Elise Boulding

bouldinge-2  ELLSA BOULDING

INT: Do you find it difficult to read a novel, complete a novel, do the dishes and get the laundry back? How have you managed in raising five children to become so prolific in your work?

EB: Well, the kind of thing that I do now I was not doing when my children were small. I come from a generation that took for granted that I, that we, would be full‑time homemakers when our children came. And, so I had no pull to that, to my career or anything like that because I actually had gone back to take a masters degree because I was waiting to get pregnant. But, once the baby started coming, although I did continue to finish that round of studies, it was quite clear that I should get help. So the question really is not how did I do that and be so prolific but rather how did I, what kind of a rhythm did I establish in those years. And it was very important for me; I felt very fulfilled by having children, very important to me to be tuned in to their development and the kinds of questions that arose very early for myself and the other circle of young mothers that I was, we were a very close circle in the Ann Arbor Friends meeting because our children grew up in Michigan. And we talked a lot about how our children could grow up to be peacemakers, how they could grow up to be non‑conformists, how they could grow up to withstand the pressures of the society we are in. By the time our children were in school) the Korean war was on and the selling of war bonds to support the war so there was continual refrain of how can we do this so that the next generation doesn’t replicate what we are going through now. So that made everything I did with the children seem very important, and because I have a high energy level I had the energy to work with, again, other mothers on developing a First Day school, Sunday school in the Friends meeting that would do the teaching, the other kinds of teaching that are different from the family kind of teaching of our children. I was active in the community and things like urban renewal was the big thing then; I was very conscious of my responsibility to low‑income averages in the community. Then time went by, my husband became very involved in founding something called the Center for Conflict Resolution. Since my concern for peace began developing at a very early stage in my life so I went as a volunteer down to the Center and used to make coffee for the seminars, take notes about seminar presentations and mailed them around to people, help answer mail at the Center, and start up the International Future Search Newsletter. I’d always say out of Kenneth Boulding’s wastebasket at the Center because he didn’t have time to answer all the letters that came to him from around the world and so I did a kind of a cut and paste job on putting together letters people wrote and sending the cut and paste job back to them. The International Peace Research Foundation was founded a couple of years later. So it was natural for me, everything I did was a natural extension of my, what I considered my central home‑making and job there. It happened very gradually that I moved to other research. Don’t know how far you want me to carry that.

INT: Then you continued on for your Ph.D. while your children were…

EB: No I stopped, I finished my masters degree, actually I worked on a masters dissertation, after our first child was born, and then because I enjoyed studies and we moved from Iowa, we were in Iowa at that time, when we moved to Michigan, because I enjoyed studying, I did enroll in Michigan and continued to take a course at a time. And then when I thought I might take the Ph.D., but when our third child was born, they came every two years, and I was taking a course at the time that Kristi was born, that was our daughter, the other four are boys, then I realized that it was just getting too complicated. So I finished that course and did not enroll for another course, and when our first child was born, I named him Philip Daniel and told everybody he was my Ph.D. that that would be it, I would go on forever and make do with the masters degree I already had for whatever I would do later because I certainly had a sense that I knew the children would, when they were older, that I would have time and I had energy and I was very concerned about the world so it was always clear to me that I would do something, but I didn’t have any particular thing. As an undergraduate, I had, my world was music and English and languages ‑ French and German. I never took a course in Social Science. So that the, I got into Sociology because of the, when Kenneth was teaching Fisk University, which is a black college in Nashville, Tennessee, I discovered the whole world of Sociology which is a very stimulating environment. I say I discovered Sociology, it was very exciting so when we moved to Iowa and I was still waiting to get pregnant I thought I would take courses in Sociology. So each thing was a very gradual progression from where I was to what concerns presented themselves. Then the decision not to take a Ph.D. was a very considered decision; I felt that kinds of things I wanted to do I would probably be able to do with a masters degree. What changed that was the year we were in Japan. By then our youngest child, Kenneth, was in the third grade and I was offered, and I was doing research. I had finished research on Women’s Strike for Peace which I had been very involved in starting. ’61, ’62, I think it was ’61 that Women’s Strike for Peace started and I was part of the network and I started the lead letter for Women’s Strike for Peace and I used the opportunity of editing a newsletter to send out a ~questionnaire and do a study on the kind of women that are involved in Women’s Strike for Peace. So that was my first publication. “Who Are These Women?” that’s the name of it. And then when we went to Japan, I thought, well this is a wonderful opportunity to do the same kind of study in Japan and we all knew that Japanese women were demonstrating in the streets for peace and so it just seemed like a wonderful opportunity. I got to Japan and did in fact do a study. Japan turned out to be very, very different from what the newspapers were telling us but nevertheless I did a very interesting study. I couldn’t get funded. And the reason I couldn’t get funded, I hadn’t needed funds for my study in the U.S.; I had managed to do that out of the family pocket, but the Japanese study I had to have an interpreter travel with me right all the way. And I found I couldn’t get funding because I didn’t have a Ph.D. I could go to work for someone else, but I couldn’t get my own funds. And then I was offered a position, I wrote to Michigan because I wanted to do something in the fall, and asked if there was any teaching to be had or any jobs in the international and I was offered a position teaching “Marriage and the Family” which had been the field I took my masters in. For the fall and I was delighted, it was what I wanted to do. And at the last minute, I got a letter, before I returned, saying sorry, we got a real Ph.D. so we don’t need you. Again, here twice, I had discovered that without a Ph.D. I couldn’t get research funds and I couldn’t get teaching in college. So I unmade, which is hard to do, the decision which I had made earlier not to take a Ph.D. and I turned my head around and by the time we came back to the states I started the process of re‑enrolling and by January of that year, I was back in school and had two very intense years, simply plunged in to what it takes to get a Ph.D.

