28 October 1957
What is the purpose of my life?
The only way I see it at this point, is to live my life as best I can within the framework of the intelligence granted me as an individual. To fulfill my obligations as I have acquired them.
- To maintain my own existence as best as possible.
- To maintain my marriage obligation as best I know how.
- To fulfill my obligation to raise my children into as good an adulthood as I can within the power of my jurisdiction.
The above are my primary obligations. Beyond that?
Like a mariner, to guide my ship, with its cargo of obligations as well as I can. To try to understand my world, my environment, so that my ship does not get sunk on the reefs or get lost from my course.
Also, to do what I can to make my community a good place to live in, wherever I can see an opportunity to do so.
From: the Atlantic monthly 100th anniversary edition – 1957
Article: “God, the Devil, and the Human Soul” by Carl G. Jung.
“One would like to be assured that the man who talks of ideals is himself ideal, so that his words and deeds are more than they seem.
“To be ideal is impossible and remains an unfulfilled postulate. Since we usually have keen noses in this or respect, most of the idealism is that our preached and paraded before us sound rather hollow and only become acceptable when their opposite is openly admitted to. Without this counterweight the ideal goes beyond our human capacity, becomes incredible because of its humorlessness, and degenerates into bluff, albeit a well-meant one. Bluff is an illegitimate way of overpowering and suppressing people and leads to no good.”
Jung indicates our human society has always thought of human behavior as influenced by “outside” sources: the devil, God. Whereas his postulate is that when this attitude is taken the human rejects responsibility for behavior. It is only when human beings become fully conscious of the fact that the unconscious and above that the psyche that is part of the soul of man, rests within man himself, then only can emphasis be removed from material, or objective outside of human forces can be removed from incorrect blame for man’s behavior, only then, can man except consciously the fact that all human behavior rests with an individual! All questions of human relationship must be accepted before real cohesion and consequent strength (moral) can occur.
In other words, we cannot say: “The only reason we are making big bad bombs to kill people with, are [sic] because the Russians are doing so. When we do this, we refuse to look at or scrutinize our moral behavior, the moral concept of human relationships. If we were not scared to death the Russians would be formidable competitors economically – we would not be in the arms race, for instance. Hmm! mm! mm!
(Is it so simple? I doubt it.)
Human nature does not change so easily. Past history indicates we are as far from Jung’s “ideal.” In fact the present seems to indicate we may be further from it than ever, or perhaps closer to it than ever – who knows?
(Later in the article he says this, too, I see.) He also says he is not holding up an ideal – but only attempting to heighten the Consciousness of the psychological situation.
Hey! His comment on abstract art is the best thing I’ve seen yet in so far as understanding the purpose of it.
“Now is the striving for self-knowledge altogether without prospects, since there exists a factor which, though completely disregarded, meets our expectations halfway. This is the unconscious Zeitgeist. It compensates the attitude of the conscious mind and anticipates changes to come. An excellent example of this is Modern Art: though seemingly dealing with aesthetic problems it is really performing a work of psychological education on the public by breaking down and destroying their previous aesthetic views of what is beautiful in form and meaningful in content. The pleasingness of the artistic product is replaced by chill abstractions of the most subjective nature, which brusquely slam the door on the naïve and romantic delight in the senses in their obligatory love for the object. This tells us, in plain and universal language, that the prophetic spirit of art has turned away from the old object-relationship and toward – for the time being – the dark chaos of subjectivisms.
“Certainly art, so far as one can judge it, has not yet discovered in this darkness what it is that holds men together and could give expression to their psychic wholeness. Since reflection seems to be needed for this purpose, it may be that such discoveries are reserved for other fields of endeavor. Great art till now has always derived its fruitfulness from the myth, from the unconscious process of the symbolization which continues through the ages and, as the primordial manifestations of the human spirit, will continue to be the root of all creation in the future. The development of modern art with its seemingly nihilistic trend toward disintegration must be understood as the symptom and symbol of a mood of world destruction and world renewal that has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially, and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the right time for a metamorphosis of the gods – that is, of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself, through the might of its own technology and science.”
It is a problem of moral backwardness which has not kept pace with our scientific, technical, and social developments.
