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FATHER TO THE MAN
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VOLUME XI, NO. 46 NOVEMBER 12, 1958 FATHER TO THE MAN IN last week's MANAS, in "Children . . . and Ourselves," we were favored with some sage although badly translated paragraphs from Tolstoy on child education. Tolstoy maintained that teachers usually try to make the child over—into something different—when what they ought to do is try to preserve the integral harmony of the child's outlook. "Childhood," said Tolstoy, "is the prototype of harmony." You can, of course, pull a statement like that to pieces. It is only partly true. But what is right about the statement seems far more important than what may be wrong with it. No child—no normal child, that is—is ambitious in the adult sense. You get to thinking about this, and how difficult it is to get rid of ambition—that dreadful emotion which makes men ruin their present through an anxious regard for the future. The child is in this case a living illustration of the wisdom of John Dewey, who said that ends are wrapped up in the means by which they are reached. The felicity of enjoying the present for its own sake is a great secret of childhood. How can a man keep or recapture this secret, while living in the modern world? We can think of few more important projects, and few more difficult ones. Here, as in so many other ways, our "collectivist" psychology is a curse. Very few men believe that the individual is an end in himself. Very few men, whatever they say they believe, live as though their life is an end in itself. Men found dynasties, or try to, for the sake of their offspring. They accumulate wealth for similar reasons—and for what it will buy them in the way of status, power, or envy. Or they spend their lives dreaming of that will-o'-the-wisp, "security." Reformers socialize the motive and labor for the benefit of a general posterity. We shall not quarrel with this over-much, but point out that doing good for posterity can never be a dirty business, and politics is, on the whole, a dirty business. It is filled with compromises and expedient deceptions. The fundamental good of man is good today as well as tomorrow. The child seems to know this. That is, the child is not complex enough to persuade himself that he must do a lot of uninteresting or stupid things in order to enjoy himself tomorrow. For the child, the only universe of experience is the "right-now" universe. The child has to outgrow this, of course. He has to learn to plan, to organize his effort for longterm achievement, and we have all been through this particular development. What usually happens, however, is that the importance of "right now" is forgotten, while the objectives sought for "tomorrow and tomorrow" are seldom worth the devotion they obtain. We give hostages to the future, and after a while we have no "present" left at all. The child will never do this. He is too close to immediate values. What Tolstoy is complaining about is that, in teaching the child to look to the future to become, as we say, "practical"—we corrupt that primitive attachment to the present which belongs to childhood and which is the principle of being alive. What sort of adults are able to live as children, in the present? Artists, lovers of nature, wise men of one sort or another—these can do it. There are others, of course, who technically qualify: sensualists, psychopaths, and all those who have never really grown up, who have joined the immediacy of childhood experience with adult appetites. Anyone can remain a child in this sense by blotting out the adult capacity for memory and imagination in a riot of feeling. We are not here concerned with these possibilities. MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE 2 The issue, here, is the tragedy of people who go through all the things in life they must do— such as working for a living, buying food, taking care of their children—in a mood of pained dissatisfaction. They are sure that they were meant for better things—or for doing these things in a grander manner. They are thinking all the time about the future when things will be different. It never occurs to them that they are poisoning their lives, that the days are slipping by, disposed of in contempt for an unsatisfactory present. They will not do anything "real," now. They will work only for some mythical future when the circumstances will be right. We shall be told that this is only "natural," that it is "human nature" for people to behave in this way. And we shall reply that to accept as natural the fact that people are habitually wasting their lives away in pursuit of illusions—that this is the supreme capitulation to folly. It is to admit and embrace captivity to a delusion. This delusion occupies far too much of our attention. For example, it dominates our foreign policy. The State, today, is behaving like an ambitious man who has no sense of measure or balance in his life. The State is seeking a condition of "security" which is absolutely impossible, in the nature of things. It is wasting the present in a series of barbarous mistakes which can only disgust the rest of the world. All that we are able to say is that we shall be ready to contribute to an atmosphere of world peace only when we have the international situation completely in our control. That is like the young, ambitious man who says that he will wait until he is rich before he attempts to do anything worth while with his life. He forgets that by the time he is rich—should he turn out to be one of the few who can be richhe will probably have lost the judgment to recognize what is worth while. Then, when he is ready to die, he will give his money to some foundation and have his lawyers hedge the future use of it with so many provisos that it will be frittered Volume XI, No. 46 away in trivial enterprises. but eminently respectable What a foolish thing it is to suppose that you can "buy" the good—for yourself or for anyone else! There ought to be some sacred place where people are told these things, where the facts of the good life are made known. The churches will hardly serve for this. They are too busy raising money and putting