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  You are in: Home > Cultural & Social Studies > California Journal  
 

California Journal

Edgar Morin

Edgar Morin is Emeritus Director at the CNRS (French National Research Center), and one of France’s leading intellectuals. He has written on a variety of subjects, reviewed and received to great acclaim, ranging from Cinema to History, Politics to Science and Education. His central effort is to develop a “method,” an approach to inquiry that will do justice to the complexity of the world and of human beings.

 

In 1969, California is not just the new Eldorado: it is the crucible where civilization is accelerating, self-destructs, and is reborn. It’s the probe of Spaceship Earth. The hippy phenomenon, communes, the ecological movement, great collective ceremonies like park-ins and rock concerts, the flourishing of sects ranging from mystics to Marxists, the experience of “weed” and “acid,” are temporary images and elements of a search for a new truth, a new religion, a new society.

Long before it became fashionable for European intellectuals to write about their voyages to the United States, Edgar Morin, one of France’s leading intellectual figures and at that time known as a path-breaking and innovative sociologist and researcher of popular culture, recounts the story of his experiences in the cauldron of change that was California, including his encounters with some of the leading minds of that time. The book combines Morin’s accounts of his experiences with his own search for answers to fundamental questions about the human condition. For a few months, the author had a profound feeling of being drawn into the heart of the “great questions,” played out personally and societally. The result is an engaging and prophetic work that has as much if not more to offer today than it did when it was first published in French.



Foreword by Alfonso Montuori
Reintroduction: Fourteen Years Later
The Beginning: September 1969

