Man and His Circumstances: Ortega as Educator
by Robbie McClintock
Chapter VI — The People's Pedagogue
"Prólogo a una edición de sus Obras," 1932, Obras VI, p. 354.
Today the periodical article is an indispensable manifestation of the spirit; and whoever pedantically denies it, lacks the remotest idea of what is happening in the womb of history.
VI — The People's Pedagogue
By family tradition and personal vocation, Ortega was drawn into journalism. The Spanish destiny that Ortega discovered during his studies in Germany, the idea of organizing a minority charged with educating the masses, the practice of writing to communicate concepts that Spaniards could use to live a fuller life, and the labor of reforming the university in order to enlarge the vibrant elite of Spain: these aspects of Ortega's vocation were integral with another, his extensive activities in journalism and publishing. Through newspapers, magazines, and books, Ortega tried to bring a cultural elite into contact with the average Spaniard. Through the cultural media, not political agencies, the educating minorities would influence the masses. Ortega's insistence that a prophetic minority was essential in the reform of Spain may in the end have been a type of paternal authoritarianism or of democratic liberalism. Whether Ortega was a paternalist or a liberal depends in part on the relation between the elite and the populace that he sought to establish through mass media.
In more than one sense, our story begins with the year 1898. Not only did the shock of defeat awaken the critical intellect of Spain, but also in America Hearst's campaign of yellow journalism to exploit the sinking of the Maine showed that an aggressive press could effectively fan a nation's martial passions, a demonstration that heralded the start of a new historic epoch. With universal schooling, inexpensive books, significant amounts of "free time," high circulation papers, radio, movies, television, rapid transit, and a host of other changes, all men have gained an access to information. As this access is widely utilized, the striving to be represented in public deliberations gives way to an urge for immediate participation. Yet as the sources of information come under ever-narrowing control, the possibility that the participation may not be actual, however apparent, arises, for control of the media invariably tempts those in power to manipulate the public totally.
See for instance Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, passim.
In "Seeing for Ourselves: Notes on the Movie Art and Industry, Critics, and Audiences," The Journal of Aesthetic Education, July 1969, pp. 45–55, Martin S. Dworkin examines the problem of locating responsibility foe making the film responsive to personal judgment.
In recent attempts at understanding media, a fascination with apparent changes in the means of communication has led pundits to miss the truly important issue. Man is still the message; and despite man's startling extensions, his fundamental problems remain the same. Men still love and reproduce, eat and assimilate, entertain hopes and suffer disappointments, band together for the pursuit of common concerns and separate in mutual misunderstanding. Throughout these manifold activities, which are rooted not in man's extensions, but in his innards, the problem of judgment is pervasive. No matter how much the technological milieu may change, the intrinsic quality of the problem of judgment remains the same for those who seek to communicate: should one impose on others the judgments one deems correct or should one stimulate in others their powers to judge as they see fit7 The new media of communication do not eliminate this issue, they intensify it, for they simultaneously perfect the power to impose judgments on others and to stimulate others to judge for themselves.
Scant consensus has been achieved about how to deal with the problem of judgment through the mass media. A case can be made that the mass media operate on such a scale that those responsible cannot risk relying on the intelligence and interpretative powers of their audience; instead, they must try to ensure that the audience gets their point. Paradoxically, in the case of selling soap we clearly see the damage wrought by downgrading the intelligence of the audience, for the economic goal does not begin to justify the educationally harmful means. But with respect to great public issues, a clear-cut judgment is not so easy. In times of war, how far will the egalitarian democrat maintain his faith in the intelligence and good judgment of the common man by allowing partisans of the enemy to state their case, freely and fully, not only on a soap-box at the edge of a deserted park, but also through the most powerful media available? How will the egalitarian introduce the ordinary person to the work of the physicist, not to speak of the difficult poet? What does it mean to believe in the average man, to put one's faith in him? Does it mean to be satisfied with him exactly as he is, or to be willing to wager the success of one's actions on the expectation that the average man will freely excel what he has so far achieved? On the great issues of public policy, will the democratic communicator be content to inform the deliberations of an unfettered popular opinion, or will he seek by one means or another to manipulate the public into a thoughtless acquiescence?
Quoted without source citation by Salvador de Madariaga, De Galdós a Lorca, p. 112.
Henri Bergson once observed that "Ortega thinks of himself as a philosopher, but he is only a journalist of genius." For the moment, we need only consider the French essayist's positive evaluation, that Ortega was a journalist of genius.
The best survey of Ortega's organizing activities is Lorenzo Luzuriaga's "Las fundaciones de Ortega y Gasset." Copies of most of the periodicals that Ortega helped publish can be found in the Hemeroteca Municipal of Madrid. In the following discussion I have relied mainly on an examination of these.
