is to preserve the state of physical hfe, however unrewardingnit may be, for as long as possible and to seek distraction fromnthe prospect of death as best one can.nThe two attitudes—the suspicion that life has becomenempty of meaning and the desire nevertheless to avoidnconfronting its meaningless end in death—are well-dramatizednin our tendency to subject to morbid scientific scrutinynall the conditions and actions of existence, whether they bensex, personal relations, old age, how to win and maintainnpower over others, or how to watch a loved one die ofncancer without feeling anything at all. It is a tendencynstemming either from the belief that life is so terrible that tonbe endured it must be distanced from the personal throughnthe vocabulary of behavioral phenomena—the bloodlessnlanguage of the computer and the laboratory—or that it isnso trivial and insignificant that it needs the rhetoricalninflation of being described as a science. Old age and death,nfor example, have become subjects one takes courses innbecause they have lost the meaning once given them byncommunity and religion and because taking courses innthem is a way of denying their reality. The achievement ofnan A in a course on death must be an indication that onenhas mastered and so, by implication, has triumphed overnthe subject matter. If life is a problem to be solved, thenndeath, the inescapable soluhon, is a problem to be defusednof problemality, so that one will be able to live withoutndread with the fact of death in the same way that one livesnwithout joy with the experience of life.nPsychiatry, of course, is our more openly benevolentnform of scientific scrutiny, a creator rather than a destroyernof mystery, a way of remythifying what elsewhere has beenndemythified. Over most of the century we have looked to itnto give us back our sense of wonder over the most deliciousnand worst-kept secret of all, the nature of ourselves, who arenwe really, and what is the true, albeit hidden meaning ofnwhat has happened to us in our lives. Psychiatry long agonIn the forthcoming issue of Chronicles:nPopular Wisdomn”Since everyone recognizes the correctness of stereotypes,nminorities are in fact harmed, not protected, by thencontemporary pretense that ethnic commonplaces are unfounded.”n16/CHRONICLESn—from “The Truth in Stereotypes”nby Steven GoldbergnALSOnThomas Molnar lays bare the anatomy of clichesnE. Christian Kopff defends “the text” againstndeconstructionists and legal positivistsnJohn Aldridge snififs out the novel’s remainsnin Robert Coover’s closetnnntook over the function of that part of our minds that oncendealt directly with experience simply by confironting -andncoping with it and, in the process, gave us a sense of thenconcrete dramatic relation existing between the self and thenenvironment. When that relation began to be disrupted,’nwe began to need help in discovering who we are, andnpsychiatry supplied it by replacing our now atrophied powersnof self-understanding with its omniscient technology andnfocusing our attention on the only environment we had leftnto confront, ourselves alone in limbo with our fascinatingnfantasies.nOn a more profound level of crassness, television and thenmany films manufactured solely to induce terror havenbecome another kind of substitute source for mystery andnadventurous engagement, and they have done so by providingnan external, albeit fictihous object for the fantasiesnwhich psychiatry has directed toward the beloved subject ofnourselves. Simply by changing television channels or attendingnfright movies, we are able to experience contingencynand achieve adrenal alert without of course experiencingnactual risk. We can enter vicariously into a wide range ofnghasdy and perilous possibilities, most of them involving anregressive journey backward in human time to a savagenancestral environment teeming with delicious threats ofnmurder and mayhem, and for a little while we have restorednthe vital connection between ourselves and a reality exteriornto and beyond the control and comprehension of ourselves.nIf most of us are afflicted with the Bob Slocum syndrome,nso sensitively diagnosed by Joseph Heller in SomethingnHappened, and inhabit an environment too bland andnbenevolent to be either confronted or defied, then hownrestorative to the Idic tissues it is to be transported imaginativelynto a world in which enemies are real and ferociousnand we are forced to cope once again with the fundamentalnexigencies of survival.nIt matters not at all that the raw materials of mass mediandrama are derived mostly from the urban ghetto environmentnof the present time. For the majority of the audience,nthat environment might as well have existed 10,000 yearsnago, and its great appeal is that it jolts us out of our psychicnsleep with the electrifying reminder, brought up out of thenswampy depths of primal memory, that there might, afternall, have once been something genuine and menacingnoutside the solipsistic bubble in which the unrealities ofncontemporary life have obliged us to become enclosed.nIn view of this, it might be said that the currenflynubiquitous figure of the jogger is the perfect emblematicnimage of our age, the supreme embodiment in physicalnterms of the imperious self-absorption with which, inntechnological terms, psychiatry has so thoroughly indoctrinatednus. The jogger, alone in limbo not with his fantasiesnbut with his precious physique, oblivious of his surroundings,nattentive only to the workings of his biologicalnmachine, sweating and straining to create through thenmaximum enhancement of his strength a vitality he cannotndiscover in the experience of his time—no rough beast itsnhour come round at last, but an ordinary obsessive soulnjogging toward the Bethlehem of his dream of immortality,nrunning to prolong a life into which he might well fear thatnhe will not be born before he dies, that his hour will neverncome round at last or at all.n