The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

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DateAuthorTitleSourceQuotation by Merton
1939/05/11Benedetto CroceFilosofia di G.B. Vico Jnl 1 ('39-'41) p. 4 I suppose I am not reading Croce on Vico very carefully [Note 4: Vico's La Scienza Nuovo (1725) is a philosophy of history on which James Joyce based his Finnigans Wake (along with Giordano Buno of Nola and Nichlas of Cusa... Merton was reading Croce's La Filosofia di G.B. Vico at this time, also]. I am not getting the steps in the law of the reflux so well down. Yet as to Finnigan's Work [Note 5: A wordplay on Joyce's Finnigans Wake (Merton refers to it in one place as Finnigan's Work and another place as Vinnigan's Walk]: The very first sentence says it's Vico. So Finnigan is the history of the world, seen Vician
1939/05/11Giambattista VicoScienza Nuova Jnl 1 ('39-'41) p. 4 I suppose I am not reading Croce on Vico very carefully [Note 4: Vico's La Scienza Nuovo (1725) is a philosophy of history on which James Joyce based his Finnigans Wake (along with Giordano Buno of Nola and Nichlas of Cusa... Merton was reading Croce's La Filosofia di G.B. Vico at this time, also]. I am not getting the steps in the law of the reflux so well down. Yet as to Finnigan's Work [Note 5: A wordplay on Joyce's Finnigans Wake (Merton refers to it in one place as Finnigan's Work and another place as Vinnigan's Walk]: The very first sentence says it's Vico. So Finnigan is the history of the world, seen Vician
1941/08/21Leon BloyInvendable. Jnl 1 ('39-'41) p. 385-86 I am not as sore at religious as the Baroness [is]-or Leon Bloy. No reason why I should not be except for the Trappists. Charlie-who worked for the Baroness and wore Maritain's cast off overcoat all winter-is going into the Trappists-and is a good, humble guy-but she kidded him a lot, too, probably because he was entering an order. Reading Bloy's L'Invendable it is quite clear to me that what he was doing was a kind of "lay apostolat" (a fancy term I don't like so much), he had a definite vocation to write what he wrote-nobody knows, or can measure, the tremendous value of his writing, as apostolate. If he only converted one man, it would justify his whole life. But he converted Maritain and a pile of others, and was crucified for how many?
1941/08/28Leon BloySalut par les Juifs Jnl 1 ('39-'41) p. 386 "Les Juifs ne se convertiront que lorsque Jesus sera descendu de sa Croix, et precisement Jesus ne peut en descendre que lorsque les Juifs se seront convertis." ["The Jews will not be converted until Jesus comes down from His cross, but the fact is that Jesus can't come down from the cross until the Jews are converted."] Le Salut par les Juifs. p. 72.
1941/08/31Leon BloyDans les Tenèbres Jnl 1 ('39-'41) p. 389 "Entre l'homme, revêtu involontairement de sa liberte, et Dieu depouille volon-tairement de sa puissance, l'antagonisme est normal, l'attaque et la reistance s'equilibrent raisonnablement et ce perpetuel combat de la nature humaine contre Dieu est la fontaine jaillissante de l'inepuisable Douleur." L. Bloy. Dans les Tenèbres. 104. ["Between man, taking on his freedom against his will, and God, freely doffing his own power, the conflict is expected, the attack and the resistance are a match for each other, and this continual conflict of human nature against God is the abundant source of inexhaustible sorrow."]
1941/09/05Leon BloyDans les Tenèbres Jnl 1 ('39-'41) p. 402 I just finished reading Bloy's Dans le Tenebres. One of the things I liked best about it was his wife's preface. His ideas about the last war: that it wasn't really a war but something infinitely more revolting than a war. His ideas about [Henri] Barbusse's Feu are smart in a way we are just beginning to find out. He says Barbusse's emphasis on the horribleness of war, just isolated from everything else, is crazy. "War is totally horrible, so let's not fight," and his solution that "The principle of equality will kill war forever" is terribly dangerous.
1951/04/06Jean CayrolPoèmes de la nuit et du brouillard Jnl 2 ('41-'52) p. 454 camps. When first arrested, they dreamt they had not been arrested but had escaped. Then, resigned to their arrest, they dreamt they were allowed to go home from time to time. This in prison, before the camp itself. In the concentration camp magnificent dreams of landscapes, of baroque architecture. Color in their dreams. (And I thought of Doctor Morris Thompson in Louisville who was telling everybody about his visions of color. Doctor Henry thought he was going crazy!) Blue dreams, green dreams, red dreams of salvation. A sailor who saw a diamond cross rising out of the sea. Dreams which tell us something about our own immediate future! Things the body already knows before the soul has found them out. Jung, I think, holds something to this effect. This worked out in those salvation dreams. I have walked alone on the road to the barns, looking at the high clouds and thinking, "In war and in battle men look up sometimes and see such clouds as these." Cayrol tells of the Appel [roll-call] at Mauthausen, men being beaten up in the presence of a magnificent sunset on the Austrian Alps. The ones who were completely incommunicado were called Nacht und Nebel [Night and Mist], which might conceivably be the name of a perfume. And I thought of St. John of the Cross. His Spiritual Canticle was born of the imprisonment at Toledo! Confirmation of Cayrol's thesis in these two studies.
1957/05/13Karl MarxCritique of Hegel's 'Philosophy of Right' Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 89 ""¦a clan in radical chains, one of the classes of bourgeois society which does not belong to bourgeois society, an order which brings the break-up of all orders, a sphere which has a universal character by virtue of its universal suffering and lays claim to no particular right because no particular wrong but complete wrong is being perpetrated against it"¦which cannot emancipate itself without freeing itself from all other spheres of society and thereby freeing all these other spheres themselves which, as it represents the complete forfeiting of humanity itself can only redeem itself through the redemption of the whole of humanity. The proletariat represents the disposition of society as a special order." Marx-1843. The perils of Marx's rhetoric.
1957/05/13Karl MarxCritique of Hegel's 'Philosophy of Right' Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 90 Marx is, in some strange way, an heir of Ezechiel and Jeremias. Not that he is a conscious and willing instrument of God-but an instrument. We have to listen to his tune and understand it. Because it does not mean exactly what Marx himself thought it would mean or what the communists made it mean (for Marxism, in a sense, is dead. But the unintentional consequence of Marxism lives on and their work is terrible).
1957/10/24Arthur KoestlerThieves in the Night Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 128 How can we sing the psalms, or understand them, if we are not Jews? Psallite sapienter [Sing praises with a psalm (Psalm 46:7)-in the Spirit, not in the flesh. Yes, but one can get too far away from the suffering and yearning of Israel in the flesh and these are inseparable from the Spirit. I think for example of Koestler and the Zionists. His work Thieves in the Night which is tremendous. And very loyal to the truth.
1957/10/30Arthur KoestlerThieves in the Night Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 131 "The ‘People' are regarded through the Socialist Bureaucracy's eyes as a target for propaganda, not as a living reality whose interests, tastes, foibles must be understood and shared if you wish to change the face of the world. The Socialist party bosses or most of them come from the people but were not of the people; they tried to control or manipulate man without identifying themselves with him. Their voice was the voice of the pamphlet or the lecturer at the evening school - not the voice of a new humanity." Koestler.
1957/10/5Arthur KoestlerThieves in the Night Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 128-29 The ending of Thieves in the Night is something of an anticlimax. A very useful book for monks who can read such books. Insights on community life. Joseph the cellarer. The Psalms-they are something special when read through Zionist glasses. As I say, one has to sing them as a Jew, or not at all.
1957/11/17Arthur KoestlerDarkness at Noon Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 141 (From Darkness at Noon) "The Party denied the free will of the individual - and at the same time exacted his willing self-sacrifice. It denied his capacity to choose between two alternatives and at the same time it demanded that he always choose the right one. It denied him power to distinguish between good and evil-and at the same time it spoke accusingly of guilt and treachery"¦etc.
1957/11/17Arthur KoestlerInvisable Writing Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 140 "Their mentality (of party intellectuals in 1930s) was a caricature of the revolutionary spirit"¦the seeds of corruption had already been present in the work of Marx in the vitriolic tone of his polemics, the abuse heaped on his opponents, the denunciation of rivals and dissenters as traitors"¦" 29 "The liberals in Germany and elsewhere have clearly understood that there are situations in which caution amounts to suicid"¦" 38
1957/12/17Albert EinsteinIdeas and Opinions Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 146 "A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. I am strongly drawn to a frugal life and am often oppressively aware that I am engrossing an undue amount of the labor of my fellow men. I regard class-distinction as unjustified and in the last resort based on forc"¦" Albert Einstein. Beginning my first contacts with this beautiful mind and person who is Einstein. Note in him what was good in Marx, the true social conscience and not what was bad, the neurotic violence.
1957/12/17Albert EinsteinIdeas and Opinions Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 146-47 Here, however, is a paragraph which I can and ought to make my own: "My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a ‘lone traveller' and have never belonged to my country, my house, my friends, or even my immediate family with my whole heart; in the face of these ties I have never lost a sense of distance and need for solitude - feelings which increase with the years. One becomes sharply aware, but without regret, of the limits of mutual understanding and consonance with other people. No doubt such a person loses some of his innocence and unconcern; on the other hand he is largely independent of the opinions, habits, and judgments of his fellows and avoids the temptations to build his inner equilibrium on such insecure foundations." (Ideas and Opinions, p. 9)
1958/04/22Nikolai Alexandrovich BerdyaevRussian Idea Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 195 Charmed and fascinated by everything Berdyaev says in "The Russian Idea" until suddenly I am brought up with a jolt by his statement that Proust is "France's only writer of genius!" An intuition that might possibly, from a certain point of view, have truth in it. And yet is not true. His insights, then, are brilliant and right but one must remember they are not always meant to be "tru" in the sense of "definitive." They are always tentative and that is a good thing. Perhaps this makes them in their way truer than those judgments which are sound and "tru" "for all men at all times."
1958/05/29Hannah ArendtOrigins of Totalitarianism Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 204 The terrible insights of Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism. Wrote notes here under the pine trees in bare feet.
1958/06/10Nicolas BerdyaevSlavery and Freedom Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 205-06 "It need to be said that politics are always based on lies"¦(we ought to) demand the reduction of politics and of their fictitious power over human life to the very minimum. Politics are always an extension of the slavery of man. The astonishing thing is that politics have never been an expression even of intelligence, to say nothing of morality, or of goodness. The so-called great among statesmen and political figures have said nothing wise and intelligent. They have usually been men of ordinary, current ideas, of banalities adapted to the average man." "The majority of these great figures are distinguished by the same criminality, hypocrisy, craftiness, and intoleranc"¦An exception must be made in favor of social reformers who emancipated man from slavery." Berdyaev. Slavery and Freedom, p. 143.
1958/07/04John GuntherInside Russia Today Ltrs: Hammer p. 51 I sent back the big Kulski book yesterday and one other. I will be sending the Current History volume as soon as possible. Inside Russia [note 43: Inside Russia,by John Gunther, was pubished in 1958] is very informative, and so recent. I had not dared ask for it, I thought everyone would be reading it voraciously. It is a great help. I will get it back to you soon.
1958/08/22Boris PasternakSafe Conduct: An Autobiography and other Writings Ltrs: CforT p. 87 I have not yet had the pleasure of reading your recent autobiography although I am familiar with the earlier one, Safe Conduct, by which I was profoundly impressed. It may surprise you when I say, in all sincerity, that I feel much more kinship with you, in your writing, than I do with most of the great modern writers in the West. That is to say that I feel that I can share your experience more deeply and with a greater intimacy and sureness, than that of writers like [James] Joyce whom I nevertheless so well like and understand. But when you write of your youth in the Urals, in Marburg, in Moscow, I feel as if it were my own experience, as if I were you. With other writers I can share ideas, but you seem to communicate something deeper. It is as if we met on a deeper level of life on which individuals are not separate beings. In the language familiar to me as a Catholic monk, it is as if we were known to one another in God.
