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HAZARDS IN PSYCHOLOGY
@author: Manas Reprints
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VOLUME XI, NO. 31 JULY 30, 1958 HAZARDS IN PSYCHOLOGY IT was Ortega y Gasset, often quoted in these pages, who, writing on the brilliant simplicity of scientific conclusions, pointed out the hazard of a clarity obtained by excluding what cannot be made clear. In his Toward a Philosophy of History, he wrote: Scientific truth is characterized by its exactness and the certainty of its predictions. But these admirable qualities are contrived by science at the cost of remaining on a plane of secondary problems, leaving intact the ultimate and decisive questions. . . . science is but a small part of the human mind and organism. If the physicist detains, at the point where his method ends, the hand with which he delineates the facts, the human being behind each physicist prolongs the line thus begun and carries it on to its termination, as an eye beholding an arch in ruins will of itself complete the missing airy curve. Now this poetic passage, like many another insight, is capable of being led in more than one direction. Depending upon what you think, you can say either that the physicist who completes the curve will make the added line serve his prejudices, or—with a greater friendliness—you can say that the curve he adds is his admission of realities beyond a merely "physical" philosophy. What, truly, should complete the curve? Art, metaphysics, intuition? Probably all three, yet the point, for us, is that it cannot be completed by physics, and this is all we are required to know, at the moment. We are not trapped by the Cartesian coordinates of some graph-maker who will tell us he has spotted us in somewhere on his little piece of paper. The curve, however we complete it, is an improvised thing. It must be drawn free hand. Where did these "traps" come from? Copernicus, Galileo, Newton—they had no traps in mind; they planned no enslavements of the human being to mechanical causation. Their intentions, in every sense, were liberating. It was not until their followers began to make a closed system of philosophy out of their specialty that the mechanical universe began to close in. There is little danger of our being trapped in this particular way, today. We are busy with other things. More important, and it appears, more frightening things. We can look at the philosophic threat of nineteenth-century mechanism with the dispassion of a man who glances at the site of a bog which has been filled in by the land reclamation bureau. It was a bad place, once, but now we easily pass it by. What has freed us from the confinements of the mechanistic philosophy? We are free, no doubt, from a wide variety of causes. The decline of the controversy between science and religion, for one thing. The reductio ad absurdum of behavioristic psychology, for another. Then, it slowly became plain from the work of scientific specialists that the mechanistic hypothesis kept on breaking down. Little by little, the technique of analysis moved up the ladder of synthesis, from atoms to relative wholes. The being of the whole is essentially different, it was discovered, from the being of the part. Holistic theories became popular. We learned about the fallacy of reductionism. There was no revival of metaphysics, but much talk of function, with, in the human sciences, increasing attention to the subjective side of existence. While these developments were proceeding in the scientific specialties, reflective men were assaying the entire cycle of scientific discovery— men like Alfred North Whitehead, W. Macneile Dixon, Ortega y Gasset, Robert M. Hutchins, and Joseph Wood Krutch. As the tremendous burst of energy which produced the scientific revolution began to lag, the time came for evaluation, for corrections in the over-enthusiastic estimate of MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE 2 what science had contributed and might contribute to the progress of the human race. papers have in them the breath of life, the light of mind. Thought of this sort was hardly possible during the nineteenth century. You can find it, of course, in brilliant, prophetic utterance, in pioneer philosophizing; but in those days such thinking was against the grain. It is natural for a man, on the day he climbs to the top of the mountain, to shout, "Now I can see everything!" We should not grudge him his enthusiasm. At the moment, it is "everything" to him. There is a further justification: Discoverers are seldom rationalizers and system-builders. They don't turn what they find into ideological traps or foundations for tight Utopias. These tasks are left to the epigoni. Now MANAS, as the editorial note on page four endeavors to make clear, is on a quest for the breath of life and the light of mind. In consequence, when these animating principles seem to emerge consistently in the writings of psychologists, MANAS hangs out the flag and pulls all the stops that a twentieth-century journal of opinion has available on its console. And, naturally enough, some of the readers of MANAS have offered occasional cautionary advice. They don't want to see the editors lose their balance in blanket endorsements. Their comments have been to the point, and should be of interest to other readers. Following is one such letter: Marx, whatever his defects, was no Stalin. And Pavlov, we suspect, although a ranking mechanist, could not have grown into a John B. Watson, complete with a job at J. Walter Thompson's advertising agency. We are living in an age, in short, of petty consolidations and technological extensions; and an age of analysis and criticism, of disenchantment and stock-taking; indeed, an age of humility and suspended judgment, on many counts. The great surge is over. We cannot even say that we are "marking time," but must confess that we have been slipping back. We have the plant and the "know-how" and the technological facility, but the vision and inspiration seem to be calling on other planets, these days. This may be said in general, about our times. In particular, we are able to say something different. Here, in these pages, we have been saying it about Psychology. Psychology, we have been suggesting, seems on the verge of some kind of "break-through." You