The Wisdom of Machines

PADRAIC COLUM’S alleged play entitled “Balloon” which was noted in the this column yesterday, [?] another striking example [?] characteristic trend in modern [?] and modern life. That [?] is concerned with the repudi-[?] of form, of creative pattern [?] meaning. Just as the or-[?] social view of individual con-[?] in the realm of [?] is con-[?] passe by the intelligentsia [?] their dupes, so do our distinct-[?] modern” writers flout the old-fashioned idea that a piece of liturature must be the organic product of a process of selection rejecttion and integration to the end that [?] meaning, not to be found [?] here in the original unorganic data, may emerge.

Walter Lippmann’s “A Preface for Morals” presents an illuminating[?] of the causes and conse-[?] of this anarchic trend in [?] moral realm; and anyone who [?] familiar with the distinctly mod- [ ? tic ] literature of the past decade should have no difficulty in [?] many works in all fields of [?] that illustrate the trend. They range from the insane [?] [?] of Gertrude Stein and E. E. Cummings to the “stream of consciousness” type of fiction that [?] nothing so much as a fever [?] , and to those ponderous [?] novels that consist merely of a collection of unorganic data, (preferably discreditable) of human life and conduct, with an attempt at interpretation of any [?].

[?] is readily granted that revolt[?] and obsolete dogma, no [?] supported by the sanction [?] human knowledge, may be justify but to discard an obsolete patter of life is not the same.[?] as trying to live with no pattern whatsoever. And the same is true in the matter of making literature, which after all the twaddled has been twaddle, is interprettation of life.

In the anarchic mood incident to[?] discarding of dogmatic life-patterns that no longer serve, the [?] “modern” man in both living and literature, has leaped to [?] curious conclusion that there [?] something hopelessly wrong [?] the very idea of organic[?] of creative pattern, of emergent meaning. He has not real[?] the basic fact in all human experience that all the meanings we have, ever have had or ever shall have, must be created by the human consciousness itself. Obviously, nothing can have meaning for us until we have interpreted it to ourselves. Meanings are mental patterns formed out of the apparently chaotic data of our experience by a process of selection, rejection and integration; and it is wholly by virtue of such mental patterns that we can live at all not to mention living humanely.

This anarchic state of affairs is often attributed glibly to the fact that we are living in “the machine age;” and if one knows what one means, the explanation is correct. But it is not the machine, as such, that must be blamed. It is rather the inability of men, thus far, to use the power of machines with wisdom equal to that wisdom which is inherent in the very structure of machines.

If anyone wishes to see an overwhelmingly convincing objective representation of perfect sanity of what organic form and creative pattern signify of what intelligent selection, rejection and integration mean, let him contemplate a well-tuned gasoline motor in action. As a matter of fact our machines are infinitely wiser than our characteristically “modern” literature and our characteristically “modern” notion of life; and there is more downright intelligence under the greasy cap of many a mechanic than in all the heads or all our excessively “civilized” sophisticates.

Let us see what a typically “modern” “realistic” novelist might learn by studying the engine of the automobile that he drives every day. He will tell you that his novels are formless for the very good reason that human life is so and that to represent it otherwise than as chaotic would be to lie about it. It is true, as anyone above the mentality of an idiot must often have observed with misgivings, that the facts of life, when viewed by an uncreative intelligence, are apparently a chaos. But with exactly the same justifycation it might be pointed out that an engine is a misrepresentation of the facts of matter and potential energy because the materials of which it was created by the process of selection, rejection and integration were originally in a chaotic state and widely scattered. It was by the application of a dynamic pattern to the chaos of material that the engine came into being; and the resultant flow of power under control is an “emergent value” exactly as the[?] meaning of a great work of literature is, or the sanity and virtue of a well-lived life.

To organize the chaotic is not to falsify. On the contrary, it is [?] only method by which any livable human truth can be realized.Some day our “modern” writer may become truly modern enough to catch up with the intelligence of our creative mechanics.