This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Community, Society, and the Individual Author(s): Yi-Fu Tuan Source: Geographical Review, Vol. 92, No. 3 (Jul., 2002), pp. 307-318 Published by: American Geographical Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4140912 . Accessed: 10/07/2011 06:19
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=ags. . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Geographical Society is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Geographical Review.
is more ambivalent. we have a stunted and distortedview of the possibilitiesof human welfare. COMMUNICATION. individual. AND THE INDIVIDUAL YI-FU TUAN is "Community" a good warm word frequentlyinvokedby citizens. July 2002 Copyright ? 200oo3 the AmericanGeographicalSocietyof New York by ."society" by and impersonal. for it seems to me that. absent balance and esteem." contrast. The word invokessome"society. they help one another. and politicians. closer to home.Wisconsin. as thing large in the expression "high society" or.society. tury.'by contrast."The word "individual. my treatment of the three terms cannot be evenhanded. community.53706-1491. Not too long ago the individual was the pride of Western civilization.ratherthan noting once more their defects. invoking something elitist and exclusive. which is said to be 9G DR. I draw attention to certain values that have been put in the shade by the glow of community's reputation. SOCIETY.I drawattention to some of its defects. social workers. Keywords: communication. COMMUNITY. is even more suspect in our time.TUAN the J." "individualor ism. In this article I plead for restoration of balance and esteem among the three terms.The VOLUME 92 Review Geographical July 2002 NUMBER 3 COMMUNITY. The word "individual" often bracketedwith society.Ratherthan raising my voice to add more praise for community. Cooperation presupposes effective communication. ABSTRACT. Now "individual"and "individualism" seem to connote largely selfishness. is more ambivalent. as in the expression "high society. The Geographical Review 92 (3): 307-318.As for society and the individual.Wrightand Vilas Professoremeritus of geographyat the Universityof Wisis consin. "Society.K. social workers. the American Geographical is Society.and fulfillment.but even more than the individual came under suspicion in the last third of the twentieth censociety. something elitist and exclusive."often connoting selfishness and bracketedwith society.happiness. CC Community" is a good warm word frequentlyinvokedby citizens.On the one hand. and individualism was a concept and a value that distinguished the West from other civilizations.on the other hand. Madison. and politicians. There is hardly any shadow to it (Williams 1976).or individualism. Because I attempt to correct an imbalance. I plead for a restorationof balance and esteem among the three terms as a necessary step toward acquiring a fuller understandingof the human condition and potential. AND INDIVIDUAL UNIQUENESS Community is considered good because its members cooperate.
No question there of messages sent. What is not in doubt is that animals feel and have inner worlds constituted by experience-and so. activities of the brain. one likes to boast a special quality or skill that enables one to stand out a little from one's fellows and so gain their regard. they are. for a strong awareness that members differ can make the foundation of cooperative enterprises seem fragile. do human beings. of course. where egalitarianism is the desired norm. how human individuals organize experience and perceive the world is highly distinctive. People deemed normally sighted may nevertheless differ significantly in spread of peripheral vision. socalled normal people diverge notably from one another in appreciation of sounds of varying frequency.308 THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW another characteristic of community. animals are less successful than plants. Differences in the brain mean that. however. but they have no inner worlds of consciousness to further differentiate them. so to speak. however. Inorganic objects may differ greatly in size. But uniqueness also isolates. only to be misinterpreted or subverted (Lowe 1990o). and chemical makeup. perfectly. Is uniqueness a problem? No. causing loneliness and. Even in small hunting-gathering communities. above all. potentially. sensitivity to color and to type of color. Every time the senses of a human group are measured in regard to range and sensitivity they are found to differ. shape. Do plants have inner worlds? Although scientists will surely say "No. It can also be undesirable from the viewpoint of the group. A human individual is unique. despite culture's push toward commonality. If successful communication is the ideal. And so it goes with the other senses. stars in star clusters understand one another. such that not only are certain musical notes accessible to one person and not to another but words and phrases in conversation are quickly grasped by one and not by another. By individuality I have in mind both physical character and inner reality-the existence of a world within each being. sex. and human beings are the least successful of all. sharpness of focus." plants have inner worlds. Every feature of the brain that has been measured shows unexpected diversity (Williams 1967. not if it is considered a source of pride. says Alfred North Whitehead. 1978). The higher the level of complexity in organisms. but rather the world of physical objects. planets and the sun. plants are less successful than minerals. or even the world of plants and animals. It can therefore be undesirable from an individual's point of view. yet people must cooperate if they are to build a common world and survive the hostilities of nature and other human beings. the more difficult it is for them to achieve a community of perfect communication. distinguishing it from society. and." I can imagine the philosopher-scientist Whitehead averring that "No" is too absolute and that the better answer is "Yes. whose members -often strangers to one another-either do not communicate or do so with less success. so faint as to approach asymptotically zero. Atoms and molecules. despair. In hearing. the human world is not the place to look for it. . other vital physiological functions such as digestion. In sending and receiving unambiguous messages. The problem with human beings lies in their individuality.
