The Hippie Papers

The Hippie Papers
Ecstatic Living
by Thad and Rita Ashby

This is a condensed version of “First in a Series: Your Ecstatic Home.” This is art. Division of Interior Decoration.

In the daytime, we want a tree?top house that admits all possible light so the walls and the floor move slowly in motion, in harmony with what we know of the structure of atomic physics. Everything is flowing, breathing; Heraclites is our philosopher for reality. The house should always be changing, the light should always be dazzling.

Then for our nighttime hours, we want another kind of room in the house, one that is the very opposite of the tree?tops, in the greenhouse. We want a WOMB. Tim Leary has some womb rooms at Millbrook; there is an Indian cloth on the ceiling and the walls, Indian rugs on the floor, and an altar and pillows spread around. The purpose of the womb room is exactly opposite from the purpose of the tree?top room; one opens out into the air and light, and the other is a return to the womb of the universe.

Everything in it should be soft If you drape cloths along the wall and on the ceiling, and turn on an electric fan or an air conditioning blower the walls tend to undulate with the air. If you have a stroboscopic light or any little revolving light, you can create the effect of the walls flowing, of their consisting of liquid.

Everyone should invest in a little electric motor of this kind that revolves things from the ceiling. Then you can take a large tin can and puncture it with holes and cause it to revolve around a light bulb and it shines little bits of starlight all over the room.

In addition to the little electric motor for throwing lights and shadows around the room we might also have a little revolving stage of the kind you see in jewelry store windows. I’m suggesting something anyone can build. It would consist of a little revolving stage, covered with bits of mirror. You usually see them with wrist watches on them in a jewelry store window. Cover this with any visionary object. For a list of visionary objects, you can read Huxley’s The Doors of Perception or Heaven and Hell.

We can create jewels without a very heavy investment. It can be costume jewelry, or it can be little bits of plastic. Put them on this revolving stage, and then surround the little stage with a black cloth that would drape down in a circle around the stage so that you can’t see it. Cut holes in the cloth at about eye level for a chair, and insert a teleidoscope in the hole. Sit in a circle around this thing. You can’t see what’s in there. You can’t see the jewels and bits of junk, except through the teleidoscope.

Live in this kind of room at night and then in the daytime live in a kind of greenhouse with lots of plants surrounding you and lots of just natural funky, earthy smells, and lots of light coming in flickering and dazzling everything. It will change your life!

We want to emphasize everything that’s organic in this room. We want to have lots of animals and lots of anything that lives. You can meditate more easily on a flower or a gold fish, I think, than you can a statue of the Buddha.

If we think of reality as hard, as the generation of our parents think of reality, then we’ll build hard wall houses. When we think of reality as flowing, as dynamic, as growing, then we begin to build houses that are more like flowers, more like buds. Imagine, for example, the absolute ecstasy of living inside a big orange flower about a block wide. We’d ride around on large, trained butterflies.

The image of the world, that organic unity, is something we can achieve in our house or in a simple little room. These things that I’m talking about don’t cost anything. To put them into practice, all you need in mind to start with is a visionary experience. We can reproduce it with twenty?five cents worth of metal foil and a dollar’s worth of colored ribbons and maybe five dollars worth of lights and light cords. We’d begin with a pile of junk and we’d end with a reproduction of the universe.

If each of us would change his own house, it would gradually change the entire moral tone of bur country. We would begin to think of the earth as a visionary garden. We would become caretakers of the trees and ‘the animals, and the flowers. We would think of ourselves as creatures in a garden who are all being grown for some great, great cosmic enjoyment.

If everyone built such a home, with a treehouse room for daylight, and a womb?like room for the night, it would effect the same kind of transformation in our society as it does in the Buddhist countries where they tend to make their decisions slowly and refer everything to, say, the Hour of the Tea Ceremony, or the Hour of Meditation. You ask them a direct question and ask them for an immediate decision; they give you an indirect answer and postpone the decision until they’ve gone into their little private temple and thought about it from every angle. When they come up with an answer it’s usually something very subtle, and something that transcends the conflict of opposites.

The Oracle of Southern California (Los Angeles)
October, 1967

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2022: I publish a weeklyish email newsletter called LANDLINE = https://jaybabcock.substack.com Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca., where I practiced with Buddhist teacher Ruth Denison and was involved in various pro-ecology and social justice activist activities.

0 thoughts on “The Hippie Papers

  1. I met Thad and Rita in L.A. when I was 15-16 years old, and part of a group of much older psychedelic folks there. I remember one evening when Thad was going to give a talk about LSD. He took it (of course) before the talk, and then became too high to give the talk. I didn’t know him well. My close friends and surrogate parents, Bill and Hope Graham, did know him better. Regardless, it was an exciting time for anyone, let alone a teenager. My memories of Thad and Rita, though brief, are fond.

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