by R.E. Prindle
Continued from Part II
Thuvia, Maid of Mars - eText Edition
In the recent American presidential campaign in the US the winner won by promising the inevitable, Change. A very safe promise as the history of the world is one of change. Indeed, the life of the individual is one of unending change from the cradle to the grave. Change is now and forever. The question is, what response is made to the changes.
The times of Edgar Rice Burroughs were a period of the most earth shaking and rapid of all. At the same time most perilous, as the evolution of actual scientific knowledge in all fields was in its infancy and subject to misinterpretation. One might say in Burroughsian imagery that a series of doors stood before mankind, entering the right door would be more beneficial than the wrong doors.
Burroughs and others made tantative moves for the right door but others entered by the wrong door drawing most others through with them. What looked like progress turned into a regression. To shut up criticism the regressives began to demonize all those of different opinions. Burroughs was among those.
Some say he adapted poorly to the flood of change but the peole who do so are so confident in their opinions that to disagree with them is to be accused of being not only wrong but either criminal or insane. One doesn't take their opinions too seriously as change will certainly demonstrate their opinions as ludicrous if it hasn't already. Nevertheless as they are quite vocal in their condemnation of Edgar Rice Burroughs we have to consider the accuracy of their accusations as well as that of their own viewpoint. How well do they understand the issues?
ERB has some interesting observations on the changes occurring in the history, society and racial matters of his times as well as the concealed role of hypnotism in the transformation of that society. The basis of hypnotism is suggestion. As ERB says in Thuvia all is based on suggestion and counter-suggestion. If one conciders life and learning from that angle it presents some interesting possibilites.
What is learning? What is suggestion?
When the child is conceived he must of necessity have a mind with a blank slate. Freud, Jung and many others seem to seriously believe that newborns can inherit ancestral memories even though there is no one beyond the womb who has ever recalled any.
In fact without experience or learning that has has been introjected into the mind there is nothing for the mind to consider, hence no cogitation at all. This mind can only begin to form with the ejection from the womb. This occurs with a brain still in the process of formation. The development of the brain can only be considered completed shortly after puberty.
It seems obvious then that you can't get out of a mind what isn't in it. It behooves society then to begin loading the mind of a child as soon as the child is capable of handling education. The education of the mind must be built step by step to provide a firm foundation for the intellectual superstructure. Whatever is in the mind must come from or be suggested from outside the mind. There is no internal system of knowledge. Thus all knowledge is suggested to the child’s mind by his caretakers. They may be good or bad, well or ill intentioned. The brain is organized to receive suggestions or, in another word, experience. The reactive structure may already be in place dut to experiences in the womb and the actual birthing process but the actual learning process begins the moment the newborn emerges from the womb and receives a slap on the bottom to get his lungs started.
Thus the mind of the child is extremely malleable during the time until about puberty and shortly thereafter. If education is neglected during this early period and shortly thereafter it is unlikely that the adult can ever make up the lack. For instance if the basics or reading, writing and arithmetic are not loaded into the brain during this malleable period it is very rare that the skills can be acquired at a later time.
Thus, as it was always known that the child is father to the man various doctrinaire organizations such as the Jesuits believed that if they could form the education of the child or, in another word, indoctrinte him, they could shape the future in their own image. In Burroughs’ time the mechanisms of education were more fully understood. Various schemes were proposed to revise educational methods many of which were just odd or crude, but the better thought to change the direction of society toward a higher ideal.
