Northrop Frye on Modern Culture

Northrop Frye on Modern Culture

Edited by Jan Gorak
Volume: 11
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 448
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442677838
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  • Book Info
    Northrop Frye on Modern Culture
    Book Description:

    Eradicating once and for all the unfounded notion that Frye was not a political writer, this eleventh volume in the Collected Works of Northrop Frye gathers together all of Northrop Frye's writings on politics, culture, the arts, history, literature, mass media, and music.

    Written between 1934 and 1986, these collected works illustrate the extent of Frye's engagement with the unfolding events of twentieth-century political life, from the Great Depression to the Reagan / Thatcher / Mulroney era. The centrepiece of the volume, Frye's learned and wide-ranging contribution to the Canadian confederation celebrations,The Modern Century(1967), is accompanied by pieces that reflect Frye's observations on such diverse political events as the Oxford 'King and Country' debate and the Vietnam war, revealing Frye the literary theorist as Frye the political entity.

    Jan Gorak's extensive introduction and annotations serve to historicize Frye and situate him and his work in the historical and critical context of twentieth-century Canada and North America. Frye's work is discussed in relation to that of T.S. Eliot, Edmund Wilson, Raymond Williams, Marshall McLuhan, Harold Innis, E.J. Pratt, A.J.M. Smith, F.A. Underhill, J.S. Woodsworth, George Grant, and especially Oswald Spengler. Erudite and enlightening, Frye's comments on politics are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them, and this volume will be a valuable reference for understanding the essential Frye.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7783-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Credits
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. xix-l)

    Northrop Frye liked to reflect that he was born in 1912 into a world where the King of England was also the Emperor of India, and lived long enough to see a Hollywood actor installed in the White House in 1981. The works collected in this volume have a similarly impressive temporal span: the earliest appeared in 1933, the year of Franklin D. Rooseveltʹs inauguration and the legalization of JoyceʹsUlyssesby the U.S. Supreme Court; the latest dates from 1986, as the beginning of the Iran-Contra scandal surfaced and Wole Soyinka became the first African Nobel Laureate in Literature....

  7. The Modern Century

    • 1 The Modern Century 1967
      (pp. 3-70)

      The operation of giving the Whidden Lectures for 1967 was made pleasant and memorable by the hospitality of McMaster University and my many friends there. To them, as well as to the extraordinarily attentive and responsive audience, I feel deeply grateful.

      I am indebted to the Canada Council for a grant which enabled me to work on this and other projects, and to Mrs. Jessie Jackson for her preparation of the manuscript.

      The lectures were delivered in the centenary year of Canadaʹs Confederation, and were originally intended to be Canadian in subject matter. I felt, however, that I had really...

  8. The Arts

    • 2 Current Opera: A Housecleaning October 1935
      (pp. 73-75)

      This is not a criticism of the performances of the opera company that visited Toronto recently, as the present critic succeeded in seeing onlyMadame Butterfly. If this was typical, they were adequate enough, if somewhat perfunctory. Of courseMadame Butterflyis unfortunate in having a modern and quasi-realistic setting, which throws an onus of stage ʺbusinessʺ on the singers. The result in this case was a good deal of spasmodic cigarette-lighting and nose-blowing and uneasy and rather aimless puttering about the stage in an effort to make some gesture in the direction of drama. But the response to a...

    • 3 Ballet Russe December 1935
      (pp. 76-78)

      The ballet, like all forms of drama, demands the divided attention of sight and hearing, which sometimes makes for mixed feelings on the part of its audience. In my own case there was a marked contrast between the effect of the stage performance on the one hand, and the succession of unpleasant noises made by a rather scarecrow orchestra on the other, which seemed to have tuned its kettledrum to the music of another sphere altogether. The night I went—Thursday—two of the ballets were Tschaikowsky and one Rimsky-Korsakov, which provided another contrast between the suave, jog-trot waltz rhythms...

