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The Mail


To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

Your excellent editorials on the subject of T. Lux Feininger's leaving and the attendant disappearance of Fine Arts 16 and 18 stimulate me to note one or two points which I have been noticing in my four years at Harvard. The chief one of these is that most of the creative arts are surprisingly neglected and played down. Art is now officially nonexistent (though I presume the painters and photographers will continue to work; luckily, there are several good ones here). Creative writing--in sharp contrast to the writing of articles and scholarly works--is marked by a lack of originality, a lack of interest, and a sterility that cause the monotonously regular and quite fair pannings that local magazines get in the CRIMSON reviews. Only the drama more or less escapes the dead hand. Music is perhaps the most flourishing art, but it too is downplayed.

The fact is that Harvard plays up scholarship at the expense of creativity, and most students accept this, either not creating at all or riddling their work with signs of scholasticism (what percentage of Advocate poems refer to the Metaphysical Poets, in extenso?). This position--that there is little or no common ground between creativity and scholarship--is one stand; I wish to strike at least a small blow for the other, and say that noncreative scholarship in any field is dry and sterile. Certainly in science, certainly in philosophy, hard steady work and really original thinking (the two hallmarks of creativity) are necessary. The same should, I think, be true of history and even literary criticism. And where creative thinking flourishes, there the creative arts should flourish also; there will be no Untouchable Caste of painters, no group of Donne- and Yeats-citing and always identifiable poets, but a general interest and activity in the arts. I maintain that some emphasis on the creative arts is necessary in a university, and that Harvard's so-called "humanistic" tradition definitely needs reconsideration. However, this is of course only an opinion, and I would like to see the reactions of others to the situation. E. Anderson '62.

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