THE LOTUS AND THE ROBOT by Arthur Koestler


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There is one aspect about Arthur Koestler which stands out like a sore thumb: though diligent and honest he is always au courant in following the shifts of man's faith. In this book he tackles the latest of the Westerner's search for an absolute -- the timeless certainties of Eastern Mysticism. Koestler's journey to India and Japan was based on his desire to unravel the mid-century Westerner's fascination with Asiatic religion. He finds it wanting. In India, the cult of the Saint, the Brahma, moves him less than the heat and poverty. The ""stink of Zen"" he views as the fertilizer of a scented robot Japanese society. Finally he comes home to European civilization which he feels at least has a regenerative power sufficient, in its tradition to offset automation ideologies and the mechanization of human life. It is an honest longing, if futile, to substitute for one God that failed another that can never be the running in Western civilization. No matter how Koestler tries to escape it, his is a political mind and it is in this frame of reference that he views and judges the East; the question at the back of his mind is always, how powerful a resistance to Marxism is Eastern Mysticism? It is both the book's strength and weakness. From this point of view one receives highly interesting insights into the Asiatic mind. Yet there remains the feeling that the author is on the verge of playing religious hop scotch. He winds up where he began before Marxism and Mysticism. Who knows where he will go next? At any rate the journey proves to be vital and provocative.

Pub Date: March 6th, 1961
Publisher: Macmillan