Archaeology of Criticism



"It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey." [Wendell Berry, Standing By Words 205 (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1983)]

"Who knows what form the forward momentum of life will take in the time ahead or what use it will make of our anguished searching. The most that any one of us can seem to do is to fashion something--an object or ourselves-and drop it into the confusion, make an offering of it, so to speak, to the life force." [Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death 285 (New York: MacMillan, 1973)]

"From the moment of our birth we may begin a journey toward a goal whose initial form lies behind us, but whose path will carry us to something we have never felt nor seen." [Arthur Deikman, Personal Freedom: On Finding Your Way to the Real World 13 (New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976)]

"[I]f one seeks to discover what the possibilities of the human spirit are, to be led by his discoveries, to let his discoveries determine his goals, he journeys into the unknown and the unknown becomes his companion." [John S. Dunne, Time and Myth 124 (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1973)]

"Modern man is also a victim of clarity. Much of our difficulty proceeds from the demand for certitude and an inability to recognize and live with the irreducibility of shadows." [John J. McDermott, The Culture of Experience: Philosophical Essays in the American Grain 27 (Washington Square, New York: New York University Press, 1976)]

"[M]eanings, like dreams, arise in relation to what we do not know." [Charles Scott, Boundaries in Mind 82 (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1982)]

"Man lives forever on the verge, on the threshold of 'something more' than he can currently apprehend." [Huston Smith, "The Reach and the Grasp: Transcendence Today," in Herbert W. Richardson & Donald R. Cutler (eds.), Transcendence 1-17, at 1 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969)]

"We knowers are unknown to ourselves, and for a good reason: how can we ever hope to find what we have never looked for? There is a sound adage which runs: ‘Where a man's treasure lies, there lies his heart.' Our treasure lies in the beehives of our knowledge. We are perpetually on our way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind. The only thing that lies close to our heart is the desire to bring something home to the hive. As for the rest of life--so called 'experience'--who among us is serious enough for that? Or has time enough. When it comes to such matters, our heart is simply not in it--we don't even lend our ear. Rather, as a man divinely abstracted and self-absorbed into whose ears the bell has just drummed the twelve strokes of noon will suddenly awake with a start and ask himself what hour has actually struck, we sometimes rub our ears after the event and ask ourselves, astonished and at a loss, ‘What have we really experienced?'--or rather, ‘Who are we, really?' And we recount the twelve tremulous strokes of our experience, our life, our being, but unfortunately count wrong. The sad truth is that we remain necessarily strangers to ourselves, we don't understand our own substance, we must mistake ourselves; the axiom, ‘Each man is farthest from himself' will hold for us to all eternity. Of ourselves we are not ‘knowers' . . . ." [Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals 149 (New York: Anchor Books, 1956)]

"We are like flies crawling across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: we cannot see what angels and gods lie underneath the threshold of our perceptions. We do not live in reality: we live in our paradigms, our habituated perceptions, our illusions; the illusions we share through culture we call reality, but the true historical reality of our condition is invisible to us." [William Irwin Thompson, Evil and World Order 81 (New York: Harper and Row, 1976)]

"[W]hat we are is to be sought in the invisible depths of our own being, not in our outward reflection in our own acts. We must find our real selves not in the froth stirred up by the impact of our being upon the beings around us but in our own soul which is the principle of all our acts." [Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island 97 (Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1967)]

"Because the Truth is not an ideology, it is best embodied in paradoxes and koans . . . ." [William Irwin Thompson, Evil and World Order 82 (New York: Harper and Row, 1976)]

"Let it be said that when we encounter thoughts that seem unintelligible, the fault may not be ours.... Sometimes obscurity is really the best that can be achieved in an honest effort to express subtle and elusive truth.... Any effort to give voice to our deepest feelings and thoughts is liable to be unavoidably vague at times. Truth is greater than both our thoughts and our language." [Daniel C. Maguire, The Moral Choice 37, 39 (New York: Doubleday, 1978)]

"[T]he scientific enterprise itself was once seen as a way of transcending the limits of our ignorance, a bold and adventurous search into the hidden mysteries and patterns of nature." [Robert Nozick, Philosophical Explanations 626 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1981)]

"Modern science got into trouble by claiming to be the one true description of reality." [Morris Berman, The Reenchantment of the World 196 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1981)]

