The DAWN invests our substance with desire And the slow light betrays us and our wistfulness: When the celestial saffron Is faded and grown colourless, And the sun Gone sterile, and the growing fire Stirs us to waken, WE FIND OURSEVES AGAIN EACH IN HIS SEPARATE PRISON Ready, hopeless For negotiation With other men.
. . . Today, culture and tradition have assumed a very different intellectual and social purpose. The principal function of the most vital and living traditions to-day is precisely to provide the instruments of rapid change. There are many things which go together to bring about this alteration in man's life; but probably the decisive one is science itself.
. . . The reason for this great change from a slow moving, almost static world, to the world we live in, is the cumulative character, the firmness, the giveness of what has been learned about nature. It is true that it transcended when one goes into other parts of experience. What is true on the scale of the inch and the centimeter may not be true either of the scale of a hundred billionth 0f a centimeter, but it stays true where it was proven. It is fixed. Thus everything that is found out is added to what was known before, enriches it, and does not have to be done over again. This essentially cumulative irreversible character of learning things is the hallmark of science.
The means that in man's history the sciences make changes which cannot be whisked away and cannot be undone.
. . . I have been much concerned that, in this world of change and scientific growth, we have so largely lost the ability to talk with one another, to increase and enrich our common culture and understanding. And so it is that the public sector of our lives, what we hold and have in common, has suffered, as have the illuminations of the arts, the deepening of justice and virtue, and the ennobling power of our common discourse. We are less men for this. Never in man's history have the specialized traditions more flourished than to-day. We have our private beauties. But in those high undertakings when man desires strength and insight from public excellence, we have been impoverished. We hunger for nobility, the rare words and acts that harmonize simplicity with truth. In this default I see some connection with the great unresolved public problems - survival, liberty, fraternity.
Yet no man, be he agnostic or Buddhist or Christian, thinks wholly in these terms. His acts, his thoughts, what he sees of the world around him - the falling of a leaf or a child's joke or the rise of the moon - are part of HISTORY; but they are not only part of history; they are a part of BECOMING and of PROCESS but not only that: they partake also of the world outside of time; they partake of the LIGHT of ETERNITY.
These two ways of thinking, the way of TIME and HISTORY and the way of ETERNITY and of TIMELESSNESS, are both part of man's effort to comprehend the world in which he lives. Neither is comprehended in the other nor reducible to it. They are, as we have learned to say in physics, COMPLEMENTARY views, each SUPPLEMENTING the other, NEITHER TELLING THE WHOLE STORY. Let us return to this.
MAN is no thing but a DRAMA . . .
His thing is something that has to be chosen, made up as he goes along, and a man consists in the choice and invention. Each MAN is the NOVELIST of HIMSELF, and though he may choose between being an original writer and a plagiarist, he cannot escape choosing . . . He is CONDEMNED to be FREE. . . . Freedom is not an activity exercised by an entity that already possessed a fixed being before and apart from that activity. Being FREE means . . . being able to be something else than what one is and not being able to settle down once and for all in any determined nature . . . Unlike all other things in the universe which have a pre-fixed being given to them, man is the only and almost inconceivable reality that exists without having an irrevocably pre-fixed being . . . It is not only in economics but also in metaphysics that man must earn his living.
A TIME must come in which SOCIETY, from POLITICS to ART, REORGANIZES itself into two orders or ranks: the ILLUSTRIOUS and the VULGAR. That chaotic, shapeless, and undifferentiable discipline and social structure in which Europe has lived these hundred and fifty years cannot go on. Behind all contemporary life lurks the PROVOKING and PROFOUND INJUSTICE of the assumption that men are actually equal. Each move among men so obviously reveals the opposite that each move results in a painful clash.
If this subject were broached in politics the passions aroused would run too high to make oneself understood. Fortunately the aforementioned unity of spirit within a historical epoch allows us to point out serenely and with perfect clarity in the germinating art of our time the same symptoms and signals of a moral revision that in politics present themselves obscured by low passions.
'Nolite fieri,' the evangelist exhorts us', 'sicut equus et mulus quibus non est intellectus' - do not act like horses and mules that lack understanding. The MASSES kick and do not UNDERSTAND. Let us try to do better and to extract from modern art its essential principle. That will enable us to see in what profound sense modern art is unpopular.
We are the MUSIC-makers, And we are dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams; World-losers and world-forsakes, Of whom the pale moon gleams; Yet we are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever, it seems.
MUSIC is not a science any more than poetry is. It is a SUBLIME INSTINCT, like GENIUS of all kinds.
TIME is the devourer of things.