by except and thattheyareat different stagesof maturation do not seethe worldin the same and its on way. as can each sex. SOCIETY.COMMUNITY. the denby allowing voice-traditionally father's one unlikethe motherin I say"self-evidently" becausethe fatheris indisputably role. strongenoughto keep lies enemiesat bay. strength not onlyin numsee Numbers uselessunlessthe unit'smembers and are bersbut also in cohesion.and betweenunequals.Bothin the pastandin the present.each generationcan be assigneda role.is to seek a shared In level of emotionand understanding.Indeed.As for siblings.Eachagehasits own needsanddesires. mother.In an extended family.pick at randomsix individuals the streetor in the thattheyhavemorein commonin the way andit is entirely possible marketplace. to Themostcommonresponse individuality to suppress Another response.not just in acquired biological children ranked age. Yet the and nuclear familyas the basic familyof parents children. a politicalpower. This takesus to the sharean overarching think more or less alikeand purpose.In premodern socialunit is a commonpractice only to and and far wasopen-ended extended beyondparents offspring include family and unrelated bloodbut deemedfaall sortsof blood relatives evenneighbors. treating nuclear times the in moderntimes. worldat some hithertounrecognized moredifficultand rare. forexample. and the different . as. by of titles(Shorter the milialthrough conferment courtesy 1977). a and goingabouttheir theyperceive act thanhavea father. betweena toddlerand a nursing and a juvenile.andby "society" meana a characteristic society. on infant.Theself-evident difference presents voice-to dominate. to not. able a to produce unitlargeenoughto be an economicpower.Communication bothkindsis Beethoven speaks I of modernsociety. differIts are to the secondreason gobeyond nuclear family: members self-evidently that a problemin communication is hident. this searchfor commonality beyondsuindividual voicesemergethatmakeprobold and articulate perficial agreements. thisis all betweena growndaughter the moretruewhentheagegapis large.as when two friends possible: foundlyengagedcommunication converseat length in front of a crackling fire. betweena juvenileand a toddler.wasnecessary and wrestfood fromrecalcitrant nature. AND THE INDIVIDUAL 309 SUPPRESSION OF DIFFERENCE IN THE FAMILY far is it.andchildren in business the familyhomestead.I wouldsay. own"take" reality.isolating and potentially demoralizing individualdifferencesare submergedunder groupor generationaldifferences. Differentnesswithin the family is covered up by including. too or kindred withneighbors. as alreadynoted. betweenequals. of especially in of andlooserassociation humanbeingsthanthatwhichpertains folkor larger traditional communities.Whythe extension? was as is timesthe nuclear One answer thatin premodern family. and characteristics function.as when of andI (andmanyothers)listen. and At whatconstitutes community? its simplest mostbasic.it is the a Butfirst. moreover. other kin and neighbors. whether to Alliance smallandvulnerable fendforitself. community.whichmeans are in the rarecasesof multiple births.
