From Library Journal
For Jungian analyst Gellert (Modern Mysticism: Jung, Zen and the Still Good Hand of God), America is at a fateful crossroads: will it allow the vision of its Founding Fathers "to be diffused through the cults of novelty, freedom, happiness or prosperity," or will it reconnect to its spiritual roots "moral integrity and integrity of good, balanced living"? Gellert contrasts the overlapping and competing visions of Adams and Jefferson by portraying Jefferson's philosophy of freedom as the absence of restrictions by the church and state and Adams's as a reflection of "interior integrity" based on one's character and ethics. Using this analysis as a backdrop, Gellert identifies and examines a host of contemporary U.S. problems emanating from the individualistic Jeffersonian philosophy, including an "addiction to innocence" (things are the way they appear) and an "addiction to height" (a need to express heroic visions through materialistic reaches toward the heavens e.g., skyscrapers and space programs). In separate chapters, he also discusses the embrace of what he terms "cults," which results in simplistic beliefs in celebrity, religious fundamentalism along with religious mediocrity, and the valuing of individual passion ("getting high"). Lost in all this focus on the self is character, ethics, and integrity the "vision thing." A broad-ranging, cogently argued, and provocative critique that has taken on a whole new dimension since September 11. For most academic libraries and larger public libraries. Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa Coll., Lib., CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
What's wrong with the U.S.? Jungian analyst and professor Gellert maintains that we're suffering a crisis of heroism: our "heroic ideal" is too simplistic and immature for the nation and the times; in fact, it poses a serious threat to our democracy. Gellert traces the history of the American heroic ideal (the revolutionary, the frontiersman, the cowboy). More significantly, he examines the consequences of this youth-obsessed vision: addiction to "height" (making cults of prosperity, speed, celebrity, fundamentalism, drugs) and innocence (making cults of novelty, freedom, and happiness and refusing to deal with evidence of our own capacity for evil in, for example, racism, war, and imperialism). It is the implosion of this innocence, Gellert argues, that produces the "ossification of authority" and the cult of cynicism that govern current political and social discourse. Like the mythic heroes, he suggests, Americans must sacrifice innocence to achieve a deeper, more satisfying understanding of the meaning of the American enterprise. Mary CarrollCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved