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The Human Evasion by Celia Green

Chapter 14 : Why the World Will Remain Sane

I met a man in a place that was something like a subterranean tube tunnel and something like a deserted railway waiting-room in the middle of the night.

It was impossible to see whether there was an outlet concealed anywhere behind the labyrinths of tiles and painted walls, but a biting wind blew from somewhere. There were a few other people sitting huddled up or pacing up and down. They looked too frozen to say much.

'Look here', I said to the man. 'Why do you go on staying here?'

'Oh, it's not bad', he said, blowing on his fingers. 'We keep very warm really. You get more used to it as you get older. Young people have crazy ideas about trying to find an exit, but they settle down.' (He nodded knowingly at some of the huddled shapes.)

'But, my dear fellow,' I said, 'you aren't warm at all. You're grey in the face and one of your fingers is so frost-bitten it's about to drop off.'

'Oh well, in a sense, that may be true', he said, a little uncomfortably.

'But most people are all right and adjust to things. Maybe I find it a little more difficult than most but that's just something to do with my upbringing which has affected my metabolism. It's my physiology, you see. Nothing is actually wrong with the place as such.'

'But the faces ... when you can see them through the wrappings -- can you say you know a happy person?'

'Yes, I can. There's my daughter. She's eighteen months old. She says 'I'm happy' all the time. It was the first thing we taught her to say.'

'You wouldn't be interested in finding an exit, then?'

'Well, obviously it would be escapism, wouldn't it? The very word 'exit' implies that.... I can't believe we're here just to give up and get out. It's up to us to assert the warmth and richness of the here and now.'

(Here the wind blew a little harder.)

'It might be warm outside', I said. 'Things might be happening there.'

'Oh well, it's up to you to prove that if you want me to be interested. Why should I give up what I've got here?'

'What have you got, then?'

'Interests. There are lots of things to do here. Like counting the cracks in the walls and stamping one's feet. Good for you, that is. Circulation.'

'There might be even more interesting things somewhere else.'

'Oh well, I don't know that, do I? Much more likely it wouldn't nearly be so healthy and interesting.'

'But even if someone did know a way out of here, he could only prove to you that the other place was better if you'd come and leave your interests to find out.'

'Exactly. That's what I said.'

'Does anyone ever look for a way out?'

'Well, I don't know exactly what you mean by looking. There are a few chaps called scientists who measure up bits of the walls sometimes, but it's more and more a specialist job and they reckon a few yards of wall is all one man can take on. Not that there would be any point in trying to study the whole wall at once. It can't be done. Nobody tries.'

'You could make a battering-ram', I said reflectively. 'With a few of these benches. Then you could try ramming the walls to see if they gave way. If everyone joined in ...'

'Yes, I thought you'd suggest something like that', he said, bitterly.

'People have other things to do besides helping you in your pet schemes, you know. You can try to persuade them, of course. It's a free country.

Personally, I don't care so long as I enjoy myself.'

As he did so, a clergyman emerged from a whistling tunnel at my side. (Or perhaps he was a psychiatrist -- or, indeed, a sociologist.)

'Did I hear you mention that old idea about getting out of here?' he said, with a visible shiver. 'Symbolism, you know. We've demythologized all that now. They used to think there was something outside this place -- a literal outside, if you can imagine it! Of course it's quite valid as symbolism. This is the outside, here and now, if you live it to the full....'

'It's cold', I said.

'Think of others', he said reprovingly. 'It's really impressive the way modern psycho-analysis has confirmed the insights of the New Testament. Where two or three are gathered together, you know. It is an indisputable fact that groups of people, huddled as closely as possible, do feel much warmer. This is the basis of Group Therapy. It is also known as the Kingdom of Heaven.'

'Where do you suppose the wind comes from?' I asked him.

'I'm not at all sure that I would agree that there is a wind. It's really only perverse and neurotic people who remark on it. And very young people, of course. But if there is, then I'm sure it's value depends entirely on us -- it is for us to make it into a meaningful part of the full life by refusing to notice it.'

'The full life?' I said, and added, at the risk of seeming rude, 'Full of what?'

'Of communication', he said patiently. 'Of I=Thou relationships. Of dependent interdependence.'

'Communication!' I said. 'These people are so frozen they wouldn't be able to say more than a few words to anybody.'

'That's a very narrow view, I think', he said seriously. 'It's imposing a utilitarian standard of reference on the variety and freedom of human relationships. One must care about people as they are.'

'But surely', I said, 'if one cared about these people, one couldn't be content to see them huddled up in this dreadful place....'

But he looked most displeased, and murmured something into his muffler -- it sounded like 'Arrogance'.

'Well, anyway', I said, 'surely you can't reject the possibility that this is all a dream?'

'Metaphysics', he said, coldly. 'Very nasty. Denial of life. People might lose interest in counting the cracks and spend their time trying to wake up instead.'

'Look', I said suddenly. 'I'm afraid I can't stay here. I have a very strong feeling that this is a dream and I'm about to wake up.'

'The methods of linguistic analysis have very valuable applications to religion. Chiefly they enable us to see the futility of making meaningless statements about the transcendent (which is of course a completely meaningless word). You cannot properly speak of waking 'up'. When I say something is going 'up' I mean that it is directed towards a position which is located above its starting point. It is meaningless to speak in this way about waking, because it would be a confusion of categories to suppose that 'waking' is located above 'sleeping'. Consequently...'

But at this point, with a certain sense of relief, I awoke.


To be a genius has never been too easy, granted the tendency of the human race to like frustrating them. It is no easier in this century than any other time.

In fact, it is rather more difficult, as in this century it is believed that an unrecognised genius is impossible.

However, I have in Oxford a place in which it is possible to carry on the struggle for survival, and I am looking for people to join me. There are at present too few of us, and this makes the struggle for survival even more difficult.

I cannot give a brief summary of my ideas; they are original, and that means they are difficult to communicate. However, I have written a book, The Human Evasion, which while containing a rather small fraction of what I think, does give an introductory impression of my outlook. If you find this too uncongenial, I think you should not bother to get in touch with me to find out any more.

If, on the other hand, having read the book, you do want to know anything more about what I think, and to see whether you would like to join us, there is no alternative to coming to Oxford for a time.

Please write to me, in the first instance, care of the publishers of this book.


The address is:
Institute for Psychophysical Research
118 Banbury Road
Oxford, England

Note: For current contact info visit http://www.celiagreen.com/contact.htm

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