    • 4 The Jooss Ballet April 1936
      (pp. 79-82)

      It is a stock commonplace to say that a healthy society produces a healthy art, and sick society decadent art. Art flourishes when the artist is regarded, not as a long-haired wild-eyed shaman, but as a skilled labourer who gets properly paid for his work—whether he is famous or anonymous does not matter. It flourishes when it can depend on a set of symbols or conventions the public recognizes and is ready to accept; for that means, on the one hand, that the artist can take something at least for granted, without having to surround his works with a...

    • 5 Frederick Delius August 1936
      (pp. 83-86)

      Frederick Delius was born in England of naturalized Dutch parents, spent his early days in America, studied in Germany, and lived nearly all the rest of his life in France. Yet no one, we are told, has more successfully expressed the very spirit of England and the English than Delius has done inBrigg Fairand theCuckoo in Spring. By virtue of this, it is claimed, Delius is essentially an English composer, although he has written with equal success in American, Celtic, French, and Norwegian idioms, and was acclaimed by Germany long before he was known in England. The...

    • 6 Three-Cornered Revival at Headington 28 October 1936
      (pp. 87-87)

      Wife versus Secretaryis constructed on the well-worn pattern of the isosceles triangle whose three high-spots are Clark Gable, magnificent business man and suspected husband; Myrna Loy, sweet and[?]¹ suspicious wife; and Jean Harlow, super efficient, suspected, but innocent secretary. Apart from the fact that one feels all along that a little honest heart-to-heart talk would put everything straight—in fact that the whole substance of the story is based on a rather stupid and far-fetched misunderstanding, which simply doesnʹt tally with the sophistication of Gable and Loy—this is first-rate cinema. The producer has exercised admirable restraint in appealing...

    • 7 Music and the Savage Breast April 1938
      (pp. 88-91)

      Music and drama are the two great group art forms; that is, they are ensemble performances before audiences. They have a common origin in religious ritual.¹ All primitive tribes, emerging from a stage of human sacrifice and cannibal communion, develop a number of dances and songs which to them are the expression of worship. The two principles on which these dances and songs are based are rhythm and mimicry, the sources of music and drama respectively. As music and drama evolve into art forms, they retain for a long time something of their sacerdotal, other-world associations. Greek music and Greek...

    • 8 Men As Trees Walking October 1938
      (pp. 92-95)

      The art exhibition at the CNE, an unusually good one all round, included the first Canadian showing of representative surrealist pictures.² Apparently the idea was that the show would be a refresher for the jaded throats of our fashionable artistic nonentities and professional screamers, hoarse with the lunacy of the Group of Seven³ and the hideous obscenity of a picture of a naked wench. But, as that kind of stunt, the show was a pleasant failure. People came in crowds: some, it is true, to make the automatic comments and objections which perhaps even a surrealist painter could have anticipated,...

    • 9 K.R. Srinavasa Iyengarʹs Lytton Strachey December 1940
      (pp. 96-97)

      This book has obvious defects: its ideas are commonplace, its style indifferent (though it improves greatly after its rather Babu opening),¹ and it hardly supersedes Boas.² But it does bring back the memory of that ʺpeculiar age,ʺ the first decade of the twenty-year truce. In 1919 E.T. Raymond said that, the old men having bungled the young into a war, the young would run things for the future.³ But the young men were dead, and the foolish old men doddered on, and culture was taken over by a group of highly talented dons. What they produced, naturally, was brilliant, ephemeral...

    • 10 The Great Charlie August 1941
      (pp. 98-102)

      Serious discussion of the importance of movies in modern art has long ago passed the condescending phase. When the culture of the industrial age really hits its stride, the mainsprings of its creative power will be in its one cultural industry. What the church was to the Middle Ages and the prince to the Renaissance, the movie is to modern artists, and it will continue to be their chief patron however many other outlets are provided in PWA¹ work, social planning and housing, the radio, or industrial design. And just as the drama is appropriate for an organic society and...