on drives to get bigger buildings. The churches participate in the illusion of "tomorrow and tomorrow." The churches show no contempt for ambition. They do not honor men who live in the present, who insist that today's unworthiness can never become tomorrow's benefit. We come back to the artist—the artist as a symbol of the human spirit which admits as worth doing only the things which are ends in themselves. The artist celebrates beauty and meaning. Yet the art of our time discloses little beauty and less meaning. Why should this be? Perhaps we should change the statement to read that the artists of our time seem engaged in inarticulate struggle rather than in making a splendid array of beauty and meaning. At any rate, the role of the arts is obscure in this epoch. In other times, artists have been the creators of culture. They have erected great spectacles revelatory of the sense of meaning in their age. Poets and singers made epics which became the medium of universal education. Painters and sculptors and architects fashioned the public environment, and craftsmen carried out these high themes in the design of household articles. Ideas of order, discipline, and meaning were embodied in forms which memorialized the truths of philosophy and religion. But there is no great feeling of order embedded in the thought of our time. This may be an explanation of our moral impoverishment and our insistence on the security of immeasurable military force. We have no real confidence in MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 3 moral ideas, no certainty that there is anything that we can rely on besides force. So the artist in our time is a questioner, a wonderer and an experimenter. He examines the confusion of the age and exhibits it to us as in a mirror. It is the artist in him which compels him to do this. He is searching for the relations of form, for the meaning concealed in space, for the balance that has somehow escaped from our lives. But in his hunger for understanding of these relationships—a striving to touch the texture of experience rather than an intellectual questioning—the artist is like the child. The artist is trying to get a grip on life as it affects him. He is not buying and selling. He is not binding up the future in some kind of insurance policy. He is not wasting his present—not when he is practicing his art. There is a sense in which every man who makes something is an artist; he participates, that is, in the immediacy of living. He does not make it—he ought not to make it—so that he will have something to "sell." You see people taking a delight in making things, and parting with them reluctantly. And you hear others say of such people that they have no "head for business." This having a "head for business" is compounding the misery of our time. It is giving the best human beings inferiority complexes and guilt feelings for having sound instincts about the way to live. Why go on pretending that our way of life is "admirable" and insisting that it ought to be imitated by others? Tolstoy was right. We betray the young. We teach them the artificial standards of our past and present. We train them in the technique of wasting their lives. We instruct them in a false idea of the meaning of growing up. We tell them that when they get out of school they will have to go to work to earn a living. But this is not the meaning of leaving childhood behind. We help them to leave behind the one precious gift of childhood that they ought to retain—the capacity to give intense devotion to Volume XI, No. 46 the present for its own sake. What is it to become a man? To become a man means to engage the mature faculties of mind with the mysteries of life. Every other function of maturity is subordinate to this one. We do not tell the young this. We have hidden it from ourselves. Tolstoy had his agony, his inconsistency. He was a moneyed nobleman. This was not important, except for Tolstoy. Every man carries his inconsistencies around with him like a cross. This burden is a part of the human situation. Wanting the human situation to be perfect, so that we can all be perfect "spiritual" types, is only an upper-level version of the delusion of ambition. There is a Sisyphus in every Prometheus, and the shackles of Caucasus in the life of every man. This is the age of high fidelity recordings of great music. You can sit in your living room and listen in rapt solitude to melodies and harmonies that men of a hundred and two hundred years ago set down, or to the voice of an artist so beautiful that the heart is moved by dissolving emotion. Who were these people? Did they have "ideal" lives? Were they accorded the rewards that we expect for what we do? It can be said of them only that they enriched the world. Isn't it about time that we began to present this kind of an ideal to our children, in earnest? We have the habit of thinking of life in terms of some kind of pattern. The life that is worth while is not a "pattern," it is a break-through. How can children be helped to hold the magic of childhood, to cherish the wonder of the moment? They can be helped by a mood established in the home. The children will honor what their parents honor and practice the devotion they learn from example. We say that the young must learn to grow up into "individuals." An individual is a being with an intensity of interests which sets him off from other men. An individual is a man who has a reason for living and who knows what it is and works at it. Such people do not start wars. Such people are unsuspicious of other people. They do not believe in dogmatic MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 4 religions. They develop an inner faith which is a by-product of their work. Invariably, people with profound interests and a sense of the validity in their work tend to be natural philosophers. A quality of life makes for a quality of mind, and a quality of mind generates ideas which have philosophical integrity. Philosophy is only secondarily in books. Primarily, it is a function of living. The validity of philosophical concepts is an inwardly experienced validity. This is the difference between philosophy and science. Science is concerned with