find the creative spirit in the writings of certain psychologists. In their work you find the excitement of discovery, the fervor of the explorer. Some men—men like Dr. Maslow—are writing about psychology in the same spirit that is found in the seventeenthcentury writers about Natural Philosophy. Their Volume XI, No. 31 Your reprint of Prof. Maslow s article (MANAS, April 23 and 30) on the role of the psychologist was an excellent choice. He stepped outside the traditional bounds of psychological science and based his critique on a broader basis which involves significant principles not adequately taken account of by conventional psychology. Yet it seems he would present his expanded viewpoint in terms of a narrower science, that of psychology. As I read the paper, I was impressed by the large scope of his criticism, but he would present this insight in the name of psychology rather than some other more general term. Prof. Maslow is obviously much more than a psychologist; the reformations he suggests come not out of psychological principles, but from philosophical principles. To call his philosophical insights psychological would be to describe the whole in terms of a part. MANAS cannot be called a psychological journal in spite of its great preoccupation with psychology. Prof. Maslow cannot be designated as a psychologist only. I think it is important to remember that his conclusions apply to psychology rather than come out of it. Well, it is difficult to object to anything said here, and we doubt that Prof. Maslow would lodge any serious complaints. It seems to us almost a truism that psychology cannot grow into a fruitful science without taking cognizance of philosophy, and this is certainly Prof. Maslow's emphasis. The rest is a matter of terms and limiting definitions. Oriental psychology, for example, comprehends the moral states as well as MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 3 the mental states, while Western psychology has been largely limited to the latter. But to deal with the moral states obliges the admission that they exist and that they have some sort of independent reality which may be examined. This requires a philosophic point of view which, in Eastern psychology, is taken from the transcendental metaphysics of Eastern epistemology. Briefly, the traditional psychology of the East is a sacred discipline. But that is no reason to stop calling it psychology. It is a different psychology. Another comment, equally pertinent, comes in the form of a quotation abstracted by a reader from the Wayfarer, an English Quaker magazine. We select portions of this quotation (and will later note what was left out, and why): When we characterize modern man as more self-conscious than his forebears may have been, we do not mean this as a reproach. He can scarcely avoid self-consciousness since so large a number of factors conspire nowadays against a spontaneous response to life. Not only is man exposed to the everpresent voices from the temples of psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis that remind him of his actual or potential conflicts; in addition, education, including adult education, and in particular religion, continually turn him in on himself. A vast selfimprovement literature keeps urging him to perfect his professional performance, his citizenship, character, and family life. We seem, then, to be closer to the ideal of the Greek, "Know Thyself," than earlier generations. But this trend is not without its hazards. The lines of distinction between self-centredness and selfishness, vanity, pride, or self-pity become easily blurred, . . . One effect of chronic self-reflection is what has been called "desiccation of the heart," a drying up of spontaneity and an impoverishment of natural emotional reactions. Those indulging in self-analysis may easily miss a higher call and fail to perceive the laws of light, life, and love. Enthusiasm and the surrender to transcendent ideals frequently are denied them. . . . A predominantly psychologizing outlook easily produces a lack of delicacy about oneself and others. Psychologically oriented people are often difficult to live with, and usually they find it not easy to live with themselves. Figuratively speaking they are less Volume XI, No. 31 interested in flowers than in the roots, the soil, or the fertilizer from which they grow. Their tendency is to study others rather than to share quietly and helpfully in their problems. They are apt to analyze, or even intrude, when they ought to wait, admire, or cultivate respect and reverence. Moreover the stray psychologist may drift off into the twilight zone of subconscious regions. There he may find himself in an area likely to paralyze any spontaneous and unsullied outlook on life, and also one offering little security against the floods and tides of bottomless subterranean currents. . . . There is so much point and common sense in these observations that it would be gratuitous to quibble about particular statements and take exceptions. An interest in psychology is subject to all these by-paths and excesses. Psychology is the anatomy of mental and emotional processes, but the study of psychology does not supply sound motives for its pursuit. Of itself, psychology affords no over-riding resolve, no all-consuming purpose for a man's life. But given motives of a superior order, psychology can and does supply insight into the mechanisms of mental and emotional cause and effect. It often exposes one's own hypocrisies and pretenses. It leads to a better understanding of oneself, and therefore of others. As the tool of an honest and determined man, it points to the inescapable need of human beings for a philosophy which supports the health of mind and soul, regardless of the circumstances in which a man is placed. Men of the twentieth century sorely need such a philosophy, and it has become the role of philosophizing psychologists, and of psychologizing philosophers, to illuminate this need with persuasive clarity. The danger in any sort of "clarity," as we said earlier, lies in what it leaves out, or throws into shadow. What does "psychology" leave out? Well, what did nineteenth-century mechanism leave out? It left out man. It left out the human individual and the deliberating, choosing moral intelligence of the human individual. The