As I hinted at above, especially as a young woman, I could be fearless and very sure about something if writing about it—if being a novelist, which I was at the time I met him. But it was entirely different feeling than what I displayed on the outside. Hunter saw right through that. He worked with the confident me, the one who understood his book and also stood up for him at Random House if need be and conveyed his messages upstairs and to anyone at all, including Sonny Barger once. There was no question that I had the backbone to do that without flinching, while also without antagonizing those at work (in contrast, I add humorously, to his style). But I didn’t have the gumption or the ability to step outside my ego and stand up for myself personally, publicly at the time I met him. I needed more male models to integrate. And he was perfect for that, beyond the personal attraction. Also, of course, by jumping into a scene, he made it come to life.
CAS: What was it like working with a then 29 year old Hunter S. Thompson?
MAH: “Fun.” A few more words would be: “Exhilarating. Suspenseful.” It was fun and stimulating to be around someone that alive. I’ve also said before that his sensitivity as well was alive in a relationship. I saw him internalizing a lot of times.
CAS: You write of your relationship with self described “Gangster Poet” Milton Klonsky. Of Klonsky a neighbor said, “I had to walk past the inhuman guns of his eyes.” What does this mean?
MAH: Well, Milton Klonsky was another strong, authentic male writer, entirely unafraid of being himself no matter what the effect might be on the outer world. Not that he was reckless. But what he said (which were often chiseled one liners) came from within. The “inhuman guns” were a concentration and focus. He was a poet and intellectual, an unlikely combination, and streetwise. And older. It was Seymour Krim, the beat author of Notes from a Nearsighted Cannoneer, who made that quote in an essay he rather lavishly but colorfully devoted to him called “Milton Klonsky.”
CAS: Margaret, you write of relationships with Hunter, Klonsky, and Jan Mensaert, a Belgium poet you were married to. Is it safe to say none of these were even close to traditional relationships?
MAH: Are you kidding me? Traditional relationships? I don’t know how it came to be, but the answer is yes. Not at all traditional. I guess the reason is that they were all writers intent on being authentic and also on getting their inner world out on paper, though with Hunter he was also shaping up and shaking up the outer world. I wanted something more interesting—deeply stimulating—than the norm for most people, I suppose. It’s wonderful to have a traditional relationship—if that’s right for you. But these three men appealed to the unconventional side of me that wanted to get me more deeply into discovering and experiencing who I was. So they cracked boundaries for me. Even if in the case of Jan Mensaert, with whom I lived bohemian-style in a Moroccan village, it was often—because of his self-destructiveness, which he combined with charm and fascinating art—painful. They helped fortify what Jung called a woman’s inner male energy. But I will add that despite the nontraditional aspect, I myself was always monogamous in any relationship. The excitement was in the relationship itself, the moment-by-moment aliveness and intensity of being with the Very Real side of a person.
CAS: You spent ‘84 through ’87 at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. You describe the legendary debate between physicist Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung. The combination of science, matter, psychology, spirit, and synchronicity. Are you convinced of the existence of psychokinesis as in the manipulation of matter such as the bending of spoons?
MAH: Yes, I’m convinced of it, and I experienced it myself at the computer with printouts in the 1990s when little art creations—the printouts—varied from the text and formatting on the computer screen. I don’t think the manipulation of matter—in essence—is all that mysterious. For instance, you see it practiced for centuries in the East in some of the wisdom traditions that used meditation to raise their vibration. I’m not sure which explanation is the more correct. But I think we know very little of our potential as human beings if we don’t remove the assumption that what we see as possible right now is all there is. For instance, I often look at information traveling between various media outlets—to different physical locations in a fraction of a second without any other explanation than that it goes over wires and the physics of electricity and computer chips and Silicon Valley and so forth. But that doesn’t really answer how it’s possible. You have to be more curious and go into the interchangeability of matter and energy. And that’s just the starting point. What else does it mean is possible—for us, not just machines. We’ve entered an information age or information deluge, where scientists think of information as energy. So you have thought, emotion, information—so many things as energy, which is interchangeable with matter. Again, what does that mean in terms of being human? What can we do with this powerful commodity we are composed of? Many young people born into a technology world accept all these incredible information discoveries without raising an eyebrow. But the parapsychologist J. B. Rhine asked decades ago, What are we, human beings, you and I? Jung emphasized how we had neglected the inner world and distanced ourselves from nature in mastering inventions and gadgets outside, as helpful as they might be and are. I often notice that in some cases our inner medical toolbox or inner adventurer is left at the wayside while outer solutions are promoted. Potential is so vague. We have to go out and energize it. If not doing that, we deactivate the great inner resources that we never discover—what might have been. Again, back to Hunter, who didn’t sit on established truths and outer authority. This doesn’t mean everyone can do everything, but it means that perhaps I can do more than I think I can. Or that society tells me is possible.
