The Implication of Modern Philosophy The Will to Fiction - RR261D8
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The more narrow my world becomes, the more narrow my mind will be. If in terms of modern philosophy, I have eliminated God and things in themselves from my mind, and limited myself to the very narrow world to my own inner experience, then indeed it will have an effect on me. In dealing with art I referred to the fact that there is a difference between the artists of an earlier era, and the post 1800 artists, the romantics in particular. Whereas some of the earlier writers were men of the world, very competent men still having elements of the old medieval artisan tradition whereby they were not artists, supposedly inspired men, but in reality skilled in a particular area and businessmen who were in the marketplace to sell their skills.
I think perhaps if we begin with an artist of the early modern era, and then look at two or three that have come in more recent years to a position of prominence we can see something of the difference. Let us look, then, at Peter Paul Rubens. Peter Pau Rubens was quite a remarkable figure, an exceptionally fine painter, and at the same time a diplomat of note and a very competent businessman. He was a man who was equally at home at a court as a diplomat handling very delicate negotiations, in the business sphere negotiating, bargaining, selling, and in his room at his easel painting. He was very much a man of the world. He was also a man of very great faith.
When I say that I must immediately hasten to add, do not confuse him with his father at this point, because sometimes people will come to me with a story about Rubens, if I ever refer to him in speaking, confusing him with his father who was also quite a notable figure. His father made the mistake however of having an affair with the queen, which had temporary advantages and long range disadvantages when the king found out about it. [00:03:23]
As a result of seeing what happened to his father,...
As a result of seeing what happened to his father, Peter Paul Rubens on two grounds, one of cause and effect, and second because he was a very devout Catholic, never was involved in all his lifetime in any illicit sexuality.
Now Rubens and his life, and painters, writers, sculptors, in that earlier era, in that post renaissance/early enlightenment era, had a down to earth, hard headed businessman’s outlook toward their work; they were still under the influence of the old artisan concept. But when we come to the 19th century, the artist suddenly is a very different character. The will to fiction in him is very great, and very often he confuses the real world and the world of his own mind.
Let’s deal very briefly with three very different figures. 1st of all, Henry David Thoreau, whose dates are 1817-1862. Thoreau has had a very powerful influence on contemporary college youth because they seem him as one of their forefathers in the ecology movement. He has also had a profound influence because of his writings on civil disobedience. Thoreau’s great work publish in 1854 was Walden, supposedly an account of his life, out in the woods, living in nature, back to nature, and so on. In reality it is a work of fiction.
Now such a scholar as (Eddel?) who is by no means anti-Thoreau, speaks of it emphatically as a work of fiction pretending to be a documentary. All the while that he wrote this, Thoreau was actually only in the suburbs. The cabin that he describes in Walden was furnished from his parents home, he was not supporting himself. He went home to eat from his parents table morning noon and night, after all he preferred mothers cooking to his own, and when he was not at his mothers table he was dining with friends. During the day time he was not out foraging for himself in the wilds, he was in the local grocery store, talking and gossiping with the town idlers. Thus he spent his entire day as a ne’er-do-well, as the town joke more or less, the man who did not work, and whose book was highly ridiculous to the town folk because if there was anything that Thoreau did not do, it was to go out and live on his own on the bounty of nature. [00:07:18]
As (Edell?) says and I quote: “Literary criticism, if it wished to treat Walden as a work of the imagination might say that every poet lives in fancy rather than in fact, but literary history unlike literary criticism is in bondage to truth. And the truth is that Thoreau lived one kind of life and transformed it in his work into another, and then scolded his fellow men for not following his ideas. Like his mother who often put on grand airs in the town, (Chantoclear?), that was Thoreau, hurled out of a world of make believe.”
