|Van Wishard has been a
friend and mentor since 1987. Some say he is the best lay exponent of Carl
Jung's ideas in America
who's speaking and writing today. For why
they believe that, see the two links at the end of this document. And this
Q&A has three purposes: (1) to
offer an example to young writers who rely on experience and intuition as
opposed to research or ideology; (2)
to show my editorial clientele what a "whole professional life" transcript
looks and feels like; and (3) to
reach out to Jungians who see their mission and methods as going beyond the
realm of individual psychology.
Wishard's 2000 book is Between Two Ages, acclaimed by Daniel Bell, Harvard's foremost sociologist since the 1950s and the man who coined the term "post-industrial society"; and several others. The book works well as social and technological history, and also as a form of civilizational diagnosis: "We are asking ourselves questions no generation before has had to consider: As technology takes over ever more of our work, what are humans for? What does it mean to be a human being in a world of total technical possibility? Indeed, are the warnings of technological extinction credible, and if so, what do we do about them? Is this the end? Or, in some unknown way, could it be the opening of an era of even greater human awareness and possibility? Certainly new human capacities, scientific insights, forms of wealth, modes of production and organization, and patterns of social relationship, as well as expressions of individual and collective belief, have been taking the place of an earlier America. But just what kind of 'civilization' is emerging is open to question..."
Yet this Q&A isn't about the book, as much as it is the life and times that led to his being able to produce such an ambitious work. Van's writings can be mind-blowing – he means them to be. In person, though, he is warm and relaxed. A confident but also private man, this is the first time Van has explained his nearly six decades of exploration and intuition in ways that (a) convey how to let "writing" finds it course through you; and (b) show why world trends are best understood with no blinders.
What has Van done since
experiencing the ruins of postwar Germany in the late ‘40s? His
favorite two words are Assimilator and Articulator. He disdains
the term "intellectual" if applied to himself and, though principled and
rigorous, does not adhere to what anyone would view as an "ideology." If you
are 35 or under, and think you might have a life's mission to discover and
explain new realities, you will be heartened by Van's professional path. What flourishes is "spirit" more than "system," when you are a
person of this nature. Very little seems cut-and-dried while it's happening to
you, or around you, but eventually – yes, it does come together.
The bulk of what follows is from a somewhat tightened-up recording made December
15, 2004, in
FRANK GREGORSKY: We'll start with early life experiences and move to service in the federal government. You have seen most of the questions in advance, but not this opening one: Did anyone give you a diary -- meaning a blank book with dated pages and no other markers -- as a kid?
VAN WISHARD: No, that never happened. I wish it had.
GREGORSKY: Then what was your earliest affinity or connection with the written word?
Well, I was not a very good student. In study hall, instead of doing algebra
and Latin, I would read poetry. I loved poetry (and history as well). I'd sit
there and memorize poetry. Kipling was a great favorite, and
My senior thesis -- such as it is at a public high school -- was on Winston Churchill. This was 1950, and I was fascinated by him. Time magazine chose him as the Man of the Half-Century, so that [issue] became a resource. But I had lived through the Second World War, and Churchill was Churchill.
GREGORSKY: Hold on. You were born in 1930. Why was a 12th-grade thesis being generated in 1950, when you'd have been 20 or nearly that age?
WISHARD: Well, it should have been
written in 1948. But after my junior year at a boarding school in
GREGORSKY: Good. We'll
get to that stint in Germany. Any dramatic memories from 1945 [when you were 15] --
WISHARD: At school, we had a map of
the world on the wall. We'd follow various battles. I remember the bombing of
the oil fields in Romania.
You were growing up in
No, this is
GREGORSKY: Lots of political exposure during this time of national crisis?
Some. The earlier Japanese ambassador was a very close friend of our family's.
He had worked to improve relations with the U.S. Upon being recalled because he
wasn't "hard" enough, he came out to our house with his wife. I wanted to give
him my most precious possession: A cigar box full of Wendell Willkie buttons.
That was my departing gift to Kensuki Horonouchi.
CONFLICT-RESOLUTION AND NATION-BUILDING
GREGORSKY: What did your father do?
For his whole career, he was a senior executive with Moral Rearmament (which is
how I got into it). He was assigned to
GREGORSKY: Was Moral Rearmament [MRA] something like World Vision is today? Part religious advocacy, part good works? How would you describe it?
WISHARD: Yeah [slight laugh]. It was different things at different times. It began as a spiritual-renewal organization, in the early 1920s, called the Oxford Group. It didn't become "Moral Rearmament" until 1939. U.S. News covered the American launch of "MRA" in Constitution Hall thoroughly, and President Roosevelt sent a message. During the War, it focused on bridging the divisions between labor and management -- in steel, shipping, and the airlines. So, labor relations, but based on a change in the spirit or heart of the individual [worker or manager].