    • 11 Reflections at a Movie October 1942
      (pp. 103-107)

      Was it not that quaint old forgotten author, Karl Marx, who said that new instruments of production are the causes of cultural changes? At any rate the movie and its ally, the radio, have made a very considerable one. Fifteen years ago, when movies were silent and the radio a squalling infant, Calvin Coolidge was in the White House.¹ This gentleman, never having anything to say, seldom opened his mouth, and when he did open it a noise like the cry of the great bronzed grackle in the mating season emerged. This inability to talk was one of his chief...

    • 12 Music in the Movies December 1942
      (pp. 108-111)

      Now that I have got it down there, that title seems a rather derisive challenge, like an ostrich egg in a henhouse. In the first place, there is a discouraging text for all music critics from the Book of Ecclesiasticus [32:4]: ʺPour not out talk where there is a performance of music, and display not thy wisdom out of season.ʺ In the second place, a casual layman, who cannot even follow movie reviews which talk about pan shots and fade-ins, and who never worked up the courage to seeGone with the WindorFantasiaorMrs. Miniver, is hardly...

    • 13 Max Grafʹs Modern Music November 1946
      (pp. 112-112)

      Not much use to anyone with a serious interest in the subject, as the author seems almost incapable of referring to music except in terms of metaphors and similes from other arts; but it mentions a good many names and contains a number of cultural pep-talks which might provide some frame of reference to a beginner in music ʺappreciation,ʺ whatever that is. The general line of approach is Bruckner-Mahler Viennese.¹...

    • 14 Abner Deanʹs Itʹs a Long Way to Heaven November 1946
      (pp. 113-113)

      About sixty eerie drawings, with mysterious titles, of naked, gnome-like figures, ranging in treatment from allegory to surrealism. The best have a disturbingly haunting quality that one rarely finds in the more realistic captioned cartoons of theNew Yorkerschool, and in fact are ʺfunnyʺ only to the extent of making one giggle hysterically. Most are psychoanalytic in reference, but a few can be called social comment and a few are theological. One of the latter shows a figure squatting on top of a pillar in a desert, completely swathed in a ball of yarn. Title: ʺAccumulated Virtue.ʺ...

    • 15 Russian Art December 1946
      (pp. 114-114)

      A very useful collection of black and white reproductions illustrating Russian painting from medieval icons on. It appears from it that after the seventeenth century, Russia became the Eastern colony of European art as America became the Western one, and Russia like America lost the ability to resist cultural invasions at the same time that she gained the ability to resist military ones. All the European fashions in painting seem to have rolled over Russia in waves, most of them dyed with a strong Germanic tinge by the time they arrived. The Revolution helped release a tremendous burst of creative...

    • 16 Herbert Readʹs The Innocent Eye August 1947
      (pp. 115-115)

      Autobiography is, like blank verse, very easy to write and very hard to write well. Mr. Read writes well, especially in the early part of his reminiscence, which reads at times like a prose version of WordsworthʹsPrelude. This is natural for a critic who strives to be, in contrast to T.S. Eliot, anarchist in politics, Romantic in literature, and agnostic in religion.¹ He is perhaps an anarchist only in the sense in which we are all anarchists, wanting the society that interferes least with individual freedom. Romanticism he defines as belief ʺin the immediacy of expression, in the automatism...

    • 17 The Eternal Tramp December 1947
      (pp. 116-122)

      WithMonsieur VerdouxChaplin enters a ʺproblem comedyʺ phase of his development which has lost him a good deal of his popular following. Shakespeare must have suffered a similar loss when he abandoned Falstaff and Pistol for Angelo and Parolles, and orthodox comedy constructed ʺas you like itʺ for dubious dramatic hermaphrodites too bitter to be amusing and too sardonic to be tragic. At the same time those who consider Chaplin to be one of the worldʹs greatest dramatists are reassured by the explicitly didactic quality ofMonsieur Verdoux, for it indicates that Chaplin is fully aware of his genius...

