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By Lewis Mumford

Featuring a brand new creation by means of Casey Nelson Blake, this vintage textual content offers the essence of Mumford's perspectives at the specified but interpenetrating roles of know-how and the humanities in smooth tradition. Mumford contends that smooth man's overemphasis on technics has contributed to the depersonalization and vacancy of a lot of twentieth-century lifestyles. He matters a choice for a renewed appreciate for inventive impulses and achievements. His repeated insistence that technological improvement take the Human as its measure―as good as his impassioned plea for humanity to utilize its "splendid possibilities and promise" and opposite its growth towards anomie and destruction―is ever extra correct because the new century dawns.

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But in contrast to technics, which is mainly concerned with the enlargements of human power, art is essentially an expression of love, in all its many forms from the erotic to the social. Do not think that I purpose to bore you by once more tracing art back to its most infantile oral and anal manifestations; though there is no reason why we should reject whatever measure of truth there may be in this Freudian analysis. I would begin rather with the simpler facts of common experience, which psychological analysis has only con­ firmed for us: namely, that the development of art his­ torically has its parallel in the development of the in­ dividual, and that human infants exhibit, without em­ barrassment, many characteristics we find most marked Art and the Symbol 25 in the artist— above all a certain innocent self-love, which makes him regard his own productions as precious and worthy of attention.

Bacon in T he N ew Atlantis— that first utopia of the machine— at the very beginning of our period proposed to honor inventors and scientists in the way that mankind had once honored statesmen, saints, philosophers, and religious prophets; and Karl Marx, an excellent sociologist of invention, if a malign prophet, pointed out that the means by which a culture gained its living and mastered the physical and economic problems of existence, altered profoundly its spiritual attitudes and purposes. These efforts to give man’s daily work a new dignity and meaning were, in the first instance, sound: indeed, stimulating and challenging.

Esthetic symbolism for a long time seemed to man either a short-cut to knowledge and power or an ade­ quate substitute. So he applied it, not merely to things that could properly be created or formed by these methods—works of poetry and art, systems of conceptual knowledge like mathematics, or patterns of law and cus­ tom—but also to the physical environment and to nat­ ural forces: he foolishly invoked art and ritual to bring on rain or to increase human fertility. Without the coun­ terbalancing interests and methods of technics, man might easily have gone mad, in that his symbols might have progressively displaced realities and in the end have produced a blind confusion that might have robbed him of his capacity for physical survival.

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