What is a Space Beagle? – A Letter from Karl, the Survivalist

Personal Reflection: Gerald preached fervently on the need to be a generalist. He often told me, “Know everything.” And “Take everything under consideration.”

He wrote this autobiographical letter as Karl to George Prell, and it carries that same message.


Dear G.,

Talked to Roger a psychologist I went to grade school with. After many years we made contact through a reunion notice. I was telling him how I thought people were so narrow-minded I was afraid to bring up a subject because I would get a hateful reaction, or a dumb look, which is just as bad I guess.

He said that people’s minds are undeveloped, because they know only such limited things. They don’t want to think a new or different thought. Asked him why and he said it could be through egocentricity, absorbtion with self, but he believes that recently it is out of fear. Folks are so scared they lose themselves in television, sports, and with kids, video games.

He said he was recently in a Wal-Mart, and you know those little stations where you can try out a game? Well a kid just turned away from one of the demo sessions and Roger said the kid was still twitching from playing the game, he was so hyped.

So I asked him, as a psychologist, what is the answer to mental development if people, in their desire to escape, have become to narrow?

Roger said that true mind and personality development is when we make connections between things instead of just getting lost in one thing. A girl learns to knit and then thinks how nice it would be to knit something for a friend. Now she is thinking of someone else, and so on. He said to be mentally alive is when you make as many connections as you can.

I liked the idea, I have tried to do it because it makes me happy, really. But then Roger said, we go to the next stage and make connections between the connections. He described it as dendritic thinking, and feeling.

I had to ask him what he meant by “dendritic” and he said, “Like a tree.” When I asked, “Like a tree’s roots? He said, “Yes, and branches too. Then he said, “If you could see all of a tree’s roots, you would see they are as extensive as the trunk and branches, as if you put a big mirror under the tree. The reflected image would be like the roots.”

Then I told him I had the idea, that the tree can’t be any bigger or stronger than it’s unseen part, the root system.. He said “You’ve got it!”

Well, G. You know how I love to get ideas from experts, and Roger is one. I pursued this line asking him how we go about this process. He paid me a nice compliment by saying from what he remembered of me, I was already doing it, and a lot of people are. These are people who embrace new ideas and people, and hopefully, give out while they are receiving them.

Then he asked if I had read a book called The Voyage of the Space Beagle. I had not, but said I would sure do it. All he would tell me is that it had a new science discipline called ‘nexialism” in it and said we should all be nexialists.

So, G,. I want to pursue this idea of connections, like my friend said. I told him that there are plants in the wild that can’t be moved, because they have one big root and you break it when you dig it up. Asclepias tuberosa is dying out in some places because it so attractive, bright, bright, orange. I am ashamed to say I killed one trying to dig it up, before I learned not to try. But you take fibrous-rooted plants, they have so many little roots and are so flexible that they transplant easily. Wonder if this is true of people?

Got to tell you the neat thing I learned from Roger. I asked him why, when teen-agers fall in love they become so hateful and snarly with their parents and brothers and sisters? He said the adolescent mind believes you only have just so much love, like your love is one solid thing.. When you give it to one person you have nothing to give to anyone else! Like that song, No other love have I, only my love for you.

Want to say something about the term “survival”. I think it is wrong, though I call myself a survivalist.. I mean it sounds so desperate, like you just barely make it, all singed and bleeding, after you defeat everyone else. But doesn’t survive mean to live. What’s wrong with living, and helping other people to live also?

So I have a term you can consider, “sur-thrive-alism”. What do you think? Let’s not just try to make it, but be happy as we do it. Is that being a nexialist? Got to get ahold of that book.

Your friend,


Author: Gerald Franz

Gerald Franz (1935-2014) was like a second father to me in the 27 years I knew him. Brilliant and eccentric, with a wide array of interests, he fit the definition of being gifted. He strove to shake people loose from their conventional thinking. As a Bible believing Christian, his favorite and most studied Bible subject was prophecy. Writing became a means of teaching in his later years. See more about Gerald here.