1958/10/23Boris PasternakDoctor Zhivago Ltrs: CforT p. 89 Since my first letter to you I have obtained and read the book [Dr. Zhivago] published by Pantheon, and it has been a great and rewarding experience. First of all it has astounded me with the great number of sentences that I myself might have written, and in fact perhaps have written... The book is a world in itself, a sophiological world, a paradise and a hell, in which the great mystical figures of Yurii and Lara stand out as Adam and Eve and though they walk in darkness walk with their hand in the hand of God. The earth they walk upon is sacred because of them. It is the sacred earth of Russia, with its magnificent destiny which remains hidden for it in the plans of God. To me the most overwhelmingly beautiful and moving passage is the short, tranquil section in the Siberian town where Yurii lying in the other room listens through the open door to the religious conversation of Lara and the other woman. This section is as it were the "ey" of a hurrican"”that calm center of whirlwind, the emptiness in which is truth, spoken in all its fullness, in quiet voice, by lamplight. But it is hard to pick out any one passage.
1958/11/10Czeslaw MiloszCaptive Mind Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 230 Reading Czeslaw Milosz The Captive Mind-a really interesting book. When you read something worthwhile in these days, you know it right away-and this is worthwhile-every line of it. The challenge it presents-very clear and sober. Who is there in the West that can write a book that will really be appreciated by someone who has lain on the cobblestones of the street with the machine gun bullets whizzing by him and re-arranging a pattern of upturned paving stones?
1958/11/13Josef PieperHappiness and Contemplation Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 230 "The whole of political life seems to be ordered with a view of attaining the happiness of contemplation. For peace which is established and preserved by virtue of political activity, places man in a position to devote himself to contemplation of the Truth." St. Thomas in Eth. quoted in Pieper's lucid Happiness and Contemplation, p. 94. Failure of materialistic society in US and in Russia-the lack of all sense of what to do with the time that has been saved by techniques, to fulfill one's practical life spontaneously seek fulfillment in contemplation but the wrong kind. TV etc. "The greatest menace to our capacity for contemplation is the incessant fabrication of tawdry, empty stimuli which kill the receptivity of the soul." Pieper.p. 102.
1958/12/06Czeslaw MiloszCaptive Mind Ltrs: CforT p. 54 Having read your remarkable book The Captive Mind I find it necessary to write to you, as without your help I am unable to pursue certain lines of thought which this book suggests. I would like to ask you a couple of questions and hope you will forgive this intrusion. First of all I would like to say that I found your book to be one of the most intelligent and stimulating it has been my good fortune to read for a very long time. It is an important book, which makes most other books on the present state of man look abjectly foolish. I find it especially important for myself in my position as a monk, a priest and a writer. It is obvious that a Catholic writer in such a time as ours has an absolute duty to confine himself to reality and not waste his time in verbiage and empty rationalizations. Unfortunately, as I have no need to point out to you, most of us do this and much worse. The lamentable, pitiable emptiness of so much Catholic writing, including much of my own, is only too evident. Your book has come to me, then, as something I can call frankly "spiritual," that is to say, as the inspiration of much thought, meditation and prayer about my own obligations to the rest of the human race, and about the predicament of us all.
1959/01/11Edmund WilsonAmerican Earthquake. A Documentary of the Twenties and Thirties Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 246 I really think that in almost everything I read I find new food for the spiritual life, new thoughts, new discoveries (for instance the deep spiritual content of Jan Van Eyck's portrait of the Arnolfinis)-a whole new light on my concept of the hieratic (in the good sense) in art. Or the Gregg book on non-violence-some LaFontaine "fables" (The Rêve d'un habitant du Mogra struck me deeply the last time I was in Louisville and I saw it in Gide's anthology). Three or four pieces on "religion" (decadent) in Edmund Wilson's collection of articles about the '30s (American Earthquake)-some things on Mayan civilization-Kierkegaard's "Works of Lov"-Guardini on Dostoevsky. etc. etc.
1959/02/24Czeslaw MiloszCaptive Mind Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 264 Fine letter from Czeslaw Milosz in Paris. I had written about The Captive Mind. He replied at length about Alpha, Beta, etc. gave information about books, said he had translated some poems of mine into Polish. Sense of dealing, for once, with a real person, with one who has awakened out of sleep. There is no question that the world of the West and I in it, is involved in the deepest and most restless, and most stupid sleep. And how are we going to wake up? (The efforts which Western politicians imagine to be an awakening are only ways of tossing around in order to settle into an even deeper slumber.)
1959/07/12Henri TroyatCase de l'Oncle Sam Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 304-05 Borrowed from the Library of Congress Henri Troyat's La case de l'Oncle Sam. Journalism but refreshing-it is French journalism, and that is something intelligent.The book is something I need at the moment-to see this country again through French eyes and to realize, with relief, that I am not crazy. The faults of Gethsemani are American-puerility, rationalization, idiot belief in gadgets, fetish-worship of machines, and efficiency, love of a big, showy facade (and nothing behind it)-phony optimism, sentimentality, etc.
1959/08/15James ThurberYears with Ross Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 316-17 Terrell Dickey lent me Thurber's book The Years with Ross. Interesting, and yet I don't laugh. In a way it is a sad book-saying so definitely that the era and the city I once believed in are both already finished, and belong only to the past. Every name hits me hard-names I had forgotten-Dorothy Parker, Rea Lavin, Scudder Middleton (who was at all those parties Reg would take me to), Reginald Marsh himself, John O'Hara, Scott Fitzgerald. People not of my generation but the ones my generation believed in. And the brave days of Columbia in the Thirties, which Ad Reinhardt still believes in, I learned at his last visit.
1959/08/18James ThurberYears with Ross Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 318 The book about the New Yorker-Thurber's-oppresses me. Civilization oppresses me, or rather all that is new in it does-the most comforting thing in the book is the sketch on the cover-a boat in one of the Manhattan docks. The only good thing about New York is that you can sail from there to France.
1959/08/22James ThurberYears with Ross Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 320 I continued to be interested and depressed by The Years with Ross. It is really a very remarkable book in its way-a historical document. And a very human one. That is the only way one could write the life of an abbot. "The Years With James." It is remarkable the mixture of objective criticism, legitimate impatience, admiration, resentment, and love with which Thurber looks at Ross. Very edifying in its subtle way, and yet also there is something weird about it. Maybe neurotic. Which I guess Ross was and Thurber probably is.
1959/08/24Herbert ButterfieldChristianity and History Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 321 Having been giving deep attention (as deep as possible when one is half awake before Sext) to Butterfield's book on Christianity and History. Especially the business about the men like Napoleon, Bismarck, and Hitler who wanted to get ahead of history and manage Providence for their own interests. Providence will not be managed.
1959/08/24Herbert ButterfieldChristianity and History Ltrs: WtoF p. 263 P. Danielou's book on History, which I have been reading, steered me toward an interesting Englishman called [Herbert] Butterfield. I strongly recommend his Christianity and History [1950], which P. Danielou alludes to in his own book. Perhaps you already know of Butterfield.
1959/08/24James ThurberYears with Ross Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 321 Yesterday finished The Years with Ross, and am tempted to write Thurber a note about it. This seems to be a good thing to do. J. Laughlin wants me to write a note to Mina Joy in Aspen, to cheer her up. (He sent me her poems from N. Carolina.) And I will.
1959/11/03Denis RougementWestern Quest: the Principles of Civilization Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 339-40 Denis de Rougemont: The Western Quest - seeking to resolve the antimony inherent in personal life-an antimony which came into conscious currency after Nicea. No solution in trying to combine individualism and collectivism in equal parts - Seeking refuge in one or other extreme = sabotage. Greek individualism and atomism-or Roman collectivism? Christian faith and vocation rose above both. A Crusoe, says DeR, has no real freedom because the tension, the antinomy is lacking. (But Crusoe is a myth.) Complete absorption in collectivity - also empty of freedom. Mixture of the two tendencies does not create personal tension. This point is important-and new for me.
1959/11/04Denis RougementWestern Quest: the Principles of Civilization Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 340 "Les camps de concentration, les massacres, les tortures"¦nous rappelent queue est l'essence du paganisme: Le mepris de l'homme que l'on sacrifie sans pitie aux mythes et aux interêts." ["Concentration camps, massacres, tortures"¦reveal to us the essence of paganism: contempt for human beings who are sacrificed without pity for the sake of myths and ideologies."] Tresmontant. p. 125. De Rougemont traces personalism to the Council of Nicea. The concept yes. Tresmontant is right in showing how the Old Testament is in reality the first great charter of human rights-in opposition to all the other religious codes for which the individual does not count. But is this exaggerated? What about Confucius? Aman-enope?
1959/12/06Niall BrennanMaking of a Moron Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 353 Read a bit of Voillaume on the poverty of the Little Brothers. Finished Neal Breman's excellent book The Making of a Moon.
1960/03/16Giles Lytton StracheyEminent Victorians Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 379 Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians. The life of Manning is a masterpiece. That of Arnold, disappointing. That of Gordon perplexing and disturbing. I believe that his portrait of the religious megalomania of Gordon is distorted and overdone. But I am sure it is essentially true. I feel very sorry for the poor man-and also do not quite understand him. For there are wide gaps in Strachey. Strachey, Tom Bennett, myself at 18-and so many other Englishmen laughing at false mystics and holding them off by supercilious objectivity. All Englishmen who are not Thomas [sic] Cromwells or worse, tend to be General Gordons. (Hence Trevor-Roper's fear of monks and his admiration T. Cromwell-of all people to have for a hero!)
1960/03/21Nadejda GorodetzkyHumiliated Christ in Russian Thought Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 380 Very important book-The Humiliated Christ in Russian Thought-from the Library of Congress. More and more impressed by the seminal and prophetic stuff of Russian nineteenth century. If there were something I intended to study I think it would be that. The whole 19th. century grows like a mountain behind us as we move away from it, taking on its true proportions, great, ominous, and pathetic.
1960/04/24Jacques BarzunHouse of Intellect Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 385 Reading Barzun's House of Intellect. Good criticism of the so-called educational "system" which is no system. A sane book about a sick society. I took to heart what was said about useless conferences and committees-Having written to the College of the Bible and Asbury Sem. about their coming "retreats."
1960/05/08Jacques BarzunHouse of Intellect Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 388 Still reading Barzun. Finished Neumann on Amor and Psyche and returned it to the library. In the cell, here, Vonier's People of God and part of Initiation theologique.
1960/05/13Hannah ArendtHuman Condition Ltrs: HGL p. 395 I have been reading a fabulous book, The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt, the one who wrote such a good one on [The Origins of] Totalitarianism. This is very fine, once one gets into it. And for once someone is saying something really new, though it is also really old. I recommend it.
1960/05/13Hannah ArendtOrigins of Totalitarianism Ltrs: HGL p. 395 I have been reading a fabulous book, The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt, the one who wrote such a good one on [The Origins of] Totalitarianism. This is very fine, once one gets into it. And for once someone is saying something really new, though it is also really old. I recommend it.
1960/05/14Hannah ArendtHuman Condition Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 389 Hannah Arendt's Human Condition is another cardinal book, a hinge on which one's whole thought can turn. Whole new aspect of action and contemplation, public and private life, it offers a solution to the complex question that has plagued me with its ambiguity so long. As long as the conflict is between what is individual or intimate and what is social (this is the modern division) the issue never becomes clear and you can never get to grips with it. The social is simply a continuation of what is "privat" in the sense of "deprived," restricted, subject to necessity, the satisfaction of material needs.