but. Society's elders have bemoaned this weakening of the family bond. as thinking beings. Western society has become peaceful. "us" and "them." Fundamental to political action is the strengthening of the "we" so that it can stand up to the "they. the individuality-the unique needs and aspirations-of its members can be recognized. A family can be just parents and offspring. I surmise. rather. Another widely used technique is the drawing of bound- . and harvest. In modern times. as not only physical and material demands for cohesion but also rituals that enforce it. a group needs strength not only in numbers but also in cohesion. for the Dutch. need sheltered places in which to grow. Another advantage to extension is the simple fact that the enlarged community has greater power. however. As important are the social Others or groups. one much like the other. Farming is the communal activity that confronts nature. forgetting that it is a consequence of strength and forgetting also that a new kind of bond may be forged on the basis of recognizing one another as special persons. enjoyed a certain cachet among students of crowding and overcrowding. they signified nature-benign nature. of course. disappear. or just sightseeing. An all-important Other is nature." to the Other. tired of business hassles and other daily irritations in their crowded country. who. Just as a forest full of trees. is the farmers' experience. In all communities. orderly. Side by side and with the synchronicity of a machine. Such. Dutchmen. practices used to maintain cohesion and identity are similar and are part of the need to confront nature and cope with human competitors and enemies. build irrigation ditches. forgetting that its population density actually exceeded that of the Netherlands. for cohesion no longer means one collective body but a loosely structured web of assistance and appreciation. But how do they and their laboring in the field look to an outsider? Let me answer with an anecdote that. plant. farmers prepare fields. forcing it to yield food. soothed rather than frazzled the nerves of the Dutch cosmopolites (Esser 1971). Using the pronouns "we" and "us" frequently in verbal exchange is perhaps the most efficient way of ensuring cohesion. When Indonesia was still a Dutch colony. in the 1970s. in Java. and efficient enough that the families in it no longer have to be extended to survive or prosper. so an Indonesian countryside full of working peasants. Conflicts that arise from personal differences are submerged in the demands of finely tuned physical coordination. including even the practice of regularly dining together. Yet an uneasiness remains. The work is close to nature and can seem natural. weed. one much like the other. need their own space to be seen properly and who. like works of art. soothes rather than frazzles the nerves of a city dweller. At the same time. To position oneself advantageously with respect to the social Other.310 THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW roles can then be arranged to serve the common good. sought relief in a tour of duty. How was this possible? How could the Dutch not see the numerous villages and the farmers working everywhere? They could see them. Politics divides people into "we" and "they. SUPPRESSION OF DIFFERENCE IN THE COMMUNITY The extended family is the prototype of all communities. Javanese farmers did not signify crowding and conflict.
By contrast.as an unbridgeablechasm between humans and subhumans.and instantlyobeying an officer'scommands. personal relationshipsare said to be cool and superficial.A third.nativepeoples.communication and exchangecan also lead to feelings of culturalirritation and economic grievance. In the Great Lakesregion of North America.above all. the other cool and abstract. Soldiers.Badgerand Gopher-that stand more or less on a par but.much alikein appearance culture.thanks to the perception that other people are differentand may have things that are worth acquiring. even as it strengthenscommonality within the group.as in a neighborhood. Group difference. For example." never before.Another differenceis that.however.have chosen to sharpen their differenceby seeingthemselvesas belonging to eitherthe Fish Clanor the Bear Clan.As hostility mounts againstoutsiders. is absorbedinto the "we"and feels wonderfully powerful in consequence. or town. is the result.so they are seen no longer as mere variations between species-Fish and Bear. are united as one. whereasa group can be any size. the morally superior and the morallyinferior.Warmthin a community lies in sustained care and concern for one's fel- .Fencesand walls. encourages communication and exchange among groups.even though society promotes individualismand arguesthat every individual is significantlydifferentfrom other individuals and hence worth paying some attention to.members of the other are said to be unusuallyhirsute. ritual.personal relationshipsare said to be warm. marchingin lockstep.Trade. even though community deemphasizesthe individual. SOCIETY.for mutual benefit. AND THE INDIVIDUAL 311 aries.even conceptuallines.all areunited as againstthe common enemy. more specializedtechnique.differencesin food. In hostility and war. made up of people living in close physical proximity.whateverincompatibilities and conflicts exist within the group fade:Communal feelings rise.The "I. SOCIETY AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS To this point I have used the words "community"and "group"interchangeably. in the rigid hierarchicalrelationship of officers and men-force asserted and accepted without questioning-one might even say that it approximatesthe perfection of atoms and molecules.There is no confusing the Fish and the Bear:Membersof one clan are said to go bald early. a community usually evokes something small. Why?For an answer. Community becomes society when it has grown largeand complex. for exand ample. rather. havethe effectof promoting difference between groups and samenesswithin a group. However.we need to look more closely at the nature of human relationships. is the use of animal totems.and. and speech between groups are exaggerated.nurtured through this and other cultural means.COMMUNITY. In their oneness-in the subjugation of all inwardness and individualitythat may bring about miscues and miscommunication-the life of soldiers approximatesthe communal ideal known to lower social animals. The differencebetween the two is not just size.in emotional tone-the one warm and particularistic. The words differ. they become so by wearingthe uniform. village.to open hostility and war (L&vi-Strauss 1966).