INT: Where did your support come from during those years?

EB: The Dartmouth, the Danforth Foundation was just starting a new program in fellowship for women returning to school after they married and had children. And I was in the very first batch to get those scholarship. HOW I learned about it I don’t remember but we were a very interesting group of women. We were all more or less in the same situation. I had financial support for my studies which was important for me. My husband could have afforded to support my studies but I didn’t want that. I wanted to be, I didn’t want that to be chargeable to the family budget. And the children took over a lot of the housework and Kenneth was very supportive. mere were no issues; it was not a matter of a struggle to break free from family.

INT: Were there sacrifices or were the children old enough to do some of, the older children . .

EB: I don’t think anybody thought of it as sacrifices. The youngest would have been in fourth grade so it would have been fourth, sixth, eighth, ten, twelve, so our oldest must have been a senior in high school and they all took different kinds of responsibilities. I was, at the same time, I was, I had been so involved in the Sunday School in the Ann Arbor meeting and we had a very active, our children were the nucleus, we had a very active, kids of their own age group. I spent a lot of time with those young people over the years and I continued to; I didn’t break those ties. So I continued active in the meeting and as a friend to the young people and I had also been an advisor to the college students in the Friends meeting and as a faculty wife of course I had always had a lot of students, and had been a particular supporter of the student peace groups, Americans Co~committee to World Responsibility started in Michigan. I was very close to that and in fact that volunteer effort of the newsletter shared an office with them. So I had, you might say I had a lot of different support groups, both student and, I’d say that the teenagers, I was their support group and in a sense they were mine as well. College students, they’re all alike, and the mothers, the same mothers group, I say mothers group, we were of course a parent’s group, we met a lot of couples. But in terms of the traditional, that we as women spent a lot of time together with our children and our husbands were off doing their professional things. So it was both parents and mothers. That was a very strong support group and I was the first of that group to go back to school. But eventually they all did. For one thing or another, not as a group but they all went into some kind of important full‑time activity eventually and several of them actually took their degree.

INT: Would you say that was your mid‑thirties, late thirties.

EB: Well, let’s see, I went back to school in 1965 and at that time I was 35. So, our generation went back later and then later they went back earlier. I was very determined that I should have my Ph.D. before I was 50 and in fact, started teaching when I was 47 when we moved to Colorado and I began teaching at the University of Colorado. I didn’t actually get my degree until 49 but began teaching in 47. I really began professional life when I was 47.

INT: What did having a Ph.D. mean to you? other than the fact you could get jobs teaching at a university and apply for grants?

EB: It meant that I could stop inventing letterheads. All my adult life I invented letterheads for the project I was on.  a way to legitimize myself. NOW 1 was Professor Bolding and I was legitimate. I still when I think about it I remember the incredulity over the amount of difference that those letters mean after your name. Maybe not so now as it did then but it really meant a lot then. It really did. And it was a kind of a joke in the family because, you see Kenneth never did have a Ph.D. He’s got about three dozen honorary degrees but in England and Oxford people didn’t take Ph.D.s; just was not the thing to do. So most English, people who come from England to teach don’t have Ph.D. or didn’t then. I think again that may have changed. It was simply considered beneath their dignity .  Oxford superiority. So we joked a~out the fact that I was the only Ph.D. in the family after that. The only honest Ph.D. We have a whole, we still have a whole truck full of Kenneth’s. INT: And then there’s the son. . Phillip Daniel. EB: Yeah, right and I incidentally never accepted honorary degrees, because I felt Kenneth spent hours of his time going to academic sittings, through academic processions, and sitting through graduations, and giving speeches, so partly I just didn’t want to spend my time doing that. If you do one you’ve got to do them all and I knew as a woman and I have, in fact, I still get a couple of invitations every year, but I can say I make it a practice not to do anything. Sorry, but. But the other was the feeling that I worked very hard for the one I had and the others couldn’t have any meaning for me.

INT: While we’re still on the subject of the Friends group, could you talk a little bit about what that means to you, about . . what can I say? What spiritually your beliefs mean for you?

EB: Have you read any of my spiritual autobiographies?