1960/05/18Robert Penn WarrenSegregation: the Inner Conflict in the South Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 391 What had most impressed me was the little book-a pamphlet really-of Robert Penn Warren on Segregation. Powerful and objective, gives a good idea of the problems in its human aspect. A typical American approach, just describing how all these individuals say they feel about the thing. But it adds up to something decent and is not one of these stupid public opinion polls. It is done well and with concern for reality. The reality of the south to which I belong - without ever thinking of it. You can be in a Trappist monastery and never become a Southerner. But I am becoming a Kentuckian and a conscious one. There is no point in trying to evade it. It means of course talking to people and I do that, in Louisville, and Lexington. And I liked the Lexington Presbyterians who came over the other Sunday.
1960/06/01Hannah ArendtHuman Condition Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 5 Hannah Arendt writes of the Greek πόλις‚ [polis] - "Before men began to act, a definite space had to be secured and a structure built where all subsequent actions could take place, the space being the public realm of the polis and its structure the law." [The Human Condition (Chicago, 1958)]
1960/06/05Paul Louis LandsbergProblèmes du personalisme Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 8 I have a natural tendency to become an escapist, a snob, a narcissist. (And my problems arise largely from guilt and attempts to cover up this guilt from myself and others.) [Paul] Landsperg says:"La fausse superiorite de ceux qui se mettent en dehors de tout est devenue une veritable peste dans notre monde, et la tolerance mensongère de ceux qui se contentent de tout expliquer paralyse l'esprit occidental." ["The false superiority of those who place themselves outside everything has become a real plague in our world, and the deceitful tolerance of those who are satisfied with explaining everything is paralyzing the Western spirit."] [Problèmes du personnalisme (Paris; 1952)] p 35
1960/06/10Hannah ArendtHuman Condition Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 10 Finished Lanza del Vasto two evenings ago and am getting to the end of H. Arendt-The Human Condition.
1960/06/12Hannah ArendtHuman Condition Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 11 Finished the Human Condition today. It is the deepest and most important defense of the contemplative life that has been written in modern times. That covers a great deal of ground! I have pages of notes, just brief references and page numbers, and I don't know how to start organizing all this material for my own use. I mean for real use: for it is not enough just to have been exposed to such a book and to absorb, as one naturally does, something of its language and attitudes so that at times one may "sound lik" that.
1960/07/10Bertolt BrechtPrivate Life of the Master Race Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 19 Read Brecht "Private Life of the Master Rac" under the pine trees the other day. Because it is good, one can see how it would be not thoroughly acceptable to the Party-the good things precisely would make it unacceptable! Which? Well, one obviously thinks of the same things which he condemned in Nazism flourishing in Communism. It is a good medium.
1960/08/26Pierre Teilhard de ChardinDivine Milieu Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 36-37 I have finished reading the proofs of the Divine Milieu of P[ère] Teilhard de Chardin which were sent to me by Harpers. Yesterday (my feast day) I half finished an article on it. There is much to say. More than I can say in the article. Certainly the world is to be loved, as he says it. For God loved the world and sent His Son into the world to save it.... His concern is admirable. And his indignation that "Christians no longer expect anything." It is true. Nothing great. But we expect everything trivial. Our indifference to the real values in the world justifies our petty attractiveness to its false values. When we forget the Parousia and the Kingdom of God in the world we can, we think, safely be businessmen and make money. Those who love the world in its wrong sense love it for themselves, exploit it for themselves.
1960/09/15Mahatma GandhiNon-violence in Peace and War Ltrs: Hammer p. 115 To Carolyn: many thanks for the Gandhi [Note 96: Mahatma Gandhi, Non-Violence in Peace and War, from which mrton was getting texts for Gandhi on Non-Violence (New York: New Directions, 1965]. I am very interested in it and will try to make good use of it. I think it is very important.
1960/10/12Mahatma GandhiNon-violence in Peace and War Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 57 "A person who realizes a particular evil of his time and finds that it overwhelms him dives deep in his own breast for inspiration and when he gets it he presents it to others." Gandhi, Non-V[iolence], p 191
1961/03/28Czeslaw MiloszCaptive Mind Ltrs: CforT p. 74 This is just an added note to the longer letter I mailed this morning. Don't be perturbed about The Captive Mind. It was something that had to be written, & apart from the circumstances, it stands as a very valid statement by itself, irrespective of how it may be read & how it may be used. In any case no matter what a writer does these days it can be "used" for the cold war or for other purposes. Our very existence can be "used" by somebody or other to "prov" something that suits him. Such things are largely meaningless & we are wrong to be too affected by them.
1961/04/21John C.H. WuBeyond East and West Ltrs: HGL p. 615-16 I am very glad the Mencius finally arrived and I knew you would like it. I am glad you approved of the "night spirit." It seems to me that Chinese is full of wonderful things that the West does not suspect"”like your observation on the lunar month which deeply touched me in Beyond East and West. There are so many fine things in your book. I especially enjoy the notations from your diary that are being read now. The community was in a state of near riot when you described your marriage. I am in love with your parents. The book is most enjoyable and moving.
1961/06/21William L. ShirerRise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany Ltrs: Hammer p. 140 I do not have any book on Nicholas of Cusa or about his work. Carolyn never brought or sent any. Perhaps though something was sent and got lost in the office here before being given to me. I can inquire. Is Carolyn sure she gave it to me, or any such books? I have only the Shirer on Nazis from the library at Present.
1961/07/21Christopher DawsonHistoric Reality of Christian Culture: A Way to the Renewal of Human Life Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 143 I agree with these propositions in C[hristopher] Dawson's excellent book, The Historic Reality of Christian Culture [New York, 1960]. "Christians stand to gain more in the long run by accepting their minority position and looking for quality rather than quantity." Importance of religious education, especially Christian university education. For - a) Recovery of the rich Christian cultural inheritance (I would add all religious wisdom). b) Communication of this to a sub-religious or neo-pagan world. That these sub-rational and rational (cultural) levels of social life need to be coordinated and brought to a force in spiritual experience which transcends them both and is lacking in secularist culture (see esp. pp. 92-93). Recovery of spiritual vision is the real task of Xtian education
1961/08/22Chrisopher DawsonUnderstanding Europe Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 155 I finished [Christopher] Dawson's Understanding Europe [New York, 1952]. It is a fine book. He is completely right about the central importance of Christian culture, the danger of the theological dualism à la Barth playing into the hands of secularism. Whether or not he came too late, who can say? In any case I have a clear obligation to participate, as long as I can, and to the extent of my abilities, in every effort to help a spiritual and cultural renewal of our time. This is the task that has been given me, and hitherto I have not been clear about it, in all its aspects and dimensions. To emphasize, clarify the living content of spiritual traditions, especially the Xtian, but also the Oriental, by entering myself deeply into their disciplines and experience, not for myself only but for all my contemporaries who may be interested and inclined to listen. This for the restoration of man's sanity and balance, that he may return to the ways of freedom and of peace, if not in my time, at least some day soon.
1961/09/23Lewis MumfordArt and Technics Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 163 Bright hot weather. A Coast Guard jet plane flew low over the hermitage and monastery after dinner and circled and came back and finally took off at great speed into a white cloud to the north. No denying the beauty of it, though I am finishing, and with complete agreement, Lewis Mumford's Art and Technics [New York, 1952].
1961/09/25Lewis MumfordArt and Technics Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 165 Finished Mumford's Art and Technics yesterday. His last pages on the interior life are very good. He is another for whom I feel great sympathy.
1961/12/04Charles Wright MillsCauses of World War Three Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 184 Reading Clement still, and the Scala Claustralium (for the novices) and began today The Causes of World War III by C. Wright Mills. Clear and forthright, one of the best of the good books on peace that are being written, for this country truly has a conscience and I am inspired by the fact. Life of Fr. Joseph Metzger, executed by the Nazis for his peace efforts. It is deeply moving, and suggests many reflections, as I myself may end up that way, and I can think of worse ways of dying. I do not account myself worthy of such a death.
1962/01/00Erich FrommMay Man Prevail Ltrs: WtoF p. 28 Erich Fromm is a psychiatrist whom you may or may not know. He is a leftist and is outspoken, appearing in all sorts of places, and operating from Mexico. He has a good book out called May Man Prevail. I'll send you a copy because I think I can dig up an extra one somewhere.
1962/01/00F.H. DrinkwaterMorals and Missiles Ltrs: WtoF p. 27-28 As I said in the letter to the people of the Merlin Press, I found the book edited by you [Nuclear Weapons and the Christian Conscience, 1961] very impressive. What struck me most was the fact that the level was high, the thinking was energetic and uncompromising, and I was stimulated by the absence of the familiar cliches, or by worn-out mannerisms which have served us all in the evasion of real issues. For example (without applying these criticisms to any other book in particular), I was very struck by the superiority of your book over Morals and Missiles, which nevertheless had some good things in it. But Morals and Missiles had that chatty informality which the Englishman of Chesterton's generation thought he had to adopt as a protection whenever he tried to speak his mind on anything serious. Thank God you have thrown that off, because it emasculates a lot of very good thought.
1962/01/00Walter Stein (ed.)Nuclear Weapons: a Catholic Response Ltrs: WtoF p. 27-28 As I said in the letter to the people of the Merlin Press, I found the book edited by you [Nuclear Weapons and the Christian Conscience, 1961] very impressive. What struck me most was the fact that the level was high, the thinking was energetic and uncompromising, and I was stimulated by the absence of the familiar cliches, or by worn-out mannerisms which have served us all in the evasion of real issues. For example (without applying these criticisms to any other book in particular), I was very struck by the superiority of your book over Morals and Missiles, which nevertheless had some good things in it. But Morals and Missiles had that chatty informality which the Englishman of Chesterton's generation thought he had to adopt as a protection whenever he tried to speak his mind on anything serious. Thank God you have thrown that off, because it emasculates a lot of very good thought.
1962/02/00James Roy NewmanRule of Folly Ltrs: WtoF p. 35 By the way, I got two copies of The Rule of Folly. I will pass the extra one along to someone who can profit by it, and am grateful for both.
1962/02/00Walter Stein (ed.)Nuclear Weapons and the Christian Conscience Ltrs: WtoF p. 34 I was very happy to hear you had written something about peace. If possible, please send me a copy at once, as I might be able to include it in an anthology of such essays which we are putting out, my publisher and I. We have got a lot of very fine things, and I would like very much to have something of yours. There is a first-class little book that has just come out in England, Nuclear Weapons and the Christian Conscience, edited by Walter Stein, which you may know.
1962/02/13Andre Schwartz-BartLast of the Just Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 202 Finished the Last of the Just [Andre Schwartz-Bart, New York, 1960], which is a tremendously moving thing, and says a great deal. Compassion in the midst of the inexorable absurdity and violence and madness of Nazism. Pity is the center. Pity as an absolute, more central than truth ("There is no place for truth here," says the Just man on the way to Auschwitz). And that Christians have come in the end to hate Christ. And that the Jews are Christ.
1962/03/00Gordon C. ZahnGerman Catholics and Hitler's War: A Study in Social Control Ltrs: WtoF p. 45 I have been reading Gordon Zahn's book [German Catholics and Hitler's War] which you published. It is a most important and very welldone job of work. It deserves far more than the obvious platitudes which spring to mind about any good new book. To say that it raises a vitally important issue is so far short of doing it justice that it is ridiculous. It raises an issue that most of us are frankly incapable of understanding or even thinking about intelligently. It goes terribly deep, and much too deep for the average Catholic, the average priest, the average bishop. Zahn is objective with scientific innocence. There is no guile in his approach. He just says what he says, and overstates nothing. Where the impact comes is in the delayed action after one has read a chapter or so. Then all of a sudden one comes to with a jolt and says to himself: "This really means that something very dreadful is happening and has been happening, and that the bottom is dropping out of what we have been accustomed to regard as a fully satisfactory and complete picture of Christianity, or Christian civilization. Perhaps it has already dropped "¦" That is a mixed metaphor no doubt. The bottom drops out of a bucket, not out of a picture. But perhaps one tends to feel that the picture itself has just dropped out of a frame.
