by Willis E. McNelly

Outstanding Professor Lecture

California State University, Fullerton

May 12, 1976


And so in conclusion, what prophetic implication lies in this literary breakthrough of science fiction? What import lies in this, the synthesis of reason with the intuitive? In our contemporary planetary evolution we see the fusion of the social sciences, biology, psychology, anthropology, nature, and literature. With Chardin on the path of theology, Don Juan's primitive wisdom, Soleri in architecture, Sri Aurobindo in India, Clarke and Aldiss in science fiction, McLuhan in communications, we have something truly amazing, if you stop to think about it.

We are only at the beginning of learning, of converging, and synchronizing the arts, culture, and civilization. The new expression seems to be a enlarged planetary consciousness. From the inner landscape of what it means to be human, we view the outer landscape and perceive that it is global, embracing solar space as well. To understand this contemporary culture and the age to come, we have to be willing to move beyond narrow academic disciplines. What was once heresy has now become dogma. Once the priest refused to look into Galileo's telescope because Aristotle had said nothing about craters on the moon. Now it is the scientist's and intellectual's turn not to refuse to look at mystery and myth simply because Freud, Marx, and Skinner have said nothing about them. We may have to be willing to incorporate science, politics, psychology, religion, art, Jung, science fiction, ecology, and mysticism all at once, and expand our grasp and enlarge our visions for the new Age, so we may become truly wise.

To paraphrase Margaret Mead, we need a system in which the traditional opposition between rationality and creativity can be resolved in terms of the future instead of the past. Such a synthesis would recognize that when man permitted himself to become alienated from part of himself, elevating rationality beyond those ancient intuitive purposes of the mind that bind him to his biologic past, he was, in effect, cutting himself off from nature itself.

Ultimately the supreme quest, the inner journey, is for the acquisition of wisdom. This preoccupation for what the ancients termed "Sophia," which the medieval scholar in turn witnessed with his doctorate, should be the Twentieth Century academic pursuit as well.

Surely we may agree with Yeats who said in the wisdom of his years:

Now that my ladder's gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start,
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.