    • 18 On Book Reviewing June 1949
      (pp. 123-125)

      Question:Is there, in your opinion, a real difference between reviewing as such and literary criticism?

      Answer: Oh, yes. Criticism is the science of literature: a systematic and progressive comprehension of it. Being a science, it begins in induction and the collecting of instances. Book reviewing thus belongs to the preparatory empirical stage of criticism; but there are many aspects of criticism itself that deal with general laws, principles, and axioms, and have nothing directly to do with the preliminary survey of available data which the reviewer helps to make. Aristotle was a great critic, but I should guess that...

    • 19 Academy without Walls May 1961
      (pp. 126-133)

      I suppose everyone here has been asked by someone, at some time or other, to explain contemporary art to him. I cannot explain contemporary art, but I can point out two of its characteristics without moving very far away. In the first place, this is aconferenceof contemporary arts. Artists have always formed cliques, schools, groups, and ʺismsʺ; they have formed societies and guilds; they have organized manifestos, little magazines, cooperative housing, and insurance schemes. But the conferring artist, the artist who goes to a conference of artists, is a product of this age alone. In the second place,...

    • 20 Communications 9 July 1970
      (pp. 134-139)

      I am on an advisory committee concerned with Canadian radio and television, and so I have been trying to do some reading in communication theory. I find it an exciting subject to read about, because so much of the writing is in the future tense, with so many sentences beginning, ʺWe shall soon be able to ...ʺ But I have also become aware of a more negative side to it, as to most technology. The future that is technically feasible may not be the future that society can absorb. There is a great gap now between what we are doing...

    • 21 The Renaissance of Books 15 November 1973
      (pp. 140-155)

      I suppose one may spend oneʹs whole life with books, without thinking particularly about the different kinds of emotional impact that books may have, not only because of what they are, but because of what they symbolize or dramatize in society. I can trace in my own earlier life several kinds of such symbolic influence. There had been a clergyman in our family, and the bookcases in our house included several shelves of portly theological tomes in black bindings. These were professional books, of course, and their equivalents would have been, and still would be, found in other such homes....

    • 22 Violence and Television 26 August 1975
      (pp. 156-166)

      The problem of violence is a problem without boundaries, and it expands indefinitely into the human situation. Of other major problems confronting us, those of ecology, the energy crisis, the curtailing of natural resources, the exterminating of animal and plant species, are the result of inheriting several centuries of systematic violence against nature. As for human society, violence is built into that on various levels. Wherever there are great inequalities of wealth and privilege, there is at least indirect violence, and the tremendous productivity of the United States, the major part of the North American civilization to which we belong,...

    • 23 Introduction to Art and Reality 1986
      (pp. 167-172)

      The following collection of essays is not so much about art and reality as about art and society. It deals with the perennial question of how the arts, which are seldom if ever popular in their higher manifestations, may be incorporated into society and on what terms. Mr. Irwin, who leads off, says that discussions of reality always turn immediately into discussions of meaning.¹ He is on solid philosophical ground here: ʺrealityʺ is a question-begging word, perhaps not a legitimate philosophical term at all, and we have to find a context for it. Meaning is established by context, and for...

  9. Politics, History, and Society

    • 24 Pro Patria Mori April 1933
      (pp. 175-177)

      The number of letters received by the editor, including a few contributions, congratulatory and condemnatory, on the result of Victoriaʹs discussion of the Oxford Debate on their relation to King and Country, have made it obvious that the university and its alumni look toActafor a formulation of the undergraduate attitude.¹ At the request of the associate editor, in whose hands this issue is, I shall as a contributor endeavour to bring out the leading indications of the resolution: ʺThat this House will under no circumstances fight for its King and Country.ʺ My own reaction to the attitude of...

