Breath Held / Heads In Sand – The Hope That Sanity Will Prevail
Breath Held / Heads In Sand – The Hope That Sanity Will Prevail
|Even as the drive toward bigness [and] concentration . . . has reached heights never before dreamt of in the past, we have come suddenly to realize how heavy a price we have paid . . . in loss of the values of nature and community and local diversity that found their nurture in the smaller towns and rural areas of America. And we can see, as we enter the last third of the twentieth century, that the price has been too high.|
|The question now assumes even greater urgency, as the growth of cities propels us toward the “mass society” – that frightening vision of people as interchangeable units, the middle class as powerless as the poor to affect the decisions of government.|
|One great problem is sheer growth, growth which crowds people into slums, thrusts suburbs out over the countryside, burdens to the breaking point all our old ways of thought and action-our systems of transportation and water supply, education, and even garbage collection. It also weighs heavily on our means of raising money to finance these vital services.
A second problem is the destruction of the physical environment, stripping people of contact with sun and fresh air, clean rivers, grass, and trees, condemning them to a life among stone and concrete, neon lights, and an endless river of automobiles.
A third problem is the increasing difficulty of transportation, adding concealed unpaid hours to the work week, removing man from the social and cultural amenities that are the heart of the city, sending destructive swarms of automobiles across the city, leaving behind them a band of concrete and a poisoned atmosphere. And sometimes, as in Watts, our surrender to the mobile so crippled public transportation that thousands literally could not afford to go to work elsewhere in the city.
A fourth destructive force is the concentrated poverty and racial tension of the urban ghetto, a problem so vast that the barest recital of its symptoms is profoundly shocking.
The fifth is both the cause and consequence of all the rest. It is the destruction of the sense, and often the fact, of community, of human dialogue, of the thousand invisible strands of common experience and purpose, and of the affection and respect which tie men to their fellows.
It is expressed in such words as community, neighbourhood, civic pride, friendship. It provides the life-sustaining force of human warmth, or security among others, and a sense of one’s own human significance in the accepted association and companionship of others
|Change is crowding our people into cities scarred by slums – encircles by suburbs which sprawl recklessly across the countryside, where movement is difficult, beauty rare, life itself more impersonal, and security imperiled by the lawless.|
|Therefore, the time has come … when we must actively fight bigness and over concentration, and seek instead to bring the engines of government, of technology, of the economy, fully under the control of our citizens, to recapture and reinforce the values of a more human time and place.|
|Growth has polluted our water and poisoned our air, and stripped us of contact with sunlight, trees and lakes. Government has foundered as new agencies had proliferated, splitting tasks and energies among dozens of distant and unconnected bureaus. Individuals have lost touch with the institutions of society, even with one another; and thus have become more and more both perpetrators and victims of coldness, cruelty, and violence.|
Make gentle the life of this world
|‘Pick some dominant emotion if you want, but touch on it only for a few minutes. Then swing your argument to something else. Then come back to it. The human mind is like a pendulum: you can start it swinging a little at a time and gradually come back with added force, until finally you can close in a burst of dramatic oratory, with the jury inflamed to a white rage against the other side. But if you try to talk to as jury for as much as fifteen minutes, and harp continually upon one line, you will find that the jurors have quit listening to you before you finish.’|
|Page 159||It has been said that each generation must win its own struggle to be free. In our generation, thermonuclear war has made the risks of such struggles greater than ever. But the stakes are the same: the right to live in dignity according to the dictates of conscience and not according to the will of the state.|
|Page 37||We acknowledge, then, that a country has a high level of civilisation if we find that in it everything can assist man in his exploitation of the land and protect him against the forces of nature – everything, in short that is of use to him – is attended to and properly ordered.|
|Page 39||No feature, however, seems to us to characterise civilisation better than the appreciation and cultivation of the higher mental activities, of intellectual, scientific and artistic achievements, and the leading role accorded to idea in human life.|
