Throughout Asia and Europe, Americans have the undeserved reputation of the most materialistic civilization that ever existed. The undeserved reputation, because never was their culture so completely unmaterialistic. I define a materialist as a person who loves material, and who reverences it, and who delights in using it to its best advantage. And if you will examine the system of education which most of our children are compelled to pass, you will discover that it imparts no knowledge whatsoever of any kind of materialistic competence. Our education is exclusively bookish, and is designed on the whole to train people to be bureaucrats, bankers clerks, insurance salesman, teachers, and we hope intellectuals. It is a curious thing but in its weak moments, it admits that there are a lot of people going through the scheme who really never qualify for graduate school. Or for college. And for these it must provide rather regretfully some courses which train them for other things. It’s always a joke among Europeans that in American colleges you can take get an A.B. you can get credits towards an AB for courses in basket-weaving. And this isn’t really so funny as it looks, because when it is the ideal that sort of everyone should go through college if possible. You have to adjust to facts. You can’t have a nation, you can have a society, in which everyone is always occupied in intellectual and computational pursuits. A few people have to be around who know how to handle the material world in a gracious way. And for these people we provide only regretfully, as an afterthought. The people who might otherwise be dropouts in high school. Should be given some courses which would prepare them for trades in carpentry, metallurgy, even perhaps auto mechanics. Furniture makers. Cooks. And so on.
But as a rule because these kinds of education in the academic world are provided only with regret. They are provided in the slovenly fashion. We do not, we simply do not relate to the material world. And we are increasing lacking, in any kind of competence, in handling physical matter, except in such far out cases as people who make jet aircraft, and certain very sophisticated types of scientific instruments, where it is absolutely necessary that there be the highest degree of mastery. Aside from that, because of the lack of material competence, it is simply astonishing that the wealthiest nation on earth, simply does not know how to enjoy itself. In a material and obvious way.
Now, you would think, if you were just an ordinary kind of horse-sense kind of person, that the richest nation on earth, would have a whale of a good time. Even though doing a factory job, that when the hours of work are over, that people would go home, with all the money that they earn, which makes them princes, by comparison with the Indians and Chinese. That they would go home to fantastic banquets, marvelous orgies, and riotous pleasure all the night through. It would just simply be common sense to people who do not suffer from the Protestant Ethic. But in fact, what happens is this. That we’ve got life strictly divided into two categories: work and play. Whack on the home is something that you do. To get money paid to do it because so much work is so deplorably boring that nobody wants to do it so they’ll pay someone else to do it instead. So while you do it you watch the clock. You put in your hours, and then you get money for having done it, and then you’re supposed to go home and enjoy yourself and have fun. Well what do you do? You get home, and instead of having fun, the main thing is to watch T.V.. And to me is an electronic reproduction of existence, which is cut off from you by a glass wall. It has no smell. If you’re very rich, it has color. But you are as in a zoo, where you look at something beyond the bar, it says Do not touch. You cannot touch it you cannot mingle with it, you merely witness it in a passive way, and while you do this, you are served a TV dinner, which is something that was originally animal and vegetable, that has been frozen so as to deprive it of almost any taste at all. And it has been warmed over, and you eat it, not because you enjoy eating it but because it’s good for you. It enables you to continue living, because it has been carefully studied and it has it exactly the right amount of calories, carbohydrates and vitamins and many of such preparations are served. You can take the scientific formula that’s the thing for you which it contains. It tastes of nothing whatsoever and you while you watch this show going on. You may wash it down with a soft drink, its vaguely alcoholic, called beer. And in the meantime you’re absorbed by the spectacle going on in front of you in which you do not participate. And it goes on long enough to be tired enough to go to sleep. This is supposed to be a life of pleasure.