Now of course we would say that this is still a delightful work and a harmless work of fiction, but for the fact that the very ideas that are incorporated in Walden have become a part of our world outlook. Our history has been affected by it, we look back and we think about frontiersmen moving out and living off the wilderness, something that was never done. It required capital to go west, it required capital to come here. Or as the immigrants who later came over, they had to work in the cities and capitalize in order to go west and take advantage of the new lands. It was impossible to go west and take advantage of new lands without two years of capital, it required time to clear the land, it required funds to have seeds, to have farm equipment. And while you may say that the farm equipment then was primitive compared to what we have now, it still required capital, and in terms of the income of the time it was a considerable amount of capital. You had to have capital for seeds, for trees, fruit trees to plant, for whatever it was you were going to do. For cows, for chickens, and the like. [00:09:50]
Settlements were made by groups, and the groups moved...
Settlements were made by groups, and the groups moved out with capital. Even the trappers did not live off the land. They were provided with food and equipment by the Hudson Bay Company or John Jacob Astor or whoever was behind them. The Indians who lived off the land regularly starved to death, and cannibalism was a basic factor on the North American scene outside of Mexico. The very word Cannibal comes from North America, originally it was Caribbal, from Caribbean. The Caribb Indians.
The fantasy that has been indulged in by historians has reached the point where in one learned journal recently, by projecting modern statistical methods into the pre-Columbian past, a historian has posited that there were 20 million Indians in North America before Columbus came, so that, he says, “Consider the extent of the genocide we have committed.” This which appeared early this year in the William and Mary quarterly is now rapidly finding acceptance because the will to fiction which so prevails grabs on that readily. It fits the myth of the devastating destruction wrought by Americans, by Capitalism or whatever name you want to give to it consistently over history.
Now let us turn again to another writer, Walt Whitman, 1819 to 1892, the good gray poet, the greatest American poet we are told. The rough hewn figure who represents the poetry of the people, coming out of nowhere and suddenly bursting into song. However, Walt Whitman had a long history before he became a poet, he worked for a lawyer, in a Doctor’s office, for a printer, he was a school teacher, then he was an editor. He was a highly bookish man. As a matter of fact, he found the man we know as Walt Whitman by reading George Sand the French Novelist. And George Sand in her novels had a figure that appeared a couple of times of an illiterate peasant who went around spouting in terms of natural inspiration, poetry. Poetry that welled out of his being, that expressed the common man, the spirit of democracy, the future. The future humanity. [00:13:24]
Walt Whitman fell in love with this character, and...
Walt Whitman fell in love with this character, and then promptly grew a beard, threw away his necktie, wore working mans clothes and began to write The Leaves of Grass, he was now a man of the people.
Now what I am telling you is not original with me, it was documented back in the 30’s when I was at the university by Shepherd, and Shepherds book Walt Whitman’s Pose gives extensive citations, quotations at length from George Simons character, side by side with what Whitman had to say, and demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Walt Whitman was imitating this character and spouting the same kind of verbiage. When the book came out I took it to some of my professors, actually loaned them my copy and said: “This is quite a remarkable book, have you read it?” I was then a reader in the English department and when the professor I was working for was not too sober which was often I would lecture for him too. I had one reaction from everyone to whom I gave the book. They handed it to me like that and said: “What difference does it make?” The same will to fiction that marked Walt Whitman marked them.
Now a third writer, D.H. Lawrence, 1885-1930, best known for Lady Chatterley's Lover. D.H. Lawrence was a man of very great personal incompetence, but like Whitman he saw himself as a Christ figure, as a matter of fact Walt Whitman actually trimmed his beard at one time, and affected a pose that would make him look like Christ. And it did to a startling degree, it bore a resemblance to the traditional depiction of Christ. However this proved to be an embarrassment to his followers and that picture is rarely seen now in biographies of Whitman.
But Lawrence saw himself emphatically as a Christ figure. He declared on one occasion to his disciples: “I am not a man, I am man.” when he left England to come to Taos New Mexico, D.H. Lawrence was so enamored of the fact that he was the modern Christ that he held a last supper for his disciples. And he asked them to follow him to America, and at a key point when he realized that there was some disagreement and someone apparently had undercut him, this was Middleton Murray, he turned to Murray and said that he had betrayed him, he was Judas to his Christ. And Murray turned to him and said: “I am afraid I have betrayed you, oh Chad.” At that point D.H. Lawrence was prepared to denounce Murray, but being a little far gone from the last supper he had put on, instead he threw up and then passed out face down. [00:17:16]
Lawrence when he arrived in America brought with him...