|Page 42||It does not seem as though any influence can induce human beings to change their nature and become like termites; they will probably always defend their claim to individual freedom against the will of the mass. Much of mankind’s struggle is taken up with the task of finding a suitable, that is to say happy accommodation, between the claims of the individual and the mass claims of civilisation. One of the problems affecting the fate of mankind is whether such an accommodation can be achieved through particular moulding of civilisation or whether the conflict is irreconcilable.|
|Page 64||It is clearly not easy for people to forgo the satisfaction of their tendency to aggression. To do so makes them feel uneasy. One should not belittle the advantage that is enjoyed by a fairly small cultural circle, which is that it allows the aggressive drive an outlet in the form of hostility to outsiders. It is always possible to bind quite large numbers of people together in love, provided that others are left out as targets for aggression
I once discussed this phenomenon, the fact that it is precisely those communities that occupy contiguous territories and are otherwise closely related to each other – like the Spaniards and the Portuguese, the North Germans and the South Germans, the English and the Scots, etc . – that indulge in feuding and mutual mockery. I called this phenomenon ‘the narcissism of small differences’ – not that the name does much to explain it. It can be seen as a convenient and relatively innocuous way of satisfying the tendency to aggression and facilitating solidarity within the community.
|Page 65 – 66||If civilisation imposes such great sacrifices not only on man’s sexuality, but also on his aggressiveity, we are in a better position to understand why it is so hard for him to feel happy in it. Primitive man was actually better off, because his drives were not restricted. Yet this was counterbalanced by the fact that he had little certainty of enjoying this good fortune for long. Civilised man had traded in portion of his chances of happiness for a certain measure of security. But let us not forget that in the primeval family only its head could give full rein to his drives; its other members lived in slavish suppression.
In that primordial era of civilisation there was therefore an extreme contrast between a minority who enjoyed it benefits and the majority to whom they were denied. As for today’s primitive peoples, more careful stuffy has shown that we have no reason whatsoever to envy them their instinctual life by reason of the freedom attaching to it; it is subject to restrictions of a different kind, which are perhaps even more severe than those imposed on modern civilised man,
|Page 66||When we rightly reproach the present state of our civilisation with its inadequate response to our demand for a form of life that will make us happy, and with allowing so much suffering, which could probably be avoided – and when we strive, with unsparing criticism, to expose the roots of this inadequacy- we are exercising a legitimate right and certainly not revealing ourselves as enemies of civilisation. We may hope gradually to carry out such modifications in our civilisation as will better satisfy our needs and escape this criticism. But perhaps we shall also become familiar with the idea that there are some difficulties that are inherent in the nature of civilisation and will defy any attempt at reform. In addition to the tasks involved in restricting the drives – for which we are prepared – we are faced with the danger of a condition that we may call ‘the psychological misery of the mass’. This danger is most threatening where social bonding is produced mainly by the participation’s identification with on another, while individuals of leadership calibre do not acquire the importance that should be accorded to them in the formation of the mass.|
|Page 74||For the rest, I take the view that the tendency to aggression is an original, autonomous disposition in man, and I return to my earlier contention that it represents the greatest obstacle to civilisation. At one point in this investigation we were faced with the realisation that civilisation was a special process underdone by humanity, and we are still under the spell of this idea. We will now add that it is a process in the service of Eros, whose purpose is to gather together individuals, then families and finally tribes, peoples and nations in one great unit – humanity. Why this has to happen we do not know: it is simple the work of Eros. These multitudes of human beings are to be libidinallly bound to one another; necessity alone, the advantages of shared work, will not hold them together. However, this programme of civilisation is opposed to man’s natural aggressive drive, the hostility of each against all and all against each. This aggressive drive it the descendent and principal representative of the death drive, which we found beside Eros and which rules the world jointly with him. And now, I think, the meaning of the development of civilisation is no longer obscure to us. This development must show us the struggle between Eros and death, between the life drive and the drive for destruction, as it is played out in the human race. This struggle is the essential content of all life; hence, the development of civilisation may be described simply as humanity’s struggle for existence.|