1962/03/00Hans KüngCouncil, Reform and Reunion Ltrs: WtoF p. 45 Then the Hans Küng book, The Council, Reform and Reunion. This too is splendid. One's reaction is more hopeful and more positive. But the sense of urgency remains the same. This Council has got to fulfill great hopes or be a disaster. It is absolutely no use reaffirming the disciplinary and juridical positions that have been affirmed one way or another for a thousand years. This is not reform, not renewal. That is what comes out of those two books, with great force. This is not the world of Gregory VII or Innocent III or Pius V, or even Pius X. To be a perfect Christian, even a saint according to their pattern, is no longer enough. On the contrary, it is apt to be terribly dangerous, even fatal.
1962/03/02Charles Wright MillsPower Elite Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 206 Reading Wright Mills on the Power Elite. How can we avoid war? The Pentagon is moving the country and forming everybody's mind for war. The picture that has meaning to most people is basically military. He contends, I believe rightly, that since WWII the military have really taken over from the politicians (or taken the politicians over). The country is on a permanent military basis. This I had not realized so clearly, still thinking in terms of 1940 when I entered.
1962/03/06Jean Paul SartreAnti-Semite and Jew Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 207 There is unquestionably a great nobility in Sartre's morality of "authenticity," at least as he expresses it in his book on anti-semitism. And this too throws a different light on the "situation ethic" which is so spat upon-when it is represented as a form of opportunism and an evasion of responsibility. Here on the contrary it is an acceptation of responsibility-in the fullest and most direct way. "[If] it is agreed that man may be defined as a being having freedom within the limits of a situation, then it is easy to see that the exercise of this freedom may be considered as ‘authentic' or ‘inauthentic' according to the choices made in the situation. Authenticity, it is almost needless to say, consists in having a true and lucid consciousness of a situation, in answering the responsibilities and risks that it involves, in assuming it in pride and humiliation, sometimes in horror and hate." Anti-Semitism [New York, 1948], 90
1962/03/24John Howard GriffinBlack Like Me Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 213 Yesterday finished the [John Howard] Griffin book Black Like Me, moved and disturbed. As someone said-what there is in the South is not a Negro problem but a white problem. The trouble is pathological.
1962/03/28John Howard GriffinBlack Like Me Ltrs: WtoF p. 47-48 Thanks above all for the [John Howard] Griffin book [Black Like Me]. I found it moving and important, and of course read it right through with unflagging interest. As someone has aptly said: what we have in the southern United States is not so much a Negro problem as a White problem. There is no question that there the real problem lies, and it is more than the race question. The problem of peace is involved too in the belligerency and obtuseness of the same types "¦
1962/04/12Edward TellerLegacy of Hiroshima Ltrs: WtoF p. 49 I have had the good fortune to receive and read a copy of the talk you gave in Washington last November. It was particularly welcome, since I am at the same time undergoing the disheartening experience of reading the book of Edward Teller [The Legacy of Hiroshima]. It was encouraging to hear the contrasting notes struck by a civilized voice, yours. Dr. Teller's book seems to me to be a systematic piece of amorality which will probably have serious and far-reaching effects. Hence my conviction that your proposals about a peace lobby are of the greatest importance. I wish to assure you of my desire to cooperate in any way possible with your plan.
1962/06/05Joseph Jean Lanza del VastoPelerinage aux Sources Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 224 Lanza del Vasto has seen a deep connection between play and war. Our society totally devoted to one (everything is a game) necessarily ends in the other. Play -is aimless, and multiplies obstacles so that the "aim," which does not exist, may not be obtained by the other player. Getting a ball in a hole. "La guerre c'est le grand vice public qui insiste à jouer avec le sang des hommes." ["War is the great public vice that insists on playing with the blood of men."] War is not caused by hunger or by need. It is the powerful and the rich who make war. The beauty of the grave: it demands a suppression of conscience, and this is done as a matter of "sacrific" and "duty." To sacrifice conscience, and then "let go" and kill, for the exaltation of one's nation, mad with the need for systematic irresponsibility. Reproach them for this, refuse them their outlet, and they will slaughter you.
1962/07/09Alan HarringtonLife in the Crystal Palace Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 230 Businesses are sects. They are little religions-at least in America. One believes in the product, and preaches it. Your belief is an essential constituent in its goodness. "The new evangelism, whether expressed in soft or hard selling, is a quasireligious approach to business wrapped in a hoax-a hoax voluntarily entered into by producers and consumers together. Its credo is that of belief-to-order. It is the truth-to-order as delivered by advertising and public relations men, believed by them and voluntarily believed in by the public." -Alan Harrington, Life in the Crystal Palace [New York, 1959], p 194
1962/07/13Jules RomainsMen of Good Will Ltrs: HGL p. 212 "¦ By the way, talking of books: Jules Romains. I don't care what he thinks about the Church. It is just that years ago when I read the first volumes of the Men of Good Will, I came to the conclusion that he was almost as pedestrian as Zola, which is saying a lot. I just think him a complete bore. Maybe he has got better lately, I don't know. If you really think I ought to be converted on this point, I am not averse to trying my best.
1962/09/11Gordon C. ZahnGerman Catholics and Hitler's War: A Study in Social Control Ltrs: HGL p. 579 Fortunately there are laymen speaking up, and I think you continue to be among them. In Canada, Leslie Dewart has been writing good things (a professor at St. Michael's in Toronto). Do you know Gordon Zahn's book [German Catholics and Hitler's Wars]? "¦ Then there is also the anthology I put out, which got by (my articles got by, and I did not bother to explain that I had edited a whole anthology to go with them). I am waiting to get some more copies, and will send you one. It is called Breakthrough to Peace. Walter Stein is one of those represented, and also there is what I thought a very solid essay by Herbert Butterfield, at Cambridge. Others were Americans, and some of the best minds we have, I believe. You ought to be fairly pleased with the book.
1962/09/21Alfred Delp S.J.Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 248-49 Fr. [Godfrey] Diekmann definitely wants me to review the Powers book for Worship and it will be a pleasure. Still more moving and important a task, one that stirs me deeply, is the introduction to Fr. Delp's meditations[The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp, New York, 1963] in prison. It is perhaps the most clear-sighted book of Christian meditations of our time. A strange contrast and comparison with Boethius. Not "consoling" except in the profound sense in which the truth consoles one who has been stripped of illusions. How honest he is about the Church and about modern man!
1962/09/26Alfred Delp S.J.Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 250-51 Reading the magnificent Prison Meditations of Fr. Delp. In ms. I am to write the preface for Herder and Herder. Superb, powerful material. Totally different from the rather depressing false optimism of our establishment. Here a true optimism of one who really sees through the evil and irreligion of our condition and finds himself in Christ-through poverty, crying out from the abyss, answered and rescued by the Spirit..... Delp says: "Of course the Church still has skillful apologists, clever and compelling preachers, wise leaders; but the simple confidence that senses the right course and proceeds to act on it is just not there."
1962/11/20Ignace LeppFrom Karl Marx to Jesus Christ Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 267 "The trouble is that communism long ago ceased to be a truly progressive force and has formed the worst type of orthodox ranks. Although the progressive Christians are aware of this they dare not openly proclaim it for fear of appearing reactionary." Ignace Lepp [From Karl Marx to Jesus Christ (New York, 1958)] This is a very significant observation. It ought to be obvious, but is not, because there are so few Christians who are really able to stand on their own feet, and not propped up by reactionaries of the right on one side or those of the left on the other. In this correctly they are almost all on the right. In Europe there is a clearer division. But who is there who can stand in the middle and go his own way as a Christian? Probably there are some, but not as many as claim to be.
1962/12/09Harrison Evans SalesburyA New Russia? Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 272 The new book of Harrison Salisbury [A New Russia, New York, 1962] shows there is a surprisingly deep rift between Soviet Russia and Communist China. And other things important perhaps. In a pragmatic way for peace-for the time being. The young writers in Russia who are speaking out-they are perhaps very important people, though perhaps also the Luce press makes too much of them. There is a tendency to think of them as Americans in Russia, which is fortunately not true and I have no reverence for such Russians as merely want to have their own cars and be "Americans." To put any hope in that is a real folly. Some do.
1962/12/09Harrison Evans SalesburyA New Russia? Ltrs: HGL p. 411 This is chiefly to thank you for the books. The Wright Millses were both terrific, as usual. The one on the Latin American problem was clear and persuasive, though he himself admits it is oversimplified. But one must see the other side of the case always. That is the trouble, people do not want to be objective. The Salisbury book on Russia is most valuable. Again, one has to be always adjusting one's views and taking into account the rapid movement of events and current developments. I was impressed to note the depth of the division between Russia and Red China at the present time. Of course it makes sense.
1963/04/02Hannah ArendtEichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 310 Adolf Eichmann, in his last words at the foot of the gallows- Declared himself a Gottes[un]gläubiger-(one who did not believe in a personal god). And then addressed those present "After a short while, gentleman, we shall all meet again." "Such is the fate of all men. Long live Germany, long live Argentina, long live Austria; I shall not forget them." H. Arendt comments. "In the face of death he had found the cliche used in funeral oratory, but his memory had played him one last trick, he had forgotten that he was no Christian and that it was his own funeral. It was as though in his last minutes he was summing up the lesson that his long course in human wickedness had taught him-the lesson of the fearsome, word-and thought-defying banality of evil."
1963/05/01John Howard GriffinBlack Like Me Ltrs: RtoJ p. 244 Have you read John Howard Griffin's books? You ought to get hold of Black Like Me. It will floor you. He is a fine writer, I haven't read his novels. There was an interesting bit of an autobiography of his in Ramparts a while ago.
1963/05/10Gordon C. ZahnGerman Catholics and Hitler's War: A Study in Social Control Ltrs: WtoF p. 286 Your manuscript has arrived and I am about halfway through it. The book is terrific. You are very clear, convincing, and as far as I can see quite fair. I think it is a very important study of the Cuba affair, and in many ways it is more important even than Zahn's study of Germany [German Catholics and Hitler's War, Sheed and Ward, 1962].
1963/05/10Leslie DewartChristianity and Revolution Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 317 Les[lie] Dewart has sent the ms. of his important book on Cuba. The first thing I have seen that makes sense out of the whole business. But he points out the responsibility of Catholics in creating a situation which led Castro to Communism. And it was led to do this by its ordinariness and mediocrity. Not that there was not great courage and generosity on the part of many who suffered torture under Batista for opposing him: but once Castro was in power, his Catholic supporters could not, says D., conceive of anything but an either/or choice between total repudiation of Communism or total acceptance of it. This, according to D., drove Castro to Communism.
1963/05/10Leslie DewartChristianity and Revolution Ltrs: WtoF p. 286 Your manuscript has arrived and I am about halfway through it. The book is terrific. You are very clear, convincing, and as far as I can see quite fair. I think it is a very important study of the Cuba affair, and in many ways it is more important even than Zahn's study of Germany [German Catholics and Hitler's War, Sheed and Ward, 1962].
1963/05/29Werner HeisenbergPhysics and Philosophy Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 324 Heisenberg-on the impact of technical and scientific knowledge upon traditional cultures, etc. This "process"¦has gone far beyond any control through human forces. One may rather consider it as a biological process on the largest scale whereby the structures active in the human organism encroach on larger parts of matter and transform it into a state suited for the increasing human population." [Merton's emphasis] Physics and Philosophy, p 189 I think this is really a very practical way of looking at it, and far from reducing morality to determinism, it gives morality the only dimension in which it can really cope with our situation. One must first recognize reality, before he can deal with it. The traditional concept of nature is not opposed to this. It does not exclude grace.
