today’s younger generation already looks neither male nor female. Nobody can watch the present volcanic upheaval in the relationship of the sexes without being aware that a gigantic reshuffling of the sexual card deck is in progress. Something new is happening. The boundaries between the genders are getting more and more blurred while the war between the sexes rages. To me, it looks like the last anguished gasp of an evolutionary dead end, the chaos before a new order appears. Perhaps in the future there will be neither males nor females, but androgens who are complete within themselves and not subject to the eternal dance of attraction-repulsion that dominates the sexual scene. Human love, as we now know it, is possessive and exclusive. I believe that true love is possible only where no motive of self-interest is involved.
RMN: What are you doing these days? Can you tell us about any projects on which you’re currently working?
NINA: Well, actually, I’m just sitting back letting it happen–whatever it is. I wrote a scenario for a Cosmic Soap Opera. It begins with the cosmic egg splitting in two and the Divine Couple trying to come together on earth through many incarnations. I give talks about the relationship of the psychedelics to the spiritual path, but beyond that–hey listen, kids! I’m 73 years old. Don’t I have a right to sit back and enjoy the breeze?
RMN: Yes, you do. You’ve certainly led an active and adventurous life. Looking back over it, how do you see the various stages that you’ve gone through contributing to the person you are today?
NINA: The person I am today…But who is that person? I’m not very self analytical. I like what G. B. Shaw says in Joan of Arc: “Thinking about yourself is like thinking about your stomach–it’s the quickest way to make yourself sick.” I could say I’m a writer, a mother, a senior citizen, an iconoclast, a researcher of human consciousness, but you know, none of these labels really describe me. I could say I’m an energy blip in the cosmic void, or that I’m a crazy quilt of attributes, good and bad–but I’m more than that. I’m more than the sum of my parts. Trying to define oneself, I think, is an exercise in futility that can put us in the self-concentration camp. As you know, Freud was my compatriot; we both came from Vienna, but while I greatly appreciate the quality of his writings and his scholarly grasp on mythology, I can’t help feeling that he was to a large extent responsible for putting great numbers of people in the self-concentration camp. His imaginative way of looking at mental dis-ease and neurosis made them seem most attractive, and people began to watch their emotions with the fascination of Narcissus beholding his own image in the lake. America fell in love with Freud’s ideas years before they were accepted in Europe. When I came to this country in 1941, everybody was talking about Freudian slips and Oedipus complexes. Phallic symbols were everywhere. In the fifties, it was very “in” to have a shrink. People went back to their childhood to search for the subconscious roots of their present mental quirks, and what they found was that Mom was to blame–it was all her fault. It seems to me that when people are so busy observing their subjective feelings, they lose touch with the great big world around them.
Who I am today is who I became in the years of peeling the onion of my conditioning and attempting to relocate the center of my small self in the Higher Self. The Nina Graboi self is transitory, an instant in an ocean of being, but the Self is undying and unborn-or so the Hindus say. Let me quickly tell you, before we go on, that there is nothing any more today that I absolutely and positively believe. Everything is possible, but our ignorance is abysmal and so is our tendency to embrace belief systems that we find attractive. In an LSD session, our self-transcendent experiences seem a thousand times more real than our everyday world, but that does not mean that they necessarily embody ultimate truths, no matter how attractive they are.
DJB: To the people who know you, you appear to be a happy person. Can you tell us what your secret is?
NINA: Happy? I don’t know. Content may be a better word. I think it’s because I buy the Buddha’s idea that all suffering is caused by attachment to the objects of desire. It makes good, practical sense to me. If this is as clear to you as it was to me when I read it for the first time many years ago, then desire and attachment will start slowly to fall away. Besides, all I am is a blip in the cosmic soup. Life is ephemeral, an instant in eternity. So why get hung up? I go with the flow, as we used to say in the sixties.