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By Lewis Mumford

Featuring a brand new creation by means of Casey Nelson Blake, this vintage textual content presents the essence of Mumford's perspectives at the special but interpenetrating roles of know-how and the humanities in smooth tradition. Mumford contends that glossy man's overemphasis on technics has contributed to the depersonalization and vacancy of a lot of twentieth-century lifestyles. He matters a choice for a renewed recognize for inventive impulses and achievements. His repeated insistence that technological improvement take the Human as its measure―as good as his impassioned plea for humanity to utilize its "splendid prospects and promise" and opposite its growth towards anomie and destruction―is ever extra appropriate because the new century dawns.

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If art has this essential function in life, it is no accident perhaps that an age that has disregarded art and cast the artist aside, having no use for him except as a vehicle of advertise­ ment or propaganda, it is no accident that this age has also descended close to the level of barbarism in other departments. Nor is it strange that the artist has been driven, almost in self-defense, to cultivate his inhuman­ ity, or to ally himself with that part of our life, the prac­ tical and the technical, which has come to serve as a sterile substitute for the more vital processes and rela­ tions.

Do not misunderstand my intention here. In correcting the biased account of man’s nature and aptitudes, by those who overvalue technical processes and center at­ tention too exclusively on the mastery of the physical conditions of living, I would not deny the essential part played by man’s laborious technological advance. Man’s extraordinary adaptability, his success in spreading to The Tool and the Object 41 every climate, of making use of every kind of environ­ ment, is partly the result of his growing technical facility.

When life has driven the artist to that point of desperation, such value as the work of art possesses is but a medicinal one for the artist; beyond ? * Art and the Symbol 31 that there lies only manic violence or blank self-destruction. You will forgive me, I hope, for dwelling so often on these negative aspects of modern art; but it is sometimes only by understanding the nature of morbid phenomena that one can define the more obvious aspects of health, sanity, balance. As I have sought to interpret it here, art is one of the primary ways in which man has cultivated his own humanness: in which he has developed his sen­ sitiveness, in which he has established rich emotional ties, by means of symbols, with his fellow men, in which he has revealed his constant need for love, first in falling in love with himself and his own organs of expression, and then, through a long process of maturation, reaching the stage of deep communion and unreserved commu­ nication, that state which widens into a unity and self­ surrender similar to that of erotic love.

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