1963/06/00Leslie DewartChristianity and Revolution Ltrs: WtoF p. 288 Your manuscript on the Cuban revolution and on the ambivalence, hesitations, and withdrawal of the Cuban Church is a very perceptive and exciting political meditation and there is good reason for us to meditate politically when the moral and spiritual crisis of man at the end of an era of his history comes out in political conflict. I believe that the great religious temptation of our time, the apocalyptic temptation, will be (and already is) in the realm of politics. What do I mean by apocalyptic? I mean quite simply "final" and decisive as a manifestation of the secret of God in history and of the Christian capacity"”or failur"”to act according to His love. We are in the time of "the end""”not that everything necessarily has to blow up tomorrow. But we have certainly passed a point of no return and we live now in a world of fantastic perspectives, most of them, as I say, apocalyptic. To none of them are we yet adjusted. Your text is a good beginning. It shows the way we must attempt to seek some kind of clarity and understanding in the events of our time which ought to be supremely relevant to the Church insofar as these events all have Christian or "post-Christian" implications, either for us or against us. In these events we, and the Christian centuries, are now, at this very moment, being judged.
1963/09/03Robert Charles ZaehnerMatter and Spirit: Their Convergence in Eastern Religions, Marx and Teilhard de Chardin Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 15 [Robert Charles] Zaehner's new book, Matter and Spirit, is an attempted synthesis of Marxist Christianity with the help of Teilhard de Chardin. So far I am not sure I am impressed.
1963/09/05James BaldwinGo Tell It on the Mountain Ltrs: HGL p. 147 You know by now how much I enjoyed your book [Loaves and Fishes]. Am reading James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain which I find very moving.
1963/10/09Jose Maria GironellaOne Million Dead Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 24 Began [Jose María] Gironella's One Million Dead.
1963/11/10Robert Charles ZaehnerMatter and Spirit: Their Convergence in Eastern Religions, Marx and Teilhard de Chardin Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 32-33 Finished some notes on Zaehner's Teilhardian pamphlet on Matter and Spirit which is good in intention, poor and hasty in execution. Have added this on to the material on Zen for the winter Continuum. Graham Carey wired that he wanted some of Art and Worship in Good Work.
1963/11/11Jose Maria GironellaOne Million Dead Ltrs: CforT p. 82 I agree with you on your dislike of fiction and can't read most novels even when I try, but now I am well into an enormous one, [Jose Maria] Gironella's great, laconic (yet enormous) novel of the Spanish Civil War, One Million Dead. I think it is something everyone should read, though it starts slow and has thousands of characters.
1963/12/03Jose Maria GironellaOne Million Dead Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 42-43 Am well on the way to finishing Gironella's great book (One Million Dead). Great in size, and a very competent work. A picture of the Spanish war that is complete and objective, not pretentious, compassionate, detached, often very humorous, but real. It is really quite an extraordinary book, rich in material, full of small touches, details, telling lines, full of people-characters all lightly drawn, the central one Ignacio in Spain, an impartial Spain-he has been on both sides, passed from one to the other through a kind of dynamiter's tunnel in Madrid-an aorta.
1963/12/12Rolf HochhuthDeputy / Translation from the German Der Stellvertreter Ltrs: HGL p. 585 I have been asked to write some notes on a notorious play [Hochhuth's The Deputy] which treats Pius XII as a renegade for not having openly protested against the mass murder of Jews by Hitler. The play is mediocre and heavy-handed, and there is obviously an air of resentment and prejudice everywhere in it, and yet after all one can see something of a justification for this viewpoint, in its essence. The idea that a Pope should put first of all the "duty" of retaining political advantage and power, and that the "good of souls" depends on this, is something that we cannot deny exists in Rome, and furthermore the play makes a great point of the fact that the whole Catholic notion of obedience and authority has come to be something dependent on this concept of power. In other words, obedience is something that ultimately has a political use: it makes the members of the Church pliant instruments of policy. This can be seen to have utterly shocking consequences. And amusing ones, for instance, in the curial indignation over the mere idea of reform... Obviously for the Curia obedience means nothing outside the context of their own power. They obey a Pope as long as he plays their game.
1963/12/13Rolf HochhuthDeputy / Translation from the German Der Stellvertreter Ltrs: HGL p. 651 As to Hochhuth: yes, I have read the play [The Deputy] and have dashed off some notes on it which George Lawler says he wants to include with some other notebook excerpts in Continuum. I am sending you a Xeroxed copy of the notes "¦ As to the play, I think it is awful: at least to read. Hochhuth strikes me as somewhat sick, not that I blame him for that. However, the question he raises is an important one, and though he has been grossly unjust to Pius XII (after all, there is no hint whatever of the real greatness of the man in the play), yet I think that the Vatican is at fault, and the hierarchy too, for favoring that kind of abominable and moss-grown concept of authority and of obedience. Here Hochhuth has something to be said for him. When such a temptation is presented to him, how can one blame him for taking it? There has been so much sickening nonsense about Pius XII, and such obviously interested efforts to promote him as a saint, that no one can blame this man for saying he does not agree.
1964/02/08Georges BernanosChemin de la croix-des-Ames Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 73 I have here his Chemin de la croix des ames-written about France in World War II. It is often tedious. Perhaps something to refer to. So much vehemence, so much overflowing anger, over the daily misdeeds of a futile, deluded old man like Petain. And yet he is right-and really on the side of the angels in denouncing the impotence of the old guard who did not believe in man, after what man had sacrificed under him at Verdun (p. 139). His "goût du malheur" ["unfortunate tast"]-a fine analysis! After years of being passed over, he takes his bitterness for strength. Bernanos is accused of being merely anti-democratic. But is this true? This is not just lamentation, or archaism.
1964/03/03Rolf HochhuthDeputy / Translation from the German Der Stellvertreter Ltrs: WtoF p. 142-43 A letter from the new Abbot General [Dom Ignace Gillet] came in concerning the articles on peace in Seeds of Destruction. [These articles were part of a manuscript Merton wrote in 1962 called Peace in a Post-Christian Era.] I was sure, since these had been cleared before by the previous Abbot General, with difficulties, but yet cleared and published, that I had the right to go ahead with them. However, the new Abbot General dug out all the correspondence, had a meeting with the definitors, and said that these articles are not to be "republished" in book form and implicitly in any other form... Naomi, frankly I must say that this whole thing leaves me a bit dizzy. And sick. I can't say exactly that it constitutes a temptation against my "vocation," but it certainly raises some pretty profound questions indeed. I know, one must just take it on the chin and shut up, etc., etc. But with all the attention that has been drawn to the obedience of an Eichmann and now even the question of Pius XII [the reference is to Hochhuth's play The Deputy], the props given by the conventional arguments don't offer much support. One is faced with the very harrowing idea that in obeying one is really doing wrong and offending God. I know of course that my conscience tells me that this is by no means certain and that the only thing is to trust Him and hope for the best. But it certainly wrings all the last drops of alacrity out of one's obedience and one's zest for the religious life.
1964/03/24Piotr RawiczBlood from the Sky Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 92 The frightful novel of Piotr Rawicz. Blood from the Sky is a true descent into hell, so much so that it seems to be a voice of Christ-that is, of the not damned-often innocent-even from hell. The innocence of the work, in all its honor, comes from its realization that all is sin and horror in the absence of mercy. The relentless, seething, objective, existentialist revelation of the betrayal of the Jews by the leaders of the people, by all the wise, all the just, all the capable, all the intelligent, all the holy-picture of the total degradation of everyone and everything, and totally fruitless. Conclusion-the stripping off of the desire for survival and "love of lif" and showing it as horror, nausea, hatred, deathdealing selfishness, headed inexorably toward its own extinction.
1964/04/01Konstantin PaustovskyStory of a Life Ltrs: RtoJ p. 248 Time for a class, so I must stop. Later I will write more. There have been a lot of interesting books around, especially one huge big life by [Konstantin] Paustovsky [The Story of a Life], a friend of Pasternak (who was completely loyal to Pasternak in all the trouble, one of the only ones) and it has magnificent things in it.
1964/04/04Konstantin PaustovskyStory of a Life Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 94 I have been reading [Konstantin] Paustovsky with pleasure [The Story of a Life, 1963]. It is a great book with wonderful warmth and reality. But Kafka is now read, I hear, in Russia and the official people don't know what to make of him now that they understand it is bad form to call him decadent. Formally and aggressively accused China of selling out the revolution (which must, when all the chips are down, be a violent one). The Russians drift home toward the west. Paustovsky is thoroughly European (he loved Latin and you would be hard put to it to find anyone in America so willing to admit it!). Yet Russian too.
1964/04/17Piotr RawiczBlood from the Sky Ltrs: CforT p. 105 That [Piotr] Rawicz [Blood from the Sky]. It is magnificently horrible, and I am terribly impressed by it. There is a sort of limitlessness and lawlessness, a total madness about it which makes it a strangely sober statement in the end, so that one takes everything very seriously. It is neither honest nor possible to complain of a single line. He has the right to say anything he likes and be heard, because even the most extravagant thing he can say is far short of the truth, and what he is talking about has awful religious implications. So thanks for both these books "¦
1964/05/14William Du BayHuman Church Ltrs: HGL p. 167 Thanks for your book which, it seems to me, does not need to be safely publishable, only to be used. It can be used in its present state, or in some other such form, can't it? After it has been used a while and after adjustments have been made, maybe someone will publish it. Naturally with the liberty you have displayed you will meet opposition and publication might mean giving up something somewhere. That is normal. We have to be content with humanity as it is, even though we recognize that we must be helping to change things. We change by pressing on what is there.
1964/05/17PlatoGorgias Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 104-05 Yesterday, on the Vigil, a group of the Hibakusha [Note 29: Survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki] on the World Peace Mission Pilgrimage came out here... People signed and marked by the cruelty of the age, signs on their flesh because of the thoughts in the minds of other men. They are an important indication of what certain "civilized" thinking really means. When we speak of "freedom" we are also saying that others like these good, charming, sweet, innocent people will be burned, annihilated, if and when we think we are menaced. Does this make sense? Is it not an indication that our thinking is absurdly flawed? True, our thinking is logical and makes war seem right and necessary when it is fitted into a certain context, starting from certain supposed "axioms." The trouble is with the context and the axioms, and the root trouble is the whole concept of man and indeed of reality itself with which man operates. The thinking has not changed because the "axioms" have not changed. They are the axioms of sophistry and sophistry as Plato knew spells tyranny and moral anarchy. An illuminating experience, to read the last pages of Gorgias and to meet the Hibakusha on the same day. I spoke to them briefly, was not expecting an interpreter and was a bit put out-he translated and explained enthusiastically and I think we were in good rapport but there was not much discussion.
1964/06/30Michael SerafianPilgrim: Pope Paul VI, & the Church in Time of Decision / pseudonym of Malachi Martin Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 122 Bob Giroux sent M. Serafian's The Pilgrim. I have read about twenty-five pages of it and find it great. So much finer than X. Rynne's gossip column. The most serious book about the Council I have read since Küng's book (the one before the Council [The Council, Reform and Reunion, 1961]; I have not read any others). Simply clarifies and confirms what is already obvious: the ghastly problem that all through the Church the "will of God" can and does resolve itself into "the will of an Italian Undersecretary in the Holy Offic" and that in fact the conservative Vatican bureaucrats think they have the right to contradict the Pope himself-they are the ones who are infallible.
1964/07/02Rolf HochhuthDeputy / Translation from the German Der Stellvertreter Ltrs: HGL p. 652 I am very much tempted to write a parallel between The Deputy and the new Serafian book, The Pilgrim. Starting with the titles, there is soon seen to be a deeper analogy. Only in one chapter does the Serafian come out as a real hatchet job on Paul VI, the rest balances it off and makes nicer noises and gestures, and it is not as blatantly prejudiced as the Hochhuth. Yet at the same time it reinforces the justice in Hochhuth's accusation, and does so by dimming the focus that is too crudely and too insistently fixed on Pius. Actually, the great question is the Papacy itself in its post-Tridentine and post-medieval, indeed post-Constantinian shape. The thing that really hits me hardest of all is that at this very moment the same issue of the Jews is right in front of our noses, just as much as it ever was before any German under Hitler, perhaps more so. And of course the Jewish schema [Note: Preparatory document: part of what became Vatican II's Declaration on Relationships with Non-Christian Religions], or part of that schema, is central in The Pilgrim. Once again, when John brought up the obligation to make some kind of amends, the same old machinery that Hochhuth tries to show at work in the one man and mind of Pius is in full operation in the whole "Papacy," i.e. Curia and all.
