Knowledge and Opinion: Essays and Literary Criticism of John G. Neihardt

By John G. Neihardt; Lori Holm Utecht | Go to book overview

THIRTEEN
Exploring the Unknown

John Neihardt was comfortable ranging outside the boundaries of ordinary consciousness. He had visited mediums and engaged in psychic research. Though maintaining a healthy skepticism about psychic phenomena, he had enough experiences of his own to make him unwilling to dismiss out-of-hand the claims of others. Neihardt believed that most of us are restricted by a view of the world that limits understanding, even though, occasionally, flashes of insight break in and mystery is revealed.

Neihardt believed that most of us stumble through our lives without realizing that just beyond the edge of awareness is a world of wonder. He believed that revelations of religious mystery also take place at the edge of normal consciousness but that much of organized religion impedes rather than enhances connection to mystery.

These moments of expanded awareness intrigued Neihardt, and he welcomed books that explored the borderlands of ordinary human consciousness and considered human life as an integral part of mystery.


SCIENTIFIC PESSIMISM

REVIEW OF EOS, OR THE WIDER ASPECTS OF COSMOGONY, BY J. H. JEANS
(NEW YORK: DUTTON, 1929)

It was Schopenhauer—wasn't it?—who, in considering the human predicament, remarked substantially that after ages upon ages of unconscious and fortuitous evolution the universe had accidentally developed the phenomenon of consciousness to no end save that it might at last realize the utter futility of the process that had resulted in consciousness.

Surely this is a world-record in pessimistic utterances, not to be surpassed by even the most enlightened of our modern intelligentsia; and, believe them, that is saying a mouthful. What's more, Schopenhauer's notoriously

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Knowledge and Opinion: Essays and Literary Criticism of John G. Neihardt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Tradition 1
  • One - As from a Height of Time 3
  • Two - Ancient Seers 9
  • Three - Epic Landscape 23
  • 2 - Troubled Planet 33
  • Four - Tremendous Mood of War 35
  • Five - Breadlines and Bursting Granaries 43
  • Six - Social Turmoil 53
  • 3 - Trends in Contemporary Literature 69
  • Seven - Genuine Criticism 71
  • Eight - Vandals in the Temple 77
  • Nine - Only Symptomatic 89
  • 4 - Of Making Many Books 111
  • Ten - The Glow of the Moment 113
  • Eleven - Impeccably Unremarkable 129
  • 5 - This Mysterious Universe 145
  • Twelve - Et Tu, Scientia? 147
  • Thirteen - Exploring the Unknown 161
  • Fourteen - The Flesh and the Spirit 172
  • 6 - Poetic Values 183
  • Fifteen - Hill of Vision 185
  • Sixteen - What is Literature Good For? 203
  • Notes 217
  • Sources 227
  • Index 233
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