|Page 105-106||For a variety of reasons I have no wish whatever to offer an evaluation of human civilisation. I have been careful to refrain from the enthusiastic prejudice that sees our civilisation as the most precious thing we posses or can acquire, and believes that its path will necessarily leads us to heights of perfection hitherto undreamt of. I can at least listen, without bridling, to the critic who thinks that, considering the goals of cultural endeavour and the means it employs, one is bound to conclude that the whole effort is not worth the trouble and can only result in a state of affairs that the individual is bound to find intolerable My impartiality is facilitated by my scant knowledge of such matters. There is only one thing that I know for certain: the value judgements of human beings are undoubtedly guided by their desire for happiness and thus amount to an attempt to back up their illusions with arguments. I should understand perfectly if someone were to stress the inevitability of human civilisation and maintain, for instance, that the tendency to restrict sexual life, or to promote the humanitarian ideal at the expense of natural selection, were trends that could not be averted or deflected and that it was best to yield to them as if they were naturally ordained. On the other hand, I am familiar with the objection that in the course of human history such strivings, which we consider insurmountable, have often been cast aside and replaced by others. I therefore dare not set myself up as a prophet vis-à-vis my fellow men, and I plead guilty to the reproach that I cannot bring them any consolation, which is fundamentally no less passionately than the most well-behaved and pious believers.
The fateful question for human race seems to be whether, and to what extent, the development of its civilisation will manage to overcome the disturbance of communal life caused by the human drive for aggression and self-destruction. Perhaps in this context the present age is worthy of special interest. Human beings have made such strides in controlling the forces of nature that, with the help of these forces, they will have no difficulty in exterminating one another, down to the last man. They know this, and it is knowledge that accounts for much of their present disquiet, unhappiness and anxiety. And now it is to be expected that the other of the two ‘heavenly powers’, immortal Eros, will try to assert himself in the struggle with the equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee the outcome?
Source: Civilisation and its discontents – Sigmund Freud
|Page 135||“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them or break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone, and afterwards many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brace impartially. If you are none of those you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.” – Ernst Hemingway|
Source: Make gentle the life of the world – Robert F. Kennedy
|Page 120||“There is,” said an Italian philosopher. “nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”|
|Page 131||It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope; and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.|
|Page 133||We are faced with evil. I feel rather like Augustine did before becoming a Christian when he said, “I tried to find the source of evil and I got nowhere. But it is also true that I and a few others knew what must be done if not to reduce evil at least not to add to it.” Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. And if you believers don’t help us, who else in the world can help us do this?” – Albert Camus|
|Page 134||We also know that only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly|
|Page 134||Have faith and pursue an unknown end. – Francis Bacon|
|Page 134||Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their flows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vial quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.|
Source: Make gentle the life of the world – Robert F. Kennedy
We’d wondered around the ocean front and as with many things on US maps, with their scales, it was further than immediate perceptions of the doodle had suggested. The further distance created by taking some faulty turns on the way toward the water had also had an effect.
We were about half way around, perhaps a little more, when the cartel pricing of the various cycle rental places was clear. By now we could have been cycling for some time having encountered the first ocean from hire place quite early on.
Having been no immediately drawn toward the premium tourist fund relinquishing bike hire schemes, with those earlier options, the later options now fell under that recently established common law not quite judgement but reticent pondering. So we remained meandering along, options were running out, heading toward the end of the commercial town center part of the promenade.
Small ships were docked with members of their crews loudly and repeatedly alerting those who passed by as to their departure times. One was heading off, quite soon, on a trip out and past the bridge, Mitch seemed inclined we could after all get quite a good view from that sort of vantage point and with the price of the two cartel backed bikes, why not.
