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HKG: Didn't you think that the Harmonetics Society had a materialistic base? It
really wasn't all that spiritual when you
got right down to it.
GH: But think of all the other cults. Let's
take any cult that exists now that's fairly
well known, est grows and grows. You
pay $350 to go and be screamed at for a
weekend. Now, let's say 80 people come
in to be screamed at; think how much
money is being collected. When you go
into advanced est you pay $750. Then
you go into 'hunger,' which is a new thing
they've got, and you pay more money.
And you go on and on. They never release you, because they can still get more
money out of you.
HKG: They've really got people out recruiting, too.
GH: Yes, in the Hari Krishnas, in the
Moonies, there are, just as in the Harmonetics Society, the missionaries on the
street. They're soliciting money for
whom? Not for themselves, but for the
society, and does Dr. Moon give all that
HKG: You talk about 'cults.' I hear the
term bandied about a lot. It seems to be
the way people describe anything that's
not the traditional, orthodox religion.
GH: That is true in a certain way. 'Cult'
has a pejorative meaning, because a leader
can get rich from it. If a nun gives away
all her worldly property, it doesn't go to
make some bishop richer. But in a cult,
the leader, or the leader and his disciples,
may be living awfully well; and no one
knows where the money is going. . . [Yet
many people] follow a leader that many
of us can see as not very charitable and
HKG: But aren't you talking about people
who want easy answers? 'Follow these
GH: That's true of most people. I ran into a friend who is extremely bright, who
has been into Transcendental Meditation.
Now he's into est, and so is his wife. He is
clever, amusing, charming—and he's a believer. I have another friend who rushes
over with every new book that offers answers. 'Is There Life After Death?' She
rushes to give it to me. 'You have to read
it,' she says, so I will find out, too. I
don't think people will ever stop searching for those answers and [yet] very seldom is an answer permanent to them.
HKG: The Harmonetics Investigation
seems a very definite general audience
suspense book. Are you a reader of
GH: I've read a lot of Agatha Christie. I
don't like most of the suspense of today.
Of the positive suspense novels there has
only been one that has come out in the
last few months that I've enjoyed and
that has been Shibumi, with its Japanese
background. I'm not a Robert Ludlum
fan, and I'm not a James Bond fan, particularly. I do like suspense, yes, but I'd
say most of it is too outlandish today. It's
HKG: When you set out to write this
book, did you have any kind of model or
a favorite author in mind?
GH: Well, I like Doris Lessing, I like
Marcel Proust and I like Tom Wolfe, but I
didn't have an author in mind. No, I didn't
write like any of them. I just thought I
was going to write about a sect or cult. I
knew my main characters; and I knew
how it was going to start, how it was
going to end, and some vivid scenes in the
middle. I made the women in the book
the major protagonists. It just happened
HKG: Speaking of your main character,
how did you come up with the name
Jade? It's a very unusual name. As a word
it's been used as a sort of derogative epithet for women.
GH: I never thought of that. A jade, but
that's almost eighteenth century. I was
thinking more like what a westside
mother would name her daughter.
HKG: That's where you got the name?
GH: It could have been Kimberley.
"Give sorrow words..." is a quotation
from Macbeth, but the letters of Maryse
Holder are from life. It was the life of an
amatory spirit, adrift without the parental buoys of approval, self-reliance or self-
esteem, reveling in pernicious desire, candor and charity foreign to survival in a
land of live and take. She was a fragile
lemming, marching to the suicidal, sexual seas of Mexico, a gringa who loved
the tan bodies of Mexican men, suffering
the abuse, but always directing her fatal
march, cognizant, but unrestrained by the
male culture. For Maryse Holder, death
was a way of life. She was 36 when she
was murdered in Mexico City.
After a short distance into this posthumous publication one knows it will not
end well and seeks cause. She was an intelligent and singular correspondent, dispatching installments of the self-destruction of a tragic and malnourished heart,
an amanuensis of desire in search of the
executioner. Perhaps, she approached sustenance for a time in Mexico and in her
writing to confidant, Edith Jones, in New
York. It is in the writing that the unattainable is given form. Here is the substance of an artistic movie.
The disappointments, the discourtesy,
the incredible lack of compassion, the insults to body and mind, the visceral and
sexual stimulation are recorded here with
an integrity that may not be palatable to
These are not bucolic letters of the
Mexican countryside, but sensuous and
sexual epistles on the complexities of
being. Here are ad libidum couplings
with Miguel, Andres, Mario, Lucio, Ri-
cardo, Emilio or whomever, seeking and
teaching, loving and leaving, the mechanics of the piston and the ring, the expectation that one of them might care e-
nough, the harsh realities of broken rendezvous, insatiate sex, unfulfilled promises, rejection and solitude, drinking, drugs,