I lived at the Zendik Farm (“Who Are These People,” 11/4) for three-and-a-half years while it was in North Carolina. I think most people would find Zendik “out there” and unusual. (How many people live in a cooperative place who have their own philosophy?). The tone of Ryan Grim’s piece-—to constantly put them down, claim they have nothing to offer the world, and to imply that people are being ripped off for being there—all very much fly in the face of my experience.
People’s being disgruntled because they have to work hard is caused by the fact that most of us have been incredibly spoiled. Zendiks work incredibly hard; it’s not for folks wanting a kind of laid-back “engage when you feel like it” attitude. Their intensity is one reason why just 15 or so have found their life work in living and promoting the philosophy that Wulf Zendik has articulated. Perhaps there are more to come.
In my opinion, Wulf’s writing, music, and personal style are very inspirational. His writing from his mid-30s ’til he was in his 50s, including the nonfiction Quest Among the Bewildered and the play The Oraculum Interrogations, are gut-wrenchingly honest and in a class with the top 20th-century American writers, from Truman Capote to the beats, Tom Wolfe to the best latter-half-of-the-century writers. Why Wulf never succeeded at his repeated attempts to get published is debatable, but his brilliance, creativity, and social engagement did by no means crumble as a result. That he turned his attentions to music, philosophy, and a social movement (which many believe themselves to be a part of who aren’t at the farm) is a far-reaching gift in my view. I wholeheartedly support and appreciate the Zendiks’ carrying on of his work in the living of its concepts and the archiving and broadcasting of it.
Grim and others have extracted the view that it’s all just weird spellings and ideas inapplicable to life, and an eccentric and unnecessarily hardworking lifestyle, that the people doing this work are hypocritical, and so forth. I, for one, don’t corroborate this view at all. In fact, for the connoisseurship of an art and style that is on par with the most aesthetically pleasing culture I have been exposed to, and for incorporating a meaningful engagement with psychology, sexuality, metaphysics and lifestyle, I find Wulf Zendik’s artistic legacy (impossible without Arol Zendik, his wife of 40 years) to eclipse that of any artist or philosopher. Plus, he continued his life work without the goading on of gold, which is the usual U.S. meter for who matters. How’s that for offering something to the world?
Staten Island, N.Y.