INT: No, I haven’t. EB: Well, I think it might be helpful for you to do that. When you’ve written extensively about something, it’s rather difficult for you to talk about for some reason. I was spiritually aware, you might say, from a very young age, so I do not remember a time when that wasn’t central to my life. And I didn’t, I was a very self‑conscious Atheist during my high school years, but that was a very self‑conscious affair, declaring my intellectual emancipation after having gone through an evangelical period, more or less by accident. My mother was a masseuse and she used to go in the summers where her patients were, in Ocean Grove, which is a wonderful revival colony on the Jersey Shore. So while mother was giving a massage, I would go to all these prayer meetings all day long; no, in the morning and evening and then be on the beach with young people all day. I had a ball and so, but it was a very religious environment and not exactly fundamental to a Methodist, that doesn’t make it fundamental, but it was fundamentalist in that there was lot of revival and I remember that was somehow important to me to resist although a lot of the religious language and practices were very meaningful to me but somehow the salvation thing didn’t seem right. So then in high school I think I reacted against having. I remember that when we applied to college in those days anyway, in 1937, you had to say what your religious preference is. And so I stated my preference on probably about 15 pages explaining why I was an atheist and I often thought it would be fun, I’m sure that colleges do not keep things like that in their record files; I would love to go back and see what that paper said. Then in the course of my college years I discovered a Friends meeting in the basement of the college chapel and a friend who was a Nazi refugee, a young man who was a student at Rutgers, I went to New Jersey College for Women as it was called then, it’s Douglas College now, and he was an agriculture student there and we talked a lot and he had come through quite a bit to be safe in the U.S. and the Quakers had brought him over. That had led him to Friends. That, a lot of religious awakening, I think, occurred then. I went through a real crisis in my senior year in college. Norway was invaded and, to go back to tell you, I was born in Norway and we came here when I was three and there was a lot of talk about the horrors of World War I in my childhood and I saw “All Quiet on the Western Front” and had a very, very great fear of war. That’s one of the reasons, I think it’s a little exaggerated, the fear of war for children now because I was brought up in fear of war and knew that it was just as terrible, the fear of being gassed was as horrible to me as I think the nuclear fear is for children today. Maybe not, but anyway, it isn’t all that different; it’s different but not all that. So I had a fantasy that if there ever should be a war I would go to Norway and be safe in the mountains of Norway. Another reason for having that particular fantasy was that Mother was not happy to emigrate; she had been in America before, she didn’t really like it but times were very bad in Norway and she had to come to the United States and have a job and a good way of life and be able to send your kids to school. None of my cousins in Norway went beyond 8th grade and all three of us girls, I had two sisters, went to college. So it really was the land of opportunity, no question about that. But she didn’t want to come and so she really idealized Norway and talked about all that so I felt that if I could get back there I would be safe and so when Norway was invaded it was really like my safety blanket had been torn from me and then I had to face what it meant that there wasn’t any secure place on earth, any place secure from war. Unless people made it secure; geography couldn’t do it. And so that was really the beginning of my awareness of the need to be ‑ a full conscious awareness of the situation. It’s surprisingly difficult to answer, you’re kind of asking to make a priority of issues and I think perhaps the thing I have to work hardest at is not to despair over the task of helping people to develop perfection of themselves as human beings who can shape their environments and can change the character of the world we live and the issue is the issue of despair. It is so that a lot of people don’t think of it as despair, they think of it as cynicism or, you know, just give up, giveupitis, whatever, for me it is despair. That the human race may not take hold of its own task, its own developmental task to become human, because we aren’t born to it, we have to become it. Have to work at it, a lot goes into the crafting of a human being. Almost all of our technologies and our economic development have done in a developmental direction as far as developing the qualities of humanism. They had used as a substitute for development both our intellectual capacities and our capacity to feel and intuit and to envision; TV substitutes for an awful lot of things. High tech systems that supposedly maintain wellness and distribute welfare and so on are all substitutes for the actual human development. Just making people aware there are two things. One is to make them aware that that’s all a distraction; that isn’t the real business that we’re about. And, second, to make them feel that in fact it’s possible to, for humans to develop in this way. Those, that’s a double task and one of the reasons that I continue to do the …..workshop, although I have an inner resistance to doing them, but I continue to do them because I know that it makes it possible for people to discover and feel a power to shape a difference.  The concept of shaping has been very important to me for a long time and to think that human beings first need to go through an inner  process of shaping which is a joint activity with our creator and then an outward process for shaping which is still a joint effort.  It takes continuous and unremitting effort to do this which our entire world is geared to no effort, nothing should cost any effort if it does then there’s something wrong with it.  The sheer notion of effort, except if you pay a lot of money to go on an Outward Bound expedition, the notion of effort isn’t a thought to people; it’s just very distressing.

INT: Can you recall an event that’s had a transforming effect on you? Can you talk a little bit more about what happens when you go through a transforming experience.