the relationships of external experience. Philosophy has for its field the meaning of inner experience, it explores the sense of meaning which emerges in a man's life. If no sense of meaning emerges, he cannot have much of a philosophy. And no sense of meaning will emerge unless he is occupied with matters that have meaning. to have them for ourselves. A man can go on a journey high in the mountains and return filled with the serenity found in high places. The rhythms of nature flow through us best when we seek them out, inviting them to come our way. The man open to the world is an inhabitant of the world, not of any mean place or local time. We want education, we want families, in which these things are affirmed. We want a culture which moves human beings to hold up their heads and act like human beings. We want no more commerce with idiot preoccupations with war and the strident cries for a certainty we cannot have because we have not yet done anything to deserve it. But the books are important. From books we gain a contrapuntal line of thought which may illuminate and guide the processes of living. Books contain wisdom of the past. They embody the memory of man—of the men who lived beyond themselves, for love of the truth. There is no novelty in the suggestion that philosophers have much in common with children. Just why it should be that human experience is constructed in some sort of octaves is a mystery, but it is a plain enough fact. The joy in life of the child, his timeless attention to the present—all this has a transfigured repetition in the philosopher. After all the cynical things have been said, and all the worldly half-truths have been repeated, this is still so. The child prefigures the mature man; is, indeed, his innocent and unsophisticated image. The poet is forever celebrating these universal octaves. He enshrines the fragmentary beauties of nature in a frame of self-conscious perception. He borrows the unaware wonder of nature to embellish the human situation. It is as though we are continually drawing into our lives the harmonies of the world, making them extensions of our being. To comprehend them is somehow Volume XI, No. 46 MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 5 Letter from FINLAND HELSINKI.—I recently came across a copy of Harper's July issue. It contains an article on Finland by Professor Chad Walsh, a Fulbright grantee, entitled "Such Nice Finns." Speedily I scanned the article, expecting to find something apposite about Finland. I was not wholly disappointed, for the professor makes several shrewd observations. Among other things, he writes that "on paper 95 per cent of the Finns are Lutherans but, except in some rural districts, church-going is so rare as to seem eccentric." Apart from the fact that Prof. Walsh somehow equates church-going with religion, this is an accurate observation. But the professor has no monopoly on insight in this case. The same observation has been made by every intelligent person who has visited Finland, even by especially trained correspondents who have taken a mere fleeting glance at the country during the hours intervening between lunch and dinner. The Church itself, in fact, is fully aware of its approach to a moribund condition and is doing everything in its power to slow down the process—everything that is, except returning to any sort of religion. Nobody, however, should be misled by the 95 per cent figure, for it is meaningless. The Finnish people—95 per cent of them—are Lutherans precisely in the same way that persons born, say, in Los Angeles, are citizens of the State of California, which is to say—automatically. Their church affiliation is primarily, if not entirely, for reasons of expediency and has nothing to do with the religious convictions of the people. (It is of course otherwise with regard to the smaller sects such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, Mormons, and others, since in these instances the adherents have actually "joined" their church.) That so few of the 95 per cent attend services is no wonder, for the Lutheran religion as practiced in Finland appears to be a primitive anthropomorphic cult burdened with Bronze-Age Volume XI, No. 46 dogmas, weird superstitions and boring rituals which, to a person not a Lutheran, are not only dull but downright repelling. Unlike the Catholic church, for instance, there is an utter lack in Finnish Lutheranism of everything that is aesthetically pleasing. Moreover, the religious thinking of the adherents, at least in the countryside, proceeds on an exceedingly low level. In one commune in central Finland and in several in the northwestern part of the country, there are large so-called "Pietist" groups whose religion seems to hark back to the Middle-Ages. They dress in somber black or grey and on Sunday the square in front of their church presents a positively eerie appearance—as if so many ghosts were flitting about. They frown not only upon dancing and choir-singing, incredible as it may sound, but upon athletics as well, and everything that might give the least pleasure to anyone, young or old. They seem to have fetched their ideas of God from Doré's illustrations while perched on their mothers' knees in childhood. The sermons of the clergymen, from Sunday to Sunday throughout the year, are dreary moanings on the themes of sin and hell-fire and purity and righthand seats. Their prayers are old and worn to shreds. The only original thing about them is that, in between the lines, if one may say so, one hears, sotto voce, but nevertheless distinctly, the dreadful sentiments of the "War Prayer." Worse: at times the clergymen are reported to scoff at and scold members of their congregations in coarse language which could have come from no other source than Martin Luther's Table Talk, which he, in turn, learned in the Augustinian monasteries of his time. It is, therefore, no wonder that Lutheran State churches in Finland are empty of a Sunday morning. Fortunately, an occasional ray of light pierces the fearful pall of intolerance and ignorance with which organized religion seems to have bedecked not only Finland, but the world, shedding light and hope on an otherwise drab scene. Such