April 17th , 1997
Mr. Mathew Kalman
The Independent
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5DL

 

Dear Mr. Kalman,

My apologies for not writing sooner but I have been on tour, going from city
to city and getting very little sleep in between. As a result I have had very
little presence of mind to respond to your letter with the full attention it
deserves. I finally have a few minutes to respond with the hope that I can
clarify my position and answer your questions to your satisfaction.

I think the most important point that I want to make with you is how foolish I
have been in making ill thought and unclear comments to the media. When I read
your letter I finally appreciated how my naive, and admittedly thoughtless
comments, have naturally resulted in confusion and apprehension with some
people. In fact I was so taken aback by the serious allegations and
suggestions in your letter that I was left breathless and confused as how to
adequately respond. I thus needed the time to compose myself, and free my mind
from the fear of being completely misunderstood in the media as something that
I abhor, and which I am trying (with my many faults) to counteract. I hope
that this letter will help clarify how my intent to challenge ignorance has
been presented ignorantly and has thus only resulted in me appearing ignorant.

My real intent is to encourage new thinking in myself and others and try to
foster a spirit of love, charity and humanity. I have no real experience with
the media and I am trying to find my way, while I simultaneously search for my
own understanding. In doing this, and in speaking about it in the media I have
created more confusion than clarity, which leaves me at a loss.

I think there is no better example of my naivete and insensitivity than the
swastika comments that have been reported in the NME. This has justifiably
upset many people for which I am deeply sorry. My comments derive from my long
interest in Indian culture, from which the swastika has it origins. As you may
know the swastika is thousands of years old, and although in Indian culture it
actually represents wholeness, spirituality, and good fortune it has been
unfortunately stolen by the Nazis who transformed it into a symbol of hate,
racism, death, destruction and evil.

I appreciate that I live and work in the western culture and that I have
simplistically tried to present anew the meaning of a symbol which is (obvious
to me now) hopelessly irredeemable in the eyes of my own society. I find it
sad how evil influences can mis-appropriate a symbol that is good for millions
of people in one culture, and turn it into the opposite in another.

I have travelled to India many times and have been influenced greatly by its
people and philosophy, especially that of Bhakti or devotional love. It is my
love of Indian culture, and its artistry, music, rich iconography and symbols
that prompted my comments in the NME. My comments were not in any way a
support of the crimes that are symbolised by the Nazis use of the swastika,
especially the Holocaust genocide in which so many innocent Jews were tortured
and murdered.

I appreciate that for the western world the swastika did not exist prior to
the Nazis. While my studies of Indian culture have shown me a different side
to its history, it is none the less, thoughtless of me to think that with one
comment I can make something different from a symbol that represents nothing
but evil to so many people. I apologise to those who have been offended by my
comment and humbly ask that they accept that I am completely against the
Nazis, their crimes and any other later day form of totalitarianism. For the
record I have never been an anti-semite especially as my dear grandmother was
Jewish and I am thus Jewish by blood. Really the whole thing is for me
mortifying when I think that my comment has resulted in all of this. If I can
be frank, I must say that this entire experience has given me great cause for
reflection.

When I first heard of your letter, and then read its contents, I replied via
my press agency that I thought the matter deserved a personal meeting. My tour
obligations and your pressing deadline have for the moment made that not
possible. I hope that on my return we can have a more personal exchange that
will underscore how I feel about all of this. I must admit that it is hard for
me to not be upset by it all.

Lately I have considered how confusing some of the things I have said appear,
especially when they are taken as sound bites, and on occasion, out of
context. Communication seems challenging at the best of times, and I now
appreciate that my bundling of themes like the Grail, Knights Templars and
Hinduism has not done much in the way of helping deep understanding. Your are
correct when you comment on my "complicated and intriguing mystical worldview"
saying that you, "find it hard to understand in simple terms" the co-mingling
of all these ideas. I think the only way one can reconcile their relationship,
(if indeed one accepts that there is one), is if one looks at them from a
mystical or spiritual point of view. There are of course lines of thought that
suggest how eastern ideas made their way to the west, especially via the
Crusades, but it is true that for the most part they do not have a currency in
modern thought. Thus in essence, the co-mingling is largely a personal
expression of a desire to know and understand the deeper secrets of a
spiritual or inner life. From the little that I know or understand, I see that
somehow similar themes appear in different cultures and settings. There is a
kind of universal commonality of spiritual understanding and that is what I am
attempting to celebrate in my work and music. I see that the world is full of
conflicts between peoples of different cultures and ideologies and yet I also
see how similar we all are in our nature and needs. I guess what I am trying
to say is that there is a "sameness or commonality", despite the apparent
differences. My song Tattva, in part tries to address this idea. What I am
trying to say is that despite the differences we can live and love together. I
appreciate that my own special mix of themes is at best eccentric, it is
certainly not my intention that other people should follow a composite of
ideas, but that in the best case they may take some inspiration or
understanding from them as I have done. My intention is not to cheapen ideas
by making strange groupings, but only to suggest a relation in principle. I
hope that I have clarified this point and made my mysticism a little less
misty.

