|Subject:||[socialcredit] Harper's article|
|Date:||Tuesday, March 28, 2006 15:22:28 (EST)|
|From:||Triumphofthepast <Triumphofthepast @...com>
Keith called attention to an article in the April Harper's Magazine, "The Spirit of Disobedience" by Curtis White. It is about Thoreau.
White's thesis is that the quarrel between Christianity and Rationalism is a pseudo-quarrel. In reality, "evangelical Christianity conspires with technical and economic rationalism." Both are stunted forms of reality. But a Third Way transcending both may be found in another American tradition, that of the Transcendentalists, especially Thoreau.
He then quotes a bit of Thoreau's satire on the vanity and absurdity of so much of what passes for serious business in the workaday world. Thoreau's solution was (as Douglas would put it) to "contract out." But the "spirit of disobedience" turns out to be really not the negative that it sounds but a positive -- obedience to a higher command. "It is, like Christ's revolution, an appeal for Life over Death." "Walden is a work of Christ-like thinking."
"Thoreau's idea of civil disobedience is embedded in the counter-Enlightenment of Romanticism, Transcendentalism, and the Imagination, and it is, like Christ's revolution, an appeal for Life over Death." This is indeed the idea-pedigree of Orage's New Age and Douglas.
More specifically, Douglas was indebted to Charles Ferguson; and Ferguson and his colleagues (Robert Johnson will show in his dissertation) were intense students of Whitman and were trying to finish what Whitman began -- in particular in the essay "Democratic Vistas."
The style of the article is annoying. White is unsure of his footing and tries to make up for it by rhetorical show. The following is a particularly hideous mixed metaphor:
"As Hegel famously suggested, . . . some people are capable of regarding a BONE as reality. In the absense of the Imagination, our sense of the real has OSSIFIED. It's like a great THIGHBONE on the ends of which are out inevitable bulbous realities-in-opposition, the Christian and scientific worldviews. [The Imagination] seeks a moment when the DRY BONE of the real is just for a moment 'out of JOINT', as Shakespeare's Hamlet puts it. . . . In the fraudulent Manichaeanism of Reason and Revelation, . . . the Imagination seeks to be the decisive RUPTURE."
More seriously, what does he mean by saying Thoreau is "mostly not available to us. He is shut away with a lot of other books in the virtuous and therapeutic confines of literary and historic institutions." Like bookstores and public libraries? He goes on to say that Thoreau is marginalized by academia, but that hardly makes him "unavailable." "This can't be done by teaching Walden in high school." Of course not. It is impossible to "teach" any true book. Walden is a fresh and real as when it was written. We can go to the source and read Thoreau, Ruskin, and Whitman directly, rather than Curtis White.