The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

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DateAuthorTitleSourceQuotation by Merton
1949/07/21Johannes TaulerSermons de Tauler : traduction sur les plus anciens manuscrits allemands / par les RR. PP. Hugueny, Thery, O. P. et A. L. Corin Jnl 2 ('41-'52) p. 339-40 I have found many good things in Hugeny's Theological Introduction to his translation of Tauler [Sermons de Tauler, 3 volumes]. He is especially good on the psychological factors in contemplation and on natural contemplation. I have never read anything so clear and so sensible on the subject. At the center of contemplation is this complete, global comprehension of a truth, not in its details but in its wholeness, not as an abstract matter of speculation, but apprehended in all that appeals to our affective powers so that it is appreciated and prized and savored.
1954/10/02Erich FrommMan for himself : an inquiry into the psychology of ethics Ltrs: HGL p. 308-09 Some time ago when I was reading your Psychoanalysis and Religion I thought I would write you a letter. Now that I am in the middle of Man for Himself and am hoping to get Escape from Freedom, I think I shall put a few of my thoughts on paper and send them to you.
1954/10/02Erich FrommPsychoanalysis and religion Ltrs: HGL p. 308-09 Some time ago when I was reading your Psychoanalysis and Religion I thought I would write you a letter. Now that I am in the middle of Man for Himself and am hoping to get Escape from Freedom, I think I shall put a few of my thoughts on paper and send them to you.
1955/09/12Erich FrommForgotten Language Ltrs: HGL p. 314 Your book The Forgotten Language, which I read last May or June, also interested me very much.
1955/09/12Erich FrommSane Society Ltrs: HGL p. 313 I am about halfway through The Sane Society which I received some time ago. I am reading it with the greatest interest and profit, and taking my time, for I believe it to be your very best book. I thank you for having written it and for having been so kind as to send me an inscribed copy. Once again I would like to tell you how closely I agree with your main conclusions, that I have read so far, and especially with your admirable analysis of man in our present society.
1959/04/04Carl Gustav JungUndiscovered Self Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 271 Read some Origen on Josue, and Soloviev (Lectures on God Manhood)-some material on Mount Athos-Allport on prejudice. A new book by Jung has come in -The Undiscovered Self - which so far appears to be quite good.
1959/05/08Carl Gustav JungUndiscovered Self Ltrs: CforT p. 97-98 How happy I am that [C. G.] Jung is doing an autobiography, and that Kurt is working with him. I recently read Jung's The Undiscovered Self and want to say how much I enjoyed it and agreed with it. He is one of the rare men who are helping us rediscover the true shape of our life, and the true validity of our symbols.
1959/08/24Paul TillichLove, Power and Justice Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 321 Reading Tillich's Love, Power and Justice and am excited by it; it is very dense and strong. The substrate of depth psychology makes his thought very substantial. I will certainly write to him about it, especially as he signed the copy for me.
1959/08/30Carl Gustav JungUndiscovered Self Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 322 She [Fr. Anselm's sister] had been completely unable to understand Fr. A's vocation and had challenged him on it without pulling any punches, and the points she made were serious. (This in a letter at Easter.) I had written back suggesting she read Jung's Undiscovered Self. She had not replied. She was then working as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital.
1960/03/03Erich FrommZen Buddhism & Psychoanalysis / Other autors: Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, Richard De Martino Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 377 Must write to Fromm about the new book (Zen and Psychoanalysis) which is on the whole excellent, especially Suzuki's part in it.
1960/04/16Erich FrommArt of Loving: an Enquiry into the Nature of Love Jnl 3 ('52-'60) p. 384 Excellent book by Scholem Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism and Traherne's Centuries, sent by Natasha Spender. Finished Fromm on love. And a little thing by Jungmann, The Sacrifice of the Church.
1960/05/08Erich NeumannAmor and Psyche: The Psychic Development of the Feminine: A Commentary on the Tale by Apuleius. 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.
1960/09/04Max PicardFlight from God Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 42 The heart of Clement's book-that "fallen Tim" (le temps dechu) has no present. It is only the expression of an absence-the absence of God. Redeemed Time (le temps sauve) is concentrated in a "present moment" and born of the presence of God even in our own misery, in so far as our misery does not despair but falls into the abyss of Time, the Divine love, "une ouverture de l'humilite à la vie ressuscitee du Seigneur" ["an opening of humility to the risen life of the Lord"]. Tremendous content of this. Interesting content with French-somewhat existentialist. Very deep and true of Max Picard's Flight from God [Washington, D.C., 1951] (which is far less deep). Basis-this doctrine founded on remarkable spirituality of Sylvanus of Athos, d. 1938, who was told by Christ, "Hold thy spirit in hell and do not despair, for in condemning himself to hell and in thus destroying all passion, man liberates his heart to receive the divine love."