a gleam of light came recently from the world of the theater, not inappropriately, since it is the stage from which all the great teachers MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 6 and prophets of our time—Shaw, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Strindberg, Annouihl, Eliot, Faulkner, Williams, Sartre—deliver their sermons (and what sermons!). Let me give you two brief examples of statements recently made which show the difference between churchmen and theater people. In the dedication ceremonies of a new church in Helsinki, a high ecclesiastical dignitary spoke as follows: shell of a clown." Stanislavsky's ethics are of ancient origin, but recession from it signifies retrogression and degeneracy in our art. These two brief examples plainly show where awareness, understanding, and charity reside. One cannot but say that in Finland it is the theater from which one must expect new enlightenment, for the theaters are filled to capacity every evening, while the churches are empty for the brief hour on which they are open on Sundays. An age-old church dedication formula speaks of walls which will echo "'His' praises." In these words are manifest the real purpose also of this temple; it wishes to turn the hearts of the people to worship God. By its mere presence this glorious structure will come to remind the people that divine services, in their essence, consist of worshipping God. If the heart—in itself hard and selfish [one cannot help wondering where the reverend gentleman came upon this bit of biological information]—learns the art of worship, the greatest of all changes will have taken place in it. FINNISH CORRESPONDENT By way of contrast, Director Purunen, at the foregathering of the players of the Tampere Municipal Theater for the 1958-1959 season, asked his hearers to give serious consideration to the real features of man today, who, in his loneliness, appears to be bowed down in fear and trembling, searching for the meaning of tomorrow. Inasmuch as preceding years [said Mr. Purunen] had been devoted primarily to a study of form and technique, it is now time to begin striving for an inner maturity. This inner maturity is more than merely greater awareness and broader understanding. Mr. Stanislavsky in his book on ethics has set down certain requirements for players, saying among other things that "an artist achieves maturity in his profession only by simultaneously maturing as a human being. But a mature person is also morally a sensitive person. He may, to be sure, fall into error just like any other man, but the direction of his inner striving is ever manifest in everything he does. It is always dangerous to speak about morals, of that which is permissible and of that which is not, of that which is good and that which is bad. Yet it is plain that ethical indifference easily reduces our performances to mere circus clowning. When Brand takes leave of the artist, nothing is left but the hollow Volume XI, No. 46 MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 7 Prize-winning physicist, is an emotional child. As Mr. Cooney puts it: REVIEW THE BITE OF A. HUXLEY ALDOUS HUXLEY, both a brilliant writer and a courageous man, has seldom been quoted in these pages, since Huxley is best as a satirist, a master at picking to pieces the various personality prototypes of our civilization, and MANAS endeavors to embody a more affirmative temper. It must be admitted, however, that while Huxley is not impressive in his ability to depict the warmth of human personality, for his characters are usually frightening composites or "types," his scalpel of social criticism is sharp and cuts deeply. Huxley's earlier novels, beginning with Chrome Yellow in 1921, established the ingredients which characterize all Huxley fiction. For one thing—as a reviewer accurately put it— Huxley discusses sex "with a fascinated loathing." While part of the time he seems to be following D. H. Lawrence in suggesting that people would be much better off as "their natural selves," breaking away from the "civilized ego," he also has little respect for the quandaries in which the instinctual self places the human soul. In a review of Huxley's latest novel, The Genius and the Goddess, Thomas E. Cooney remarks that the central character appears "as a microcosm of Huxley's whole criticism of man: the intellect dutifully assisting the ego in its idiot efforts to kill the soul." (Saturday Review, Aug. 27, 1955). In Brave New World, Huxley pictured one of the results of super-science as a conquest of old age and death which produces, in one instance, the Fifth Earl of Gonister, age two hundred and one years, who has regressed to a gibbering anthropoid—the price for a deification of sensual values. In Ape and Essence, a sort of postscript to Brave New World, Huxley depicts a postatomic-war world wherein people rob graves for clothes and use library books for fuel. The Genius and the Goddess is a pointedly disturbing commentary on the worship of the scientific intellect. Henry Maartens, a Nobel- Volume XI, No. 46 Ironically appropriate to America is the fact that the genius of the title is of the kind in which we have specialized: an atomic physicist. For an American to be an atomic physicist is no irony in itself, of course; the irony lies in the fact that Henry Maartens who was River's preceptor, and an intimate of men like Planck and Einstein, was also a spoiled child emotionally. He is thus an individual analogy of America as it appears in its worst moments: superb technical ability superimposed on an immature sense of values. For in spite of his magnificent intellect poor Henry was almost totally unable to find a way to live peacefully with his unresolved animal fears. Two passages will illustrate Mr. Huxley's evaluation of such psychological types: Broken reeds are seldom good mixers. They're far too busy with their ideas, their psychosomatic complaints to be able to take an interest in other people—even their own wives and children. They live in a state of the most profound voluntary ignorance, not knowing anything about anybody, but abounding in preconceived opinions about everything. Take the education of children, for example. Henry could