Occasionally I may be guilty of some degree of mental inflexibility and having had bikes in mind was open if not wholly persuaded by this boat idea, so without a vigorous sponsor to lead the case for the boats we mooched on, it was not late, we could always come back after all.
The assorted fish market stands & boat trip touting boats behind us we drifted up against the end of the commercial stretch.
The bike rentals weren’t done yet mind, perhaps we weren’t the first visitors to these shores to hatch such a plan.
There were not so many bikes left as a small bike place attendant popped up. They had all been most friendly, all the way along, I guess you’d have to be all those dithering tourists humming their uncertain holiday brain tunes about them all day. We didn’t know anything about all that.
This one though seemed less sales friendly somehow, more I like bikes and outdoor things so I’m doing this, it’s alright relaxed sort of friendly.
The price was also a bit better at this one, though it then transpired once inside, they didn’t actually have two of the cheaper bikes available anymore. It could have been a most cunning manoeuvre only it probably wasn’t, either way after unleashing the great countermeasure, befuddlement empowered procrastination, into proceedings it was settled. We had one higher grade bike instead for the same price.
Somehow we also seemed to end up on some pay as you go style deal, which worked out fine, shed told us roughly how long the roundtrip tends to take, with the proviso that not all cycle speeds are equal and there were different places we could cycle to. If memory serves we’d pay for the hours we used up to the maximum of the 1/2 day and whatever that might be it would be less than the rather familiar standardised charges offered by all the others.
The bikes came with little storage bags which was handy for things like cameras, the multitudes and their shares habits – while the more general clobber was left behind at the bike shop for retrieval at that unspecified juncture of our return.
Heading off, it was a broad well maintained path that bowed over hillocks and arout grasy parkland bits.It was all going pretty well until really quite suddenly it wasn’t. It was warm out, there was a moderate incline and yes I was out of practice but this seemed unfounded, my stomach contracted and convulsed making every sign that it had intention to relinquish that which lay within.
After a brief period of chewing and further faltering effort I pulled up and went to crouch by a bush.. There was reaching but unproductive, this was odd and not really acceptable, there was no call for that sort of reaction.
I gave up on that idea and with the benefit of the break continued on to the top of the hill with one thing in mind, the nuclear strike remedy that was coke and its stomach nuking powers.
There was a tourist shop and refreshment store up there, near enough to where the bridge began, neither sold coke they had silver canned cola, full of organic wholesome things… Normally fair enough right now I doubted it’s capacity for destruction was up to the only artificial ingredients and sugar destroyer we all know so well, all trusty, red and corrosive.
Still it was chilled, sugary, water based and there. This the angelic white cola really did help, though there was no more hill to contend with and I did wonder if I had maybe sunk that low a little bit.
Tourist deeds must be done.
On the other side of the bridge and despite the great good done by the silver cola thought of coke remained very much at the forefront of hopes, aspirations and general thoughts for what might be.
Photos don’t seem to do gradient, a lesson from skiing holidays pasts and clearly just as applicable without the presence of snow, something about dimensions and its good to know that even the google has not mustered dominion over this particular law.
Though to be fair to them, not the most narrow of restraints, “profoundly immoral and wicked”, profoundly .. it does leave a fair bit of scope for well quite the array. On the other hand maybe they were going for the noun …. “when regarded as a supernatural force” … ,great spell checker, much better than word with its mangled phonetics decoder – no clue how it recognises some of those offers, very impressive. We were on bikes heading down the hill to Sausalito, it was not the most arduous of efforts, gravity was much in our favour, which was nice as we could spend quite a bit of time just skooshing along taking in the scenery.
As we came into town another shop appeared, a more traditional general sort of store, swinging around we came to a halt and took it in turns to venture in. The need was not longer so great but i headed of to hunt down a drink, before eventually settling back on that familiar red label, a big old bottle it was too, i made off with it.
By the time Mitch had returned from his explorations within, much of the cola had been take care off, a uprising amount given the issue of absorbing such a frothy fizzing sweetness has somewhere found itself a home.