1964/07/2Michael SerafianPilgrim: Pope Paul VI, & the Church in Time of Decision / pseudonym of Malachi Martin Ltrs: HGL p. 652 I am very much tempted to write a parallel between The Deputy and the new Serafian book, The Pilgrim. Starting with the titles, there is soon seen to be a deeper analogy. Only in one chapter does the Serafian come out as a real hatchet job on Paul VI, the rest balances it off and makes nicer noises and gestures, and it is not as blatantly prejudiced as the Hochhuth. Yet at the same time it reinforces the justice in Hochhuth's accusation, and does so by dimming the focus that is too crudely and too insistently fixed on Pius. Actually, the great question is the Papacy itself in its post-Tridentine and post-medieval, indeed post-Constantinian shape. The thing that really hits me hardest of all is that at this very moment the same issue of the Jews is right in front of our noses, just as much as it ever was before any German under Hitler, perhaps more so. And of course the Jewish schema [Note: Preparatory document: part of what became Vatican II's Declaration on Relationships with Non-Christian Religions], or part of that schema, is central in The Pilgrim. Once again, when John brought up the obligation to make some kind of amends, the same old machinery that Hochhuth tries to show at work in the one man and mind of Pius is in full operation in the whole "Papacy," i.e. Curia and all.
1964/07/21Dietrich BonhoefferLetters and Papers from Prison Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 129 I sent the article on "Honest to God" to the Commonweal yesterday. Really Bonhoeffer is far deeper than Robinson would lead one to think. I am reading Bonhoeffer's prison letters [Letters and Papers from Prison, 1953], which are very "monastic" indeed-in fact I mean to make a collection of some of the "monastic texts" there. His "worldliness" can only be understood in the light of this "monastic" seriousness, which is however not Platonically "inward." It is not a withdrawal, a denial, it is a mode of presence.
1964/08/02William StringfellowMy People Is the Enemy: An Autobiographical Polemic Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 132 I finished [William] Stringfellow's book on Harlem [My People Is the Enemy: An Autobiographical Polemic, 1964] and will write to Joe Cunneen about it. It is first rate-full especially of important information. How the rent system works, etc. It becomes clearer and clearer that this is an utterly sick system, but anonymous. If there were one sick King he would be deposed and replaced. Here "they" operate and get rich and it is not always clear who "they" are or how they get rich.
1964/08/09Dietrich BonhoefferLetters and Papers from Prison Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 134 La Peste-understandable in the light of Bonhoeffer's admirable prison letters. In connection with Camus and people like him-see this line of Bonhoeffer: "I often ask myself why a Christian instinct frequently draws one more to the religionless than to the religious, by which I mean not with any intention of evangelizing them but rather, I might almost say, in ‘brotherhood.'" (p. 165)
1964/10/29Jacques Ellultechnological society / Jacques Ellul ; transl. from the French by John Wilkinson ; with an introd. by Robert K. Merton Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 159 Ferry sent Jacques Ellul's book on Technology [The Technological Society, 1964], just out.... Reading Jacques Ellul's book The Technological Society. Great, full of firecrackers. A fine provocative book and one that really makes sense. Good to read while the Council is busy with Schema 13 (as it is).
1964/11/02Jacques Ellultechnological society / Jacques Ellul ; transl. from the French by John Wilkinson ; with an introd. by Robert K. Merton Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 161 I am going on with Ellul's prophetic and I think very sound diagnosis of the Technological Society. How few people really face the problem! It is the most portentous and apocalyptical thing of all, that we are caught in an automatic self-determining system in which man's choices have largely ceased to count. (The existentialist's freedom in a void seems to imply a despairing recognition of this plight, but it says and does nothing.)
1964/11/06Jacques Ellultechnological society / Jacques Ellul ; transl. from the French by John Wilkinson ; with an introd. by Robert K. Merton Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 163 I think Ellul is perhaps too pessimistic. Not unreasonably so-but one must still have hope. Perhaps the self-determining course of technology is not as inexorably headed for the end he imagines. And yet certainly it is logical. But more is involved, thank heaven, than logic. All will be brought into line to "serve the universal effort" (of continual technological development and expansion). There will be no place for the solitary! No man will be able to disengage himself from society! Should I complain of technology with this hissing, bright green light with its comforts and dangers? Or with the powerful flashlight I got at Sears that sends a bright hard pole of light probing deep into the forest?
1964/11/10Gordon ZahnIn Solitary Witness. The Life and Death of Franz Jägerstätter Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 164 And it was certainly profitable to read Balthasar and Gordon Zahn's little book on the objector [Franz] Jägerstätter, which is surprisingly good [In Solitary Witness, 1964].
1964/11/12Gordon ZahnIn Solitary Witness. The Life and Death of Franz Jägerstätter Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 165 Reading proofs of Zahn's book on the Austrian peasant Jägerstätter, executed by Hitler for conscientious objection. It is an excellent job. Moving above all are the notes of Jägerstätter himself, his "commentaries" on the war. Their lucidity and accuracy are astounding, and so much greater than that of so many bishops and scholars, and commentators at the time. Here was a simple, barely educated man who saw things clearly and stated them as he saw them! One thing strikes me above all. The Catholic Church in Germany and Austria, having condemned Nazism before it came to power, and having afterwards collaborated with it when in power, was surely aware that Nazism was irreconcilably opposed to the Church-just as much as Communism. Why did the Church support Nazism and never compromise with Communism? Perhaps because the Nazis were more pragmatic in offering a means to compromise. But also, basically, because of property.
1964/11/20Gordon ZahnIn Solitary Witness. The Life and Death of Franz Jägerstätter Ltrs: WtoF p. 107 Thanks for your letters, etc., and for the copies of Peace News. I certainly understand your difficulties about editing the long article I sent and have no objections to the fact that it came back. I am glad you were able to use a little of it anyway. Here is the review of Gordon Zahn's book, which I reviewed in proof. I hope it will be satisfactory. I thought the book was really firstrate. I hope it will be read and understood especially by those who need to read and understand it, and not only by those of us who already agree with it anyway. I have especially liked Tom McGrath's things in PN and also the article by John Wilkinson in the last issue, which is very much to the point. I have also been reading [Jacques] Ellul.
1964/12/05Eugène IonescoFuture Is in Eggs Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 175 So many good books around and in the woodshed after dinner. Pasternak once. Lately Ellul, and Felix Green's Curtain of Ignorance (good information on the bad reporting about China), Stevie Smith, Françoise Henri on Irish art, Auden "The Enchafed Flood," and last summer Kenneth Jackson's Early Celtic Nature Poetry. Also Nora Chadwick, etc., etc. (I got a charming letter from the Carmelites of Waterbeach, her friends). And of course recently Ionesco-Rhinoceros, The Future Is in Eggs, etc. I am still busy with his Notes et contre-notes.
1964/12/05Felix GreeneCurtain of Ignorance Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 175 So many good books around and in the woodshed after dinner. Pasternak once. Lately Ellul, and Felix Green's Curtain of Ignorance (good information on the bad reporting about China), Stevie Smith, Françoise Henri on Irish art, Auden "The Enchafed Flood," and last summer Kenneth Jackson's Early Celtic Nature Poetry. Also Nora Chadwick, etc., etc. (I got a charming letter from the Carmelites of Waterbeach, her friends). And of course recently Ionesco-Rhinoceros, The Future Is in Eggs, etc. I am still busy with his Notes et contre-notes.
1964/12/10Jacques Ellultechnological society / Jacques Ellul ; transl. from the French by John Wilkinson ; with an introd. by Robert K. Merton Ltrs: HGL p. 467-68 The old structures, manifestly inadequate in some ways, are being taken away, and instead of being spiritually liberated, Christians are rushing to submit to much more tyrannical structures: the absolute dominion of technology-politics-business (or state capital). I think M. Schuon has exactly the right view, and I am pleased that he remarks in passing on the naive infatuation with Teilhard de Chardin (though I think there is much that is good in Chardin, along with some grave illusions). Have you by any chance read the book of Jacques Ellul on the Technological Society (perhaps La Technique in French)? It is monumental, and one of the most important treatments of the subject "¦
1964/12/17Gordon ZahnIn Solitary Witness. The Life and Death of Franz Jägerstätter Ltrs: HGL p. 654 Peace News asked me to review your book on Jagerstaetter [In Solitary Witness], and I did. Here is a copy of the review. I thought the book was extremely well done. It made very good reading, and any reader with average sense can surely get to it. Yet it is also scientific. I think it is really a fine contribution to the cause of peace, and will certainly make it hard for the disgruntled and pious supporters of the bomb to accuse you of being nasty, because the book does not really imply any special attack on anyone. It just says what the man did.
1964/12/28Jacques Ellultechnological society / Jacques Ellul ; transl. from the French by John Wilkinson ; with an introd. by Robert K. Merton Ltrs: WtoF p. 109 In November a group of peace workers, including A. J. Muste, who is the dean of American pacifists, and some from The Catholic Worker and Jim Forest of the movement, came here for a retreat and discussion which was very successful and full of good lights. There was much discussion of a book which I had at the time just read, Jacques Ellul's great work on technology [La Technique (1954), published in English as The Technological Society (1964)]. Do you know Ellul? You must, I am sure. I admire his work and find it entirely convincing and indeed it has the stamp of prophecy which so much Christian writing on that subject seems to lack. I am very anxious to read his book on propaganda.
1965/01/17Paul GoodmanGrowing up Absurd Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 192 In the monastery after dinner I played Brother Antoninus' record "The Tongs of Jeopardy" to the novices and some of the juniors. It is remarkably good-meditation on the Kennedy assassination. He was talking about his ideas on this when he was here and I was very struck by them then. They cannot be summed up simply as "Jungian." A remarkable and sensitive poetic insight into the state of the American mind-better than anything else I know (for instance how much deeper say than Paul Goodman's Growing Up Absurd which I have just recently read). More than Jungian, the "Tongs" meditation is deeply Buddhist, and the Cain idea, the drive to fratricide as the great weakness in the American psyche, is most impressive and I think accurate. Illtud Evans is coming to preach the retreat and I will talk to him about it. Am tempted to review it for Blackfriars.
1965/04/18Lord Walter NorthbourneReligion in the modern world Ltrs: WtoF p. 312-13 I have just finished reading your book Religion in the Modern World. Since I did not want to send you a mere formal note of thanks, but wanted also to share my impressions with you, I have delayed writing about it until now. After a careful reading, spread out over some time (I have read the book a bit at a time), I believe that your book is exceptionally good. Certainly I am most grateful for the opportunity to read it, and needless to say I am very glad that Marco Pallis suggested that you send it to me. Not only is the book interesting, but I have found it quite salutary and helpful in my own case. It has helped me to organize my ideas at a time when we in the Catholic Church, and in the monastic Orders, are being pulled this way and that. Traditions of great importance and vitality are being questioned along with more trivial customs, and I do not think that those who are doing the questioning are always distinguished for their wisdom or even their information. I could not agree more fully with your principles and with your application of them. In particular, I am grateful for your last chapter. For one thing it clears up a doubt that had persisted in my mind, about the thinking of the Schuon-Guenon "school" (if one can use such a term) [an association of Sufi masters with whom Marco Pallis was associated], as well as about the rather slapdash ecumenism that is springing up in some quarters. It is most important first of all to understand deeply and live one's own tradition, not confusing it with what is foreign to it, if one is to seriously appreciate other traditions and distinguish in them what is close to one's own and what is, perhaps, irreconcilable with one's own.
1965/04/23Flannnery O'ConnorEverything That Rises Must Converge Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 233 Then yesterday Flannery O'Connor's new book [Everything That Rises Must Converge, 1965] arrived and I am already well into it, grueling and powerful! A relentlessly perfect writer, full of tragedy and irony. But what a writer! And she knows every aspect of the American meanness, and violence, and frustration. And the Southern struggle of will against inertia.
