Book Review By Weldon Kees

Excerpt from review of Arnold A. Hutschnecker

Love and Hate in Human Nature

April 3, 1955

San Francisco Examiner

[this is one of last reviews that Kees would write before his disappearance]

In our present atmosphere of distrust, violence, and irrationality, with so many human beings murdering others and themselves – either literally or symbolically – Dr. Hutschnecker’s book has appeared, offering itself as a work that will "help you find a happier life by recognizing and resolving … your basic loves and hates." …

Doctor Hutschnecker offers self knowledge as a set of rules, a gimmick, essentially, and concludes with a list of numbered "basic beliefs" to get us through these times of strain. "Respect for Life," "Reason for Life," "Responsibility," "Tolerance," "Adjustment" are some of them – and there are probably not many who will deny that these are all qualities worth attaining.

Presented as they are here, however, "self-knowledge" is turned into a mere by-product of "modern psychology," with the doctor’s assumption that "we are now able to penetrate the mystery of the unconscious self."

Have we? Has Doctor Hutschnecker? Socrates, Proust and Coleridge, for instance, had more "self-knowledge" and knew more at first hand of love and hate than the doctor will ever know; they also wrote very well indeed unlike the Doctor; and never believed for a moment that "self-knowledge" could save them – or us.

With all his wisdom, Socrates had one of the most horrendous domestic lives on record and was sentenced to death for his i9deas; Proust’s masterpiece came out of an existence of incredible emotional suffering; Coleridge found release in opium.

The liberal assumption that self-knowledge will lead to "adjustment" and "happiness" is a curious one. …

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