Saturday, June 24, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Paul Goodman (1911 – 1972)


American writer, poet, public intellectual.
Paul Goodman
Social scientists ... have begun to think that “social animal” means “harmoniously belonging.” They do not like to think that fighting and dissenting are proper social functions, nor that rebelling or initiating fundamental change is a social function. Rather, if something does not run smoothly, they say it has been improperly socialized; there has been a failure in communication. ... But perhaps there has not been a failure in communication. Perhaps the social message has been communicated clearly to the young men and is unacceptable. ... We must ask the question, “Is the harmonious organization to which the young are inadequately socialized perhaps against human nature, or not worthy of human nature, and therefore there is difficulty in growing up?”
Goodman quotes
We do not need to be able to say what “human nature” is in order to be able to say that some training is “against human nature.”
Goodman
The irony is that in our decades, the combination of rationalism, asceticism, and individualism (the so-called Protestant Ethic) has produced precisely the system of boondoggling, luxury-consumption, and status.




Goodman Paul quotes
We do not behave as if we believed that the affairs of our world were significant enough for the intervention of great men.
Goodman Paul
When we choose a man to beautify our towns, we do not automatically call on the major artists of the world. ... We now lavishly praise Frank Lloyd Wright, but we never made any community use of him, though he longed for the chance.
Paul Goodman quotes
To consider powerful souls as if they were a useful public resource is quite foreign to our customs. In a small sense it is undemocratic, for it assumes that some people really know better in a way that must seem arbitrary to most. In a large sense it is certainly democratic, in that it makes the great man serve as a man.
Paul Goodman
The ancient dream of man to fly among the stars and go through the could and look down on the lands and seas has degenerated in its realization to the socialized and apathetic behavior of passengers who hardly look out the windows.
Goodman Paul quotes
Where there is official censorship it is a sign that speech is serious. Where there is none, it is pretty certain that the official spokesmen have all the loud-speakers.
Goodman
An awkward consequence of heightening experience when one is inexperienced, of self-transcendence when one has not much world to lose, is that afterward one cannot be sure that one was somewhere or had newly experienced anything. If you aren’t much in the world, how do you know you are “out of this world”?
Goodman Paul
The way in which our society does do honor to its indubitably great men ... is a study in immunizing people against their virus. ... They are the menagerie of Very Important People who exist only for ceremonial occasions. ... The effectually prevents the two practical uses that we could make of them. We neither take seriously the simple, direct, fearless souls that they invariably are, whether humble or arrogant, to model ourselves after them because they make more sense as human beings; nor do we have recourse the them to help us when we have need of exceptional purity, magnanimity, profundity, or imagination.
Paul Goodman
We certainly have at present the dismal situation that the most imaginative men are directed by a group, the top managers, who are among the least.




Paul Goodman quotes
We define boredom as the pain a person feels when he’s doing nothing or something irrelevant, instead of something he wants to do but won’t, can’t, or doesn’t dare. Boredom is acute when he knows the other thing and inhibits his action, e.g., out of politeness, embarrassment, fear of punishment or shame. Boredom is chronic if he has repressed the thought of it and no longer is aware of it. A large part of stupidity is just the chronic boredom, for a person can’t learn, or be intelligent about, what he’s not interested in, when his repressed thoughts are elsewhere. (Another large part of stupidity is stubbornness, unconsciously saying, “I won’t. You can’t make me.”)
Paul Goodman
In a milieu of resignation, where the young men think of society as a closed room in which there are no values but the rejected rat race, ... it is extremely hard to aim at objective truth or world culture. One’s own products are likely to be personal or parochial.
Goodman quotes
   The chessboard was reflected in her eyes.
Eager to beat her, first I looked on her eyes.
   I made a Spanish move, an ancient one,
and broken was the red rank of pawns in her light eyes.
   Then I lowered my eyes from that chessboard
and Love said, "Oh not her; conquer the king if you can."
Goodman Paul
During childhood, they played games with fierce intensity, giving themselves as sacrifice to the game, for play was the chief business of growth, finding and making themselves in the world. Now when they are too old merely to play, to what shall they give themselves with fierce intensity? They cannot play for recreation, since they have not been used up. ... Since each activity is not interesting to begin with, its value does not deepen and it does not bear much repetition. ... In these circumstances, the inevitable tendency is to raise the ante of the compulsive useless activity.
Goodman Paul quotes
Not to teach the whole curriculum is to give up on the whole man.
Paul Goodman
Nothing could be more stupid than for the communications commission to give to people who handle the means of broadcasting the inventing of what to broadcast, and then, disturbed at the poor quality, to worry about censorship.
Paul Goodman quotes
Let me formulate the artistic disposition as follows: it is reacting with one’s ideal to the flaw in oneself and in the world, and somehow making that reaction formation solid enough in the medium so that it indeed becomes an improved bit of real world for others.
Paul Goodman
Thwarted, or starved, in the important objects proper to young capacities, the boys and young men naturally find or invent deviant objects for themselves. ... Their choices and inventions are rarely charming, usually stupid, and often disastrous; we cannot expect average kids to deviate with genius. But on the other hand, the young men who conform to the dominant society become for the most part apathetic, disappointed, cynical and wasted.
Goodman Paul
Boys today hardly aspire to immortal honor, the honor of self-fulfilling achievement. It is highly disapproved of in the code of the organized system. Instead, they devote themselves to protecting their “personal honor” against insults; and conversely they dream of the transient notoriety which will prove that they are “somebody,” which they doubt. The personal honor that they protect does not include truthfulness, honesty, public usefulness, integrity, independence, or virtues like that. A reputation for these things does not win respect, it has no publicity value; it’s believed to be phony anyway, and if it’s true, the person is hard to get along with.


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