Man and the multitude; Peter Viereck discussion, part one
Man and the multitude. This University of Illinois Centennial symposium presented by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences studies contemporary man poised between past and future and between isolation and the community of the world. Guest speakers and panel members comment on the conflicting forces which push men apart from others and into communion with others. Lectures in this series will be followed by discussions involving speakers visiting professors and University of Illinois faculty members as well as interested students. On our last program Peter variac professor of history at Mount Holyoke College discussed the growing sense of alienation between teacher and student. He analyzed this as part of the attack upon the private life. Artists with inner creative liberty must make war on machines and must save man from technology. Mr. Varick also describes social adjustment as a means to personality and spontaneity not an end.
He concluded that the only test of an inner life is the sensation of pain. Mr. Varick will answer questions posed by Gary Adelman assistant professor of English University of Illinois. Billy Jackson associate professor of Art University of Illinois Royle McDonald assistant professor of music University of Illinois. And James McKerrow professor of fine arts Indiana University. College professor of speech at the University of Illinois will serve as chairman of this discussion. And now Joseph Gus field professor of sociology University of Illinois will make the opening comments. I want to follow something of the social aspect and pitch my remarks more for the function of getting our discussion rolling. I forgot to wear my do not full spindle. Do not fold spend little or mutilate but with weapons which are tossed out at a great rate by our machine age. What I want to do a year non-conforming
thing and make some pitch for the adjusted man. That is some some pitch for the notion that both the machine age and the kinds of adjustments that we. See that are necessary tainted by them have. Certain moral ethical advantages and we create caricatures. With great caricatures of individual ism we can create caricatures in Machine Age. Which of course become easily satires which of course become metaphors and styles that have a certain resonance for us. But that's some of the nitty gritty difficult problems of learning a living within the kind of complicated machinery that we do have. Make either one of those styles into either caricatures are very difficult as a source for not only for understanding but for living. We often think of a 19th century United States as a century of individuals and as one in which
terms like rugged individual ism. I am an individual as I'm going wild suggest to us that the unadjusted man is also and frequently is the anti-social man and being the anti social unit erected man the man of conviction also becomes the uncivil man. That is to say the man who is action becomes selfish self-centered and unrelated to concerns or interests and becomes also at some point the man who is the offical man. I try to find it short between thinking in terms of conviction and the values of conviction. Thinking also of the the values of cooperation of pleasantness of civility. So it seems to me there's something to be said for the other directed man in this kind of civilization. There is something to be said for the organization and machinery of our society. Professor Varick in his remarks last evening mentioned the
poetry reading group that he had read before yesterday and that. Pleased him and suggested the existence of on KLOV as it seems to me a large organization 30000 students that are here. The very big news of this place with all the difficulties that a dozen tale for us also makes possible the existence of individuals in the existence of kinds of on clubs in the society which smallness which a little organisation tends to stifle it tends to put pressures upon. In short the bigness of our society and the vastness of our organisation also creates a lot of places in which people can hide from others around them. The second point I want to make them is that they are in a move toward is that individual ism. Or lack of adjustment the unwillingness to adjust can quite easily and readily become Luddism even if even if you would maintain you're not suggesting this that is can easily
become a kind of concern for men a maintenance of deference and the kind of concern for the maintenance of conviction which moves quite easily into in its own way becoming traveling upon others in its own way leads to a turning of the back kinds of social commitments and kinds of social concerns. I think of Mark's Faber's distinction between ethics of responsibility and an ethics of conviction. Or as he also put it an ethics of monotheism in an ethics of policy is and that is between being concerned with the ramified consequences of your action and being concerned only with the immediate here and now. Let justice be done though the world perish for it. And it strikes me that the kind of organizations we have developed in our society. Have been in many ways creative and. Opening for us and they have done so in part by their willingness to get along with
a large number of diverse kinds of points of view and that the the lack of passion the soullessness even some of the facelessness of the large bureaucratic organization is in many ways also a virtue. It means a certain amount of impartiality. It means a certain amount of compromise that is the willingness to get along with a diverse. Set of ideas and beliefs and that it too provides for a kind of creativity. So what I'm lifting sure is a feeling that. It is not for us so much to choose between one or another style the getting in the nitty gritty the actual day to day context what we are constantly doing have to do we have to do is to weigh one against the other to be able to say use this. The individual is the an adjustment which is virtuous girl it is this the individual ism in the end adjustment which has consequences that are defeating to what are ethical or creative intentions and this isn't given by
one style or another but rather by the inner mixture of both things. Or as I like to put it once when I lead a class A discussion of that great anti utopia around us Huxley's Brave New World I asked the class. Would you like to live in the brave new world. And one student said no I would want like to live in the brave new world but I'd sure like to visit on weekends. So what I'm left with the kind of question I put the other comment I make really is how do you keep what is the creative or ethical side of the you know just the man from becoming the destructive creative fetish of the anarchic man. For a long time read about a mythical creature in Tibet called the abominable snowmen and little did I know that today I would be the abominable Strawn then because one of two things is true. Either.