Generally speaking we really are not materialistic all. We don’t love material. We hate it. And we are devoted to the cause of converting it as fast as possible into junk and poison gas. We are not people who love time, which is one of the measurements of material, and space, which is another we want to abolish it. We want to get as fast as possible from one place to another to get rid of space and to get rid of time. And the result of this is of course, that as we get rid of space and time as we make all places almost immediately accessible by jet aircraft, all places become the same place. So naturally, the tourist is beguiled into taking a holiday in, somewhere else. The palm tree and so on. They’ll make it like. That of course it isn’t. Honolulu is the same place as Koney Island. Atlantic City. Tokyo just the same. It is simply an extension of Los Angeles one of the suburbs. Because the faster you can get from place to place, the more you have conquered the limitations of time and space everywhere is the same place. So. The. Differences between people, the things that we want to see when we go to foreign places are increasingly. Except something provided enough for the entertainment of tourists to deceive them into the idea that they really did get somewhere else.
You look at another aspect of this. One of the basic things about material existence is of course eating food. And as I just indicated. In the case of the TV dinner, we eat food that is good for us. You know, it’s always said that the French eat with gusto but the British eat apologetically. And we’ve inherited the British tradition. We eat in a way…it’s rather animal to eat. It’s a little vulgar that you have to stick it down into your stomach and it passes through your chest and intestines, and so on that’s. It means after all that you’re an animal, and not simply an angel. And therefore, there should be a good reason for the vulgar act, and the good reason is that it’s healthy. And therefore when you, really, ideally, it should all be concentrated into a pill so that you wouldn’t have to waste time valuable time over me but taking the necessary ingredients for a rather shameful fact that we have to exist in physical bodies, and get rid of it.
And so therefore, when you study in general the art of cooking in the United States, from coast to coast, it is pretty poor. It is not something that has done out of love, but something that is done out of. And so, we are great adepts in what I will call eating the menu instead of the dinner. The dinner itself is thrown together you know, it’s simply a job. All sorts of people have a certain amount of professional training cook, not because they like cooking but because it’s a job through which you can make money. Money which is perfectly abstract and inedible. This is a fallacy you see, this division between work and play, that anybody who regards being a cook in a restaurant, which is something which is simply a job that you have to do you know to make money and therefore can go out and have fun in something else besides cooking has been absolutely deluded. He has been persuaded to spend a very substantial part of his life doing something which he hates doing in order that he may earn the wherewithal to do what is really fun later on. And this, insofar as our education is oriented towards. Training people for jobs. This is the colossal fallacy. The only jobs working at, are those which you thoroughly enjoy. And it is possible to enjoy sorrily say in a restaurant. You are allowed to take delight in it, and to reverence the fishm the flour, the vegetables, the fruit, which are provided for you to work with.
But as things stand what happens is exactly the reverse. You go into a restaurant, which probably has colored photographs on it. And it says something like this. Filet of Colorado Mountain Trout. Fried to a delicate golden brown in bread crumbs. Garnished with fresh garden peas. French fried potato wedge. The last time I encountered this, it was a restaurant where they had the nerve to keep an open kitchen. And when I saw the so-called filet of Colorado Mountain Trout. Incidentally this was in Wyoming. It was a severe rectangle of some off-white substance, which rattle when it hit the griddle.
You know, the whole thing was completely mechanical, because there was in this process absolutely no love for the work itself. The cook in other words was wasting his precious time in life by going through the motions of being in order to get money for enjoyment. Now, the thing that has to be understood fundamentally in the process of education for life. Money is an abstraction. It cannot of itself by any pleasure whatsoever. Because all pleasures involves skill and love. Enough love to discipline yourself to enjoy the pleasure. I live in, as I told you in the introduction, in Sausalito, which is a lovely waterfront town north of San Francisco. We have a law. With pleasure craft. Sailing boats, motor cruisers, which for the most part nobody ever except cocktail party. People go out because sailing is a difficult craft. These boats were advertised as something you want to have to enjoy yourself, but when you got them couldn’t enjoy yourself unless you knew how to sail have time to do that because you were so busy making money. So all these boats stand around, and nobody really enjoys them at all. Because they won’t take the trouble. Having been persuaded that money is wealth.
Taken another case of this delusion. You can make a lot of money say, in the grocery business, by turning out shoddy products in excellent packages. You cheat on the weight and you cheat on the quality. You make more and more money. Fine, but when you’ve got it what are you going to buy with it? Other people’s shoddy products. We have cars with built-in obsolescence which are nothing but toy rocket ships. We have, as I said, various kinds of foodstuffs, which are increasingly lacking. We have houses which are made of ticky tacky. We have entertainment in which there is no participation. You’re not allowed to join, you just watch.
