Last Thoughts On Woody GuthrieWRITTEN BY: BOB DYLAN
When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb
When you think you're too old, too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin' behind an' losin' yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl of life's busy race
No matter what yer doing if you start givin' up
If the wine don't come to the top of yer cup
If the wind's got you sideways with with one hand holdin' on
And the other starts slipping and the feeling is gone
And yer train engine fire needs a new spark to catch it
And the wood's easy findin' but yer lazy to fetch it
And yer sidewalk starts curlin' and the street gets too long
And you start walkin' backwards though you know its wrong
And lonesome comes up as down goes the day
And tomorrow's mornin' seems so far away
And you feel the reins from yer pony are slippin'
And yer rope is a-slidin' 'cause yer hands are a-drippin'
And yer sun-decked desert and evergreen valleys
Turn to broken down slums and trash-can alleys
And yer sky cries water and yer drain pipe's a-pourin'
And the lightnin's a-flashing and the thunder's a-crashin'
And the windows are rattlin' and breakin' and the roof tops a-shakin'
And yer whole world's a-slammin' and bangin'
And yer minutes of sun turn to hours of storm
And to yourself you sometimes say
"I never knew it was gonna be this way
Why didn't they tell me the day I was born"
And you start gettin' chills and yer jumping from sweat
And you're lookin' for somethin' you ain't quite found yet
And yer knee-deep in the dark water with yer hands in the air
And the whole world's a-watchin' with a window peek stare
And yer good gal leaves and she's long gone a-flying
And yer heart feels sick like fish when they're fryin'
And yer jackhammer falls from yer hand to yer feet
And you need it badly but it lays on the street
And yer bell's bangin' loudly but you can't hear its beat
And you think yer ears might a been hurt
Or yer eyes've turned filthy from the sight-blindin' dirt
And you figured you failed in yesterdays rush
When you were faked out an' fooled white facing a four flush
And all the time you were holdin' three queens
And it's makin you mad, it's makin' you mean
Like in the middle of Life magazine
Bouncin' around a pinball machine
And there's something on yer mind you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace oughta be hearin'
But it's trapped on yer tongue and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly when your layin' in bed
And no matter how you try you just can't say it
And yer scared to yer soul you just might forget it
And yer eyes get swimmy from the tears in yer head
And yer pillows of feathers turn to blankets of lead
And the lion's mouth opens and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin with you underneath
And yer flat on your belly with yer hands tied behind
And you wish you'd never taken that last detour sign
And you say to yourself just what am I doin'
On this road I'm walkin', on this trail I'm turnin'
On this curve I'm hanging
On this pathway I'm strolling, in the space I'm taking
In this air I'm inhaling
Am I mixed up too much, am I mixed up too hard
Why am I walking, where am I running
What am I saying, what am I knowing
On this guitar I'm playing, on this banjo I'm frailin'
On this mandolin I'm strummin', in the song I'm singin'
In the tune I'm hummin', in the words I'm writin'
In the words that I'm thinkin'
In this ocean of hours I'm all the time drinkin'
Who am I helping, what am I breaking
What am I giving, what am I taking
But you try with your whole soul best
Never to think these thoughts and never to let
Them kind of thoughts gain ground
Or make yer heart pound
But then again you know why they're around
Just waiting for a chance to slip and drop down
"Cause sometimes you hear'em when the night times comes creeping
And you fear that they might catch you a-sleeping
And you jump from yer bed, from yer last chapter of dreamin'
And you can't remember for the best of yer thinking
If that was you in the dream that was screaming
And you know that it's something special you're needin'
And you know that there's no drug that'll do for the healin'
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding
And you need something special
Yeah, you need something special all right
You need a fast flyin' train on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind on a stream engine howler
That's been banging and booming and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus that don't bar no race
That won't laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets in the book
Will be rollin' long after the bubblegum craze
You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it's you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope's just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve
But that's what you need man, and you need it bad
And yer trouble is you know it too good
"Cause you look an' you start getting the chills
"Cause you can't find it on a dollar bill
And it ain't on Macy's window sill
And it ain't on no rich kid's road map
And it ain't in no fat kid's fraternity house
And it ain't made in no Hollywood wheat germ
And it ain't on that dimlit stage
With that half-wit comedian on it
Ranting and raving and taking yer money
And you thinks it's funny
No you can't find it in no night club or no yacht club