philosophers worth reading since the scientific revolution have been the philosophers who have pointed this out. MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 4 We can practically deduce what modern psychology leaves out from the extract from the Quaker magazine—it leaves out the high destiny of the human self, and the envisioning power of that self. But the psychology we have been talking about in these pages seems to be coming closer and closer to this idea of the self, and the works of the men we so often quote are filled with their own visioning power. When Dr. Maslow speaks of the self-actualizing man, he is giving a behavioristic definition of aspiring egoity. The only conceivable protection against the "fascination by the motions of one's own psyche," of which the Wayfarer article speaks, is a largehearted purpose in life. Psychological egotism is as useless and unpleasant as any other sort of egotism, and there is nothing so barren as the preoccupation with psychological technique as an end in itself. The development of psychology as a separate discipline, in technical isolation from philosophy, has no doubt been made necessary by the agnostic temper of our culture, since a too cheaply bought synthesis of science and philosophy would be far worse than a psychology divorced from values. But there is promise of organic values in the new psychology—values generated from deeply felt need. In our time, values mechanically added to science by an act of pretentious piety are the betrayal of both science and religion. This brings us, indirectly, to the matter omitted in our reproduction of the passage from the Wayfarer article. The writer, for example, speaks of the need to experience "reality beyond ourselves," adding that "our minds are by no means the headquarters of life." There is also a reference to "our creator's universe." It is precisely sentiments of this sort, it seems to us, which compel modern psychology to remain "empirical," and to be extremely wary of too much eagerness to unite science and religion. No reality that we can experience, if we really experience it, can be called "beyond ourselves." And if our minds are not the "headquarters of life," then we Volume XI, No. 31 shall never find that headquarters, since all we know, or can hope to know, we know through our minds. The mind is not a shallow, petty thing. It is our link with the universe, our rapport with the totality of being. What is greater than the mind? Nothing can be greater than the mind, since mind is the measurer of greatness. Or, if you will, the self is greater than the mind, since the self uses the mind. We are surely permitted to say, however, that the mind is the headquarters of the knowing self, in all acts of knowing, and that whatever ultimacies may someday belong to the self, they are not alien, outside presences for the highest aspect of the mind. By means of the mind, we implement the longings of the heart and learn the workings of the fraternity felt by our inmost being. Now this, it is true, is not the sort of mind commonly dealt with by psychologists. But if we are going to have science, philosophy, and religion for human beings, it must be their science, philosophy, and religion. If the issue is between God and Man, let us find the God in man, and not "outside" him. An "outside" God brings a forgetting of all the agonies and struggles of the human mind to be free. We may have been fools in our rash, individualistic declarations of independence, and braggarts in our expectation of molding the living earth to our desires, as though it were an inert clot of clay. But what we do in fear and trembling is no more blessed than what we do in arrogance. The best of human achievements have been the work of minds animated by daring, while schooled in impartiality. There is something of this mood in the new psychology, as though it were the first rushing flow of a new wave of creative activity in scienc— the science of man. MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 5 REVIEW AROUND THE WORLD WITH MR. WYLIE PHILIP WYLIE is clearly less wise than Socrates, for he, unlike the Greek thinker, seldom troubles to qualify his opinions. But the author of Generation of Vipers, Opus 21 and The Disappearance may lay legitimate claim to the title of "gadfly." His vitriolic comments on the psychology and behavior of the average semiadult are always cause for a good deal of talk and sometimes for serious thought. The Innocent Ambassadors, first published by Rinehart in 1957 and subsequently issued as a thirty-five-cent (Cardinal) paperback, contains Mr. Wylie's summation of typical American ignorance in respect to the people of foreign lands. Americans think themselves to be somehow engaged—at a comfortable distance in a noble crusade against the destruction of freedom by "Communism." But unless one feels some kinship with the dispossessed peoples of the earth, and is more willing to learn than anxious to expound, he has no conception of what the Communists have been offering in the Far East and in Asia. Our insular habits have encouraged us to retain an outmoded outlook on international affairs. We are not aware of the meaning of the vast world reconstruction that is presently taking place, and in which the "Communist" movement has played an unmistakable part. We think we have the answers, and need only the military and economic strength to make sure that the majority of the people in the world will "buy" the solutions we offer. But this is folly, of which Mr. Wylie takes the measure. He closes his record of impressions gained abroad, on a whirlwind globe-circling trip, with one basic conclusion—Americans have not yet learned how to grant freedom to others: Beside the Potomac, soldiers strive, also, to retain the old faith. Nobly they have sacrificed their own freedom—the better to defend our general liberty, even to death. Urgently, they stock their Volume XI, No. 31 arsenal. Earnestly, they project hydrogen fire-fights, develop new concepts of "graduated weapons pressure" and pore over their "Theory of Games." The megaton muscles are necessary to hold off our enemy. But more is needed that soldiers are ill equipped to furnish: What if the "game" itself is different now—as I here assume? Where is the American counterassumption? Shall we forever muscle