talk about it as an authority. He had read Piaget, he had read Dewey, he had read Montessori, he had read the psychoanalysts. It was all there in his cerebral filing cabinet, classified, categorized, instantly available. But when it came to doing something for Ruth and Timmy, he was either hopelessly incompetent or more often, he just faded out of the picture. For of course they bored him. All children bored him. So did the overwhelming majority of adults. How could it be otherwise? Their ideas were rudimentary and their reading, nonexistent. What had they to offer? Only their sentiments and their moral life, only their occasional wisdom and their frequent and pathetic lack of wisdom. In a word, only their humanity. And humanity was something in which poor Henry was incapable, congenitally, of taking an interest. Between the worlds of quantum theory and epistemology at one end of the spectrum and of sex and pain at the other, there was a kind of limbo peopled only by ghosts. And among the ghosts was about seventy-five per cent of himself. For he was as little aware of his own humanity as of other people's. His ideas and his sensations—yes, he knew all about those. But who was the man who had the ideas and MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 8 felt the sensations? And how was this man related to the things and people around him? How, above all, ought he to be related to them? I doubt if it ever occurred to Henry to ask himself such questions. In any case he didn't ask them on this occasion. While contributing his bit to the destruction of the world by way of further nuclear discoveries—it is all something like a game to Maartens—this leading scientist contrives to tear apart his family without even knowing that he is doing so, all the while feeling himself the injured party. At the end, there is this summation: "When did you see him last?" I asked. "Just a few months before he died. Eighty-seven and still amazingly active, still chock-full of what his biographer likes to call 'the undiminished blaze of intellectual power.' To me he seemed like an overwound clockwork monkey. Clockwork ratiocination, clockwork gestures, clockwork smiles and grimaces. And then there was the conversation. What amazingly realistic tape recordings of the old anecdotes about Franck and Rutherford and J. J. Thompson! Of his celebrated soliloquies about Logical Positivism and Cybernetics! Of reminiscences about those exciting war years when he was working on the A-bomb! Of his gaily apocalyptic speculations about the bigger and better Infernal Machines of the future! You could have sworn that it was a real human being who was talking. But gradually, as you went on listening, you began to realize that there was nobody at home. The tapes were being reeled off automatically, it was vex et praeterea nilhil—the voice of Henry Maartens without his presence." which almost totally blinded him and which the expert oculists and optometrists were unable to heal. Driven outside the realms of orthodoxy in his search for help, he encountered the "natural" eye exercise methods of Dr. W. H. Bates, and thus discovered that the most respected orthodoxies may reject considerations of vital importance. Huxley refers to his two years of almost complete blindness as the most important time of his life, for it removed him from the ordinary patterns of a successful career in teaching or medicine. Having suffered physical disability, he was then able to realize that even such an impediment is the least of man's problems; psychological disability, expressed chiefly by a freezing of one's egoic potentialities by conformity to a pattern, is a far more serious affair. Huxley turned to the mystics, to Buddha, Jesus and Laotse to find a deeper conception of human destiny, and in his novels since has set off "the perennial philosophy" against the deluded philosophies—or lack of any—which characterizes the busy modern. His experiments with the psychological effects of the drug Mescalin may be dubious procedure, and not of the sort that could have been recommended by either Buddha or Laotse, but perhaps Huxley welcomes evidence that the psychological potential of the human being is enormous, and that we have scarcely reached childhood in development of all of our psychological capacities. "But isn't that the thing you were recommending?" I asked. "Dying every moment." "But Henry hadn't died. That's the whole point. He'd left the clockwork running and gone somewhere else." Huxley's virtual despair over modern man, both individually and collectively, stems from his acute perception that it is possible for the "soul" to leave the clockwork running and go somewhere else. According to his own confession, the author was prevented, by a "blessing in disguise," from becoming a "complete English public school gentleman"—a type, rather than a person. While Huxley was at Eton he contracted an eye affliction Volume XI, No. 46 MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 9 COMMENTARY WHAT SHOULD A MAN DO? THE one thing that cannot be written about is what a man should do. That is, no one knows what a particular man should do, in particular terms, except, possibly, himself. There is also a social application of this rule. No one knows—no one is wise enough to know—exactly the sort of "social order" which is needed for our time or for the immediate future. The more elaborate the plans for social organization, the more unpredictable the result, should they be made into law. And yet, neither individuals nor societies are completely at sea. The individual man can always select certain principles to live by, from day to day. The same is true for societies, or for men and groups of people who are moved to think and act in social terms. The individual has two questions to answer: What do I want to do with my life? How can I establish the conditions of freedom which will allow me to do it? Social objectives worth talking about are much the same, although phrased differently. The good society provides a wealth of alternatives in activities and attitudes which individuals may examine while considering what they want to do. The good society is also an open society, affording maximum freedom