Thursday, 23 June 2011


James Broughton (November 10, 1913 – May 17, 1999) was an American poet, and poetic filmmaker. He was part of the San Francisco Renaissance. He was an early bard of the Radical Faeries as well as a charter member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence serving her community as Sister Sermonetta.
That meeting with "Hermy"[clarification needed What meeting with Hermy, and who is Hermy?]prefigured the cavalcade of mystery, imagination, sexuality, danger, humor, and transformation that would mark the 23 books and 23 films Broughton produced in a life laced with travel, teaching, self-analysis, and rich and prickly friendships.His work is quintessentially Californian – exploring and engaging the polar frontiers of wildness and civility, male and female, body and spirit—with the crash of Pacific Ocean waves echoing throughout. "Ultimately I have learned more about poetry / from music and magic than from literature," he wrote
Broughton was kicked out of military school for having an affair with a classmate, dropped out of Stanford before graduating, and spent time in Europe during the 1950s, where he received an award in Cannes from Jean Cocteau for the "poetic fantasy" of his film The Pleasure Garden, made in England with partner Kermit Sheets.

"Cinema saved me from suicide when I was 32 by revealing to me a wondrous reality: the love between fellow artists," Broughton wrote. This theme carried him through his 85 years. "It was as important to live poetically as to write poems."

Despite many creative love affairs during the San Francisco Beat Scene, Broughton put off marriage until age 49, when, steeped in his explorations of Jungian psychology, he married Susanna Hart in a three-day ceremony on the Pacific coast documented by his friend, the experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage. Susanna’s theatrical background and personality made for a great playmate; they had two children. And they built a great community among the creative spirits of Alan Watts, Michael McClure, Anna Halprin, and Imogen Cunningham
In 1967’s "summer of love," Broughton made a film, The Bed, a celebration of the dance of life which broke taboos against frontal nudity and won prizes at many film festivals. It rekindled Broughton’s filmmaking and led to more tributes to the human body (The Golden Positions), the eternal child (This Is It), the eternal return (The Water Circle), the eternal moment (High Kukus), and the eternal feminine (Dreamwood). "These eternalities praised the beauty of humans, the surprises of soul, and the necessity of merriment," Broughton wrote.

Indeed, Broughton repeatedly explored the temple of the human body – the "Godbody" – as a taproot for healing and peace, both for the individual and society.He developed a great following, especially among students at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he taught film (and wrote Seeing the Light, a book about filmmaking) and artistic ritual.

The Bed - Mashup for The Big Joy Project from Geoff Watland on Vimeo.

Broughton’s meeting with Singer was a life-changing, life-determining moment that animated his consciousness with a power that lasted until his death." In 2004, Singer wrote of their long relationship and collaboration in White Crane.

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