EB: I suppose that there were three , three come to mind. Not really momentous, but the initiation of basis and the one I’ve already mentioned to you when I realized that no place on earth could be safe unless you made it safe, and the sense then of my, that it was up to me to become part of that process. Skipping over a lot of things, let’s see, maybe, I won’t try to be comprehensive, I’ll just stick to three or four that come to me easily. One was in 1964, when we were living in California for the year; Kenneth was at the Center for Advanced Studies. Fred Coop (?), the Dutch historian/sociologist came over and brought with him the book he had just won the Council of Europe Award. That book, he lived with us, we had a guest house behind the house. I became very interested in his ideas and he came at a time when I was feeling despair. I’m basically a rather optimistic person but periodically have to work at it. I was at a time of very deep despair about the world; I think it had to do with Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the inhumanity of humans to humans, so his book, the concept of the image of the future as impelling people forward to realize, to create what they envision, was such a wonderful path of hope into the future. I learned Dutch in order to read it. I wasn’t so hard to learn Dutch because Norwegian was my native language and I knew German very well and I read a book in Dutch that had a page of English and a page of Dutch; it was actually Franz Alexander’s “Age of U…” and I’ll never forget that book. In the beginning, I was going to the dictionary for every word, and by the end of the book I was reading Dutch. So I could read “The Image of Future” which is what we call it in English and it had a transforming effect on me because it brought together things that I knew at other levels of my being and enabled hope to rise to the surface again and also gave me a different sense of history; that this is something human beings had been doing over time, over eons of time. They had been envisioning and then acting on their visions. At their worst, they had been living in the present and passively allowing themselves to be carried off to disaster, but it was choice, it wasn’t, it’s just the way things have to be. And that was profoundly transforming for me. It was an intellectual transformation, but it was also, in that I gained a confidence just in the sheer act of learning the Dutch and reading the book and tangling with a lot of philosophy. I’ve never studied philosophy so I had to do a lot of correllary reading in philosophy so I could understand some of the concepts that Fred used. I began to develop a lot of self‑confidence in my own intellect. I hadn’t thought of myself as an intellectual before. By the time I finished translating the book, because I had read it and talked about it, I said I would like to translate it if you’re willing to work with me, which he was, and so I did translate it. Confidence in my own intellect was one very important thing and the other, as I say, was this releasing of hope and of confidence in power of visions, images of the future. That was very important and that probably, if I hadn’t translated that book, I might not have gone back to get my Ph.D. because it was defining myself as an intellectual at that point that made it seem logical in 1965 to go back for a Ph.D. In fact in some way I felt that I already did my Ph.D. when I wrote the book, in a way I profoundly felt that it was the equivalent of a Ph.D. and the other was just frosting on the cake. Then there were several moments that I think of together that took place within a year or two of each other. One was going through Auschwitz with a group of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. We were a delegation to Poland and guests of the Polish Women League, and being taken through Auschwitz by a Polish woman whose family had all died there. And that shook me to the very roots of my being. And the other was a night in Hiroshima, standing at the window looking out over the city. That was about a year, year and a half later. And in both cases, we living watched what human beings had done. The holocaust and the nuclear holocaust. And it was like a re‑working of my innards that something else had to come out of that, and it had to do with both acknowledging the incredible evil that humans are capable of, and accepting the responsibility for creating the good. And the two made me want to experience the depths and the awareness of the possible heights. So, when I say I think of those two experiences together, if I ever speak of it ‑ and I do sometimes ‑ I speak of them together. And then the last one I’ll pick out is after I had been teaching at Colorado; and now we’re talking about 1973. We moved the family, all seven of us, to Boulder, which is a big deal to move a big family. We had 18 years worth of roots, and I take seriously being rooted in the community we live in, so it was a matter of planting roots in the new community for the family and for myself, and Friends Meeting in Boulder, and teaching in the Sunday School there as I had done since beginning to teach. I’d been teaching Sunday School all my life, and all I knew about teaching was pretty good preparation, actually. I didn’t go unprepared into the college classroom, but nevertheless…college lectures are something else again. So there was the strain and pressure of that, because anybody who does their first year of teaching…it’s the hardest thing, whether it’s kindergarten or whatever. I was still finishing my dissertation, because the timing of that move was very hard on me. Kenneth had the job offer in Colorado, and wanted and needed to move thenS the Michigan climate was getting to be very hard on him, cold and damp, and really hard on him, and getting harder every year. So he needed to move, and they offered me a job as well. The whole family flew out to look the place over, and of course it was wonderful for me to know there was a job for me. I knew I couldn’t teach at Michigan because nepotism was still pretty much in force in those days. For some reason, Colorado was ready to loosen up. Of course we were different departments, so in that sense it really didn’t matter. Anyway, Michigan was a highly prestigious school, and it was very unlikely that they would take me on in their department. So it was a great thing to have a job, but it was very difficult to move just as I was starting to write my dissertation. So I made the move, and, like I said, roots for the family, beginning teaching, writing the dissertation, and on top of that, I found myself in a position where I could not say no to taking the job as International Chairperson with Women International League for Peace and Freedom. They were in a crisis. Dorothy Hutchinson had to stop; she had been wonderful International Chairperson for some years, but her health had just required that she stop. And there was not anybody else, I was on the International Executive Committee, and it was clear to me, I knew the thing; they weren’t just turning to me as an easy way out, they were turning to me as the only way out. So I said yes, and of course that’s a huge job, and here I had these other jobs. At the same time, I brought the attitudes and energy to academia that I had brought to the community earlier. That means certain kinds of skills and schemes, what resources are there, and what needs to be done, and what are good agendas. Well, it happened that three things were just beginning on college campuses at that time. One was Research on Women, the precursor of Women Studies, and Future Studies, and