Bill Dalzell II



This is an addendum to my tribute

William Sage Dalzell (1929-2018)

William Sage Dalzell (1929-2018)

It is in the form of an email which I sent last week to a rude correspondent who had contacted me on Facebook. She was interested in Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy. I told her I had a story about how I had obtained my own copy.

The email follows.


— Roger W. Smith

   June 2023



Dear Diane.

Please see attached cover of my old paperback edition of The Perennial Philosophy.

It was beat up and ink stained.

When I first came to New York at age 22, I worked for a nonprofit in a brownstone on East 18th Street.

I met a self employed printer there — he was older than me, middle aged — whom I befriended. I have written a tribute to him which is on my site

He came from a somewhat privileged background — had well established, educated parents — but he moved to New York and the Lower East Side, lived in an apartment for which the rent was $29 a month (!),  lived by intuition and was not interested in money or status.

He was into mysticism, very much so; and what might be called New Age stuff. He had no use for doctors (never saw one).

He liked the book Diet for a Small Planet, which he gave me a copy of.

He cooked a lot of beans (delicious), which he bought dried, in a bag. I would visit him in his apartment and we would eat, drink, and talk. I met some of his good friends, who had similar lifestyles and views.

He influenced me a lot. We had great long talks and experiences exploring the City together, going to museums and taking the ferry. Long conversations in his third floor walkup, where we would drink beer, which he always served in a mug, all evening.

He was totally non materialistic and very generous. As a newcomer to New York, I didn’t know anyone and had scarce resources.

One day, we got to talking about the Aldous Huxley book. Here, he said, while I was leaving, and handed me his own precious copy. It was ink stained because when his printer was running, he would sit reading in a serene, contemplative state with a book in his lap.

His hands were inky from the printer. He bought his clothes at thrift shops and made it a point to wear black slacks because, he said, the ink stains on them would be less noticeable.

I already knew William Blake, who is sort of in the mystical tradition. I have read him intensely, but Huxley barely mentions him. I did not know about Meister Eckhart.

I am also attaching a portrait of my friend Bill. He had good aesthetic sense and introduced me to a lot of great films and to painters such as Edward Hopper. He had several artist friends, a few of whom I met.

The portrait was painted by Gregory Gillespie, a friend of Bill’s and well known artist. My wife and I saw the portrait once in a gallery on Madison Avenue. Bill, who is now deceased, was still alive then. The portrait was priced at $40,000.

P.S. — Here is an excerpt from my tribute to Bill:

Bill Dalzell was one of the first people I got to know after moving to New York City. I will never forget his kindness to me. My friendship with Bill was a long and enduring one.

If you got to know Bill well, as I did — if you were privileged to know him — you will probably know the following things about him, and, if you do, will know that they are all true.

He never cared about externals. Dressed simply. Lived by intuition. He followed politics closely but was fundamentally an apolitical person.

He believed absolutely in the spiritual, in mysticism, and in bona fide psychics such as Edgar Cayce and the medium Grace Cooke, author of the White Eagle books. He was interested in the writings of mystics such as Meister Eckhart — in the case of Eckhart, in the concept of detachment or disinterestedness: renouncing self-interest to attain spiritual enlightenment.




the original post:

William Sage Dalzell (1929-2018)

William Sage Dalzell (1929-2018)

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