up for yesterday and keep our "godly" minds so mummified we cannot even engage in the battle of ideas now snatching tomorrow from us? What counter could we use? Free men! Free men, alone, are the counters! And any American, every American, can exhibit usefulness by stepping forward! The very step, the act, is his salvo since, slavery excepted, there is no substitute for individual responsibility. How many Americans, then—Christians, Jews, freethinkers or plain pagans—are free enough to meet the future? Free enough, in that sublime part of a man my friend Ishishi called his "conscience," to grant freedom to others? Wherever he traveled, Wylie detected tangible evidence of American complacency and shortsightedness. One section of his book deals with the difficulty, in other lands, of obtaining adequate information on the political state of affairs within the United States. Our Overseas Information Service apparently makes it all but impossible to obtain any books, written by Americans, which are critical of America. And yet, as any reflective person realizes, uninhibited self-criticism is the very threshold of political and cultural freedom. In the rambling style he has adopted for his freewheeling narrative, Mr. Wylie reports a conversation held in Turkey with another man who sees the folly of the whitewash principle of censorship. Though five thousand people come every month into the Istanbul American center to read books and periodicals, the Turks, "like other nationals all over the world—have concluded that USA is not a free country with a free press, but a nation with a censorship like Russia's." Mr. Wylie continues: The use of censorship in that, or any comparable fashion, is tyranny. Its intent is a sort of brainwash. So, to impartial outsiders—like Turks, Asians, MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 6 Europeans—the committee appointed by America's Congress to "watch" material sent to our foreign Information Centers acts exactly like any Communist committee. The McCarthy style of mind is incapable of seeing that fact, for, if it saw, it would also see its attack on Communism misses its aim, but savagely damages the ramparts of USA. critical theme which he carries throughout his recital: I said to Evans, "There are, however, some articles critical of us, in these magazines." People sixty years old are usually rigid in their opinions. They have countless biases both obsolete and fixed. Americans with money, moreover, have too often spent their lives in the pursuit of that one possession. They have not had the time (or at least, they have not taken the time) to learn anything much excepting (in the case of the men) wheat futures, the structure and assembly of steam shovels, or the techniques of selling and also foisting Buicks. Their wives, as limited, have devoted themselves to Society and Things. Such people are not just uninformed, they do not know information exists. Yet because human beings are believed to become wise with age they mistake a void of imminent senility for omniscience. They also usually believe that quaint American myth which holds preeminence in any field—save the intellectual!—as a warrant of competence in all. He shrugged. "And in Russian periodicals, too. Soviet 'self-criticism,' government permitted and government sponsored! But we are dealing in US Information, and dealing with the literate upper crust of every country." And I knew what he meant by that, also. The people in that group in every nation form public opinion, in the end. They know that things in America are not so harmonious and perfect and paradisiacal as our censored libraries try to make them seem. But so long as Congress has books selected by fundamentalist aunts in Arkansas, by DAR "experts" on Americanism (ladies for whom, if they'd foreseen their heirs, not one Revolutionary ancestor would have cocked a musket) or other such mindless bigots, countless foreigners will make the logical-seeming deduction that America no more has a "free press" than it has a window at every bank where you can get free money. The "information" that a censored USIS is actually giving the world is that, insofar as liberty is concerned, there's no choice between Democracy and Communism. Both lie. And how can a foreigner tell that the Soviet lies systematically, purposefully and cleverly for its own ends, while America "lies" merely from hysteria? "There is a difference," I said to Evans. "Our press is free at home." He sighed. "Censorship is censorship—internal or external. . . . Phil, we're losing the people who could be on our side, who want to be and long to be— because our side isn't the side of complete liberty, any more! After the war, the United States was the hope of the world. With the atomic bomb, the world had to have hope. But now . . ." One of Mr. Wylie's pet peeves concerns the quality of American tourists, especially those who reach the Orient, Asia and the Near East. Before he left Hawaii, Wylie had fully developed one Volume XI, No. 31 The great majority of our long-distance tourists are at least sixty years old, men who have retired from business (more rarely, the professions), accompanied by their wives. . . . There are exceptions. Not every well-to-do American of middle or old age thinks, for instance, that all human beings with a slightly different skin hue are mere natives. Not every one is positive that, in any category of human living and being, the people of other nations are inferior to the people of USA. Not every tourist, having won his fare by cornering putty, assumes he has thereby become an authority on Tropical Medicine, Judo, Jade, and Taoism. But most such persons bask in brassy ignorance and bristle with prejudice. Those who attempt to "mingle" with the "natives" do it as a kind of slumming. Mr. Wylie is obviously quite worked up about all this. Selected to review Harold Isaacs' Scratches on Our Minds for the Saturday Review, he relishes this opportunity to continue his indictment of American self-righteousness. Mr. Isaacs has written a 416-page report on American attitudes towards Asian people. He worked out a way of questioning influential American leaders in the arts and professions, without putting them on their guard as to what they were saying, and what they said was not good. Mr. Wylie sums up (SR, June 7): MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 7 What he has demonstrated, in perhaps-toocomplete detail, is the appalling fact that our most common attitude toward the Chinese and Indians, more than a third of all people, is based on trivia, rot, and prejudicial nonsense. A body of sleazy impressions signifies that nearly all of the I70 million Americans, though they sporadically pay homage to the humanity of sundry Asians, actually feel them to be subhuman, incomprehensible, and frightening, as well as so larva-abundant they cannot (really) belong to Genus Homo in the sense that the Daughters of the American Revolution and the members of the American Legion feel they are card-carrying human beings. Mr. Isaacs's ghastly proof that we Americans, deep in our so-called hearts, are years, decades, maybe even generations away from being able to offer the peoples of China or India any semblance of that brotherhood and that equality-before-God which is the Christian essence and the fundament of freedom means that we have as yet no counter to Communist Cold War methods. And what booteth it to stalemate the H-bomb if the real weapons are belief s—and ours are more ignorant (in some ways, even, more hellish) than the faith of those who work to set up a government on earth according to the very Laws of Hell? Mr. Isaacs's revelations did not surprise Wylie, but they "sickened" him considerably. "I hope," writes Philip Wylie, that many Americans "will read the book to learn what imbeciles we are, in the main, when we 'think' of Asiatic people and then try to help, direct, or reach them—whether out of charity or because we must be-brother them to save our American hides." Volume XI, No. 31 MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 8 COMMENTARY BRIDGE BETWEEN THE GENERATIONS EXCEPT for Dr. Franck's "Letter from Lambarene"—which needs no comment—the most interesting thing in this issue is the discussion in "Children" of the battle between the generations. Part of delinquency and hipsterism, we have no doubt, is the desire to prolong adolescence, from fear of what will come after— Responsibility, and all that; but the activities of parents are probably as much at fault as anything else. What is more likely to suppress the dreams and turn sour the aspirations than the interests and preoccupations of the adults in middle-class American homes? It isn't just the world at large, with its "barely controlled violence . . . world war, cold war, and Korea." It is also the private lives of people who tolerate this kind of a "world at large." contempt and a calculating cynicism, or with a reserved wondering. The children "get" these emotional attitudes and are deeply affected by them. The controlled and hidden resentment of the adult may become, in the youngster, an angry rejection. It is the feeling in and for life which seems most important. Parents who establish some direct relation with the flow of life around them— through the arts, through nature, through work with other human beings—give their children a plank of salvation in this troubled world. The need is for doing things for their own sake, because they are good to do. This is the affirmative value hungered for by both children and adults, whether they know it or not. This is the best possible bridge between the generations. These adults were, of course, children once, and part of their middle-aged aimlessness and secret pain is to be blamed on their parents, and so on, ad infinitum. But at some point in peoples' lives, they become responsible on their own account. Somewhere along the line, a parent has to recognize that human existence consists largely in making new beginnings, and that a child brought up in a home where no new beginnings are inaugurated hasn't much of a chance to turn out well. Of course, in a time like this, "turning out well" becomes difficult to define. A youngster may feel that going to school and working hard for good marks is not worth the effort, in view of what is likely to come after. Another youngster may feel the same way, but fear the disapproval of his elders so much that he gets the marks, anyway. What do you want—an honest defiance or a hypocritical conformity? The young are invited to relate to the existing society. There are various ways of relating to society. You can relate to it in order to change it, and you can do this in various ways—with Volume XI, No. 31 MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 9 years before the literary appearance of Kerouac and Ginsberg: CHILDREN . . . and Ourselves DISCUSSION OF A GENERATION: ADDENDUM LITERARY discussion of "The Beat Generation" still occupies considerable space in journals of opinion and other magazines. In a general review of "hipsterism" for the Reporter (April 3), with the title, "The Innocent Nihilists Adrift in Squaresville," Eugene Burdick touches on a number of phases of "beatness" already noted here. (Mr. Burdick teaches at the University of California in Berkeley and is the author of The Ninth Wave, a novel which also flirts with "Nihilism" and seems to have had a good sale.) After pointing out that literary hipsters such as Kerouac and Ginsberg are now being imitated by a host of "fellow travelers" who go along for the fad as much as for any other reason, Burdick compares these contemporary "rebels" with the youths who played with Communism during the thirties: The Communist Party used to attract a thick fringe of people who were excited by the vision of violence and apocalypse but were utterly sure in their private minds that it would not occur in their time. With the hipsters it is the same. There is a crowding around of people who are merely curious, who want to see the vision but not be in it, who have a contempt for Squaresville but live there, who dig jazz but don't live it. The real hipster "lives it"; he cuts loose from all the square's restraints and chews into the present, burns with enthusiasm, has a precious spongelike quality of soaking up experiences and a disbelief that they can ever be squeezed out into sensible drops. In short, the hipster is committed, gone, burning. And with all those curious eyes watching, appraising, and calculating, some of the enthusiasm goes out of the thing. In the end, the fellow travelers have almost suffocated the hipsters. Burdick retouches one of John