Lawrence when he arrived in America brought with him the stock of ideas that he had picked up from Madame Blavatsky, and he was now bent to further his natural inspiration by communion with nature. And because he had picked up certain ideas from his reading of ancient religions, he felt that while he did not use the word reincarnation, there were elements of passed existences embodied in himself, and he could best realize this by communion with a cow. Now this may sound fantastic, but he actually purchased a cow whom he named Susan, and regularly went out to talk to the cow and had communion with the cow. And he came up with this statement which he was so enamored with, that he put down in writing so that these immortal words would not be forgotten by future generations. As he gazed into Susan’s eyes he said: “Is not this my life, this throbbing of the bulls blood in my blood?” this he got out his studies in Mithraism. I won’t go any further into the waywardness of D.H. Lawrence, but I think I have said enough now to indicate that in modern art, there is an incredible ability of self illusion.
But it is not only in modern art. The will to fiction is a part of the modern scene, because man having departed from any sense of a real knowledge of things in themselves, or of God, and having to find real knowledge as something that only exists in his own real mind, and has no correlation to outer reality, has indeed philosophically adopted a position of fiction. The world is “will and imagination” according to Schopenhauer. And modern man has made it that. [00:19:48]
Now as a consequence, something happened in modern...
Now as a consequence, something happened in modern civilization that was totally non-existent in all previous cultures, an appetite for fiction. We can say of course the printing press made this possible, and various forms of the communications media have made this possible, but having said that we still have to say that these things could have been put to other uses as well, that there could be a more dominant thirst for the acquisition of knowledge, when we must say however, that they have been put primarily to the providing of fiction (?).
Those of you who are English majors know what a fantastic response the first novel in English by Samuel Richardson received. Overwhelming. The appetite was there, it had already existed, it was a part of the modern world, before that you would have a tremendous influence, culturally, of opera. It is difficult for us to imagine what heroic plays on the stage an opera, also on the stage of course, had accomplished in the succeeding generations. For us opera today is beautiful for its music, we fail to realize the concepts that are there that are so full blown and so overly dramatic and impossible, for what’s very real for the people who listen to them. They were part and parcel of the heroic play wherein man saw himself as a God on earth, and found it difficult to believe that anything was impossible for him, and therefore he was capable of almost anything.
I’d like to cite an earlier hint of this in a play by (Chaplain?) who was a contemporary of Shakespeare. In his (Whissy Down Wa?) one of the more important plays of the Elizabethan era, you have one of the first hints of the later heroic play. The end of the play he is stabbed and begins to bleed to death, there is an amazing scene in which he shows total shock at the idea that he can die. It has never occurred to him that he can. And in terms of the context of the play, the scene is totally believable. Now in the heroic plays, this kind of tie with reality to a great extent is shattered. The characters live in what we must call the world of their imagination. And as a result, people through the stage and through opera were conditioned for the novel.
We are told in the last century how people waited for the boat to arrive in America so they could read the latest installment of a Dickens novel as it appeared serially in magazines, and how there was a wave of weeping all over England when in the old curiosity shop the issue of the magazine appeared in which little Nell died. And when the boat docked in America there was a wave of weeping from coast to coast as they read the death of little Nell. People were so caught up in a fictitious character, that they could think of little else than the impact on their lives, on waiting to hear what had happened to little Nell. [00:24:27]
And so it was as Dickens made his tour of this country...
And so it was as Dickens made his tour of this country he was so favorably received because the real world was beginning to merge with the world of fiction, and people found themselves in fiction, were deeply and intensely involved in what went on in the world of fiction. You have the dime novels, you had magazines proliferating, and a tremendous emphasis in all of them, again, on fiction.