He put his arm around my shoulder and said that an ambulance had been called and would be there in ten minutes. A nurse came toward me. having causedthe death of Job'schildren.wherein God. A fellow is recognizedand attendedto. But the help stopped the moment society discovered that I was in no mortal danger.and so on-they do not recommunities consider motely define an individual'suniqueness. That is why society can seem cool and impersonal.I do not mean camaraderie. That evening. Moreover. medical assistants arrivedto help me into a waitingvehicle. weaver.permits and even encourages friendship.most of whom arestrangers.changingtrainsto go to a friend'shome and staywith him overnight before catching a plane back to the United States the next day. I was in London's Underground.for they may well be the most efficientmeans of extendingcivilityandhelpfulnessto largenumbersof people.Still in a daze.Aftervarious probings and tests. Society.the warm feeling one has toward one's fellow workers. A foreigner-me-who had not contributed to it in any way was given immediate help." Let me enliven these abstractionswith a personal anecdote. Blood oozed from the back of my head. Now consider society.I could not makethe public telephone work.It is deemed cool and impersonal. how humane and efficient it can be.not for his or her unique self in all its depth and mysterybut as someone in the community with a recognized position and role.By friendship. however. we sat at his dinner table and talked. There. Understandably. picked me up. but I still needed assistance of a more . She who had personifiedsolicitousness only fiveminutesearlierlookedrightthroughme as though I were a ghost. I may not have had a concussion. they do not displaceother modes. I went into the waiting room and tried to telephone my friend.promised him another batch.no more individuatedthan sheep and cattle.although cool relationshipsmay be the dominant mode in society. and drove me to his home.But these traits do not necessarilyimply indifference.Such an undertaking. Elaboratelydifferentiatedas these positions and roles can beparent. hunter.312 THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW lows. In what seemed to me less than that time.doctors and nurses danced to my attendance. medicine woman.A man accidentallygave me a little push as he passedby. I fell backwardand knocked my head against the sharp edge of a rising step. is far more likely to occur in what I have called "society" than in a "community. An Undergroundofficialrushed up with a first-aidkit.which startedits sirensand racedthrough London's streetsto the emergencyroom of a city hospital. they concluded that my injury was minor and releasedme. theirmembersreplaceable-a fact made evident with cruel bluntness in the Book of Job.I needed help but was not able to catch anyone'sattention. My friendcame to I the hospital. Eventually succeededin putting the callthrough. This London incident is a small example of how civil society works.as though humanbeings werejust livestock. The escalatorwas promptly stopped.but the exchangeand joint construction of inner and outer worlds between equals. for example. I carriedtwo suitcases up a steeply sloping escalator. headman.which presupposesthe existence of private space.
too.What need is there for a longer pause when the utteranceis a command. like animal noises. later. seldom goes much beyond reassuring or threateningnoises. In fact they seldom do. I needed a friend.I wantedvery much to talk with someone. that linguistic creativity is more often discouraged than encouraged? Conm- . but is it not also everybody'sproblem?Here I am-Everyman-in all my uniqueness.would offer me chickensoup. but someone I knew would be at my elbow muttering soothing words and. understand. LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION I return now to the heart of the problem-my problem. not a picture or a worldview. a threat.that takes time to digest. not just efficient medical personnel or even a kindly neighbor-and a friend London was also able to provide. SOCIETY. serve only to lodge or dislodge a relationshipand facilitatethe daily tasks of life. thanks to the conventionality of language.properly. some more. As for the storieswe are so fond of telling. with "takes" on the world that are not replicatedanywhere." Language does. But soothing words and chicken soup go only so far. Even real sentences can be so routine ("Havea good day") or directed to such narrow practicalends ("Passthe salt.or a plea and not a story with a point. they may show up differencesamong ourselvesthat can be a threat to our cohesion. of course.more often than we are willing to admit. it can conjure up entire worlds. the feebleness of human speech itself?Is it inattentiveness. human speech.it can expose-and through exposure fire up-emotions and feelings that are deeply disturbing. That is why a community can seem personal and warm.If we human beings do badlyat giving articulateform to experienceand knowledge. at a deeper level. Animals utter ratherthan speak:One utteranceprovokesanother. Having just had an experience that showed my life hanging on a thread and concluding darklythat everyhuman life sufferedthe same degreeof contingency.""Closethe door") that they.if I wereinjuredthe medicaltreatmentgivenme might not be the best. true. not to have true language.In a smalltraditionalcommunity. Interveningsilence is minimal (Bronowskiand Bellugi 1970).or a physical action. what my deepest source of anxiety and greatestmoments of happiness are?Is it just my lack of words.the small changes rung repeatedlyon just a few stale images and ideas. some less in conformity with the real.COMMUNITY.the low capacityto listen?Both.A deeper cut in my head would have ended those takesfor all time. Is it any wonder. it would seem.a warning. then. and I would have appreciatedtokens of lingering sympathy. or is it. AND THE INDIVIDUAL 313 mundane kind. How is it that. have the power to innovate.because these at least try to offer new angles on the world.I have so few opportunitiesto tell anotherhuman being what I see and know. for the abilityto speak and the abilityto listen are closely relatedparts of the same developmentalbiological process. Even the frequent and assertiveuse of the pronoun "I"in modern social chitchat does not seriously undermine a sense of"we.and perhapseven check for truthfulness?However. althoughI still walk the earth.other animalsdo worse-so much worse that they can be said.
