November 1, 1967
Salaries and Payables foreseeable to June 1, 1968. Appear about equal.
November 4, 1967
At dinner, Carl and I were left alone in due course and got to talking of music and instruments. He is thinking of buying a Sitar, which, he says, makes interesting sounds beyond the nicely scaled and conventionally toned western instruments. He doesn't like electronic music of a completely artificial sort, but will go some of the way toward new sounds. I mentioned that instruments were a physical hardening of accepted tonalities to permit habitual renderings and auditions. I played for him a record which I've had for six years, a trio singing Duke Ellington songs, that had "new sounds" beyond the "rock and roll" capabilities. He was surprised and pleased. He is very much of the younger generation that hates to think his path into the new has been crossed by anyone. He is, however, rather nicer than most young in this regard, partly, I suppose, because he also owns a stern vein of classic ore.
The parallel between a musical instrument and a social institution is close. Both are fixations of habits, which channel and mold behavior. They are crystallization of practices.
November 5, 1967 Princeton 16:00 P.M.
Reading young Wolfenstein's psychoanalytic biographical study of Lenin, Trotsky, and Gandhi. So far, not so good. Lenin's early life, so barely known, is described in a way that has often elsewhere as well, brought discredit upon psychoanalytic theory. Grotesque generalities upon shreds of evidence.
His recapitulation of psychoanalytic theories of id, ego, superego also recall one of my discontent with them. Other psychology does little better. Look at the pleasure-pain principle for example, which is the basis of Freud's theory of personality, but also of Bentham's and others. To say the id is a vast pleasure-seeking mass of energy begs the most vital question of what is pleasure, which to be defined practically solves the basic question of philosophy, and injects an awful bias into all subsequent thought. Pleasure is actually a rationalization of what the organism is constructed and trained to do.
November 6, 1967
I am ignorant of these things, but I should like to know whether it is true that all basic matter is alike, whether inorganic or organic, or, whether this is another conjecture, or, whether it is true in some respects but not in others. Chemical tests can differentiate molecules of inorganic constitution from others. Chemical tests are not appropriate at more microscopic levels. (Why are they not? by the way.)
As in social science, the organization of matter is, as often as not, more important to one's purposes than the composition. Suppose we were to discover that matter can be infinitely small; there is no end to the road going that way. Since we know that the road going the other way ends up in astral bodies of possibly infinite extent but certainly of organized complex matter, by our terms, then we should have to say that all matter is organized, all sciences are systems sciences.
November 7, 1967 Princeton 9:00 P.M.
During the New Deal period (1933-1940), many government projects were sponsored in the arts, literature, and social research. Enough of the product of these efforts is still available to permit a study of them. It is said, in many quarters, that government sponsorship need not mean acquiescence, adulation, or domination in relation to government. Try, then, to discover in this vast [amount] of artistic effort some specimen critiques of the government leaders during that vile depression, or attacks upon bureaucracy, or reproaches to political bosses.
November 7, 1967
Last evening Jill and I saw the film "Ulysses." Is it like the book? Is it worse? Films should not be compared with books, on the same standards. The tempting comparison of a book and film of the same origin is as much to be avoided. If Ulysses or Grapes of Wrath are good films, so be it; what matter the original books, which lead their own lives.
It may be said, however, that films can be a better medium for the stream of consciousness than a book. Pictures carry complete images of memories and thought, that have to be strung out over pages of writing. Ulysses, the film, was not so superior, however, to the book even in this respect. It is of course inferior as an achievement in most important ways -- originality, inventiveness within its medium, completeness, etc. For the film should have fluttered like a fan, and [merged] and blended shots into a stream, not abrupt frames in different context. The mind freely associating glides imperceptibly from one impression or formation to another. I do not mean that the sequences should be dreamy -- our images are usually sharp (depending of course upon our character) -- and a muddy pastoral landscape or an Antonioni or Bergman foggy curtain is not suitable. Techniques have to be developed that will capture the speed and the swift, sure interlocking of images while maintaining their vividness.
The sexual, and to a lesser degree, the social, frankness of Ulysses the film is astonishing. America has revolutionized itself in the freedom of the arts and public discourse of the humanities (though not in politics, nor religion, nor science so much). The country has its millions of dog-in-the-manger moralists, however, and balances dangerously one foot on each of these plunging steeds.
November 8, 1967 Princeton 10:00
In all I have heard of style in writing, I have yet to witness the denunciation of the practice of using 'is' to mean 'ought'. The dictionaries do not carry such a meaning. (But if they boast of following the usages of the language, they should convey it.) No matter, for everyone gives his preferences in the form of inevitable existence. Otherwise excellent stylists blithely allow themselves this error, nor do they often recognize it to be such.