Peace Studies (this was in 1967, when I moved to Colorado.) Those three areas, and they were all three areas of my dissertation on the effect of modernization on women’s roles. I fell into that almost by accident because my thesis advisor was a Demographer who asked me to do my dissertation on some data he had on Turkish women’s fertility behavior, and as I began to study his data, I realized I had no context about women in Turkey, and I had to understand what was happening to women in other developing countries. And so I started studying U data on different countries and different regions, and before I knew it I realized that that was what my dissertation needed to be: what was happening to women in different regions, entirely using ­ well, initially using ‑ U data. And then I went on and used the Human Relations Area files to expand into what was happening to women in          society. If I do say so myself, I opened up a very important area, nobody was doing that then. I clarified the image of the future, which made me known as a futurist. And the peace studies, I had done this volunteer work as a homemaker, and started the International Peace Affairs ‑ I was actually one of the founders of the International Peace Affairs Association ‑ and I was the first ever to write their official newsletter. That first one, that I told you about, that was a cut‑and‑paste job, was really published under the auspices of a committee we set up in the League, Women International League, which we called The Committee on Peace Affairs. For two years, that letter came out under the auspices of WIN, because the scholars were too embarrassed to sponsor it, The University of Michigan wouldn’t sponsor it; it wasn’t intellectually respectable. But then UNESCO gave it sponsorship, and from there on, we were academically respectable. So here were three movements going on, so I was in demand around college campuses, not just in the U.S., but in Europe as well. And UNESCO, which was developing its teacher search section. So there was a lot of travel, and I continued my concern for how children developed into peace‑makers, and wrote about that, and Children and Non‑Violence, one of my most reprinted pieces. So I found demands in that section, that arena, which was partly off campus, partly on campus. And I was still an active Friend and active chairperson of WIL, and it was the Vietnam years, and I spent a lot of time with students, helping them to channel their energies and demands into demands for a peace studies program at the University of Colorado, which we did in fact achieve ‑ one of the first of the Vietnam years. But that took a lot of time, and being with students at demonstrations… and many interesting and wonderful things happened in those years. Then the American Friends Service Committee was going through a crisis of all the new demands that didn’t quite fit in the traditional Quaker mold, and I served on a committee to deal with how to meet that. Well, I was away every weekend, and all these things were happening simultaneously, plus, as I said before, I used to stepping into any situation and seeing how it works and what’s needed; there were local family politics, the University academics have the fewest human relations skills of any group I can think of, they really are almost sub‑standard in human relations skills. And I can say that for Dartmouth, too. My observations were that people needed help in some of the local committee activities, so I became active in that. Which was just another….one more set of things. I am a high‑energy person, and I was in good health, and I am, but it finally got too much. It really got too much. And then the weak parts of one’s system give way under stress, and I had a congenital ear defect ‑ my bad ear, which had been fine since I was an adult ‑ started acting up, and I went to the doctor and it turned out that I’d had a mastoid condition, evidently, for years and years, but it was getting to the point that deterioration was such that I was in danger of having brain damage, and therefore I had to have the whole mastoid area removed. In the old days, it was a scary operation, and then we got antibiotics and everybody thought nobody had to have mastoid surgery anymore. But, still, the antibiotics hadn’t done everything, and it’s still a scary operation. Well, I had the mastoid surgery ‑ and I’m giving you a very long build‑up for my last transformational experience, sorry! The surgeon touched the balance canal during surgery, which is the big danger in mastoid surgery, and I was spinning in outer space for weeks afterward. I had to hold the sides of the bed to keep myself from feeling like I was going to spin off. It’s one of the most violent shocks the system can have. It’s not painful ‑ it’s not pain ‑ but it’s simply the most acute form of dizziness that you can imagine. And this acute spinning lasted a couple of weeks, but it took months before I stopped spinning entirely. What I was able to do as to center and hold on to a central point in the universe ‑ God ‑ and keep my sense of wholeness and my sense of being. And the doctor was amazed, because he understood the condition I was in, he said most people are vomiting all the time and they go crazy. And I didn’t. I didn’t vomit and I didn’t go crazy. And that centering experience was one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Now, one of the reasons I was able to have it, and now I’ll step back, is that when I was being to feel so stressed out, 1971 or 1972, I’m not sure exactly which year it was, I asked a friend…there was a little Catholic group I used to meet with for prayer on Monday afternoons, and the theologian‑in‑residence ‑ a very nice young man…and these were all strong peace‑makers…there’s always been a Catholic/Quaker‑type of connection of people who value deep spiritual experience and are strong pacifists, and that continues, I’m part of another group now that’s just like that. So I ask him if he could find any monastery that would take a woman in and I could just go on retreat. And he did find a monastery in Upstate New York, and that was like coming home to come into that monastery where I was welcomed with love and entered into an atmosphere of very profound prayer. It was so healing. The little community of Brother Victor and Sister Jean Marie, who was forming her own convent ‑ or monastery, she called it a monastery, Sisters of Transfiguration ‑ at that time we met together at Brother Victor’s for retreat, and it was, as I say, a totally healing kind of a time, and my centering began then. And then when I had the surgery, and had this spinning in outer space experience, as soon as I could hold a pen and write ‑ which took a little while ‑ I wrote to Brother Victor and Sister Jean Marie and told them what had happened to me and asked for their prayers, and they carried me in prayer, and that certainly helped. But all of these things are connected. It took months before I could really walk normally again, and then when I began teaching in the fall, I realized that ‑ because it had been in the winter that this had happened, and I was first to recover in the summer ‑ I realized that I would just really have to take a year off, and that needed to be a year of solitude, so that led to…I took a year’s leave from January to December of ’74, and the hermitage was already being built behind our family cabin in the foothills of the Rockies, and some students had built it, and I already knew I needed a retreat place, so that was already in place and then it was there for my year of solitude that I negotiated with Kenneth that he would simply take