By the time I got into it, it had morphed into what would be called today an NGO -- non-governmental organization -- for conflict-resolution and nation-building.
GREGORSKY: Who was the founder and/or chief spokesman?
WISHARD: The founder was Frank Buchman. He was living in England at the time. The focus there was [war preparation]. Buchman's point was: Yes we do need military rearmament, but we also -- as a civilization -- need moral and spiritual rearmament.
GREGORSKY: What kind of a man was Buchman?
WISHARD: In terms of understanding people, he was a genius. He lived up to Kipling's standard: "If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch." He had a very broad perspective, which might have triggered the original "what's happening to civilization" [inquiry] with me. In the early '30s, he was discussing a crumbling western civilization. Buchman did not have Carl Jung's psychological understanding, but he knew that western civilization needed some kind of moral and spiritual renewal to survive.
GREGORSKY: Did he come out of the church? Out of academia?
GREGORSKY: So you could be a secular person and still find a place in Moral Rearmament?
WISHARD: Absolutely. Gandhi was a great supporter of what Buchman was doing. Leaders in Norway said Buchman's work ended up being vital to building the backbone of the resistance [during Nazi occupation].
GREGORSKY: Is there a good biography of Buchman?
Yes. Frank Buchman's Secret by Peter
Howard is a good one.
EUROPE, KOREA, SOUTH AFRICA
GREGORSKY: What came next, in terms of literary awakening or discovery?
WISHARD: I remained a poor student. Not motivated, and I never had a teacher who really interested me. This is so embedded in my psyche, because I feel for the kids in school now who don't have a teacher that turns them on to learning, to life. Mother used to read to me, and I read some historical novels, but -- my life totally changed at 18.
Moral Rearmament was asked to go into Germany by Lucius Clay, the High Commissioner running the American Occupation. A task force of 150 people was using the theater to get across democratic themes and reestablish contact with the German people. We were the first civilian group to go into Germany after the war. My father had gotten me a job as assistant to the camera man with this task force.
Seeing Germany in 1948 totally reoriented
my life. Seeing cities that were 95% destroyed -- it just was a wake-up call.
Then I spent a year in
GREGORSKY: You got a Bronze Star for service in Korea. Enlisted? Drafted?
I was actually drafted from
GREGORSKY: How did you deal with the confinements and rigidities of military training?
WISHARD: [Pause] It's funny -- I was known for reading in the military. It kept me going intellectually, I had no problem adapting to military discipline. I volunteered to go to Korea, much to my parents' dismay.
GREGORSKY: Why that decision?
It was two-fold. I wanted to see
GREGORSKY: How long a recovery time?
WISHARD: About two months. I went back to my company, I went back to my platoon – in fact the first patrol I took out [after returning] was right back to the exact spot where I'd been wounded. In retrospect, it was crazy for them to have me do that. It set up real problems, emotionally. I went to the company commander and asked for another assignment. Told him: "I'm too shaky to take these guys out." They moved me from being in charge of a rifle platoon to being in charge of a heavy-weapons platoon, where I didn't have to go out on patrol.
During 1954-57, Van worked with Moral Rearmament in South Africa. It was "part of the nation-building phase" of that
organization, to construct "some kind of bridge between the Africans and
the Afrikaans." His first written commentary was published in the Johannesburg
Star during the Fall
of 1956. Being in
WISHARD: The three years in South Africa really rehabilitated me. From a physical, mental and moral standpoint, [the time there] was a turning point.
It was good [to have distance from] the main body of Moral
Rearmament, which was growing at a colossal pace. Not only that, but I started
reading de Tocqueville. I'd seen
I came back to the States in '57 -- basically, to propose to Anne. We got married in November. We continued working together with Moral Rearmament.
"Anne" is Anne Twitchell, whom Van had known since they were 11. One of her more interesting assignments for Moral Rearmament was being the translator for a French Parliamentarian who served in the "underground" during the war and saw her son tortured by the Nazis. This woman toured Europe discussing reconciliation and eventually delivered a spectacular apology – to the German people, for the hatred she had held for much of their society during some 15 years. Anne and Van were living in Los Angeles in 1962, when Frank Buchman died, and the remaining leaders of Moral Rearmament sought new situations...
UP WITH PEOPLE, WATTS HIGH SCHOOL
WISHARD: Peter Howard encouraged one of the vice-presidents, Blanton Belk, to focus on American youth. Several of us moved with him to start Up With People.