Woodrow Wilson, whose style is superior to that of most political historians and scholars writes that "The State may ((good for him!)) intervene only when common action, uniform law are indispensable. Whatever is merely convenient is ((meaning "ought to be")) optional, and therefore not (("meaning ought not to be")) an affair for the State." Wilson is better than most. He uses the word 'may' properly.
I have tried in my scientific writings to avoid this pernicious trick of rhetoric. When I have failed, it is because I have intended to be rhetorical, because I have slipped (from long association with bad examples), or because bad examples have been so numerous as to actually make me wish to avoid appearing foolish while using the correct form.
November 14, 1967
The more I see of human organizations the more I am appalled by their incapacity. Business is no exception to the incompetency characterizing universities, churches, political parties, government agencies and what have you. Strip it all down, and the efficiencies that support a society are seen to be concentrated in a few farms into which nature pours her bounty, and a few men whose natural mechanisms let them invent a few tricks by which everyone benefits. All the rest is a shambles of people tripping over one another. Here and there, at enormous cost, a few enterprises make perceptible gains - send rockets to the moon, build dams, run the mails. In all of these and all the rest, for every rational step taken, two useless, unwise, or treacherous movements are made. Yet when you bother to point this out, everyone raises his stupid or hostile head up from his latest bungle, denying it.
November 15, 1967 No need, duplicated
Observations as the times pass. Copied.
Jill says that she is becoming more ruthless with people. She does not need anyone and will "tell them off" if they offend her...
Carl is very pale, rather small, and has become a fine musician of the piano and the guitar.
Chris plays his drums very well, and has become original in his myriad thumps, beats, and cymbal bashes.
The three ring-necked doves have become two and they are inseparable. "Lovey-dovey" was the vulgar expression of the ladies. The doves live in our garden and are tame. They roost on the little pine tree when the bantams, who arrive there first, let them.
The fall has been gradual. Today has come the first fresh cold north wind.
I have been pestered by business, family and literary concerns, very important in sum, not so individually; they dull life.
I read among many good books both fiction and non-fiction, without completion, too hurriedly, and without direct purpose in half the cases.
I irritably watch my weight go up to 180 lbs., stripped, from the 172 lbs of my return from Vietnam and only eleven weeks ago.
Franny is the family German shepherd dog, of beautiful frame and face except that she has a floppy ear. Franny is loved by Jill, but Franny loves me. Dominance, loud voice, frequent abandonment for short periods? Who knows?
My Italian "Allyro" is a beautiful red and white bike. I have learned to weave through the heavy traffic of Nassau Street on it. Last evening, it sprang its gear chain as I was gliding the last block to home. John and I slipped the chain into place again this morning.
November 15, 1967 Princeton 9:00 P.M.
Immanuel phoned me at twilight to tell me Stephanos had called his attention to the November 3 issue of Science magazine wherein Professor R. Eshleman of Stanford University, Electrical Engineer and Co-Director of the Stanford Center for Radar Astronomy, had raised briefly the question whether the baffling puzzle of Venus being "locked-in" to Earth might be answered by the Velikovskyan hypothesis of a historical collision of the two bodies. Immanuel was elated, as was I. For the first time the mouthpiece of the scientific establishment has carried a calm mention of one of Velikovsky's central theories. A year ago Science refused to accept an advertisement for one of his books. "Who knows, Alfred, whether the Nobel Prize, which has had a poor record very often, might not come." I said, "Immanuel, your biography is your triumph. You don't need these foolish prizes."
November 15, 1967 A.M. Princeton
The mind can decide quickly and practically of human affairs or production. Often, in considering a problem, I imagine its solution within five minutes. The solution is nearly complete. It is correct. It is possible and desirable. The plan lay in my mind like a roosting chicken. Perhaps it has to do with training a group of students, or publishing a new book, or turning the direction of some military activity in Vietnam, or winning a political candidacy for someone.
Between the plan and the working out of the plan "on the chessboard of life," as the cliché goes, extends a great distance. Few plans can be carried out.
Now, to repeat, the distance, the gap between imagination and realization is not describable in the terms most people use. They say "impractical," meaning many things, but especially that all factors, especially human factors are not considered. It is not quite so. They say "unworkable," meaning perhaps that the nature of the forces involved in the situation is misunderstood. They say "idealistic" and "chimerical" and "ivory-tower" meaning that the goals are presumptuous or unachievable or divorced from reality.
In fact, what explains the distance has to do with the difference between the human mind and human organization. The mind, with all its physiological inefficiency and despite its cluttering with badly learned lessons and miseducation, is still a far superior organization for "playing out" a practical game. Group organization is a rickety representation of that mind. The mind projected is organization, but organization on an uncontrollable scale of time. The mind controls time; the organization, working on an extended time scale, say 1010 , creaks and cracks at the end of the long levers and poles from which it operates to execute the imaginings.
