Extracts from interview by Tony Thomas
Los Angeles, California, May 27, 1970.
Listen to the complete interview on YouTube
Question: Life does seem to become more involved and complex. You know we´re becoming computerized and dehumanized in that process. That bugs me and I want to hear what bugs you and your generation?
Jim: There does seem to be a trend toward a turn to a kind of primitive outlook on life. A more tribal attitude. I think it´s a natural reaction to industrialization but unfortunately I think it´s kind of naive because the future is becoming increasingly mechanized and computerized as you call it and I don´t think there is any turning back. Just figuring out a way to survive, thrive, in that kind of society. If there is any chance of going back… Look at it this way to: The hippie lifestyle is really a middle-class phenomena, and it could not exist in any other society except ours where such an incredible surfed of goods, products and leisure time. I think that´s the reason for it because generations immediate preceding ours had world-wars and depressions to contend with. For the last ten or fifteen years in this country there is time enough, and there is money enough to live a kind of a flagrant outrageous lifestyle which was not possible before.
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Question: You have written a line of poetry which reads: “The spectator is a dying animal.”
Jim: “…To me there is something incredibly sad about a bunch of human beings sitting down watching something take place and just when you think about it… I love movies as much as anyone else but the spectacle of millions and millions of people, sitting in movie theaters and in front of television sets every night, watching a second or third hand reproduction of reality going on. When the real world is right there in there living room or right outside in the street or down the block somewhere. I think it´s a tool to hypnotize people into a kind of a waking sleep. But I think the major influence in the next decade or so is going to be the people. I don´t know what you should call them except maybe “the connectors”, the people who are able to assemble masses, huge masses of people into one spot as we witnessed in pop-festivals in last two or three years. The kind of people that can assemble huge crowds in one spot I think will be the major influences on mass culture in the next decade. I think the rock music enthusiasm have created some of the, probably some of the most exiting music and theatrical events on the planet. I think they´re fantastic.”
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Question: Jim, when talking about life we have the business of the sexual relationship, the relationship between men and women and we all wonder how much it has change. The role of the man and the woman of modern life. We even have a horrible thing called unisex which terrifies me. Do you think there is much of a difference in the style of life affecting the man-woman relationship today?
Jim: Well, you know, when you look at history, it seems to be cyclical. There been many periods in history when women were the major controlling influence in life. Matriarchal societies and all that kind of thing. I think … I think women are becoming increasingly important. I mean I mean it´s a ridiculous thing to try and talk about, really in such simple terms but I think… the influence of women is becoming more and more felt. I am not sure I can expand on that but I think you know what I mean… I think, you know, the unisex trip is really a cop out. What´s happening is life is becoming more and more feminized… I think so.
Question: That the male is now less masculine because he has no need to be very masculine..?
Jim: Yeah, that´s true. And yeah there is no frontier to conquer and hunting and fishing and all that… you know it´s not as a basic survival thing and I think life is becoming increasingly feminized.
Question: Softer for a man, you think that´s good?
Jim: Sure. Well I think women have it all over men.
I really think they have the right idea.
Question: Which is what?
Jim: Less inclination toward intellectualizing things and the need for formalizing and idealizing life and just simply accepting it, living it.
Question: We tend to think of women as being starry-eyed and romantic but if you think about it – most of the romanticizers and idealists are men…
Jim: Very true
Question: Do you think that would change?
Jim: Yeah, I think it´s cyclical though I think, in a highly complex and industrialized system, which we are engaged in, machines take the place of an earnest day-to day tackling of survival and when that disappears then you get increased feminization.
Question: You are a student of the cinema, you´ve studied cinema at the UCLA and one of the things that you´ve written about the cinema is this; It is wrong to assume that some have done that cinema belongs to women. Cinema is created by men for the consolation of men. Would you enlarge upon that?
Jim: Well who makes all the films? Who runs the projection booth? You know it´s a… somehow it´s that masculine desire to dominate life, rather than just accepting it and flowing with it and I think that is responsible for the creation of films and a lot of other things…
Question: Men are dominant as they are, aren´t they? As writers, composers, actors almost everything…?
Jim: Yeah, they´re very few female artists.
Q: Do you think they´re wise to keep out of it?
Jim: Well… yeah I do. Although, you know, it´s a contradiction because I´m totally hung up in the art game. But I think, you know, woman have less need to reestablish a connection with life because they are life.