CAS: What other paranormal experiences have you had?
MAH: In IV, I give examples of my interaction with my computer—and other computers—in the 1990s. This is called (in one of its names) computer PK, psychokinesis, mind over matter. The printed page looked significantly different from what was on the screen, and I used the resulting printouts to illustrate my books at the time. Most of all, I loved the energy high, these moments of surprise or “rush” the energy of the unexpected-looking printout produced in me. My creativity was turned on just as any immersion in a creative act results in. I didn’t stop to ask, is this possible? I just kept pushing to see, What next? Can I take this further, different from what I’ve already witnessed or produced?
If something happens to me, it’s no longer exactly paranormal to me. At a certain stage of studying the “light body,” or our human energy field, which we all have, I started having visions in the meditations. And more and more synchronicities came. These sorts of things began to be more or less “normal,” in terms of expanding consciousness. I found that as you do that, things that were hard before become easier or happen all by themselves. And some people might call some of those things—such as wishing for something or setting an intention and it happens—paranormal. But it’s just the way energy works when you focus it. I also discovered I could “track energy.” That means I would be able to detect, some of the time, the answer to a question or whether something was “true” or “false.” But there was nothing I’d call paranormal about it, once I realized I could do it, because the energy held the answer in it—it was information there. Which gets us back to the question of what can we do as information channels, if we see what technology can do, when information is routed as we want it to be. Do we have a potential to receive information in ways other than email, etc.? Is the potential of the information age going to show us that the answer is yes?
CAS: Margaret, you lived in Greenwich Village in 1966. Can you tell us what life was like?
MAH: I’d love to. One thing that ended for me then and there was any trace of discrimination based on race. It just didn’t exist in the Village. One friend of Milton Klonsky’s was a New York Times senior reviewer, Anatole Broyard, and I was told right at the outset he was a Creole from New Orleans. It was a fact in the Village, whereas working uptown at the Times, he didn’t tell people. And when the story came out in the New Yorker after his death, startled friends and readers complained that he’d been hiding his true identity, whereas to us down in the Village he never hid it. Why? He wanted to be treated as a human being. Nobody rated people based on anything else in the Village. If you were Miles Davis’s arranger or had any other claim to accomplishment, everyone was going to look up to you. And it didn’t have to be fame. Just humanity. Secondly, at the very end of his life, Anatole happened to say something significant to me. He missed Milton in that after he died, “Nobody talks to me as an equal.” I pondered his implication that nowhere—at least in his uptown circles—was he talked to as an equal. Now that he was at the top, people talked to “the New York Times senior book reviewer.” So that sense of equality is one of the big things I take from those years in the Village. It remains in the air for me as if there’s no other way to see things. Of course, there was a lot of art talk, a lot of artists passing through, such as Bob Dylan, and so on—that might be living around the corner or walking down the street. A lot of smart intellectual talk as well. People talked a lot. And—yes—piles of pot sitting at a party free for the taking.
CAS: Do you believe the metaphysical path is the savior of humanity?
MAH: The metaphysical path is the savior of humanity? Hmmm. The way I would put it is that the inner truth, inner guidance, inner guru, inner wisdom, inner Christ, inner map and light of each individual, the inner authority if wisely discovered, is. Yes. That’s how I put it. I.e., there are answers and we have them. We can look to ourselves to find them. They are there. Then, as my answers show, there’s the job of making some sort of pact between inner and outer. And then also, of working inside this big collective tent that we are.
CAS: Thank you Margaret Ann Harrell. It is so difficult to introduce such an eclectic work as KTQ! IV. Now more than ever do we as a race – the human race – need this information. Is there anything you wish to add?
MAH: That you doing this interview—and that you in particular deciding on these questions—is a kind of synchronicity. And that this wonderful Gonzo community would be interested in hearing the answers is also a real boon and grace and surprise to me. Because I was trying to follow my questions and follow my hunches in life and each led to another. And that’s my message: that each person has something to give himself or herself and it will be helpful in more ways than can be known in advance. We each have an authentic life to live. Hunter, in introducing Gonzo, was helping, I believe, the authentic come into view. Authentic and original he was, for sure. Creative and fun to his core. I miss him. We all do. I’m sure his spirit is somewhere doing something authentic and smashingly true. And unbelievably his own. And fun and the “art of life” with a large audience. And Just Big. He was Big. Big in Life. His footprint remains. It’s out there all over, in pop culture, everywhere. Invisible. Visible. He’s just a part of our life now. And he’s still at it somewhere, I hope. And feel sure. Somehow, he’s Out There.