yet he achieved full and intimate exchangewith anprobing other person-it would seem-only once.flights of linguistic innovation come to a stop-or rather. "Atour very first meeting. and show off their distinctiveworldview. sentences come loaded with unexpected metaphors.favoredindividualsin largeand flourishing societies are free to be themselvesand develop their talents to the fullest. to speak the group's common language. their parents are amazed at their creativity:Words are used in surprising ways. their verbal expressive- . and where it does not. privilegedof society must. it continues to exist. Another advantageof community is that everyone. and so does the individual who feels a need to belong. lacing what they say with detailed and perhaps specialized knowledge.Although community is no longer essentialto the survivalof fragileindividuals. and fantastic tales are told. That is the story of community.for whom talk is second nature. if not in their neighborhood. 209). wants the reassurance sustainedrelationshipssuch that one is not only cared for in an emergencybut can count on receivingsolace and chicken soup from one's familiarseven in unexceptionaltimes. Around age seven.Its advantagescontinue to be obvious.He lived among England's intellectuals. and other marginalizedpeople submergetheir individualityin the group for political effectiveness. thanks to their intellectual openness.that goes with belonging to an exclusiveclub or residentialneighborhood.Nevertheless. one which is repeated again and again even in modern.What ground? The social ground. through constant use. We looked into each other's eyes half appalled and half intoxicated to find ourselves together in such a region" (Russell 1967. Russell said. Children are self-absorbed. Russell and Conrad were unified rather than separated as they dived beneath layers of convention. turn into the argot of the tribe.By the time they startto experimentwith real words and sentences. Evenwhen they speak from the depth of their being.till graduallyboth reached the central fire.the the additionalpower.314 THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW munity has a clear stake in dampening it. It was an experience unlike any other that I have known. which. as well:They too seek the power. social workersand political leadersurge that it be formed or strengthened. however. One is political. they can expect to find a few sympathetic listeners.as creative people often are. socially privilegedor of not. PERFECT ONE-TO-ONE EXCHANGE In contrastto community.then in the largersociety. And who doesn't?The developmentof languagein childrenis illustrative of this need to conform at the expense of playful inventiveness. and that means using fewer words and expressions. Not only must low-level workers. ethnic minorities. we talkedwith continually increasingintimacy. That person was Joseph Conrad. Children want to belong to their group.with hardlyanyconsiderationas to whether their fellows understandthem.We seemed to sink through layerafterlayerof what was superficial.move much closerto the ground.how rarekindredspirits are!ConsiderBertrandRussell.their uniqueness. well-run countries. The imperativeto belong thus trumps individual fulfillment. or is weak.Children begin with babbling.