in both choice and action. For those who have the social objective in mind, the problem is to develop institutions which keep on turning up alternatives and displaying them, as a fountain is continually throwing up new streams and letting the light play upon them. role with both deliberation and unhackneyed originality. It is a listener-sponsored radio station—sister station to Berkeley's KPFA and modelled on the same conception of broadcasteraudience relationships: the idea of individuals speaking to individuals. The Southern California station (call letters have not yet been selected) will be operated by the Pacifica Foundation, the nonprofit corporation which nine years ago brought KPFA into being and developed it into a major educational and cultural resource of Northern California. However, the management and programming of the Southern California station will be undertaken by people living in Southern California. Listener-sponsored radio is radio without commercial influences, offering uncontaminated voice to those members of the community— writers, thinkers, artists, musicians, and unspecialized human beings—who have something to say for its own sake. Listeners are asked to support such radio by paying $12 a year ($10 until the station has been on the air for one month) to maintain the station and to help provide for its growth. Those who wish information about the Pacifica station in Southern California should write to Pacifica Foundation, Box 504-F, Altadena, California. The station will have a transmitting tower on Mount Wilson and studios in Pasadena. The signal will be broadcast at 90.7 megacycles and will reach from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Broadcasting is expected to begin soon after the first of the year. But what would such institutions be like? It is difficult to illustrate an idea of this sort without lapsing into the familiar or the commonplace. The fact is, however, that Southern California is soon to be favored with a new kind of institution which may be expected to perform this Volume XI, No. 46 MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 10 CHILDREN . . . and Ourselves DON'T BE AFRAID OF YOUR CHILD WE are indebted to one of our readers for calling attention to Dr. Hilde Bruch's book of this title. Dr. Bruch is a psychiatrist and pediatrician who believes that many bad cases of "nerves" on the part of parents are caused by an overconcern to apply highly publicized child-psychology dicta. In her first chapter, Dr. Bruch sets the problem as she has encountered it during endless consultations with parents: Modern parents have been exposed to a flood of advice on how to be "good" parents. It comes to them whether they ask for it or not, in endless books and pamphlets, in every newspaper and magazine and is dinned into their ears through radio programs, movies and mass advertising. Parent education has become a big commodity, indeed. Yet, in spite of all these instructions, modern parents are beset with the most amazing number of questions and worries. They seem always to be feeling their pulse and asking: "How well am I doing?" They are concerned about their own adequacy as human beings as well as parents, but they are just as much, or even more, concerned about the opinion of their families and neighbors, the schools and the whole social order around them, and last, though not least, how their own and the "other" children will rate their success or failure as parents. Self-assurance is difficult for the parent who feels obliged to "measure up" to standards constructed by the experts. And all of us, to the extent that we are members of Riesman's "lonely crowd," can verify the fact that routinization and "scientific" group standards tend to produce more anxiety than security. Dr. Bruch, after illustrating how the "cook books" of mental health for children may lead to the worried confusion of parents, explains what she feels to be the basic error in this sort of psychology: If one wants to make a single generalized deduction from the vast amount of knowledge, it is this: Meaningful psychological help can be given only in an individualized way. I am aware that the Volume XI, No. 46 tendency in parent education has been in the opposite direction, namely, to simplify and generalize the knowledge and to teach it in capsule form to as many people as possible in as short a time as possible. As a result of such well-meaning but misguided efforts, much advice has come to parents in such a stereotyped and distorted form that many originally good and valid observations have by now the same impact as the old wives' tales of the scientifically condemned and discarded folklore. Apparently Dr. Bruch has long been encountering professionally the results of that mechanization of culture deplored by Riesman, Joseph Wood Krutch, Erich Fromm, and Robert M. Hutchins. Writing under the title of "The Age of the Interchangeable Man" in the October Esquire, Dr. Hutchins indicates why "mass selling and mass advertising aim at the interchangeable man." Security, in our time, tends to be represented by an ability to slip smoothly into new organizations or new neighborhoods. The world of the machines demands an interchangeable personnel, just as it demands standardized parts for the mechanical devices which are the backbone of industry. The well-adjusted individual, in Hutchins' words, "aims not to attract attention but to achieve invisibility." A number of critics of the handling of children by today's adults point out that the child tends to become more and more "invisible." So far as children are concerned, the strenuous efforts to "organize" youth activities in schools, clubs, and on the playgrounds have been adequately lampooned by Robert Smith, author of "Where Did You Go?'' . . . "Out." Parents may keep abreast of their child's progress in little-league baseball, in the Cub Scouts, and in other ways, but this can be very much like following a diagram on a chart. And the more standardized the planned activities for small children become, the less visible is the little person himself. Yet the bearing and raising of children is and must be a highly individual matter, and the parent's reassurance needs