Up With People came to my high school in
We didn't start out by saying "Okay, let's start Up With
People." It just happened. In 1964, we had a conference of a thousand
college student leaders in
The whole idea was Up with People, not up with this theory
or that theory or what have you. Someone saw the musical show and said
"this has potential; let's take it around
Then a U.S. Congressman from
GREGORSKY: Wait a minute, Allen "was conducting" when he was four?!?
GREGORSKY: Okay. Well, I'll take your word on that.
WISHARD: Well, I have seen newspaper articles with his picture doing it. I can't vouch for the quality of his conducting, but --
GREGORSKY: He held the baton.
He held the baton, for the kids, who were playing their instruments. I mean,
these were all little geniuses. Anyway, we brought [Up With
of those officials introduced us to foundations and corporations, who would
contribute in kind -- because [going national] meant putting 300 kids on the
road for a year, and some of them were still in high school. The Schick
Corporation put on a national TV program of Up With
People on CBS. And we went to
GREGORSKY: At that point, were black students part of the cast?
Minimally. Maybe two or three. And for the first half
of this show at
GREGORSKY: As a mass!
WISHARD: They were trying to absorb, understand and feel. What's this all about? What is this crowd I'm listening to?
GREGORSKY: Then the dramatic switch. Must've have been a dozen or two "leaders" who signaled, during the break: "I think these dudes are okay."
WISHARD: I don't know what they discussed during intermission. But, from the beginning of the second half, it was total transformation.
GREGORSKY: As Up With People became a full-time occupation, what were your duties?
WISHARD: At the beginning there was no clear management delineation -- you just did what needed to be done. As an example, we needed tractor-trailers to carry around all the stage equipment and musical instruments, and not just for one cast but for three. Gradually, I took charge of all scheduling as to where the three casts would go. This meant developing the support in each city -- newspapers or civic clubs would invite us in -- plus managing public relations and managing the schedule of the casts while they were in that city. In addition to the show, what would they do? What should be their learning experience in that city?
We also started developing the rest of the world. So one cast would go to Latin America or
GREGORSKY: Okay, we've got the origins, the structure, the geography. Give us a deeper sense of the content. What other messages [besides racial openness] were in the program?
WISHARD: The program itself was the message. The aim was to take young people and put them in a global setting. Remember, many were still in high school, and we had teachers with them. But we wanted to give them a global setting, expose them to other cultures, and teach them specific skills. For instance, if a student showed an interest in public relations, they would be on the public-relations team that would go to the next city, under our supervision.
Moral Rearmament tended to have a very specific message; Up With People didn't -- the experience was the message: What
the kids got out of being in
GREGORSKY: How did the kids who performed here in the U.S., as writers/singers/musicians, deal with the crisis and controversy of the Vietnam War?
WISHARD: [Pause] Nothing political [was in the songs]. If anything, it was support of the troops. At least once if not several times, Up With People played in all of the military academies; and it was a big hit on military bases. One song was "Freedom Isn't Free." Paul Caldwell wrote that song; he came up with that phrase, which has since become [a national staple].
Later on, when the counterculture exploded more, Up With People was seen by some of the media as a bit of a right-wing element.
GREGORSKY: Was that unfair in your opinion?
WISHARD: Yes -- well, it was a matter of what you thought about Vietnam. Up With People was absolutely apolitical -- no pro or con on any political issues. That was intentional; we had a different mission.
SETTLE DOWN, BUT KEEP MANAGING: 1970-76
By the end of 1969, the Wishards had two children – Van Jr. and Diana. Now 39, in
part to make room for younger managers in the organization, Van looked to move
on, although "I didn't really know what I wanted to do." A headhunter
suggested government service. This person's old college classmate, Don
Rumsfeld, was running the OEO -- Office of Economic
Don had seen Up With People somewhere, and liked it very much. So he agreed to see me. I was hired as his assistant for his public-speaking schedule. They thought this was a natural fit, as I had done so much advance work with Up with People.
GREGORSKY: Another future GOP star, Dick Cheney, was all of 30 at that point. What was his role in the Rumsfeld OEO shop?
WISHARD: Cheney was Rumsfeld's primary assistant. There were always hot political issues involving the OEO – issues with Congress, state Governors, the African-American or Hispanic communities, etc. Cheney kept Don advised of these issues, both substantially and politically. Dick had far more authority in the OEO than you might expect an assistant to have, especially politically. In many ways he had more authority than the Deputy Director or senior staff did.
Three months [after I was hired], Don and Dick moved to the White House to set up the Cost Of Living Council.