We are busily fouling our own nest. Have you smelt the air today in this town? It all smells of some kind of funny acid . And these is supposed to be people who are rich and wealthy and know how to enjoy themselves. It’s a farce. And to some extent, the reason for this farce is the whole education process.
I want to look at this, but I want to look at it from the standpoint of bringing up children in this culture and the whole structure and nature of the family. That’s where that’s where the puzzle begins. Have you noticed that over many years, a large number of the jokes in most of our popular magazines where they print cartoons, have to do with father as a clown. Take Dagwood in the comic strip. The incompetence of dad, who is always some kind of a idiot. Whereas mom has to handle the real problems in the family and is therefore the realist in the picture. Dad is a clown. Why?
Because he goes away to a mysterious place called the office factory. In which the family as such have no part and. He brings back a thing called money and they want to see that. Now you can get it. Just so long as you bring it back because they’re not interested in what you do. When you come back from the various rat races in which you are engaged making money, you’re supposed to be a good pal to the children, play with them. Off to your wife and appreciate what she’s done. They have no interest in what you do. They couldn’t care less. And furthermore, you as a father. You as a mother. Are expected to live for your children. Americans have a sense of guilt because they have not done right by their children trying to do right by their children. They always family haven’t quite succeeded somehow. We are child centered families, constantly feeling guilty because we haven’t brought them up. Now for we call in every kind of specialist an expert in the Pfizer to tell us what we should do with our children. The difficulty is that the family as an institution is not surviving in industrial culture it is an institution designed for an agrarian.
The family was built around the farm, where the children worked on the phone and understood and were brought up into the interest of the small shop or the workshop, such as you find in an agrarian culture. It’s fascinating to notice today the transition from agrarian to industrial culture in a country like Japan where it’s been extremely rapid. Let’s take the craft of carpentry in Japan. The Japanese have been some of the best carpenters in the world, absolutely marvelous, knowing how to make the most complex joinery constructions without even using a blueprint, doing it by feel and by eye. In order to train a person to do this kind of carpentry he has to begin to learn when he’s seven years old. But as it is now, because Japan is transferred to being an industrial culture you may not bring up your child in your profession as a carpenter you have to send the child to school, where you can learn to be an insurance salesman.
The child gets through school, get through high school. When the child gets out is not interested in carpenter it’s interested in girls. As the final round of that for a while and then get married and then again to learn the carpenters trade and it’s too late to be anything but somebody who follows the blueprint. Therefore this marvelous craft which the Japanese cultivated for centuries is being lost. For what? I know many carpenters in the United States today who take enormous pride in their work. Who love to produce a beautifully finished object made of wood. But they cannot find jobs. Because no employer can afford that time for his workman to finish a product. It has to be turned out looking good on the surface with a sort of veneer and varnish. But anything thrown in on the underside, so I don’t wear out and they have to do another one so nobody has any satisfaction in the job.
And the reason is that that the family no longer holds together, because the family…the man in the family has to go away and it has absolutely no relation to his living relationship with his wife and his children. Therefore, naturally, he’s regarded as a clown. When he comes home, he’s not really a very good pal to his children. Because the children would find a real relationship with their father by joining in his work with him. Every little child wants to join his parents while they work. They go into the kitchen they would much rather play with the pots and pans and anything else they want to help they naturally want to join in but they cannot and therefore instead of being allowed to join in. With their parents they are given propitiatory objects called toys. You may have a toy store you may have toys dolls and pretend that you may not actually be baby because it might be an accident.
So the children are propitiated with every kind of fake plastic things that every adult is suppose to use. Especially those real adults, that go out and fight the wars, you know, then they have a plastic gun. Now the children are not satisfied with this, they are absolutely frustrated because these toys fall apart and they don’t really work they don’t know what’s expected of. The child they’re not real and it’s. Christmas Day when you think about Christmas Day in the average family. After the children of their fake presents which were dolled up to look as if they were the treasures of princes. And they get the plastic toys and they find everything doesn’t work. And by time for Christmas screaming tantrum. Because they know inwardly they’re being insulted, they’re not allowed to participate in the real world. Doodeedoodeedo. You don’t really count.
