In2-MeC

newly discovered entries of In2-DeepFreeze       First Generation Animations

Groningen, The Netherlands
1 June, 2003

In an interesting book called My Search Through Books, HH Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami relates his quest for the truths of life before he met Srila Prabhupada via his readings of "deep" authors like Shakespeare, Kirkegaard, Nietzche, Rilke and Hesse. Looking through Maharaja's book, I remembered an author that similarly "hit me deep" when I was a youth.   His name is Philip Wylie.   He wrote many titles, but the one that caught my attention was Generation of Vipers, published in 1942.  I came across it when I was eleven or twelve years old.  At that point in my life, books written for kids my age did not hold my attention. Whenever I visited the library I immediately went to the shelves for grown-ups.   And so I came across Generation of Vipers. In the late '70's or early '80's, Back to Godhead magazine published an article I wrote in which I quoted from Wylie's book.   If I remember correctly, it was an article about the threat of war in modern civilization.   The quotation from Wylie underscored that the society we live in is not really civilized at all.

A few days ago on the Internet I found an advertisement for Generation of Vipers .   The book is now 60 years old, but it's still for sale.  The ad stated that what Wylie wrote in 1942 is just as true now as it was
then.

Generation of Vipers is a diatribe. Written with a sarcastic wit that often veers into the heady realm of caustic excess, it unmercifully attacks the cultural and philosophical foundations of American materialism. It
seems amazing that in 1942 this book became an instant best seller; remember that America had just entered the Second World War.   The pulse of the U. S.  citizenery was hammering with patriotic fervor.  Yet in the midst of this upswing of nationalism, Wylie's blast against American values struck a chord.  After its initial publication, Generation of Vipers was regularly reprinted for more than a decade. I think this was another example of American consciousness getting "prepped" for Srila Prabhupada's mission.

Wylie's critique has a lot in common with Srila Prabhupada's exposure of the animalism at the heart of Western so-called civilization.  But Wylie missed a lot, too. Meat-eating he totally overlooked.  He was an
advocate of modern psychological theories that Srila Prabhupada would later lay waste to; psychology falls far short of true spiritual science.  And of course he knew nothing of Lord Krishna and Lord Chaitanya.  Yet
it is still fascinating to see all the places where Philip Wylie got it right. On pages 9-12 of Generation of Vipers, he writes about modern religion and modern science. What follows are some spliced-together quotations.

You have considered this a Christian nation, all your life. Our constitution implies as much.  But a minute's thought might have shown you years ago--decades ago--that the United States of America was not in any real sense a Christian nation at all.  Numerically? Less than half the people had any nominal church membership.  There goes the sacred majority.  Dogmatically?  Those who belonged to churches belonged to so many different faiths at swords' points with each other on matters of creed and technique that even the definition of Christiantity crumples into absurdity. . . The church has failed.  It failed to create an individual philosophy acceptable to an "educated" modern man.  It failed to enlist an American majority.  Its component parts failed to agree with each other on any basis.  So our Christian civilization is neither Christian nor civilized.  Look at it. The failure of science is even more grotesque. . . . Mankind abandoned the true with the false and made his place of worship into a joke because science has revealed that not all its cermonies and offices were "rational. " The average man was shorn of his Sunday lecture, his conscience, his logarithms of right and wrong. "Intellectual" men stamped upon the grave of religion so that the ghost would never rise: the business was done, they decreed. Science made almost no study of the thing it had destroyed, or of the vaccum left in the spirit of man by the confiscation.   Science, by God, was science, and religion was positively not scientific!  Down with it!

Srila Prabhupada, speaking in Detroit on June 13, 1976:

They have failed, these Christian priest, to explain everything philosophically. So advanced Westerners, they are now educated in science philosophy, they are not attracted with these dogmatic views. So to remain in ignorance is animal life. To be enlightened is human life. And the topmost enlightenment is to understand God and to love Him. That is the topmost enlightenment.  Unfortunately, there is no education to know what is God, and what to speak of loving Him. This is modern civilization. Ignorance. A civilization of ignorance. They do not know what is what. Simply speculating, wasting time, talking all nonsense. This is going on in the name of education, but actually they are in ignorance. They do not know what is what. They are reading so many philosophical speculation, horrible condition of the so-called
philosopher, scientist. Simply "I believe," "In this believe, that believe. " You believe. . . . Believe something. That is your (indistinct). But your belief is not final. That is creating chaotic condition. You believe some way, I believe something, he believes something. What is
the profit? Chaos.