GREGORSKY: The COLC was the enforcement, or at least the monitoring, group for the Nixon policy of wage-and-price controls.
WISHARD: Right. And not going with them to the White House was good, because I could not have taken the political pressure of working in the White House. So they went on to the White House – this was '71. Rumsfeld's successor [at OEO] was Frank Carlucci.
GREGORSKY: I never knew he worked there. So you worked with three [future] Defense Secretaries -- Cheney and Rumsfeld, then Carlucci.
WISHARD: Yeah. My primary work for the rest of the time at OEO was as Executive Secretary. That position meant supervising the flow of written communication with all OEO constituencies, especially the Congress.
In 1973, I moved to the President's Council on Minority Business. This was a council of prominent business leaders set up to advise the President on developing minority business, and it was run by the Commerce Department. After Watergate broke out, nobody in the White House had the slightest interest in minority business.
Watergate drove Nixon from the Presidency in August 1974, and Gerald Ford took over. Still at Commerce, Van worked with Elliott Richardson and Jim Baker on public hearings around the country to get business input on Administration policies affecting business and the economy.
I became the director of this public hearing program. Jim Baker and other Commerce Department officials would visit various cities to meet with representatives from different constituent groups.
GREGORSKY: You know, this is a whole side of you I had not appreciated -- at all. If you take Up With People, the advance work for Rumsfeld, and this [program at Commerce], you were a nuts-and-bolts operations guy for at least 10 years.
GREGORSKY: Not an intellectual, not a truth-seeker, but somebody who made the trains move while avoiding crashes. Did you like doing that?
WISHARD: Yes -- I did. That wasn't my favorite time in the federal government. But I had a family, I needed an income. I was also very conscious of "this is not what I want to be doing with my whole life." In my mind I was reaching out: Where can I do what I want to do? What will let me make the contribution I'm meant to make? Nothing sort of arose, but I don't think any job description would have fit what I really wanted to do in life.
GREGORSKY: What did you want to be doing?
great example is my visit with Will and Ariel Durant. In 1975 I went to
Will Durant is one of the authentic American giants of the 20th century. It's not just that he wrote over 30 books, including The Story of Civilization. For me, he was a man for all ages. He possessed a perspective on life which saw contemporary events as the latest effort of 35 centuries of human endeavor. Having read at least 15 of Durant's books, I wanted to meet him personally, and perhaps write a story about him. So I had written Will Durant asking for an interview, and he had graciously replied, "Come any time."
"BASIC INSTITUTIONS OF ORDER" ARE FALLING AWAY
As we entered his living room, his wife Ariel joined us, and I gave her a box of a dozen roses I had bought for her to honor the Durants' 62nd wedding anniversary, which just happened to fall on the day I was visiting them.
The story of the Durants' romance is classic. He was teaching
philosophy at the
So her father gave his blessing, the civil wedding took place, and Ida Kaufman became Ariel Durant, Ariel being the name Will Durant had chosen for his bride.
Of course, anyone talking with Will Durant asks what made him
embark on such a Herculean task as writing The
Story of Civilization. Like many great achievements, it started as a dream.
In 1912, Durant, while traveling in Syria, was reading Buckles' History of Civilization in England. This
was one volume of what Buckles had hoped would be a total history of
civilization. But Buckles died of dysentery in
What Durant wanted to do was to write what he called an "integral history" of civilization; to write the history of civilization not by areas in a succession of time, but to write history latitudinally – horizontally, you might say -- by describing all the aspects of a civilization over a given period in a specific territory. He wanted to show the interrelation between all the elements that make up an era and a people, between the state and religion, between literature and philosophy. Durant cited his book, The Life of Greece, as an example, as a view of the unified development of all phases of Greek civilization operating in unison and in interrelation.
That was the dream while traveling in Syria. However, it was 14 years
before Will Durant could embark on his dream. In the interim, he earned his
This becomes quite a story. When Will and Ariel were married in 1913, he was making $75 a month, mainly from lecturing. Two lectures a week, five dollars a lecture. Then some jobs tutoring as well. Philosophy, of course, was the subject of his lectures: Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Spinoza, and right on down to John Dewey.
One day in 1921, a publisher in
Schuster told Durant the book would sell at least 1,700 copies. Durant scoffed and said it wouldn't sell over 1,000. The Story of Philosophy was an immense success, eventually selling well over two million copies (and still in print). That was Durant's first book, and it established him an author of substance and thought. It was, as well, Simon and Schuster's first "blockbuster" book, transforming them into a substantial publishing house.
