This book, titled "Einstein Roman 6 - Ende's Civilization Desert"(ISBN: 4140087730) was published in 1991, as the title suggests, after the NHK(the Japanese public broadcasting similar to the BBS in the Great Britain)'s TV program series "Einstein Roman." This series were composed of six books: the first five books deal with his life and the theories he hit on, and the TV crew, skeptical on the possibility that more happiness can be accomplished with the modern science and technology Einstein is symbol of and trying to find the alternative way, became interested in Ende and asked him to do an interview. I'd like to begin this section by introducing you the essay titled "The Civilization Desert."
This book is currently out of print and I don't think NHK Shuppan(publisher) will issue new editions. In case you need to get one contact directly to NHK Shuppan by e-mail for further detail.
The essay starts starts in the monologue of the man of a "Special Reservation" in central Europe. His reservation is called "Children Literature" by those who live outside(Civilization Desert Habitants), and they worship the Four Saints in the Four Cardinal: Marx, Freud, Einstein and Darwin. Once in a while they are interested in the literature born from the Reservation, but usally they are indifferent to it.
The Man at the Reservation don't believe the Desert Habitants' "reason" at all. "It seems to me what's called rationality and scientific enlightenment in the Civilization Desert" - comments he, - " has so far produced what's perfectly contrary to what people with rationality and honesty demand," giving the example that "what we see here is that they manufactured so many bombs that are able to kill all the living things several times when their recognition ability is at their best." He goes furthermore, "why are they so afraid of our irrationality(the children and fantasy literature's 'unreality') if what's made up of their rationality doesn't incite them some worriness? But they aren't afraid of their rationality at all. On the other hand, they're even proud of it" There's no doubt that the rational thinking helped the science develop so quickly, but you can see the its structure itself isn't so "rational" as it gave birth to the killing arms that can even eradicate all the human beings. Missionaries from the "Civilization Desert say," askes the Man at the Reservation, "that it's only the wrong application of the right recognition, but when will they notice that what's important is the wrong application but o try to go for the alternative recognition?", insisting that we ought to see the current situation with the scientific technology that robs us of the humanity.
And the man begins to tell the background that founded the genre "children literature": "What's called now the children literature goes back to the beginning of the 19th century. Before then Maerchen(fables) had already existed, but it was not only for children: Fables were more significant than today and both children and adults lived in the fables' world. But the modern intellectualism began to exclude all the traditional European spiritualty, and expelled all the personifying world view with the flamboyant passion, making the whole world literally unhumanistic."And the current world view is too nihilistic: Everything is nothing but the irrelevant and meaningless machinery, the Sun is nothing but one of the billions of a mass of dusts in the Galaxy, where people's whole story is "nothing but a number of interludes of enormous but senseless processes, including their culture, religion, conflicts and troubles." Even the missionaries, however, are aware that "in this world based on such ideas children can neither survive nor breathe nor grow up" and they allow the existence of the children literature so that their souls can be raised, which indicated how devastated the Civilization Desert is.
And he moves to the plan by the Modern Civilization's "Rationality:" "Liberty and dignity are nothing but savage and unscientific a superstition. So we the Reservation habitants won't be surprised to see those who've grown up in the Civilization Desert and try to live on such 'truth' setting bombs without remorse or fired here and there," criticizing that the pure materialism will lead nobody to the humanisim with liberty or dignity. "And they say also the human society must be Darwinist as is the Mother Nature, and I wonder why they neither do experiments with 'valueless' lives(the aged or disabled people and the homosexuals who will leave no offsprings: comment by the editor)don't solve the overpopulation by dropping a couple of 'clean' atomic bombs?" Of course nobody will find it a good idea, but if we cling only to the immoral materialism we are more and more familiar with, the overpopulation can be easily solved by dropping atomic bombs on the slums where "uneducated people live" or killing mercilessly all those who are at a certain age. If we stick so much to the materialism, however, the Civilization Desert habitants will oppose to the idea, saying that "such acts are against any ethics, any morals and any humanism," but they'll be unable to reason well when asked why they think so.
And man at the Reservation gives a sharp analysis: "Those who live in the Civilization Desert have already teared this world into two: 'subjective' and 'objective' ones. But they aren't aware that they've fallen into the entire fiction by doing so." Confer the "Fantasy, Politics, Arts" for the detail.
