part of a conversation between Paul Williams and Mel Lyman recorded June 8, 1969, at Thomas Hart Benton's home on Martha's Vineyard, from Paul Williams "Pushing Upward" (1973, Links Books).

Mel Lyman, on writing "Autobiography of a World Saviour"

MEL: I wrote my book accidentally.

PAUL: How'd you write it?

MEL: First just for the hell of it I wrote a little fable one time, a little story, it was just a couple of pages long, just for some friends of mine - took it over and read it to them, they enjoyed it so much that I decided to - not make it longer, I decided to finish it, I saw it was incomplete, you know, some big gaps in it so I took it home to complete it. And then it ended up six pages. So I took it back and read it again, and they enjoyed it even more, and I saw some more gaps....

And I kept doing that, over a period of two months; I kept just filling in the gaps in this piece. And then when I was all done, I made six xerox copies of it, passed it around to my friends, and forgot about it. Jonas Mekas got ahold of it in New York, and asked me could he publish it, as a book? I said sure, gave it a name.... The whole thing happened in absolute innocence. I had no intention of writing a book. At that time I dreaded putting that title on it, 'cause I didn't want the responsibility that goes along with calling myself a world-saviour. At that time. I just didn't want to have to be that for people. But somehow, somehow I had to call it that. 'Cause it was true; it was true whether I wanted the responsibility or not. So all of a sudden it was a book, called Autobiography of a World-Saviour. I wrote it in earnest - it only started out as a fable; the first two pages was a fable but from then on I was writing in earnest, I was trying to say everything I knew in a language.... The people I was involved with at the time were into the occult science thing, and so I was trying to tell them a lot more than they knew, in their own language. They were stuck in that occult science thing - which is a very limiting language, after a certain . . . you know, you get so far in it and that's it, it doesn't go any further. And I had been through occult science and gone a whole lot further and almost forgotten about it and I was into just Now, you know, but all these people were stuck. So finally I was writing to those people, to bring 'em, to devour that language, to exhaust that language and take 'em into a greater reality, by using that language itself, by exhausting the language itself, their language.... So that's why it's written in a strange language. That isn't the way I talked, or the way I did anything, but I did have some kind of grasp of that language and felt their need.


Mel Lyman