Looking at the brilliance of the mind, scholars and politicians call up the principle of "unity of tension." One man, the absolute principle of leadership, is more efficient than the collective mind, they say. Especially in moments of danger, they say, the single mind's decision is best. This is largely mythical so far as history is concerned; its element of truth comes from the point made earlier - that the single mind can conceive the practical plan, so if only it were given carte blanche on the real problem, it would carry forward the solution. For reasons already stated too, this cannot be, except in those cases where the execution is exceedingly simple and moves from a totally prepared base, such as a general who orders "Charge!" to a body of prepared, courageous, disciplined, fresh troops.
On the other side stand those who deride the "single mind" principle in practical affairs, asserting that the single mind is arrogant, out of touch, and bereft of the full information required for operations. On occasion they may be correct, but usually the failure of the mind evolves from the difficulty of transforming a mental blueprint into organizational process. The mind is too fast, and therefore overly optimistic.
The American pragmatists (I think of J. Dewey and M. P. Follett) have instituted the most trenchant analyses of the process of decision. Especially their epigone have exalted group decision-making, exaggerated it, called it something that it was not, i. e., "better than the single mind," without qualification. Still it is true that the "group mind" is superior to the individual mind for many, perhaps most, decisions of an organization. We rage and shudder at the stupidity and slowness of group decisions, but are not these very qualities what is needed to bridge that chasm between the mental frame of action and the organizational one? Striving, often ludicrously, for the prestige of the brilliant mind, and cheered on by scholars and ideologues who discover in the group decision virtues that are not there, the group nevertheless has to rehearse the total organizational process that is the ultimate goal much more faithfully than the mind does.
In the end, its ordinary members have to stumble through many of the nightmares that will come in fact. The decision is more "rational." It accords with what will happen in the larger body. It is predictive and being predictive, is more controlling. And what is more predictive and controlling is more rational. So the mind builds its practical but timeless plans and fumes at their failure. The group decision "works" and its success gives it credit for rationality, even a mysterious genius that none of its members possess.
November 15, 1967
I was just stretching myself in the sun of the dining room -- the leaves are gone from the chestnut and the pale sun enters readily -- having arisen contentedly from the bed upstairs where Jill and I had been making love, and I reached for a book from my library shelves, almost randomly , taking Murray Rothbard's book on Man, Economy and the State; equally aimlessly I opened it to read on p. 14 that "A fundamental and constant truth about human action is that man prefers his end to be achieved in the shortest possible time." "Does this absolute truth govern sexual intercourse?" I thought, for going through my mind, even while making love, was the problem of how to prolong the most pleasurable experience before orgasm would precipitate me into the next phase of existence. What kind of casuistry will be needed to reduce that final Law? That the "end" is the "beginning" probably; there being satisfaction in even the first flirtatious glance. But nonsense, the whole system shakes and falls because the psychology is classical, not modern. Goals are acts -- all in an infinite series. Perhaps too, Rothbard, who is no dummy, intends to say that unpleasant means are preferably shortened as much as possible. Indeed, pleasant means are always ends in themselves.
Can we say: As for ends and means, an unpleasant action must be a means for it will never be chosen as an end. A pleasant action can be both a means and an end and usually is both. But the question arises whether a goal or end must then be defined simply as "a greater pleasure in order to achieve which lesser pleasures and pains are undergone." But, too, "Pleasure" is a slippery idea. It is a completely subjective matter in the sense that every statistical and physiological pleasure-provoking experience has numerous exceptions. Let me try this Law: "No pleasure exists but that is not a pain for somebody." So we may say: "A man's ends are his psychically projected future psychic states." Typically, he employs a combination of pleasurable states and painful ones to achieve his ends.
November 17, 1967 Friday 9:00 A.M. Washington Square New York City
I have been polite to hundreds of people whom I've disliked. My parents taught me so. I have acquired an extraordinary discipline in many directions. Last evening, N and I were walking along Sullivan Street and I saw a flamboyant hat in the window. "Oh, no. You couldn't wear that," she said. You are too handsome (she must have meant something else -- which I think included "contained") -- to wear anything bizarre. You must have some awkward or ugly feature to wear that." I have always been able to undertake disagreeable tasks with less commotion internally and less hesitation than most men.
But I am not proud of some aspects of this general trait, for it means that I have compromised unnecessarily at times, and I have hidden my true feelings (though not repressed them, fortunately), and have wasted my intellectual and moral energies on smallish problems in science, administration, business, family chores, army life, letting me only say that I got out of these experiences a more than average payload.