THE JOURNEY
PEDESTRIANS
FIRST TRIPS TO LA JOLLA
FIRST CONVERSATIONS
THE BLACKS
JOHN HUNT
REBELLION
LA JOLLA
SVETLANA
FREE PRESS
IN THE FREE PRESS
HOME
JONAS SALK
LIFE
THE BLACK DEBUTANTES’ BALL
OLD TOWN
HOUSES
ZOO
Tuesday, 9 September
COOL HAND LUKE
DREAM
AMERICA
Wednesday, 10 September
WOMEN
Friday, 12 September
Saturday morning, 13 September
Sunday morning, 14 September
Monday, 15 September
THE SALK INSTITUTE
BIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY
SOCIOLOGY
INTELLIGENCE
THE INSURANCE SALESMAN
Wednesday, 17 September
JOHN
MOON DUST
SAN DIEGO
THE ITALIAN GROCERY
ADOPTION, ADAPTATION
THE TEEN-AGER
BARKING
RESURRECTION OF THE HUMANITIES
OLD HO
Thursday, 18 September
PSYCHOANALYSIS
JACQUES MONOD
THE GREAT CROSSROADS
THE EVENT AND CREATIVITY
CREATIVITY
Friday, 19 September
THE NEW AMERICAN SHOW
TV
PUNS
THE THIRTIES
RANDOMNESS AND SCALE
NERVOUS SYSTEM
THE HUMAN BODY
REPRESSION
DEATH
ECSTASY
LOVE
WHALES
Tuesday, 23 September
IMPATIENCE
CALIFORNIA HOUSES
LOVE
WAITING (AGAIN)
THE INCULTE OF PERSONALITY
SCIENCE
LOS ANGELES
JANIS JOPLIN
PARK-IN
Thursday, 25 September
I LOVE AMERICA
THE CRISIS CENTER
REVOLUTION
THE SECOND CENTURY
SCIENCE
PANTHERS
AT WHITE FRONT
DREAM
YOUNG WOMEN
THE SAW, THE DOG
Tuesday, 30 September
WORKING CLASS
VIETNAM
SALK
THE NEW HUMANITIES
READ
THE PARTY AT JONAS’ PLACE
ALTERNATIVES
CORRECTIVE ADDENDUM
SOUND THINKING
NOTES
Monday, 6 October
THE CRISIS CENTER (29 September)
BEACH COMMUNES
THE CHILDRENS’ CRUSADE
COMMUNES
ME
DEPRESSION
DEATH
INDIANS
TRANSDUCTION
ME (AGAIN)
EAST–WEST
SVETLANA
ADVERTISING
EL SOMBRERO
DEATH (ADDENDUM)
SYNCRETISM
PSYCHEDELIC SHOP
SCIENTOLOGY
BILLY GRAHAM
STRUCTURE AND ELOHIM
MARCUSE
Wednesday, 8 October
READING BRONOWSKI
INVENTION
NEW YORK
THE FISH-TANK
RENAULT
THE NEW YORK CONFERENCE
CRISIS STUDIES
CONVERSATION WITH SALK
Monday, 13 October
DEL MAR
LOS ANGELES
POLLUTION
RON
EVOLUTION–REVOLUTION
ANTI-BOURGEOIS AND META-BOURGEOIS SOCIETY
THE FIRST WAVE
ROCK FESTIVAL AT THE STADIUM
NIGHT BEACH
WOODSTOCK
THE SMILE
SECURITY
HELL’S ANGELS
HIGH
HELENE
ME
SUN
COSMOS
CREATION AND EPILEPSY
REVOLUTION
POLITICS AND METAPOLITICS
USA
BILLY GRAHAM
DON’T CRY, SCREAM
SUNSET
DINNER AT THE KOHNS’
CHEMISTRY
ANTHROPOLOGY
THE MODERN ERA
AMERICAN FASCISM
ON THE LEFT
RATIONALIZATION
SOCIOLOGICAL HOMEOPATHY
SOCIOLOGY
Saturday, 18 October
SAN FRANCISCO (14–17 October)
SEEING H. AGAIN
WHERE IS THE RUPTURE?
THE THREE PATHS
STORE IN FRISCO
AVANT-GARDE
MITOCHONDRIA
CULTURE
PAN-GENETICISM
INTELLIGENCE
THE INDIVIDUAL
GENETIC HEREDITY, CULTURAL INHERITANCE
CREATING A CHEMISTRY OF IDEAS
META-MORALITY AND META-BIOLOGY
CHANCE
USA
FEEDBACK
SCIENCE FICTION
BIOS-ANTHROPOS
THE NEW CELL
FERTILITY AND POLITICAL FERTILIZATION
JOHN
THE WAY
THE MASK OF LOVE
TAKING STOCK
LA JOLLA
CRISIS
JONAS
BLINDNESS
SOCIETY
CHAOS
JAKOBSON
INVENTION
THE YOUTH REVOLUTION
ANIMAL FRIENDSHIP
BREAKING AWAY
THE ADOLESCENT AND SOCIAL CLASS
AMERICA
WE CAN FLY
TIJUANA
PARTY
LOBSTER
SAN DIEGO
THE VAULTED SKY
AGONY
LOYS
BIOS
CHEMISTRY
LABORIT
PAIN
PROGRESS
POLITICAL DIALECTICS
RIVALRY, COMPETITION, FREEDOM
ME
ANTHROPOLOGY OF DEATH
SOCIOLOGY
THE FREE PRESS COMMUNE
FUTURE
CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND VIETNAM
POLITICAL ECOLOGY
CALIFORNIA! CALIFORNIA!
CALIFORNIA! CALIFORNIA! 2
CALIFORNIA! CALIFORNIA! 3
BIOS
COOPERATION
EVOLUTION
TIME
INFORMATION
INVISIBLE
WHAT I’VE BEEN READING
SALVATION AND LOSS
THINGS TO REFLECT UPON AND WRITE ABOUT
November
PARIS
BERGNEUSTADT
STRASBOURG
December
EROS
RETURN TO CALIFORNIA
SAN DIEGO
CARMEL, BIG SUR
SURF
SALK INSTITUTE
MARSUPILAMI
JONAS AND JOHN
NEWSPAPERS
TWO NEWS ITEMS
TELECONNECTION
MOLINO ROJO
YOUTH
UTOPIA
COMMUNES
Sunday, 7 December
THE ECOLOGY MOVEMENT
SCHEMA OF THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION
THE MY LAI MASSASCRE
THE UNKNOWN
December
SOLIDARITIES
NEW EMILE
ASTONISHMENT
THE HONEY MOON
MYSTERY
EAST–WEST
EXPERIENCE
UNDERSTANDING
ADVANCING
JONAS SALK (quotations)
DIALECTICS
UTOPIANISM
DIALECTICAL WISDOM
CLINICAL SOCIOLOGY
SOCIAL DEMOCRACY
INVENTION
DECOLONIZATION
Thursday, 11 December
THE MASSACRE
RADIO
AND IT WORKS
THE MURDER OF THE PANTHERS
THE MURDERERS OF SHARON TATE
NIXON
Monday, 15 December
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT MOLECULE
HOW CAN THE FOLLOWING BE RECONCILED?
BORIS DE SCHLOEZER
MARCUSE
MARXISM
SCIENTIFIC THEORY AND UNSCIENTIFIC THEORY
MANICHAEISM
WORRY
THE MASSACRE
POLITICS
THE EVENT
MR. SPOCK
IN PASSING
DINNER
THE FREE PRESS COMMUNE
THE TATE AFFAIR
POLLUTION
CIVILIZATION
11%
ADULT
SUB-BOURGEOISIE
RADAR
MARGINAL PEOPLE
Wednesday, 21 December
CHEMISTRY OF IDEAS
THOUGHT
CYBERNETIC POEM
Monday, 28 December
MAO
WRITING UP
BIRDS
INDIANS
FACES
INTERNAL POLLUTION
STEREO
BAYOU COUNTRY
STATISTICS
FUTUROLOGY
USA
THE HEART
SOCIALISM
FAMILY
January–February 1970
PEOPLE’S COMMUNE
LIGHTS
ROGERS
DISNEYLAND
WHALES
AMERICA
THE END OF THE WORLD
ANTHROPOLOGY
ANTHROPO-SOCIOLOGY
THE SOURCE OF HAPPINESS
YOU!
ME
EVERYONE
PIGS
CULTURAL REVOLUTION

Post-Script: Happiness
Paris, June 1970


“The reform in thinking is a key anthropological and historical problem. This implies a mental revolution of considerably greater proportions than the Copernican revolution. Never before in the history of humanity have the responsibilities of thinking weighed so crushingly on us.”

