Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wilhelm Reich - Listen, Little Man! (1945)

For years now, I have often had engaged in internal debates on the ideas of pedantry and pretension, and whether or not in any case they should be justified, and I still cannot come to a solid conclusion. It is empowering and psychologically fruitful to feel better than someone, and even moreso to display your superiority in regards to them, however, this is a very backwards, primitive thought process. It's true that if you spend many years developing yourself, that you would want to hold others to the same standards in which you so rigorously apply inwards, and you may constantly compare yourself to others, and you may feel that you are right, that you are in some ways -objectively- better than your neighbor or peer. However, it is possible to have empathy for your fellow man or woman, and realize that their ignorance is not entirely their fault - that they are products of a society and education system which are designed to keep them stupid and complacent and subservient, and they have just not had the critical teaching you have had the privilege of getting. Still, there are the cases such as this book, where the author( a very interesting man)has throughout the years tried and tried to help the 'little man' - and his efforts have been ignored or taken for granted or he himself continually ostracized, and in these rare cases, an arrogant or spitefully condescending tone, is very much understandable.

My point being that the one minor issue I had with this book, was its tone. Yes, in many ways, the tone is deserving, but also it does not help to communicate the ideas within, nor does it align with the 'transcendency' which the book itself preaches. That being said, however, I feel that this little book should be mandatory reading for all 6th grade students, worldwide. Its ideas on de-oppressing yourself (and yes, there is a good chance that even you, my reader, are oppressed in some way - lord knows I am), are of the most crucial kind for changing things on an individual, social, and global level. Here ares some excerpts and illustrations from within:


 "Faced with the choice with a library or a brawl, you would unquestionably choose the brawl."

"You fail to perceive the bottomless stupidity and the disgustingly bad taste of these things which are designed to catch your ear."
"....you have to improve economic conditions  if you want to enjoy your life; that hungry individuals  are unable to further culture; that all conditions of life, without exception, belong here; that you have to emancipate yourself  and your society from all tyranny"

"You built your house on sand and you did all this because you are incapable of feeling life in yourself, because you kill love in your child even before it is born.; because you cannot tolerate any alive expression, any free, natural movement."

"Perhaps a little more to the  "left" than the "right," but not ONE MILLIMETER FORWARD!"


"Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion; when the mood of Beethoven or Bach will be the mood of your total existence (you have it in you, little man, buried deeply in a corner of your self); when your thinking will be in harmony, and no longer at variance with your feelings....

....when you feel elevation at hearing truths, and feel horror of formalities; when you have intercourse with your work comrades directly, and not though diplomats; when your adolescent daughter's happiness in love will delight instead of enraging you, when you will shake your head at the times when one punished little children for touching their love organs;  when human faces on the street will express freedom, animation, and joy and no longer sadness and misery; when people no longer will walk on this earth with retracted and rigid pelves and deadened sexual organs."


"'There is one thing that counts: to live one's life well and happily.  Follow the voice of your heart, even if it leads you off the path of timid souls. Do not become hard and embittered, even if life tortures you at times.' And in the quiet of the evening, the day's work done, when I sit on the meadow in front of the house with my wife or my child and feel the breathing of nature, I hear a melody, the melody of the future: 'OH ye millions, I embrace ye, with a kiss for all the world!' Then I wish fervently that this life  would learn to insist on its rights, to change the hard and the timid souls who make the cannons sound. They only do it because life eluded them. And I hug my little son who asks me: 'Father, the sun has gone down. Where has it gone? Will it come back soon?' And I tell him: "Yes, son, it will be back soon to warm us."

1 comment:

  1. I love that you posted this the day before i pulled the book from a box of donations to a used book sale.
    I gave the book to a friend for his birthday today (mine was yesterday)(and even though i want to read it myself), because he's such a beautiful but little little man.