Either did not hear my lecture or my lecture was so poorly given that it was unclear. Now I know that Professor Gus failed. Did you hear my lecture. Therefore it must be that it was so abominably given that it seemed to be the opposite of what it said. Ten years of blood sweat and tears in which I tried to fight the idea of the Nonconformist and the ivory tower and the Luddites lively swept away in five minutes by Professor Gosse field who seems to completely obliterate a microcell distinction between the nonconformist. Who is six who is anti-social and unadjusted to document it more specifically with the utmost emphasis.
I said that adjustment and indeed adjustment was splendid as a social lubricant. I objected to them only when they became ill and only determine ethics and values when all that counted was the toothpaste ad gram. Therefore what a professor Garfield called civility seems to me to be a synonym if not a caricature. What I meant by social lubricant it goes without saying that I am just and as a social lubricant I have no patience for infants. Flaunted alienation grandstand conformity and I made this clear in other words throughout I attacked the non conformist and favored conformity but I favored what I called a vertical conformity to the great ethical heritage of the past the Christian today heritage. I favored conformity to that said the unadjusted man vertically it conforms
to ethics to social conscience. But he none conforms and adjusts horizontally meaning the rootless of the age of McCarthyism in politics the. Ari snobbism is of the quad laser given moment all in the 10 years of trying to work out that I was against size against non-conformist I was against the ivory tower I was been conserving and swept away as well as my reading locks turned visibly lighter and longer and here we go back another ten years which in another moment is swept away which is my stress in an endless ride is not just the unadjusted man but conservatism revisited and so on and the need for technology and the need for machinery at that stage forms a social and ethical function.
I said again and either. You know I was unclear or production field didn't hear me and I know he did hear me. I said in an evidently poor an obscure way that there are two things about technology it is not a simple matter of being for it or against it. The day is over when you have the oversimplified dialogue of sorrow saying he's against the cotton mills in Massachusetts and Amazon saying Think how much good they will do this primitive level is machinery good or bad has been superceded by what I suggest the approach of the two aspects of technology. First you read by it and secondly you need to be freed from it now. Freed by it as Africa and our own country the Appalachian Mountain area I'm just picking areas with a humane and ethical thing is to be freed by technology from
infant mortality and needless and inhumane suffering. The second stage is when you have your affluent society and need to be freed from it. The secession of the alienation which I was not celebrating I was not celebrating alienation but saying there it is because of a kind of Philistine complacency which doesn't see that faceless bureaucracy is not merely a minor error a kind of slight burp after the big meal of our affluent society but as our eyes at the very root of. Crime and absurdity and almost everything you can think of people and not helping a woman being murdered in Brooklyn thinking that it was alright if you killed people by pressing buttons at a distance so it's all impersonal and technological It seems to me that this is an art to harras a faceless bureaucracy this is what we
have to be freed from because there's nothing like humane then faceless bureaucracy at Auschwitz was simply a faceless KOG seeing that the trains ran in time and the wheels turn turned smoothly so. All I can say is Do I agree with what you've said in one very unusual word no. One can go on and ever on trucking about the meaning of charity which is an act of love commitment and a deed and what the hell one has to do in order to make some kind of impression dent love on the movement. Troops and horses and you can talk and talk to some of us may be right about 95 percent
because the consequences of finding out what the so-called values are and reproaching yourself the consequence of realizing the extent to which you have to go in order to stand up for those principles which you might have a cause to recognise that extent make it absolutely necessary to go along with 95 percent of the dead. I don't go I think the more important question for us in respect to the very existence of the poet the meaning of of what's going on. It ministration all around castrating the sense of a lot of evidence on the part of the poet who has to be our honest eyes to look upon his body and his soul with utter honesty. And if he will actively
campaign to those things which he must feel and speak he would be dead. This is the problem. I look upon the world and the machine this way and I say one final point. That's a man who creates faces a choice which is more fundamental than the question of civilizing trends. That decision has to do with his societal role not outside the family as much as in a man who embraces the idea of a family and children. At the same time recognizing that he has a compulsion within him to create realizes an antagonism which can never be
resolved if he has a beautiful and intelligent wife who understands the meaning of this antagonism. She cannot honestly admit that he has the power that he would like to believe this because such an admission is an acknowledgement of the degeneration of their relationship. He would be the compulsive artist he would have to come first. If he's not a compulsive artist there will be no problem. And ultimately relax and the relationship will proceed the way all relationships do but if he is the compulsive studious erotic we're going to lead to destroying himself or his family or he will create over the offices of his family which makes me often wonder