Clellon Holmes' points in his explanation of the "frozen" demeanor of many of the juveniles who use hipster talk—and who were using it for some ten Volume XI, No. 31 The battle between generations has always existed. What makes the hipster different is that he knows the battle is hopeless, that he is bound to lose, and that by fighting he merely exhausts himself and gives the squares comfort. This is what the calm, icy imperturbability of juvenile delinquents means when they put their faces under the bright lights for a police line-up. They don't get hysterical and shout or try to explain. Why explain that their marijuana "tea parties" and kicks in a stolen car and sexual indulgences are little things compared to the barely controlled violence of adults who allowed a world war, cold war, and Korea? They see the adult world as senseless, hypocritical, violent, and essentially beyond redemption. You don't try to convert the square world, you don't enter into that sick rationality, you just ignore "them." Parents who have seen that opaque nonlistening look go over the faces of their teen-age children are being exposed to the most shared sentiment of the beat generation. Recently I saw six youths who had been brought to a police station for interrogation concerning school vandalism in which they had hacked desks, thrown ink, spilled paint, slashed books. Their short grunted answers, their disdain, their secret laughter, their sense of the absurdity and squareness of it all was like the awkward poetry that one hears late at night among the hipsters at a jazz joint. One thing in common between the delinquents and the hipsters is their rejection of the values and systems of the adult world. And it is for this reason, as Norman Mailer has pointed out, that so many of the "hip" delinquents have picked up the mannerisms and attitudes of the still dispossessed American Negroes. The music which appeals to the generation originated with Negro musicians. And the hip language is jazz language. Part of this preference, of course, has nothing to do with social conditions, but rather with the fact that youths who have refused to accept any sort of social conditioning are free to respond to music which has compulsive appeal. Mr. Burdick's comments on the function of jazz introduces another comparison between old style Communist fellow-traveling and hipster fadism: MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 10 Jazz serves something of the same function Marxism served the disenchanted intellectual of the 1930'S. It is a kind of orderly center on which each can make his own interpretation. The fantastic but deeply felt "interpretations" of Marxism, the antic splinter groups, have their parallel in the views of jazz that the hipsters develop. There is the same angry quest for what "it" means, whether it is Marx's dialectic or the pattern of notes played by Charlie Parker, the short-lived alto-sexist. Even the martyrs are similar. De Leon and Trotsky and Emma Goldman were "with it," and the violence of their lives, the tempo with which they burnt, is much like that of the hipster's jazz hero. The hipsters enjoy some advantages over the young fellow-travelers of the thirties. For one thing, they have already "hit bottom," whereas the fellow travelers were identifying themselves with a structure of thought which would inevitably let them down. The hipster hero, and "martyr," does not pretend to be serving a cause, nor is it inferred that he suffers because of the pressure of adverse circumstances. He suffers because of himself, and knows it. His music and his language, when it means anything at all, may mean a good deal because it induces introspection in its own violent fashion. In the New York Post for May 1, Murray Kempton brings to light some interesting comments by Arthur Miller, who can show ample credentials for his insight into the "boredom" of delinquents. Some three years ago, Mr. Miller submitted to the New York City Youth Board a memorandum on a movie he hoped to write. He worked out the story, which was probably very good, but the project was dropped because the American Legion raised the question of Miller's "questionable political background." In a memorandum to Kempton, Miller explains part of the effect he would seek, if enabled to produce the movie, mentioning that, in preparation for the project, for two summer months of 1955 he lived with street gangs. Miller comments: When a Youth Board worker descends into the streets, he is going back into human history a distance of thousands of years. Thus, it is fruitless merely to say that the delinquent must be given love and care— Volume XI, No. 31 or the birch rod. What is involved here is a profound conflict of man's most subtle values. The deeper into their lives the Youth Board worker goes, the more apparent it becomes that they are essentially boys who have never made contact with civilized values; boys without a concept of the father as the father is normally conceived, boys without an inkling of the idea of social obligation, personal duty or even rudimentary honor. Throughout the picture, their boredom will be like an insistent counterpart to every movement, every act. They have nothing to do. The great city is building and rebuilding, the traffic is endlessly flowing, the phones by the millions are ringing, the lights are blinking on a thousand marquees, but they are afraid to leave their corner, especially alone, and they live without an inkling that people are supposed to occupy themselves, that their lives are supposed to be meaningful . . . We read about gangs, we see pictures of them, and the image is one of fierceness. They are certainly fierce in battle—but that is only part of what they are. A gang fight rarely, if ever, lasts more than three or four minutes. The truth is that they are scared kids underneath it all, so scared that, as I have said, a gang war can be quickly mediated—if one is adept and knowing. What they must have in exchange for peace, however, is a shred of dignity. We share Mr. Kempton's regret that Arthur Miller's motion picture is still a "lost project," and we should like to see more of his original memorandum to the New York City Youth Board. For, apart from his obvious and known talents as a dramatist, and apart from his courage and integrity, Miller seems to be