It's a Bird! It's a Dream! It's Supergull!

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style is highly personal and full of description. As a parable, Jonathan is little more than a narrative skeleton supporting a number of inspirational and philosophic assertions. Bach also points out that he disagrees entirely with Jonathan's decision to abandon the pursuit of private perfection in favor of returning to the dumb old Flock and encouraging its members toward higher wisdom. "Self-sacrifice," says Bach, "is a word I cannot stand."

He believes that an individual has extraordinary powers that can only keep on growing if he develops himself at all costs. Bach means all costs. This is a doctrine given considerable lip service in the U.S., which likes to remember itself as the land of the rugged individualist. But such counsel is rarely followed, in part because of sentimentality and fear of ridicule. One of the funnier episodes in Bach's life was the moment a little over two years ago when Captain Richard Bach quit the Iowa Air Guard —and the weekend jet flying he loved —rather than trim his mustache one-quarter inch at each end and so comply with a new directive against "bushy-appearing" upper lips. Most of Ottumwa sympathized with Bach on that horrendous issue. But not long afterward he scandalized his congregation by withdrawing from the Church of Christ, Scientist, not because he disagrees with much of its teaching but because he has come to hate all religious labels and says flatly, "Organization can ruin anything." (Similarly, on a more frivolous matter, Bach stopped sending Christmas cards a few years back. "In the U.S.," he says mildly, "Christmas has become the rape of an idea.")

Then, well before Jonathan was published as a book, Bach left his wife and six children. "Part of me felt like a rat," he admits, "but I had to ask myself if I could live there any longer. And I couldn't." Recently he has settled a good deal of money on the family and established them in a large house near Lake Michigan. He and his wife Bette are on easier terms. Neither will discuss persistent rumors of another woman, though Bach says that freedom was the real issue and suggests that he will never again be able to live with the impingements of marriage.

However he feels about marriage, Bach is wedded to Jonathan and to its source of inspiration. Several times while flying, Bach has heard a voice give him a sharp command which he followed on instinct; it saved his life, he insists. Yet he admits to being nervous about acting as a vehicle for what he long thought of as the alien force that gave him Jonathan. Because he believes in most of what the book illustrates he has also been a bit worried that readers would refuse to take it seriously once they knew about its "kooky" origin.

One result has been a soft flirtation with the world of the occult. Bach began by skulking into occult bookstores and sampling the fare. "It took nerve," he recalls, "just to go in one of those places." Since then he has tried a few mediums, but found "all that crystal-ball stuff, spirit guides, music and the darkened rooms" hard to take. Recently, though, he discovered Jane Roberts, a poet and science-fiction writer, who since 1963 has been a conduit for the spoken words of a personality called Seth. "It's all done in daylight," says

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