When I was growing up in Cambridge in the early 1970s, before my family moved to Caracas, my parents used to go see Swami Satchidananda lecture around Boston. Some of my earliest memories involve me running down a sidewalk toward one of these lectures yelling excitedly "Satchi! We're here!" Or, sitting with him and my parents (and countless other hippies) on wooden benches, listening to people chatting before his lectures. After we moved to Caracas when I was five, my parents eventually drifted away from their interest in Yoga, etc. (though not completely) and I never thought too much about any of that. I found out about Satchidananda's death by chance in August of 2002, when I noticed his obituary in the New York Times. My mother had clipped the notice, intending to give it to me, but I had come across it among other magazines and newspapers.
I had always kept Satchidananda in my mind as some sort of ideal of peace or calm, even though I tend to mistrust so much of the Orientalism that surrounds the practice of Yoga, Buddhism, etc. in the US. Now when I mention his name to my parents it seems like we're discussing another planet, one that perhaps only existed in our minds. I've always had a tendency toward nostalgia, which I acknowledge as serving no useful purpose. I think I mention all this because it seems to emphasize how fucked up our current era seems. I enjoyed reading Nick Piombino's comments at fait accompli today, because they remind me that our troubles now are not necessarily so new. Fascism has, after all, been among us for a long time. I think my interest in poetry might have begun with those fragments in my memory of seeing Satchidananda in Boston. It all seems very hippie and unreal to me now, but nonetheless, there it is.