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No. 71. Spring, 1958.

 

Editor:D. J. WILSON.

Assistant Editor: D. ASHTON.

SPEAKING EDITORIALLY.
Public interest and attention has of late been attracted by a group of people who call themselves, or rather are called" Angry Young Men". This group consists of a number of young men (and, I believe, one fairly young lady) who belong to the post-war generation and who are busy trying to make a name for themselves in the arts, mainly literature. There is no doubting the fact that they have attracted the public eye. Indeed, their doctrine has even permeated the hallowed and ancient walls of Oxford. When I attempted a college entrance examination quite recently, one of the questions which greeted me was, "What are 'Angry Young men' angry about?" A subject which can draw the attention of such eminent figures as Oxford dons is surely worthy of our interest. Many people have reacted quite violently against what has been called "the conceit, self-importance, the humourlessness and intolerance of these young authors." Similarly it is very easy to say that such traits will always be evident in a generation of talented and self-confident young people. The trouble is that most of the older members of the community do not even try to understand; they merely decry the prevailing tendencies which seem so revolutionary. "Angry Young Men" are expressing their distaste for certain aspects of the modern world. It is wrong to say that they are talking only because they like the sound of their own voices. They have common aims and ideals, yet each individual member also seems to be a "specialist reformer " on one topic. Kenneth Tynan, the renowned dramatic critic, sees a need for considerable reform in the British theatre; Lindsay Anderson has similar ideas on the cinema. Bill Hopkins mourns the lack of new and existing ideas in the literary world. All of them, however, are filled with an almost overpowering fear and revulsion of the hydrogen bomb. They blame the older generation for the present state of world affairs; their bitterness is understandable. But they forget that their fathers knew a different world when they faced and triumphed over crippling depressions and cruel world wars. "Angry Young Men" do not merely condemn: they also endeavour to suggest remedies. John Osborne is giving his own answer to the lack of good dramatic material. He is undoubtedly the most outstanding of all young modern playwrights. The problem of the state of world affairs is far more difficult. Colin Wilson and Stuart Holroyd see the answer in a revival of religious faith. Let us hope that the talent of these young people which as yet is, I am sure, only latent, will flourish so that when they succeed to positions of responsibility they may lead the country with determination and with a definite ideal always in view.

 

D.J.W.

 

 

No. 72 Summer, 1958

 

Editor - D. L. ASHTON
Assistant Editor - H. MARCOVITCH

SPEAKING EDITORIALLY
Education of the young is an important feature of human society. In all ages, instead of relying entirely on a child's learning freely and naturally from his surroundings, people have attempted some form of deliberate instruction. In this way society prepares for its future. Primitive communities probably concerned themselves especially with teaching skills closely associated with the preservation of life itself: hunting, building and so on, except where nature provided greater relaxation from the struggle to survive, so that leisure crafts could be passed on for the enjoyment of each generation. The way of life of the whole community is reflected in the upbringing of its offspring. The iron rule of young Spartans, for example, was a suitable discipline for their warlike life, in contrast to that of the young Athenians, whose athleticism was more of the intellect. We discern the influence of the We1tanschauun in the scholar's curriculum in medieval Europe which stressed religion as a cast for thought and theology as the queen of sciences. Even more obvious to the contemporary mind is the pressure put on education by political partisans who realise only too well the value of youth organisations. As civilisation has developed, improved means of communicating and recording thought have made it possible for qualified thinkers to study the meaning and working of education. From these studies conclusions have been reached which should form the basis for sound, careful instruction of members of civilisations to come. A secure grounding in psychology, history and experience of bringing up people to a state of fitness for participation as mature individuals in the country have assisted the creation of a valuable science of education itself. Moreover, broadly speaking, western society is so complex, massive and all-embracing that it has grown to regard instruction of the ignorant as a duty, almost to the extent that ancient communities had to recognise it as a necessity. Compulsory attendance at schools, a minimum educational certificate, vast expenditure by the state on educational projects; a modern nation cannot forsake such things and live. But, along with all this, there exists a growing, self-conscious consent to look at the subject in the light of human rights. Every man (wrote Mr. H.G. Wells) "is entitled to sufficient education to make him a useful and interested citizen, and further that special education should be so made available as to give him equality of opportunity for the development of his distinctive gifts in the service of mankind". Notice the latter part of this declaration. We have passed the stage when education consisted in merely fitting out somebody so that he could perform a certain function required by society. We now advocate education, like Lubbock, not merely to make the man the better workman, but the workman the better man. Training and nourishing the whole man is the task of a wise and confident community. Surely it is in the interest of society, as well as the individual, to do everything possible to develop thoughtfully latent talents from a personality and give it a deep, comprehensive outlook on its place in the world and the ultimate truths about human life. Anyway, the particular problems of the century hammer the point home. "Ours is an age of intellectual confusion," writes Dr. Frankl, a leading Vienna psychologist, "with a topsy-turvy sense of values. Materialism rides high; indifferentism is in the saddle. But our time is also a period of deep tragedy and acute political crisis". Our present school system hardly keeps pace with the fresh demands of a fast-moving civilisation. What does it provide, not so much by way of new techniques for greater economic advancement, but so that we can appreciate better the reasons for the whole business? I suggest that the pressing urgency of this situation will ensure that training along these lines is not confined for long merely to a few odd general periods thrown into the Sixth Form time-table and to several incidental remarks thrown out during class-time.