The financial success of The Story of Philosophy enabled Will Durant to start writing The Story of Civilization. The first volume, Our Oriental Heritage, was published in 1935, and the final and 11th volume, The Age of Napoleon, in 1975. I had taken a copy of The Age of Napoleon with me to the interview, and Will Durant graciously inscribed it for me.
After Durant finished conveying the saga of The Story of Civilization, our conversation turned to what was
going on in America.
"Liberty in America," Durant said, "has
now run wild, and the three basic institutions of order -- the church, the
family and education -- have lost their efficacy." Then, talking to himself
as much as to me, he asked, "Will the moral structure of our life survive
without a religious belief to support it?" This, from a man
who had quit studying for the priesthood in his early years because he had lost
his faith while reading
Durant answered his own question: "No. All the moral codes of
history have been supported by a religious belief, and that's why the state
always recognized religion. Even Napoleon came to terms with the Catholic
Church after religion had been abolished during the French Revolution."
But, being Will Durant, it was not just a question of religion. It was a question as well of the unity of life. "You see," he said, "we are shattered fragments who are looking for something to bring us together again. In the future, we shall have to establish that total vision which unifies purposes and establishes the hierarchy of desires."
These were not new concerns for Will Durant, for as he had watched new scientific knowledge and consumer conveniences put new powers in the hands of average Americans in the 1920s, he had written, "Knowledge is power, but only wisdom is liberty."
All through these conversations, Ariel sat quietly listening, ever the student, but ever ready with her own penetrating observations. There was a charm and grace about this pair and their relationship together that was almost of another age. Yet Durant was given to this age, the age of individualism and disorder. He somehow felt he had a unique task: To help us understand the lessons of history in the hope that we shall somehow, at last, civilize man.
Flying back to
And what do I feel I gained from Will Durant? He immeasurably enriched
my life. He deepened my awareness of how civilized life has unfolded,
particularly in its Western manifestation. Even more, he inspired me to delve
into people whose names were common coinage, but whose thought and writings I
had not previously absorbed -- Goethe, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Spinoza, Pascal,
Will Durant is one of those 20th-century Americans who will be relevant for as long as people seek to know the story and meaning of the human journey.
DICK MORRIS AND NORMAN COUSINS
Gerald Ford narrowly lost to Jimmy Carter in November 1976. During the Carter-Mondale Administration, Van was mostly independent, but not right away. He worked for Anne Wexler at Commerce into July of ‘77 and did some speechwriting for her boss, Secretary Juanita Kreps...
WISHARD: Finally I was out of the Commerce Department -- they were not going to keep a [Republican] holdover indefinitely. So I started writing speeches as a consultant. Wrote one for Ed Muskie, one for Pete Du Pont, and one for the chairman of Monsanto. This didn't cover all the bills, but it brought in something.
GREGORSKY: Did you consider writing your own book in the late '70s?
WISHARD: Not then, no.
GREGORSKY: Other than trying to put some of the right thoughts and words in the mouths of powerful people, were there ways for you to get your ideas out?
Oh yes, and it was a productive period. Dressner, Morris and Tortorello -- DMT
-- was a public opinion research firm in
But the 11-page article Haynes Johnson referred to was titled, "The 1980s: American Purpose in a Time of Troubles." It had three sections: "Signposts of the '70s," "Against a Larger Backdrop," and "Towards an Uncertain Future." The first section dealt with the Arab oil embargo and its consequences, the U.S. defeat in Vietnam, the emergence of what appeared to be structural inflation, the changing monetary system in light of closing the gold window in '71, certainly Watergate, and finally, what I believe to be a time of "endings" and "beginnings."
GREGORSKY: What did you take to be the essence of that somewhat disorienting decade?
WISHARD: In my view, the hallmark of the '70s was a sense of being caught between two epochs -- one which had served its purpose and was fading into history, and the other which was struggling for shape and direction.
The search for the substance of a new time expressed itself in varied ways -- for new energy sources, for a new international financial arrangement, for surcease from the complexities and confusions of bigness and rapid change, for the application of new technologies to solve old problems, for a simpler life style, for something to fill the void left by the evaporation of old beliefs. From disco to the born-again evangelicals, people were searching to fill an inner emptiness caused, in part, by the culmination of trends that had gathered momentum for most of the 20th century. The rest of the article developed and expanded these themes.
You know, we totally forget what the '70s was like. But when you look at what happened, there was massive social reorientation, which continues today, only at a vastly accelerated pace. This article was read widely, and probably received the widest acclaim of anything I had written up to that point.
