Hayley's Comments

Introspection on Healing, Vegetarianism, and Life

Hayley Rose

Hayley Rose
HayleysComments.com, Connecticut, TheVeggieStand.com
December 31
I was born when Halley’s Comet last appeared overhead and named accordingly. Since then, I've become a writer, artist, and columnist. In addition to Open Salon, my work appears frequently in The Huffington Post, All Things Healing, Gender Across Borders: A Global Feminist Blog, and several other publications. I blog daily at my site HayleysComments.com I recently published my first book, "I Know Why They Call a Shell a Shell." The book is about domestic violence, a topic that I am very vocal about. It chronicles my journey away from tumultuous love affairs by weaving stories of her past with stories from literature, music, and visual art of both modern and classical significance. Find me on Twitter @HRoseStudios


MARCH 19, 2012 8:25PM

Communal Dystopia

Rate: 8 Flag

“Look, I want to be honest and real with you because you deserve it sweetie… I am attracted to you and yes I want you to be mine one day if God is willing, babygirl. My wife and I would love to get to know you sweetie… You are a beautiful woman and getting to know you would be a pleasure. We, as a married couple, are seeking to have a committed serious relationship that could lead to family and children one day. We want to be upfront and real with a fine sexy beautiful goddess like yourself, sweetie, and by the way, we are new to this also, so hit us up when you have a chance ok. Take care babygirl!”

This is by far one of the oddest messages I have received via my online dating profile. Through the years, however, I have encountered many swingers. For a long time I was a waitress at a sushi bar and during that time I saw some of the craziest stuff and met some of the craziest people- these people, of course, included swingers. There was the nude photographer who offered me $50 an hour to sell my soul (aka to pose nude for his smut photography). “Well, you’re just a waitress,” he assumed, “I’m sure you could use the extra money.”  As if! This self-proclaimed “photographer” was a married man and often visited the restaurant accompanied by two other couples and his wife. They invited me to join in their “after dinner festivities” several times. I flirted with them to up my tip, but would never ever participate in an orgy (and if I did, they would certainly be my last choice of partners).

This recent message from the married couple online, wouldn’t be the first message I’ve received from a couple on the dating site that inquired about some type of group sex/ relationship arrangement. The first was from a guy who had a girlfriend but was seeking a threesome. The first time he messaged me he was upfront. The second time he messaged me, his profile no longer mentioned that he was in a relationship. I envisioned that he still was with the girl and that meeting up with him would inevitably get me jumped and possibly murdered by them both. I promptly ignored his message just like I am going to ignore the one from the married couple who wants to make their couple into a triple (that could possibly lead to “a committed serious relationship that could lead to family and children one day”).

This reminds me of the time I almost joined a commune. When I lived in Arizona, one of my best friends, who also happens to be a mega-Christian sorority girl, brought me to a place called Arcosanti. Because of my friend's extremely conservative background, I never suspected that anything at Arcosanti was awry, being a devout Christian, she would die before she went against her Bible-given principles. 

Arcosanti is an art commune of sorts that focuses on building an Earth friendly society with urban planning that focuses on sustainability (architecture that goes along with the grain of the terrain rather than dominate it). From what I gather, it is an independent community that self-governs and self-regulates (such as the Vatican). The place is gorgeous and built within the desert in a way that doesn’t seem to alter the land as it reaches towards Arcosanti’s goal of a sustainable environment.

Arcosanti Panoramic View


Entrance Arcosanti, Hayley Rose 2008

“The goal of Arcosanti is to explore the concept of arcology, which combines architecture and ecology. The town aims to combine the social interaction and accessibility of an urban environment with sound environmental principles such as minimal resource use and access to the natural environment.[1] To accomplish this, the project is building an experimental town on 25 acres (0.1 km2) of a 4,060 acre (16 km2) land preserve.” (Wikipedia)  Arcoanti is located about 65 miles north of Phoenix and was created by Paolo and Colly Soleri. Paolo Soleri was an architect who studied briefly under the legendary Frank Llyod Wright. Soleri became well known when one of his designs was recognized by the Museum of Modern Art. Arcosanti is Soleri’s design now realized and under construction since 1970.

