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Life and love is the topic in this excerpt from the latest issue of Alan W. Mann's NowLetter -- Issue 137 - January 2009. Read the entire issue and past issues at www.capacitie.org
This issue is designed as a farewell tribute to George Schloss, a dear friend and strong proponent of and commentator on the work of Douglas Harding. His recent writing is collected in two volumes entitled The Language of Silence, a self-publishing project in which George and I collaborated over the past two years. The books are available as paperbacks from the usual places online and as an Ebook download from Lulu.
Volume 1 http://www.lulu.com/content/935135
Volume 2 http://www.lulu.com/content/935143
His essays and the two books are also available online on a Googlepages site at
I asked George's wife Antoinette if she could enlarge on George's biographical note by way of some more 'personal' information, which she kindly provided in a series of emails.
First off, George was born in New York City on November 7, 1922 the younger of two sons. He was a lifelong mystery to his father in particular. His father was one of the lower East Side NYC Jews who brought himself up quite successfully by his bootstraps, with the help of George's (incredibly beautiful) mother, Irene Lipman. By the time George was born the bootstraps were up and they lived in one of the several high rises his father had built on Central Park West supporting a house staff of five and a chauffeur. George always hated the hierarchy and identified with the servants . . . or fell in love with them. As that little boy, George's name appeared in the newspaper his father was reading one day. It was one in a list of donors to a charity organized to meet the needs of those devastated by the Great Depression. Maybe he was as old as 11, but I think younger. His father looked over his paper at George and asked, "Son, is this you?" When George told him yes, his father could only look at him as if to study him briefly and then he went back to reading his paper.
George's father, Leo Schloss, a simple, hard working, very successful businessman, apparently never had the intellectual or emotional developmental wherewithal to understand or to identify at all with George or to find his way over to his son and his experience. George's 7 or 8-year-older brother was the one who would follow in his father's footsteps and who would inherit the business and much more of the wealth than George would. But George was a creative type for whom (as I found out through my own experiences and studies) psychoanalysis has a quasi-diagnostic category of "creative type". (Cf. Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death)
Perhaps you have already heard the myriad of stories of George's travels after his parents divorced when he was 16. George left home traumatized whether he knew it or not at the time by the messiness and painfulness of his parents' break-up and divorce. He would stay close to his mother all his life, for better AND worse, as he often revealed through his stories.
At this very unstable time in his family's life the 16 year-old George graduated from Columbia Grammar School on the Upper West Side and was off to the University of Chicago to study. Soon bored by his undergraduate courses-he quit to go to Hollywood where he thought he might like to act in or direct movies. (George had an incredibly rich and beautiful speaking and singing voice and he never forgot a lyric, a melody or a line of poetry.) On the movie lots of Hollywood he worked as a messenger boy, but he had one too many exchanges in passing with personalities like Humphrey Bogart that he decided he just did not get along with actors; and off he went again.
Traipsing all over the USA he read voraciously every work of "Shakespeare" (actually written by the Earl of Oxford, George was prepared to prove). This he did before (as he imagined he very well might do soon) die in the war (as it was just before his turn to be drafted into WWII). Reading his way back he was headed home to NYC to enlist before the government could draft him, (sort of like quitting before they could fire him?)
So then to England, to Paris and finally home again to NYC. Next was marriage to Jeanne, the girl who'd waited for him. The newly wed George, became an editor at Colliers Magazine and was doing very well when his father for whatever reason came to visit them in their cold water flat in the Village and offered to match George's salary at Colliers. George said if his dad was willing to pay him the equivalent of his salary he would quit his position to write and paint; and so he did. He studied under fine painters and did very well. He wrote poetry and the first of his plays; but with his leisure came restlessness and bouts with meaning and he went off to search for God, in India and its surrounds, sleeping in the streets and washing in the rivers, meeting with gurus; and finally the last one told him to go home again; so he did. He took the longest because then least expensive way back to the States to what he must have known was to be his own divorce.
Deep depression set in after his divorce from Jeanne as he was living alone, studying and continuing to do very well at "doing" art in the Village of NYC while longing to see his children. His story goes on through another marriage, life in the West (USA) divorce, a masters at St. John University, an emotional crash, a revival, another marriage, initially blissful with two more children, Thea and Luc. Then he went through intense pain, divorce, financial loss and profound bitterness until his discovery of Douglas Harding's work. Nonetheless still bitter, he found his way into and out of one last disillusioning and disappointing tie with a woman.
We met in 1997 at a July 4th party at the end of my own decade-long search for meaning through studies that earned me three academic degrees, one after another, at Princeton Theological Seminary and concurrently in New York through my clinical training that earned me three clinical certificates. Since George and I met our friends who were at the party have continued to like telling the story of how I sat down in the only empty seat at the party, the seat next to George's, he introduced himself to me and gradually, pulling his chair closer and closer to mine, launched into one of his characteristic interrogations serving his desire to know all he could about anyone he met. Between his questions about me and my answers he mentioned that he was familiar with one of the religious personalities that I had studied with passionate interest. I was elated! The personality he knew from his own studies and had been my very favorite subject to explore. A 17th century French Quietist mystic, Madame Jeanne Marie Guyon fascinated me then and now and I was so excited to know someone else who knew of her and her work and who found her interesting, too! What was more, he knew of the psychoanalytic theorist, Julia Kristeva, whose work provided my psychoanalytic methodology.
I thoroughly enjoyed these connections in our conversation, but I thought little of it at first. Then he called me to invite me to dinner and afterward on a fine summer's eve while we shared an ice cream cone for dessert, sitting on a bench on the town square, I realized how appealing his brash charm was to me. After our "date," I asked around about him among our mutual friends, and when I answered their "Why?" as to my reason for wanting to know, one lovely man exclaimed, "How fortuitous!" (George and I would later love to joke that we would inscribe these words on our shared gravestone.)
I invited him to a play in New York. We then circled each other briefly, dared to marry, floundered around successfully through all of George's surgeries and others of his (and my) life events. Together our relationship transformed itself into the best of friendships. (Don't get me wrong. I loved him like crazy, 'til he loved me like sane. I can't imagine being married to any one else in my lifetime.) Without our knowing enough to be trying, we were to discover together what it meant to know ourSelves as One. We knew in the exact same moment though he said it first as one afternoon we lay together facing his approaching death.
It's true, I confess, that I used to joke with our friends when we first married that we might not be a couple, per se, but that we definitely were a pair. It's just that we surpassed ourselves, through no fault of our own, so that I am eternally grateful to have had that madman in my life. He was brilliant and funny and sexy to the end. I abhorred any uncomfortable moment he had as he lay dying and I celebrate the ultimate peacefulness of his death. He died in his sleep in the hospital bed that I'd put right next to our bed and it was there I lay, waking at what must have been the moment he died. He was warm when I kissed his forehead, but he was still. I adored him and he learned to trust it . . . and me; and I learned to trust myself through loving him. We did it! We loved; and for us, that was a most important feat.
Dear Alan and Margot, Thank you so unspeakably much for making George's life's work to "bloom like a rose" for him before his marveling, ever so very, very grateful eyes. You recognized him and valued him for who he was and it was the perfect gift for a man whose father never was able to comprehend the miracle "little George" was.
~ ~ ~
From Alan W. Mann's NowLetter -- Issue 137 - January 2009 -- Read the entire issue and past issues at www.capacitie.org
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