Now what I want to say is that I have not used my discipline to express myself with complete courage in my journal usually. If I could be so polite, why should I not be so impolite. One requires as much discipline as the other and it is particularly impolite to say what one thinks of [himself] in relation to others?
Yet exposure in a journal has typically come best from persons whose lives have already been burned or mocked by a secret knowledge or a social blight -- Gide's homosexuality, for instance. Ben Franklin is different, but his depths are shallow. He gives mainly an inventory of his external behaviors. As if I were to say: "I estimate that I have made sexual love to 30 women. I have enjoyed on the average three or four orgasms a week since the age of 20, including womenless periods of some duration as in war and total work and another's childbirth. I have never had homosexual contact beyond a rare approach from another, courteously rebuffed. Old Ben doesn't even go this far. I understand, however, that at the Kinsey Institute for the Study of the [Biology] of Sex at Indiana University, they have carefully written, frank journals of men and women on their sexual lives.
(We should have the same or better files for all walks of life and directions of libidinal dispersion.)
November 18, 1967 New York City 5:00 A.M.
Can there be any utterly new form of thought to match our bizarre chaotic scientoid world? There is much call for it. There is a striving too. The arts and the sciences are constructing masks to reflect and ward off terror and confusion. They stretch every nerve, plumb every emotion, propose whatever is imaginable as hypothesis of the good.
All to no avail. Our man, our pliant human being, adjusts to the Inconceivable and treats it as a puppy. The old fears still wrack him. Tears flow from the same ducts down the same cheeks. He hates and dreads death. Outer space has no worse way of killing him than the sabre-toothed tiger. The nuclear bomb stirs up memories of ancient catastrophes but no more than that. He needs no new vision to worry about his health, the marriage of his daughter, crippling accidents or God's neglect of His children. Such concerns are so old as to be tiresome.
Even as the masses wallow in the Sloughs of Thought, the philosophers must wade in behind. That man is divine has been argued before and all of its consequences deduced. That man is a mechanical worm, has also been alleged and largely discussed.
Philosophers must continue to tailor garments for the divine worm. It draws upon past fashions and gives them a new look. When discovered, it cuts another design.
November 23, 1967 Thanksgiving
Dante Matelli, who doesn't smoke or drink excessively but does consort with communists, came in last evening to spend Thanksgiving with us, and told of meeting an activist of the students for a Democratic Society by Washington Square yesterday. The young man accosted him, saying "Isn't Professor de Grazia your father-in-law? ... We are going to denounce him in a leaflet ... He edits a journal called the American Psychologist, doesn't he? " Dante pondered -- what was the Professor up to now? "You mean the American Behavioral Scientist?" "Yes, that's it, that's it! ... well, it gets its funds from the CIA, he's getting rich from it." "But I worked on it. It always lost money. He had to sell it because he was losing money." "He did?" "Sure."
November 26, 1967 New York
The Napoleonic Wars are said to have reduced the average height of the French male by several centimeters. When I learned this fact, a dozen years ago, I believed, as do the others who know it, that the cause lay in recruiting the fittest of men, and their subsequent decimation by war.
However, I think now that the tallest of men are not the fittest in war but that they suffer heavy casualties because of their greater bodily exposure. They would be especially vulnerable in those days of open battle, with full-length of limb marching back and forth under attack. There may be other reasons -- some obvious upon study (diet changes -- forced or voluntary, relatedly caused or accidentally concurring), others mysterious.
The army should study the height and breadth of our own soldier casualties. There are records of the height, weight and even clothing sizes of individuals, together with statistics for the aggregates. Perhaps some important recruitment policies may hinge upon findings that, e. g. "a man's chances of becoming a casualty vary with his height, weight, height/weight ratio."
Indeed, have there been studies even of the casualty-prone and disease-prone among types of soldiers? Granted the army has a difficult task to sort out its men even by skills, which is a criterion of high priority, large rewards might be hidden in these areas of investigation.
November 27, 1967 [Vine]
What is the origin of the idea of the trinity, the doctrine, the magic number? It deals with the creation. Are the original three an historical event? Very doubtful. The three great celestial bodies - Sun, Jupiter, Saturn? Does Moon fit? Hindus, Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, Jews, Christians, held the dogma.
Probably family Male - female - and child or SEX plus creation.
November 28, 1967
The abounding surge of publications in science consists of works of fission and works of invention. The former are different ways of saying the same thing. Their number doesn't matter. The latter are many less, but they have to be considered. They break down into:
1. Generally original and possibly substitutable for earlier writings.
2. Specialized fragmentation, of which the latter are many more. They are unsubstitutable but [usually] not necessary to know unless one is in the given cell of the discipline.