Then of course radio and motion pictures. Again catering tremendously to this appetite for fiction. The amount of fiction produced in every country in the western world, and now in the countries of Africa and Asia is enormous. The appetite for it does not cease. As a matter of fact the appetite for fiction has been greatly increased since World War 2 by the invention of television. Now consider the social implications of television; it means that the average person today spends a few hours a day immersed in fiction. The house wife even more; the soap operas, the movies in the afternoon, as well as the usual run of programs in the evenings, a saturation with the world of fiction.
Never before in all of history have more people been absorbed with non reality, with fiction, than in our culture. Never before have they had a greater appetite for it. We cannot blame the invention of radio, printing or television for this, we must say that these inventions then provided an appetite with a supply. More significant, we saw in the 1960’s and will continue to see the practical social consequences of this will to fiction. [00:27:13]
How? With the invention of television it meant that...
How? With the invention of television it meant that there was not only verbal now but visual fiction available for children from their earliest days, and so the television set became mothers helper as a babysitter. Now those of us who grew up in the pre-television era and the pre-radio era, because that was easy to do it you were in a farm before electrification, can testify to the fact that both apart from work, the kind of inventive play and activity of children in those days is now gone. The literally hundreds of games that were commonplace when you had time to play have disappeared, and they are nonexistent, people have never heard of the kind of activity that was once commonplace. They have been babysat by television.
Now if you want to see a rerun of the old movies of the 20’s and 30’s and 40’s, all you have to do is to look at the history of student activities in the 1960’s. The old revolutionary mobs shown in the old movies, unkempt, shabby, ragged and dirty, the revolutionary mobs appeared as the student generation of the 1960’s. They were reenacting to a great degree the kind of thing they saw in the formative years of their childhood.
The result has been that people expect history now to act in terms of the movements. The revolutionary mob in the movies storming the palace, and then a blissful and happy end, the heroine and the hero hug, and everybody is singing, and they are lifting their steins in a glad song, their paradise has arrived. The expectation of instant realization, instant paradise. At the beginning of the 60’s President Kennedy spoke of the revolution of rising expectations. That revolution of rising expectations was deeply imbued with this will to fiction, and this will to fiction now is basic to our politics. Basic to religious thinking, basic to one area of life after another, and its consequences are devastating. [00:30:28]
Never in all of history has there been a greater market...
Never in all of history has there been a greater market for fiction in the mind of man, nor has man devoted more hours a day, to the consumption of fiction.
As a result, history has been moving in a rather peculiar course. The validation of society has increasingly moved in terms of an errant act. The validation of society in the medieval world was in terms of a hierarchy of values that began with God, and under God was the church, with the pope at the head, and then the kings and nobles, and then the people. Now with the renaissance this picture was shattered to a great degree and God was more or less removed, but with the reformation and counter reformation this picture was restored with variations. The enlightenment of course removed the church from the scene, and the result was that you had God but now with parenthesis as an absolute landlord validating the enlightened monarch, the philosopher kings, who then ruled the people, so that the validation of society still had some relationship to the objective world.
With the age of revolution, that gone with the French Revolution, the people remained and underneath them the physical world. Validation was now in terms of certain ideas of justice and of right derived from nature or from the rites of man. But there was still an idea of some kind of validation, out of the nature of things. But the idea of validation now has progressively disappeared, because what we have seen is the rise of positivism, of relativism, and side by side with these philosophical doctrines, the rise of this will to fiction. And so validation now is increasingly in terms of the will to fiction. [00:33:45]
What is desirable for man, what do I want? What do...
What is desirable for man, what do I want? What do I dream about? What are my aspirations? Validation is society you see has increasingly been derived from the will to fiction. And as a result, traditional theology, traditional economics no longer can speak to modern man effectually because validation is no longer from something objective, no longer from a hierarchy of values. No longer geared to reality but is geared to the will to fiction. And man in terms of validation has moved from God to nothingness.
