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This review is taken from PN Review 45, Volume 12 Number 1, September - October 1985.

REACH FOR YOUR GUN? E. W. F. Tomlin, Psyche, Culture and the New Science - 'The Role of PN' (Routledge & Kegan Paul) £6.95 pb.

A footnote about D. H. Lawrence appeared in After Strange Gods (1934): 'I am indebted to an unpublished essay by Mr E. F. W. (sic) Tomlin'. Only T. S. Eliot knew that the essay was by a schoolboy. That schoolboy ended a distinguished career in Turkey, Japan, etc, as Professor of English and Philosophy at the University of Nice. In retirement he has now written (in effect) Notes on Notes Towards the Definition of Culture.

But what is 'culture'? Well, what is 'man'? A compound of the organic, the psychic and the spiritual. There is breakdown when any of these is undernourished; and it is the starvation of the 'psychic' (the inner life, mind, feelings) that is most threatened by reductionism. So this book is about 'PN' (Psychic Nutrition), its nature and its enemies. (Readers of this journal must forgive the acronymic rivalry.) For 'culture' is what makes man. Animals form societies, but they only have a 'space culture' not a 'time culture'. An animal doesn't know what he is; man knows what he is, but may not yet know who he is. Malinowski said that some human societies have died of 'collective boredom'; but the problem is deeper. Better say, they lacked a culture, i.e. 'the irreducible minimum of worthwhileness.' 'We are necessarily more civilised than our ancestors', but 'we are only as cultured as we care to make ourselves.' When Goethe said that 'classicism makes for health and romanticism for disease' he was referring to ...


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