"The first strand in the skein of modernity may be called the secular attitude. The secular attitude is not so much a conversion of belief, even a conscious redirection of the moral interest; it is rather an unformulated confidence in the power of the human mind to solve the problems of society without even considering the possibility of supernatural aid and of supernatural guidance. It is the unstated assumption that, if there are obvious failures and frustrations in the management of social life, the failures are wholly human failures, and remediable ones. The assumption which defines the new secular attitude, is that the whole plot, which constitutes history, is, or can be, before our eyes, and that no causes are concealed from our ordinary perceptions." [Stuart Hampshire, "Self-Consciousness and Society," in Conner Cruise O'Brien & William Dean Vanech (eds.), Power and Consciousness 229, 230 (New York: New York University Press, 1969)]

"Man's ultimate concern must be expressed symbolically, because symbolic language alone is able to express the ultimate." [Paul Tillich, Dynamics of Faith 41 (New York: Harper Torchbook, 1958)]

"Throughout the inhabited world, in all times and under every circumstance, the myths of man have flourished; and they have been the living inspiration of whatever else may have appeared out of the activities of the human body and mind." [Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces 3 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1949)]

"If we are to be properly humble in our use of the world, we need places that we do not use at all. We need the experience of leaving something alone. We need places that we forbear to change, or influence by our presence, or impose on even by our understanding; places that we accept as influences upon us, not the other way around, that we enter with the sense, the pleasure, of having nothing to do there; places that we must enter in a kind of cultural nakedness, without comforts or tools, to submit rather than to conquer. We need what other ages would have called sacred groves. We need groves, anyhow, that we would treat as if they were sacred, in order, perhaps, to perceive their sanctity." [Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture 30 (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1977)]

"The experience of individuality is a mystery of being which transcends descriptive power. Each person has his own unique version of this experience which is incommunicable as such. Yet, the form of the experience is the goal of the individual's psychic development is to come ever closer to the realization that his own personal, unique individuality is identical with the eternal archetypal individual. Uniqueness and universality merge as one takes upon himself the fate of being an individual." [Edward F. Edinger, Ego and Archetype 157 (England: Penguin Books, 1973)]

"0, What a world of unseen visions and heard silences, this insubstantial country of the mind! What ineffable essences, these touchless rememberings and unshowable reveries! And the privacy of it all! A secret theater of speechless monologue and prevenient counsel, an invisible mansion of all moods, musings, and mysteries, an infinite resort of disappointments and discoveries. A whole kingdom where each of us reigns reclusively alone, questioning what we will, commanding what we can. A hidden hermitage where we may study out the troubled book of what we have done and yet may do. An introcosm that is more myself than anything I can find in a mirror. This consciousness that is myself of selves, that is everything, and yet nothing at all--what is it? And where did it come from? And why?" [Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind 1 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976)]

"[F]aith is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern . . . ." [Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture 40 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959)]

"An age of faith would mean an age in which many of us could truly accept the living authority of the sacred in the world and in time and could wholeheartedly acknowledge that our relation to that presence was the single most vital relation in all our mortal lives." [Joseph Cary, "Free Time," in D. M. Dooling (ed.), A Way of Working 3-11, 5 (Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1979)]

"Religion opens up the depth of man's spiritual life which is usually covered by the dust of our daily life and the noise of our secular work. It gives us the experience of the Holy, of something which is untouchable, awe-inspiring, an ultimate meaning, the source of ultimate courage." [Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture 9 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959)]

"Religion is an attitude toward the ultimate, the absolute, the infinite, expressed or personified in a god or gods, or in a state of being that is free from the limitations of everyday life." [Joseph Bensman & Robert Lilienfeld, Craft and Consciousness: Occupation, Technique and the Development of World Images 83 (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1973)]

"To value the mysteries we must describe the world in ways that make possible encounter with mystery. When we view the world through the lens of that description, the old systems and structures may themselves be revealed as distortions.

The core of the mysteries is the understanding that truth is always deeper and richer than any description of it. To change lenses and face a fuller spectrum of that truth can be frightening, shattering. It requires daring." [Starhawk, Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery 26 (New York: Harper & Row, 1987)]


  Contents: Archaeology of Criticism