Man has denied meaning to the universe so that now man stands alone in an empty universe in his own mind. In a very real sense modern man is past salvation, because he is without meaning. Salvation is from something to something, for the Christian, from sin to grace. But when all alternatives are nothing, or when all alternatives are equally fictitious, no salvation is possible until a concept of meaning returns. As a result in this framework, as Rieff a contemporary scholar in his The Triumph of the Therapeutic, Uses of Faith After Freud has written and I quote: “Where a family and nation once stood, or church and party, there will be hospital and theatre too, the normative institutions of the next culture. Religious man was born to be saved, Psychological man is born to be pleased. The difference was established long ago, when “I believe” theory of the ascetic lost precedence to one feels, the caveat of the therapeutic. And if the therapeutic is to win out, then surely the psychotherapist will be the secular spiritual guide, as indeed we must add, he is rapidly becoming.
As a matter of fact with regard to the psychotherapist, Freud as the first in this school said that there is no such thing as healing because there is no such thing as sickness. In a famous letter which I quote in part in my study of Freud, there may be still some copies here available, that’s a plug commercial, what Freud wrote to a mother who asked if he could cure her son of homosexuality was that: Who is to say what sickness was? So he said: “We do not cure, what we give to people is an understanding so that they can live with themselves, so that they can accept themselves.”
Now when courts today send a prisoner to an institution for psychiatric training, this in essence is what they give them, not a feeling that what they have done is wrong, but a course of psychotherapy whereby they can understand themselves, and live with themselves. [00:38:04]
The modern temper I think has been very very clearly...
The modern temper I think has been very very clearly summarized in a very influential book by a young man whom I referred to earlier, Michael Novak, one of the most influential on students of the 60’s, voted at the end of the 60’s the most popular man on the Stanford campus, now at an Eastern university.
In a book published fairly recently, 2-3 years ago, Michael Novak in The Experience of Nothingness refuses to allow any reality, any meaning even to himself. He writes: “I am not a self. Never did possess a self. Do not have a permanent and indestructible identity, and have no special need to mourn its absence. The self has no pure identity, substance, or core of its own. It is constituted by activities in engagement with the world. There is no self over and apart from the world, there is only a self in the world, part of the world, in tension with the world, resistant to the world. In other words, there is only a relationship, and indefinable one. It would be better, although after so many centuries our language would scarcely allow it, to drop the expression self entirely, and to speak instead of a conscious world, or indeed a horizon. I am a conscious world. You see, the subject/object distinction is gone, so there is simply a world, a conscious world. A horizon, a conscious, open ended, protean structuring of a world. The world exists through my consciousness through it, not two, but one in act.” [00:40:25]
Novak goes on to speak of the ocean as myself...
Novak goes on to speak of the ocean as myself. There is no ocean in itself, nor an I of myself. The subject/object relationship is destroyed, so it is the ocean as myself. And so he says there is not an I and a You, only a We, which is my consciousness. And he writes: “When you attend to me, you make me exist for you.” Nothing he says, has meaning. This is the starting point. “The self,” he still uses the term, “is a recipient of stimuli in darkened room. There is no meaning, we live in terms of myths. And therefore we must self-consciously realize that we create a social fiction, we live in terms of that, it is neither good nor bad, nor can we condemn one nor another.”
His problem of course then is, which he faces at some length, how can he distinguish his myth and Hitler’s myth? His answer is a feeble one, he recognizes that there is a kinship between him and Hitler, he is honest enough to say they are both in a very real sense in the same camp. But he says: “Hitler forced men to distinguish between the experience of nothingness which is human and valid, and Nihilism which draws from that experience corrupting, inhumane and indefensible conclusions.”
But he then has no basis to say why something is inhumane and corrupting, because by definition everything including the humane and the corrupt is a myth. And so his conclusion is, we must live by myths. We must choose our myths, recognize have no validity, and are nothing more than myths.
“And so,” he says, and here he echoes Tillich self consciously: “Granted that I am empty, alone, without dies, direction, will, or obligations. How shall I live? In the nothingness one has at least an opportunity to shape one’s own identity, to create oneself. The courage to accept despair becomes the courage to be.” Courage to be what? Novak cannot answer that. It will be a fiction whatever it is, it will be nothingness in essence, but this he says, is our choice. [00:43:53]
A self conscious adoption of fiction is the only course...
