Culture Parasitesn(and Others Who Still Try to Ask Questions)nTheodore Roszak: Person/Planet;nAnchor Press, Doubleday & Co.;nGarden City, New York.nRobert Jastrow: Godandthe Astronomers;nW. W. Norton & Co.; NewnYork.nby Thomas MolnarnIs Theodore Roszak a critic of culture.”nIt is like asking whether Jim Jonesnwas a “reverend” and his sect in Guyanana religion. My question and my parallelnare not out of place since the governmentnand the courts indeed hold, or atnleast imply, that a sect like Jim Jones’nis the equivalent of the Roman CatholicnChurch. When Washington sets up anDepartment of Education, governmentnand courts will have to maintain thatnRoszak is a legitimate social critic andnthat his view of culture is as valid asnGoethe’s or Matthew Arnold’s. We nonlonger have criteria to distinguish betweenna monotheistic religion with anhigh moral content and a deliriousngathering of murderous people; similarly,nwe cannot differentiate between culturenand the Roszakian abracadabra,nevery page of which contradicts thenprinciple of civilized discourse. Thus,nthe fact that Roszak writes social andnculture-critical best sellers is the firstnproof that the ambience might be beyondncultural repair.nThere are other proofs. However,nwe may deal more coherently with thisnone, with the Roszak phenomenon, ifnwe group the author of Person I Planetnwith a number of similar writers whonare not independent thinkers either, but,nlike Roszak, symptoms of the age, morenexactly, culture parasites, exhibiting thensickness and living off its putrefiednDr. Molnar is Professor of French andnworld literature at Brooklyn College.nproducts. Among these writers let usnmention—in order to situate Roszaknbetter—Ivan Dlich, Marcuse, and MichelnFoucault. This is what they do:nthey locate the sickness, but in thenwrong place, then promote its spreadnthrough a systematically defective diagnosis.nIt is important to grasp the naturenof this double sin against truth, since itnexplains why these men are hard toncatch at their apparently honest, serious,nand innovative game, and why they en-nthing for his child; yet he refused thenmodalities, hence the essence, of hardlearnedneducation and performance. Henseems to have appreciated the airinessnof dance—but refused to pay the price:ndisciplined effort.nIn other words, and this is nowngenerally stated of the content of hisnbook, Roszak acts at each step as if hentook for granted that culture is the endnproduct of effort and discipline, yet hendemolishes the ideal and blurs the roadn•”. . . a Ihouglit-provoking, brilliant analysis of Western culture–fhe productndf a first-rate, seminal mind. Highly recommended tor all libraries.”n—Ijhrars journalniov .III undeserved nresrii.’c. I j-r me iilustratenRoszak’s modus operandi and shownthat he is not simply guilty of layers ofnfaulty reasoning, but that he reasonsnalong the lines of a corrupt ideology.nThe case is trivial, thus typical. ThenRoszaks have a daughter showing talentnfor ballet. She attends a poor highnschool, and her parents wish to registernher at a private school with a reputationnfor excellence. The headmaster insistsnon a complete course of study, on flawlessndiscipline and no afternoons offnfrom study time even for ballet lessons.nRoszak is scandalized at the headmaster’snrigidity and changes his mind.nBut next he is also scandalized by thenexacting nature of the ballet class withnits strict discipline, allowing for no flexibilitynof body and for the pupil’s untutoredninspiration.nNow let us agree that culture consistsnof myriads of disciplined forms, thoughtsnand acts expressing beauty, knowledge,naccomplishment. Raubert remarks thatnhe practiced writing Madame Bovarynby way of accumulating, thus overcoming,ndifficulties, as, he suggests, a pianistnOught to learn lightness of touch: bynfirst attaching leaden balls to his fingers.nIn a way, Roszak wanted the samennnie;i(iinf’ ro it. i’liis double or trinle lavernof false approach—finally, this ambiguity—explainsnRoszak’s and his confreres’nsuccess and best-seller status:nthey advertise the facility of culture andnshow by example how to live off it.nLet us further illustrate this culturalnparasitism through a glance at Foucault’snmethod which is, of course,nslightly different. The present Frenchnidol—replacing Levi-Strauss, who replacednSartre, who . . .—has attackednhumanism for having focused all attentionnthrough centuries on the rationalnconcept of man, thereby formulatingnculturally epoch-bound definitions fornphenomena like folly, education, moralnbehavior, sexual ideal, as well as theirninstitutional fagade. This may be thenbeginning of an acceptable critique; butnFoucault aims really at the destructionnof rationality on which institutions andnsocial structures per se rest, hence atna Utopian situation in which the humannimage and self-image are dissolved. Henis not really an ally against the narrownessnof Enlightenment humanism, hencampaigns against man.nOr take Arthur Koestler. For yearsnhe denounced the ravages of reductionism,nroughly, as he defines it, the notionn11nChronicles of Colturen