And it ain't in the seats of a supper club
And sure as hell you're bound to tell
That no matter how hard you rub
You just ain't a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub
No, and it ain't in the rumors people're tellin' you
And it ain't in the pimple-lotion people are sellin' you
And it ain't in no cardboard-box house
Or down any movie star's blouse
And you can't find it on the golf course
And Uncle Remus can't tell you and neither can Santa Claus
And it ain't in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes
And it ain't in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons
And it ain't in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices
That come knockin' and tappin' in Christmas wrappin'
Sayin' ain't I pretty and ain't I cute and look at my skin
Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow
Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry
When you can't even sense if they got any insides
These people so pretty in their ribbons and bows
No you'll not now or no other day
Find it on the doorsteps made out-a paper mache¥
And inside it the people made of molasses
That every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses
And it ain't in the fifty-star generals and flipped-out phonies
Who'd turn yuh in for a tenth of a penny
Who breathe and burp and bend and crack
And before you can count from one to ten
Do it all over again but this time behind yer back
The ones that wheel and deal and whirl and twirl
And play games with each other in their sand-box world
And you can't find it either in the no-talent fools
That run around gallant
And make all rules for the ones that got talent
And it ain't in the ones that ain't got any talent but think they do
And think they're foolin' you
The ones who jump on the wagon
Just for a while 'cause they know it's in style
To get their kicks, get out of it quick
And make all kinds of money and chicks
And you yell to yourself and you throw down yer hat
Sayin', "Christ do I gotta be like that
Ain't there no one here that knows where I'm at
Ain't there no one here that knows how I feel
Good God Almighty
THAT STUFF AIN'T REAL"
No but that ain't yer game, it ain't even yer race
You can't hear yer name, you can't see yer face
You gotta look some other place
And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin'
Where do you look for this lamp that's a-burnin'
Where do you look for this oil well gushin'
Where do you look for this candle that's glowin'
Where do you look for this hope that you know is there
And out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs
You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You'll find God in the church of your choice
You'll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital
And though it's only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You'll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
Discurso oficial, pronunciado por el C. Jesús Escobar y Armendáriz, la tarde del 16 de septiembre de 1881, en la Villa de Paso del Norte.- 1881 Imprenta de El Progresista:
Conciudadanos: El diez y seis de septiembre de 1864, Fernando Maximiliano de Austria, colocado por el Emperador de los franceses en el falso trono que le erigió en México, y al cual se quiso llamar el trono de los Moctezuma, quiso pagar un tributo de respeto al Padre de nuestra Independencia, visitando en aquel día el mismo lugar en donde la proclamó en 1810, y no satisfecho, con inscribir su nombre en el registro o álbum allí abierto por el ilustre Presidente Juárez, ha escrito con su propio puño las siguientes notabilísimas palabras:
‘Un pueblo que bajo la protección y con la bendición de Dios, funda su independencia sobre la libertad y en la ley, y tiene una sola voluntad, es irresistible y puede levantar su frente con orgullo’.
Algunas ligeras consideraciones sobre este pensamiento, darán materia a la alocución que me honro en dirigiros: y, aunque imperfecta en análisis, desvestida del todo de aquellos tropos que exornan el discurso, y muy escasa de útiles comparaciones históricas, será como las palabras que le sirven de tema, un tributo de respeto al Héroe de 1810, y además, humilde e insignificante ofrenda en el altar de la Patria.
De nuevo oíd:
‘Un pueblo que bajo la protección y con la bendición de Dios, funda su independencia sobre la libertad y en la ley, y tiene una sola voluntad, es irresistible y puede levantar su frente con orgullo’.
Qué fatídico, que siniestro pensamiento, en aquellas circunstancias, y en aquel lugar, ¡Solo pudiera haber sido mas funesto si aquel desgraciado Príncipe hubiera añadido estas palabras: ‘he aquí mi sentencia de muerte!”
Respetemos, señores, el sentimiento religioso que campea en sus ideas. Maximiliano era un Príncipe cristiano, y pretendía reinar también sobre un pueblo cristiano. Educado bajo aquellos principios, sabiamente dispuesto por el ilustre Arzobispo de Cambray para los hijos de Luis XIV, no podía pensar de otra manera. Había aprendido, por punto principal, que existe un Supremo Regulador de las sociedades, lo mismo que lo es del universo, sin cuya voluntad no se mueve la hoja de un árbol, que prevé la dirección y término de las exhalaciones, que dirige los vientos y las tempestades, que una golondrina no caería al suelo sin su conocimiento, y por consiguiente, que las naciones no naces, ni crecen, sino bajo su protección.