And so as the whole educational process continues, they are educated for unreality, for nonentity, because they are being progressively fooled….You see, it works like this. You know this story of a donkey who has a carrot suspended in front of it, and it’s attached to a stick which is a donkey’s collar. So it can always chase it but never catch it. So this is what we do. We send a child into kindergarten. And make him literate, more or less. Run Spot Run, and all that. And then, the inducement is, if you learn this, you get into first grade. And wowee, if you do this, you’ll get into second grade, and so it’s kind of a come-on.
You’ll go through the step-by-step educational process, and there’s going to be a big event, and when you get out of grade school you’ll go to high school. And you’re going to get step-by-step through high school because there’s a thing coming! Got to college Whew, made it that far. And step by step you go on and you get to graduate school. If you’re smart at this point, you’ll stay there. But if you don’t go into graduate school so you can just stay in the academic scheme of things, you get into business. That’s getting out into the world, that’s graduation. See now you’re really, you’re an adult. Well then the first thing is you get into a sales meeting, they’re going to say is get that quota. And if you make that quota, they’re going to give you a higher quota. And that thing at the end of the line, it’s there. The thing that all the advertisers say, by the time you earn this and get that, you’re going to the get the right kind of car, the right kind of speedboat, trackbot, the right kind of clothes and everything. The right kind of drinks and you’ll be there. So you work along at this, and you’re earnest. Finally here forty five you end up as vice president of the company. I’ve arrived. I’m there. But I feel vaguely cheated because I feel just the same as I’ve always felt. I haven’t caught up with the thing I’ve promised. We’ve got a program for you. Just right when you’re sixty five you’ll be able to drop what you really want to do. By that time you’re not interested. Prostate trouble, bad teeth. You’re just falling apart, because you ate all the stuff that you make with. To make money if the money goes nowhere absolutely.
So you know you end up feeling cheated, and the reason the simply this. That education regarding the process of preparation. For something which never happens now is going to happen. But it was you were always getting prepared for life. A real education is an entirely different thing. Education in the real sense is not preparation for life it is actually living. It is the child participating in adult concerns. And doing it now and realizing that the point of the process in which the child is engaged is not to prepare the child for the future but to enjoy doing today. Because the whole point is that there is no point whatsoever in making plans for the future, except people who are capable of living in the present. If you are not capable of living in the present, plans are useless, because when those plans come to fruition, you will be incapable of enjoying them. Don’t worry, if you’re not capable of living in the present, don’t make any plans. If you are capable of living in the present then some plans may be useful, because they will produce something which you can enjoy and take part in. But it seems to me that the absolute point of any educational system that has any worth whatsoever is the progressive allowing of children to participate in activities that adults consider real and important. And that should begin very early. Instead of saying to children, no, you go away and play while we do what’s important, let them in on what we consider important at once. This is very difficult in what we call the child-centered family. If you see, you regard what you do in life as not say your profession, your vocation, your job, if you regard that merely as a means to an end supposing you are making money in a factory producing something worthless and trashy, but it pays. And you justify this on the grounds that it will give you money to bring up your children to do something better than you are doing, you are fooling yourself. Because your child will copy you. And if you exist simply to bring up your children for something better than you have, then your children will do nothing but exist to bring up their children to do something better than they have. And [they] will always be frustrated. If on the other hand, you are doing something in life you have a vocation, a work which you’re doing which you are really interested in and which you feel really enjoy. And it’s this that you live for, and not for your children then your children will catch your enthusiasm. And they in turn will find something that they can live for and be really interested in, and in turn their children will become interested. But we are unfortunately a culture, because we always have the sense of we have, we do everything possible we can for the good of the children. You should not live for your children. You should live for your own good, and then your children will learn, from your own example, how to live.
