In Honor of Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

The purpose of homosexuality

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

Arthur C. Clarke: Visionary

Arthur C Clarke
March 18, 2008, at the age of 90, renowned writer and futurologist Arthur C. Clarke passed away. His death made national news in America—of course. His name, arguably, has been one of the most recognizable in the world, if only as creator (with Stanley Kubrick) of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. He was a leader in consciousness evolution, an expert on space science, and author of over a hundred books.

What won’t be mentioned in most of the news stories, though, is that he was gay. Of course, that’s using the term inaccurately. He wasn’t a gay man like the post-Stonewall generation in the U.S., but he was certainly one of us.

Speaking personally, let me report that Clarke had a tremendous influence on me as a young man. I read all his books, emulated his writing style, and even to some extent adopted his post-religious “spiritual” vision of human consciousness. So in the late 1990s, when I learned my friend Kerry O’Quinn, a gay Austinite and also a science fiction writer, told me he’d met Clarke and carried on a correspondence with him, I jumped at the opportunity to be introduced by mail.  (Kerry also wrote a lovely remembrance of A.C.C.; I have included it below.)

I corresponded with Clarke for several years. I wrote about his post-religious spirituality in a couple of my books and cleared my acknowledgement of his sexual identity with him. So I have no qualms about my including him in the pantheon of homosexual seers.

An ex-patriate Englishman, Clarke lived most of his adult life as what English society might call a “confirmed bachelor” in an intentional, extended family in the Theravada Buddhist land of Sri Lanka (in fable, the mystical island of Serendip where good fortune and lucky coincidence reign). Though married for a time as a young man, Clarke offered a marvelous example of the contributing, participating life, lived free of the conventions of marriage and childrearing.

He demurred about coming out publicly as gay, he wrote, because he felt this fact would be used to discredit his ideas. He was 61 at the time of Stonewall, already past the sexual prime in which it’s meaningful to identify oneself as gay. And, indeed, in 1997, a British tabloid, The Sunday Mirror, ran a story accusing him of having moved to Sri Lanka in order to buy sex from underaged boys, something he found offensive and the accusation distressing. He thought the accusation was really aimed at Prince Charles who was scheduled to knight him—as Sir Arthur—that same year. (At the same time as Sir Elton John, by the way.)

He had a cute quip about not being gay: "At my age now,” he said, “I'm just a little bit cheerful."

He wrote that he was quite fascinated with the role homosexuals have played down through time as revolutionary thinkers. (In our correspondence, he expressed great interest in C.A. Tripp’s book about Abraham Lincoln as gay.) He kept a private collection of writing which is not to be published until 50 years after his death. I’d wager the world is going to receive the open acknowledgement of his homosexuality and of his theory about gay consciousness as revolutionary come 2058.

Science fiction is one of the ways in which the mythmaking function of human consciousness appears today. 2001, with its final psychedelic imagery and apotheosis of astronaut David Bowman into the Star Child, described human consciousness transcending individuality and merging into some sort of greater consciousness, all explained in scientific sounding terms.

In his renowned novel, Childhood’s End, as scientific prophet, Clarke described a planetary progression to a collective mind (in the novel called “the Overmind”) that is foreshadowed by “psychic powers”: telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance, and memory of collective, cosmic events. In that sense, one might say he hypothesized such paranormal powers, long elements of religion and mysticism, to be forerunners and hints at humankind’s future evolution. (Read Toby Johnson's essay Karellen was a homosexual)

Even in the 1950s, when Childhood’s End appeared, he called himself an “agnostic Buddhist,” so he probably didn’t believe in a personal afterlife. Still we might imagine that in his dying, Sir Arthur experienced rising into the Overmind.

In his modern/futuristic way, he has surely been a visionary and “Enlightened Being,” a scientifically-minded prophet who had foreseen, and helped bring about, the modern transformation of consciousness. He was surely an incarnation of the archetype of the homosexual seer.

Clarke was one of the great influences on Toby Johnson. His soft sci-fi novel Secret Matter is a sort of honorific to Clarke, and written in something of the same expository, easy to read, style of Clarke.

Science Fiction is one of the ways in which the mythmaking function of human consciousness appears today.