if the problems are any different. Not necessarily in the long run the machine that is killing the poetic inspiration. But what does kill in the world of is that which makes it very difficult it is one of the same thing for a man to feel on now and for a Manchu to justify his actions with his own sensitive neurosis swimming around in a sea of nauseous. I mean oh I see I miss you but you get the drift of what I'm saying. I challenge you want to care and not to care. Wednesday. Whatever else there is. You can't not care. I can't not care you have to get your ticket all the way you have to burn out all your vitality or else you can create. I would say that these Arab media logical laws based on abstract
hatreds wouldn't take place in the first place and more people did stop to make love to look at a sunset or be human these arid any illogical wars whether fought by Horrocks on the American side in Vietnam or by dogs Trojan dogs of the Viet Cong murderers and assassins on the other side of the ideological confrontation which I deplore because I think the day is over. Illogical. Yes Miss Booker This will be brief but if I can begin by reading to you part of an of a clipping I made from the Sunday New York Times in March. Well I guess whenever I read something that really hits home I cut it out as if to say I am concerned but I think well let me read you part of it. It starts by Tom Wicker and it's called the malaise beyond or the malice beyond dissent starts out a good many Americans may have been shocked and angered at the small group of writers and intellectuals who stalked out of the film are calling New York the other night. As the Vice
President Humphrey rose to speak at the National Book Award ceremony he goes into the Reagan. The Book Award incidence is symptomatic of some olives deeper than even even than the profound distress the protesters suffered as they consider what they consider an immoral national performance in Vietnam. He goes on to talk about this and he concludes which I think will be my starting point. And the racial question are the most dramatic and emotional issues in modern American life. They cause profound reactions among those concerned and hone questions of personal responsibility to a far sharper point than most political or social situation. But he continues in the best impersonality of 20th century society and government. It has become almost impossible for individuals to effect the grinding course of things. This is the malaise beyond the sense the fear of the dissent does not matter anymore. The only action counts but that no one really knows what action to take. Murren more 20th century men crawl just
like an older woman honors two pointing a rusty shotgun at an oncoming expressway knowing all the time that in the end the bill the bulldozers will go through. Now last Mike you said that men must be safe from technology and I agree. You also echoed the words of Thoreau and talked about the majority of one of you is right he is the majority of one. And you talk about the the beauty of the unadjusted man and we all listen to you. Yes this is true this is very very true but my question or my comment I guess is this instead. Saying to us you know Gloria the unadjusted man and let's go wild and let's be ourselves and let's hope that if we're going to be this we will be this. Why don't you come to us and go to writers and poets and say let's let's not be like me sitting with one shot gun trying to fight or attract a bulldozer. But let's let's All right our Portree about Vietnam. That's all right our poetry about already. That's all you get all the unadjusted men become Organization Man and other
just completely broken arms and by technology. Because otherwise will be trampled by the tail by the way. Well it raises some issues and a cause of the present discussion and that such as Vietnam which in any normal situation is so outside that I would say I won't even touch it because it would take too long to the fine. I will touch it nevertheless only lest I be accused of dodging the issue but I do think that it is and that is the only reason I'm talking about I do think it is otherwise out Assad. If one is against arid it is illogical was on either side I would agree I think the reality a logical war with Hitler and Stalin and the American and the communist gamble becoming more and more like it is indeed. Pointless to have them fighting each other. If that is all that is meant about Vietnam against ideological zealots on this
fine. But I suspect something more is meant and I cannot by silence seem to condone it especially when it is so popular to condone it in intellectual circles if something more was meant than condemning zealots and both sides. If the implication by citing an example of a pro Viet con intellect is to walk out of a room with the implication is that the illogical lots or the aggressors. Only in one side I would say it is a disgrace and it is Ana to keep quiet particularly when there's this honor is so chic and so popular practically. One way of making a career in literary circles is to. Adopt a pseudo daring stance about Vietnam in which there is not a risk but popularity. I have been through all this before this is where I came in. Twenty years ago I wrote a book called The shame of the intellectuals in which I tried to point out that instead of being equally against the right and left the intellectuals who were eloquent against fascist tear up