(What he is actually saying is: What is material, objective good, when human good is neglected? In other words, when material goals are greater than human relationships – the material goods are of little value. This does not mean there is no good in objective material things. He is driving at this: Midas and his golden daughter. Satellites and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles – destructive materials are carrying more weight than human relationships. If this continues – unless we have a metamorphosis of man’s material outside himself forces, instead recognizes good and evil are within himself, we shut our eyes to self-destruction.
Vis-à-vis: Colonialization [sic] for our good (Western culture) at the expense of colored peoples.
God ordains this or that – and we shut our eyes as Christians because Christianity does not give insight and responsibility for behavior to the individual – churches give the responsibility to God and the devil.
Notes from “Voss” by Patrick White.
Few people of attainments take easily to a plan of self-improvement. Some discover very early their perfection cannot endure the insult. Others find their intellectual pleasure lies in the theory, not the practice. Only a few stubborn ones will blunder on, painfully, out of the luxuriant world of their pretensions into the desert of mortification and reward.
I should probably not read this “Voss” book. I am not sure how much of what follows is influenced by the book, or how much was in me before I picked it up. This much I do know – many of the following thoughts were rooted in a thinking of mine which began before reading as much of it as I did. However, skimming through the pages helped color and paint up what was crystallizing in my mind.
This whole “God” concept of the human race, whether a tree or sun worshiper or a Christian, Moslem, or Jew or what have you, is a curious one.
Humans from time knows when – wanted help, favors, what have you. Humans search for a source outside themselves to attain their needs or desires: the formal religious aspect – medicine men, parents.
Carrying this or little further – one can go into the social relationships of humanity. For instance: what has occurred recently at the [Memorial School Community] Center. Mrs. Jaffe’s class folds up. She had a complete belief – at least so she says, that I will somehow get a class together for her. Isn’t she, in a way, putting me in the role of an “outside” source of power? She wants the class. She enjoys it. Somehow I am to materialize it.
Now what has this to do with the “God” concept?
People will say: “I have great faith in you” to do this or that. It is a blind wishful trust often, or it can be based on realistic facts.
For instance: Mrs. Jaffe senses I want to make a good enrollment at the Center. I have connections with the [International Order of} Foresters. She has called the list, although without positive results, of people who have indicated an interest. No one said they were no longer interested. By adding the whole situation up – she senses if I follow the situation up, there is a possibility for a square dance group.
Now this basis is realistic to a great extent. But it leaves out an unknown factor: People’s moods, economic situation, weather, all sorts of factors – perhaps some other interest more prevalent in their minds. There could be a multitude of factors entering this.
The point I am trying to bring out is this:
When people consider the “God” factor – are they really considering the force or energy which places them on earth as humans? Aren’t they more considering their own wishes, desires, and aspirations, petty or great? There is no true contemplation in them, only a contemplation of wants, desires, what have you. It is a close to the mirror view of a human face, a near-sighted view not a broad contemplation of life as it exists on earth. There is no realistic approach, no true wonder about human life by the majority of humans – rather a narrow tight individual approach.
Man seldom contemplates the stars in a busy urban community. Certainly seldom. Man is too busy about his daily customs. (This is the Voss influence, I see clearly.) Just of what sense is life on this planet Earth? Why was it created in the first place? Who knows?
Yet, somehow as I remove my thinking from the close daily routines, ambitions, and desires of people around me, including myself, and project myself into space as I have seen pictures of the world from way out in the atmosphere, people are not visible, only a few marks to indicate topographical differences mark on the surface of the earth.
Somehow this way of evaluating the urgent desires of humans – placing them as inhabitants of earth, as viewed from a great distance into the atmosphere, my own urgencies seem less important and the do or die urgencies of the human population looks to me as insignificant as Lilliput. I gain a certain quietness from all this – a perspective.
Bernard Baruch’s biography by Margaret L. Court.
In it is this statement in a paragraph: “What he was living through (post Civil War days) – although he did not know it – was the end of one era and the beginning of another. The war had won freedom, not only the freedom of the slaves, but also the North’s freedom from moral responsibility for the slaves. It had not freed the South from economic responsibility for the Negroes.