1961/02/12Laurens Post, van derDark Eye in Africa: Politics, Psychology Ltrs: HGL p. 129 Have you read a wonderful book called the Dark Eye in Africa by Laurens Van der Post? He is another remarkable person, and on primitive man he also wrote a splendid book about the Bushmen of South Africa, Lost World of the Kalahari. Several other interesting books about these Bushmen are appearing here and there. Most important insights into the reality of primitive man. What you quote AKC as saying about the underlying resentment and contempt in the attitude of men like Frazer and Levy-Bruhl is terribly true.
1961/08/27Mircea EliadeMythes, rêves et mystères. English. Myths, dreams, and mysteries : the encounter between contemporary faiths and archaic realities / Mircea Eliade ; transl. by Philip Mairet Ltrs: HGL p. 131 I have been reading a really remarkable book on Eckhart, by Vladimir Lossky, in French. It is very difficult in parts but it is one of the finest studies on the Meister. I highly recommend it. Published by Vrin. It is unfinished, as Lossky died. He was a great man, wrote a very fine book on the mystical theology of the Oriental Church which you should know. Also I just finished Mircea Eliade's Myths, Dreams and Mysteries. This too is very rich. He refers incidentally to Ananda and in the final pages has some very good things on Maya "¦
1961/09/26Erich FrommSigmund Freud's Mission Ltrs: HGL p. 315 Your latest book [Sigmund Freud's Mission] has reached me and the material is very interesting. The texts you have presented for the first time in English seem to me to be important in the highest degree, and I like your analysis of them. This is a very revealing book. Reading it one wonders at the torpor that has kept us from paying more attention to this material before the present moment. I can understand how it would be rejected as "idealism" on the other side of the Iron Curtain also. Among us it is rejected a priori for purely authoritarian and dogmatic reasons, I mean here in America. It is un-American. That is enough.
1961/11/14Erich FrommMay Man Prevail Ltrs: HGL p. 316 Your new book May Man Prevail has reached me and I am reading it with the greatest interest. I think it is a really sane and sound book. It is a very noticeable contrast with the kind of thinking that is so general everywhere here today. I wonder what hope there is of getting the country at large to see this point of view. The situation certainly seems to be very discouraging, from the point of view of peace.
1962/05/10Mircea EliadeImages and symbols : studies in religious symbolism / Mircea Eliade ; transl. by Philip Mairet Jnl 4 ('60-'63) p. 218 Fascinating books by Mircea Eliade. Finished (two days ago) Image and Symbol and began today the new one, Forge and Crucible, about alchemists. Opening up the meaning of myth in primitive technology which is always mystical. Why engineers are happy without religion?
1963/11/21Erich FrommArt of Loving: an Enquiry into the Nature of Love Ltrs: WtoF p. 309 Probably one of the most practical books I can recommend is Erich Fromm's The Art of Loving, which is published by Harper's. This is sensible and good. Dr. Fromm is an analyst and a friend of mine, but I don't think you will find him sticky or unpractical. Try this, anyway. It ought to be of some help, though I don't think it gets into intimate details. But it concerns the psychological problem involved in sexual love.
1965/06/17Frithjof SchuonLanguage of the self / Frithjof Schuon ; transl. by Marco Pallis and Macleod Matheson 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.
1965/06/26Karl SternFlight from Woman Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 260 Reading Karl Stern's Flight from Woman. Some fascinating material (loaded word-mater!) especially in the chapter on Descartes.
1965/07/07Karl SternFlight from Woman Ltrs: SofC p. 287 Have you read Karl Stern's new book, The Flight from Woman? I think it is on the whole very good, and I think you would like it. But you are not the ones who need it "¦
1965/07/16Karl SternFlight from Woman Ltrs: HGL p. 148 I was very glad indeed to get your letter. It came at a good time, I had just been reading and enjoying Karl Stern's new book, The Flight from Woman, which is excellent. And I am always very glad to hear from you. I think often of you and pray often for you and the CW.
1965/10/06Herbert Eduard ReadIcon and Idea: The Function of Art in the Development of Human Consciousness Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 301 Picture of Galla Placidia in H[erbert] Read's book [Icon and Idea, 1964]. Byzantine Medallion of her, her son and her daughter. A most lovely and fascinating picture. The children are beautiful but dull. She is full of life and character. A fascinating face. How is it that this face is so contemporary to me, so ready to speak to me? As if she were someone I had always known. I can imagine it is mother, perhaps, I see in her; there is some resemblance, the same kind of features. Anyway I am moved by the picture.