when they came to Stalin's murder of millions of cool acts hundreds of thousands of Jewish intellectuals in that case were very silent about Stalin called him called him Uncle Joe. And indeed in a poll of nineteen forty six based on educational background those who had only been in elementary school when asked Do you believe that Stalin represents democracy and progress or that he is a dictator and aggressor those who had only been in elementary school. Overwhelmingly said they regarded him addict and an aggressor those of Mentor High School was split. Those who had been in college degrees a Ph.D. overwhelmingly replied in this poll of 46 that they regarded Stalin as a Democrat and progressive and a great humanitarian from which one can conclude not that one should be anti intellectual but at least one should not make sacred. How was the positions that intellectuals take on problems like Stalin or Vietnam. Because I didn't like to say
that Stalin was exactly what we know now it was a bloody bloody butcher and not a Democrat and progressive. You had to be as dumb and then educated as an ox so I'm not going to like you but I'm suggesting that perhaps intellectuals take the stances they do emotional reasons which have little to do with the objective. The facts of Vietnam where unlike most communist countries and I'm very sympathetic to the improvement of communist countries in Poland and Yugoslavia very sympathetic even to the point of being more left perhaps to speak it. But unlike most countries the reign of terror has been one of the most terrible one of the most murderous. The courage of the peasants in the mid 90s 50s and so on so well you know when I when I this is where I came in when I say intellect is again taking this stance of being sympathetic to Viet con and I think one shouldn't let it down when she tried to point out that whenever I'm told
that the Chinese are just Jeffersonian agrarian reform us who want to help the peasant one should remember the following with his example one of the most famous writers in the country to day he is belonging to all the leading organizations and you're in a verse cities. A veritable prophet of liberty made a speech made a speech in 1946 which I attended at a very distinguished university in which he said the word fascist will have to be redefined. Now that Hitler and Mussolini dad he said people who believe in freedom should not use the word fascist to describe headline muscling that's a dead issue. Rather there must be a new definition a fascist is a man who even faintly even by silence has distrust of Stalin as a liberal or an idealist This is the new definition of a fascist and it seems to me that the flinging around of words like reactionary and bomb and murderous and
asses and so on is a reflection of this. And I think the people who are talking that way will sound just as silly 20 years from now when the murderous record of the last Vietnam regime is known in Congress with a very humane regime of communist Poland I think doesn't just as silly as this very famous literary figure who defined any fascist as a man who even in the slightest distrust the democracy that Jeffersonian agrarian reform or Stalin or of the thing which concerns me most is the question which was the issue which was brought up I think mostly by Miss Booker as a business lookers. What kind of a statement or what kind of a position should an artist take as an artist with regard to the whole direction of his environment his society what his culture is doing.
Yes I think now an artist and really an artist can and can write a poem make a painting play or a piece of music or whatnot which is explicitly about his position on a social or political question. And it seems to me that if he performs in that way he's not doing anything which is any different from what a professor of sociology or politician or any man on the street can do by making by taking an explicit position and making a statement regardless of whether it's right or left or wherever it is on an issue. The thing that concerns me and the thing which came up in for the issue which was raised last night by the talk last night is what is the peculiar thing that an artist can do or what is the peculiar kind of person that an artist is what's peculiar about his activity what he does
which makes him different from everybody else in his society.
- Man and the multitude
- Producing Organization
- University of Illinois
- WILL Illinois Public Media
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Episode Description
- This program presents the first part of a discussion of Peter Viereck's lecture, "The Fight for Creativity and Personality in a Machine Age." Additional speakers include Gary Adelman, Billy Jackson, Royal MacDonald, Joseph Gusfield, Karl Wallace, all of the University of Illinois; and James McGarrell of Indiana University.
- Series Description
- A lecture series commemorating the centennial of the University of Illinois.
- Media type
Producing Organization: University of Illinois
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
Speaker: Adelman, Gary
Speaker: Jackson, Billy
Speaker: Viereck, Peter, 1916-2006.
Speaker: MacDonald, Royal
Speaker: Gusfield, Joseph R., 1923-
Speaker: Wallace, Karl Richards, 1905-1973
Speaker: McGarrell, James, 1930-
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-41-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Man and the multitude; Peter Viereck discussion, part one,” 1967-11-15, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 9, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-n00ztj8w.
- MLA: “Man and the multitude; Peter Viereck discussion, part one.” 1967-11-15. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 9, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-n00ztj8w>.
- APA: Man and the multitude; Peter Viereck discussion, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-n00ztj8w