The 1970s were as you say, and it's just as sound to argue that they were
followed by two strong decades. America
wised up. We recovered our foreign-policy focus under Reagan and unraveled the
The part of your presentation that always throws me off is the contention that things get weirder and weirder, change faster and faster, or that the average American is walking around disoriented and bleeding. Kooks and crazies have always been with us, but a free nation learns from its mistakes -- even while cooking up new ones.
Bottom line, it strikes me as a "tyranny of the now" conceit that we are living with unprecedented change. Between 1939 and '46, 65 million people perished -- but today we have it hectic, huh? Even if we do, in a few new ways, this is a resilient society. American history suggests we eventually get it right. In fact, if we would throw the TV set in the trash and quit flipping through those images, we'd see how structured and stable the country truly is. Ever wonder how much of the "chaotic change" mindset comes simply from hyperactive TV programming?
WISHARD: I'm not going down that path and try to "prove" life is going to hell in a handbasket. I could summon a ton of quotes (from the Journal and other conservative sources) if I were to play that game. Of course there are short-term ebbs and flows. Of course a lot of positive things are happening all the time. The human spirit constantly seeks, strives and reaches forward, even in the most difficult of times.
Yet, when 46 million Americans -- according to Time magazine -- believe the world will literally come to an end in your and my lifetime, and in the lifetime of your readers, then something unprecedented is happening. Yes, "unprecedented."
Frank, it's very difficult to gain a full appreciation of what America and the world are experiencing if one's frame of reference is simply the past election cycle or the past decade, or even the past two decades. If my basic contention -- that we're in the midst of one of the most profound moments of technical change and spiritual reorientation in human history -- is accurate, then to adequately assess such a reality requires a perspective that encompasses at least a century. That's why the first 18 chapters of my book, Between Two Ages, are a summary of the 20th century -- so that the reader is given the background and perspective needed to absorb what the book's final chapter is all about.
GREGORSKY: Well, good thing we don't have to solve this here! I'll read Ben Wattenberg for reassurances about American society and your writings to get clear about whatever's coming that has no precedent, and I'll recommend this balance to others. We're about to move into the 1980s, and the really productive part of your time in the federal government. Any other literary notes, though, from the ‘70s?
In 1973, after Rumsfeld had gone to the White House and Carlucci had moved to
HEW, Phil Sanchez was OEO director and I was Executive Secretary at OEO. One day I had a call from Norman Cousins, former editor of Saturday Review and then editor of World magazine. Someone in the
State Department had sent him an unpublished monograph I had written, and
Cousins wanted to talk. So I went to see him in
GREGORSKY: In the mid-1970s was that anything much of an issue? I never paid any attention to it [as a Capitol Hill staffer] until 1985.
WISHARD: And [as of 1973] I knew absolutely zip about the subject – but said I certainly would be interested in writing such an article.
GREGORSKY: Sure, because here was a solid opportunity.
took 10 days leave from the OEO; read everything about FDI [foreign direct
investment] in the U.S.
I could get my hands on; interviewed execs of some British firm located in
Shortly after the article appeared, someone in the USIA [United States Information Agency] asked me to come over. I went, and he said they had read the article, that it was the most "succinct and comprehensive" piece on foreign investment in the U.S. they had seen. They wanted to (1) send the article to all USIA libraries around the world as the latest word on FDI in the U.S., and (2) they wanted to interview me on the subject for a world broadcast of VOA. Both were done.
A few weeks later I was visiting Cousins in his
After President Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, Van rejoined the Commerce Department. He become one of the first executive-branch analysts to bore into the concept of "competitiveness." This meant "looking at the totality of what an Administration does that affects our trade relationships." Not just in the narrow sense [of trade balances] but "what are we doing to create a better educated workforce? How does what corporations have to put into defense of legal issues affect us?" Wishard thereby assembled a dozen "traditional but non-traditional components" that became a "competitive strategy." This gave the executive branch a rebuttal to Democrat Party calls for industrial policy and corporate subsidies.
COMMERCE AND THE PERSPECTIVES SERIES, 1984-89
GREGORSKY: That brings us to the PERSPECTIVES series. What year did it start?
WISHARD: Eighty-four was the first one.
GREGORSKY: Was it your idea? Did someone propose it? How did it get started?
WISHARD: I had a habit of reading as much as possible.
GREGORSKY: And you finally had the right job for that!
Well, I did [laughter]. Looking back on my career, prior to '89, these years of
the second stint in Commerce were the most fulfilling and most productive. I
was reading everything I could get my hands own: Technology, economics,
GREGORSKY: Your boss at this time was?
