October 5, 1967
What are the fundamental concepts (realities) of natural, psychological, and social matter?
October 7, 1967 New York City 6:00 P.M.
Dr. Megado of University of Texas visited me. He is going to Vietnam for us on October 30. He is a robust, dark, intelligent person. We talked of the nature of suicide, among other things, as we became acquainted. Really we began with observations on the view people have of death, that some regard death as an end and some as a beginning, that many cannot conceive of their existence closing down. I wondered whether the suicidal -- those who do it and those who think of it -- might not be differentiated from others in their beliefs of death. I mean the suicidal out of mental reasons, not the hopelessly ill. If they visualized death as a nothingness, then logically it could not solve a problem of life. This is too glib -- I can see that we may be victims of our earthly logic. The intolerability of existence is enough of a reason. One does not ask for more than nothingness. These suicidals should probably be exempted; they do not believe in after-death as a state of feeling. Others use suicide to punish others -- persons who do not love them, persons who frustrate them. They will not live to be satisfied with their achievement. Are they illogical? They must accept certain premises: they believe that the world will go on; they believe in the efficacy of suicide as a sanction; they believe in their particular plan; they derive their satisfaction from the time-period before death or they must believe, consciously or subconsciously, in an after-period when they will enjoy the effect of their action. So they too can be logical (except if "subconsciously" believers).
"After Death What?" is a question that should give the scientific investigator entrée to a heap of useful fact. It can be employed in clinical and survey settings.
Not only may the suicidal live in this world of nothingness, but may not most of us? Even as we deny the hereafter, we identify with those who outlive us. We plan for future generations. We make sacrifices for after-death. We worry about the future of mankind.
Can we do otherwise? The mother who sacrifices herself for her offspring is deluded. So then are all the animals who act so as to preserve the species.
No, perhaps the deluded are those who regard posthumous projections as absurd. If they are absurd, Nature is absurd. Not that I would deny it. In the large sense, the whole rigmarole from start to finish is fatuous.
October 18, 1967 11:00 P.M.
At 9:00 A.M. Edward de G. calls and we discuss his problems in finishing "Confessional Liaison." At 10 Velikovsky calls and tells me we should publish his Brown University speech and the accompanying talks of his critics, together with the Neugebauer reviews and correspondence, as a book. I agree, but he takes a half-hour to unload his early morning thoughts upon me. I should charge the old psychoanalyst a psychiatrist's fee (professional discount, of course). At the end he says "I feel better now that we have this straightened out. Now I will go back to the miserable German translation of my book." I feel compassionate. At every turn of the road, a further obstacle to communicating one's ideas arises - when nothing else there will always be the damnable errors of a typist, a translator, or an editor.
A writer phones from the American Broadcasting Company and we arrange an afternoon meeting to discuss a November 6 program
in a permanent liaison depend upon traits other than conventional beauty - yet we are always surprised when beauty takes its opposite in union. Charley is intelligent, witty enough, slightly depressed with occasional flares of ebullience. He is, what is more, interested in the opposite sex, which in itself will attract a woman who has this interest too. What an absurd statement to have to make! Yet many handsome men are sexually indifferent, many women - pretty or not - the same, etc. Indeed the total set of relations and motives needs straightening out, empirical verification, and elaborate exposition. Apart from such special approaches as Burgess's on matching backgrounds of couples statistically, and the work of great novelists, what do we have? And how simple it would be to state with clear eye and voice the important elements at work.
October 19, 1967
Personal Assistant to AdeG does the following: URSULA - Would you please review this?
October 21, 1967
Don Watt, a librarian at Princeton University, lived in a little apartment of this house of ours before we moved in. He had an evil temper and sometimes drank. One night he broke down the door of a woman with whom he fancied himself in love and who would not admit him. He was arrested. The University officials, pleading institutional embarrassment (it is marvelous how a collective responsibility must imply collective vices, virtues, claims, and sacrifices of all kinds!) achieved some easy settlement with the police and courts, but then paid him a generous financial settlement and dropped him from the rolls. He is now in Connecticut, married, a librarian, and perhaps happier. I hope he is. He was not a bad type in some other ways. He was, typically, ambivalent to women -- coming from "good family" which often means "poor mother."
His story came up yesterday when Helen Fairbanks, the Librarian of the Woodrow Wilson School, stopped by after work for a glass of sherry. I wondered about the system of justice we employ.
Culprits are let off by the "proper" authorities in order to be punished by private authority. But if he violates the general law, should he not be punished by the general law? I can think of many cases where the Don Watts are handled by the social system in some form other than "The Law." If the University didn't deal with Watt, should I, as his landlord, have evicted him? Would his credit suffer? Would he lose friends? Would his conscience punish him? Multiply the forces of punition and "The Law" shrinks more and more.
Does the literature of criminology and jurisprudence deal well -- or at all -- with this empirical problem? I don't know that it does, but I would see a great utility in an empirical survey of the actual blows that rain from upon an offender. One must examine and interview the offenders themselves, both those who ended up in prison and those who did not. Indeed, we might sample our society, interrogate fifteen hundred cases (weight the sample with jail inmates), and then -- and only then -- set forth propositions concerning: "Who punishes whom for what, how, in our society?"
Among many other discoveries, we should find that "The Law" reaches little beyond the surface of the problem of crime and punishment. Every man, woman, and child, every dyad, triad, and group up to the world society embraces the problem. Storyteller, novelists, psychiatrists, and wise men know all of this in their own way. Only the formal law stipulates ignorance of the reality of society. And those who are rigid believers in "The Law" cannot understand how a society can collapse from a chaos of "anti-social" behavior. Even while the formal law is "strong and progressive." The formal law today is a tarpaulin [flume] over a restless cargo in a strong wind.
October 22, 1967
The man who has read thousands of good books and traveled well over the world ends up by fully qualifying every proposition people hand him about human beings. The man who has done nothing to this, and nothing else for that matter, can say "You know nothing." To which the educated man might reply, "But I know I know nothing." To which the uneducated man retorts, if he is honest and realistic, "I, too, know that I know nothing." However, he cannot make the next statement of the educated man: "I know why I know nothing."