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..there is a bronze of Dylan Thomas.
Anyone who can look at it without compassion is dead.
There he faces you with a cigarette at the side of his mouth,
the very cigarette hung in despair. ..this is sensitivity crying
out in darkness. But it is not mere emotion; the problem is not
on this level. These men are not producing an art for art's sake,
or emotion for emotion's sake. ..a strong message coming out of
their own world-view. There are many media for killing men, as
men, today. They all operate in the same direction: No truth,
no morality. You do not have to go to art galleries or listen to
the more sophisticated music, to be influenced by their message.
Cinema and television will do it effectively for you.
MODERN CINEMA, MASS MEDIA AND THE BEATLES
We usually divide cinema and television programmes into two
classes -- good and bad. The term 'good' here means 'technically
good' and does not refer to morals. The 'good' pictures are the
serious ones, the artistic ones; the ones with good shots.
The 'bad' are simply escapist, romantic, only for entertainment.
But if we examine them with care we will notice that the 'good'
pictures are actually the worst. The escapist film may be
horrible in some ways, but the so-called 'good' pictures of recent
years have almost all been developed by men holding the modern
philosophy of meaninglessness.
This does not imply they have ceased to be men of integrity, but
it does mean that the films they produce are tools for teaching
Four outstanding modern film producers are Fellini and Antonioni
of Italy, Slessinger of England, and Bergman of Sweden.
Of these four producers Bergman has, in the past, perhaps given
the clearest expression of the contemporary despair.
He deliberately developed the flow of his pictures, that is, the
whole body of his movies rather than just individual films,
in order to teach existentialism.
His existentialist films extended up to, but do not include,
'the Silence'. This film is a statement of utter nihilism.
Man, in this picture, does not even have the hope of authenticating
himself by an act of the will. 'The Silence' is a series of
snapshots with immoral and pornographic themes. The camera just
takes them without any comment, 'Click, click, click, cut!'
That is all there is. Life is like that: unrelated, having no
meaning as well as no morals.
In passing, it should be noted that Bergman's presentation in
'The Silence' is related to the American 'Black Writers'
(nihilistic writers), the anti-statement novel and Capote's
In Cold Blood. These, too, are just a series of snapshots
without any comment as to meaning or morals.
Such writers and directors are controlling the mass media, and
so the force of the monolithic world-view of our age presses in
on every side.
The posters advertising Antonioni's 'Blow_Up' in the London
Underground were inescapable as they told the message of that
film: "Murder without guilt; Love without meaning".
The mass of people may not enter an art museum, may never read
a serious book. If you were to explain the drift of modern thought
to them, they might not be able to understand it, but this does
not mean that they are not influenced by the things they see and
hear -- including the cinema and what is considered as 'good',
No greater illustration could be found of the way these concepts
are carried to the masses, than 'pop' music and especially the
work of the Beatles.
The Beatles have moved through several stages including the
concept of the drug and psychedelic approach.
The psychedelic began with their records Revolver,
Strawberry Fields Forever, and Penny Lane.
This was developed with expertness in their record Sergeant
Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in which psychedelic music,
with open statements concerning drug-taking, is knowingly
presented as a religious answer. The religious form is the
same vague pantheism which predominates much of the new mystical
thought today. One indeed does not have to understand in a
clear way the modern monolithic thought in order to be
infiltrated by it.
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is an ideal example
of the manipulating power of the new forms of 'total art'.
This concept of total art increases the infiltrating power of
the message by carefully conforming the technical form used
to the message involved. This is used in Absurd Theatre,
the Marshal McLuhan type of television, the new cinema, the new
dance, and the new music following John Cage.
The Beatles used this in 'Sergeant Pepper' making the whole
record one unit: the whole is to be listened through and
makes one thrust, rather than .. individual songs. In this
record the words, syntax, the music.. form a unity of
(Francis A. Schaeffer, 'The God Who Is There' 1968)
So rationalism or humanism is the unity within secular thought. (..)
In one way it is always the same, men trying to build from themselves
alone. In another sense it is constantly shifting (..)
The 'line of despair' indicates a titanic shift at this present time within
the unity of rationalism: Above the line, men were rationalistic
optimists. They believed that they could begin with themselves and
draw a circle which would encompass all thoughts of life, and life itself,
without having to depart from the logic of antithesis. They thought
that on their own, rationalistically, finite men could find a unity in the
total diversity. This is where philosophy stood, prior to our own day.
The only real argument between these rationalistic optimists was over
the circle that should be drawn. One man would draw a circle and say,
You can live within this circle. The next man would cross it out and
would draw a different circle. The next man would come along, and
draw his own - ad infinitum (...)