1965/10/13Herbert Eduard ReadIcon and Idea: The Function of Art in the Development of Human Consciousness Jnl 5 ('63-'65) p. 302 I finished Read's Icon and Idea-Monday finished [Josef] Pieper In Tune with the World: [A Theory of Festivity, 1965] and wrote a review. Brother Dunstan is typing the last of Conjectures.
1965/12/12Karl SternFlight from Woman Ltrs: WtoF p. 248 At the moment I am trying not to be an authority on everything, so I am becoming silent on a lot of things I spoke of before and not speaking of new ones. I am getting out of anything that savors of politics, and I don't want to start talking about marriage since in any case I am not married and what I know of sexual love goes back to a rather selfish period of my life when I was thinking of getting and not of giving. I am not qualified to speak on this subject, but I recognize your rightness, especially the excellent point about the imaginary woman replacing the concrete flesh-and-blood ones. This is really the key to the whole thing. Do you by any chance know Karl Stern's latest book, The Flight from Woman?
1965/12/27Reza ArastehFinal Integration in the Adult Personality: A Measure for Peace Ltrs: HGL p. 41 I am interested in your book [Final Integration in the Adult Personality ], which I am sure will fill a great need in this country. The subject is important and it is one which I would gladly preface. Unfortunately, however, I have written so many prefaces in the last few years that my publisher finally took me to task and said that it would not be advisable to continue on such a scale. I promised that I would not undertake any more prefaces for a good while, and so I am unable to accept your offer. I wish I could. This does not mean I am not interested in the book, and I would be happy to look it over some time, perhaps when it gets further into the process of publication. Do you take up the question of psychedelics? I think this is important, because it seems to me to raise the whole question of the validity of mystical experience. And the real purpose of interior transformation by love. Love cannot be incited by a drug "¦
1966/04/27Erich FrommHeart of Man: Its Genious for Good and Evil Ltrs: HGL p. 322 The other day I finished your Heart of Man and found much good in this expansion of the former short work. [note 38: The short work was the booklet, referred to above, War Within Man. Fromm incorporated this material into The Heart of Man] Most helpful. Am temporarily not sleeping in the hermitage, as I am recovering from an operation for cervical disk. But I work and meditate there in the daytime when possible. Be sure that I am not exaggerating this project or being fanatical about it; but I need this delving into reality, this sweating out of illusions and desires "¦
1966/06/24Ira ProgroffSymbolic & the Real: A New Psychological Approach to the Fuller Experience of Personal Existence Ltrs: SofC p. 308-09 Do you remember that some time ago you sent me a book of Ira Progoff, The Symbolic and the Real, and asked me to comment on it for one of your friends? I have no idea how long ago it was, but at the time I said I would write a comment if and when I got around to reading the book. Well, I am reading it now. So here is my comment, for what it is worth, and very late in the day too. Essentially I agree with your own idea. The principles given in the book are excellent. This is a very good approach, especially all he says about the negative and diagnostic type of analysis which just binds people more firmly to their obsessions. His idea of a positive therapy which loosens up the flow of psychic and living dynamism is fine. On this score the book is very worthwhile. The application of the principles is good too. The only problem I have is with the relative banality of the symbols of his patients, which seem to me to be rather a letdown. I have noticed this before with the Jungian approach. Exciting theories, and then stupid mandalas by the patients. It is true perhaps that they cannot connect with traditional archetypal material, but it would certainly be a good thing if they could. It is much richer than what these patients are digging out "¦
1966/08/28Konrad LorenzOn Aggression Ltrs: CforT p. 106 Thanks very much indeed for sending me Konrad Lorenz's book On Aggression. I am enjoying it very much. It is a clear, persuasive, urbane treatment of a vitally important topic. I admire it most of all as an example of the humane wisdom we can expect from some of our scientists. I wish that many more of them would come forward and give us such timely lessons in such engaging language. I am very grateful to Dr. Lorenz for his ideas.
1967/05/06Michel FoucaultMadness and Civilization Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 229 "Did not Diemerbroek know of people stricken with the plague who had been cured by music?" [Michel] Foucault. Madness and Civilization [New York, 1965]. p. 179.
1967/05/22Michel FoucaultMadness and Civilization Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 238 Finished Foucault Madness and Civilization - a really remarkable book. Not sure that I have got more than a tenth of it. The material itself very rich, and his own handling of it subtle and masterly. One thing: the nineteenth-century asylum and its positivistic assumptions has very exact analogies to Trappist monasteries as organized by nineteenthcentury French abbots. I'd like to do a paper on it. But for whom? No one would publish it and Superiors would fall off their chairs - which would be a good thing no doubt. If I could think of something to do with it. Meanwhile, just sitting down and getting it on paper is out of the question until I have done other more urgent things.