WISHARD: [Former Ohio Congressman] Bud Brown was Deputy Secretary of Commerce. With this publication, though, I was acting totally on my own, although Brown knew what I was doing.
GREGORSKY: "On your own," yet it was assembled during the day, and came out under Commerce auspices, right?
WISHARD: It looked like a Commerce Department production, with a plastic spiral binding. I sent it around to a lot of people -- probably more than a hundred.
GREGORSKY: Did you have to clear it, page by page, with any kind of review group?
WISHARD: Nobody [in the Department] ever saw it. Never talked to anybody about it. I just did it.
So I did another one the next year. And that second one was sent to Peter Drucker. That's when he called. Very funny, I pick up the phone, and [hear this Austrian accent]: "This is Peter Drucker speaking..." He said it was one of the finest things of its kind he'd seen, and could he please have six more copies.
Well, after that I thought: If Peter Drucker calls, you know you've got something here. So I did two or three more, for each of the following years. One of the last ones I did, you guys [Rep. Jerry Lewis and staff director Bob Okun, House Republican Policy Committee] sent to every Member of Congress.
GREGORSKY: That would have been PERSPECTIVES '88.
WISHARD: The chairman of the board of Monsanto saw it and asked how could he help get this out. I said, "Well, if you'd like to subsidize [and] send out copies to the 300 leading thought leaders of America..." He did. I also sent a copy to a friend in Japan who was a managing director with Matshusita. He gave it to the head of the Japan Standards Board, which was the same as our Bureau that oversees industrial standards. They wanted to publish it as a book -- if he would write the first section. So he did, and the book became [a bestselling business title] in Japan.
GREGORSKY: How did you pick the title?
WISHARD: He picked the title, or they picked the title.
GREGORSKY: Obviously it didn't make any sense for you to proofread the galleys [laughter].
GREGORSKY: What would you like to put on record about [Commerce Secretary Malcolm] "Mac" Baldrige the man?
He was a very unassuming person, very low-key, but still an iron will. We
happened to be on the elevator one time. I knew of his love of horses. So I
told him of my time in
So, quite approachable.But not in the sense of being sociable. At the Christmas parties, he wasn't the effervescent outgoing type. He was hugely respected. In the Department itself, I'd say he was respected not loved -- which is probably the way you want it to be.
GREGORSKY: People paid attention to Commerce when he ran it, which is not something you can say [of that agency] in other Administrations. And the irony is he died from a horsing accident.
WISHARD: Yeah -- but he died doing what he loved.
PERSONAL OPTIONS "BETWEEN TWO AGES"
GREGORSKY: We're switching back to the zone of writing and managing one's literary side. Now, a week ago you said to me, in effect: "Well, I'll go along with your interview. We've been friends for a long time, I'll see if I can help. But this inquiry into process, how one goes about writing and where to look for inspiration" -- you were skeptical as to whether we'd get [produce much of a transcript] by focusing on those things. Fair statement?
GREGORSKY: To my surprise, you actually address this very question on your own website. A section there is entitled "Helpful Hints for Living Between Two Ages." It has 10 or 12 recommended courses of action -- for individuals. It seems to me that a lot of these would also bolster somebody looking for inspiration, direction, ideas -- looking to attach words to feelings.
Now, you obviously have done these things. You couldn't recommend them to the rest of us otherwise. And you must have used some of these behaviors as direct or indirect sources of literary inspiration.
WISHARD: I may well have. But -- if I use any one of those points, I don't say: "All right, now I'm using Point #1." I just do it; I don't think about it. It's not a defined, articulated method.
GREGORSKY: So [that document with the URL above] is not in any sense a "menu" you have used when trying to get something on paper?
WISHARD: No. It's what I have "honed out" in trying to [balance my message] -- 'cause when I give a public talk, it can be for some people pretty depressing. Remember what Drucker said: "Anybody who says they're optimistic about the future doesn't understand what's going on." So it's very difficult give the kind of talk I give and not depress people. You've got to leave them with some positive action they can take. So that's how those "helpful hints" gradually evolved.
GREGORSKY: We do need that link in the published transcript. I contend that many of those steps, even though you didn't draft them for this purpose, will help writers get a handle on their ideas and start to put 'em in concrete terms.
HERMAN MELVILLE AND EDWARD EDINGER
GREGORSKY: What is the significance of [19th-century novelist Herman] Melville and his Moby Dick?
To my mind, and to others who have studied it, Moby Dick is the greatest American book ever written.
GREGORSKY: Wow, those are striking clarifiers – expansions of what I always took to be a well-written seamen's story.
WISHARD: All sorts of things like that are in Moby Dick.
