A quick glance reveals that though the context has drastically changed since then, the book still has a large number of insights to offer. As someone who has worn his heart on the left for most of his life, this turned out to be doubly rewarding. Koestler believes that human history has produced two kinds of responses to its condition. The Yogi believes that change can be brought about only by changing man from within, the revolutionary or the "Commissar" believes that it can only be brought about from without. He co-relates the perceived change with the new developments in physics that is prescient of New Age writers like Frijtof Capra and who became popular during the s, the decade when the original Commissar State- the Soviet Union fell under its own weight.
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New York, The Macmillan Company, The Yogi and the Commissar. Without a doubt Koestler belongs among the best reporters of our time. He has shown an extraordinary ability to seize and transmit the general feeling and thinking of a whole country during a critical period civil-war Spain in Dialogue with Death; defeated France in Scum of the Earth. His flair for atmosphere, his sensitivity to fluctuating moods make him the ideal reporter of those events which, though never front-page news, are necessary to the understanding of front-page news.
But whatever the intelligentsia, taken as a definite class, may have become, it has not yet sunk to the level of mere reactivity. On the other hand, good reporters, if they are really good, do belong in a rather dubious realm between the intellectual and the merely sensitive. Koestler himself is an excellent example.
Because of his personal decency and the good fortune he has had to live through this period as a Jewish antifascist, he could over-develop his natural gifts to the point of complete identification, not simply with a given situation, but with a general state of mind.
Useful as this identification with the intelligentsia may prove for reportage, its more immediate consequences are disconcerting. Koestler has become ambitious, and he has written some rather bad novels and one rather nice play. This succeeds in frightening people into a state of superlative if slightly childish felicity the point might have been made here that only children are capable of intense happiness; Koestler does not make it.
Whereupon everybody grows up again and becomes as unhappy as anyone could possibly be. What is left is wit that springs just as much from a foundation of banality as from the gift for repartee. His sensitivity has communicated to him a notion of the fundamental restlessness of modern intellectuals who know that the basis of their mental activity is no longer safe.
The trouble here is that Koestler tries to take part in the discussion itself instead of merely reporting its mental climate, with the result that he comes dangerously and—I am sorry to say—ridiculously close to assuming a mission. He talks about freedom, for instance, as though nobody before him had ever taken it seriously.
His somewhat innocent emptiness—expressed in contemplations that always move between arbitrary polarities—is the price he, as a good reporter, has to pay for the gift of over-sensitiveness. All these superficial chapters actually show is that European intellectuals are apparently fed up with the myths of materialism.
While actually they were the only ones, apparently, to sense that the whole was going to pieces. Then came the war and with it the new pride in not forgetting that it was the bad they had to defend against the worse.
Then came death and with it the old and saddening experience that it is Patroclus who gets killed and Thersites who sails safely home. Then, finally, came the shame, the general irrational feeling of humiliation at being alive, at having survived—as though mere survival were already desertion and betrayal.
There are many more pages worth reading. The chapter on Soviet Russia gives some very valuable statistical data on a state of affairs which in its general aspect and implications is only too real.
The Yogi and the Commissar and Other Essays
What makes the police action in his case — and the related arrests of Ishika Singh and Anuj Shukla of a small Noida-based TV channel, National Live — especially sinister is that journalists are being directly victimised for covering and commenting on a story that incurred the wrath of a powerful politician. The facts of the case are straightforward. Last week, a woman professed her love for UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath before a bevy of reporters. These claims were carried by Nation Live as well as at least two Hindi newspapers. Belatedly, the police then slapped two additional charges: Section 67 of the IT Act, which deals with the electronic transmission of obscene or lascivious material, and Section of the IPC, which criminalises the spreading of rumours calculated to incite violence and disaffection. Adityanath may genuinely be aggrieved by public discussion about his personal life, especially if the claims made by the woman are false.
The Yogi and the Commissar
In the famous conclusion to Being and Nothingness, Sartre announced that he would devote his next philosophical work to moral problems. Although he worked on this project in the late s, Sartre never completed it to his satisfaction, and it remained unpublished until after his death in Presented here for the first time in English, the Notebooks reveal Sartre at his most productive, crafting a masterpiece of philosophical reflection that can easily stand alongside his other great works. Sartre grapples anew here with such central issues as "authenticity" and the relation of alienation and freedom to moral values.