Lipton’s Journal/January 20, 1955/213

From Project Mailer

Our perception of others is never anything other than an exploration of ourselves. Those parts of society we know least about are indeed the parts to which we are drawn least—at any moment of development—and so we see them from the outside, we see objectively, evaluatively. The objective sense of society is dependent upon a lack of genuine attraction to the subject and insight about it.

Somewhere along the way a curious game is played with the self—certain kinds of people take on work which is so alien to them, and yet so necessary in the defenses it provides, that they can be safe for their entire lives, if albeit a bit dead. Which is why academicians are dull—they have given themselves to a subject they are not close to spiritually—usually to hide some other deeper drive of their nature. They conceal the rampant murderer, lover, adventurer, etc. within themselves from themselves. Which would account for why so few editors know anything about books, why so few analysts know anything about human nature, so few sociologists anything about society, why so few anthropologists have a real feeling for primitive peoples, why so few historians have a poetic intuitive sense of history. But one could extend the list forever.

The most obviously painful and pressing is the lack of real political understanding among diplomats and bureaucrats, the ignorance of war which characterizes most generals. Indeed, one of the great battles of the twentieth century is that more and more people are attuned to their occupations. People with a real feeling for law enter the law, analysts with real sensitivity become analysts, and there is a war mounting between the academicians and the ones with true vocation. The nineteenth century was built upon the solid obtuse blocks of the academicians—the twentieth century is torn by the desire to blast the bricks into dust and the anxiety to retain them.