could it deepen the bond between the two friends and. mathematics? SPECIALIZED LANGUAGE AND COMMUNITY The EnglishmanG. Awkwardas alwaysat introducing a conversation.languages. his specialty. Hardy!No. expand their respectivespheres of understanding. their patience with each other that is a form of love and generosity. nonpolitical nature. I am led to ask: Can communication of this order occur between more than two persons?Is a couple a community?Will the community of ideal communication be larger only if the external world is considered and if the language is technicaland precise-say. Russelldid not saywhat they talked about. at the same time.for only so. It could not havebeen mathematicallogic. their willingness to listen.communities. furthermore.told by C.they differfrom quasi-secretgroupspastand present.yet they communicate well with one another in the measure that they focus on the external world and speak a language with mathematicsat its core.or the art of writing novels. the personal experiencecould not be just bare-bone accounts of their aches and pains.of their essennoneconomic. Conrad'sspecialty. as we say.COMMUNITY." which Ramanujanreplied:"No. only when speech wedded the particularwith the universal.it opens up the world. AND THE INDIVIDUAL 315 ness.religiousand secular-that embracecertainmannerismsof speech and jargon to exclude the uninitiated and heighten the contrast between "us"and "them. It To seemed to be rathera dull number.in view. Farfrom conserving.Scientistsand mathematiciansform. It is a very interestingnumber.whether naturalor contrived.London.Otherwise. is illustrativeof their friendshipand of the sort of exchangethey liked to have.Hardyprobablydispensed with greeting and went straightto the remark:"The number of my taxicabwas 1729.It is the smallest number expressibleas the Hardy! sum of two cubes in two differentways"(Snow 1967.they had little in common except a passion for mathematics.making true conversationdifficultif not impossible.The two quickly became close friends.If so.Snow among others. joys and sorrows. to study with Hardy. But in view of the desire of scientist-mathematiciansto constantly purify and expand theirlanguage. Ramanujanwent to Cambridge.The following story.mathematics unites and excludes.that have only a small number of speakersare a conservativeforce. Hardyand the Hindu S. Ramanujanwere both shy and unworldly. tially .of their readinessto acceptnew memberswith and only talent and competenceas qualifications. As with all specializedlanguages. SOCIETY. Mathematicsis an exception. But mathematicianswelcome new members.Ramanujan was sick and hospitalizedin Putney. Scientists.It probablywas built on personal experience.These had to be placed in the context of humanity.In this respect. Hardywent to visit him in a taxicab. for although it has only a small number of speakers. ultimately.44).it does change and is a force for change. in view. have differentsorts of trainingand background.England.Most of us lack one or more of these crucial qualities. P.it is more accurateto call them societies.like mathematicians." Generallyspeaking. even differenttemperaments. Mathematiciansspeak a specializedlanguage and constitute a community. H.
What has happened to the idea. that the ideal communication is one that takes place between equals? VOICE AND ITS LISTENERS: AN ASYMMETRICAL RELATIONSHIP Speaking to each other as equals is actually a commonplace of life in all communities and societies. the gifted will find it difficult to sustain their creativity. Communication of this kind does not plumb the depths. does attend. for humankind.something worth saying. the subjective world of our experiencing rather than that which lies out there? Will the findings.They truly have something to offer.316 THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW COMMUNICATING INNER WORLDS: POETRY AND MUSIC Now. can achieve. unequal. so easily accepted in our egalitarian age. more optimistically. Its satisfaction lies in sociability. it honors the individual voice. in their nature specific and perhaps idiosyncratic. handful of persons-stands. a faith that is partially justified by Beethoven's immense popularity. Poets and musicians have been known to say that they labor with one ideal reader or listener in mind. reminders of what humankind. Europe. marches. and group experience finds group expression in chants. That is how great artworks impress us (De Bolla 2001). We can. But who and how many will listen? One? A few? That may be enough: Important is the quality of the listening rather than the number of listeners. Even though he must have known that only the musically sophisticated could appreciate that complex work. my idea for your idea. or dances. China. Their attention is given to group rather than individual experience. songs. in all the major cities of North America. I want to ask. "From the heart-may it reach other hearts" wrote Beethoven on the top of the page of the score for the Missa Solemnis. by attending. . my facts for your facts. Is the ability to express one's unique self available only to the talented? What do most of us. do with our uniqueness? What can we do besides daydreaming. and Japan (Zuckerkandl 1976). For without an awareness (or just the blind faith) that someone out there does listen. We also see them as permanent elevations of the human spirit. of its time and for all time. what if the world explored were internal rather than external. But this does not mean we cannot reciprocate. Our relationship with them is thus asymmetrical. yet universal. soliloquy. Beethoven's voice is distinctively his. and in an important way-by listening. But gifted individuals are not interested in just having their say. through its most talented members.We the less gifted are unable to reciprocate in kind. related question is. who are not especially talented. Society also encourages group expression. his inspiration and drive to create required faith in the potential ability of this and other compositions to reach every receptive human being. if not now then later. however. be communicable? Artistic communicability is not an issue in premodern communities. as Russell and Conrad managed to do. and it is valued because it enacts the social ideal of reciprocity: my cup of sugar for your cup of vinegar. some 150 years after his death. That one person-or. In addition. in the opportunity to have one's say in the presence of others. But if so. and repression? And a final.
