And then I read chapter 13 of East of Eden and then I was knocked off my feet. I have read that chapter five times now and I still can't stop thinking about it. Profundity indeed!
I am blindly reading Steinbeck, which excuses my ignorance, though I'm not certain whether that statement makes any sense to anyone but me. Anyhow, the following is an excerpt from East of Eden- chapter 13:
In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and
even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God. This in my time is the danger. There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused.
At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I
believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against?
Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the
individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.
And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of
extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man…. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most
valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual…. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.