And finally the man gives us a proposal to make the current situation better: "I believe a totally different science is now being needed. One that can enrich again the Civilization Desert, one that makes our Reservation redundant.. onw that gets over the intellectualism not by the 'irrationality' but analyzing and seeing its self-contradiction and that gets people back to the experiences' field by realistic, or experienceable thinking." In other words, we should change our current way that sees the human life only from the technological(=intellectualistic) viewpoint to another one iin which we go back to the human-beings-centered('subjective') world view to build the technology and social system that matches it.
Actually this book starts with the first interview with Ende bofore the above-mentioned essay. "I suppose the World War III has already begun: only we are unaware of it," says Ende, telling us that this war isn't against the terriories as were the other past ones, but is against the time which will eventually destroy our descdendants. This word must sound heavy to those who see Ende just as a fabulist, but the reason he did such a judgment is he, unwilling to escape from the reality, thought it was necessary to describe all what he sees without deforming. A lot of problems have occurred along with the technological development, people are still optimistic to the situation by believing that such problems can be solved by the further technological advance, but he says they're more radical and fundamental.
The solution would be much more simple if there were only the question of the environment: You can clear it by making more effort on the preservation. Actually, though, there're quite a few factors which prevents you from it. "Ecologists repeat their opinion to decrease the consumption and to simplify our demands and amenity." says Ende. "What they say is of course correct, but they notice neither the fact that the current economic system in based on the presumption that consumption goes on increasing infinitely nor that it works only when the consumption goes up," giving a concrete example. "Let's say everybody reduce their consumption to the half. In this case everybody's the citizens in industrialized societies. If only a half of the population buy cars, Germany will suffer immediately as many as almost 7 million unemployed people. This unemployment is so big even the government can't cover all of them by the social security. I suppose it'll go the same as in Japan.. Anyway we're forced to choose between two options: social catastrophy or ecological one," touching the problems the current economic structure obliges us.
World economy has so far grown up tremendously under the capitalism since the East Indies' company was founded, but Ende lets us know his worriness about it: "We should gain another monetary system which won't force the current economy or industrial production to grown limitlessly(criticizing the current financial system based on gaining the interest)," referring to the economic growth rate: "It's next to unbelievable to me that the current economic system so far has relied on at least 3 to 4 percent of the ininterrupted growth." His fear is so big: "It seems to me that the current financial system has something very similar to the human cancer: obligation to grow," afraid that such illness may lead the whole economy to the death. For further information on the current economic system visit the "Fantasy, Politics, Arts" section as more ideas are available.
When we here of the "Civilization Desert" we are apt to imagine a desolate and inhuman society created by the advanced technology, but he says it's inside our hearts: "we are unaware that in fact we are poorer and poorer, our internal world is getting so vacant we are heading toward the internal desertification." And he continues telling ideas by defining his mission: "All my efforts as a writer consists of resisting to the internal destruction." He called what's going on the Civilization Desert as "Values Destruction," and impulsed by this worriness he tried to restablish such values by publishing his works. You can easily find those who depict the current "Civilization Desert," for example a scene in "Momo" where a "grey gentleman" succeeded in breaking away Mr. Fusi's all the values he had inside by mingling them all and blaming them as "waste of time."
And Ende attributes all the values destruction to the materialism and intellectualism that began in the last century: "In short the whole world consists of energy and matters, and there's no difference between human beings and matters. Things like souls don't exist at all and concepts like liberty, dignity, beauty and humor are nothing but fantasies. This idea incited something that inevitably dismantle us." Ende accuses the current situation where all the values that are inconceivable from the materialist viewpoibt are denied and our internal mind, which was formed of such values(aesthetic, moral and religious ones), are devastated.