the sort of man who is original enough to come up with some kind of hopeful conclusion—even on the subject of street gangs and delinquency. What Miller apparently believes is that youths who have been immersed in the terrifying atmosphere of a novalues world, and who have decided to plumb the depths in as many ways as they can find, may eventually emerge with a kind of profundity— provided they receive understanding and help in the unusual ways that the situation demands. We must recognize that both Existentialism and Zen Buddhism are focal points of philosophic interest MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 11 in the adult world, today, for the same reasons as those which prompt so many of the hipsters to cut themselves off from tradition. In other words, the youth who cuts himself adrift may, from time to time, come face to face with himself. If he then fights his way back to establishing a meaningful relationship with his elders and society, he does so from an unusual vantage point. As Miller puts it in his memorandum to Kempton, "the saved boy, in a word, becomes not merely a 'good citizen' or 'just like anybody else' after having been an outlaw. Having seen society from the very bottom, the insight he gains is remorselessly honest when he does gain insight. He cannot be 'conned'; he is immune to the easy solutions that bemuse the rest of us who are less tightly bound to reality; he is pragmatic and breathtakingly idealistic at the same time." There is something here to be thought about. And we see some evidence of an unusual perceptiveness emerging from "hipster" background, not in the odd personalities of men like Kerouac and Ginsberg, but in the brilliant and provocative articles and reviews of former hipsters John Clellon Holmes and Herbert Gold. Volume XI, No. 31 MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 12 FRONTIERS Letter from Lambarene [The contributor of this letter is Dr. Frederick Franck, an oral surgeon, dentist, and artist, who at the time of writing was working with Dr. Albert Schweitzer in the latter's hospital at Lambarene.— Editors.] LAMBARENE, FRENCH EQUATORIAL AFRICA.—I have now been at Lambarene for three weeks. My trip was a rather complicated one: I first went to the Congo in order to visit a number of lepra-colonies and study approaches to preventive medicine in the area. The Belgians have done great work in this field, eliminating completely diseases like sleeping sickness and yaws, which have ravaged populations from time immemorial. Thanks to the discovery of the sulfone-treatment for leprosy, this dread disease has been brought completely under control. Now attention is being focused on the grave problem of tuberculosis and the complete population of 13 million—people widely dispersed over an area equal to one third of the U.S.—is being surveyed at least once a year by mobile X-ray units, with attempts to "neutralize" active cases within the shortest possible time. Great inroads have been made into the field of malaria, both by insect control and by preventive medication. Having to write some articles—and illustrate them with pen-drawings— for American magazines, and hence to take a very close look especially at the lepra-colonies, I discovered that a new generation of colonizers has sprung up which has little in common with the image one has formed of a typical colonial. I may have been lucky, but I found some of the most cultivated people, cultivated in mind as well as heart, on the equator: humane doctors, idealistic teachers putting their idealism to the hard test of practice in primitive conditions, and administrators interested in the people of their region and their cultural backgrounds and full of enthusiasm for contributing toward development and welfare. I found to my amazement a complete absence of Volume XI, No. 31 horror in the lepra-villages and especially, in one on the Equator near Coquilhatville, a spirit of joy and hope. The sulfones have not been 100 per cent successful, but such are the results obtained that the African population is very keen on getting treatment in one of the 3,500 treatment centers dotting a country equal in size to one third of the United States. Eighty per cent of the sufferers of leprosy are treated by fortnightly injections in these centers whereas only 15 to 20 per cent are inmates of the villages. These include cases which are still contagious and persons who have been mutilated by leprosy before the advent of sulfones (which were first used here in the early fifties). It is most touching to see how crippled people with stumps instead of hands teach themselves to draw, to knit, and even to make sculptures. After some time in Africa, I found that I had completely forgotten that I am white! I am writing this in the afternoon of a Sunday, the morning of which I gave drawing lessons to the lepers at Dr. Schweitzer's lepra-village: a most touching and inspiring experience. But let me first say what I am actually doing here. The most important part of my African mission is to set up a small dental clinic at the hospital of Dr. Albert Schweitzer here in Lambarene. My task is to take care of the dental problems of the staff, to make a clinic available for volunteers who will follow me. I hope, at the same time, to instruct members of the medical staff so that they can more adequately take care of the very frequent dental emergencies which arise. The nearest dentist, if you can call him that, is an hour's flying away. My clinic is now in full swing, although my instruments donated by International Medical Cooperation, of which Dr. Schweitzer is the Honorary Patron, have not yet arrived. In Africa one has to get used to the most amazing delays in delivery. Not only the staff is being treated, but in a few weeks my fame has spread far and wide and every day people, black and white arrive in antique motorboats and pirogues from as far as 40 or 50 miles away. MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 13 I arrived here by air from Brazzaville. From the plane sweeping low through the mile-thick clouds you see a small airstrip and can't quite understand how the plane can possibly land on it. But it does. Lambarene from the air looks like the first day of creation. Huge jungles, dense as moss, and everywhere water and swamps; tiny clusters of huts