For an encyclopedic article about Sir Arthur

For an article about Sir Arthur's discretion about his personal life (and political reasons for such discretion) along with an explanation of his cute quip about not being gay, "At my age, now I'm just a little bit cheerful."

For a VERY interesting and illuminating article on the "mystical" aspects of Clarke's world vision at Hannah's Deep Field Space by Hannak Pok.

~ ~ ~

The accumulation of all human experience is one of the insights about spiritual / human experience Toby learned from Arthur C. Clarke. He's written about this by recounting one of Clarke's most famous short stories.

The role of humankind, Alan Watts said, is to be God’s “sense organs,” to experience all that it is possible to experience. I’ve already cited science fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke as a spokesman of mythological wisdom. This idea too can be found in the metaphor of one of his best known stories, “The Nine Billion Names of God.”

Clarke’s story opens in the Manhattan offices of a major data processing company. Several representatives of a Himalayan monastery have come to lease a computer. They explain that it was the intuition of the founder of their community that the purpose of human life is to uncover and record the names of God. Over years of theological consideration, the monks have developed an alphabet; all possible combinations and permutations of the characters, according to certain simple principles of grammar, will spell out all of God’s names. There are, it seems, about nine billion.

The Order has been laboring scrupulously over three centuries to figure out and copy the combinations of letters and file them reverently in tomes in their great library. Recently they’ve realized that modern technology could assist their spiritual work. They have, therefore, come to arrange for the use of a computer and printer that will quickly figure and print out the required arrangement of characters. Well, the job seemed somewhat unusual, but the computer firm prided itself on the adaptability of its equipment.

The story shifts to a steep path down the side of a Himalayan mountain. The two technicians who accompanied the computer have decided that, since the machine was nearing completion of its task, they ought to leave. After all, they reasoned, the monks were expecting something to come of all this. When the machine had finished and nothing happened, the monks were likely to get angry, destroy the machine, and perhaps attack them. As they were halfway down the path, the electrical lighting in the monastery went out, signifying that the printer had completed its run and been shut down. The job was done. The last printouts were being taken to their place in the library.

One of the technicians remarked on the narrowness of their escape, but there was no answer from the other. When he looked over, he saw that his friend was silently staring into space. He, too, looked up: “(there is always a last time for everything.) Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.”

The discovery of the nine billion names can represent the accumulation of experience. Each of us, and with each life each experience, is one of the “names of God.” To contribute to the discovery and cataloguing of the nine billion names, we must open ourselves to experience, resisting nothing, refusing no experience to the One Mind, flowing easily and gently with life.

                                                                   from The Myth of the Great Secret

Sir Arthur C. Clarke
16 Dec 1917 – 18 Mar 2008

by Kerry O'Quinn


19 March 2008

I arrived at my Hollywood apartment late yesterday, after a magical weekend in San Francisco with my friend Howard Roffman, who now runs practically everything at LucasFilm.

Howard arranged a tour for me (and my pals Zach, Brian, Noah and Hunter) of the new Presidio offices -- replete with spaceship and dinosaur models, light sabers, trophies and awards, magnificent matte paintings, and vintage movie posters – inside, beyond the Yoda fountain.

Within minutes after returning from this wondrous adventure my phone rang, and my lifelong friend David Houston (first editor of STARLOG) brought tears to my happy face with news that Arthur C. Clarke died yesterday morning.

I want to share a few personal memories.

* * *

Arthur C. Clarke entered my life in June 1973 (three years before the first issue of STARLOG) aboard a Cunard Atlantic cruise to rendezvous with a solar eclipse. I had been hired as Program Director and was responsible for scientific classes and lectures in rooms normally devoted to drinking and gambling on the good ship Adventurer.

I was warned that of all the celebrities on board (including scientists and astronauts) Clarke would be my biggest problem. He had become world famous as Stanley Kubrick’s collaborator on the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, the trailblazing MGM movie. Passengers on the ship were aware that Clarke had conceived the communications satellite system in a technical paper published in 1945 (before the space program made such concepts plausible) and was author of dozens of books, both science fiction and science fact.

I was told that Clarke was a genius with a colossal ego – and my personal responsibility for 14 days at sea.

