Archaeology of Criticism



"Orientation has two aspects; there are two ways that we can fail to have it. I can be ignorant of the lie of the land around me--not know the important locations which make it up or how they relate to each other. This ignorance can be cured by a good map. But then I can be lost in another way if I don't know how to place myself on this map. If I am a traveller from abroad and I ask where Mont Tremblant is, you don't help me by taking me blindfolded up in a plane, then ripping the blindfold off and shouting, 'There it is!' as we overfly the wooded hill. I know now (if I trust you) that I'm at Mont Tremblant. But in a meaningful sense, I still don't know where I am because I can't place Tremblant in relation to other places in the known world." [Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity 41 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1989)]

"On a visit to Leningrad some years ago I consulted a map to find out where I was, but I could not make it out. From where I stood, I could see several enormous churches, yet there was no trace of them on my map. When finally an interpreter came to help me, he said: ‘We don't show churches on our maps.' Contradicting him, I pointed to one that was very clearly marked. ‘That is a museum,' he said, ‘not what we call a 'living church.' It is only the 'living churches' we don't show.'

It then occurred to me that this was not the first time I had been given a map which failed to show many things I could see right in front of my eyes. All through school and university I had been given maps of life and knowledge on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about and that seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance to the conduct of my life. I remembered that for many years my perplexity had been complete; and no interpreter had come along to help me. It remained complete until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the soundness of the maps." [E. F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed 1 (New York: Harper & Row, 1977)]

"From experience, history, and anthropology we learn that the world may present itself to man's mind and emotion in manifold guises. Among possible modes of perceiving and thinking, two in particular stand out and claim our attention because neither is wholly wanting in any place or age, diverse as their apparent significance may be. The one we may call the objective or--if the word be not limited to the sense of the calculating intellect--the rational. Its object is the reality of nature, and its aim is to apprehend the substance of nature in all directions and to regard its forms and laws with reverence.

The other mode of thought is the magical. It always has to do with the dynamic; power and action are its basic categories, and therefore it seeks and reveres the extraordinary." [Walter Otto, The Homeric Gods 7 (Great Britain: Pantheon, 1979)]

"[D]isenchantment is intrinsic to the scientific world view . . . ." [Morris Berman, The Reenchantment of the World 23 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1981)]

"[T]he modern ideal of disengagement requires a reflexive stance. We have to turn inward and become aware of our own activity and of the processes which form us. We have to take charge of constructing our own representation of the world, which otherwise goes on without order and consequently without science; we have to take charge of the processes by which associations form and shape our character and outlook. Disengagement demands that we stop simply giving in the body or within our traditions or habits, and by making them objects for us, subject them to radical scrutiny and remaking." [Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity 175 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1989)]

"The self can retain its centeredness only to the degree it has the capacity for decentering, for sufficient detachment from its involvements to be able to make judgments upon events and principles beyond itself. Decentering is necessary to the continual process of altering the existing forms that constitute the self, and to applying those forms to new encounters in ways that make possible new kinds of psychic experience." [Robert Lifton, The Life of Self: Toward a New Psychology 72 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976)]

"In order to settle down in the quiet of our own being we must learn to be detached from the results of our own activity. We must withdraw ourselves, to some extent, from effects that are beyond our control and be content with the good will and the work that are the quiet expression of our inner life. We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting an immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition." [Thomas Merton, No Man Is An Island 97 (Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1967)]

"Theories about behavior and interaction are fundamental to observation. Knowledge of several theories of human behavior is important because each theory applies best to a particular realm of behavior.... A rich theory, one with which you've had lots of practice and which has broad generalizing ability, is like a powerful flash-light. Theories generate hypotheses and ideas; they help you ask yourself questions and questions are the probes searching out the human environment." [Joseph Luft, Of Human Interaction 71-72 (Palo Alto, California: National Press Books, 1969)]

"[W]e understand man through paradigms or models. The choice of the paradigm or model becomes extremely important, because it determines what might be called the 'controlling image' or central theme of our psychological theory." [Robert Lifton, "The Sense of Immortality: On Death and the Continuity of Life," in Robert Lifton (ed.), Explorations in Psychohistory 276 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974)]

"It should not be thought that the journey into the interior is only for heroes. It requires an inner commitment, and there is something heroic about any commitment to the unknown, but it is a heroism within everybody's capability." [E.F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed 66 (New York: Harper & Row, 1977)]

"Human beings do not grow in perfect symmetry. They oscillate, expand, contract, backtrack, arrest themselves, retrogress, mobilize, atrophy in part, proceed erratically according to experience and traumas. Some aspects of the personality mature, others do not. Some live in the past, some in the present. Some people are futuristic characters, some are cubistic, some are hard-edged, some geometric, some abstract, some impressionistic, some surrealistic!" [Anais Nin, The Novel of the Future 84 (New York: Collier Books, 1970)]

"Some see themselves as agents and initiators; people who can shape their own lives, influence other people, get things done. Others see themselves as cogs in a machine. Others see themselves as helpless victims-pawns of forces that lie outside themselves. And people who see themselves as agents-who assume they can plan and initiate, and that they are responsible for what they do-act in ways that differ from those who see themselves as cogs or victims." [Liam Hudson, The Psychology of Human Experience 154 (Garden City, New York: Anchor Books ed., 1975)]