    • 25 Wyndham Lewis: Anti-Spenglerian June 1936
      (pp. 178-183)

      The recent death of Oswald Spengler [8 May 1936] raises the issue of how far the influence of that thinker has penetrated into the English-speaking world.The Decline of the Westis a book often used and seldom referred to, frequently quoted and rarely acknowledged. Its theses have become inseparable from our present modes of thinking: the theory of the organic growth of cultures, the maturation of our own and its historical parallelism with the Roman Empire, the distinction between culture and civilization; all this is as much taken for granted today as the libido or the dinosaur. But few...

    • 26 War on the Cultural Front August 1940
      (pp. 184-187)

      Three economic systems, Nazism, Communism, and capitalism, are engaged in destroying (a) each other and (b) what they originally stood for. Nazism, in origin a frantic nationalism, is now an international armed force attempting world conquest, its vanguard a rabble of reactionary big shots in each country ready to act as traitors to the latter. Communism, at one time completely international in outlook, has become a patriotic national movement wherever it has had any real power or influence: in Spain, in Czechoslovakia, in China, in India, and of course in Russia. The capitalist imperialisms of Britain and America are committed...

    • 27 Two Italian Sketches, 1939 October 1942
      (pp. 188-193)

      We are on our way from Siena to Florence, and decide to stop at San Gemignano. Thatʹs a little town on top of a hill full of enormous skyscraping towers the nobles used to build and shoot at each other from. We say good-bye to a cheerful little clerk weʹve been talking to on the train: he took English as his second language at school, and fed us remarks like ʺI am happy to go without Italy,ʺ meaning he would like to get out of the country, while we exchanged Italian almost as bad. The place is called Poggibonsi, which...

    • 28 G.M. Youngʹs Basic May 1944
      (pp. 194-194)

      This sounds like an erudite and competent commentary on Basic English by a writer for the Society for Pure English who is opposed to it.¹ His point is that Basic English is not real English, and that the only people who can make it sound like real English are the people who already know real English, whereas others will simply fall back on the idiom of their native tongue and thereby make Basic unintelligible even as a code. He attacks, too, the elimination of the verb and the emphasis on nouns as a devitalizing of speech. The present reviewer, though...

    • 29 Revenge or Justice? November 1946
      (pp. 195-196)

      Morally, the defendants at Nuremberg represented perhaps the largest mass of guilt that the human race has ever seen at one place and time. But in the present state of international anarchy, in which the executives of a sovereign state are not answerable to a higher court for their actions, they were legally as innocent as lambs. The object of the trials was, we were told, to remedy this monstrous situation, so that the execution of a convicted Nazi would not be the revenge of victor on vanquished, but the result of embodying a moral code which all decent men...

    • 30 F.S.C. Northropʹs The Meeting of East and West March 1947
      (pp. 197-200)

      Professor Northropʹs ambitious attempt to provide a philosophical basis for the union of Eastern and Western thought has attracted a good deal of attention. It is the work of an average but active intelligence, well informed on its own subject, which is philosophy; and though his grasp of history and art is less sure, it would be a very unusual erudition indeed which could derive no profit from all the information he provides about causation in Aristotle, the person in St. Thomas, the metaphysical assumptions underlying Renaissance science and the way that nuclear physics has affected them, the relation between...

    • 31 Wallace Notesteinʹs The Scot in History July 1947
      (pp. 201-201)

      An attempt to convey, by means of an easy-going historical jog-trot, the distinctive characteristics of Scottish culture, and to discover what sort of reality underlies the ready-made stereotypes of thrift, dourness, humourlessness, ambition, respect for education, and nonconforming aggressiveness which are usually associated with the Scotch. Doubtless there are such things as national characteristics, but so many accidents and exceptions are involved in them that such generalizations as ʺthe Scots are better at taking a joke against themselves than the Englishʺ [333] seem to me of very doubtful value. The purpose of this book would probably have been better served...