I slipped quietly into his first shipboard lecture, "Life in the Year 2001." We had not met, so I stood at the back of the room (packed with eager souls listening to his crisp British accent) accessing my "biggest problem."

His manner was casual, but his words were carefully selected. He was not trying to overwhelm us with dramatic ideas or emotional descriptions – he was just talking about changes that science would bring to our planet, how people in the future would be healthier, happier, and less afraid of each other. It was simple, and it was inspiring.

By the time he finished, I was wiping tears of joyous optimism from my eyes. The man who was going to be my biggest problem had become my greatest excitement. I introduced myself, told him how profoundly he had moved me, and from that moment on he was Arthur – my friend.

During the remainder of our voyage to darkness I enjoyed watching him hold court in the ship’s theater as he introduced screenings of 2001. I chuckled at each meal, listening to Arthur’s table (which included astronauts Wally Schirra) – loud groans followed by raucous laughter as a parade of bad intellectual puns were exchanged.

On the day of totality Arthur and I watched the spectacular celestial event from the Captain’s bridge. An eclipse is a bonding experience, uniting total strangers with an event that used to terrify people in ancient times. Arthur always called me his "shipmate" – a title I accepted proudly.

Over the years, we’ve seen each other in New York City – at the STARLOG offices, at my Manhattan apartment, at the premiere of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and at the Chelsea Hotel (where, years earlier, he wrote the screenplay for 2001). We spent time together in Los Angeles when he was working with Peter Hyams on 2010: Odyssey Two, and he gave me a tour of the incredible sets. We’ve kept in touch by postal letters, by FAX, by telephone and by email.

In 2001, at a time when we had not been in touch for a few months, I emailed "I miss the nasty little bits of humor you used to send my way. Surely there must be something absurd and off-color in the news you get." Arthur replied with several wonderfully naughty jokes.

In 2004 my friend Jon and I visited Arthur on his chosen turf – Sri Lanka. When I arrived at his home, his secretary ushered me into the office, and there – sitting behind his desk, surrounded by framed photos of him with presidents and celebrities -- he greeted me wearing an ape mask.

"Good grief!" I exclaimed, "I came half-way round the world to see a great visionary mind...will you every grow up?" Eyes twinkled behind rubber: "I’m not planning on it."

As a welcome gesture, he had written a naughty limerick that started "There once was a chap named O’Quinn, Ceaselessly searching for new kinds of sin..." He knew me way too well.

Yes, Arthur was gay – although in his era that wasn’t the term. As Isaac Asimov once told me, "I think he simply found he preferred men." Arthur didn’t publicize his sexuality – that wasn’t the focus of his life – but if asked, he was open and honest.

I remember on board the ship, a total stranger approached him one day, apparently having heard a homosexual rumor, and offered Arthur a silver Lambda pin. "Are you willing to wear this?" the fellow asked. "Delighted," was Arthur’s response. He put it on and wore it the remainder of the voyage.

Recently I sent Arthur a proposal for "Space Station," a television series I created – with him as Space Sciences Advisor. He replied, "Yes, of course I am interested. Your outline’s certainly promising and has already given me several ideas." He urged me to visit and discuss in person. Sadly, we will not work together on that project.

I launched STARLOG in 1976 and wrote my "From The Bridge" column for more than 275 issues. Over the years I featured pieces on Arthur more than any other human, but, as Mr. Spock would say, "that’s only logical." Arthur was so rich with activities and accomplishments that he was perpetually newsworthy, and his wit and brilliance constantly challenged me, surprised me, and delighted me. For more than 40 years he added excitement to my life.

In a recent "Egogram" (his term for the email newsletter of his activities) Arthur wrote "...completing 90 orbits around the sun was a suitable occasion to reflect on how I would like to be remembered. I’ve had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer, space promoter and science populariser. Of all these, I want to be remembered most as a writer – one who entertained readers, and, hopefully, stretched their imagination as well."

He definitely stretched my imagination. Sir Arthur C. Clarke was one of a kind, a dear friend, a planetary treasure and a prime example of carbon-based bipeds.

I am so fortunate to have accepted that strange job as Program Director on an eclipse cruise. My rendezvous with Arthur was more dazzling than seeing stars and planets overhead in the middle of the day.

Kerry O'Quinn

Hollywood, CA, Earth

rainbow line

Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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