In the same section, (pages 9-11), Wylie argues:

. . . Man's physical senses were extended enormously by science.  The degree and the speed of that achievement are, indeed, the most common sources of our contemporary vanity; they form the whole preposterous case for the claim that we are civilized.  No other attributes of man were, in any way, either extended or vitalized by science.  Man's personality, his relations with other men, his private ethics, his social integrity, his standards of value, his love of truth, his
dignity or his contentment, were not even potentially improved by the scientists. . .

In a 1973 Bhagavad-gita class, Srila Prabhupada said:

Therefore, we can challenge these scientists, so-called scientists. Their basic principle of knowledge is on the bodily concept of life, pratyaksa, experimental knowledge. Experimental knowledge means this gross sense perception. That is experimental. Pratyaksa. Everyone says: "We do not see God. " God is not such a subject matter that you can see with this pratyaksa, direct perception.

On pages 123-124 of Generation of Vipers, we find this interesting and amusing analysis of male vis a vis female behavior.

Thus a man who is good and mad will be frightened out of his masculinity and suddenly start behaving in a womanish manner.  His voice will rise to a treble; his points in argument will become irrational and "feminine"; he will turn himself into a consuming fury; when he reaches the slapping and hair-pulling stage, he may often, because of the Marquess of Queensburgy, double his fists to force the issue; but he may merely slap--like a woman.  Slapping, indeed, with gloves or bare hand, is the classical invitation-in-wrath of noble males too mad to act like men, who wish, when they calm down, so to act later, with guns and swords. Women, on the other hand, in the same circumstances, go into a mediocre but palpable imitation of men.  They become as if cold and intellectual, though thought has nothing to do with the change; they argue icily (manlike) with "facts" and "data" and "logic. " Defeated in
their natural province of feeling values, they undertake to make war from man's province of detached thoughts.  The "reasons" of an angered woman become multitudinous and articulate; she argues, and insists as she does so on the justice and integrity of her points--even while she
ignores all actual laws of logic and throws her words about ad hominem, begging the question, debating in total non sequitur, forgetting that pos hoc is not necessarily proper hoc, and so forth.

In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 3. 25. 11, Srila Prabhupada gets to the false heart of material "maleness" and "femaleness" thusly:

The living entities, in the guises of men and women, are trying to enjoy the material energy; therefore in one sense everyone is purusa because purusa means "enjoyer" and prakrti means "enjoyed. " In this material world both the so-called man and so-called woman are imitating the real purusa; the Supreme Personality of Godhead is actually the enjoyer in the transcendental sense, whereas all others are prakrti. The living entities are considered prakrti.

Wylie, on page 318, makes a stunning observation that one rarely finds in writings of mundane intellectuals.

The male is an attachment of the female in our civilization.

In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4. 25. 30, Srila Prabhupada makes exactly the same point.

Conditional life means being under the control of a woman.

On pages 68-69 of Generation of Vipers we find a hilarious depiction of the crass use of the female form in advertising, especially for products that are supposed to make women

. . . more kissable, engageable, marriagable, popular at parties, and in demand for moonlight strolls--or caused them to be okay in the matter of feminine hygiene, breath, armpit and perspiration odor. . .

Such products include

Various medicaments, pads, pledgets, salves, gargles, girdles, rinses, soaps, douches, rubber devices, elastic undergarments, negligees, cigarettes, automobiles, house furnishings, washing machines, kitchen appliances, cosmetics, deodorants, perspiration arrestors, booklets of intimate advice, dandruff removers. . .

Wylie concludes that the whole point of such advertising is to stimulate sex.

. . . the purpose of every syllable of such copy and every expression on the face of every such model, photographed or painted, is to startle the woman reader into an inquiry of whether or not her body is thoroughly prepared and equipped for nonrancid sex service. . .

In a conversation in Durban on October 13, 1975, Srila Prabhupada pointed out:

This is the life and soul of the modern civilization. Just see the advertisement--sex. You see, illicit sex.

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