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Because the man was a more acute sensitiveness on the road you reckon notion of what is coming. I don't often bring it about. He's a paradox of Oscar Wilde with the first round but not altogether paradox and certainly not the founder of that life even more so than literature ever did he mean to no night vision of the world by a great painter mode they resigned or whether you like it is murdered by great musicians. It is murdered by people like Joyce and Thomas Mann and many others and in fact we begin to see the world through their lens. We also begin to think you are wrong. Passion live and so on. Really did you or the other daughters do for you but the gap which is a regrettable one is that we did not train around them the audience was right they too were playing them white women is a famous phrase in a very great book in 1971 Democratic vision a book of prose years a very great sentence which is to have a great poet. You must have great audiences
to where we didn't know enough to know our own develop the Great. Which alone perhaps will be receptive to the great poets. They don't create them but at least they don't discourage them and maybe sometimes they give them a kind of space to go on being themselves and the suiting themselves around all that being said and to come to our own. It all amounts to this. You see that with all the knowledge of the 19th century developed around us often borrowed from science and technology and the immense progress which was achieved he knows one thing probably did not increase. Thing is that very very quality which no one of us was ever able to define and yet probably the most important quality in life which is imagination. Finding alternatives which we are so full of desperately not finding too there were the war in Vietnam or about other events. And there always. Alternatives in life provide the man with imagination are really evil and bent upon finding them.
Surely at the end of a difference of poetry is a very beautiful line in prose of course and the beautiful line is we must imagine that which we know to know is fine but it is only really important and meaningful. We know how to imagine that which we know that is poured into it as it were a new spark of life make it vibrant again and not just let it be that kind of knowledge which is some way of remembering of the bottom of our memory and which is no use of no use in life. Now let me spend a few minutes trying to observe what are the few facts facts that we know about what other viewpoints that we can briefly summarize or analyze about where the genius arises and why and I repeat this can only be descriptive. There is nothing normal about it there is no no because the first bit of good news is that it is predictable. Like women but even more so than most of them. It sometimes crops up when we least expect
it. In families where there was no reason at all in the news to be born or even to arise and to develop. But in so far as we can say that there are a number of conditions which sometimes explode. The presence of feel they are. I shall be very brief and very dry because I think this is familiar to most of you all of us have reflected that the great men among us. The first one of course he's heredity and we know that in some cases the family sometime is a pain to tell you know only so it runs along the same time and to some extent they're ready to explain but a ready made account in part for the presence of some unusual talent on you will get in a certain shine but I can brush aside right away. We all know that in the same family there are often two three daughters and only one of them is genius Bruce's brother with a very Will the doctor never and so on and so on. And in fact there
is no rule about it merely We may say that sometimes a ready especially the mother sounds very French. Sometimes they said because we always sure of being the sons of our mothers on the daughters I'm never quite sure we are French especially for being the sons of our legitimate father. Whatever the case may be it seems to run from the mother to the children than the other way round. And even that is not so. The second element is childhood said in a sentence which is very often coated and put to use. Genius he said is no force of her own childhood recovered or recaptured and it is true that most of the knowledge and the dedication was knowledge to me and there is something else which is a freshness sense of wonder which is a great gift of children and which sometimes indeed writers do need of pain to the kind of freshness to see the world the new rather than recreate the very morning chorus. It comes also and there is always an
element of the child even in the most sophisticated geniuses even in the Indian was philosophical of the poet and the lovers. There is certainly one in because so the book of life with because so I think it is in fact and incidentally one of the most illuminating ever written by a woman was his wife having been his mistress ever written about a man of genius probably the greatest genius in the art of our own time. But again this doesn't explain very much to be sure there must be a good deal of the child in the man of talent. You must love that kind of freshness a kind of naive to some extent also contributed in him. But I pass on because. You have a great deal of the child and sometimes it's a case of women will try and cultivate the little girl in them have Leonora and that again but it comes only to a small extent. We knew without being flippant about it we might say that being or with
maybe the best argument in favor of religion. Those of you who are religious have always been more geniuses of people of real talent among the sons of robber and sons of past than probably among the average people of mankind over been brought up religiously and hated going to church every Sunday or hated going to say about the result. I'm leaving out the Catholics because they are priests and thus far they've always said it was a hope for them they did in the breeze but they were not legitimate or they were not recognised. So we don't know enough about them. Maybe it's one of the countries compared to the Jews compared to a number of Protestants statistics have been written in a very large number. In Germany and in some other countries predominantly Protestant. What's more important however is probably significant to belong to a minority group which is not persecuted by the
majority. It was not so for many Protestants and even in spite of the pogroms in Poland and Russia. But it is important. However we are not totally well and to feel there is a kind of difference because the famous concept which is so fashionable nowadays to have a sense of the people around you. One could make a case with of course the Greeks the great majority of the talent of the Greeks came from not from Athens but from a minor and they were from outside and already they were from Sicily. But they were both outside the country which they helped develop so brilliantly the same was true of the Romans never produced a single man of letters not one not one thing I was very proud of.