responsibility for the house in town. It was a little difficult to open up the subject, and it was obviously a strange concept for Kenneth, but he took it ‑ I’m sure it was very hard for him ‑ but he accepted it. And whenever he came up to the family cabin, I always came down and we’d have a meal together. Anytime he was up there, we’d have lunch and supper together. Breakfast I never came down for. But apart from that, I was up at the hermitage, and I would come down once a week and go to the library and the food store. That’s where I wrote “Underside of History.” Before I wrote “Underside of History,” there was a long period of…I didn’t go there to write a book, I knew I might write a book, but it wasn’t, “I’m taking a year off to write a book,” it wasn’t like that. But the introduction of “Underside of History” talks a little bit about the context, and the way I wrote it, and then I wrote one remembrance, which was my…it’s a patch book, but it is a kind of a spiritual autobiography. So that year was an incredibly blessed year. Full of grace. And I was able to get re­ integrated, and reconnected with the world, because when I went up there, all I wanted to do was push the world away from me, there was too much of it. I couldn’t handle it anymore. In solitude, I was able to rediscover my connections and I thought maybe when I went up there I would be a solitary the rest of my life, but it was quite clear that that was not what I felt called to do, so I came back, teaching and so on. But the effect of that year on my being was very, very profound, and I still have a kind of a center that I didn’t have before. Mind you, I certainly press up against my limitations because, even at 68, I still have more energy than a lot of people do. But I have less energy now than I used to, compared to me, I don’t have as much energy. And I have to be careful, and I have to be discerning about what I should and shouldn’t do, but it works. And when I came to the point a couple of years after my year of solitude, I really felt that I should go and teach somewhere else besides Colorado, the only place I’d ever taught. I was getting awfully tired of the department in‑fighting; it was a very fractionated department. So I just let it be known that I was interested in job offers from elsewhere, and so I chose to be interviewed for three. One was the Bradford School of Peace Studies in England, and one was Binghamton, and one here at Dartmouth. And I went to Bradford, and it would’ve been great fun in some ways to have taken the chair of Peace Studies there, and I think I would’ve done it except that Kenneth could not endure the thought of going back to England. He immigrated in 1937; he could not endure the thought of going back. And I certainly wasn’t going to leave him. So at Binghampton, it was a very interesting place, but I wasn’t sure if it was a very intellectually challenging environment, and again, Kenneth wouldn’t like the idea of Binghampton. Mind you, I have to explain that Kenneth was within a year of retirement ­ he’s ten years older than I am ‑ so I felt that his retirement made a logical break and he could go with me. Then the third was Dartmouth, and I really felt excellent here, it’s an Ivy League school, and all that, but there are very good people here. And I liked the thought of being on a small college campus because we’ve always been in large state university campuses. I liked the fact that the administration cared about programs within the college and were prepared to invest, and were very supportive of faculty who had ideas. And that was not the way it was at the University of Colorado because if you had ideas, you’re on your own. They communicated that to me at the very beginning, and had continued even now, three years after I’ve retired, they still communicate. And that’s one of the best things about Dartmouth. And both Kenneth and I were invited up for a year as visiting profs, and it was a disaster, unfortunately, for Kenneth. The Economics Department here did not appreciate Kenneth; he is a very, I don’t know…he’s an economist, but so much more than an economist, he’s very broad. They just didn’t appreciate him; they’re very narrowly economistic here. So they weren’t very nice to him, I’m sorry to say. But for me, this was heaven. I accepted the permanent job offer, he went back to finish a year of teaching there, and I thought he’d move up here because he’d be retired anyway. And we had a very interesting correspondence after I’d been here five years in which he told me that he felt bereaved by my commuting…I took the job, I said, “Kenneth, I’m only going to do it for seven years, I’ll retire when I reach 65, and I’ll be back home a lot.” I had a nice apartment here, but for him it was unthinkable to follow me. And I should have realized that, and I suppose I did unconsciously I did, but didn’t consciously. And in that correspondence five years later ­ we belonged to an earlier generation, there were a lot of things we simply adapted to without ever talking out, and that’s a good way to do, too. Not everybody has to uncover all the layers of their lives to have a good marriage. For Kenneth, Freud is an anathema and always works, and so on. So anyway, when I wrote saying how I really had expected him to follow, for some reason that was the first time he understood that I really had thought that he might come here. And he wrote back this marvelous incredulous letter, “How could you think that I, Kenneth Boulding, would follow you?” And again, it’s the generation thing, but it was good because it came out that we both understood that we had had some rather profoundly different expectations of how these seven years would be. While I certainly had to exert a lot of extra effort to be back there often enough to continue to maintain our joint household, he never left his work. I’m sure a lot of people wondered what on earth was going on, and some people might have thought that we were separating, and so on, but it was never that. I’m not quite sure how I got on to that one, I’m afraid I’m getting off track. I was saying I felt the need for a move and just explaining how the Dartmouth phase of my life came out. But it was also I think, as I look back on it ‑ and I was conscious of it at the time, too ‑ it was very good for me to have those years of living a partly separate life. And what I haven’t said before is when I married Kenneth in 1941, I was just 21 and an untried person, and Kenneth was already very famous, so I had to adapt to being with someone whom I dearly loved and who was wonderful, I mean his mind is just a wonderful mind to live with. Incredible. And a tremendous sense of humor, a great poet, an artist; everything he touches turns to music, and poetry, and beauty. Also, something that often accompanies those kinds of gifts is kind of an inter‑personal denseness and insensitivity to what’s going on inside other people. It’s just part of the package. So there certainly were times when it was hard. I have sort of a mental image of myself: Here’s Kenneth standing in the center of a crowd of admiring people pressing to touch him and talk to him, and there am I outside the circle ‑ no place for me! I won’t say that wasn’t hard, because it was hard. After all, most of the time we were at conferences most of the time we were home. But there were times I resented it, and the way I handled it ‑ again, very gradually. I want to emphasize gradualness, although I have talked about transforming moments. Most of my life, as I look back on it, I see very gradual and each transformation was proceeded by a real preparatory period, and so I