By the time you have considered all these circles.. you may feel like
jumping off London Bridge! But at a certain point this attempt to spin
out a unified optimistic humanism ceased. The thinkers came to the
conclusion that they were not going to find a unified rationalistic
circle that would contain all thought, and in which they could live.
It was as though the rationalist suddenly became trapped in a large
darkness... he would feel his way to the walls and look for an exit...
then the terrifying truth would dawn on him that there was no exit
at all! ... and so, departing from the classical method of antithesis,
they shifted the concept of truth -- and modern man was born.
..and modern man moved under the line of despair, against his
desire. He remained a rationalist, but he had changed.
If we do not understand this shift, we are largely talking to
Søren Kirkegaard [was named] the father of all modern thinking:
..of modern secular thinking and of the new theological thinking.
[SK] came to the conclusion that you could not arrive at synthesis
by reason. Instead, you achieved everything of real importance
by a leap of faith. So he separated absolutely the rational and
logical, from faith. We might... debate whether, if he came back
today, he would be pleased with what had been made of his thinking.
..but with the concept of a leap of faith, he became in a real way
the father of all modern existential thought, both secular and
As a result, from that time on, if rationalistic man wants to deal with
the real things of human life -- such as purpose, significance, the
validity of love -- he must discard rational thought about them and
make a gigantic, non-rational leap of faith. The rationalistic
framework had failed to produce an answer on the basis of reason,
and so all hope of a uniform field of knowledge had to be abandoned.
...though there appear to be many forms of of philosophy today,
in reality there are very few. They have a uniform cast about them.
..there is one basic agreement in almost all of the chairs of philosophy
today, a radical denial of the possibility of putting forth a circle which
will encompass all. In this sense, the philosophies of today can be
called, in all seriousness, anti-philosophies.
Helheten går tapt i delene, det er en tendens i våre
moderne spesialiserte utdannelser.
Vår generasjon har dermed frembragt få egentlig velutdannede
mennesker, sett under den synsvinkelen:
Den egentlig vel utdannede evner å tenke i assosiasjoner
på tvers av faggrensene, ikke bare å være vel kvalifisert
og opptrent innen ett fagfelt, som ulike slags teknikere.
Ikke noen fag, regner jeg med, har hatt sterkere tendens til
å tenke i fragmentert stilpreg enn nåtidens teologi, langs
ortodokse og evangeliske linjer.
De som har stått i den historiske kristendommens strøm, har
vært trege til å forstå hvordan tankesett i de ulike sektorer
har innvirket på hverandre gjennom skiftende perioder.
Der apostelen har oppfordret oss til å holde oss ubeflekket
av verden, er det ikke bare løs abstraksjon --
skal vi anvende det for egen del, må vi forstå hvilke bestemte
utfordringer vi møter som motstand i vår fase av historien.
Ellers blir vi bare som unyttige gjenstander på museum, ikke
livskraftige åndelige innsatsstyrker under Jesus Kristus.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, 'The God Who Is There' 1968 -
oversatt av språkvaskemaskinen på tekjøkkenet)
Relatert: Helhet i utdannelse?
The dilemma of man :
Man is able both to rise to great heights and to sink to great depths
of cruelty and tragedy.
Anyone with sensitivity and concern for the world.. can sense this
Of course it is possible to try not to get involved.. but the only
way would be to be young enough, well enough, having money enough,
and being egotistic enough to care nothing about other human beings.
As [to man's dilemma]
..only two possible explanations can be given .. that Man is too
small, too finite to wrestle with what confronts him.. The second
explanation is quite different, it puts man's dilemma down to a
If the first explanation is the right one, then one is bound to
conclude that man has always been in the same dilemma - that Man
has always been fallen man. This also means that there is no
moral answer to the problem of evil and cruelty.
Because man, whether somehow created by a curious thing called god
or kicked up out of the slime by chance, has always been in this
dilemma, this being a part of what being Man is.
If this is what man intrinsically is, and he has always been like
this, then.. Baudelaire is right when he says: 'If there is a God,
he is the devil'.
This statement was simply the logical deduction from the premise
that man, with his cruelty and suffering, is now as he always has
been. At this point Baudelaire was consistent and refused to give
anny kind of romantic alternatives as an explanation.
But the Bible says that this is not the situation. (...)
..the modern non-christian answer denies the legitimacy of moral
absolutes, refuses to pass any kind of moral comment on man's
actions and thus reduces cruel and non-cruel deeds to the same
level. With this answer, not only is the concept of sin reduced
to less than the biblical concept, but man is reduced to less
than the biblical concept of guilty man. (...)
There need be no either--or in La Peste:
Without absolutes, morals as morals cease to exist - and
humanistic man starting from himself has failed to find the
absolute. But because God of the Bible is there, real morals
exist.. we can say that one action is right, and another wrong,
without talking nonsense.
