Mainly About Myself



„Wastemanagement“ and „Contemporary Poetry“



I have no taste for what is called popular art, no respect for popular morality, no belief in popular religion, no admiration for popular heroics. As an American I can pretend patriotism neither for the country I have abandoned nor for the countries that ruin it. As a humane person I detest violence and slaughter, whether in war, sport, or the butcher’s yard. I detest our anarchical scramble for money, and believe in equality as the only possible permanent basis of social organization, discipline, subordination, good manners, and selection of fit persons for high functions. Fashionable life, open on indulgent terms to unencumbered “brilliant” persons, I can not endure, even if I do not fear its demoralizing effect on a character which requires looking after as much as my own. I am neither a sceptic nor a cynic in these matters: I simply understand life differently from the average respectable man; and as I certainly enjoy myself more – mostly in ways which would make him unbearably miserable – I am not splenetic over our variance.


Judge then, how impossible it was for me to combine all this,

And to publish literature that can delight the public,

And to publish ‘waste-management’ that can both delight the industry and the communities.


Alas, the world grows younger as I grow older: human conduct and belief are undergoing transformations profounder and more disturbing than any since the appearance of wealth and philosophy put an end to the traditional religion of the Greeks. We face again the problem that harassed Socrates: how shall we find a natural ethic to replace the supernatural sanctions that have ceased to influence the behaviour of men? Without literature and philosophy, without that total vision which unifies purposes and establishes the hierarchy of desires, we fritter away our social heritage in cynical corruption on the one hand, and in revolutionary madness on the other; we abandon in a moment our pacific idealism and plunge into the cooperative suicide of war; we have a hundred thousand politicians, and but a single statesman. We move about the earth with unprecedented speed, but we do not know, and have not thought, where we are going, or whether we shall find any happiness there for our harassed souls. We are being destroyed by our knowledge, which has made us drunk with our power. And we shall not be saved without wisdom.


Kirsten Gutke