A self conscious adoption of fiction is the only course for man. The consequence of such a philosophy is indeed a very deadly one. As Novak concludes his work he wrestles with the problem: Man must believe that his myth is true, or he drops it. There must be a will to believe even though it is a fiction. But he cannot answer that, because he says: “By definition, we cannot ascribe truth to anything.” And thus he has chosen a course of fiction, finds himself in a blind alley, and insists that there is no other place because he certainly has no other place to go.
Validation is lost. It has reduced itself to the will to fiction, and validation by fiction is an impossibility. Are there any questions now?
[Audience Member] How can such people such as Novak be considered brilliant, and the conclusion of their philosophy is either death or pure impotence?
[Rushdoony] Well he is not only considered brilliant, but he regards himself and is regarded by others as a leading Catholic Theologian. I didn’t mention that, because I consider it to be such an insult to any Catholic. But some of the church press has brought out some of his books. They are brilliant in this respect, they have been logical in perusing a line of philosophy to its conclusion. They are stupid in that they don’t realize the futility of that whole philosophical tradition. But the appeal of Novak is enormous, precisely because you see, the will to fiction is so basic that when he speaks to college youth his impact is tremendous. He is far more important than Charles Reich The Greening of America, and Roszak and some of the others because the particular strand of thinking he represents epitomizes our present day culture perhaps better than any. Yes? [00:47:11]
[Audience Member] Would you comment on the trends of...
[Audience Member] Would you comment on the trends of the blood and gore and violence in the motion pictures, and how that relates to the things we’ve been discussing?
[Rushdoony] Yes, this is a theological question really, I deal with it in one of the first chapters of the Politics of Guilt and Pity. Very briefly it is this: Man needs atonement, because he is a sinner. If he will not find atonement in Christ, he will find it either by sadistic activities, ascribing guilt to other and punishing him, or masochistic activities, self punishment. A very brilliant book has been written on this by a Freudian psychoanalyst, Theodore Reik, Masochism and Modern Man. Now his position is radically different from mine, but nonetheless he has given a powerful picture of the significance of masochism.
It is inescapable, masochism and sadism, or sadomasochistic activities. You are going to put the guilt on someone, so you are going to find an innocent person or an innocent group of people that you are going to make the scape goat. This is why for example anti Semitism is a sadistic kind of activity. Anything that puts guilt on a group or a person, transferring it from yourself or your group is an evasion of a theological fact, that “I, even I have sinned and done that which is evil in Thy sight.” Yes?
[Audience Member] I was just wondering while we go on here …?...
[Rushdoony] I don’t think he’s a figure of any great significance, but he was one of the early figures who dreamed as countless figures have of playing God and substituting a man made plan for the control of all things for God’s plan. There have been thousands of such and there are thousands of them today, and it will not end until our whole philosophical tradition ends. Yes? [00:49:43]
[Audience Member] Reverend Rushdoony, I get a little...
[Audience Member] Reverend Rushdoony, I get a little bit of contradiction and perhaps you can explain it to me, on the one hand you talk about the theology of hope, and on the other hand you talk about a will to fiction, and the modern man destroying himself, modern man ending up at nothingness, could you, I’m wondering if one of the modern philosophers were here listening to you what rebuttal he might have to you because it seems contradictory, perhaps you can help.
[Rushdoony] Yes. Now first of all, remember I cited Sartre as saying “You need others to be happy. But if you are going to be an existentialist you are alone. You are in your own being, and therefore unhappiness, anxiety, despair, are necessary to the existentialist.” So that, philosophically they have put themselves in a bind, here. On the other hand there are those who are more in the theological tradition who have insisted: “No, we are going to save the world. We are going to break out of this and we are going to have a one world order which we will call God, so if we work hard enough we will create this, we will break out of ourselves, and we will create a post historical man who is no longer conscious of himself, who will be like the bees in the beehive or the ants in the anthill, you see. He will no longer be alienated, alienation will be overcome. Alienation really amounts in their thinking to self consciousness. “I will not think of myself as an individual in this future order, I will only be a part of this vague consciousness which will be humanity.” Now, that’s fiction of course, but this is a part of their thinking.
