Crazy Hope and Finite Experience
Final Essays of Paul Goodman
Edited by Taylor Stoehr
Gestalt Press – 1997 – 156 pages
Gestalt Press – 1997 – 156 pages
From the publication of Growing Up Absurd in 1960 until his death in 1972, Paul Goodman had the ear of the young radicals of the New Left, pouring forth books and articles on education, technology, decentralization, and of course, the war in Vietnam. Yet Goodman saw himself primarily as an artist rather than a political thinker or sociologist, and many of his books, even during the 1960s, were works of poetry, drama, and fiction. He had also practiced as a psychotherapist and joined with Frederick Perls and Ralph Hefferkine in producing a new synthesis in psychological thought, Gestalt therapy, which has since become an international movement. In an age of specialization, few writers have taken on so braod a range of concerns.
Crazy Hope and Finite Experience is the final summing up of the thought and life of a self-described "old-fashioned man of letters." This book brings together for the first time five personal essays, all written near the end of his life, in which Goodman discusses his sense of the world and how he was "in" it, his politics, his spiritual and religious attitude, his sexuality, and his calling as a literary artist.
For those already familiar with one or another aspect of his work, Goodman's self-assessment will provide new insight into the credo that underlies his whole career. For those learning about him for the first time, it offers a vivid sense of the man and his perspective. And for psychotherapists - especially Gestalt therapists - the book will fill in the picture of Goodman as a theorist whose work was crucial to the development of a new approach to therapy.
"Each time I read Stoehr's introductions to Goodman's works my admiration for his courage and honesty grows. Paul would have praised him, a millenarian rather than a utopian, one who does not look forward to a future state of things that can be planned, but as an anarchist continuing to exist and act conserving the tradition of Thoreau."
- Ivan Illich, philosopher and social historian
"Goodman's frightening brilliance and integrity scared people, for his was the honesty of the moral man who saw things and connections with clarity that others did not even know were there. Writers and thinkers have a vogue. They are in fashion or forgotten. If Goodman is forgotten, if his work is found only in ashheaps, it is where humanity will end up."
- Marcus Raskin, Professor, Graduate Program of Public Policy, George Washington University
"Paul Goodman looking back - the sensible citizen, who's read everything, untrammeled by party lines, still a stubborn anarchist pacifist, useful to the old (me) as he was practically useful once to the young (our children)."
- Grace Paley, writer and peace activist
"Any page by Paul Goodman will give you not only originality and brilliance but wisdom, that is, something to think about. He is our peculiar, urban, twentieth-century Thoreau, the quintessential American mind of our time."
- Hayden Carruth, poet and essayist
"Paul Goodman was our mid-century's greatest American-language thinker-poet. In a society increasingly specialized, he shone as a Renaissance artist: there was nothing in prose or verse he could not do well. What a joy now to rediscover his original charm and wisdom."
- Ned Roren, composer and diarist
Within My Horizon. Politics Within Limits. Beyond My Horizon-Words. Being Queer. Apology for Literature.
Taylor Stoehr, Ph.D., Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, is Paul Goodman's literary executor and biographer. In addition to editing over a dozen volumes of Goodman's work, he has written five books and numerous articles on literary figures such as Dickens, Hawthorne, Lawrence, and Thoreau, as well as cultural studies on utopian communities and other "countercultural" experiments of ninteenth-century America.