Pero, precisamente, el pueblo que Hidalgo quiso hacer independiente al grito de ‘VIVA LA INDEPENDENCIA’ adunaba el de “Viva la Religión”, gritos que salían del corazón, y el rojo estandarte de la independencia que llevaba como escudo la imagen de la Patrona de Anáhuac a la que, con sencillez y buena fe, se creía madre de Dios. Esto, que para muchos puede ser un mito, era, sin embargo, un talismán para aquellas huestes. Este pueblo insurrecto, que trataba solo de la reivindicación de sus derechos naturales, era también creyente; y su independencia nació invocando a la divinidad, poniéndose bajo su escudo y protección. México pues, el pueblo mexicano ha contado, como lo supuso Maximiliano con la protección divina, y la libertad, no solo de México, sino de todo el Continente Americano ha merecido, seguramente, la bendición de Dios. El grito nacional de México ha sido Dios y Libertad.
Sonreíd, Hidalgo, desde la mansión de paz en que vives; tu obra ha merecido la bendición de Dios. Subiste y subsistirá seguramente, por siglos y siglos. Como nave ligera expuesta al embate de embravecidas olas, se le ve fluctuar, y zozobra, pero no se hunde.
Ahora que, la independencia de los pueblos deba fundarse en la libertad y en la ley parece incontrovertible, fácilmente podemos recordarlo.
España, la soberbia España, engreída de sus antiguas glorias, que deberían de ser nuestras, la que estuvo a punto de ser reina del mundo, la que aspiró al establecimiento de la monarquía universal bajo Carlos V, no menos que en la intentona de Felipe II para apoderarse de Inglaterra, ciega con su gobierno de nobles y aristócratas, faltó de sabiduría y prudencia, justicia y equidad; le faltó lo esencial a toda buena monarquía, esa especie de gobierno paternal, al tratar los negocios de América, cariño, amor a los pueblos que se gobiernan. Y esto no es una injusta recriminación, que en día como este de expansión y fraternidad estamos ajenos de hacer a nuestra madre patria; es una justa queja, es una falta que debemos lamentar, de otro modo España seria hoy con sus colonias, sin duda, el mas grande poder en la Tierra. Pero desgraciadamente para España no llegaron a valer sus colonias sino lo que valen sus metales, los tributos de que iban cargadas sus naves; se cuido de que no hubiese otra industria fuera de la minería; no se dio la debida protección a la agricultura; mucho se despreció la inteligencia criolla; cuando pudo verse que tales elementos, los propios, abundantes recursos, y tal inteligencia, nutrida con los nuevos principios políticos en boga, en aquel tiempo, habrían de venir a resultar en la emancipación.
España no comprendió que a falta de títulos escritos de nobleza pudiera haber en América virtudes, esa base indestructible de la Democracia, ese gobierno diferente del de España, gobierno de leyes, pero sin reyes; ese gobierno superior, en donde los magistrados son mudos, según Cicerón. Su aristocracia se manifestaba insolente hacia la verdadera aristocracia americana, la del talento; porque éste no encontraba representación en la metrópoli; en fin no vio, lo que pudo ver un ciego criollo, poeta mexicano, cuando en un famoso canto a la libertad, ha dicho:
‘No estriba en el orgullo la nobleza
Ni consiste la justa aristocracia
En mofar sin piedad la desgracia
Ni en contemplar al pobre con desdén.
La nobleza consiste en las virtudes;
La aristocracia estriba en el talento;
Y es mas noble que un rey en sentimiento
Un esclavo infeliz cuando hace el bien’.
Esos pequeños axiomas políticas, base de la democracia, semejantes a una ecuación, la mas sencilla, proposiciones la mas simples, en sus términos, tales como ‘el hombre nace libre, libre en su pensamiento, todos los hombres son iguales, etc., etc.’ Son los que vinieron a producir esas revoluciones irresistibles que han terminado por fundar poderosas Republicas, y que hoy son la base sobre que descansan sus constituciones, códigos que, en una página, encierran todos los derechos del hombre, diseminados y encubiertos en los numerosos volúmenes de otras legislaciones.