“History has not reached a stagnant end, nor is it triumphantly marching towards the radiant future. It is being catapulted into an unknown adventure.” Edgar Morin

“Edgar Morin has written an engaging journal about his trip from Paris to California in the tumultuous years of 1969 and 1970. Along the way this Frenchman learns about American youth who were generating their own counter-culture, reading their own free press, participating in their own unscripted revolution. A middle-aged philosopher, Morin worked at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, and comments on everything from race relations to physico-chemical-biological systemology to Billy Graham. His journey takes him to a Los Angeles Park-In, where he is mystified by a young girl’s smile, to communes outside of San Francisco, where he considers the emerging cultural revolution, and into the homes and thoughts of Jonas Salk and Herbert Marcuse. Along the way Morin contemplates the evolving scene of the late 1960s, from adolescence to love to utopia. And in months, America had changed him: ‘Since I've been here,’ he wrote, ‘I've been intellectually high.’ He also discovered personal freedom: ‘At the age of forty-eight, I'm learning how to live!’ Come along, enjoy this trip; it's not to be missed.” Terry H. Anderson, author of The Movement and the Sixties, and The Sixties

“Scanning America like a modern de Tocqueville, Morin’s personal meditations on the tumultuous sixties are filled with acute insights.” Philip Slater, author of The Pursuit of Loneliness and A Dream Deferred

“Italy ranks among the countries that have paid closest attention to Morin’s evocative reflections on complexity. Morin’s work has had a profound impact on the nation’s scientific, educational, and political landscape.” Sergio Manghi, author of The Winged Cat, Professor of Sociology, University of Parma

“Edgar Morin is one of the most prestigious figures in French, and indeed European, culture.” Professor Giovanni Reale, author of A History of Ancient Philosophy, Universitàt San Raffaele, Milan, Italy

“In 1968, French philosopher and sociologist Morin travelled to California to spend a year at the Salk Center. This is a translation of the journal he kept during that year. It contains Morin’s thoughts on American society; notes on his own intellectual preoccupations and their evolution following his exposure to systems theory, cybernetics, and the information theory; and his reactions to the tumultuous politics of 1968, both in California and back in Paris.”

Edgar Morin and the “Politics of Civilization”

On January 8, 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told about his vision of a “politics of civilization to establish France as the soul of the new renaissance that the world needs.” However, the “politics of civilization” is not Mr. Sarkozy’s idea. He borrowed it from Edgar Morin, 87, a French philosopher-sociologist and former Communist and resistance leader, who wrote a book about the subject but seemed bemused by the sudden embrace of the notion by Mr. Sarkozy. As commentators have pointed out, as a new way of looking at the world’s problems, the idea of a “politics of civilization” deserves to be taken very seriously. But as an instant new political ideology or route-map, it has its limitations.

“I think he is trapped by his circumstances and by all his quantitative promises that he cannot deliver,” Mr. Morin was quoted as saying on France Inter radio afterward, acknowledging that he considered Mr. Sarkozy a “brilliant strategist.” Mr. Sarkozy later invited Prof. Morin to the Élysée Palace for a chat.

“The President is an elastic personality, always in movement. He hasn’t grasped yet how radical an idea a ‘politics of civilization’ would be,” Prof. Morin is later reported to have said. “What is going through the head of the President and his advisers is a complete mystery to me. Either this is just verbiage which means nothing or he has undergone some kind of profound conversion.”

Edgar Morin, made his reputation with a series of books about the complexity of nature and the human mind. The phrase the “politics of civilisation” comes from an essay, Pour une politique de civilisation, which he wrote with Sami Nair in 1997. The book has been largely ignored in France but has influenced politicians – mostly of the moderate, new Left – in Italy, Spain and Latin America. Prof. Morin argues for a new approach to politics, replacing an endless drive for economic growth, with a quest for well-being and contentment. The search for “quality” of life should replace the search for “quantity”. The obsession with “growth” in the abstract, driven by markets, should give way to targeted growth and targeted shrinkage of the undesirable and the unsustainable, from cars to air travel. “Quantity has not brought the promised quality of life,” he writes. “The appetite for accumulation… has not produced the happiness of which we dreamed.” Compiled from various news reports, January 2008

 

Publication Details

 
Paperback ISBN:
978-1-84519-275-4
 
 
Page Extent / Format:
240 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
 
Release Date:
July 2008
  Illustrated:   No
 
Hardback Price:
£17.95 / $32.50
 
 

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