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sothron

Preferred Member
Sep 20, 2011
3,734
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(My gift to you, fellow pipe smokers)
I don’t know how it will be in years to come.  There are monstrous changes taking place in the world, forces shaping a future whose face we do not know.  Some of these forces seem evil to us, perhaps not in themselves but because their tendency is to eliminate other things we hold good.  It is true that two men can lift a bigger stone than one man.  A group can build automobiles quicker and better than one man, and bread from a huge factory is cheaper and more uniform.  When our food and clothing and housing all are born in the complication of mass-production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and to eliminate all other thinking.  In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God.  This in my time is the danger.  There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused.
At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions.  What do I believe in?  What must I fight for and what must I fight against?
Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man.  Nothing was ever created by two men.  There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy.  Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything.  The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.
And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man.  By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged.  It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.  And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.  And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.  This is what I am and what I am about.  I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system.  Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts.  If the glory can be killed, we are lost.

-Steinbeck

 

csibuk

New member
Jul 12, 2015
16
0
Cavan, Ontario, Canada
Perique, you found something that gave me goosebumbps when I read it.
This is shockingly true and should be framed in every single household! (And it was not even yesterday when he wrote it...)

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,921
91
I have to love the guy's intensity (John Steinbeck). The first novel written for adults I read was his "East of Eden." That's jumping right in there. Of course the brilliant, singular, solitary writer (or inventor, or musician, etc.) does need an editor with authority to keep him honest, a publisher who stays solvent, a bunch of excellent press men who barely get noticed, a bunch of book store owners (or computer people) to distribute the goods, and a few thousand or million readers to receive the message, but John still has a noble point, that the beginnings are with the one.

 

sothron

Preferred Member
Sep 20, 2011
3,734
0
MSO- great commentary. To get this in context it helps to read the tractor commentary from Grapes of Wrath.
(What is this annoying ad on the left and why can't I get it to minimize?)

 

sothron

Preferred Member
Sep 20, 2011
3,734
0
The tractors came over the roads and into the fields, great crawlers moving like insects, having the incredible strength of insects … Snub-nosed monsters, raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it, straight down the country, across the country, through fences, through dooryards, in and out of gullies in straight lines. They did not run on the ground, but on their own roadbeds. They ignored hills and gulches, water courses, fences, houses.
That man sitting in the iron seat did not look like a man; gloved, goggled, rubber dust mask over nose and mouth, he was a part of the monster, a robot in the seat … The driver could not control it – straight across country it went, cutting through a dozen farms and straight back. A twitch at the controls could swerve the ‘cat, but the driver’s hands could not twitch because the monster that built the tractor, the monster that sent the tractor out, had somehow gotten into the driver’s hands, into his brain and muscle, had goggled him and muzzled him – goggled his mind, muzzled his speech, goggled his perception, muzzled his protest. He could not see the land as it was, he could not smell the land as it smelled; his feet did not stamp the clods or feel the warmth and power of the earth. He sat in an iron seat and stepped on iron pedals. He could not cheer or beat or curse or encourage the extension of his power, and because of this he could not cheer or whip or curse or encourage himself. He did not know or own or trust or beseech the land. If a seed dropped did not germinate, it was no skin off his ass. If the young thrusting plant withered in drought or drowned in a flood of rain, it was no more to the driver than to the tractor.
He loved the land no more than the bank loved the land. He could admire the tractor – its machined surfaces, its surge of power, the roar of its detonating cylinders; but it was not his tractor. Behind the tractor rolled the shining disks, cutting the earth with blades – not plowing but surgery … The driver sat in his iron seat and he was proud of the straight lines he did not will, proud of the tractor he did not own or love, proud of the power he could not control. And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no prayers or curses.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,347
28
Ah, but the land recovered and under the man-made "iron" was made to produce more quantity and therefore feed many more people.
Much as I esteem Steinbeck, Travels With Charley: In Search of America is never far from hand, he was not a fan of change or progress. No other American author, in my opinion, understood humanity as well as Steinbeck. On the other hand, I'm hard pressed to find much joy in his writings.

 

sothron

Preferred Member
Sep 20, 2011
3,734
0
Warren, great observation. Thank you.
As a farmer myself, I would draw the distinction between quality and quantity. Between jobs and joblessness. And between citizens and replacement citizens. But that's just my old fashioned way. I suppose there are fortunes to be made in agri-business. A good old friend of mine got a degree in accounting. Went to work in agribusiness. I've been to his "plant" a few times to visit. As Travis Tritt said, "Coutry ain't country no more."
Certainly though, as our society grows exponentially, and we all like our creature comforts, folks need to be fed somehow. So I suppose this is just progress.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,347
28
Progress doesn't necessarily bring happiness or a feeling of contentment. It certainly displaces many while providing for others.
Back to Steinbeck. He appeals to me because he does focus on the negatives of progress. He acted as a counterbalance to those who only extolled the virtues of progress. That, in and of itself, is a noble undertaking I think. Plus, he really knew how to spin a good yarn!

 

sothron

Preferred Member
Sep 20, 2011
3,734
0
Agreed, Warren. My use of "progress" was highly sarcastic :) Cheers, and good evening.

 

nhpro

Member
Aug 12, 2014
114
0
Incredible words from a great writer.

Another group of great writers crafted something called the Constitution, timeless.......

 

seacaptain

Preferred Member
Apr 24, 2015
1,832
0
In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God.
Indeed, he saw that clearly. And here we are in the 21st century busily equipping the collective (government) with the attributes of God - omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, providence, arbiter of justice, and determiner of who is worthy of life or death.

 

kcghost

Preferred Member
May 6, 2011
2,343
15
He is simply wrong to believe creativity is strictly a function of a single person striving valiantly forward. Hell, in music alone, there are hundreds, thousands, of songwriting duos.

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,347
28
The spark or seed has to start with one mind, even in a duo. One may have a collaborator or many, but the idea started with one creative mind. kcghost, you are thinking too linearly.