Bill Cooper is a writer I heard about at a gig I played years ago in Wembley.
At the time I was with a band from Kingston, Surrey called the "Objects". You
commented that I apparently do not want to talk about the Objects, which in
stems mostly from the fact that the band was going nowhere, I was struggling
with hopes of making more of it, and that I was thus frustrated in my early
musical attempts. If I don't want to talk about it, it is because it really is
an inconsequential detail. I am happy the way my music is developing and
rather want to focus on the positive and the future.

The Objects were invited to play at a bizarre alternative conference in
Wembley. At the time the band couldn't even half-fill the back-end of a pub,
but somehow the organiser who was a most eccentric woman thought that we
were
a famous and successful pop-band. A gig was a gig, especially then, and so we
played two sets. We had very little idea what the conference was about and so
we thought, "lets have an adventure and do it". The whole thing was mad
really, being attended by people who thought that "men had landed on the Moon
in 1890!" not to mention other assorted cranks and weirdoes. There were a few
people there who made some sense about a few things like the assassination of
JFK and the like. Bill Cooper lectured at the conference and that is really
all I know of him. At the time I read his book, and while some of the content
seemed fascinating at the time, I can't accept either him or his theories. I
have no admiration for Cooper or his ideas and his reprinting of the
reprehensible and specious Protocols of Zion is, if I am not mistaken, his
attempt to show how there is a conspiracy against the Jews and not a
justification of a Jewish conspiracy. Which may lead you to ask why he earned
a place of mention on our album cover. The theme of the cover played with the
idea of conspiracies, and remembering him as a proponent of conspiracy theory
we put him on as a joke - thats it. You will note that other notables are also
mentioned such as Terry Venebles, Charles Dickens, and Jack Kerouac.

My own take on the conspiracy idea is that while some people may while the
time away speculating on mental concoctions, we may miss the point that there
are real problems in the world that need addressing and that we can correct.
Ignoring those problems, for whatever reason, seem to me more the conspiracy
to be concerned about. If I look around me, there is a lot of corruption and
decay which I think derives from a lack of spirit - divine or human. Maybe I
feel the urge to try and change it, if I can, and if it can be.

Trying to look at the situation as objectively as I can the only thing I can
say is that all of this has resulted from a combination of naivete,
thoughtlessness, uncertainty about my own developing ideas and thoughts,
confusion about how to present all that to the press, my eccentricity, an
occasional misquote or quote taken out of context and the general nature of
speculation that seems to thrive on confusion.

I may be confused as I find my way Mr. Kalman, but I can tell you that I am
clear about some things. I loath totalitarianism, far Right thinking,
oppression of all forms, denial of human rights, and all things that would
limit the free spirit of humankind. I stand for peace, love, generosity, and
learning. As I work on my own shortcomings, so many of which are mentioned or
alluded to herein, I hope to someday stand for some understanding of the
sublime and the spiritual. As I am sitting here, absolutely knackered that
seems a long way off indeed. These are my ideals, and it now seems clear to me
that I may have been too idealistic in expressing my ideals. I am feeling the
pinch of learning my lessons - older people around me tell that is good for
me. I accept that.

But, creatively I live by my ideals. I am inspired by musicians, poets,
writers, thinkers, all of whom challenge the status quo and who question the
need for a better understanding. In finding my own creative voice I may be
reaching to their heights and in doing so I am learning that I have to follow
and not imitate. As I mentioned earlier India has also strongly influenced me
and I am challenged to somehow present such an eloquent influence in a sound-
bite culture. I am sure that I need to review my approach to all of this.

I have tried to be open with you and express myself to you in a personal way
with the hope that I can somehow clear the misunderstandings you mentioned in
your letter. I appreciate that they are not necessarily yours personally. I
know that others may have similar concerns. I hope that I have clarified my
position to your satisfaction and that you accept my expression as heartfelt.

My music is everything to me, and I hope that as time goes by I will find a
better expression for the ideals that inspire me. Meanwhile, I hope that
everyone that I have offended will accept my apology and understand how much I
hope for a better world based on love, humanity and peace.

Lastly, I look forward to meeting you in person to carry the discussion
forward if that should suit you

Sincerely yours in love and peace,

Crispian Mills