The first man was the first woman ever. But as it happens some cities like that again for mysterious reasons to some extent explain or account talented people like it was of Scottish origin. So was the talk was of Dutch origin from the right origin. Many people in those countries will again from out are not from the same has been true because of many great statesman or so as you probably know people like when Victoria was German and Italian and there's been a number like that of people who came from outside and do not belong to the country and all the better belonging to it.
This was true with the Romans. You know people like Seneca for instance where the Spaniards most of the great Roman emperors were not only tell you they came from already so there you go on one of those years from Spain and I could go on go on. This means obviously there is something like being from another country and all of a sudden entering into a new culture. The poor Jews for instance on the Jews from the company I produce by far the largest number of people in a nation of any race in the modern world. Well again we cannot foster we cannot develop we just exist on does not exist. All we can say is and if I may apply the lesson to America that it is a great boon for a country like this one to have the grain the right background people who have come from all over Europe in the past with a melting pot tradition it was. To all the
people he developed and forced them into a kind of conventional conformity no longer most of the commencement speeches in America in the last 20 years in the country for me against conformity and for dissidents trying to arouse in the country the sparks which exist among the Jews who have come to America from power in the Russia. This is Syrians who have come to America come to this country the Irish who have come to this country with great men of the produce relatively very few and they came to this country. There are many reasons again for which one may find. But none of them was very cordial. Another point is the point of generations geniuses or even grandparents by close friends on the subject and I don't want to sum it up although you haven't tried it and probably never will print but I'm trying to show that there are generations of groups
many of the good people in a culture in the sciences in the arts in literature in statements are not born within a few years of each other. And then there is a gap and then there is a new generation. And again there is a gap and again there is a new generation. What's important is that the people we know. The same admiration of actors or actresses of great great great statesman or sometimes the same words on the same reactions. I guess some people don't like the generation today which is being trained in America will be an ex-pro generous uprising generation on account of its almost unanimous unity in the war against the war other India and its reaction against all those who belong to an older generation. Never been seen in America. Some of you don't even universities probably are not aware of it. Between the younger and the older people on the other side not just
the drive. It's a profound change of mood from the people of Iraq and probably most of you are under a number of other factors like that which I repeat we may analyze or we may describe the most evil one of course as we like to call them. They don't mean very much normally but it is great tyrants like cause I've been saying homosexuals try to cure themselves of with them not succeeded. Nobody suffered from sexual impotence was ever so didn't reach for the prize in Germany so did a few of the others as you know well some kind of trouble or maybe epileptic like from last years he may be of some of the kind we do in a lot of cases we find that a man of genius has got to encounter obstacles in the round and he needs to fight against those obstacles in order to triumph
over them and eventually he has to believe in creation alone and save Karl Rove from the very revealing and several times he said to him Why don't the script into my work I am the words which could be where all the difficult is witchcraft. Right in the language which was neither the first language or languages German and many of the Congress approved and in terms of a Jewish religion and yet felt it was full of tensions and you had to find a kind of solution to those tensions. Julian Green the French writer American born as you know over the years that he can only write in French language which should be up all the American language so
do many others go for a profoundly religious man the son of a pastor who felt that he could do without the Muslim god but there was one thing he couldn't do it and that was you had to paint or else die. And when he fell. Finally there is the outside is separated from them by Ken Ward the genius of the great man on the creator or shall we say a man who finds that he can or will you cannot express himself. Normally we do smoking is walking about and drawing himself obstacles. He's got to create all those complexes of his will reach we will the sunlight which is his own suddenly radiant
and forget about all that there is around him which prevent himself because he may be a sexual power. He's got to create another world which is to be more real than the real world. We have many confessions of men of genius at a certain time. They have to say to themselves the one of us are the penguins are represented in the world are all the musicians of depicted in their music the world as all the others represent is not my will I carry my gun in my own heart which I have as it were. Express and give out posterity to struggling and on the other screws on the roof forget about all the paintings in the museums on time and say All right. Having my own try and project that will be good with something a little more complex and more insidious. And this is many painters musicians and
he was not there in the only conundrum was not Sophocles was not one where all those people by creating all the paintings and so on they can communicate something which the if you like that they feel they can contaminate other people with their own money to carry them. Which is the very special will of all those years. Even the robber not just their own special words which they feel to imprison the community because they have great talent when they create some criminal scum running the place. They can make many of us feel feels rich. We could be we could be Mephistopheles of powers of good. You know the world communicating to the last book you wrote
was the fourth. We can communicate well to our readers. Something of that venom that we have in ourselves. And by doing that we exteriorize if we make the others feel like us or rather that we men of genius are not one of them that they are not only true in the known and the wrong they can share with others and make the others feel that they are like them. Now what can we do about all of them. So what can we do about it. It is obvious to those of you those of us who trained you to do something about it in our own type of civilization of the present time. The first point which we might try and get our education a little more from the obsession with the practice. And with the scientific crime science I'm a great admirer of science myself. The great thing in the world obviously there is an immense difference between science and all the other realms of things. And the