1967/09/30Gaston BachelardPsychanalyse de Feu Jnl 6 ('66-'67) p. 295 I am beginning to get acquainted with G[aston] Bachelard (discovered him through David Kilburn at Birmingham U.). Tried his Psychanalyse de Feu [The Psychoanalysis of Fire, Paris, 1938] and found it rather obvious so I am dropping it and taking up La Poetique de l'espace [The Poetics of Space, Paris, 1948] which is quite another thing again! Very good material - phenomenology of poetic experience. And he is not afraid of ontology either. I suppose now that the Catholics are abandoning ontology the secular thinkers they claim to be imitating will rediscover it.
1968/01/22Reza ArastehFinal Integration in the Adult Personality: A Measure for Peace Ltrs: SofC p. 363 I do propose a review of what seems to me a most important book which most people will not run across easily. It is by a Persian psychoanalyst who is also a specialist in Sufi mysticism. The book is Final Integration in the Adult Personality, and I am reading it now. It could be of decisive importance for some of us in monastic renewal. If you give me the green light I'll do a review article.
1968/01/23Reza ArastehFinal Integration in the Adult Personality: A Measure for Peace Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 45 I am reading Reza Arasteh's fine book Final Integration and I think it brings a whole lot of threads together and makes much sens"”as opposed to so much of the fragmentary and short-sighted views of sociology and psychology in America. This really has something new to say"”and yet it is in line with the wisdom of the millennia. And very germane to monasticism.
1968/02/14Alan W. WattsPsychotherapy East and West Ltrs: SofC p. 365-66 Actually I am getting a lot of questions about the discipline thing so I guess the best thing I can do is mimeograph some notes, but they won't be anything very new. Actually, what I am thinking of is a mixture of traditional monastic ascesis and some interesting ideas on psychoanalysis which have been thought up by existentialist analysts like Victor Frankl and a Persian who knows a lot about Sufism and is also an analyst. I hope to do a review of a book of his soon in Monastic Studies. Also Zen... R. H. Zaehner is good on comparative mysticism. Arberry on Sufism I like. A lot of the books on Zen are worthwhile. For example, Alan Watts' "Psychotherapy East and West," while not being anything special, has some useful ideas in it (he is not always very deep though). Victor Frankl's books are I think a must, even though they are not specifically about spiritual guidance "¦
1968/03/21Reza ArastehFinal Integration in the Adult Personality: A Measure for Peace Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 70 This afternoon, because of the rain, no workmen came, and I took advantage of the quiet to write my review of the Arasteh book, Final Integration, which I found excellent. A very warm and good letter came from Walter Weisskopf, about my reply to his article in ICIS. I was moved by his letter. He worries much as I do, and is not an optimist àla [Herbert] Marcuse. Neither am I.
1968/03/30B.F. SkinnerWalden Two Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 74 I have given up on Hugo Rahner's Theology of Prodamation and on Skinner's Walden Two"”I see the "importanc" of the latter but it bores me. I forget the dozen other books I have given up on lately. But last evening I was reading The Essential Lenny Bruce and almost blew my mind. Completely gone in laughter, the kind that doubles you up and almost makes you roll on the floor. Surely that is some indication of the healthiness, and sanity of this satire which so many people regarded as "obscene." In reality, it is much more pure than the sinister doubletalk of the "moral" murderers and cops. Lenny Bruce was one of the few who were really clean.
1968/04/18Sigmund FreudCivilization and its discontents / Sigmund Freud ; transl. by Joan Riviere Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 82 Last evening at supper I finished Lenny Bruce. Sometimes he is really inspired"” sometimes just dull. And, though he is in some sense a kind of "martyr" for honesty, yet I think his gospel of excess was delusive and self-destroying. That is the problem! Also read the last half of Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents"”a truly prophetic book! A bit of Ibn Battuta, whose travels are sometimes marvelous. But I don't read much these days.
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).
1968/07/01Friedrich HeilerPrayer: A Study in the History and Psychology of Religion Jnl 7 ('67-'68) p. 136 Very hot. One of the hottest days I can remember here. Clammy and stuffy"”but with a breez"”even though hot"”in the woods. I spent part of the afternoon there, beginning Heiler's book on Prayer, which I find very moving and true. This is a good time to read it, as I hope to make July at least relatively a time of retreat, silence and prayer