 

D.L.A.

 

No. 73 Autumn, 1958

 

Editor - D. L. ASHTON
Assistant Editor - H. MARCOVITCH

SPEAKING EDITORIALLY

Science has figured prominently in the news recently. The Soviet satellite successes brought to the surface a controversy that has long been simmering. It concerns the relative importance of science and arts subjects to society and their consequent place in contemporary education. The dispute has been far-reaching, very involved and often tiresome. As in the older argument about the alleged conflict between religion and science, ambiguity and misguided thinking abound. Nevertheless, discussion has produced some sound conclusions, which, owing to the practical application of science to our lives nowadays, are extremely important. The vague use of the word "science" has been confusing. Here I take it to mean the study of natural phenomena which fall directly under the senses. Though it may require theorising about things that personal sensation cannot immediately perceive, such as the "construction" of an atom, it tells us nothing about truths that transcend concrete experience, nothing about any "final end of things." But it can supply information on which the intellect can work to abstract such truths. Of course, some philosophers (returning ironically to the root scire "to know" anything) assert that nothing can be known except by scientific methods. If this were true, much traditional philosophy, as well as all belief in the supernatural, would be without rational justification. This effect of science on human outlooks has been indirect and indecisive. Elsewhere, science has wrested the facts from ancient provinces of ignorance and superstition, and its use in improving tremendously our kind of life is obvious. The last few centuries, in which discoveries and scientific development have accelerated rapidly, contrast sharply with the long ages during which mankind discovered the wheel and how to plant crops. Most people could now have fairly healthy lives. Automation can lighten their labour. Many enjoy their leisure with the help of instruments hardly dreamed of a hundred years ago. Science has begun to transform the world. Government, business men, and technicians achieve these results through industry. A celebrated thinker has pointed out that, if government will do its job in this great age, statesmen of the future must work with scientists as the Medicis lived and worked in the company of artists. And through democracy government leadership can be controlled for good. This is vital in times when science has made possible the utter ruin of human minds, race suicide, the deforming of human offspring in advance and the virtual destruction of the world. It is a pity that technological advances have not gone hand in hand with a keener perception of ultimate issues and greater exercise of moral restraint. Remorse and despair need not haunt us for ever: why should they? What, then, are we to do with our lives? At present science itself does not provide us adequately with a pivot for our activities. And the systems based as exclusively as possible on science seem to ignore many aspects of the human make-up. The part-sciences such as psychology, sociology and ethics help us in this matter only when their content closely borders established moral standards and metaphysics. The laboratory is the wrong place to look for the destiny of man and the long- term implications of existence, if there are any. Similarly, the increase in leisure time that science will conceivably create for us will be worse than useless if people make an improper use of it: but it is beyond the power of physics or chemistry or what have you to tell us what is improper. It is at this point that the arts subjects assume their greatest importance. It was Wordsworth who said: "Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science." To appreciate the poetry at the heart of the arts subjects is to provide a great part of the satisfaction so needed by men in the era of machines and higher mathematics. A serious understanding of the functions of both scientific and arts studies must provide a balanced synthesis of them if mankind is going to look forward to the time to come.

 

D.L.A.