Sunday, February 19, 2012

Joseph Wood Krutch, more thougts on Joy

J0seph Wood Krutch in his Baja California and the Geography of Hope expresses some unusual ideas, (well, they are unusual today) on joy and its presence in nature. Obviously this is not a scientific view of nature, for when was the last time anyone heard a scientist say anything about joy in nature--that would be unscientific. But, fortunately, Krutch is not a scientist and therefore he can see this in nature--in plants and animals.

Joy is the one thing of which indisputably the healthy animal, and even the healthy plant, gives us an example. And we need them to remind us that beauty and joy can come of their own accord when we let them. The geranium on the tenement window and the orchid in the florist's shop, the poodle on the leash and the goldfish in the bowl, are better than nothing. In the consciousness of the city-dweller, they ought to play a part no less essential than that of the sleek chrome chair and the reproductions of Braque and Miro.

[in Baja California] I have, literally, God's plenty. Everything reminds me that man is an incident in nature rather than, as one comes to suppose in the city, that the natural is, at most, an incident, surviving precariously in a man-made world. If I do on my own a little of that peeping and botanizing which Wordsworth scorned, I think that I profit less from what I learn about nature than I do from what I should prefer to call the example she sets me--the example, I mean, of confidence, of serenity, and, above all, of joy. In the city, perhaps especially in the city of today, one may pass whole weeks without meeting a single joyous person or seeing a single joyous thing. One may meet laughter there, and wit--sometimes, perhaps, a fragment of wisdom. These are all good things which I would not willingly do without. But joyousness, as distinguished from diversion and amusement and recreation, is so rare that a whole philosophy has been developed to make a virtue out of its absence.

This world, we are told, is a terrible place, and it is wicked not to be almost continuously aware of the fact. Diversion in limited quantities is permissible as a temporary relaxation, but moral indignation should be the staple of any human life, properly spent. Yet it seems to me that Joy and Love, increasingly fading from human experience, are the two most important things in the world, and that if one must be indignant about something, the fact that they are so rare is the thing most worth of indignation.

-- Joseph Wood Krutch --
from Baja California and the Geography of Hope

I wonder what would happen if one of the candidates in the primaries being held this Spring of 2012 should begin to criticize The System today because of its limited, materialistic view, that there is something more important than economics and religious prohibitions and struggles for world domination. Just suppose that that candidate began to argue that our outlook on life (and not merely just a particular religious doctrine) and that our relationship to the world we live in is just as important, if not more so, than economics and social controls and world preeminence.

I think that person would labelled a nut. What could be more important than jobs and proper religious behavior and world domination?

No comments:

Post a Comment