here and there. The plane lands in a thin drizzle and a nurse has been waiting for two hours, drenched by the rain, for there is no shelter and planes are always late if they can land at all. She has a small antelope in her arms with a broken leg. She had found it on her way to the airstrip and it was operated on the same afternoon by one of the doctors. This was an excellent introduction to the hospital, to which we immediately went by pirogue. The hospital is a few miles upstream from the airstrip and under the low sky the river looked somber and of primeval majesty. Around the bend all at once appear some low buildings with oxblood-red corrugated tin roofs surrounded by palm trees and jungle. Coming nearer you see the terraced vegetable gardens probably unique in Central Africa and built by Schweitzer practically with his own hands. As the pirogue approaches the shore, Dr. Schweitzer and his right-hand, Miss Kottman, are there to greet us. One cannot imagine anyone of eighty-three walking with such vigor and being so completely alive to all that is going on in this teeming hospital. At table Dr. Schweitzer amazes one with his gay good humor alternating with profound seriousness and sadness when he speaks of the horrible dangers besetting mankind. He is fully aware that his popularity is suffering from his consistent warnings, but he is not the man to be disturbed by a bad press. In fact he has been used for fifty years to being called a fool, or worse. On whatever subject the conversation touches, Dr. Schweitzer has a detailed knowledge which seems quite miraculous. His mind has gathered facts all during his life, and these facts, whether in politics, history, carpentry or Volume XI, No. 31 metallurgy, are fantastically ordered and can be produced at will. The staff at present consists of five doctors, two Dutch women, an Englishman, a Czech and an Austrian, and just as international a bouquet of nurses. There are usually 350 patients, besides the 200 inhabitants of the leper village, some fifteen minutes' walk from the hospital proper, through the jungle. Patients sometimes come from 400 miles away because it has become known that "doctoress" can do cataract operations. It is not surprising that American laymen, stepping out of their first-class plane straight from New York or San Francisco in order to spend a day or so here, are a little taken aback. In the first place, their idol does not wear his nimbus all the time, since he works from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. with all the energy of a young man, a most vigorous one. They may be disappointed that while Schweitzer is kind and polite with them, he does not take his day off in order to explain his philosophy over a cup of tea. Then, used to gleaming American hospitals-and never having been in a native hut without windows, where three people are sleeping on the floor while two more are cooking maniok on a wood fire which fills up the hut with smoke and smells, they may think this place a bit dirty. I don't think that some improvements in equipment would be superfluous, but in principle this hospital is quite organic in this inaccessible place on the Ogowe river in darkest Africa. The wards are in barrack-like buildings, lit at night by oil lamps. On primitive beds lie patients surrounded by their families who do all the cooking on little woodfires outside the nonexistent windows. Tribes have to be separated because of age-old animosities. A central kitchen would be quite unthinkable. An American hospital with sheets and chromium gadgets would frighten these people out of their wits. In my little clinic I can hardly hear myself talk, for, on my left, behind a thin partition the doctors have their consulting room and dressings are being applied in the approach to my precincts. This is not an MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 14 altogether noiseless procedure. On my right there is also a thin, low partition on the other side of which there are usually two women in labour, groaning in African, while outside my mosquito screening people are queuing up for their rations, chattering as only Africans chatter, constantly. Goats are bleating, children are blaring, ducks are quacking and everybody is calling for "brancardiers" at the top of his voice. It is not uncommon for a dog or a chicken with chicks to stray under my chair, while I am trying to extirpate the nerve in somebody's front tooth. commentaries on his Bible-readings, I can only think that I don't know how I deserved the privilege of working here. Many thanks for sending me MANAS so faithfully. Dr. Schweitzer was impressed with your "The Press Does Not Disturb Us." But he challenged Gandhi as a "first." According to him it is Einstein! FREDERICK FRANCK To me, the animals, whether goats, ducks, chickens or a chimpanzee, are not clearly so disturbing as they were to Mr. John Gunther. I would not necessarily propose importation of pelicans or stray dogs for American hospitals, but they do give the place a farmlike and homey atmosphere of great charm. And although there are some wild boars here, I have never seen one stray into the operating room. Anyway, these animals did not come here as pets: the monkeys are brought in if found motherless in the forest, the dogs have strayed here and were adopted by some nurse or doctor, the pelican was brought in last week with his belly full of buckshot. And animals are not discriminated against: "Aren't they human, too?"—and no human or other creature who came here has ever been banished or thrown out. This is part of the phenomenon called Schweitzer. I had heard many snide and sophisticated remarks about the Man of Lambarene. But I have seen him work in his hospital, read innumerable clippings from papers all over the world to study the atomic menace, write until deep in the night by his oil lamp, check on a leaking boat, kindly receive visiting firemen whom I would have thrown into the Ogowe, smile with endearing goodness and tolerance on being contradicted by fools, taking a piece of fish from his plate for the sick pelican, feeding his antelopes. Listening to him at table, telling funny anecdotes with wit, or after dinner giving his learned and heretical Volume XI, No. 31 MANAS Reprint July 30, 1958 ...
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