Unity in variety

by reestheskin on 09/05/2017

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I thought I would have read this before, but maybe I put it to one side and foolishly forgot. It is a fitting description of Jacob Bronowksi by his wife, Rita. One thing — amongst many — caught my eye.

As a very young man he would travel miles every week to outlying villages in England to give what were called Workers’ Educational Association lectures. Quite literally he would travel through snow and fog to village halls to speak to 8 or 10 people who had equally braved the elements. I sometimes would think it a pity there were not hundreds thereto hear him. Little did I imagine that with radio and then television he would in fact finally reach millions.

And I would respond: you have to want to learn, and you have to want to educate.

But I can’t stop here. One bit of the jigsaw I didn’t know:

After receiving his Ph.D. and conducting 3 years of research, it became clear that, being a Jew, Bruno would not be made a Fellow of his college (Jesus College, Cambridge). He decided to ‘drop out’. Like so many young students (hippies, 30 years later), bearded and down-at-heel, he went to Paris to write. There he met, among others, Samuel Beckett, and they jointly edited an anthology called European Caravan..

It ends with his own words

What makes the biological machinery of man so powerful is that it modifies his actions through his imagination. It makes him able to symbolize, to project himself into the consequences of his acts, to conceptualize his plans, to weigh them, one against another, as a system of values… We, as men, are unique. We are the social solitaries … We are the creatures who have to create values in order to elucidate our own conduct, so that we learn from it and can direct it into the future (emphasis, mine)

In LEONARDO, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 223-225,1985