Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Merton and the counterculture

"Jerusalem" by Thomas Merton
Merton to beat poet/publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 8/61:
“Someday I want to talk to you about effective protest as distinct from a simple display of sensitivity and goodwill. I think we have to examine the question of genuine and deep spiritual non-cooperation, non-participation, and resistance. … [Just] standing up and saying with sincerity, candor, and youthful abandon “I am against it” has the following bad effects: a) it perpetuates an illusion of free thought and free discussion, which is actually very useful to those who have long since stifled all genuine freedom in this regard, b) it flatters the [establishment] by giving them something they can contrast themselves with, to their own complacent advantage.”
Merton to Nicaraguan poet Napoleon Chow, 5/63:
“It also seems to me that the protest of the beatniks, while having a certain sincerity, is largely a delusion. … Yet this much can be said for them: their very formlessness may perhaps be something that is in their favor. It may perhaps enable them to reject most of the false solutions and deride the “square” propositions of the decadent liberalism around them. It may perhaps prepare them to go in the right directions. I think the beats have contributed much to the peace movement in the US, in their own way, and they are quite committed to the only serious revolutionary movement we have: that of rights for the Negro.”

HT: Gordon Oyer

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