Arcosanti, Hayley Rose 2008

The buildings at Arcosanti are beautiful. When I first visited, it appeared to be a quiet and peaceful place where students work together with Soleri’s special recipe of bronze to cast the metal into shapes used to assemble their famous wind chimes. The bronze recipe is a secret, though I suspect that the secret to it’s rainbow gleam is similar to raku, a firing technique used by potters to create a multi-color sheen throughout the glazed surface. As I watched the students pour the molten metal in the foundry to create these giant and super expensive “Soleri Windbells,” I noticed that the silence was more eerie than peaceful. Not once throughout the two visits I made to the commune had anyone greeted or spoken a word to me or my various companions.

"Soleri Windbells" Hayley Rose 2008

It is the Soleri Windbells, priced hundreds of dollars and up, that help fund the foundation and keep it running. From what I remember, in the gift shop there was a portfolio full of nude drawings and a note with instructions on how to become a future subject. The note said that if you wanted to model for the master artist (I think it was Soleri, himself) that there was a long wait list and if chosen,  you would be paid in a copy of his nude drawings of you. Wow. This is almost as bad as getting paid $50 an hour to pose nude for smut pictures. I don’t care how famous an artist or an arcitect he was, I found this practice- to be paid in drawings for exposing your body with copies of the drawings you posed for- not only offensive but exploitative (especially coming from an established and likely well off person). I had spent many years struggling as an artist, trying out things like modeling, film, art, painting, photography and writing. More often than not, I was roped into doing these things for free- but more so by other volunteers/ fundraisers, not by people who could afford to pay me. Reading this changed my perception a little of the beautiful landscape we spent the afternoon exploring. Was this an art commune based on a innovative design for the sustainable architectural future? Or was it closer to glimpse of communes given to us in the 1969 movie Easy Rider?

Right after I graduated college and began to flounder in every way possible, namely financially. It was then that I decided I would join a commune.

I took to the internet to do some research. I wasn’t looking to join just any commune, but an art commune. And it only took a handful of Google searches until I changed my mind.

I found one in Arizona that appealed to me, but then on the “About” page it became clear that it was not what I envisioned an “art commune” to be. “HIV tests are given every thirty days to all communal residents.  You must pass an initial STD screening in order to gain entry into this community for the safety of yourself and other commune members.” Say what? I could just imagine how a young 23 year old, like myself (at the time), would be targeted in this “community” setting, that I would be viewed as community property, that is… Would they brainwash me first and then pass me around like a joint? I wasn’t going to find out. The thought alone disgusted me. Was the gorgeous Arcosanti nestled in the breathtaking Arizona landscape this type of commune as well? Was I so naive? Was there only one type of commune?

Arcosanti Sculrptures, Hayley Rose 2008

According to one former Acrosanti student and resident, “After living under Paolo’s regime, I can understand why he does not consider Arcosanti to be a eutopia, that is, a good society because the fact is he has created a dystopia, a bad society, a culture of hedonistic self-indulgence and quick sex rather than learning, creative synergy, and duration.” Could this be why the students I encountered seemed detached, almost fearfully quiet? The article goes on to say that Soleri, the founder, ran Arcosanti with almost a dictatorship rule, never entertaining suggestions from what she refers to as the “peasant class.”

Arcosanti, Hayley Rose 2008

In her dissertation about the commune, she goes on to say, “Dissenting voices, for the good of the people, are not welcome at Arcosanti. It is ‘Paolo’s place.’ Another common slogan among brainwashed residents is, “Paolo’s way or the highway.” In such a worldview Arcosanti does not become a project for the survival and benefit for humanity, but a project to serve Paolo’s megalomania. Arcosanti becomes Paolo’s capitalistic mansion where he rules over his servant class of bell makers and domestic workers.”