1965/04/24Rene GuenonCrisis of the Modern World Ltrs: HGL p. 454 Meanwhile I am very happy to be in contact with you, as I am with Marco Pallis, whose books have also been a great inspiration to me. I am most indebted to him for sending good books my way, and am in the middle of his translation of [Rene] Guenon's Crisis, which is first-rate. Contact with your "school of thought," shall I say, is of great help to me in rectifying my own perspectives in this time when among Catholics one is faced with a choice between an absurdly rigid and baroque conservatism and a rather irresponsible and fantastic progressivism à la Teilhard. The choice is of course not so restricted, and I am glad of influences that help me to cling, as my heart tells me to, to a sane and living traditionalism in full contact with the living contemplative experience of the past"”and with the presence of the Spirit here and now.
1965/04/25Flannnery O'ConnorEverything That Rises Must Converge Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 233 I wonder if the singular power of Flannery O'Connor's work, the horror and fascination of it, is not basically religious in a completely tacit way. There is no positive and overt expression of Catholicism (with optimism, hope, etc.) but perhaps a negative, direct, brutal confrontation with God in the terrible, the cruel. (The bull in "Greenleaf" [short story] as the lover and destroyer.) This is an affirmation of what popular Christianity always struggles to avoid: the dark face of God. But now, and above all in the South, it is the dark and terrible face of God that looks at America (the crazy religious characters are to be taken seriously precisely because their religion is inadequate).
1965/06/06Samuel Nathaniel BehrmanBiography of Joseph Duveen, Baron Duveen, 1869-1939 Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 253 On Friday I went to Lexington for some examinations at the clinic (Dr. Fortune) and was supposed to return that afternoon but stayed overnight in the hospital for more tests yesterday morning. What with enemas, proctoscopes, barium enemas, etc. I had a miserable time. When I began these examinations ten or fifteen years ago they were unpleasant but bearable. Since then, my insides have become so sensitive that they are a real torment. However, there is no cancer, there are no ulcers, just a great deal of inflammation and sensitivity, etc. The results of all the tests are not yet in. However, on Friday I had lunch with the Hammers, and borrowed from them the Tao of Painting [by Mai Mai Sze, 1963] to take to the hospital. I had some very enjoyable moments reading it. A very exciting first chapter. Also read [Samuel Nathaniel] Behrman's life of "Duveen" which is very funny [A Biography of Joseph Duveen, Baron Duveen, 1869-1939, 1952].
1965/06/17Rene GuenonCrisis of the Modern World Ltrs: HGL p. 470 I have been wanting to tell you how much I have benefited by your translations of Guenon and Schuon. Not only the material, but also your own translations, which, I think, contribute much clarity to the originals. I meant to write you after Easter when I had finished the Guenon book on Crisis. Now I do so when I am in the middle of Schuon on the Language of the Self. The Guenon book is certainly a classic, and I appreciate Schuon more and more. The essay on Buddhism, for example, is most excellent. I am at one with him in his deep reverence for the spirituality of the North American Indian. Of that, more at some other time. The Indians of this country are a sign of the age, silent and frequently mistreated, at least in their legal rights. One feels that there is still, among some of them, a deep consciousness of their real calling, and a hidden hope. Yet there must also be much real despair among them. I have always had a secret desire to be among them in some way, and of course there is no fulfilling this, and it would tend to be highly ambiguous in any event.
1965/07/17Jacques EllulPropagandes Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 270-71 There is no question of the deep inauthenticity of the common life in this monastery, in most religious communities, and in the Church. It is due in part to the way authority is conceived and exercised (to the great psychological and spiritual harm of many) and to the fact that this can hardly be remedied as matters stand (at least here). The "new" approach, however, seems to me to be equally inauthentic, for reasons that are more obscure. I think the relationships set up are based more on insecurities and superficial needs than on the Spirit and on faith. They do not spell authenticity. In Ellul's Propagandes there are good reasons why. What is happening is not unity in the Spirit so much as a "propaganda for integration," and the participation of which all are so proud tends to be really a concerted and determined complicity in mutual persuasion-a kind of liberal triumphalism making itself come true.
1965/09/30Michael HarringtonOther America: Poverty in the United States Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 300 The month began in rain and is ending in it-though there were a couple of long dry periods. A fine rainstorm with lots of southeast wind began just as I was finishing my afternoon work (and finishing the selections from this Journal to be used in the book for Doubleday. Took it up to end of 1963). It went on during supper, at which I was reading Harrington's The Other America- the shocking chapter on the aged!
1965/12/05Jacques EllulIllusion politique Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 322 Last evening at supper I began [Jacques] Ellul's L'Illusion politique. It is some comfort to find someone who agrees with my position. I must be resolutely non-political, provided I remain ready to speak out when it is needed. However, I think this book too may turn out insufficient and naïve (philosophically weak perhaps. I am not far into it). But he is basically right in attacking the modern superstition that "what has no political value has no value at all"-"A man who does not read the newspapers is not a man." And to be apolitical is to be excommunicated as a sorcerer. That the deepest communion of man with man is in political dedication.
1965/12/24Gordon ZahnIn Solitary Witness. The Life and Death of Franz Jägerstätter Ltrs: WtoF p. 111 The Council says explicitly that it is good that there be legal provision made for those who object to modern war and that these should consider themselves obliged to serve their society in some peaceful capacity. This being the case, no one should regard a Catholic objector as an oddity anymore. You are right, of course, that crazy and irresponsible protests on the part of pacifists do more harm than good and I have been in some arguments with them recently on this score. They are antagonizing good, honest people who really want to find out what the score is. You might also read Gordon Zahn's book In Silent [Solitary] Witness, on the Austrian Catholic objector [Franz Jägerstätter] executed under Hitler. The boys might enjoy it also. I don't say you ought to give them a forceful indoctrination, but they should have an opportunity to learn the other side of the question. The problem of social pressures is, of course, always going to be difficult, and it will perhaps be much worse in the future.
1966/04/22Ned O'GormanProphetic Voices: Ideas and Words of Revolution Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 43 Cannot eat much, do not feel like work (writing). Am delaying work on the bits for Ned O'Gorman's book [Note 5: "Seven Words" published in Prophetic Voices: Ideas and Words of Revolution, edited by Ned O'Gorman (New York: Random House, 1969)]. (plenty of time anyway I found out). Nothing terribly pressing to be done, and I don't yet feel much like typing. But walking around, my neck feels fine (today is exactly 4 weeks since the operation). The left leg is still a bit numb, and the incision still bleeds. Otherwise everything is fine.
1966/07/20G. J. WarnockEnglish Philosophy since 1900 Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 98 Reading Dostoievsky's The Idiot, a marvelous and fascinating book. What a world! And how he structures it, with what ease - from the very first chapter. Also [G. J.] Warnock on English Philosophy Since 1900 [London, 1963], a new area for me - I always assumed these people were complete squares. Need to know Wittgenstein. The book is well written. Finally also Nyanaponika Thera's excellent treatise on Buddhist meditation - the basic elements - so easily despised, but very practical indeed. There is a healthy empiricism in Buddhist ascesis!
1966/07/29G. J. WarnockEnglish Philosophy since 1900 Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 103 Ludicrous chapter on Metaphysics in Warnock's English Philosophy Since 1900. True, there is no metaphysics in England. But to assume that all metaphysics is just a game without meaning - to have no sense of the need for metaphysical insight of any sort - this is the wonder!
1966/08/01G. J. WarnockEnglish Philosophy since 1900 Ltrs: HGL p. 376 I have a real repugnance for writing things that tell everyone specifically how to do something or other spiritual now. I suppose St. Ignatius was really much more flexible than we realize. As to Benet and your husband: I just finished a book by Warnock on English Philosophy since 1900, and in the chapter on metaphysics he manifested not a sign that such a subject could have any appeal to any philosopher: all right, in an atmosphere of logical positivism and all that, your husband (you give me the impression he is very commonsensical) has probably no inkling of what Benet could possibly be about. And no interest whatever in finding out. All the more reason why someone is needed to remind people that this exists. If you can't make it clear to everyone, so much the worse. Make it clear to some.
1966/09/13Marshall McLuhanUnderstanding media : the extensions of man / by Marshall McLuhan Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 133 Reading Marshall McLuhan Understanding Media. I think it is very important indeed for monks to go into this. Critically important for the whole question of ddaptation. I would like to write to him - would like in fact to go to Toronto, but this is hopeless. It remains a very important question. I may try to invite him down. Certainly McLuhan brings home to me the fact that I do not really know what is going on. Doubtless Conjectures (or the other diary) may appeal to a lot of people who, like myself, are essentially book-types. But does it have any real understanding of new developments? Possibly very little.
1966/10/13Jacques Maritainpaysan de la Garonne : un vieux laïc s'interroge à propos du temps present Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 148 On the evening of the 6th - Jacques Maritain, John H. Griffin, Penn Jones and Babeth Manual arrived. A wonderful visit. On the morning of the 7th they came to the hermitage (bright, cool). I read some poems for them. In the afternoon we went out to the woods. Late Mass for them all in the temporary exterior chapel which I liked. It was a beautiful mass, which as a matter of fact, to please Jacques, I said all in Latin and all in the old way. He was delighted. Began then reading his book - the new one - which he gave me in page proofs, Le Paysan de la Garonne [The Peasant of the Garonne]. It is perhaps a bit self-conscious: he is very aware of himself as "Le vieux [the old] Jacques" and half apologetic, but says I think some very telling things about the novelty hunters and the superficial advocates, change in a naively progressive way ("anything is good as long as it's something new"). The morning in the hermitage was good because they liked the bits of "Edifying Cables" I read to them. That was encouraging. Jack Ford and Dan Walsh were also there, and they came in the afternoon too.
1966/10/13Penn JonesForgive My Grieve: A Critical Review of the Warren Commission Report on the Assasination of President John F. Kennedy Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 148 Penn Jones has been working on the Warren Commission report and his book [Forgive My Grief: A Critical Review of the Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 1966], though hard to read - a mass of material without much form - clearly shows the commission neglected to investigate some very important things. Apparently this is now more generally advocated. It appears very probable that Oswald was not the only assassin - that he did not know the others - and that some very powerful people may have been behind it all. I read all this in one sitting Sunday morning, with rain falling on the hermitage - a drab day.
1966/10/27Thich Nhat HanhVietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 151 Finished a preface to Nhat Hanh's new book [Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire, 1967], which is clear and interesting and ought to be widely read. Harper's is publishing it - soon.
1966/11/18Jacques Maritainpaysan de la Garonne : un vieux laîc s'interroge à propos du temps present Ltrs: SofC p. 322 Jacques Maritain was here in October and we had a fine visit. He is very much a hermit now, and his latest book has added a hermit voice to the contemporary harmony (or disharmony). Le Paysan de la Garonne is I think very fine. I think you would like it. I have heard from your friend Dom Gregory in Tanzania and will write to him soon. Also we had a true Sufi master from Algeria here. A most remarkable person. It was like meeting a Desert Father or someone out of the Bible. He invited me to come and talk to his disciples in Algeria but I told him this would be quite impossible. Yet I would love to talk to them in fact, and also to see some monasteries in Africa. But I suppose that will never be allowed. No matter. The woods are all I need.
1967/01/04Joseph P. LyfordAirtight Cage Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 182 Finished [Joseph P.] Lyford's book - The Airtight Cage [New York, 1966] - a clear-cut and impassioned report on what happens to people in a slum. In this case the "Area" - South of Columbia in the 80's and 90's on the West Side of NY - which was a somewhat comfy middle-class Jewish"”Irish area when I was in college... He shows the life of utter helplessness, rootlessness, lack of community, lived by people (poor and middle class) who have no recourse, i.e. a system that deplores the slum but needs it as a human refuse dump.
