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Alan Watts: Philosophy East and West

The first Alan Watts program on KRAB that can be confirmed was Feb 23, 1963, "Alan Watts Explains Haiku". KRAB started running the Philosophy East and West (PE&W) series sometime in late Spring, as they were up to #6 by Jul 5th.

According to the biographical sketch on the web site devoted to Watts, his interest in the exotic Orient was piqued by reading Sax Rohmer, Lafcadio Hearn and, eventually D T Suzuki. This appears to be a well trod path, as a 1930 edition of Rohmer's The Day The World Ended given to my father for Christmas 1933 is on the shelf behind me, as well as Hearn's Kwaidan and Selected Writings, and Suzuki's Manual of Zen Buddhism.

KPFA folio 1956
KPFA Vol 7 No 08 Jul 8-21 1956

KPFA folio 1958
KPFA Vol 9 No 15 Oct 12-25 1958

It seems that PE&W was recorded during the 1950's, which means it predates Watt's (1961) occupancy of the fabled "houseboat in Sausalito" (the ferry Vallejo). Could I have been the only one to imagine him sitting lotus-legged, a microphone hanging in front of him and reels of tape spinning at his side, expounding on this and that of Buddhism, western duality, and twisted ethics, as the boat lurched from the wake of a passing luxury yacht?

Until recently there was a web site that documented the history of the Vallejo ferry and its residents. The site had a transcript (SF Oracle Nbr 7) of the Feb 1967 Houseboat Summit with Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Alan Watts. The site is gone now.

KPFA featured PE&W and Watts on the covers of at least two folios, with essays about our star.

As to the date this particular program was first broadcast on KRAB: In 1964, Alan Watts was regularly scheduled for Tuesday nights. Numbers 38 and 39 in the series are announced in guide 43; And numbers 42 and 43 are in guide 45. So it should be safe to assume that this one was first broadcast on KRAB Tuesday Sep 8, 1964, and announced in guide 44.

The Pacifica Radio Archives has CDs available of much of the PE&W series.

We have two of Alan Watts' PE&W series. Oddly, both are exactly the same length. Since both episodes end with the text described on the tape label, perhaps a couple of minutes of the introduction was lost from the beginning of #41, or the speeds of each increased to fit within the 22:47. According to the tape label, the origional length of #41 was 27:45, and of #42 23:40. It is something to ponder as Watts talks of things metaphysical.

tape label

Listen now Listen now - Philosophy East and West #41 - Art of Psychoanalysis III - KRAB Sep 8, 1964 (22:47)

Listen now Listen now - Philosophy East and West #42: Truth and Relativity - KRAB Sep 15, 1964 (22:47)

Recording courtesy of the Jack Straw Foundation, JSF inv PA-0508.A and PA-0508.B


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