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Close Readings Modern Technique and Tradition

A teleological argument is an argument

about design and purpose. Teleology is the study of the
purpose, design, or goal of all things. The word has its
root in the Greek telos which means end, or final
Platos idea about the essence of things existing in
an idealized FORM, is a classic teleological argument
toward order in our world. Even though material things
are mere imperfect copies or shadows of the FORM of
the thing, the abstract ideal has an independent existence
that is shared with a particular quality in the thing-itself.

Eidos: ancient
Greek, FORM is
used by Plato to
refer to the
perfect and
Ideals or Forms,
of which the
things in the
world are but

The only people for me are the mad ones, the

ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be
saved, desirous of everything at the same time,
the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace
is real
may be
is thoughtyellow
may be said.
but burn,
like fabulous
be known
FORMS speak to the design of rationality.
-- "On The Road
Can we ever know BEAUTY? We can point to a beautiful
object and say that it shares certain aspects of the idealized
FORM of BEAUTY, yet knowing a beautiful thing in the
world is only a portion of BEAUTY itself. We can know the
image but not the ideal. There are underlying realities that
can be thought about, yet not perceived.

The word is a symbol and a delight which sucks up men and

scenes, trees, plants, factories, and Pekinese. Then the Thing
becomes the Word and back to Thing again, but warped and
woven into a fantastic pattern. The Word sucks up Cannery
Row, digests it and spews it out, and the Row has taken the
shimmer of the green world and the sky reflecting seas. Lee
Chong is more than a Chinese grocer. He must be. Perhaps
he is evil balanced and suspended by goodan Asiatic planet
held to its orbit by the pull of Lao Tze and held away from
Lao Tze by the centrifugality of abacus and cash register
Lee Chong suspended, spinning, whirling among groceries
and ghosts. A hard man with a can of beansa soft man with
the bones of his grandfather.

from Chapter 2 of Cannery Row

Mack and the boys, too, spinning in their orbits. They are the Virtues, the
Graces, the Beauties of the hurried mangled craziness of Monterey and the
cosmic Monterey where men in fear and hunger destroy their stomachs in the
fight to secure certain food, where men hungering for love destroy
everything lovable about them. Mack and the boys are the Beauties, the
Virtues , the Graces. In the world ruled by tigers with ulcers, rutted by
strictured bulls, scavenged by blind jackals, Mack and the boys dined
delicately with the tigers, fondle the frantic heifers, and wrap up the crumbs
to feed the sea gulls of Cannery Row. What can it profit a man to gain the
whole world and to come to his property with a gastric ulcer, a blown
prostate, and bifocals? Mack and the boys avoid the trap, walk around the
poison, step over the noose while a generation of trapped, poisoned, and
trussed-up men scream at them and call them no-goods, come-to-bad-ends,
blots-on-the-town, thieves, rascals, bums. Our Father who art in nature, who
has given the gift of survival to the coyote, the common brown rat, the
English sparrow, the house fly and the moth, must have a great and
overwhelming love for no-goods and blots-on-the-town and bums, and Mack
and the boys. Virtues and graces and laziness and zest. Our Father who art
in nature.

Imagine not being able to distinguish the real cause from that without which the
cause would not be able to act as a cause. It is what the majority appear to do,
like people groping in the dark; they call it a cause, thus giving it a name that
does not belong to it. That is why one man surrounds the earth with a vortex to
make the heavens keep in place, another makes the air support it like a wide lid.
As for their capacity of being in the best place they could possibly be put, this
they do not look for, nor do they believe it to have any divine force, but they
believe that they will some time discover a stronger and more immortal Atlas to
hold everything together more, and they do not believe that the truly good and
binding binds and holds them together.
from Platos Phaedo
If we try to attempt to explain Nature in terms of nature alone we are forced to
deny the ultimate binding Good in the universe. A thing may strive for
perfection of its form for its own sake, or for the sake of the larger purpose of
the Good.
Absolute Truth exists in the idealized world of the forms for the classic greek
teleologists. For Ed Ricketts and Steinbeck by extension teleology leads to
trouble they see men(society) interpreting the ultimate purpose for things in
a destructive and non-sustainable manner leading to war, the destruction of
our environment, etc. Ricketts wrote about a non-teleological view of the
world a world that avoided the cognitive hubris that saturated the 20 th C.

And it is a strange thing that most of the feeling we call

religious, most of the mystical outcrying which is one of the most
prized and used and desired reactions of our species, is really the
understanding and the attempt to say that man is related to the
whole thing, related inextricably to all reality, known and
unknowable. This is a simple thing to say, but the profound
feeling of it made a Jesus, a St. Augustine, a St. Francis, a Roger
Bacon, a Charles Darwin, and an Einstein. Each of them in his
own tempo and with his own voice discovered and reaffirmed
with astonishment the knowledge that all things are one thing and
that one thing is all things Ed Ricketts by asserting that
they all are of value, advocates a non-teleological stance he
saw himself on a search for a transcendent view of the natural
world and our place within compare him to Siddhartha
Ricketts is half-Christ and half-satyr as Doc in Cannery Row

Ricketts in his own way

wanted to reconcile the
differences between
Religion and Science.
One of his fascinations
was with art, literature
and poetry. He believed
that one could predict all
scientific discoveries by
looking at the poems of
the preceding




Ricketts classified organisms as

being part of an ecology:
relationship to the outer world,
and its biotic (social
relationships) and physical
environment. An
interconnected web of life.
Habitat plays an important role
in the development of species.

Non Hierarchical
Non Teleological

of the race; I say

Humanity is the mould to break away from, the crust to break through, the coal to break into fire,
The atom to be split
Tragedy that breaks mans face and a white fire flies out of it; vision
that fools him
Out of his limits, desire that fools him out of his limits, unnatural crime, inhuman science,
Slit eyes in the mask; wild loves that leap over the walls of nature, the wild fence-vaulter science,
Useless intelligence of far stars, dim knowledge of the spinning demons that make an atom,
These break, these pierce, these deify, praising their God shrilly with fierce voices; not in a mans
He approves the praise, he that walks lighting-naked on the Pacific, that laces the suns with planets,
The heart of the atom with electrons: what is humanity in this cosmos? For him, the last
Least taint of a trace in the dregs of the solution; for itself, the mould to break away from, the coal
To break into fire, the atom to be split.

from Robinson Jefferss Roan Stallion

Jeffers idea of inhumanism reflects some of the ideals of Ricketts, Steinbeck,
Campbell mankind has defiled nature they came to different conclusions about the
fate of man, but all were concerned with nuclear destruction remember Cannery Row
was published in 1945 the year the nuclear age began.