[Audience Member] Can you say without qualification that Walt Whitman is a phony? He is not a very good poet?
[Rushdoony] I would say that Walt Whitman occasionally wrote some lovely lines. I would say that in essence his poetry is shot through with contradictions, a lot of it is just sheer verbiage, and basically I must judge him in terms not only of form but of content. His form is very often defective, and his content by and large is nonsense to me. So I think he is basically a minor poet who has had major significance.
Now another poet whom I feel is a minor poet but is major in his significance is Byron. If you go through Byron you find that his poetry is really minor as far as its value as poetry in concerned, but its social significance like Whitman’s is very great. He is important. Yes? [00:53:12]
[Audience Member] Do you find in many of the publications...
[Audience Member] Do you find in many of the publications that come forth that already the modern theologians are using the distinction “Post Modern Man”?
[Audience Member] And saying such things as “post modern man has long since rejected the supernatural, the divine, the miraculous the mystical, and that what we need now is a here and now theology, that is suited to modern man.” Now how would you differentiate what you would call the modern man and the post modern man?
[Rushdoony] Yes, post modern man is one step further along to post historical man. Post historical man is man who has reached the ant hill beehive stage in the utopian world of Marx and others, which is beyond history, there is no change, it is perpetually the same, man has lost consciousness. Modern man is the sick alienated figure who knows the world is out of joint, that capitalism has destroyed the world, and so on. Post modern man is one stage beyond that. Supposedly. Yes?
[Audience Member] What is your opinion about Robert Frost?
[Rushdoony] My opinion about Robert Frost? Robert Frost has written some very charming and lovely poetry, he is in the tradition of the old new England poets, he is not entirely a modern figure, a 20th century figure I should say, he is a modern figure, but not a 20th century figure, who is not a very important or outstanding figure. He is more in the tradition of Whittier and Lowell and Holmes, representing their Unitarian transcendentalist position. [00:55:14]
All the same, he has written several very charming...
All the same, he has written several very charming pieces. Yes?
[Audience Member] Reverend Rushdoony, I think I see a link between (North American?) and existentialist position, and I was very much opposed to your comment on it, and I can only put it in the form of (?) or symbolism …?.. If god is here and also here, …?... I’m picturing someone undisturbed either fear or anger, and something which in itself is not …?..
[Rushdoony] Well, in the existentialist position you see there is nothing except the inner autonomous realm. Nothing. Whereas for a Christian position, the primary and basic reality is God, and we are His creation. So that reality in the one real is a very limited, narrow inner sphere. Now the Christian perspective certainly does not eliminate the inner sphere, but that doesn’t make it existential to recognize the reality of the inner sphere, but you simply put it in its context in a world and life view. Yes?
[Audience Member] I very definitely can connect this will to fiction with economic situation, with the world not recognizing inflation in our country and all of this, I would like you extrapolate if you would and tell us where you see us going from the theological philosophical point of view, both questions, what you hope will happen, and what may happen I think it may be two different, you may have two different answers, you might not.
[Rushdoony] When you have the will to fiction you’re headed for the grave, personally and culturally. Because you have lost touch with reality, you are a basket case, both as an individual and as a culture. We are thus at the end of the road for the modern era, the age of the state or whatever you want to call it. Now it can stagnate, it can go into a truly dark age for a considerable length of time, or it can be renewed very quickly as men abandon the myths and accept a totally different position which I hope will be Christian faith because I fell that everything else is bankrupt now. So I am very hopeful for the future, not the immediate future, and of course I believe that the recognition of this bankruptcy is a growing one, that the events of the next decade or more will bring this recognition home to more and more people. Doctor (Stenholtz ?) concluded the other day by saying that the change would have to come in the ideas of men. I believe emphatically it will have to come there, and of course I think I see the signs.
[Audience Member] Thank you Reverend Rushdoony. [01:00:19]