Author Novella Preface Auxiliary Membership Should You Read This Essay?

Chapter Fifteen: New Interpersonal Relationship Patterns

      The Outlook oversight committee decided that it would first focus on three of the primary elements of the second stage of development for the cooperative commonwealth community (CCC) enterprise:

  1. Commonwealth stewardship in food production and consumption (discussed in chapter 14)

  2. Interpersonal relationship patterns and accompanying attitudes and behaviors (discussed in this chapter)

  3. Educational concepts, structures, and practices (discussed in chapter 16)

      One of the main emphases in this second stage would be for the CCC sites to free themselves from the lethal effects of capitalism:
  • Contaminated and debased food
  • Pseudo-education leading to general ignorance and presumptuous idiocy
  • Ecological destruction
  • Lethal economic system
  • Fascist political system
  • Mental, physical, and spiritual degradation: egomania, brainwashing, propaganda
      The Outlook community would become as independent as possible, trading with the capitalist society as little as possible. This would allow experimental testing of the hypothesis that the cooperative, commonwealth political-economic-social structure works effectively to provide a more creative, fulfilling way of life for all members.

      The CCC screening and training procedures had been improved over several years, proving increasingly successful in identifying and selecting emotionally mature and stable persons who were intellectually rational and self-aware. An exceptionally small number of relationship problems--such as Julia and Patrick's separation because of Julia's extreme jealousy--had arisen, and the CCC enterprise had devised new procedures for resolving the few which had occurred.

      From the inception of the communities, all members had realized how capitalism keeps persons apart--allowing for no real concern or respect for others--making genuine interchange almost impossible. Remarkable changes in attitude and awareness had taken place from the beginning of the CCC enterprise--largely related to the practice of dialectical interchange in investigating issues, gaining understanding, and making decisions. The honesty and openness constitutive of dialectical interchange had resulted in persons achieving greater interpersonal closeness and openness to other members than they had ever experienced before.

      CCC members felt an intimacy with other members much as if they were family. As they proceeded, they realized they were family--members of a new kind of enlightened family. Members became aware that they were all involved in and committed to a life-or-death experi-mental operation to discover ways for humans to live together in a manner beneficial to all involved, a serious endeavor requiring the best from everyone: their best thoughts, best effort, best consideration and concern for others. They were discovering transcendent forms of interpersonal relationship structures, attitudes, and procedures that are a part of the spiritual superstructure of being, forms which can be used by all humans to produce the most fulfilling, challenging way of life.

      Though they had begun to relate much more intimately and personally with one another, the entire membership had decided that they would retain their exclusivity in non-marital relationships and monogamy in marriage until experimental change could be appropriately introduced in the second stage of the enterprise's development.

      As they moved into the realm of interpersonal relations, the members of the Outlook oversight committee reminded themselves that they were investigating concepts and patterns for the purpose of determining which of these produced the most benefit to all members of the communities. They were not, that is, merely seeking to find elements that brought pleasure for the sake of pleasure, but forms that would produce the best kinds of persons in the best type of society. Many of the facets of interpersonal relations attitudes and structures were mired in dogmas and prejudices, necessitating audacious experiments to determine what was best in the context of a non-capitalist, cooperative community.

      The Outlook oversight committee decided that relationship patterns other than monogamy (in marital relationships) and exclusivity (in non-marital relationships) would be initiated as these occurred in a natural, spontaneous manner. Because community members were emotionally mature, as increased closeness between community members developed, their enhanced intimacy did not devolve into frenetic sexual behavior or emotional over-dependence or obsession with others.

      Within the first weeks of the beginning of the Outlook community, Emily, Diotima, and Elbridge had created a relationship of unique intellectual and emotional intimacy. When Francis Sinclair joined the Outlook community in its second year, he and Emily had actualized a special, intimate relationship as well. The four had also developed very deep heterosexual erotic feelings. As their relationship proceeded, Diotima realized she had deep sexual feelings for Francis and that he clearly reciprocated those feelings. Emily also acknowledged her erotic desire for Elbridge, feelings which Elbridge expressed in return.

      The four decided to explore all their thoughts and feelings related to this new interpersonal situation and make their dialectical interchanges--including deliberations, feelings, and actions--available to any other members interested in sharing this information.

Dialectical Interchange Excerpt

(It's suggested that you consider these ideas before proceeding.)
Elbridge: "One of the major questions I'm interested in is whether it's possible to have as profound and intense a relationship with you, Emily and Francis, as Diotima and I have. Diotima and I often marvel at how our ongoing dialectical interchange results in our growing closer and achieving a mental and spiritual union which seems to have no bounds. Thus far, my relationship with you, Emily, seems to be developing the same kind of boundless magnitude as in my relationship with Diotima. And when the three of us--and now the four of us--have engaged in dialectical interchange, we're experiencing the same kind of breadth and intensity of extra-awareness as with Diotima and myself originally."

Diotima: "Elbridge, how do you feel about my sensuous desire for Francis?"

