School; Monovian Editorials

Editorials - 1955

 

No. 65 Spring 1955


Editor: W.H.Walker
Assistant Editor: P.K.Sen

SPEAKING EDITORIALLY

O Tempora, O Mores. This has been the perennial cry since Adam first took the fatal bite of the forbidden fruit. At times the cry has been weak and fitful; at other times it has been strong and forcefull. No age has been free of those that chafe and rail at the supposed decadence and degeeneracy of the time. But in those eras when conservatism rules and men have an immutable, unwavering way of life, the discontented voices arc not so blatant, and they come mainly from from the geniuses or mana-personalities, the individual spirits who cannot tolerate the shackles of social convention and habit, who rise above society and the accepted way of life. and champion change and revolution. Moses, Socrates, Luther- these were such men. And although these outstanding personalities are few in number, they are usually powerful, and eventually succeed in overthrowing the status quo. Then follows an age of transition, a period of stress and strain in which the exasperated and desperate cries become more and more voiciferous. For the old values and habits have been discarded, and men are left naked to be battered by those ever-present feelings of purposelessness and aimlessness. When a way of life, religious or philosophical, gains common acceptance, those aching feelings of aimlessness and the vanity of all things arc minimised. For the religious philosophical ethos gives purpose and meaning to peoples 1ives, and they find a place in society by a general surrender to this way of life. If it is strong, in this way of life or Weltanschenung becomes firmly ingrained in men's minds and sometimes exists unchanged for centuries. Then, as I have pointed out, exceptional personalities arise and overthrow the accepted values. Although such an overthrow is inevitable and even welcomed, it snatches all man's security front him. He has nothing left to grasp. He is left floundering, and his deep- seated feelings of vanity and emptiness come surging upwards. The age of revolution is a mental climacteric for everyone. This aimlessness, however, does not last indefinitely. For another religious or philosophical creed soon comes along and foists a new way of life on man. And the process starts once again. History is largely a record of this cyclic process of stagnation, revolution; stagnation, revolution. The Roman Republic, enervated by age and inefficiency, was ousted by the Empire. The consequent revolution is of great importance. It bears many relations to our present plight. For materialism and sensuality and Philistinism, the inevitable outcome of aimlessness, were rampant in the Empire. This critical period, in which there was no clearly defined way of life lasted until the conversion to Christianity under Constantine. The Christian religion brought a completely new outlook on life, which held undisputed sway throughout the Middle Ages until the Renaissance and Reformation. Encouraged by Meister Eckhart and Luther there was then a break with the Church, which had kept the people in a state of thraldom. At first sight, the schism gradually widened. The development of science, the advent of industrialisation further increased the breach. The way of life which had been accepted for centuries was discarded, slowly at first, then faster and faster, so that today we are living in the throes of a great revolution. We see the old values and habits spurned, and one by one stowed away in limbo. It is natural then for us to be plagued by feelings of aimlessness aud vanity: we are empty souls wandering in a waste land - A heap of broken images. where the sun beats, And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, And the dry stone no sound of water." As under the Roman Empire, materialism, Philistinism and sensuality run rife. We clutch these as if they will give us security in a disrupted world. But these are completely insubstantial. We must grasp something firmer, find a universally applicable way of life. We can choose Communism which satisfies the human cravings for common purpose and sense of usefulness -- subservience to the State. But this would be pernicious and disastrous. For such a way of life is inimical to happiness, for it enslaves the individual and cripples thought; it gradually stagnates and weakens until it is ultimately overthrown, as was the case with Roman Catholicism. We must find a modus vivendi that does not incarcerate the individual, but which is no less effective and efficacious. We cannot go far wrong by culling from all the great religions and philosophies of the past those doctrines which have universal and everlasting application, doctrines that advocate humanity. diligence, self-knowledge, sobriety. And an appreciation and understanding of beauty and the simple things of life. Combine these into a way of life that is adaptable to change and that does not stifle the individual, then our present plight will soon pass. What is needed is a re-orientation, It is essential to adapt ourselves to the changing times and not hark back to a fabulous past. Of course, a great effort of will is required, for it is so easy to fall a prey to despair and cynicism, tortured by feelings of emptiness and vanity. We must combat these morbid thoughts, evolve an acceptable and effective and salutary way of life. 'Then obnoxious materialism and Philistinism, frustration and aimlessless will disappear. And the cries of degeneracy and degradation will become weak and sporadic. We must cultivate the Waste Land.


