Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Undiscovered and Unsuspected Door

D.H. Lawrence somewhere says that youth should not be misled into believing that it must rebel against authority and tradition in order to achieve freedom. Lawrence asserts that those battles have already been fought and won. Youth is largely free to do as it pleases today, and so it is misleading youth to tell them that they should be battling against authority and tradition.

On the other hand, Lawrence points out that the real revolution youth must accomplish is "to find the undiscovered and unsuspected door." That is, to find and exploit the aspects of life that youth does not even as yet suspect are part of life. Doing so will bring about a greater revolution in youth than will battling against authority and tradition.

What do you think of this? Is the real job of youth to find the undiscovered and unsuspected door, or is it to battle against tradition and authority? Which brings greater freedom? Which is more revolutionary?

18 comments:

Raatkiranii (K.F.S) said...

Perhaps, it's a bit of both, for aren't they both intertwined? There are places in this world in which the youth still need to stand up against tradition and authority, against certain cultures and societal norms, which seem unbending. But discovering the undiscovered and opening an unsuspected door is in a way doing just that. When you discover something, say, an idea, doesn't it take the place of or shift an older idea or way of thought? And when you open a new door, could it not close an older, more powerful one? So, really both concepts have the potential to bring freedom, yet neither is revolutionary. What would be revolutionary is the manner of rebellion, what is being rebelled against, what is being discovered, etc. The concepts themselves are age old. Youth has been rebelling and discovering since the beginning of time.

Paul said...

Hi Raatkiranii! Welcome to the blog!

Those are some very astute observations! I find myself in substantial agreement with you.

Raatkiranii (K.F.S) said...

Thanks for the welcome! You've got some pretty thoughtful posts up here, which is rare, but a pleasure to read.

Paul said...

Thank you, Raatkiranii!

I wonder which might be most compatible with staying true to oneself: Rebellion against tradition and authority or looking for the "unsuspected and undiscovered door"?

Raatkiranii (K.F.S) said...
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Raatkiranii (K.F.S) said...

I think that would depend on the person, their situation, experiences, and goals in life. There has to be a driving force or factor, which pushes a person towards one concept rather than another. For example, if one was born and raised in a culture or society in which women traditionally do not acquire a formal education then depending on one's aspirations in life, breaking out of that mold might be closest to being true to oneself. Standing up against tradition and authority in this case hits closer to home, but before doing so one had to discover a new idea, at least new within the culture, which sparked the rebellion in the mind and in action.

That's my take on the matter, but what’s your opinion?

Paul said...

Once again, we're in substantial agreement, Raatkiranii. When tradition and authority thwart our being true to ourselves -- and assuming our being true to ourselves harms no one -- then it's time to rebel against tradition and authority. I see such rebellion as a duty we owe ourselves.

I especially like the way you've shown how rebellion and discovering the undiscovered door are so often entwined in life.

I'm not as certain as Lawrence is that the necessity for rebelling against tradition and authority will ever end. It seems that society is always throwing up new barriers to self-realization -- you tear down some, but others are erected. It's an ongoing conflict.

Does any of that make sense, or should I drink more coffee and rethink it?

Raatkiranii (K.F.S) said...
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Raatkiranii (K.F.S) said...

Why, how many cups have you had already? Well, however many you've had you don't need anymore cause you make perfect sense. Unfortunately it human natures to oppress, yet, thank goodness, it's also human nature to rebel and tear down barriers. You know, the age-old battle of good and evil, freedom and oppression. As long as humans are in existence there will walls to tear down and discoveries to make. We are a great and terrible species. As for Lawrence, well, his work is great and most definitely thought provoking, but his opinion is just that, his opinion. I’m sure he’d agree with us on that if nothing else.

aos said...

Youth has to find its way to the undiscovered door. This might be only undiscovered to the youth but no matter. The only authentic experience is one's own and this is why we have to be foolish from time to time and repeat age old errors.