He also says the establishment of the "children literature" and civilization desertification are, even so distant, two sides of the same phenomenon: "The genre 'children literature' didn't exist before the 19th century. You may think of some literary works like 'Gulliver's Travels,' 'Robinson Crusoe' or 'One and Thousand Nights,' but none of them were written exclusively for children." Today 'Gulliver's Travels' are seen only as a series of Gulliver's ridiculous stays in so many "strange" countries, but Swift made use of this fictitional countries to criticize the comtemporanean British society and its current version is nothing but an excerpt of scenes that are easily understood by children. So is Don Quixote, which is now only recognized by the public as a story of a mad old man who dashed toward a windmill that seemed a giant to him and Sancho Panzq who followed him, but if you have some basic knowledge on the Spanish history you'll find it a caricature of the Spanish society. Anyway, what's important here is Ende's following words: "It(the establishment of the genre 'children literature') coincides with the time when people began to feel that our world view is too merciless for children." From then on the children literature gets more and more escapist, which means the more realistic stories will be too severe for children. "People felt vaguely ," says Ende, "that children's heart will suffer from both the hunger and the thirst. they'll die out from the coldness."
After making the situation clear Ende asks us a question on the application of the natural sciece's method to the human domains. Ende turns down such attitudes as "a big dilemma," picking up the cultural science's self-contradiction: "These studies tries to analyze by using natural science's method, but the domain is indifferent to them." What's at stake on arts, music and literature is 'quality,' which is incomprehensible by the scientific approach, and Ende's comment gives the fatal blow to Ende: "Everybody has to bring their own experience to seize such qualities, and that's exactly what's forbidden." Professors who are forbidden to "evaluate" can't express the quality they have in mind and make efforts to be appreciated as classifiers, but they can't get into the core of what they study, even they can depict the surface of each work.
And he criticizes the school education which only tries to put data on children's head without giving them the time to reflect such data through his own expericnce. In a class a teacher told pupils that air must be dry so that a thunder occurs and tried to prove it, but when he gave asked the teacher "But usually it's less likely to thunder when it's dry and most of the times it thunders with rain, isn't it true?" the teacher rejected his question with the following cold-hearted words: "All you have to do is to believe my idea, because people who are much more clever than you struggled so hard to find the answer." It must be very difficult to explain why the thunder occurs to pupils, but wasn't it necessary to accept literally what pupils said to us and to answer honestly(if teachers have no idea they have to admit so and work together with the children to find the answer), for such questions are the startpoint of the scientific investigation.
Ende cites Goethe's view on the natural science. "Now it's sunny," begins Ende, "but the misterious Nature tries to keep her secret. You can't rob it with nails and screwdrivers," meaning that we shouldn't try to subjugate her, and condamning our crimes against her: "The answer Nature gives us is the same as our way to ask. If we forcefully oblige Nature to answer she'll give us a violent reply." What's more important accoding Ende, however, is "the difference between the current natural science and Goethe's one is that he tried to understand the spiritual energy that works in Nature." From the materialistic viewpoint it's nothing but by accident that we human beings are able to live and to build such a huge civilization in the space, but Ende insists that it has much to do with Nature's uncleared intention, or "God's invisible hand." and that it's importantto see it. Ende finishes this chapter with the following words: "the natural science which aims to gain the spiritual recognition will bring us neither atomic bombs nor the chemical industries we have now in this society. It'll bring us our further development, but unfortunately it's absolutely nonsense both from the economic and political viewpoint," making us think of the need to live a more harmonized(with technologies that are adapted to Nature) life, not the current technology-inclined one.
Now we'll get into the "Four Saints" worshiped by the missionaries in the Civilization Desert who are defined by Ende as "representatives of the materialistic way of thinking which has in itself signs of death." For example, "the idea of racism or racial discrimination was inventedby extending Darwin's thought," and that is very near to the "eradication of all the 'valueless' lives, and concentration camps." Darwin's evolutionalism gave rise to the ideas that Ehite races are "superior" to the Black ones, which is applied by Hilter, advocate of the "superiority of the Aryan races,"took the holocaust into effect and is still predominant, even today less than before, in various places in the world. Respect to the marxism, which was "thought up originally as a way to set them free," ends up with producing "statehoods which turned people into slaves" due to its persisrtency to the materialistic way of thinking, Freud, by deducing Ende's opinion, robbed us of the spontaneous life by tying us to seizing ous psychology the "case and effect" theory without our spontaneity. Last but not least he talks on Einstein's physics as "it was thought to exclude us from this whold, and when it begins thinking so its conclusion will be literally the exclusion of all of us," meaning that the physics with no space for us becama a hotbed for the inhuman weapons.