So then, education then is a progressive letting children in to adult life. Not a preparation. The whole idea of preparation should be discarded. There is simply increased participation in what we are doing. I have just come from a very primitive area where the educational system is sloppy, thank goodness. I watch builders at work, and their wonderfully skillful with brick. And here are the older men working on a house. And the little boys running errands while they help. And they feel one with their fathers. Dad isn’t some obscure being off there, who they occasionally meet in the evening, and who does something completely mysterious, and who is supposed to chum up with them on a completely play basis. What is dad? And he plays about something. About the mousey and the teddy-bear. And having done that he’s done his duty, he’s satisfied his penance. For having had them. But these so-called primitive Mexicans, have their children working with them. I’m not speaking of Mexico City, and the great industrial slums of Mexico. I’m speaking of a very far out. I’m not. In a curious competence, and curious wisdom. Little men who can be trusted to do all kinds of things. But you see we are abandoning all responsibility for our children by sending them to be educated by other people. Lying. Around. Like you. Somehow haven’t done right by our children, and we want to give them the best that we have. The whole trouble. With. The idea. In the Christian location that’s the thing you’re really. Not sure. If you really have that with you, the children will catch it from you. will actually. Be inspired by joining. The problem is you see, that in industrial culture, there are very few opportunities to bring about that state of affairs. Imagine going to the bank bringing your children along with you to peek over the counter while you hand out the cash. Put in the checks. In any important thing we do, get rid of our children. We get a babysitter. When we going to have fun in the evening at the babysitter and keep the children out of it, for heaven sakes. And this is simply symbolic of the fact that children are utterly excluded from real life. They’re put in these completely artificial schools. Where they learn to be cerebral and merely literate. They learn nothing of the the fundamental art of handling matter. What are the fundamental arts that we need in this life if we are to become if we are to enjoy ourselves? We need good food, well-cooked. Isn’t that fundamental? You will have to eat all you need to. Go. But you if you don’t live to eat, the food that you need won’t be very nutritive to enable you to live well. Take any trouble. It looks when you get. Materials you’ve got some onions you’ve got some fish you’ve got a slice of beef. You can cook that probably unless you love it. All those are dead creatures which have died in your honor. What are you going to do about that? The only way to deal respectively with a creature that has died in your honor is to give it an honorable cookie. The dead cow you are eating is becoming you, and the least you can do for it is to let it enjoy itself as you. Are for. In the kitchen and you are a priest at that altar. And you should reverence that that gorgeous thing. Look at a beautiful mackerel. At the supermarket. You’ve got this thing it’s a living being dying to give you life the best thing you can do for it is very loyal and you should. See that it’s exactly right people have no idea how to cook fish in this country, they cook it till it’s dry and tasteless, because they don’t watch it. To the exact moment when it’s right. That’s cooking is regarded as a troll something to. Do. With the kitchen most kitchens are like bathrooms you know you go to the bathroom clean up excrete and so on which is sort of. The way the kitchens also whitewashed places with white refrigerators and white washing machines white sinks. Look like surgeries or bathrooms. I have always found a formula, wherever you find a colorless kitchen, you will find tasteless food. The real life. There’s a great. Bubble and everybody gathers around with eager appetites while they watch out that’s going to be just great everybody just sitting around the fire began. And instead of having. The power. From the kitchen. Actually the lady of the house ready to go rushing around. The kitchen. And everybody would gather. Nothing. Except a very few. Calls.