to be based on personal criteria deriving from the unique nature of the individual child-parent relationship. To weaken a MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 11 parent's natural sense of psychological responsibility is to undermine self-confidence in the child also, for he expects his parents, above all, to act as if they know what they are about. Thus the failure of the parents to set their own standards in matters of psychology encourages those same children, during later years, to accept all sorts of outside authorities—which is pretty much the same thing as having none of one's own. A report on college standards written for the Hazen Foundation by a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania makes frightening reading: hopeless, and remote from the center of power. What can he do? Like Dr. Hutchins, Dr. Bruch feels that modern man has become "timid and tentative about everything," and concludes her volume by affirming that "only when parents rediscover their self-respect will they be able to raise children with the feeling that they are raising them as their children, giving them their deepest love and devotion for being their children." The values of American college students are remarkably homogeneous, considering the variety of their social, economic, ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds, and the relatively unrestricted opportunities they have had for freedom of thought and personal development. A dominant characteristic of students in the current generation is that they are gloriously contented both in regard to their present day-to-day activity and their outlook for the future. . . . The great majority of students appear unabashedly self-centered. They aspire for material gratifications for themselves and their families. They intend to look out for themselves first and expect others to do likewise. But this is not the individualistic selfcenteredness of the pioneer. American students fully accept the conventions of the contemporary business society as the context within which they will realize their personal desires. They carefully expect to conform to the economic status quo and to receive ample rewards for dutiful and productive effort. They anticipate no diehard struggle for survival of the fittest as each seeks to gratify his own desires, but rather an abundance for all as each one teams up with his fellow self-seekers in appointed places on the American assembly line. Mr. Hutchins closes the "Age of the Interchangeable Man" with the following analysis: Adjustment is simply the process by which one becomes an interchangeable man. Education as it is now seems to have very little to do with enlightenment of the people. Education is not critical of our society. It is being engulfed by it. In our society today the conception of the individual as responsible, participating, and deciding is a thing of the past. The individual feels himself helpless, Volume XI, No. 46 MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 12 FRONTIERS Something Overlooked THE average man, who has been well schooled but badly educated, is taking refuge in gadgets, sports, entertainments, and all the excitements he can be induced to buy under the pressure of a vampiric system, because he is bewildered and bedevilled by the world in which he must live. For many centuries he depended on the religion of his day and country; today, there is but a rumbling of dry bones in the churches. The priest is no longer a priest, a man dedicated to a god or gods and pledged to the teaching and guidance of lesser men; today, he is but a common man, distinguished from his fellows by a prefix that is false and a garb that merely proclaims his profession. For the most part he has little knowledge, and that little, poisoned by an exclusive theology; and of wisdom, no more than his neighbors. He is reduced to bribing the adherents of his church by adopting secular methods of attraction, and then countering his lures by pontificating on matters far beyond his understanding. He is therefore merely a stumbling block, and has nothing to say to a spiritually hungry world. Science, in its turn, is today, despite the few who are dedicated to pure knowledge, merely a new god of metal and plastic, and can offer man more toys in peace and more destruction in war, but nothing for the soul. Philosophy and the arts cannot guide a confused and unhappy world, for they themselves are hopelessly entangled in the meshes of dead theologies and soulless mechanisms. Governments both of the passing imperialisms and of their would-be successors have sold themselves to the sinister forces of the left, once known as Satan or as Black Magic, and have been visited with madness. So the average man turns from all that once he trusted, and says "let us have a good time while we yet may, for tomorrow we die." For who now can offer guidance or hope, or any comfort for that within him that blindly reaches for light, however faint? But there seems to be a ray of hope in that science, which is not a science, currently thriving under the ugly name—psychology. It is an ugly name because in usage it is made to mean what its name does not mean, and it means different things to its own professors. It is an umbrella word, made to cover Volume XI, No. 46 reflex actions, sensations, both high and low emotions, mental processes, intellect, activities or functions of the soul (which is left undefined), intuitions, and the operation and powers of the will. It is therefore a misleading term, and makes for its own confusions. But as no better word has been offered, it must be taken and made to serve. In the present connection, it will be regarded as that (embryo) science which purports to give some explanation of man and his urges, emotions, desires, inhibitions, and perhaps conscience, with their various conjunctions, conflicts, diseases, both of physical body and of whatever invisible and non-physical qualities may be evidenced or reasonably assumed. Some research has also been done, and is being done, into hidden forces and latent powers so that a secure footing may be established from which to examine the whole of human nature, and in time offer both a goal and