No. 16, January 5, 1968, p.2

Michael Kindman: Letter to Avatar


Dear People of the AVATAR,

I've been wanting to find an excuse to write my reactions to your beautiful publication. I found one; please begin the enclosed subscription for Larry Tate as deep into your back issues as you can go, for a record of your evolution is necessary to an understanding of what you are.

Larry Tate and I founded one of the first underground newspapers (that is, one of the first in UPS), The Paper, at Michigan State University just over two years ago. We know what you are about, because in our way we have been through a lot of the same struggles and ecstasies... We kept making friends and losing allies as our ways of looking at things changed,but after two years it's clear that East Lansing isn't quite the same; there are now separate communities of hippies, politicals and school-type intellectuals, all bound by an allegiance to survival, improvement of the species and the withering away of the multiversity and the society it represents. Even the official newspaper and the student government have had to improve, and the university is making its attempts to keep pace with the age.

I include the above because one's credentials as a reader seem as important to appreciating AVATAR as your credentials as its writers. That is its value, I think, in a way we tried to develop with The Paper. The personal honesty, forthrightness and simplicity of your expression demand that the reader match your sincerity and involvement with his own.

This has been, to me, one of the greatest potential uses of the underground press and one of the most potent assurances that it can reach people in ways the older publishing media cannot. I've burdened readers of The Paper with seemingly endless discussions of Why the Underground Press and How, so they might get an idea of the urgency and, ultimately the feasibility — of extending our common drive to community and sharing into our own media. AVATAR is the only underground paper published in a community of relatively established standing to advocate the same line, and for this I commend you. In East Lansing, it was possible to attribute our concern with building community to the fact that until these couple of years there was no counter-community here, and we were exploring new life styles and new kinds of expression. The same is not true, I'm sure, of Boston-Cambridge, and so I take it that your emphasis on open and sincere communication is the result of principled decisions and personal habits. All you need is love and wisdom, and these two qualities shine forth from every page you publish.

I envy you particularly the talents of Eben Given and Mel Lyman, but it is clear that no individual is responsible for the consistent subtlety of what you produce of what you are. Compared to the bludgeons, pick-axes and butter knives which are most underground papers, AVATAR is already a razor-edged weapon in the delicate fight against ignorance of self and society, and a finely polished, sensitive one at that. You needn't worry, Mr. Keating, that you are growing in ways your readers cannot understand. There would be more grounds for concern if you found your readers growing away from you, or if you found yourself unable to explain to them or show to them what it is they are experiencing. The sense of greatness of which you write is also necessarily a sense of history and a sense of prophecy, and you seem to be amply endowed.

Enough of this. Please keep doing what you are doing until it is time for you to stop, and have a good new year.

In peace,
Michael Kindman
Box 367
East Lansing, Michigan

Mel Lyman