    • 32 Toynbee and Spengler August 1947
      (pp. 202-208)

      The synthesis of modern thought is the philosopherʹs stone of our age, and any such synthesis would have to contain, if it did not actually consist of, a philosophy of history.¹ The two greatest modern achievements in this field are represented by Marx and Spengler, one a Communist and the other more or less a Nazi. What we want, clearly, is an equally impressive structure which will make room for humane values and established religion and not scare the pants off the middle-class reader. So when the first six volumes of ToynbeeʹsA Study of Historycame out in a...

    • 33 Gandhi March 1948
      (pp. 209-210)

      It is difficult to fathom the mind of the man who murdered Gandhi. What, from his point of view, could have made Gandhi so detestable a figure that he was capable of entering his presence, asking for his blessing, and then shooting him down in cold blood? It seems almost as though the Hitlers and Stalins of the world do not get shot because the people who hate them are the kind of people to whom murder, for however good a cause, is repugnant. But the Lincolns and Gandhis of the world are hated by the kind of people to...

    • 34 Ernst Jüngerʹs On the Marble Cliffs March 1948
      (pp. 211-214)

      Ernst Jünger was one of the German intellectuals who shouted for years about the affirming power of blood and race as opposed to the critical negations of reason, about the sensuous ecstasy of war and the way that life is fulfilled by heroic death, and about the sacred duty of transforming nationalism into a religion and of having no gods but the state. However, after the Nazis had finally got the crusade started, even Jünger decided he had had enough, and in 1939 published a dreamy and fantastic allegory which is at the same time a bitterly disillusioned anti-Nazi satire....

    • 35 Dr. Kinsey and the Dream Censor July 1948
      (pp. 215-219)

      The first volume of the Kinsey report is now in the hands of the American and Canadian public, and has been very well received: readers of this magazine will remember Professor Ketchumʹs brilliant review of it in a recent issue.¹ Following close on this comes a caterwaul to have it banned in Canada, which, in view of our various hole-and-corner systems of censorship, could succeed. In any case, it reopens the whole question of censorship.² The anvil chorus this time is said by the press to be supported by a doctor who is president of the National Health League of...

    • 36 Cardinal Mindszenty March 1949
      (pp. 220-221)

      It is quite possible that Cardinal Mindszenty was, as he admitted, at least technically guilty of most of the charges against him. One of them, treason, is the same as our charge against Communists here: ʺconspiring to overthrow the government by force.ʺ Western reaction and comment to the trial is an inconsistent mixture of several things. We are given to understand that he should not have been tried because he was an eminent clergyman, that he was innocent of all charges, and that if he was conspiring to overthrow the government, good for him. Our newspapers, without intending it, are...

    • 37 The Two Camps April 1949
      (pp. 222-223)

      The world situation from the Russian point of view is something like this. Wars are caused ultimately by economic rivalries among nations. All nations except Communist ones are class societies, which must either preserve their class system through exploitation, search for colonial markets, and eventually armed conflicts, or have their class system destroyed by a revolution leading to a classless society. Thus the only possible way to achieve world peace is first to achieve a worldwide revolution. There can be no hope for peace as long as a major capitalist power remains in the world. Fortunately the situation is developing...

    • 38 Law and Disorder July 1949
      (pp. 224-225)

      The present Communist witch-hunt in the United States has rather paralysed liberal criticism, because of the complexity of factors and uneven distribution of sympathies involved. On the one hand, the democratic tradition gives the widest possible freedom of action in politics; on the other hand, the American people feel that in the present state of affairs Communists are for all practical purposes agents of Russia and active enemy aliens. Thus Communism is legal, but discouraged by intimidation; it cannot be prosecuted, so it has to be persecuted. Unlike the witch-hunt of 1919¹ the present moves against Communism have a good...

    • 39 Two Books on Christianity and History September 1949
      (pp. 226-231)

      It is curious, and probably significant, that two books by well-known Protestant theologians,¹ on practically the same subject, should appear at practically the same time. They are based on the same essential facts, take quite similar attitudes toward them, and quote much the same authorities, an interpretation of the Bible being of course fundamental to each. But in spite of this parallelism, which extends to an identical number of pages, they complement rather than overlap each other. Dr. Niebuhr presents an argued thesis of his own; Dr. Löwith offers a series of studies of philosophical historians, beginning with Spengler and...