[…] ¿Tenéis frio? Les dijo en la memorable noche de 15 de septiembre de 1810, fecha sagrada en los anales de México—No—fue la respuesta. ¿Y por que?—porque estamos vestidos con paño de Querétaro. Y ¿Quién hace ese paño?—Nuestros pueblos. ¿Y que lana de que está hecho?—Es de nuestros rebaños. ¿Y sus colores?—Son de nuestras plantas. ¿Y os gusta este aguardiente?—Es deleitable. ¿Lo conocéis?—Es el de nuestra viña. ¿Y tenéis hambre?—Nuestras trojes están llenas con los cereales de nuestros campos. Pues, entonces, ¿Para que necesitamos a España? —Para nada. Ayúdenme pues, hijos míos a proclamar la independencia de nuestro país. ¡Viva la Independencia! ¡Viva América! ¡Viva! Fue la general contestación.
Y he aquí, señores, en este sencillo dialogo el principio de una gran epopeya, cuya figura principal la tenéis en ese sacerdote, que antes de todo, predicaba a su pueblo los derechos del hombre para que fuese libre, porque para el esclavo voluntario no hay cielo. Así México fundaba su independencia sobre la libertad.
[para pedir el ensayo completo contactarme al email@example.com]
Excerpt from Jose Vasconcelos The Cosmic Race / La Raza Cosmica trans. Didier T. Jaén (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1997)
In the opinion of respectable geologists, the American continent includes some of the most important regions of the world. The Andes are, undoubtedly, as old as any other mountain range on Earth. And while the land itself is ancient, the traces of life and human culture also go back to time beyond any calculations. The architectural ruins of legendary Mayans, Quechuas, and Toltecs are testimony of civilized life previous to the oldest foundations of towns in the Orient and Europe. As research advances, more support is found for the hypothesis for Atlantis as the cradle of civilization that flourished millions of years ago in the vanished continent and in parts of what is today America.
If we are, then, geologically ancient, as well as in respect to the tradition, how can we still continue to accept the fiction, invented by our European fathers, of the novelty of a continent that existed before the appearance of the land from where the discoverers and conquerors came?
The question has paramount importance to those who insist in looking for a plan in History. The confirmation of the great antiquity of our continent may seem idle to those who see nothing in the chain of events but a fateful repetition of meaningless patterns. With boredom we should regard the work of contemporary civilization, if the Toltec palaces would tell us nothing else but that civilizations pass away leaving no other fruit than a few carved stones piled upon each other or forming arched vaults or roofs of two planes intersecting at an angle. Why begin again, if within four or five thousand years other new immigrants will distract their leisure by pondering upon the remains of our trivial contemporary architecture? Scientific history becomes confused and leaves unanswered all these ruminations. Empirical history, suffering from myopia, loses itself in details, but it cannot determine a single antecedent for historical times. It flees from general conclusions, from transcendental hypotheses, to fall into the puerility of the description of utensils and cranial indices and so many other, merely external, minutiae that lack importance when seen apart from a vast and comprehensive theory.
Only a leap of the spirit, nourished with facts, can give us a vision that will lift us above the micro-ideology of the specialist. Then we can dive deeply into the massive events in order to discover a direction, a rhythm, and a purpose. Precisely there, where the analyst discovers nothing, the synthesizer and the creator are enlightened. Let us, then, attempt explanations, not with the fantasy of the novelist, but with an intuition supported by the facts of history and science.
The race we have agreed to call Atlantean prospered and declined in America. After its extraordinary flourishment, after having completed its cycle and fulfilled its particular mission, it entered the silence and went into decline until being reduced to the lesser Aztec and Inca empires, totally unworthy of the ancient and superior culture. With the decline of the Atlanteans, the intense civilization was transported to other sites and changed races: it dazzled in Egypt; it expanded in India and Greece, grafted onto new races. The Aryans mixed with the Dravidians to produce the Hindustani, and at the same time, by means of other mixtures, created Hellenic culture.
Greece laid the foundations of Western or European civilizations; the white civilizations that, upon expanding, reached the forgotten shores of the American continent in order to consummate the task of recivilization and repopulation. Thus we have the four stages and the four racial trunks: the Black, the Indian, the Mongol, and the White. The latter, after organizing itself in Europe, has become the invader of the world, and has considered itself destined to rule, as did each other previous races during their time of power. It is clear the domination of the whites will also be temporary, but their mission is to serve as a bridge. The white race has brought the world to a state in which all human types and cultures will be able to fuse with each other. The civilization developed and organized in our times by the whites has set the moral and material basis for the union of all men into a fifth universal race, the fruit of all the previous ones and amelioration of everything past.