1967/01/10Loren EiseleyFirmament of Time Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 185 Another "natural" for me - Loren Eiseley. Amiya Chakravarty spoke of him and sent two books, and Harcourt Brace is giving out a little privately printed lecture of his which I have just read. Perfect. And clicks perfectly with what I have had on my mind all morning. I hope to begin The Firmament of Time [New York, 1960] - seems to fit in with what I read in Guardini - Pascal on Nature. Perhaps another good start.
1967/01/30Theodora KroeberIshi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 189 am reading Ishi - which Doris Dana sent. A heartrending book about the last of the Yahi Indians - victims of genocide a hundred years ago. What a frightening past this country has - and yet people admire it. True, not all were vigilantes and a lot of Ranchers protested against the indiscriminate massacre. So later Vietnam today! An Indian war!
1967/02/04Theodora KroeberIshi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 191 Finished Ishi. A moving book. The best and the worst in America comes out in it. The furious stupidity and violence of vigilantes and the warm, touching friendliness of scholars. And Ishi who is the "real America" - at least who has the valid claim to be the America that was created natural.
1967/03/23Raymond J. NogardLord of the Absurd Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 209 The new books that came in from Herder & Herder strike me more and more as superficial, contrived, thrown-together trifles, straining to be "new" and never quite managing to convince. For instance [Raymond J.] Nogar's Lord of the Absurd [New York, 1966] seemed to me to be very thin, chatty stuff, and I can't see how so many people (?) are impressed by it: except of course that it accepts evolution - but what is so marvelous about that? It's a hundred years late.
1967/04/28Alex HaleyAutobiography of Malcolm X Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 226 I am reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X, which is an impressive book. Took it out into the sun in the wood's edge this afternoon after writing one or two necessary letters.
1967/05/03Franz FanonWretched of the Earth Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 226 Reading [Frantz] Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth [New York, 1963]), Malcolm X and beginning Soul [on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver (New York, 1967)], all in view of an essay on war for a symposium edited by someone at Drexel.
1967/05/04Franz FanonWretched of the Earth Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 227 Reading Fanon - and in contrast - stuff about Hippies in S.F. and an illuminating critique of Salinger by Mary McCarthy (in Dommergues). Hate stuff, Love stuff, all marketable, all advertised, all publicized, all disturbing to the consumer who lives in his suburb, and all of it - I wonder if it means anything? (Except Fanon who talks out of another world not of surfeit and drugs but of hunger and desperation.) Now synthetic visions which are supposed to be real. Not orthodoxies and anti-orthodoxies and visions of life which one is supposed to purchase this morning.
1967/05/06Lewis MumfordMyth of the machine : technics and human development Ltrs: RtoJ p. 129 Thanks for the Nips blasts. The enclosed will show that I am doing my own small part [a letter to The New York Times about Lewis Mumford's book The Myth of the Machine].
1967/05/07Gerald SykeCool Millennium Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 229 In the evening I began reading Gerald Syke's book The Cool Millennium [Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1967] - with which I agree so completely that it can hardly be called something new. Yet it does have a good effect, because it makes one realize more than ever how fortunate I am in my life in the woods, and what a chance I have to be really free. That I don't need to prejudice my peace and freedom with recriminations against society. I am as out of it as one can be and still live in the USA. And there is no likelihood of my changing anything by my clamor. On the other hand I do have enough of a hearing to reach quite a few individuals and help them. (Yesterday another letter came from Smith [College] - another of those girls. They move and charm me with their understanding.)
1967/05/21George GamowThirty Years that shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Physics Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 237 My breakfast reading (which is supposed to be "light" and informative) is now a new book by [George] Gamow on Quantum Physics. It dazzles and baffles me - but Niels Bohr & Co. are definitely among my No. 1 culture heroes. This magnificent instrument of thought they developed to understand what is happening in matter, what energy really is about - with their confirmation of the kind of thing Herakleitos was reaching for by intuition. It is terribly exciting, though I can't grasp any of it due to the fact that I never had even highschool physics, and the equations are just hieroglyphics that represent to me no known answers. What sharks are they hunting? I don't know, but when the shark is caught I try to focus on him my bedazzled reason.
1967/05/27Niels BlaedelHarmony and Unity: The Life of Niels Bohr Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 238 A beautiful May morning. Limpid clarity. Silence. Birds. Air thick with the sweetness of honeysuckle. Thank God I have had a few days of quiet. Reading a life of Niels Bohr, finished Izutson on Ibn Arabi and returned it to Wenjyko at McGill. I can't say I am totally happy with the 6th century Palestinian monasticism described in clarity. Too much political struggle - and I mean struggle for power. There is a great difference between a monk speaking out on a moral issue and a monk or community thrown bodily into a violent struggle for power with bishops and other monks.
1967/06/03Niels BlaedelHarmony and Unity: The Life of Niels Bohr Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 243-44 Last evening: eating sardines and drinking a couple of cans of Schlitz, and reading the life of Niels Bohr, I was again astonished at the "nearness" of the whole development of atomic physics, to my own life. Things going on at the Cavendish Lab at Cambridge when I was there. In January 1939, when I was taking my exams for the M.A. and had presented my thesis, the uranium atom was split in an experiment at Columbia (Jan. 25) and I knew nothing about it (though it got into the papers). At that time there was an immense ferment going on in Germany and the U.S. over the atom. Bohr had just arrived for 3 months at Princeton. Everyone was splitting the uranium nucleus and wondering if Hitler was on the way to producing a bomb. I had no idea that it went back that far. A sense of awe at the fact that people like Bohr were so much at the heart of what was happening - so truly "prophetic." For this is a truly modern kind of prophetism: I mean in men like Bohr, [Werner] Heisenberg, [Leo] Szilard etc. who grasped all the consequences of their discoveries in a widely human way.
1967/06/15Lewis MumfordMyth of the machine : technics and human development Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 251 The new Mumford book came today from HB&W and I began it. It seems to be excellent - and defies all the currently accepted dogmas of the culture-history people.
1967/07/20Albert CamusReflexions sur la guillotine Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 267 I am working on Camus's Reflexions sur la guillotine [Reflections on the Guillotine] - a powerful and subtle piece of work and very important for a real understanding of his novels. Perhaps the real key to them. Yesterday I corrected and sent back proofs of the review article on Camus to the Sewanee Review.
1967/08/09Carl AmeryCapitulation: The Lesson of German Catholicism Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 274 Reading Carl Amery's excellent book on the German Church. Capitulation [New York, 1967]. Instructive for everybody. A lot of what is said applies here too. Very much so!
1967/08/11Carl AmeryCapitulation: The Lesson of German Catholicism Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 275 Finished Carl Amery's Capitulation. One of the best things I had read on modern Catholicism as it is - in its identification with bourgeois material establishment, its inclination to favor the bomb and war (against Communism), to frown on pacifists and radicals, but at the same time to triumphally present "progressiv" images of itself - Mercedes-Benz churches - streamlined liturgy conducted by boy Sergeants etc. And (as in Germany) its serene capacity to eat its cake and have it: to celebrate in the same breath [Franz] von Papen, who lined the Church up with Nazism, and the [indecipherable] resistance fighters - all five or six of them, who were destroyed by the Nazis while abandoned and excluded by their fellow Catholics ([Fr. Alfred] Delp, [Fr. Max Josef] Metzger, [Franz] Jägerstätter etc. Even unknown to fellow Catholics). The book reinforces my conclusion that there is nothing to be looked for from Church officialdom. Any good that I will ever do for the people of my time will be done, if at all, in spite of my Superiors rather than with their help.
1967/09/02Peter NabokovTwo Leggings: The Making of a Crow Warrior Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 284-85 Walked barefoot in a mossy spot under oaks and pines reading a new book of which a review copy came today - Two Leggings [edited by Peter Nabokov, New York, 1967] about a Crow Indian, his fasts, his efforts at acquiring vision and "medicine." I could use a little medicine myself!
1967/09/18Peter NabokovTwo Leggings: The Making of a Crow Warrior Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 292 This time, finished Two Leggings - a rather sad, futile sort of book. With all his striving for powerful visions and strong medicine he never got to be chief. Fought the Sioux on the side of the whites - and the whites took away the Crows' land anyway. In the end a white officer gave him a five-dollar gold piece. Sunday was great. Discovery of the Zapotecan city of Monte Alban in new book edited by J. Paddock. Rereading Mosley on the Mayas. Sacred cities in center of sparsely populated rural areas. Cult centers without army and without King. An ideal, peaceful civilization. No one knows why it finally folded up. Same all through Mexico in the "Classic" period. Zapotecs, Mayas, Toltecs. Violence came with decadence. Aztecs were the last end of it. The final corruption.
1967/10/28Nelson ReedCaste War of Yucatan Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 6 Am absorbed and excited by Nelson Reed's book on The Caste War in Yucatan. It clicks perfectly with what I have been reading of Cargo Cults and with the Black Power movement in U.S. I want to write about this!
1967/12/30James MooneyGhost-dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890 Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 32 I have [James] Mooney's wonderful Ghost Dance book finally and am reading the new George Steiner book [Language and Silence] which critics have to a great extent ignored or treated coldly. Very good.
1968/01/10William Clark StyronConfessions of Nat Turner Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 37 Yesterday I would have gone to town but it snowed, the roads were bad. I came back up and finished Nat Turner and wrote my articl"”after lunch with Fr. Charles, ill and alone (the two abbots out to the Little Sisters of the Poor and to a hospital where two of our professed ar"”to get them to renounce their votes).
1968/02/12Ronald SegalRace War Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 55 I finished [Ronald] Segal's badly written but perceptive survey The Race War [New York: Viking, 1967]. It really clarifies the situation"”shows how serious and how irrational it is. These are elementary truths"”and people like Johnson evidently can't see them. To think that a society as complex and sophisticated as the U.S. seems to be, should bog down, finally, is something as trivial, as stupid, and as self-defeating. One conclusion: the real importance of resistance within the U.S. Not only for ourselves but for everyone els"”for the human race. Yet the hangups are now so inexorabl"¦
1968/02/25Roderick Frazier NashWilderness & the American Mind Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 58 Yesterday I wrote a short piece on Wilderness (the Nash book) in the afternoon. Importance of the "ecological conscience." (Same war as above!!)
1968/04/09Carl AmeryCapitulation: The Lesson of German Catholicism Ltrs: RtoJ p. 365 I think you are right when you say that Catholic spirituality has been too individualistic. That is just another way of saying that it has been the product of a middle-class environment. Carl Amery's book Capitulation has plenty to say about this kind of "milieu Catholicism" in Nazi Germany. We are about to have the same problems here. Though perhaps not quite in the same way. Unfortunately, I am not sure that a more revolutionary Catholicism cast in the mold of a socialist society is going to be much help either. We can't just go on fitting into somebody else's mold.
1968/06/29Frantz FanonBlack skin, white masks / Frantz Fanon ; transl. by Charles Lam Markmann Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 134 I am reading [Frantz] Fanon's Black Skins, White Masks"”a really extraordinary book. From every point of view"”as a piece of existentialist philosophizing, an analysis of the race question, as a work of literature (got it from Jim Lowell at the Asphodel Bookshop in exchange for Monks Ponds).
1968/06/29Vance PackardNaked Society Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 134 Also reading Vance Packard's Naked Society"”timely enough! The new crime bill now permits all kinds of bugging, wire-tapping, evidence so obtained can be used in court, etc. A big step towards a Police State. Not towards: we are in many respects already there. All these new things (bugging equipment, gasses, armored cars, etc.) will be used more and more against forces of change and dissent. And less against criminals than against dissenters.
1968/07/03Frantz FanonBlack skin, white masks / Frantz Fanon ; transl. by Charles Lam Markmann Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 136 Yesterday I finished Fanon's intelligent, well-written, eminently true book Black Skins, White Masks. Written earlier than the Wretched, it is more incisive, dispassionate, less angry. He still thought he could communicate with white men.