difference is that science dies very soon or rather as a German scientist once put it the science of today the era of tomorrow we are sure of one thing. The economics of 1968 with nothing to do with what would be the economics of 1975 the magic the physics the chemistry. Every 10 years or so the progress so rapid everything changed. And this is very sad because we have transcended all the time by those who put it in a famous metaphor. We stand up on their shoulders because they use what has been done before them. With the advent of Richard is that we don't have to be obsessed by that sense of time freeing from us and that anything we do will be completely outdated tomorrow. We do have an advantage which is something we do and we are proud of the certain point. Not only should we get away from that obsession with the scientific that we
try to win but also we should get away from excessive specialization specialization is an enormous audience. The role of the Church of the arts on the country. Many scientists many businessmen of one of those against it. This is specialisation is the thing of the animals on the beat but it is not really of men in the country and private and special gift is not to be specialists but from their one experience more general will apply them as well. The present time in the little book would you say that one side the other patient to one mode of life which science sometimes proclaims is indeed an evolution. Pressurization was against the trend of life and against the trend the uncertain business and time going into being obsessed by the
obvious get away from the obsession with all the mechanical means on the ground. Even the computer. I'm not against them. I just cannot use them. And that's my own private fault but they have very little to do in fact for us in all the fields which matter most in life which on the fields of politics or social work I want to have creative heretics not mine it is by on the street which you gave at Bryn Mawr College some years ago. Civilisation today in this version in the United States of America creative heretics Stevenson which you gave to Harper's magazine in August 1961 I quote in the past. Social discontent was the fuel of the engine of progress. Today we have never needed more community change yet we were never so lacking in divine discontent. The following year
in a speech which you gave at the university Well I happened to be present also receiving an honorary degree of near Boston. I proved that the imagination we're not all different an arms and outer space. Maybe you're not as well from grace and beauty a known thing in life as an economy we need as a society we shall perish without it. The upshot of all this it isn't gentleman is clear we should favor heretics. We should favor entrance in all our colleges and universities not the young people who are decent obedient submissive and know how to solve the problems that we present to them. We should favor the young people who. Problems were you the man on the teachers were not just conventionally nice but we need to have the kind of heretics you want people to think in my opinion. The two main streams of progress creators in America understand more than the Lions with when the young and middle aged and your cleavage
between generations which I used to do a minute ago is a very sordid to be regretted because the young too they feel they have nothing to learn from the old and the other way around and they themselves will be older 30 or 35 and without whatever help we can provide. The older people and some experience we have just will not. The young Americans upon whose shoulders do they think of saving the world the risks really not be able to achieve the task of salvation within five or ten years of their youth and they will probably fall into some kind of despair or like the hippies and so on into apathy and achieve nothing more than alliance with the other generations and it is probably be all them. If we are not inspired or instill into them enough confidence and the second point without any flattery to the feminine part of the audience we need also I think more like between the men and the women. Not just sexual on the campus of the French college. Also
we need to have more of the feminine intuition. We all know that the nudity and the arts without that we are done and we need to know even in matters of peace even in matters of solving the present juncture in which America finds ourself in Vietnam and there is where we need I think that kind of generosity and sensibility which the women have that kind of intuition of the future which to many men in this country with the equality of the sexes prevails to M. and upright to promise to be totally independent from I think it is one of the few mistakes which I would advice our brave American civilization for I'm sorry news in general manage such a sad event which is perhaps your attention and even my own. I can't apologize for it but we are all very full of regret about it. Thank you very much for listening to me. We. To
AA you have heard already M-Fer sterling professor of French literature I gave university as he spoke on the topic of creativity in literature. This was another programme in the series of peace love and creativity the whole man caught up on our next programme Peter Fenn Disston professor of art at Pace college will discuss that create. These programs are recorded at the Cooper Union in New York City by station WNYC. The series is made available to the station by the National Education o Radio Network.
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Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind
Creativity in literature, part two
Producing Organization
WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features the second part of a lecture by Henri M. Peyre, Sterling Professor of French Literature, Yale University.
Series Description
This series presents lectures from the 1968 Cooper Union Forum. This forum's theme is Peace, Love, Creativity: The Hope of Mankind.
Media type
Producing Organization: WNYC (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Speaker: Peyre, Henri, 1901-1988
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-10-29 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:25:38
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Chicago: “Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; Creativity in literature, part two,” 1968-06-13, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 3, 2024,
MLA: “Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; Creativity in literature, part two.” 1968-06-13. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 3, 2024. <>.
APA: Peace, love, creativity: Hope of mankind; Creativity in literature, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from