White culture is migratory, yet it was not Europe as a whole that was in charge of initiating the reintegration of the red world into the modality of pre-universal culture, which had been represented for many centuries by the white man. The transcendental mission fell upon the two most daring branches of the European family, the strongest and most different human types: the Spanish and the English.
Our age became, and continues to be, a conflict of Latinism against Anglo-Saxonism: a conflict of institutions, aims, and ideals. [...] The greatest battle was lost on the day that each one of the Iberian republics went forth alone, to live her own life apart from her sisters, concerting treaties and receiving false benefits, without tending to the common interest of the race. The founders of our new nationalism were, without knowing it, the best allies of the Anglo-Saxons, our rivals in the possession of the continent. The unfurling of our twenty banners at the Pan American Union in Washington, should be seen as a joke played by skillful enemies. Yet, each of us takes pride in our humble rags, expression of a vain illusion, and we do not even blush at the fact of our discord in the face of the powerful North American union. [...] It is necessary to trace our patriotism back to our Hispanic fountainhead and educated on the lessons we should derive from the defeats, which are also ours. If our patriotism is not identified with the different stages of the old conflict between Latins and Anglo-Saxons, it shall never overcome a regionalism lacking in universal breadth. We shall fatefully see it degenerate into the narrowness and myopia of parochialism or into the impotent inertia of a mollusk attached to its rock.
So that we shall not be forced to deny our own fatherland, it is necessary that we live according to the highest interest of the race. The first stage of the profound conflict was decided in Europe and we lost. Afterward, when all the advantages were on our side in the new world, since Spain had conquered America, the Napoleonic stupidity gave Louisiana away to the Englishmen from this side of the ocean; this decided the fate of the new world in favor of the Anglo-Saxons. Napoleon, in his foolishness, was not able to surmise that the destiny of the European races was going to be decided in the New World. When, in the most thoughtless manner, he destroyed French power in America, he also weakened the Spaniards. He betrayed us and placed us at the mercy of the common enemy. None of these facts were even considered because the destiny of the race was in the hands of a fool, because Caesarism is the scourge of the Latin race.
Napoleon's betrayal of the global destiny of France mortally wounded the Spanish empire in America at the moment of its greatest weakness. The English speaking people took possession of Louisiana without combat, reserving their ammunitions for the now easy conquest of Texas and California. Without the base of the Mississippi, the English, would not have been able to take possession of the Pacific; they would not be the masters of the continent today; they would have remained in a sort of Netherlands transplanted to America, and the new world would be Spanish and French. Bonaparte made it Anglo-Saxon.
[...] Only the Iberian part of the continent possesses the spiritual factors, the race, and the territory necessary for the great enterprise of initiation the new universal era of Humanity. All the races that are to provide their contribution are already here: The Nordic man, who is today the master of action but who had humble beginnings and seemed inferior in an epoch in which already great cultures had appeared and decayed; the black man, a reservoir of potentialities that began in the remote days of Lemuria; The Indian, who saw Atlantis perish but still keeps a quiet mystery in the conscience. We have all the races and the aptitudes. The only thing lacking is for true love to organize and set in march the law of History.
[...] All this was to indicate that through the exercise of the triple law, we in America shall arrive, before any other part of the world, at the creation of a new race fashioned out of the treasures of all the previous ones: The final race, the cosmic race."
Essay from Profile of Man and Culture in Mexico by Samuel Ramos, trans. Peter G. Earle, copyright 1962.
"In one of his observations on the New World, Bolívar wrote that the Americans are Europeans by heritage. In Mexico, this heritage was abused for an entire century; there was excessive imitation of Europe with no other guide than individual caprice. The original sin of Mexican Europeanism was its lack of a standard for selecting foreign seeds of culture which in our spiritual earth could have produced the appropriate remedies for particular needs. That standard should have been none other than reality itself, but reality was unknown, because all our attention and interest had turned to Europe. The fallacy of always attempting to imitate Europe was possibly derived from an erroneous concept of culture which by extravagant idealization separated it from life, as if warmth and energy were not indispensable to the spirit's survival.
The prevailing culture--present or future--is necessarily that which determines vocation of the race and its historical destiny. We shall try to draw the profile of a culture that conceivably could exist in Mexico, given certain organic circumstances of society and man as the results of a particular history.