So on the average, across everything just measure everything. You have the right amount. In the other camp. Everybody just. Wants another important thing in life of material. And material who thinks that the material. Was there for great deal of trouble but he has a house. Together. By. Design to be very. Very much. Like that. If you like to live in the you want to live in. In the flat areas there are four design a house which is appropriate to a. House which will not disturb which will fit in with the contours of nature and the vegetation of nature that already exists which is what you want to live in and enjoy and. Take another important aspect of material life. Looked at the furniture and. You know it’s. Really one of the things that we suffer from that we have too much. We have these enormous cultural. Look like they were going to place. Over stuff months. And. All kinds of. Stuff too. Because it’s simply. Thrown together by people who didn’t like doing. Much better have a very few pieces of furniture made by an artist to enjoy making the top drop thrown together and is it always invariably advertised in what it is and causes frustration bitterness and disappointment in the sense of having been cheated. Draws. And we have an amazing pretentious bed. There is possible to move around when it comes to moving house great weight and inconvenience. Unlike practical material such as Japanese we know how to sleep. From the point of view of material. That’s. Coming from. Don’t know. Some exceptions on the West like. I’m wearing the. Violation of the nature of cloth. That’s the. Law. Great stuff which will. Actually. Be made. To prevent. The way without making it so that. The. Human Body. Which is not in the nature of pop culture Hang on let me just. Shaped in this way it doesn’t. Violate the nature of thought. And if it does not come. Let’s take for example trousers. Designed for women. Women look. Very uncomfortable. But we. Abstract. Kinds of complicated. Everything to make it sound. And. Rightly. So that if you want. To day five. From. Mexico. Well. Absolutely. By magnificent. People. Joining. Here. And we. Don’t joy. To enjoy what’s the point of going around. What else. Fundamental material. Everybody ought to know about. Love me. That’s very fundamental. This is something that our children. Through hearsay. Or through a few courses in hygiene in high school which. Are facts about nothing of the art. And this is picked up in a sloppy way because we’re. I mean here is the real deal in this culture where we say we are material. In fact what happened. Everything to do with. Sexuality. Is regarded as fundamentally. Associated toys. And therefore. Something basically prohibited. By. Man brought up in the W A P culture. That it’s really supposed to be fun and so they sort of snicker about. It’s always on the side something. That you don’t really enjoy unless you feel it’s dirty. You’re doing something you’re not supposed to then it’s kind of fun and so there’s a perpetual hypocrisy about the whole thing. And no one ever I mean the most the most than the most reprehensible thing you do in this culture is to come out say with a book. On the love. Which would be comparable to a book. On the. Show. Every. Possible in the contract between. Approach. But. It’s all right so long. It’s all right so long. As the moment it’s something. We. Show we are not. Do not. Do not love. So as a result we have a culture which instead of being. Struck. Which for example confuses money with wealth You know the situation. But you don’t count. It getting along. Not perhaps because you thought you were paying too much for what you. Found. But instead you got that caught. Up with the real world. You know. Not mentioning how much of it is fake but. That is your. Stuff you’re going to live on and it’s in your car and you’re going to go away with it you lost the money.
So you know the abstract thing, the amount of money. That is more important than the actual situation. So likewise going back to the subject. Of. The way things look the way. It. Is much more important than what you. Look at the figure fashionable. Done in such a fashion way. Take it off and. Then a kind of a letdown. In other words. The point down that I’m trying to get out while we are providing ourselves on being material. We have not mastered it. Except. Engineering dimension where we really have done a good job a jet plane is a remarkable triumph. Even though polishes distance even though it makes every place the same as every other place it is a self triumph of material. But in the fundamental life. Raising children in love making the biggest material incompetence. Ever exist. Because we are. Abstract that of how it looks rather than how it. How it appears rather than how it tastes. And so I would think what I’m saying is that we need an education. Which brings us back. To nature in the sense not. The law. But our being focused on the material. And knowing that is where you live and what you do. To be completely relate to the physical natural material or whatever you want to call it here and now. You know that’s the only place you don’t live anywhere else. And to be able to live richly and fully in that situation instead of constantly preparing. For something else. Altogether. I think this means. The easing of the school. Throwing a lot of it back on. The school system is a huge baby. And then but that in turn requires that parents be in a position to take care of their children. As if they’re engaged in occupation which necessarily take them away. What does that go back to in the line of cause. It goes back to the fact that people are engaged in occupation. Which simply make money. And which they do not really enjoy and which they do not really live with. And that is why among young people today under twenty five. Corp. Job hunters I mean you know people who are looking for bright Talent Corp going around our colleges having increasingly difficult for the right of the student the less they want to get involved in the traditional kind of corporate life. Because that takes them away. From any work. Which will involve the participation of. The woman they love.
So people are looking for ways of living. Whereby they don’t live fragmented abstract, work life that is completely cut off from the rest of truly. So we are facing a very. In which young people want to return. And even. Make very little money. It will at least have the satisfaction. Of being an actual relationship with the real world in which we live. I don’t know. What it. Will be very disruptive. We know. That are by far better by far contact.