"A kind of growth is possible (though unusual) that does not result in a more closed character but in just the opposite: the development of a habit of openness, indetermination, vulnerability, and critical sense. This openness to what is new and different, when maintained through the years, can finally become a natural reflex or way of life." [Xavier Rubert de Ventós, Self-Defeated Man: Personal Identity and Beyond 45 (New York: Harper Colophon, 1975)]

"[T]hose whose self-consciousness and sensitivity are most fully developed are bound to be most deeply troubled by the world, society, their fellow men, and their own shortcomings." [Walter Kaufmann, Without Guilt and Justice: From Decidophobia to Autonomy 147 (New York: P.H. Wyden Books, 1973)]

"Any genuine community, primitive or advance, the ancient Greek, the Roman, the Chinese, the Hindu, the Islamic, the Jewish, the Christian community--everyone of them carries a specific concept of life and of man, and implicitly, a specific system of values. Such a system of values is just a rationalization, a sublimation and pragmatic elaboration of a primary view of life; it derives from a peculiar fundamental attitude which a community has developed toward its outer and inner world." [Erich Kahler, The Tower and the Abyss 188-189 (New York: Compass Books, 1967)]

"The selection of the customs that go to make up a culture is never wholly random and haphazard. Selection is made with reference to a set of deep-lying assumptions, or postulates, about the nature of the external world and the nature of man himself. They are assumptions as to the nature of existence, called existential postulates. There are also deep-lying assumptions about whether things or acts are good and to be sought after, or bad and to be rejected. These are called normative postulates or values. Both existential and normative postulates are the reference points that color a people's view of things, giving them their orientation toward the world around them and toward each other. The basic postulates provide the frame of reference for a people's Weltanschauung, or world view." [E. Adamson Hoebel, Man in the Primitive World: An Introduction to Anthropology 158-59 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed., 1958)]

"Taken as a whole, the cultural apparatus is the lens of mankind through which men see, the medium by which they interpret and report what they see." [Irving Louis Horowitz (ed.), Power, Politics and People: The Collected Essays of C. Wright Mills 406 (New York: Ballantine, 1963)]

"A people's ethos is the tone, character and quality of their life, its moral and aesthetic style and mood; it is the underlying attitude toward themselves and their world that life reflects. Their world view is their picture of the way things in sheer actuality are, their concept of nature of self, of society. It contains their most comprehensive ideas of order." [Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Culture: Selected Essays 127 (New York: Basic Books, 1973)]

"Ideology is a living structure, a bridge by which values are given specific meaning in various cultures at different points in space and time and conveyed into the life of the community. It is a dynamic system of objectives, priorities, and criteria for the life of a community in all its aspects social, economic, and aesthetic. Ideology legitimizes the existing order and its patterns of action." [George C. Lodge, The New American Ideology 8 (New York: Knopf, 1976)]

"Ideology bridges the emotional gap between things as they are and as one would have them be, thus insuring the performance of roles that might otherwise be abandoned in despair or apathy." [Clifford Geertz, "Ideology as a Cultural System," in David E. Apter (ed.), Ideology and Discontent 47, 55 (London: Free Press of Glencoe, 1964)]

"Views of the universe are views of the self. The world can be expanding, contracting, dying, changing; the universe itself can be understood as curious, conscious, telling its own story, bound into society, or society can be the illusion of the cosmos, it can be mythically perceived as aesthetic, mechanical, organic, or as though itself, limitless or bounded, ephemeral or eternal." [Lynda Sexson, Ordinarily Sacred 121 (New York: Crossroad, 1982)]

"[I]n relation to their systems most systematizers are like a man who builds an enormous castle and lives in a shack close by, they do not live in their own enormous systematic buildings. But spiritually that is a decisive objection. Spiritually speaking, a man's thought must be the building in which he lives--otherwise everything is topsy-turvy." [Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil 12 (New York: Vintage Books, 1966)]

"The ‘practical man of the world' defines everything in terms of the status quo. He is convinced that any change in the prevailing meta systems, in the current ideology, is only possible at the risk of anarchy, and that to believe in anything else is to indulge in illusion. Yet, the greatest illusion of all is to think of the present as fixed, as a piece of machinery which can be kept going forever by replacing a few parts here and there, and patching up the rest. Any social fabric can take only so much patchwork.

* * * *

The practical man of the world should be distinguished from the pragmatist. The pragmatist is, at least theoretically, prepared to test the value of his beliefs by evaluating their consequences. The practical man of the world, on the other hand, has a mind closed by the current ideology. Both his framework of evaluation, and the range of phenomena which he evaluates, are circumscribed by it." [Robert A. Samek, The Meta Phenomenon 157, 158, 159 (New York: Philosophical Library, 1981)]

"We might say that there were roughly four levels of power and meaning that an individual could 'choose' to live by:

1. The first, most intimate, basic level, is what we could call the Personal one. It is the level of what one is oneself, his 'true' self, his special gift or talent, what he feels himself to be deep down inside, the person he talks to when he is alone, the secret hero of his inner scenario.

2. The second or next highest level we could call the Social. It represents the most immediate extension of oneself to a select few intimate others: one's spouse, his friends, his relatives, perhaps even his pets.

3. The third and next higher level we could call the Secular. It consists of symbols of allegiance at a greater personal distance and often higher in power and compellingness: the corporation, the party, the nation, science, history, humanity.

4. The fourth and highest level of power and meaning we would call the Sacred: it is the invisible and unknown level of power, the insides of nature, the source of creation, God." [Ernest Becker, The Birth and Death of Meaning 186 (New York: MacMillan, 2nd ed., 1971)]


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