By the way, such sciences, based on the principle to recognize only what's measurable, "excludes everything that are on the quality's field, which led it to the 'totally hopeless contradiction," because "no thought can exist without having its own values." He gives an example of scientist's moral principle, or 'the effort for the truth" he always has to have when he does his own studies: "He'll be unable to realize his science if he sees his own effort as subjective." There's no way to explain how scientists make so much effort to find the "truth" that is irrelevant to their survival if they themselves are nothing but matters and electronic process. Ende finds such contradiction's roots on Newton's words: "You can't bring the scientific truth to the religion, or religion will be heresy. And you can nor bring the religious truth to the science, or science will be fictional," giving break between the science(people's belief on the natural phenomena) and religion(people's belief on the lifestyle), and now we're living in the era when holy fields which were before occupied by the religion are being broken into by the science.
Ende goes on: "It's indispensable, however, to create a new criteria to reintegrate the subjectivity(values and senses) and objectivity(the world whose existence doesn't require our presence." "Truth areb't separable from the human beings but depends on the level of their development... and will come to the concept which is distinct from the current one but has been held since ancient times," utterly contradictory to our idea we've held for the science or the truth. It seems ordinary to us to think that scientific theories exist irrelevant to the existence of human beings who "rebuild" themselves, which is unacceptable to Ende who believes the truth can become in various ways as shown in the Chapter 3 according to our way to approach, and that's why our attitude toward it is important. Ende says we can get over the current science only based on the materialism "by thoroughgoing it to the last order," and the reason we can't hunch the contradiction is because "the current materialism is on its way." The example of the celebral physiologist is given, but if human beings' all psychologies and thinkings is nothing but a sum of electronic process his own consciousness is also nothing but electronic process, the question here is how electronic process can recognize itself(imagine the computers that are self-unrecognizable), and the only way to solve this question is to give up the materialism. And that's what Ende insisted on.
In this chapter Ende adds another anaylsis on the 16th century when the science fighted against the religion from a new viewpoint. This is the confrontation not between the middle age and the new thoughts but between 'two totalitarian system: the one the Catholic church possessed and the scicence's another one. And he points out such systems' features as "its tendency to expel the world's and lives' inconsistency that are unacceptable to them," "The natural science's demand for the reality's complete description belongs to a totalitarian system, fears for the values of those who think otherwise, and can't help expel them as heretics." In this sense both fascism, communism, the Roman Catholic church and the natural science are of the same category, and Einstein succeeded such traditional way of thinking. Even he found some theories with no direct "cause-and effect" relation with his observation and he hunched them as "intuitive" or "illogic," he couldn't find out the reason , which is "the borderline Einstein didn't dare to cross." Ende himeself, without denying the "cause-and-effect" theory's significance, rejects the attitude to explain everythin only by applying such method, pays attention on our capacity to "get it over to begin a project by ourselves," hoping that it will be "this world's future." In other words, Ende thinks we have the capacity to create something only by our spirit without sticking to the "cause-and-effect" theory, which will be the engine to get over the current natural science to build a totally new world.
After recognizing such situation Ende says "our responsibility must be included with our studies." Usually "we suppose natural science only treats of what's objective, apart from scientists' responsibility which will follow after us," but Ende sees "their way of regarding the nature already includes something that may lead us to death or the possibility to live together with the Mother Nature," making clear that the current technology has been developped "by the economic interest" and "for the military goals." Even we have to appreciate some of them that would be afterwards applied to our life(for example: the information network called Internet. Thanks to it you can read my page), there's no doubt the current technology has been served for the economy or armies, and what Ende proposes is to study the natural science to satisfy our internal world.
(Chapter 7[The 20th Century Ende lived] was about Ende's biography, and I suppose it isn't necessary to resume it..)
"The worlds' conscience is the same as the human beings' one," concluded Ende, "Phenomena we perceive includes our ideas on them, and the reason we can perceive them is because we have ideas that matches them." For instance, the "Gaia Theory"(one that regards that the Earth itself is a life) that broke out some ten years ago was born from our unconsciousness, our times and the current world we live inside that have such ideas in mind, which enabled us to recognize the Earth as a like. Ende gives a special message for "Japanese people as friends": When asked if Japanese culture, even suffering the Westernization, can keep its tradition, he answers it's "too optimistic," because the industrialized society we are heading for is "based on the materialistic thinking." There're also some comments on the current economy, but please refer to the "Fantasy, Arts, Politics" for further information.