We Come Not to Praise Synanon

Cordelia (Cory Beach Levy) Becker Synanon Resident 1967-1990

I was disappointed, no, devastated at how Synanon devolved.  After Synanon ended I had to figure out how to survive so I didn’t have time to process, defend or vilify the place.  I’m older now. Isn’t nostalgia one of the requisites of old age?  Despite the diaspora, most of my best friends, I met in Synanon.  Not one of them is a violent criminal.

With this website, we are not attempting to rewrite history or revive Synanon.  I am interested in the other truths about Synanon as told by people who actually lived there.  There are dozens of places where people can find the damning dirt.  I’ve gone to some of those places and the fact that much of it is true is depressing and confirms some of my first dark perceptions of what was happening when I lived in Synanon.

I find solace in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Marc Anthony’s speech at Caesar’s grave.  He came not to praise but to mourn him.  I suppose this doesn’t apply if you never loved or even liked Synanon but it speaks to me. In hindsight, I suppose, I wish I had been more like Brutus.

You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

4 responses to “We Come Not to Praise Synanon”

  1. Lu Ann Bustos DeRing Avatar
    Lu Ann Bustos DeRing

    Enjoyed the read. Thanks for posting.

    Lu Ann Bustos

    1. Thank you Lu Ann. It is nice to hear from you. I f you would ever like to tell your Synanon Story. Please let us know. Warm Regards, Cory

  2. Norman Johnson Avatar
    Norman Johnson

    Thank you Cory. That quote from Brutus strikes home. The joyful memories for me are obscured by the painful memories of kids like Danny B and Brian F who did not survive their experience.

  3. That will cause some thinking around the community, Cory.
    Your post will prompt me to keep tugging at the paradox and looking for a way to unravel it: That, yes, Synanon went to a dark, dark place — and, btw, more than a decade before it moved from public fame to infamy — yet it has a claim to being the best living of life that we will ever find.
    Did you see the news that Paul Morantz died, partially perhaps as a result of decades of illness caused by the poison injected into him by that big rattlesnake.
    As you say, Morning Meeting is a place for all the perspectives and memories — “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
    Please keep it all coming.

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