Arcosanti, Hayley Rose 2008

Though this is one student’s take on the community, it does make sense to me. I remember being stunned by the inflated price of the bells, the least expensive ones ringing in somewhere around $400. Just strolling through Arcosanti gives you a ghost town vibe, though it is inhabited.

Look at the definitions I’ve listed below.

1. This word “usually refers to a new religious movement or other group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. (Wikipedia)

2. An instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers (Dictionary.com)

These sound like descriptions and possible definitions of the word “commune,” correct? They do, indeed, however, they are not definitions for the word “commune,” but definitions of the word “cult.”

After reading her dissertation, the uneasy feelings I had while visiting Arcosanti began to make sense.

Attracted by the idea of a self-governed almost libertarian state, free spirits and risk takers come from all over the world only to be unsuspectingly bonded and oppressed to a new and more glamorous form of governing, the commune. Once supporters and monetary contributions arrive, the founder loses site of his or her vision for the future because the newly acquired power has intoxicated them. This cult/communal model dystopian is a smaller scale example of histories fallen nations, oppressive governments, and dictatorship rules; many of which started off with the best intentions.

It is the same with the strange married couple that messaged me and invited me into their life (not that I had any interest in them). They are the smallest scale model of this cult/ brainwashed/ dictatorship paradigm. They are the controlling/powerful parties of this scenario who choose who is invited i.e me, the subservient, into their already established “rule.” They not only over power me, should I enter the relationship, but outnumber me. Though I do have an avid imagination, I feel that their invitation and others like it have sinister intentions despite their initial claims. They are much like the commune/ cult in the sense that they are going against the grain of societal norm in the name of trying something new and being a free spirit.

To me it seems that entering that type of situation is not only crazy but dangerous. To come from a position of unknowing  entering into a relationship with two people who already know each other very well sounds extremely risky, such as entering into life on an established commune. The first couple that contacted me made me think of how dangerous the proposition they made would be for anyone who accepted it- to enter a sexual situation with not one but two strangers who know each other pretty well. They might even be extending the invitation so they can do some weird S and M stuff (hey, I saw Pulp Fuction) and then murder me at the end. It would be pretty difficult to get away from not one but two people in an unfamiliar scenario or anything similar. The concept itself sounds like the material that CSI and TV movies are made of.

It has long been the habit of dictators and cult leaders alike to leave established society in a quest for their vision of a utopia. Many people jump on board with them unaware that their vision for this utopia actually includes the same bonds and oppressions of any modern day governance; the only difference being that they are now the ones in charge and as for the members of this new cult or society- they are still being oppressed now just by a different leader.

“It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.” -Herbert Hoover

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Just read this on your other network.. HIV tests?
think I cant really find anything to disagree with in here but its not really nice of you to assume that swingers, or polyamorous couples, are serial killers.. right? but obviously its way outside of the envelope of consensual ("vanilla"?) reality... I occasionally read blogs by poly writers & theres a few on here, I have a post on that for anyone interested. yes, there are poly freaks, but there are also plenty of monogamous freaks too....
ugh- glad I was smart enough not to fall into that trap!
Hi VZN- I am sorry- I knew you wouldn't like this post- the swingers form the sushi bar were definitely harmless and interesting folks for sure. The ones online obviously inspired this post, however it would probably be better for them to message people who stated in their profiles that they were looking for polyamourus relationships rather than vanilla people like me lol - the email was thought provoking nonetheless- I hope you're not too miffed with me- I always enjoy reading your posts and comments!
You certainly *do* have an avid imagination. I'm not sure I can make the ethical and mental leaps you did to present your case. It was an interesting read, though, and I'm going to take most of the odd seeming bits as your version of wry humor (and that does come closest to it, I think.)

I'm not sure what constitutes a commune, but there are plenty of working communal groups I've met where it's not about free love, peace and tie-dye shirts, but about hard work, cooperating at a small scale so that, through your communal efforts the entire group survives.

