HUMAN OPTIONS by Norman Cousins


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Gleanings of what I have learned in the classroom of the twentieth century""--and every bit as lusterless as that sounds. But if these snippets from Cousins' Saturday Review editorials and his notebooks (plus some recent thoughts) add up to nothing epochal as a philosophy-of-life, that personal philosophy--of unlimited human potential, of individual ""control""--was quite obviously the psychological force behind the triumph-over-odds that he recounted in his best-selling Anatomy of an Illness. In that light, his strictures against inactivity and pessimism take on some interest; with other Cousins' plaints--against ""anti-sentimentalism"" and ""desensitization""--they also represent the credo (or motive power) of a confirmed and tireless do-righter. Variations on these few themes--exhortations to ""identify ourselves compassionately with the mainstream of mankind,"" to ""create, recognize, and exercise options,"" above all to act (""Convictions are potent only when they are shared"")--comprise the bulk of the book. There are echoes, too, of his own anti-Bomb and pro-world-government fights. And, in addition: a portfolio of his photographs (postwar Berlin in ruins; ""Hiroshima reborn""; Schweitzer at Lambarene); tributes to ""people of stature"" he's known (presidents from FDR to Ford--omitting only Nixon; Pope John, MacArthur, Nehru, Casals . . .); thoughts on books and writing (among the pithier: ""The book is no substitute for experience. But neither is experience a substitute for the book""), and tributes to writer-acquaintances. Brief accolades to Saturday Review predecessors and colleagues conclude. It's not for the wide Anatomy readership, but the Saturday Review faithful may find the familiar words reassuring; and anyone in search of an inspirational shove can trust to Cousins for that.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1981
ISBN: 0393332543
Publisher: Norton