GREGORSKY: If one knows how to read it.
WISHARD: Edward F. Edinger wrote a remarkably insightful assessment – the title of his book is Melville's Moby Dick: An American Nekyia.
GREGORSKY: What does that word mean?
WISHARD: "Nekyia" is Greek for "trip to the underworld" – or, in psychological terms, the collective unconscious. The book is a treasure trove of insights into Herman Melville, why and how Moby Dick was written, and what it reveals about the condition and direction of the American psyche in the mid-19th century -- especially the shift from an agricultural society to an industrial society.
GREGORSKY: Whaling as a profession was an established industry as of 1850, but the ship itself is [for that day] high technology?
WISHARD: Yeah. But the tradition within that industry was to kill only that number of whales which were really needed. Like the Indians only killing that number of buffalo they'd need to sustain themselves. Then the white man comes along, and thousands of buffalo are killed, simply for the profit. Well, this began to happen with the whaling industry as well.
GREGORSKY: What do we know about Melville the writer? I guess you've probably read a biography of him -- how much did he know of what he was telling?
WISHARD: Edinger says Melville did not know the full significance of what he was saying. And the psychological phenomenon of Moby Dick is that it was written in the same way Jung wrote Answer to Job and other great works of art came to be. Scientific research has been done [to show that] it's not a conscious process. It comes from the depths, somehow, and it just streams out -- and the author is taking down dictation, rather than intellectually writing a book. And that's the way Moby Dick was written.
GREGORSKY: Melville confirmed that?
WISHARD: Yep. Oh, Edinger goes deeply into Melville's history, in his [Edinger's] book.
GREGORSKY: What did you come to find about Edinger himself?
WISHARD: Until his death in 1998, Edinger was considered to be the "dean" of those psychologists and psychiatrists who believe "analytical psychology," developed by C.G. Jung, to be the most helpful approach to psychological development.
In fact, I can share a remarkable experience here. Edinger and I
were corresponding three years before I ever met him face to face. When we did
meet, in his home in
As we talked, the conversation turned to technology and what he felt very strongly were the harmful effects some technology was causing. I asked him what he thought was at the root of our technology addiction. He paused, and I felt him reaching deep within to let some thought bubble up. Then he said, "In 1957 Jung wrote a letter in which he said, 'Destruction is an unconscious goal of the collective unconscious at the present time...'"
Now that had been, before going to L.A., the exact sentence I had picked out of 1,200 pages of Jung's letters to ask Edinger about. What are the chances of that happening?
GREGORSKY: On the face of it, nil. But Jung's work can't be grasped at face value!
WISHARD: I asked Edinger if he would be willing for me to phone him from time to time -- just to talk over various issues, and get his interpretation of them from a psychological standpoint. During the following half-decade, I called him three or four times a year, and we had some amazing conversations.
After he died in '98, his partner told me that I was one of the very few people he would expend his energy on, as throughout those five years, he was slowly dying of cancer. (I never knew that until after he died.) But during that time, he read the manuscript of Between Two Ages just to help keep me honest in my comments on Jung and psychology.
I owe a lasting debt to him. He was, perhaps, the wisest man I
© 2005, Gregorsky Editorial Services
and World Trends Research
The final quarter-hour of my session with Van Wishard is offered here as a sound file. The discussion of Edinger, Melville and Moby Dick was the transition to Carl Jung's astonishing interview with H.R. Knickerbocker, which was published in a popular U.S. magazine in the late 1930s:
That exchange play a role in the creation of Wishard's latest analysis, which relates Jung's insights to the world crisis that looks to dominate the next decade:
In May of this year, he put this new offering in context:
Jung's professional career can be divided roughly into three parts.
The first part was his basic psychological work; this is when he developed most
of his basic, more conventional concepts. He also started his research into the
history of the psyche of the human race, which led to his trips to East Africa,
The third phase centered on Answer to Job and Jung's development of his theories about spiritual orientation, the God-image, and the role it plays. Most people understand the work of his first phase. Fewer understand his second phase. And comprehension of his work after 1950 is extremely limited. The two people who really comprehend this third phase and express it forcefully were Marie-Louise von Franz and Edward Edinger. My [latest] paper [see previous link] attempts to interpret the third phase in terms of what's happening in the world today.
But you need not have any background in Jung's work to appreciate how Van's perspective can benefit one of your audiences. To get a feel for what a Van Wishard presentation sounds like, in this case to U.S. Senators, try
Then use the home-page link to see how to invite him to speak.
Okay, we're complete. And I do appreciate your making it all the way to the end.
-- Frank Gregorsky, Thursday 8/4/2005