We must not continue to practice a false Europeanism; but it is just as urgent to avoid another dangerous illusion, cherished by equally false type of Mexicanism. Enlivened by a resentment against everything foreign, this Mexicanism seeks to rebuild our national life on other bases than those which it has had up to now--as if it were possible to undo in one moment our entire history. There is an attempt to isolate Mexico from all contact with the outside world so as to free its native qualities from all extraneous elements. Just as "Europanism" was founded on the ideal of a culture which could exist apart from life, "nationalism" was founded on the belief that Mexico was already complete in itself, with a definitive national physiognomy, and that its only need was to be drawn our into the light of day, like an unearthed idol. Such a belief is supported by an inclination to the picturesque--mountain scenes, dotted with Indian figures in their typical white cotton suits and with cactus plants. Recent art has undertaken an amplification--as in a resounding box--of the "picturesque" dimensions that have found wide acceptance, especially among Yankee tourists. But this Mexico of the charro (Mexican cowboy/horseman) and the Mexico of the china poblana (colorful style of women's regional dress), as well as the Mexico of the legendary savage (whose novelty and attraction for Europeans I cannot understand; there is proof of their own savagery in what has transpired since 1914), constitute a Mexico for export which is just as false as the romantic Spain of the tambourine.
But if we can rid our nationalistic spirit of all its resentment against things foreign (the kind of resentment which is typical in those suffering from an inferiority complex), there will undoubtedly remain a moral substance of absolute value for Mexico. This will be the voice of our most authentic being, which now finally makes itself heard after so many years in which Mexican turned a deaf ear to his destiny. It is almost impossible to believe that this is a novelty; but it is. Mexicans have not lived naturally; their history has always lacked candor. That is why they now should quickly heed that voice, which demands a life of sincerity. We must have the courage to be ourselves and the humility to accept the life that fate bestowed upon us without being ashamed of its poverty. All the ills that have outlived us are due to our failure to practice these simple rules of austerity; we have chosen to feign a situation which is very superior to that in which we actually live. Many of the sufferings which now afflict us will disappear the day we cure ourselves of our vanity. As a consequence of living outside reality of our being, we are lost in a chaotic world, in the midst of which we walk blindly and aimlessly, buffeted about by the four winds. For times of radical confusion there is no better remedy than to withdraw into ourselves, to return to the native soil. There is no doubt that after periods of muddled thinking and debilitation men and even entire peoples have revived. In our particular case, a figurative return to our own land will give us the physical and moral health necessary for recovering the confidence in the future. It is a consolation note that for some years the Mexican conscience has steadfastly sought true national introspection. But unfortunately the examination of our conscience has not been undertaken with the rigor, depth, and objectivity that the case requires. How can people be impartial judges in questions which affect their personal interest and partisan passions? Human experience shows that an interest or a passion cannot be defeated except by a greater interest or a greater passion. Therefore, we shall be incapable of knowing ourselves as individuals or as a people until we can overcome our little passions with the great passions for truth. This is one of the ways of disinterested love for persons and things, whether real or ideal. Love of knowledge was best symbolized by the eros of Plato. In order to develop, this love of knowledge must be a fundamental concern of Mexican Education.
The man who has this passion for truth will have also the indispensable moral strength to carry out a merciless analysis of himself, overcoming the weaknesses that might prevent a clear and objective view of his interior world. But the achievement of his high mental vantage point, from which we can look at things not as if we were extraterrestrial beings, but merely intelligent spectators, would not suffice to probe the inner recesses of reality. To this moral discipline an intellectual discipline must be added. It would be senseless to insist on this point if there were not a trend of opinion obviously favorable to scientific learning as the absolute prerequisite for an investigation of Mexican problems. A false concept of science seems to support this dangerous error.
Indeed, it is an exceedingly vulgar concept, the result of ignorance of superficiality, in which one can hear the distant echo of positivism; it is the fallacy that knowledge is acquired simply by opening up the five senses to reality. In this way of thinking, the intellectual function becomes subservient to the scientific process, to the extent that experience by its own virtue has the magic capacity of converting itself into ideas. Scientific research is reduced to a matter of accumulating facts, as if gathering them up to a certain amount were sufficient to cause scientific knowledge to burst into light. The chauvinistic mentality supposes, since science is European, that all intellectual preparation must constitute a bias in the scholar's mind, and accordingly blinds him to its native originality.
Therefore it is not surprising that such a theory of science should encourage the notion of creating a "Mexican science" which would admit no debt to the principles of universal science.
