8/31 – Brian Van der Horst

August-November 2017 / Letters to Russ

Re-imagining Russ
Ten years ago, Russ hunted me down on the internet.  Maybe it was because I had been European Coordinator for Ken Wilber’s  Integral Institute, maybe he just ran across one of my old articles about my “Law of Requisite Contrariety.”  What a charmer! He convinced me to re-write it for the ILR,  author many other gratis pieces,  and later asked me to run a bureau for the review in France.  I was always a minor contributor– yet  I have around 1000 e-mails from him listed on my gmail account since 2007.
This is certainly  quantitative testimony to Russ’ world-class ability to create and maintain relationships that were warm, productive, and inspiring.  Although I only met him once in person– when he was living in Carmel, below San Francisco– he has always felt like one the best friends I’ve ever had.
How he managed all this between his own writings, private practice, academic positions, and book publishing will remain a mystery on its way to becoming myth.  So I’d like to contribute qualitatively to his mythology for a moment by re-imagining Russ.
He could have been an extra-terrestrial. I just finished re-reading Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End.” If you remember the incredibly compassionate, hyper-intelligent ET midwives that came to Earth to facilitate human evolution, you can imagine Russ’ ability to empower others. You might also remember that the ET’s in the story had horns, hoofed feet, wings and a tail.
He could have been a devil, or at least a dervish. A quick laugh, and a scintillating gleam in his eyes for delicious, but oh-so-wise, BS-detecting  gossip about the leaders in the “integral” world.
He could have been a polymath renaissance man with hidden artistic talents. Oh hell, I’m sure he was.
He could have been a spy. Sure, he taught at the US Army Intelligence School, but the variety of kind sociopathology often found in spooks produces meta-position insights about society that can only arrive from being on the outside of social conventions.
He could have been a saint. A Fulbright Fellow in India, we know he brought home many flavors of Eastern spiritual awareness. And he was such a good man. Certainly good enough to beg a few metaphysical explanations for our hagiography of him.
Yeah, Russ was loved.  He touched so many of us with his generosity of spirit, enthusiasm in our development, and willingness to support and help.  He had our backs, and had a good time doing it.
What a wonderful life. You deserved it, Russ.
Brian Van der Horst

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