How Bern Porter Saw the World

How Bern Porter Saw the World

In his 93 years on this Earth, Bern Porter contributed to the invention of television, worked on the Manhattan Project and the Saturn V rocket, and made the acquaintances of Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Werner von Braun.

By Alex Irvine


 

ives don't come any more interesting than Bern Porter's.

In his 93 years on this Earth, he contributed to the invention of television, worked on the Manhattan Project and the Saturn V rocket, and made the acquaintances of Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Werner von Braun. He published Henry Miller, Kenneth Patchen, and Kenneth Rexroth, among others, and knew Gertrude Stein, Anaïs Nin, Allen Ginsberg, and many others you might name. He exerted a profound influence on the phenomenon known as mail art, traveled hundreds of thousands of miles on cruise ships, was married three times (once happily), spent several years in Guam, was an irascible crank, theorized a union of art and science called Sciart, was briefly committed to a mental institution, wrote more than 80 books including important bibliographies of Miller and F. Scott Fitzgerald, had a massive FBI file, lived and worked in Rhode Island, New York, Tennessee, California, Texas, Alabama, and Tasmania. At last he settled in Belfast, Maine, where he ran for governor, served on the Knox County Regional Planning Commission, called his house the Institute of Advanced Thinking, barraged the local paper with letters, and at the end of his life subsisted largely on soup kitchens and food gleaned from the munchie tables at art openings.

 
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