Friday, May 22, 2009

The way back to Eden

"....The myth of the "happy savage" is based on the observation that when free of external threats, preliterate people often display a serenity that seems enviable to the visitor from more differentiated cultures. But the myth tells only half the story: when hungry or hurting, the "savage" is no more happy than we would be; and he may be in that condition more often than we are.

The inner harmony of technologically less advanced people is the positive side of their limited choices and of their stable repertory of skills, just as the confusion in our soul is the necessary consequence of unlimited opportunities and constant perfectibility. Goethe represented the dilemma in the bargain Doctor Faustus, the archetype of the modern man, made with Mephistopheles: the good doctor gained knowledge and power, but at the price of introducing disharmony in his soul. ...........

Few would argue that a simpler consciousness, no matter how harmonious, is preferable to a more complex one. While we might admire the serenity of the lion in repose, the tribesman's untroubled acceptance of his fate, or the child's wholehearted involvement in the present, they cannot offer a model for resolving our predicament.

The order based on innocence is now beyond our grasp. Once the fruit is plucked from the tree of knowledge, the way back to Eden is barred forever."

Page 228. 'Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience'Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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