The Communists were well are at the time that suggestion was the basis of education. Lothrop Stoddard writing in his The Revolt Against Civilization of 1922 quotes Eden and Cedar Paul from their book Proletcult of 1921:
"There is no such thing as "scientific" economics or sociology. For these reasons…there should be organized and spread abroad a new kind of education, 'Proletcult.' Thus…in a fighting culture aimed at the overthrow of capitalism and at the replacement of democratic culture and bourgeois ideology by ergatocratic culture and proletarian ideology…" The authors warmly endorse the Soviet government's prostitution of education and all other forms of intellectual activity to Communist propaganda, for we are told that the "new education" is inspired by the "new psychology," which "provides the philosophical justification of Bolshevism and supplies a theoretical guide for our efforts in the field of proletarian culture…." Education is suggestion. The recognition that suggestion is auto suggestion, and that auto suggestion is the means whereby imagination controls the subconscious self, will enable us to make a right use of the most potent force which has become available to the members of the human herd since the invention of articulate speech.
I’m sure you can find appropriate application of the doctrine since Stoddard wrote in education, movies, TV, books and phonograph records and CDs. While I would disagree with the Pauls' notion of suggestion and auto suggestion the Freudian influence is quite clear. This would be abetted by John Dewey's notions on education that deemphasized the educational foundation while directing it more toward ideological considerations, or 'relatively unstructured, free, student-directed progressive education.'
God only knows what free, progressive education is but this sort of social engineering was the wrong turn being taken in this era of rapid change.
So, loading the brain to deal with life's exigencies is of necessity a slow process. As the brain continues to develop outside the womb there is plenty of room for malfunction. As man is incapable of creating anything original the education of the child may be compared to the loading of a computer. First the operating system. Whether consciously or unconsciously since all man knows is his own brain he has replicated it in his machine. A computer functions just like a brain, which should astound no one, as man can only devise what he already knows.
Now, human experience dates back about a hundred thousand years. I intentionally leave out the African development as it had nothing to do with the education of mankind. The African contribution is nil. Education began outside Africa. Having painfully and laboriously accumulated the huge fund of knowledge it must be entered into the brain of the new being. This sort of suggestion is called education. There's not much room for anything called 'free' or 'progressive.' Getting it ain't going to be free, the child has to work like a mule. This is a slow, laborious process as extensive foundations must be laid down before any superstructure can rise. Thus years are consumed just to teach the child reading, writing and arithmetic. With these three tools he can learn anything else. Inexplicably this fact seems to have been lost sight of in today’s educational theories unless of course the Pauls' dictum is being followed.
Once the foundation has been laid, a form of suggestion and actually hypnosis, the child, now a student, must be taught how to manage and interpret what he learns at an increasingly rapid pace. Unfortunately there will be children left behind; any other expectation is fatuous, some are just brighter than others. Managing and interpreting comes from within the experience of the organism. Here's the real problem because the same data will by analyzed differently and produce different results and opinions.
Along with learning factual matters the child must at the same time develop emotionally and psychologically. Nasty work. This is a difficult part. As the child has little ability to understand and even less ability to accurately analyze it he has to reason from faulty premisses. This ignorance of reality is what forms Freud's notion of the unconscious or Id. Correcting this unconscious to consciousness is the conversion of Freud's Id to Ego. A child misinterprets suggestions. Some become fixated in his un- or subconscious. The fixations are what distort consciousness from the subconscious interfering with the integration of the subconscious and the conscious. While the child is made more conscious in his ability to understand and reject harmful suggestions these fixations like post-hypnotic suggestions control his responses. The fixations must be exorcised which is the intended function of the psychoanalysis of Freud and Jung.
Once again, suggestion is everything outside your mind. Your mind cannot function without these suggestions because there will be nothing in the mind to function. Be carefull of what you put into your mind or, at least, that you do put something of value into it. Whether ERB realized this or not, his ideas of hypnosis and suggestion indicate he might have, he pursued a program of continuing education all his adult life. At the time of writing Thuvia he was working through Edward Gibbons' Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, a vast minefield of amazing and truly educational suggestion.
From Edgar Rice Burroughs' Personal Library Project
Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch. 5
Thuvia, Maid of Mars - eText Edition
The Revolt Against Civilization by Lothrop Stoddard TEXT
Proletcult by Eden and Cedar Paul TEXT
Edgar Rice Burroughs Personal Library
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