an anchorage that will mean peace and spiritual understanding for all who will seek and strive for peace and understanding. Now, after the foregoing, perhaps it may be easier to justify the caption, Something Overlooked. A brief glance over the history of human societies in recorded times up to the end of the nineteenth century will disclose an economic factor, in all those societies, that appears to have attracted no attention from either psychologists or sociologists; and yet, if that factor is compared with the corresponding factor of this century, the significance of it must surely be clear to even the slowest mind. To put it as shortly as words permit, all known economies, under whatever type of government, have been economies of scarcity. In times of famine, because of crop failures, floods, droughts, or other apparently unavoidable cause, the masses have suffered while the owners, rulers, and privileged groups have taken or kept for themselves whatever supplies were available. Even in good years, the lower ranks of society have secured little more than bare subsistence. Even in modern times this remains true in many parts of the world. There is no reason to accuse governing and privileged classes of inhumanity; all production was accomplished by hand labor—the human machine was incapable of producing large enough surpluses to assure a sufficient quantity of necessities to meet all calls beyond a subsistence level. The harnessing of oxen or other suitable animals, of water wheels and windmills, eased human shoulders to a small degree, but did little to add to production. MANAS Reprint November 12, 1958 13 Under such conditions, the prevailing—and natural— "psychology" for each man, each group, each community, nation, or race, was to "look after number one," whatever hardships be suffered by others. It was seek, grab, and hold what could be got, for the preservation of the individual, his own family, community, and so on. Each attempted to draw to himself as a center, or to his class, etc.; or, to put it in other terms, the psychology was "magnetic," a drawing or pulling to a desired center. It was the price of survival; those who were unable of themselves (or by reason of social status) to secure the necessities of life were doomed, and it was taken as a matter of course that it should be so. "Each for himself and the devil take the hindmost" was real, and as cities grew, with their populations of consumers who did not produce, they added to demands that could not be met even with improved techniques and more extensive land holdings. So always, a starving layer of the proletariat and an impoverished peasantry were assumed to be normal. It is easy to blame greedy slave owners, extravagant land barons, a parasitic priesthood, or a predatory army, and say that but for them a more equal distribution could have been made. But economies of today are in no position to lay accusations, for the actual conditions even now are little better, as the "hungry thirties" tragically proved. That is, the "psychology" of this century is basically that of past centuries; past societies can bring a show of justification, or at least an explanation, but the only form of "justification" that exists today is that "it has always been so," and presumably is a natural and inevitable price that must be paid for the privilege of living on the planet. But during the last fifty years or so technological advances have been so enormous, both in methods of producing industrial goods and in crop (food) production, that, at times, staggering amounts of foodstuffs have been deliberately destroyed, although there existed dire need for these "surpluses" both at home and in other areas of the world. Even now, when certain nations are willing to give, or sell cheaply, to peoples who lack necessities, they face severe criticism from other nations, on the ground that such policies "depress the world market" in which these nations wish to sell, at "effective" market prices, the same or similar commodities. And even when the "have" nations offer substantial aid to the "have nots," as in the Marshall and Colombo plans, there is an underlying suspicion Volume XI, No. 46 that the donors are hoping for adequate returns when the present beneficiaries have stabilized their economies. The old "psychology" still holds; advantages or rewards are sought, or at least compensations to "balance" the generosity; it is still "get" instead of freely give with no strings attached and no hope of return. The earth and its wealth are not yet owned by "man," but by nations, corporations, and a few individuals. But today productive capacity is so tremendous, actual and potential, that even allowing for the fearful waste of manpower and raw materials expended on criminal weapons of destruction and the man-forces needed to operate them, it would be possible to turn out consumer goods and foodstuffs in such quantities that no man, woman, or child anywhere on the earth need go hungry or lack clothing and shelter. But to convert this capacity into actuality will demand a new "psychology," it will mean "share" instead of "get." If the old one is magnetic—a drawing power to a center—the new one must be electric, a sending out, a giving. Thousands of people in all countries are beginning to sense this, however dimly; there is a dawning recognition that the "brotherhood of man" is more than a poet's dream or a catch-word to be used by theologians. The world is, in truth, in the throes of a revolution such as history has never yet recorded; few are conscious of it, but millions "sense" it, and their numbers will grow as one after another of the world's thinkers and dreamers puts it into the language of the common man. It will some day be inconceivable that any human being, anywhere, shall be refused what he needs to live a decent life because such needs are "owned" by other men, who will release them only if a "profit" is to be made. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof," and all men are entitled to their due share—Brotherhood must become a fact, world-wide. White Rock, B.C., Canada MANAS Reprint GEORGE W. WEAVER November 12, 1958 ...
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