an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

. . . .


"A social structure shakes with violence and shivers with fears of violence not merely when that structure is callously unjust, but also when its members must stimulate themselves to feverish activity in order to demonstrate how alive they are. That there are colonies of the violent among us, devoid of any stable sense of communal purpose, best describes, I think, our present temporarily schizoid existence in two cultures--vacillating between dead purposes and deadly devices to escape boredom" (8).
"I too aspire to see clearly, like a rifleman, with one eye shut; I, too, aspire to think without assent. this is the ultimate violence to which the modern intellectual is committed. Since things have become as they are, I, too, share the modern desire not to be deceived. The culture to which I was first habituated grows progressively different in its symbolic nature and in its human product; that double difference and how ordained augments our ambivalence as professional mourners.... By this time men may have gone too far, beyond the old deception of good and evil, to specialize at last, wittingly, in techniques that are to be called, in the present volume, "therapeutic," with nothing at stake beyond a manipulatable sense of well-being" (10).

"The misery of this culture is acutely stated by the special misery of its normative institutions. Our more general misery is that, having broken with those institutionalized credibilities from which its moral energy derived, new credibilities are not yet operationally effective and, perhaps, cannot become so in a culture constantly probing its own unwitting part" (14).
"Psychological man is likely to be indifferent to the ancient question of legitimate authority, of sharing in government, so long as the powers that be preserve social order and manage an economy of abundance. The danger of politics lies more in the ancient straining to create those symbols or support those institutions that narrow the range of virtues or too narrowly define the sense of well-being; for the latter seems to be the real beatitude toward which men have always strained. Psychological man, in his independence from all gods, can feel free to use all god-terms; I imagine he will be a hedger against his own bets, a user of any faith that lends itself to therapeutic use" (20).

"I am aware that these speculations may be thought to contain some parodies of an apocalypse. But what apocalypse has ever been so kindly? What culture has ever attempted to see to it that no ego is hurt? Perhaps the elimination of the tragic sense--which is tantamount to the elimination of irreconcilable moral principles--is no tragedy. Civilization could be, for the first time in history, the expression of human contents rather than the consolatory control of discontents" (21).

Philip Rieff, The Triumph of the Therapeutic


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