If it gets perverted, that's going to cause it's demise, sooner or later. However, I think I could easily make the distinction between a cult and a commune and ne'er confuse the two. Of course, this doesn't mean a cult cannot act like a commune at first blush. I guess you might consider a cult as sort of a commune dominated by a controlling personality. Once it's a one person rule, there is no more commune.

Anyway, it was an interesting and -- entertaining read.

I had friends that lived on a commune right after high school for a while and liked it, eventually they got married and moved out. Arcosanti sounds like a place to be unhappy.
Arcosanti (I visited it once some years ago) reminds me of Damanhur in Italy. I must resume my effort to write about the vibes I got there... It was also focussed on art, had interesting architecture.....and was dominated by the head guy.
Yeah, and weirdsy people you meet on the internet who call you 'babygirl' are probably to be avoided. Snort.
[r] hayley, wow, a compelling read. thanks for your honesty once again. there are different kinds of groups and personalities of groups depending upon the alpha leaders. I couldn't help before I was done with the read flashing on Jonestown, where people yearned for a communal utopia and the ego-sick leader isolated those people and took so many of them with him to death. Talk about mania. Where the phrase drinking the kool-aid comes from, except those people were forced to drink it rather than swilling it out of cronyism. I am hard on groups I know, because I was stuck in a role in my family rather than feeling free to explore different dimensions of myself and letting myself acknowledge and express more inconvenient to others feelings growing up. Sometimes I take on a placator role in a group because I don't feel safe to be more honest, sometimes I am trusting and open, sometimes not so much. Group dynamics are very powerful. Sometimes one trusts an individual but group loyalty may make a person sacrifice the friendship for the cronyism of the group. We all have had and never leave entirely those high school kinds of reckoning.

You know I think relationships with groups are like relationships with individuals. You have the initial attraction or opposite. You pursue it into a kind of honeymoon stage maybe or quit it. And then eventually you decide if you are still involved, if there is a sustainable mutuality learning the good, bad and ugly about each other. Chemistry and flexibility and enough common values I guess.

just meandering. :) you take care. best, libby
Hooboy! I was fascinated by Arcosanti going way back to writeups in Whole Earth Catalog, and then visited there when I was in AZ in the '80s, but, call me clueless - - I HAD NO IDEA! I think I still have one of their flimsy ($5.00 + tax) brochures somewhere.
Wow what a place. I would love to visit there sometime. Thanks so much for sharing. Nice pix too!
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............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
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hey hayley thx for the personal reply I feel honored. an apology, from you? I certainly dont deserve it :p .... anyway just think of the positive side of that poly couple, they thought you were attractive & wanted to [if you will pardon the vernacular] "bump uglies" with you. is the problem just that they didnt look like orlando bloom & sophia vergara? or [insert hot model/actor here].... actually thats a fun game, pick your favorite movie crush opposite sex, then pick your favorite female actress who you think is most elite or sexy, and then imagine that the couple invited you to some "playtime"... any wavering on that? this is a good test for poly-curious which frankly I suspect you are from your writing haha. anyway its good that you're stayin careful and conservative & vanilla over there, better watch out or you might get COOTIES :p
L'heure sounds like a commune success story! Lol

Duniteowl- Thank-you! Interesting comment!

Myriad lol- yes being called “babygirl” by a stranger is probably listed in the book of red flags somewhere- Did you write about Arcosanti on OS?

Libby WOW as usual! Very interesting thoughts but I particularly like you musings in the second paragraph-

ordinaryjoe- Thanks for commenting!

Algis- thank-you! :) :) :) yes it's worth a visit for sure
Didn't write about Arcosanti here - it was years ago now and I don't remember much. But I plan to write more about Damanhur...
I always wanted to live in a commune when I was younger, but after having many room mates, it never was perfect. And it seems like a neat fanatic would always end up with a slob.