Esalen, where "California" bubbled up
February 11, 2008 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Esalen: Where "California" Bubbled Up (one photo mildly NSFW) For many others in America and around the world, Esalen stands more vaguely for that metaphorical point where “East meets West” and is transformed into something uniquely and mystically American or New Agey. And for a great many others yet, Esalen is simply that notorious bagno-bordello where people had sex and got high throughout the 1960s and 1970s before coming home talking psychobabble and dangling crystals. In short, Esalen is in every way, even geologically, California at its most extreme. It is its caricature, as well as its noblest expression.
posted by jason's_planet (12 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Some more Esalen links.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:12 AM on February 11, 2008

Jeffrey Kripal, the author of the Esalen book that the Economist article talks about, has also written Kali's Child an extremely controversial book about a 19th century Bengali mystic, Ramakrishna, claiming that Ramakrishna's mystical realization was highly sexualized and that this sexual content was deliberately repressed by RK's followers. He is also a student of Wendy Doniger, an important U of Chicago Hindu Studies academic who has had run-ins with the Hindu right wing.
posted by goethean at 10:17 AM on February 11, 2008

I'd read all of this but I really don't want to be late for my est meeting. Because I live in 1985.

*Grabs Members Only jacket and leSac purse, speeds off in Suzuki Samurai*
posted by miss lynnster at 10:59 AM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

Bongo drums and massage

Lies! I see no evidence of bongo!
posted by ook at 12:51 PM on February 11, 2008

Look closer the bongos are right there!
posted by hortense at 2:08 PM on February 11, 2008

It seems grotesquely unfair that hippies have exclusive dominion over such prime real estate.
posted by dhammond at 2:32 PM on February 11, 2008

It seems grotesquely unfair that hippies have exclusive dominion over such prime real estate.

Originally it was bikers, but Henry Miller ran them of when he became the caretaker / security guard.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:22 PM on February 11, 2008

"He used Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching (think “managing emptiness”) as his governance guide, and was advised by a council called “Jenny and the Nine”, whose most noteworthy feature was that they did not exist."

Sounds like a lot of academic departments I know.
posted by lalochezia at 3:30 PM on February 11, 2008

Yeah...usually what most people refer to as a "bongo drum" is actually a djembe or conga.

[/continued derail]
posted by limeonaire at 4:16 PM on February 11, 2008

I can't articulate why exactly but I have a very warm place in my heart for that post-hippe "feel good all the time" California.
posted by tkchrist at 4:47 PM on February 11, 2008

Grew up around there, was in high school in the late 80's. Esalen and the whole Palo Colorado / Big Sur axis was a bit of a joke at that point. A lot of my friends' useless, neurotic, divorced, burned-out parents were alums of that world.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:16 PM on February 11, 2008

I get massage from a wonderfully talented person who happens to be a second generation Esalen trained masseuse . It is also the most singularly beautiful hot spring on the planet, if there is better I would like to know about it.
posted by hortense at 10:44 PM on February 13, 2008

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