Elbridge: "How do you suppose an old, discarded lover would feel? When your special someone gives in to her undisciplined lechery just to fornicate with a young lover, it's devastating!" (He smiles broadly.)

Diotima: "So you feel okay about my sexual relations with Francis?"

Elbridge: "I wasn't sure how I'd feel, and I'm rather surprised at how I've responded. I find myself experiencing delight that someone else is sharing and enjoying your very special essence. And as I've grown closer to Francis, I'm glad to see that he has the exceptional understanding and sensibility which makes it possible for him to genuinely appreciate and cherish your superior qualities."

Diotima: "It's been most interesting to find that adding the sexual dimension to a relationship that already exists at an exceptionally high intellectual and spiritual level enables connection to previously unexperienced emotional and psychic regions. I'm discovering an unlimited form of love similar to love of mother for husband and children. My experience bears out that love of new 'family' members doesn't diminish love for earlier members. Love expands instead of diminishing."

Emily: "As you and Francis became lovers, Diotima, I was rather surprised that I didn't feel jealous--since earlier in my life I had to work very hard to overcome feelings of possessiveness. I came to realize that jealousy is a part of capitalist conditioning: the feeling that you can own another person and force him not to share his love with another woman. I'm curious, Elbridge, why we haven't experienced sexual intimacy thus far, since I'm sure you've understood my sensual feelings for you?"

Elbridge: "It hasn't been that long since I had to work exceptionally hard to overcome my negative emotions of jealousy and obsession. At the ripe old age of nineteen I fell madly into infatuation with a beauty queen (literally) narcissist who put me through the emotional ringer. It was a very challenging learning experience and overcoming my obsession and jealousy required a great deal of time and effort. Fortunately, you see before you today a model of total emotional and intellectual maturity." (He grins comically.)

"I've found it delightful that in our relationship, Emily, there hasn't been, on either of our parts, a compulsion to make love--as though sex were more important than any other dimension of our feelings for each other. I've felt we both wanted our relationship to develop to a point where we could achieve that depth of at-one-ment and non-self-conscious intimacy that makes sexual sharing an experience of genuine union. And I now feel we've reached that point."

Francis: "It's been exceptionally rewarding to develop a genuine closeness with you, Emily, Diotima, and Elbridge, and experience a depth of intimacy through dialectical interchange that I've never experienced before in my life. It's fascinating to listen to our verbal interchanges and perceive the absence of so many facets that occur in ordinary conversation: dissimulation, pretence, equivocation, hiding behind words, unnecessary reticence, and so on.

"Like you, Elbridge, I had a very challenging first marriage--and divorce. I was stupid enough to become the victim of a beautiful, human succubus who was also a Mafia princess--which I wasn't aware of until she sent her gangster brothers to threaten me when she became jealous of my female students. I was so hung up on Miss Gangsta that I felt I couldn't live without her--that's how emotionally dependent I was. The psychological work I had to do to overcome that kind of emotional neurosis was almost overwhelming--but I finally broke through and achieved some degree of emotional stability I feel. But I think we all have continuing work we must do to remain mentally sane and emotionally balanced."

Diotima: "It's clear from our experiences in sexual intimacy that this is a form of a larger, more inclusive type of love. Love, among other things, involves heartfelt eagerness to enhance a beloved person's intellectual, spiritual, and sexual fulfillment. In sexual relations grounded in love this means being constantly available to enhance your lover's physical enjoyment, feeling it to be a privilege to give the other person sexual pleasure whenever he desires."

Elbridge: "More inclusive love also involves continual effort to express one's affection by improving oneself in all regards: intellectually, sexually, morally, and spiritually. In erotic relations this involves continually requesting feedback from one's sexual partner to improve one's procedure in enhancing their physical pleasure."

Emily: "Comprehensive love includes total honesty, sharing every part of one's life with the beloved, including joys, disappointments, physical health or illness, and other vital aspects. We've learned that dialectical interchange requires continual exploration of every facet of one's feelings, thoughts, and behavior. At times, it's very challenging to explore areas that involve differences of opinion and feeling. If one's mental and emotional comfort is more important than honesty and improvement, that's the death knell of a relationship. Mature lovers must explore everything of genuine importance until an authentic resolution is achieved and unity realized."

      As experiments in new interpersonal relations attitudes and behaviors proceeded, community members discovered that heterosexual patterns provided the most effective means of realizing limitless interpersonal intimacy and union. Homosexual relations, it was found, involve the inappropriate avoidance of working to attain union between male and female polarity. No proscription of homosexuality was necessary because it was found, when experimented with, to be an inferior relationship pattern.

      Community members decided they didn't want a structured community ceremony or ritual for formalizing relations between a couple--that is, no society-sanctioned form of marriage. They decided that the major part of the "work" of a pregnant woman would be her care for herself and her fetus, recognizing that she was the community's responsibility, since she is performing a crucial "job" of bringing a new life into the community.

      Through an ongoing mastery of dialectical interchange, interpersonal relations within the communities evolved, improved, naturally changed, based on data from experiments and interchange experiences in general.