was gradually striking out in areas where I saw that I could do something useful. Something that lay within my talents that did not lie within Kenneth’s sphere, so that I didn’t lose my own sense of identity. So I developed my sphere and retained my identity, and it worked. And I did that right through the home‑making years, so that I didn’t wait until 1965 when I went back to school to do that. I began that very, very early on. The first year we were married, I think I didn’t feel the need of that, but by the second year, I think I began. So that was my way of handling it; that we really had different spheres…and we have different temperaments, obviously, we have very different temperaments, and I am very sensitive to other people’s states. When I speak to an audience, or teach class, a lot of my psychic energy goes into trying to be where the audience is, or where the class is. Trying to sense what’s going on inside the people I’m with, and tuning myself to that. Kenneth has this wonderful stuff that’s going on inside him which he can spin out and it’s wonderful for people, but it is an up‑welling that doesn’t depend on fine‑tuning himself to his audience. Therefore ‑ I’m trying to explain the fact that his doing that kind of thing is inherently energizing for him, and inherently depleting or draining for me, and I think it’s because of those different ways of handling being with people, although there are very, very different temperaments ‑ but that makes life very interesting. INT: I want to go back to some (of your) ages: The age that you went on your retreat was… EB: I was born in 1920, I went on retreat in 1974, so I was 54. INT: So you had gotten you Ph.D. just a few years before, when you were still working… EB: I began teaching in…1967 to 1974 was the period when I was teaching, and those were the years, as much as I say, that I had this peak of so many different kinds of activities that I just burnt out, temporarily. INT: And the age you started at Dartmouth…. EB: I came to Dartmouth in 1978. INT: You married at 21, you started working on your Master’s.. EB: Must have been about 1944, I was about 24 when I started working on it. INT: Your first child was born… EB: In 1947, when I was 27. I waited a long time. I was trying all those years to get pregnant.. INT: And your last child was… EB: Born in 1955, and that was William, because we had one child after Philip Daniel, the Ph.D. child. INT: So your last child was in 1955, and you were…. EB: I was 35. So from 27 to 35 I was in my child‑bearing years. INT: And you started your Ph.D. when you were… EB: When I was 45. So between the ages of 35 and 45, that means that Bill, our youngest, was ten when I started my Ph.D. INT: And the retreat was 50… EB: Then I was 54. INT: And you retired… EB: Sixty‑five. That was two years ago now. I’ll tell you something ‑ it gives a frame for these years. In 1978, in the early fall before I came up to Dartmouth, our youngest son was married. And so that was the last of…all our children are married. And it was a wonderful occasion, and it’s pretty energy consuming to plan a wedding ‑ especially away from home, he was married in Princeton. And all the kids and all the relatives and everybody get there, and we were in the right room to be in and the dinners, and everything signed right. And it was a wonderful, beautiful occasion, and of course, our weddings have always been family reunions. But I was pretty exhausted the night after it was all over, and I woke up in the middle of the night and these came to me: Nine years teaching, nine years through practice preaching, nine years heaven work reaching. And then I went back to sleep and I remembered them when I woke up. And I still remember them; they’re as clear as when I heard them in the night. I interpret that…the two years after I retired ‑ I didn’t take that as a message that I should wait another two years to retire. But that a lot of my activities in those two wind‑down years after I retired were in fact teaching activities, and that doesn’t mean that what I’m doing now isn’t teaching activity. But still, they were much more focused on teaching. I wrote the book that came out this year which brings together all my peace studies materials, my teaching materials. It’s called, Education for an Interdependent World, published by Teacher’s College Press. Then I’m now in the next nine years, which are “through practice preaching.” Mind you, it’s just the other day that I’ve thought of this; it isn’t that I think about this all the time. But the other day, I remembered this because I’m on the board of the Parenting Center in Boulder, and I’m trying very hard to be present in the local community in ways that enable the helping and the caring and the nurturing set of relationships, both institutionally and instructurally and interpersonally, to develop in a community like just about every other community, I guess, that has a lot of drugs and alcoholism and violence and so on. So I’m trying to do very, very active, down‑to‑earth things. And I beginning to use the Imaging of World’s Without Weapons Workshop, and beginning to use it in ways that empower people to solve local problems. We did a imaging of Boulder in the year 2000, a Boulder that was good for children, the other day with many people who work with children in Boulder. And they began to see the kinds of things that we could be building and developing in Boulder, and we developed a action agenda for right now that will help with the right now. So I really do feel that that’s the mode… INT: So your nine years of preaching…practice preaching…are beginning right now. Tell me what the nine years of heaven work reaching will be like… EB: Back to the hermitage…What I’m doing is trying to give you a rational explanation of those words, they didn’t come as something I intellected. INT: What will that hermitage be like? EB: Well, actually, I’m not sure…it depends on what kind of condition I’m in physically nine years from now because I’ll be 76, and it’s a fairly steep climb up to the hermitage. And there is no water up there, so I’ll have to carry water up. We have electricity, and I have a phone, but no water. But I have helped found the community ‑ we call ourselves Kennawa ‑ and Kennawa is a very hardy plant which can grow in very poor soil and requires very little water and is very nutritious. And that’s the symbol of our community: A Catholic core, and I’m the only core member who is not a Catholic, who are developing this retreat, we call it reverse mission kind of a center, in a place that was maintained by the Bethlehem Fathers. It was their retreat center in Colorado, it’s a Swiss order, and they decided to lay it down; it was no longer fulfilling their needs, and they have made it over to the Sisters of Mercy, and they are administering it now. We are the group who will actually be creating the program there. It can take about 80 people, it’s 40 acres, and it’s just between Boulder and Denver. The couple that became the trigger for this wonderful opportunity are a couple who for many years were doing base community‑type mission work in Peru, and it was time for them to leave Peru, and they came to the States and this is were they settled, at the Bethlehem Fathers place, hoping that something like this could happen. They magnetically attracted us, we were a little group meeting that met every Monday afternoon in Boulder. So we got together, it was just meant to be. The core community will be a residential community there, and I, of course, will not be a resident. We have a different kind of community, what we live in is in a condominium community