In my forsaken religious upbringing they did do something I thought was good in comparison to many other sects, they required the person to have understanding, usually considered late teens, before confirmation in the faith. They did this despite knowing that they would probably lose some that they might have kept through unthinking tradition.

Its not exactly an undiscovered door but it becomes a rite of passage rather than being shoved down the chute. And perhaps this is part of the necessity of rebellion, the lack of rites of passage in recent history. And to open another kettle of fish: what are the implications for this in that we are more than ever in a "youth culture"? If youth is always, perhaps to rites of passage are neccessary and no rebellion required.

decrepitoldfool said...

Robert Bly has written extensively about the emotional need that youth have for validation and passage from adults. Deprived of that, youth invent their own validations, often unaware of pitfalls that one might not see except with the perspective of age.

Our culture is changing so fast that tradition and authority risk a blanket assessment of the value of our own knowledge. "It is of ultimate value!" "No, Worthless!" In fact it is more like sorting through a pile of stuff on a table: this should go into the current year's tax records, that should go into the cedar chest as a family keepsake, and the other thing(s) should go into the trash. It is a painstaking process and one we can share with youth.

Similarly youth risk making a blanket assessment of the value of tradition/authority's offerings. But what gives the most freedom? Ability. Knowledge. The assurance that you have rejected traditions that you fully understand. Or kept ones that you could comfortably internalize.

We and youth share existence in an envelope of change, and it is that reality we should face together.

Gary said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mystic Wing said...

I think it's a mistake to "tell" youth anything, for they will make their decisions all by themselves. I do believe that opening the door requires some rebellion, though, since God knows we've not exactly found the door for them.

Nice to hear from a new participant. Welcome.

Paul said...

I suspect the "undiscovered door" that youth needs to discover is the door to one's passion(s) in life.

Paul said...

Raatkiranii, your remark that it's human nature to oppress saddens me precisely because I recognize the truth of it. There's no end to the battle against oppression.


AOS, do you think it's possible that we might have a "youth culture" in part at least because we have so few rites of passage that help people enter adulthood?


Well spoken, DOF! In traditional societies, people could expect their culture to remain more or less constant from one generation to the next. And the rites of passage in those societies pretty much prepared someone to live in an unchanging culture. But that is no longer true of any known society today. So, what kind of rites could there be today which would prepare people to live in a changing world?


Happy Thanksgiving, Gary! I hope yours was blessed with happiness. I feasted with friends this year and had a wonderful time!


I agree, Mystic, we've done a poor job of helping kids today find themselves and their passion in life. I largely blame consumerism for that. I think consumerism has become a substitute or a dodge for self-realization. Does that make any sense?

aos said...

Paul, your question back: is it possible that we might have a "youth culture" in part at least because we have so few rites of passage that help people enter adulthood? got me thinking. Think I'll just to use it as a springboard to a post of my own because comments just aren't long enough but I think you are right. And I think you are right that it is just part...another part has to be rising affluence and the desire to spare our children certain unpleasantness, and many rites of passage are things our culture looks askance at now...scarification and battle for two. But what has me intrigued now is thinking about the positive aspects of living in a youth culture even if one is not young. Rather than resting on our laurels we are driven to keep moving forward, to rage against the dying of the light, to keep expanding rather than withdraw from life.

decrepitoldfool said...

"So, what kind of rites could there be today which would prepare people to live in a changing world?"

The rites would have to relate, not to the learning of a rote body of knowledge, but to demonstrated ability to adapt to change. Reciting large sections of the Talmud (or any modern equivalent) won't do it.

Adaptability is partly intellectual/neurological and partly emotional. Maybe we should try telling kids that and stop pretending that our little school tests mark them as ready for anything.

Paul said...

AOS, I'm very much looking forward to your post on the subject!

DOF, every time I hear what schools are doing to students, I'm forcefully reminded of Oscar Wilde's observation that "Parents, priests and teachers are the natural enemies of youth."

Teaching kids rote learning in today's day and age is pretty close to criminal.