1971, November 2: Letter from Peter to G&H

This one is in two parts: a three-page handwritten letter, and another two-page handwritten letter that I think was probably in the same envelope. This was written and mailed shortly before Peter’s 32nd birthday.

(I love you,…)

Dear Parents——

Hi——and thank you!

“And finally, of course, thanks are due to my parents, without whose assistance my production would have been impossible.” (Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits, concluding the Introduction to his new book, “Real Magic.” Mr. Bonewits is 22 yrs. old, & just graduated last year with a B.A. in MAGIC from U.C. Berkeley…!? (From the last chapter: “And, if… [this] entire book makes absolutely no sense at all to you, ask this question: Is this what one of the nation’s best universities is putting out? And if so, who is to blame?”))

Anyway, thank you for the phone calls, letters & birthday gift offer… after due consideration, I’ve chosen to gifts I’d appreciate…

#1: it would please me more than ANYTHING if you’d read & reflect on the enclosed book,


(American Culture at the Breaking Point)

By Phillip Slater…

If you like, you could consider (t)his book to be a long personal letter from me to you… It takes a little while to read, but his conversational style makes the reading not too tedious. Marcy just read this copy, and underlined many segments… I think she underlined those parts most cogent & revelatory to her, so it will be interesting for you to see if you “enjoy” the same passages, or others…

I was unfamiliar with this man’s work, until it was mentioned in my math class on “Automata”… I read 20 pg’s of the teacher’s copy in the math library, then ran out & bought a copy….Today I bought a new copy to send to Paul & Linda…

Well, #2 gift is, as you’d anticipated, money: but with a twist to make it interesting… I am sending you two five dollar money orders and, in violation of the instructions, mailing you xxx one copy** of the letter that explains the scheme… please mail the two money orders, and then type up as many letters as you want to sell (each for $10), with the top name removed & yours added to the bottom. In this way, a.) I discharge my obligation to continue the cycle, and b.) you’d send me $20, & I paid x $10 out for the letter, so we’d get $10 surplus as a birthday gift, and c.) you’d stand to realize, if the chain remained unbroken, each person selling 2, the sum of


for each letter you sold…

**I’m sending one copy so as not to have to go out & copy it——(we don’t have a typewriter——thinking of buying us one for my b-day), but we would like to sell each of you a letter, 2 x $10 = $20.

The back of p. 1 of the above is a photocopied page from The Villager, the local newsletter/newspaper that Marcy was editing; it’s titled “Vietnamese Children’s Song,” but it’s a poem in English about the real enemy being cruelty and hatred and such, reprinted from Good Times, overlaid with a line drawing of a bald child facing away from the viewer and toward a barbed-wire fence. I strongly suspect that it’s not a real Vietnamese children’s song, but I don’t know for sure. I’ve decided not to reproduce it here, but if you want to see the text, you can find copies of it online by searching for the phrase ["Kill people, who shall we live with then"] (with quotation marks).

Below is part two.



Dear Parents——

I just gave up, for the nonce, the number theory game… I have five very hard problems to do before Thursday noon, and after working & rassling with them for several hrs. tonite, i now consign them to the fertile garden of the unconscious, to be mulled over…

Rhine/Zener-card symbols (small)
Rhine/Zener-card symbols (small)

Wanted to tell you about my term project in biomathematics——approved by prof today——it’s to measure ESP in city vs. country, using modified Rhine-type ESP cards: a) cards with emotional value, as opposed to neutral Rhine cards:

Rhine/Zener-card symbols (larger)
Rhine/Zener-card symbols (larger)

instead of these neutral symbols, we’ll use pictures with associated affect, perhaps tarot cards, and i think we’ll use a lot of blue & white & green colors, hopefully to maximize the results.

Written in margin:

“There is no darkness, only blindness.”

“There are no problems, only opportunities.”

D.J. Hamrick

I think that R.D. Laing’s psychiatric viewpoints will relate with this experiment, as will x a treatise i’ve found on topological psychology, and the effects of Johrei on the frequency/ies of brain-waves…

Jeffrey went to an international meeting of parapsychologists in Palo Alto, and saw movies of people in USSR “floating” object across the room with their mind-power…….!

There were also reports by soviet scientists about the photographing of the human aura!!

I made an appointment with my “Automata” professor (full professor, with tenure) John Rhodes, pioneer in the field of algebraic theory of finite-state machines (he’s 34 yrs. old, spent 12 yrs. at m.i.t.!), and went to his home and channelled joh-rei energy to his wife & him, & their 3-week-old baby; it was super-nice, the energy-exchange that took place…

very, sincerely, yours,


In margin: Looking forward to Nov. 28, Dad! (= Jed’s 3⅔ birthday, and Joaquin's 1¾ birthday: 28=1+2+4+7+14, yay! a perfect #!)


Isaac Bonewits
Bonewits went on to become a fairly big name in neopaganism.
Pursuit of Loneliness
A 1970 Harvard Crimson article/review gives a fairly detailed (though not entirely coherent) summary of the book.
Selling a letter for $10
IIrc, this pyramid-scheme scam claims to be legal/legit on the grounds that you’re not just sending money to people, you’re buying something (the letter). But that isn’t really true; iIrc, this kind of pyramid scheme is just as illegal as other kinds.
I’m a little unclear on the money-order aspect of this particular instance of the scheme; I’m not sure why Peter was sending money orders to G&H, nor who they were supposed to send the money orders to.
History does not record whether my grandparents perpetuated the letter-selling scheme or not. But needless to say, nobody in my family made TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS from it.
perfect number
A perfect number is a number that’s equal to the sum of its divisors. As Peter noted, 28 is a perfect number. I don’t know why he addressed that note specifically to George, who I don’t think had any special interest in math.
D.J. Hamrick
Don Hamrick, founder of the Frontiers of Science Fellowship and the Harbinger commune; see late-1968 letters for more.
“Rhine cards”
See Zener cards.
I don’t think Peter ever mentions this planned psi experiment again.
Our longtime family friend Jeffrey Mishlove; was present at my birth, I think. In 1980, he received a Ph.D. in parapsychology from Berkeley. The location of the conference, in Palo Alto, is significant for two reasons: (1) That’s where parapsychologist Russell Targ was (although Targ may not have yet been a parapsychologist at the time, I’m not sure); and (2) My family moved there years later.
John Rhodes
See also Wikipedia.

4 Responses to “1971, November 2: Letter from Peter to G&H”

  1. 1971, November 10: Letter from Marcy to G&H – Peter, Marcy, Jed, and Jay

    […] Pursuit of Loneliness; see previous letter from Peter. […]


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