The impact of this paragraph suddenly brought my reading of history, sociology, and economics into focus!
But of course, the North was industrializing… Suddenly I thought of the feudal system, the slave system of Egypt – Rome. The growth of cities. The seeds of the Civil War were planted hundreds of years before!
The biography goes on: “This the southern whites were to discover, ‘The Negroes are very good riddance’ triumphed a bitter Camden woman. ‘A hired man is far cheaper than a man whose father and mother wife and 12 children have to be fed.’ But southern whites could not ignore the filthy shack towns mushrooming and rotting around virtually every city, breeding disease, despair and black progeny: pestilence and the shanties meant pestilence and death to their own children. The Negro was free, you could not make him work, and meanwhile the farms and fields were slipping back into underbrush. Ten years since the (South’s) surrender – and yet the price of cotton was still but a third of what it had been before the war. And what of the great rice plantations? Rice required daily care, and how could it be grown when the hands, drunk with the pay of two or three day’s pay, would throw down their tools and take off for a week?”
Well, this is an illuminating bit for me!! It brings the present to focus! Somewhere, recently, I read that if the migration of the less desirable negroes from the South to the northern industrial cities continues, the South will have no negro troubles – the North will have to take over the troubles of the South – the chickens have come home to roost. The North now is saddled with the problem of the less desirable elements of the South – black and white – and is now finding out for the first time what it means to have these people on relief roles, demoralizing city schools, and urban populations.
The North only in recent years is getting a taste of what the South has dealt with since the Civil War days – and these hand holding do-gooders are coddling these characters a la “Blackboard Jungle” – and “The Last Angry Man” business. Yee gods! The industrial North better take a hand and stop behaving as though these demoralized characters were nothing more than “I’se just a child!” stuff. I don’t know what the answer is, but I would not be surprised to find a Northern parallel in some Northern community to equal the terror implications of the “Georgia chain gang” prisons if it gets bad enough.
How do you integrate, reeducation [sic], and moralize peoples who have never lived like ordinary human beings? This must trouble many of our thoughtful northern Negroes.
Golly! – when in Kapers’s [?] book I’m reading he says no one can change his fate in the sense no one can change what has happened before – I can wholeheartedly believe it! One just does what one can to struggle and do one’s best with what one has. Our human past is like a massive glacier, disturbing present existence in so far as do the influences of the past has on the present: it takes a lot of understanding to know this in its fullest sense, I guess, in order to direct human destiny into future behavior, or ever to alter it to any degree. Yet, strange as it seems, changes and adaptations are made somehow – quite accidentally without conscious deliberation for the most part I guess.
How many human beings rise up through the years who can get enough of a conception of the past to consciously envision a path resolving path for human difficulties? Just as it says in the biography about Baruch – he lived through an era but was not aware of it until much later. My guess that is true of much human history! But gad! Here is a science to study! Yet I know of no particular educational system which straightens the tangled skein of human experience: social, economic, political, historical, psychological together into a whole so that human beings can be trained to understand such matters. I suppose sociology is a beginning step in this direction.
Baruch: “if you understand raw materials you understand the politics of the world.”
“Wars are won not by armies alone but by the economic resources of the people.”
War Years (World War I)
With only 200 tons of antimony on hand and the ordinance people demanding 3000 [Bernard] Baruch and Eugene Meyer halted the runaway price jump from $0.14-$0.20 a pound. They did this by slow piecemeal buying, at which the price subsided comfortably.
When the Mexican province of Yucatán attempted to “hold up” the US in its need for vital sisal fiber Baruch went into action. He got both the lower price and the product by using substitutes in the US and by a deliberate withholding of purchases until financial collapse threatened Yucatán. Equally spectacular was Leland’s Symmons’ game with the price of Indian jute – an outrageous price, in Burke’s opinion. Could not the British do something about it? It seemed not. What control did Britain have over the subcontinent? Belatedly, Britain discovered its control, upon learning that the US was about to abandon the silver exports that bolstered India’s currency. On the basis of depreciated rupees, the US could buy jute on its own terms; and the [British] Empire discovered India could be brought to terms.