This is why in Mexico the true theory of science must be assimilated, because the popularized image that we have just described is no more than its caricature. Scientific research is impracticable if it does not confront reality with a prejudgement. Prejudgement is what guides the attention toward a given phenomenon; to prejudgement we owe our discovery of the relationship among different facts and perceive the continuity of a single process in events of diverse appearance. In a word, prejudgement is what within the medium of experience leads us to the scientific idea. But one cannot acquire these prejudgements without learning, before the actual investigation, the principles of the science in question.
To believe that we can develop in Mexico an original culture unrelated to the rest of the world constitutes a total misunderstanding of what culture is. The commonest notion is that culture is pure knowledge.. One fails to recognize the truth that it is rather a function of the spirit destined to humanize reality. But it is clear that this function is not spontaneous. Education, then, develops in the mind of each individual the wealth of culture already accumulated. Once that education is properly oriented, it should not simply work toward an increase in knowledge, but toward the transformation of the latter into a spiritual capacity to comprehend and elaborate the substance of every meaningful experience. Only by extracting from traditional culture its most subtle essence and making it a basic element of our spirit, can we speak of an "assimilation of culture."
Each spirit needs for its development the support and stimulus of a universal culture. It is therefore evident that the good intention of examining Mexican conscience may come to naught if we isolate it from the outside world, closing our doors to every possible foreign influence, for then we shall be left in the dark. The two extreme options in educational method are equally injurious to the future of national culture. One is to ignore Mexican reality altogether, which is what happened during the past century, so as to obtain a European culture at the possible cost of destroying our own ideas. The other is to deny categorically the significance of European culture, in the utopian hope of creating a Mexican culture which of course could not grow out of nothing. We shall never be able to decipher the mysteries of our being unless we can illuminate its depths with a guiding ideal that can come only from Europe.
When we reach some understanding of the idiosyncrasies of our national soul, we will have a standard to guide us through the complexities of European culture--which contains many important elements that are of no interest to us. Only by scientific knowledge of the Mexican mind will we have a basis for a systematic exploration of the maze of European culture and a separation of those elements which can be assimilated to our environment. Up to now, fashion has been the only arbiter for evaluating the heterogeneous products of spiritual life in the Old World. Lacking precise data on the nature of our soul, we have also lacked reference points for acquiring a Mexican perspective of European phenomena. The idea of selecting conscientiously and methodically the forms of European culture potentially adaptable to our own environment has never occurred to us. There is no doubt that such a system is possible, on the basis of choosing certain instinctive affinities that persuade our race to prefer certain cultural aspects over others. The hard thing is to distinguish between genuine congenialities and certain misguided interests which have nevertheless drawn our attention to culture. With the exception of an insignificant minority, Mexicans up to now have not cared about getting to the bottom of culture; instead, they have been content to stand aside, dazzled by its brilliant outward effects.
In the future Mexico must have a Mexican culture, but we have no illusions about its being original or unique. By Mexican culture we mean universal culture made over into our own, the kind that can coexist with us and appropriately express our spirit. Curiously enough, the only way open to us---in order to shape this Mexican culture---is to continue learning about European culture. Our race is a branch of a European race. Our history has unfolded in a European manner. But we have not succeeded in forming our own culture, because we have separated culture and life. We no longer want an artificial culture that lives like a hothouse flower; we do not want a false Americanism.
It is therefore essential to approach our problem in that modern spirit which by reiteration has become trite: to relate culture to life. As far as scientific knowledge is concerned, it is necessary to correlate continually the study of universal scientific principles with a specific analysis of our own reality. One reason for the hostility toward culture is the Mexican's individualistic character, resistant to all authority and to every standard. Accordingly, to accept the idea of radical "nationalism" would be tantamount to perpetuating the spiritual crisis; it would mean taking the path of least resistance, so as to continue facile achievements, superficial observations, and fragmentary studies devoid of scientific rigor. To give substance to our spiritual work of the future, it will be necessary to prepare our young people in schools and universities by means of an austere program basically oriented toward discipline of the will and intelligence. Concrete knowledge is what should least concern us with regard to culture as much as it can of intellectual and moral discipline. When this is achieved it will be possible to show that even those who reach the highest pinnacles of spiritual life need not, in their haughtiness, succumb to the error of rejecting native values. On the contrary, their enlightenment will permit them to comprehend and judge Mexican life more effectively.