EDWARD CARPENTER: CIVILIZATION - ITS CAUSE AND ITS CURE / by Caitlin Murray

“The friendly and flowing savage, who is he? Is he waiting for civilisation, or is he past it, and mastering it?” – Whitman

: We find ourselves to-day in the midst of a somewhat peculiar state of society, which we call Civilisation, but which even to the most optimistic among us does not seem altogether desirable. :

no recovery – arrested

Disease : For as in the body disease arises from the loss of the physical unity which constitutes Health, and so takes the form of warfare or discord between the various parts, or of the abnormal development of individual organs, or the consumption of the system by predatory germs and growths; so in our modem life we find the unity gone which constitutes true society, and in its place warfare of classes and individuals, abnormal development of some to the detriment of others, and consumption of the organism by masses of social parasites.

. . .

Civilisation – a historical stage, commencing from the division of society into classes founded on property and the adoption of class-government

nations policies (policemanised nations) as a substitute for civilised nations / “for perhaps there
is no better or more universal mark of the period we are considering, and of its social degradation, than the appearance of the crawling phenomenon in question”

Our unrest is the penalty we pay for our wider life.

That each human soul however bears within itself some kind of reminiscence of a more harmonious and perfect state of being, which it has at times experienced, seems to me a conclusion difficult to avoid; and this by itself might give rise to manifold traditions and myths.

. . .

Disease as loss of unity / Health as unity (health, whole, holy) / heal, hallow, hale, holy, whole, wholesome / hal to breath – inhale, exhale [thy faith hath made thee whole]

The idea seems to be a positive one—a condition of the body in which it is an entirety, a unity—a central force maintaining  that condition; and disease being the break-up—or break-down—of that entirety into multiplicity. The peculiarity about our modem conception of Health is that it seems to be a purely negative one.

Health has become the absence of disease.

Disease as the establishment of an insubordinate centre – a boil, a tumor, the introduction and spread of a germ with innumerable progeny throughout the system, the enlargement out of all reason of an existing organ. Mental disease – when any passion asserts itself as an independent centre of thought and action.

The person within the person. The person must rule or disappear (a walking stomach for example). A person is no organ, resides in no organ, but is the central life ruling and radiating among all organs, and assigning them their parts to play.

Disease is the break-up of unity, its entirety into multiplicity.

Health is a positive thing, and not a mere negation of disease.

Wait upon the shining forth of this inward sun, give free access and welcome to its rays of love, and free passage for them into the common world around you, and it may be you will get to know more about health than all the books of medicine contain, or can tell you.

It is (as a rule) only seen where disease is ; it writes enormous tomes on disease ; it induces disease in animals (and even men) for the purpose of studying it ; it knows, to a marvelous extent, the symptoms of disease, its nature, its causes, its goings out and its comings in ; its eyes are perpetually fixed on disease, till disease (for it) becomes the main fact of the world and the main object of its worship.

And as to the treatment of a disease so introduced there are obviously two methods : one
is to reinforce the central power till it is sufficiently strong of itself to eject the insubordinate elements and restore order ; the other is to attack the malady from outside and if possible destroy it—(as by doses and decoctions)—independently of theinner vitality, and leaving that as it was before. The first method would seem the best, most durable and effective ; but it is difficult and slow. It consists in the adoption of a healthy life, bodily and mental, and will be spoken of later on. The second may be characterised as the medical method, and is valuable, or rather I should be inclined to say, will be valuable, when it has found its place, which is to be subsidiary to the first.

. . .

In order to realise what Health is, how splendid and glorious a possession, he must go throuh all the long negative experience disease ; in order to know the perfect social life, to understand what power and happiness to mankind are involved in their true relation to each other, he must learn the misery and suffering which come from mere individualism and greed ; and in order to find his true Manhood, to discover what a wonderful power it Is, he must first lose it—he must become a prey and a slave to his own passions and desires—whirled away like Phaethon by the horses which he cannot control.

parenthesis in human progress

the influence of property draws people away from 1. nature; 2. from their true self; 3. from their fellows.

Government – the preservation of the body politic by artificial means / The true Democracy has yet to come / inward rule, the rule of the Mass-man in each unit-man

There is another point worth noting as characteristic of the civilisation-period. This is the abnormal development of the abstract intellect in comparison with the physical senses on the one hand, and the moral sense on the other / ghosts of things  (Thomas Carlyle)/ a veil of insubstantial thought

. . .

a return to nature and the community of human life / giving up the dense and impenetrable hedge / an unclothing

The life of the open air, familiarity with the winds and waves, clean and pure food, the companionship of the animals—the very wrestling with the great Mother for his food—all these things will tend to restore that relationship which man has so long disowned ; and the consequent instreaming of energy into his system will carry him to perfections of health and radiance of being at present unsuspected

cleanness through eating