    • 40 Nothing to Fear but Fear November 1949
      (pp. 232-234)

      For some months now the American immigration authorities have been busily defending our otherwise undefended border. A number of labour leaders, students, and unfrocked Communists have been held up, turned back, or refused visas, and on a principle of chance well known to duck-hunters, they have even managed to bag a few authentic members of the Labour-Progressive Party. The recent refusal of visas to Professor Shortliffe of Queenʹs and Professor Barker Fairley of Toronto,¹ amounting in at least the latter case to permanent exclusion, has brought the matter more into the open. As practically every Canadian has friends or relatives...

    • 41 The Ideal of Democracy 7 February 1950
      (pp. 235-236)

      All governments whatever must be either the expression of the will of a minority holding autonomous power, which is able to impose that will on society as a whole, or the expression of the will of the people as a whole to govern themselves. In the former case there is an antithesis between a ruling class and the ruled classes; in the latter case there is no governing class, but only a group of executives and public servants responsible to society as a whole for what they do. The latter conception of government is the democratic one.

      Democracy is thus...

    • 42 The Church and Modern Culture 1950
      (pp. 237-243)

      1. The oldest civilization in the modern world is the American one, which was established in its present form in 1776. Modern France dates from the French Revolution; Great Britain began to assume its modern form with the Reform Bill of 1832; Germany and Italy entered the modern world in 1870; China in 1912; Russia in 1917, and so on. The party now in power in America is the oldest political party in the world, and the Stars and Stripes is one of the worldʹs oldest flags.

      2. The axioms of this culture are essentially those of eighteenth-century Deism. There is no...

    • 43 And There Is No Peace June 1950
      (pp. 244-245)

      The Canadian delegation to the Moscow Peace Congress¹ has been active in various cities of Canada since its return. A ʺBan the Bombʺ petition and interviews with Messrs. Pearson and Coldwell² in Ottawa backfired somewhat, but large public meetings in Toronto and Hamilton were more successful, and the movement is currently enjoying a good deal of publicity.

      The stock reactionary answer is that the movement led by Dr. Endicott and Hewlett Johnson³ is a one hundred per cent Communist front, and that anyone who imagines it to be anything else is a sucker. Because it is the stock reactionary answer,...

    • 44 Caution or Dither? July 1950
      (pp. 246-247)

      The confusion resulting from the Labour Governmentʹs refusal, or near-refusal, to enter into the Schuman Plan is due to the fact that it is impossible not to sympathize, to some extent, with all the points of view. The Schuman Plan is primarily an attempt to end the political schism in Western Europe between France and Germany by making the economic interests of both countries too closely akin for a major conflict between them ever again to occur.¹ Nobody can oppose the possibility of ending all future Franco-German wars. Nobody can fail to agree that economic union, starting with coal and...

    • 45 Trends in Modern Culture 1952
      (pp. 248-261)

      The modern world derives its form primarily from the vast social change which began in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and which we may call the Industrial Revolution, from its most conspicuous feature. This change, like every other, was at once old and new: unique and yet in some degree a repetition of the pattern of previous events. The repetitive aspect of it is worked out most fully in SpenglerʹsDecline of the West. Spengler sees history as a series of quasi-organic developments or ʺcultures,ʺ which are at first agricultural and feudal, then urban and oligarchic, and finally...

    • 46 Regina versus the World June 1953
      (pp. 262-264)

      Among the mass of historical curiosa recently dredged up by the press is the fact that the coronation of Queen Victoria was, ritually speaking, quite a mess. The ring was put on her wrong finger; peers of the realm fell over their own feet; bishops fluffed their lines, and one dignitary, as the Queen herself acidly recorded, was heard saying to another, ʺMʹLord, we should have had a rehearsal.ʺ But it didnʹt matter. No omens could alter the fact that the British Empire was on the up and up. By the time Queen Victoria was dead she was Empress of...

