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          Introduction (1971)

From The WeddingWithin the War, Michael Rossman, Doubleday, N.Y., 1971

In other writings, I say what I think the FSM signified for us collectively. For me personally it was a heavy turning, a re-beginning. It signaled the end of my life within the old institutions, and the start of my work to help make the seed of some ways adequate and new. We lived a transcendent community into action for a few weeks, and in that light and intensity I just melted inside. I don't know how else to describe it. I had been so long split apart, so slowly and awkwardly trying to come together -- drugs, mathematics, vocation, love, therapy, time. And suddenly ...whap! an historical thunderbolt.

I stood there afterwards, stunned by a flash of some new reality, transient but firm enough to be really grasped. Undeniable. It took years for me to start to sort out what had come to fusion inside, years to figure out what kind of a man my stuff might become, in a place of shared longings. For the moment of FSM itself, only this much was clear: I was involved to my deepest levels in saying NO to what I had known and was raised to become; and YES to an image half-grasped but at last enough shared that it might become real.

But that is a story for another book. Here is only a fragment, a precise slice out of time, the exact beginning of the FSM. It is as close as I've come to capturing in flight a moment beyond my private life. The morning after we ended our two-day besiegement of the cop car, while people were busy meeting to formally declare the Free Speech Movement and condense its initial structures, I sat down alone with a tape recorder. Torn open, everything boiling in me, I had to get it out some way. It was the instant before we had even grasped the fact of our community, save in action. And the way I know it was a beginning is that it was like dying and being reborn, I felt despair and hope flicker in wild oscillation.

Continue to rest of excerpt: From The WeddingWithin the War, Michael Rossman

Copyright 1971, 1998 by Michael Rossman. This work may not be reproduced in any medium which is sold, subject to access fee, or supported by advertising or institutional subsidy, without explicit prior consent by the author.


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