The Christian never faces the dilemma posed in Camus' book
La Peste. It simply is not true that he either had to side
with the doctor against God by fighting the plague, or join with
the priest and thus be much less than human by not fighting the
plague. (...) Jesus, standing at the tomb of Lazarus, was angry
at death and at the abnormality of the world; the destruction
and distress caused by sin. He could hate the plague without
hating Himself as God.
A Christian can fight with compassion what is wrong in the world
and know.. that God hates these [abnormalities] too.
God hates them to the high price of the death of Christ.
But if one lives in a world of non-absolutes and would fight
social injustice on the mood of the moment.. what criterion do I
have to distinguish between right and wrong? ... the word 'love'
cannot tell me how to discern, for within the humanistic frame-
work, love can have no definite meaning.
Once we comprehend that Christ who came to die to end 'the plague'
both wept and was angry at the plague's effects, we have a reason
for fighting that does not rest merely on my momentary disposition,
or on the shifting consensus of men. (...)
The Christian is the real radical of our generation, for he stands
against the monolithic, modern concept of truth as relative -
we believe in the unity of truth. But too often, instead of
being the radical, standing against the shifting sands,
he subsides into merely maintaining the status quo.
If it is true that evil is evil, that God hates it to the point
of the cross -- and that moral law is fixed in what God is in
Himself, then Christians should be the first into the field
against wrong -- including man's inhumanity to man.
We need to be challenged at this point.
[this art] ...the expression of men who are struggling with their appalling
lostness. Dare we laugh at such things, feel superior when we view their
tortured expressions in their art? We should stop laughing and take such
men seriously. Then we shall have the right to speak again (..)
..a poem that appeared on the last issue of the magazine called De Stijl
written by Hans Arp (b.1887), one of the members of the original Dada
group. (translated from the German)
the head downward
the legs upward
he tumbles into the bottomless
from whence he came
he has no more honour in his body
he bites no more bite of any short meal
he answers no greeting
and is not proud when being adored
the head downward
the legs upward
he tumbles into the bottomless
from whence he came
like a dish covered with hair
like a four-legged sucking chair
like a deaf echotrunk
half full half empty
he tumbles into the bottomless
from whence he came
Dada is a chance concept. The very word was chosen by chance.
In the same way they composed poems.
On the basis of modern man's methodology, whether expressed in
philosophy, art, literature or theology, there can be no other ending
than this -- man tumbling into the bottomless.
But these men were deadly serious; it really was no game they were
One of these men was Marcel Duchamp (b.1887) who could be called
the high-priest of destruction. He is best known for his picture
Nude descending a stairway .. he is brilliant and destructive -- and
he means to destroy, will seek to destroy you from within yourself.
..There is a picture - .. Le passage de la vierge a la mariée -
(the words are written on the canvas, "the passage of the virgin to
married state"). Naturally every man or woman who looks at this,
tries to find in the picture something which relates to its title.
But no matter how long one looks, one finds no picture of any virgin,
nor of a virgin becoming a married woman.
Thus he causes the viewer to feel dirty.
Duchamp is the man who about 1960 gave birth to the happenings ,
and then beyond this, the environments (...)
In the happenings you are put as it were within the picture. You look
at people acting; and, as the observer, you are forced to participate.
There is always a nonsense element, and there is usually a dirty action
as well. Always the observer is involved, and is deliberately destroyed.
What are they saying? Everything is chance. Chance, the nothingness
is not just shut up in a framed picture but it is the entire structure of life.
You are in the chance, in the nothingness. You are the destroyed ones.
An example of Environment was some of the rooms in the art show,
'Art Zero, Art Nul' ..in Amsterdam, in the summer of 1965.
One entered the rooms and looked at objects. But there was something
more than mere looking at particular objects, rather you felt permeated
by a total context that was almost subliminal. Almost against your wish
you got drawn into the mood of the room. I watched young couples
going through these rooms .. most of them did not understand what they
saw. But I was certain that by the time they came out, the atmosphere
would have had its effect and their defences would have been weakened..
they were touched at a deeper level than only the mind. (..)
..it is important to note that the leaders of the Provos, and anarchist
movement in Amsterdam which has been much in the international news
through 1966..67 say that this movement is the logical result of the
exposition programme at Stedelijk Museum through the last 15 years.
It is also interesting to note that the Provos call their public demon-
These paintings, poems and these demonstrations.. are the expression
of men who are struggling with their appalling lostness. Dare we laugh?
(...)These men are dying while they live, yet where is our compassion
for them? There is nothing more ugly than an ortodoxy without
understanding, or without compassion.