An Interview With Judith Herman
Once you’ve seen, up close, the evil human beings are capable of, you’re not going to see the world, other people, or even yourself the same way again. Those of us who’ve never had such an experience might imagine how brave or cowardly we would be in extreme situations, but people who’ve been exposed to those situations know what they did and didn’t do. And, almost inevitably, they failed to live up to some expectation they had of themselves.
I have been in many women’s groups: walking groups, writing groups, ritual groups, clothing-exchange groups, exercise groups, even a long-ago Tupperware group. So it wasn’t odd to hear Sarah talk, at a meeting of my oldest women’s group, about an entirely different group of women with whom she met. These women rode horses into the deepest part of the woods, and upon arrival, each told a secret.
I studied Ram Dass’s spiritual odyssey as if it were a map to some mysterious continent whose existence I’d only recently discovered. A year earlier, I’d taken LSD for the first time; I, too, had experienced a radical shift in consciousness as I’d glimpsed my true self, and tasted the glory at the heart of creation.
The videotape began with a Japanese family standing in front of the Statue of Liberty. I’d never seen them before. There was a mother, a son, and a daughter. The father, I assumed, was behind the camera. They had on all the gear: Big Apple T-shirts, Yankees hats, Nikon necklaces.