    • 47 Oswald Spengler 23 November 1955
      (pp. 265-273)

      In the summer of 1918, when Germany and Austria were just on the point of collapse, a book appeared calledThe Decline of the West, by Oswald Spengler. Oswald Spengler was nobody in particular, which was a serious handicap in Germany, where scholars are as carefully ranked as army officers. More accurately, he was a high school teacher who had thrown up his job in 1910 in order to write, whose health was so bad he was never called up for war service, and who was so poor he could hardly buy food and clothes, much less books. So his...

    • 48 Preserving Human Values 27 April 1961
      (pp. 274-281)

      I have been wondering what common ground for communication I could establish with the Social Planning Council and the part of the university with which I am concerned. It is obvious that I should not attempt to talk as though I knew anything about social work, as you would see through me in about thirty seconds. I think my best role is perhaps that of an appreciative audience, sitting back where I can see in perspective, or think I can see, the importance of what you are doing.

      We are often told that we need some sort of statement of...

    • 49 The War in Vietnam 1967
      (pp. 282-282)

      I am strongly against the war in Vietnam, which is being waged with a brutality justified only by a ʺthey do it tooʺ type of argument, and which makes Americaʹs role in the Nuremberg trials twenty years ago the most miserable hypocrisy.¹ It is a genocidal war, one which the Americans cannot win, and which they keep on fighting only because of some obsession about face-saving. Its public support is simply the result of the bloodshed itself, i.e., it is very difficult to accept the fact that oneʹs fellow countrymen are dying for nothing.

      I think the conflict should be...

    • 50 The Two Contexts 1968
      (pp. 283-284)

      There are two contexts in which the question of mental health exists, and they are directly opposite to one another. The first is the therapeutic context. Here society is the norm, and the individual suffers from some psychic disability that prevents his full social functioning. All forms of mental illness, including the schizophrenic and the manic-depressive, come under this category, and their antisocial actions range from committing suicide to murdering public figures.

      In the other context, society as a whole is sick and paranoid, and mental health can be attained only by the individual as a result of some detachment...

    • 51 The Quality of Life in the ʹ70s 14 February 1971
      (pp. 285-296)

      As the 1970s have only started, I suppose this is an exercise in prophecy. A good deal has been written about the future in recent years, and a most unpleasant word to describe such writing, futurology, has been invented. A book of essays on this subject was sent me a while ago. The first thing I noticed about it was that it was dated 1971, although it was published in November 1970. The next thing I noticed was that the editor was born in 1940. On the first page the book said, ʺThe world of, say, 1950, if we came...

    • 52 Spengler Revisited Winter 1974
      (pp. 297-314)

      In July 1918, when the German armies were on the point of collapse, a book appeared calledDer Untergang des Abendlandes, by someone called Oswald Spengler. I use that phrase because Spengler then was nobody in particular, anOberlehrerorGymnasiumteacher who had thrown up his job in 1910 in order to write, whose health was so bad he was never called up for military service even in the warm-body months of 1918, and who was so poor he could hardly buy enough food or clothing, much less books. Anonymity was a serious handicap in a country where scholars...

    • 53 The Bridge of Language 3 January 1981
      (pp. 315-330)

      As I understand it, my chief qualification for addressing you here is my total ignorance of everything you know. That gives a certain detachment to oneʹs perspective, but it does not provide many other clues. I think that, broadly speaking, the ʺtwo culturesʺ situation described by C.P. Snow some twenty years ago still holds in most respects.¹ Lord Snow, you will remember, suggested that humanists and scientists did not see much of one anotherʹs point of view, and that humanists in particular tended to be intellectual Luddites or machine-breakers, probably members of a secret right-wing organization devoted to carbon power...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 331-380)
  11. Emendations
    (pp. 381-382)
  12. Index
    (pp. 383-409)