which we began planning ten years ago. Several couples who were retiring or nearing retirement, and all of had big houses, and some of us realized that we needed to have a simpler form of life that would suit more diminished physical energy. So the image was that we would sell our big houses and move into a community designed to be easy to live in and where we could be helpful to one another, and hopefully that we could simply stay until the end; that there wouldn’t have to be some nursing home at the terminal end of it. And that’s where we are. When I came back from Dartmouth, the building was already being built at that time. My first few months after retirement were preparing to move into that community, and that was very hard for Kenneth at this point; he loved that house. Our five kids were solidly behind the need to move, otherwise I wouldn’t have dared push as hard as I did. We had made that move. So we have a community, there are 14 units in the building, and three of us were close before, but there are good relationships among all of us. We have shared facilities; a library, and guests rooms. And some activities. The course that I taught last fall I taught in the library. I told them I won’t do it again, but once I did it. So that is the community that we are in, and will be in. And my participation in the Kennawa ‑ once a week ‑ it’s conceivable, in my advanced old age, that I might move out there. But I would be quite happy to conk out in my own hermitage. INT: Would you then call yourself a member of the new society, to use your own words, in this Women’s Peace Researchers? EB: I think I put myself in the new society framework. I’m a non­-violent semi‑revolutionary. It’s one of the endless issues of debate between Kenneth and myself because he thinks of radical and revolutionary as inherently violent, and I think of major changes that really can be non‑violent. He feels that structural adjustments can be made so that society can be worked better, and I feel that they can’t. But let me make a comment on the new age and the transformational movements. I’m uncomfortable when the word transformation is used; I feel the need of explicating the way in which I understand transformation. Because some significant part of the new age movement I think is creating a false allusion ‑ it’s real enough to them; by my criteria it’s false ‑ that there is a spiritual transformation process simply happening that people just have to tune in to. Like the Harmonic Conversions. And I think it’s very important to understand that transformation is a process that requires intense and prolonged and life‑long work of actively developing and discerning and growing and changing. It has its milestones. There isn’t a pre-­transformation and then a post‑transformation. There are transformative milestones along the way, but it is a continuing process and continuing effort ‑ this is so important. It is possible for a person to have undergone a transformational experience and then slide back again, because they think they’ve done it and it’s over. And that kind of regression I do see, and I’m very mindful of that happening to me too. So it’s really a serious mistake to let people in the peace movement assume that all they have to do is ride the transformation away, and when people use the word transformation, there are at risk communicating misunderstandings because many people will interpret it as “everything is going to be OK.” It has a kind of an apocalyptic strain to it, and millenniumism, which I’ve studied, and I’ve become increasingly conscious that we’ve been getting into an increasingly millennialist fervor now for the year 2000. So I have real hesitations in my mind about using the year 2000 at all for that reason. On the other hand, it’s a nice round number, and it is convenient to think of milestones and so I use it, but I always make it very clear that nothing’s going to happen unless we make it happen. INT: Are you familiar at all with the work that the B’hai Community is doing on an international level? EB: I’m familiar, I have their booklet for the International Year of Peace, and I have known B’hai over the years. From time to time, I’ve found myself with B’hai women on panels and so on, and I feel very sympathetic to what they are doing, but I also feel that there is perhaps so sort of over‑simplification that frequently happens there. And certainly the woman that I shared a panel with last summer was essentially presenting a very traditional view of women’s roles in peace making ‑ this may not be typical, you always have to make allowances. She’s a daughter of one of the Elders of the National B’hai, so she was born and grew up a B’hai; she’s been well acculturated. Maybe women who are converts would be less traditional in there approach. She was essentially saying that women’s spirituality is derived from the fact that they bear children, and they have a special nurturing role, which, mind you, that’s true, but if you put too much on that you lose the wholeness of women. Some other things that on my mind that I’ll comment on…I’m concerned about the Goddess theology, in fact I’ve spent some time talking about that with the sisters of the Sisters of Transfiguration Monastery; I’ve promised next fall that I’m going to spend a week at Pendle Hill to talk about the relationship between women’s spirituality as I have experienced it and understood it historically, and the liberation theology and the recovery of the Goddess. I’m not familiar enough with it to be able talk about it. There are certain aspects of what I read that trouble me in the Goddess material, and Sister Donald, who is herself a very fine theologian, makes some interesting comments. She said, and she’s versed in union concepts, she said the Goddess as an archetype and all of the things that have to do with the Wiccam ‑ the witch craft and so on ‑ all of this are archetypes that have been not used, not shaped and crafted, and worked with, through recent centuries. And therefore, while other archetypes have been very much a part of ‑ or more a part of ‑ our conscious social development, what women are doing is they are reaching back to a raw, undeveloped archetype, and thrusting it into the center of their consciousness now, and it’s “dangerous;” that it has a lot of work that has to be done with it in order to make it a positive and fruitful growth inducing concept. The dangers lie ­ and this is what makes me uncomfortable ‑ it the use of this concept for power, to have power. The mystical journey has to do with separating oneself from the concept of power. So that was very helpful to me, and as I go back to reading now, I’m going to bear in mind what she said. I don’t know where I’ll come out with it. INT: Have you read the Chalice and the Glory? What did you think of that? EB: I was very disappointed. I felt it was a vast over­ simplification, and. so many assumptions about the Goddess, and so little awareness of the developmental difficulties and, mind you, I have myself made sweeping generalizations in public speaking such as she makes, such as “we’ve gone down the patriarchy road and it’s a dead end, and we have to recover.” In a sense, there is something there, but once you start putting this down in terms of historical documentation ‑ I was embarrassed by the book because I think that when people write they have to address the historical reality. (end of tape)

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                              

                                                                              


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