A Piece of My Mind: Reflections at Sixty by Edmund Wilson

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By Edmund Wilson

The respected American author and journalist contemplates faith, warfare, Europe, Russia, the Jews, schooling, technology, intercourse, and being 60.

My superior pdf of Gimley's test, now unmarried web page, b/w historical past, OCR'd, bookmarked, cropped borders.

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It may not be true that "Americanism"-like Dr. Johnson's "patriotism"-is invariably "the last refuge of a scoundrel"; but it has been made to serve some very bad causes, and is now a word to avoid. lii WAR THB QUEsnoN of American expansion brings us to the subject of war. Why do human beings go to war. At one time, I was somewhat impressed by the Marxist explanation of this: economic rivalries for markets and the need for fresh fields of exploitation. Now, it is true that economic interests are usually involved in wars, but does this really account for what happens?

It is as much, I am told, as the Irish can do, to equip it with an invented vocabulary for dealing with the phenomena of modem life. The revival of Hebrew in Israel has undoubtedly more justification. There is a need for a common language among the diversity of Jews-German, East European, Russian, British, North African and Ycmenite; and Hebrew, as a literary medium, has never been entirely dead. Yet one cannot but regret this necessity. To write even in modernized Hebrew seems to lead back into a cabinned and visionary past from which the great Jewish thinkers and writers in the European and Slavic languages have succeeded in liberating themselves.

We are at least a little beginning to get the hang of how these systems operate. Anatomy is already an old story; the functions of the brain are being explored; we know something of how sex is determined and how family characteristics are inherited. " We know something, through Marx and Engels, of the frequently unavowed, if not always unconscious, stimuli of a social-economic kind that play their part in provoking the modem wars. Yet the group behavior of insects enables us to study our own and to draw conclusions about it that the logic of Marx and Engels-as well as their German idealismwould not allow them to take into account.

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