capableof being made public and tangible. Doty School condominium.by sharpening rather than softening.a whole way of worshiping God is removedfrom the universe.What if I had been born in a traditional Chinese community and neverleft it?I would not then be plaguedby a sense of separateness. ultimately. uniqueour ness is freed from being a brute fact. for Mozart'sB-flat sonata-will find me in communion with many other lovers of the same music.Tolstoy's photographs. WhateverdifferentnessI felt I would have suppressedfor fear of ostracism and.Society values a human individual as it values an animalspecies.of being isolated from others. But that combination of Mozart.stand alone.Mozart's piano sonatas. more generally. moving through the eons of time from the uniformities and simplicities of mineral matter to the complexities of the organic. a whole way of feeling and thinking.for I would have shared my liking for kung bao chicken and pot stickerswith my neighbors.the movie A.certainariasfrom Peking Deathoflvan Ilych. So how am I unique?How am I an irreplaceableindividual?I can now answerwith some precision.hence their periodic embracementof Easternreligions that offer oblivion in oceanic oneness.nonreplicableway of being. to become a quality capableof evolving. pot stickers.The desert landscape. SOCIETY. AND THE INDIVIDUAL 317 MY UNIQUENESS AND YOURS-ARTICULATED We can be the heartsBeethovenwished to reach. an innate quality little capable of growth. from plants to animals.the admirersof mathematicsthat othershaveinvented. are God's and our own unique works of art. is me.StevenUnderhill's opera.It is an "I"that stands alone-as we all.promoted by society's arch ideological rival:community. and I would have participatedin the new moon festival and other socioreligious celebrationswith them. which pictures.COMMUNITY. But oceanic oneness is not the West'sJudeo-Christiantradition. Everyonehas his or her list.L:ArtificialIntelligence.yet I can no longer separateone from the other. my love of nature'saustere simplicity from my admiration for the nomadic ideal and Lawrenceof Arabia. making things that have become more and more individuated.God as creatingby differentiation.Any particular affinitythat I have-say. .In makingan effortto understandand appreciate.too. In a modern society. When an individual dies. to the contrary. What is true of me is also true of others.for its unique.I am a man who identifieswith Beethoven's symphonies. The existence of this isolated and thereforevulnerable"I" has alwaysbeen a source of anxiety to thoughtful men and women in the modern West. thanks to the achievementsof our fellows. It is difficult to imagine someone else with the same list of loves. by contrast. from animals to human beings who.the aphorismsof SimoneWeil. The late-twentiethcenturynotion that individualismis selfishnessis thus wide of the mark.I will also be me in my singularlist of affinities. as the story goes.and desertis not likelyto be shared. The uniqueness I claim for myself is no empty boast. a whole way of appreciatingnature and culture. my kung bao chicken and pan-fried pot stickers. I think to myself. even as I continue to enjoy the food tastes and lores of my kinfolk and neighbors. The desertis natureratherthan culture.
1966..A.N. De Bolla. 1970. North Whitehead: ManandHisWork. and U.NewYork: New BasicBooks. 1977.Baltimore. Science 168 (3932): 669-673. Johns Lowe. New York: Esser. Guterman. 2. 1976. . Levi-Strauss. Behaviorand Environment: Plenum Press. 2001. Press. York: of Sons.Translated N. SimonandSchuster. 1967. 1978. 1971. Russell.TheMaking theModern Family. of Mind.Nutritional Individuality.. 1967. TheSavage University Chicago Md. vol.Keywords:VocabularyCulture Society.You Extraordinary. Art Matters. York: University of House. B. New Oxford A and R. Charles Scribner's C. vol. and V. 2. H. Are Williams.Cambridge. Name. 1990o. New Random R. 1976. Hopkins Alfred Press.J.Mass.: The V.Variety ofMen. Princeton ton. The Use of Spaceby Animals and Men. Bellugi. MantheMusician: by Press. 1. Snow. P.NewYork: Press. Zuckerkandl. J. E. 1967. and Concept. P.:HarvardUniversityPress. Language. ed.: University . University vol. Shorter.318 THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW REFERENCES Bronowski. PrinceSound Symbol. J.Autobiography.Chicago: C. Williams. York: 1 Human Nature (6):46-53.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.