W.H.W.

 

No. 66 Summer 1955.

 


Editor - W. H. WALKER.
Assistant Editor - P. K. SEN.

SPEAKING EDITORIALLY

In the last half century that intangible but important dimension of reality, the unconscious, has come under minute scrutiny from the psycho-analysts, especially Dr. C. G. Jung. The unconscious is roughly divisible into two, the personal and the collective. The personal unconscious is the storehouse of the experiences of early childhood. The collective unconscious consists of those elements which are derived from the experiences of the race generally. From this latter division of the unconscious come the symbols which visit us in dreams and fantasies, in the arts and in religious visions. The barrier between consciousness and the unconscious is thin. We can never be sure when we are going to receive an "inflation" from the deep recesses of our mind. It is precisely when we feel most conscious and at our highest point of rationality that non-conscious forces burst through the area of awareness and either becloud or dominate consciousness. If this happens to one person, it means he will experience moods, hear voices, or have fantasies. If this happens to many people at the same time, it means that a whole nation may be gripped by a mass psychosis, as occurred in Nazi Germany. Modern man is only too well aware that, like the sword of Damocles, his complete extinction hangs by a hair over his head. For, should a nation, equipped with the atom bomb and other means of mass extermination, come under the domination of a symbol of destruction, issuing from the unconscious, all the accomplishments of our civilisation, indeed of Man in his brief life on earth, will be shattered and blotted out. So long as we remain ignorant of the unconscious side of mental life we must be at its mercy. A study of psychoanalysis is therefore essential, and a study of the work of Dr. C. G. Jung in particular; for he, above all others, has contributed the most towards the interpretation and understanding of the unconscious. His work is not complete in itself there is still much to be done, more nooks and crannies to be probed in the storehouse of the psyche. But his is a fertile, new approach with wide implications not only to psychological but to social fields of study. Thinkers in such diverse spheres of inquiry as biology, sociology, theology and history, are turning with increasing interest to Jung's formulations. Arnold Toynbee, for example, has declared that the study of the history of civilisation requires a psycho-analytic approach. He considers the views of Jung to be nearest in spirit to his own. Toynbee is particularly concerned with finding out what constitutes the real continuity in history, perhaps the most crucial and perplexing problem in the interpretation of society. After deep and penetrating research into the history of the great civilisations of the world, past and present, Toynbee has reached the conclusion that while the outer structure of civilisation breaks up when it "dies", something yet lives on. Even the external products of a culture can remain in existence only so long as they correspond to something that is present inside the human beings of the age. The real continuity of history consists not in the outer forms of a civilisation nor in the surface flow of events, but rather in the forces that are psychologically at work in the depths of the people's minds. Civilisatons do not entirely die. Their outward manifestation disappears, but they leave an impression on the minds of the people that follow. This impression is, of course, unconscious. In Jung's historical conception of the unconscious, Toynbee finds scientific confirmation and explanation of his theory. The impressions that are left in the minds of the people after the decay of a civilisation are called "archetypes" by Jung. Both men agree that it is within the human psyche, vast though it be and strange to fathom, that we must look for the secrets of history. Gnothi seauton was the advice written up in the temple of Delphi, and, like all good advice, it is still applicable today. We realise now that we can know ourselves only by delving into the unconscious and coming to terms with its contents. Dr. Jung takes us a long way in our search for self-knowledge. It is, therefore, of paramount importance for all of us to take careful note of his work.

W.H.W.

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