Somewhere 1n this cold, industrial city of ours, somewhere in this Toronto, this "Hogtown", there is a very disappointed and bitter young man. Once upon a time, he had a fine dream of writing his own play and producing it on stage. But a few years later this grand goal, a crystallization of much frustrating labour, crumbled into mere dust as "Return To The Mountain" lowered its final curtain before a pitifully meagre audience and under a veritable avalanche of debt. However, the real tragedy was that the play failed, not for lack of dramatic merit, but simply because of public apathy.
This sad little story is but one of countless items in the case history of the progressive death of the arts in our technological society. Furthermore, I can not help feeling that, should this death be completed, with it will come inevitably the death of humanity in any meaningful sense of the word.
Such antipathy towards the arts did not always exist. In the golden age of painting, music and literature, every gentleman could turn a delicate phrase or beguile his love with a pretty song. Today, we brand such accomplishments as frivolous pastimes. Men are also too busy to be gentlemen and women to be ladies. The artist in our society is regarded suspiciously as a shiftless beatnik, is forced to struggle in a world which offers him no employment, and is often burdened with guilt by his family because he does not earn his living. Thus few artists successfully resist conformity on the one hand and the shallowness of falsely earned popularity on the other, and art keeps dying slowly all the while.
I quarrel with science as our society practises it. The mushrooming world of technology, industry, and what Dr. Northrop Fry calls rhetoric, has been raised to the level of a god by us. This god seems to have decreed a set of laws by which the worth of all things can be judged; that is, all things of value must be materially profitable, concrete, logical and useful. How often has the weary school boy been admonished to Think Logically and to Get The Facts, when all the while he has been admiring the miracle of the winter's first frosty snowfall just outside the classroom window! If that boy can truly wonder at the perfection of that snowflake, I contend that he will have gained precious knowledge, yet the famed scientist, Lord Kelvin, once said that if knowledge could not be measured, then it was meagre and unsatisfactory. But try to imagine the desolation in a world with no beauty , no colour, no intangible, impossible dreams.
Still ever onward advances the bright glaring day of practicality and business to be got on with, burning the last ounce of brain power from our pressured heads. Youth especially is being drawn to the vast gold mine of science. For example, at a recent high school commencement, I discovered that about two-thirds of the students were leaving for scientific or related courses.
Youth is definitely more intelligent today as a whole. I see before me the ideal young man of the future, a scientist with a Career, a top brain, his eyes gleaming fearfully, his head swollen, ready to burst with the sheer weight of facts. "What power!" we cry. "What a glory to the mind of man and the image of God!" But are we really greater than the animals by reason of our reason? When the stars come out, we are little men indeed.
Thus our society is smothering things of deepest value to humanity and is pursuing what are trivialities in the final analysis of life. No, it is not intelligence that makes us unique; that is only a relative thing, present to some degree even in a toad. Rather it is our ability to appreciate and create beauty that must preserve us as men and not beasts. Let us not starve to death the human spirit.
Sweet and gentle love,
To you I offer,
Wide-eyed, trusting full,
That most precious
My dreams -
All that I have ...
To be held like the velvet-soft petal of a rare flower,
Golden in the light of your eyes
Treasured throughout an era of hate
I beg of you.
Do naught to shatter my dreams,
For they are my world.
Without my silent world
I would surely perish,
And no one would remain to cherish
The fragments of dreams lost.
Boy to his one and only: "Eat what you like, kitten, but remember we have to leave at $10.45 sharp."