To begin, one measure of the considerable energy that Ortega devoted to journalism is the frequency with which he helped organize new publishing ventures. True, the number of his initiatives was in part a function of the number of his failures; but only in part. More importantly, the extent and diversity of these activities reflected his intention to reach the people, not by bringing them all beneath the umbrella of a single formula, but by reaching each through his particular interest. To be sure, the resources that Ortega and his friends could command were insufficient for them to span the full range of special interests. Nevertheless, Ortega was involved in the founding of a popular weekly magazine, a very successful daily paper, a serious monthly review, and two publishing houses that specialized in providing good literature at inexpensive prices, as well as a number of less successful enterprises.
None of Ortega's ventures into the media achieved a truly mass appeal; here is the problem in judging the pedagogical character of his efforts. One might argue that the publications with which he was connected were "elitist" because they did not reach everyone. But that would be an extreme argument, one that would entail holding, for instance, that the Masses, a popular magazine of the American left contemporary with Ortega's publications, was also elitist and anti-egalitarian. Even the Reader's Digest reaches only a fraction of its potential audience and by a strict count of numbers it is more non popular than popular. Furthermore, a magazine is not always edited out of knowledge of its actual audience; in fact, such packaging of the product has been possible only since the techniques of market surveying have been developed. In the absence of these techniques, a magazine or journal is more likely to be edited for an audience the editors would eventually like to win. Whether Ortega's publications were or were not elitist in character depends on considerations more intangible than a simple count of their readers.
"De un estorbo nacional." El Imparcial, April 22, 1913; and "De un estorbo nacional, II." El País, May 12, 1913. Ortega published nothing more in El Imparcial except "Bajo el arco en ruina," June 11, 1917, and "El verano, ¿será tranquilo?," June 22, 1917. For the texts of these articles see Obras X, pp. 232–7, 241–5, 352–4, and Obras XI, pp. 265–8.
My account of Ortega's break with his family's paper diverges from the usual accounts. Both Lorenzo Luzuriaga, in his "Las fundaciones de Ortega y Gasset," Instituto de Filosofía, Homenaje a Ortega y Gasset, and Evelyne López-Campillo,in her "Ortega: El Imparcial y las Juntas," Revista de Occidente, June 1969, pp. 311–7, base the chronology of their account almost solely on a remark by Ortega in La decencia nacional, 1932. Ortega's remark, a note explaining why he included "Bajo el arco en ruina" in the book, was as follows: "This article was published in El Imparcial on June 11, 1917. A few days before, in Barcelona, the Juntas de Defensa del Arma de Infantería had declared themselves in rebellion. The disputes to which this article gave rise had, as a result, the founding of the newspaper El Sol by D. Nicolás María de Urgoiti." (Obras XI, p. 265, n. 1). On this basis, both Luzuriaga and López-Campillo contend that Ortega's break with El Imparcial came at this time. This contention, however, is unsatisfactory.
The most useful evidence for understanding Ortega's relations with El Imparcial is a rather complete listing of his journalistic articles. Such a list shows rather clearly the following chronology: up until April 22, 1913, with "De un estorbo nacional" Ortega was quite content to write for El Imparcial; "De un estorbo nacional" provoked a break with El Imparcial and Ortega switched to El País, for which he wrote through 1914, a year in which he wrote few newspaper articles undoubtedly because of his preoccupation with the League for Spanish Political Education and Meditaciones del Quijote. From then until his Argentine tour in late 1916, Ortega was content to publish through España and El Espectador. During his joint lecture tour with his Father, a tour trough which he established many contacts with Argentine newspaper publishers and writers, Ortega was probably convinced to give El Imparcial another try, for in the Spring of 1917 Ortega wrote two articles for El Imparcial, first "Bajo el arco en ruina" and two weeks later "El verano, ¿sera tranquilo?"; and finally, in the Fall of 1917 Ortega wrote brief1y for El Día and then, starting in December, he devoted himself to the newly-founded El Sol. From these facts, it is clear that when El Imparcial refused the second part of "De un estorbo nacional" Ortega decided to go it on his own. It takes time to organize an enterprise on the scale of El Sol, and it is probable that Ortega's short rapprochement with El Imparcial in 1917 came when María de Urgoiti was negotiating for the purchase of El Imparcial and that Liberal displeasure over Ortega's articles on the Juntas may have prevented the purchase. This interpretation is as consistent with Ortega's remarks in La decencia nacional as is that of Luzuriaga and López-Campillo, more 50 because Ortega's remarks speak only of disputes that led to El Sol (by blocking the purchase of El Imparcial) and nothing of disputes causing El Imparcial to close its columns to Ortega. As a matter of fact, two weeks after "Bajo el arco en ruina" El Imparcial published another essay by Ortega. Fuller evidence on Ortega's relations with El Imparcial and El Sol, and all his other publishing ventures, for that matter, would help greatly.
Throughout, Ortega's publications reflected a common editorial principle: commission the best writers one can to say whatever they have to say to an audience that is not pre-selected by a commitment to a particular party, ideology, cultural interest, educational prerequisite. A major impetus in Ortega's publishing activities stemmed from the failure of El Imparcial's editors to apply this principle to Ortega himself. His style of speaking his mind was cramped by the party connections of the established press, especially by the partiality of El Imparcial as an unofficial organ of the Liberal Party. In April 1913 readers of El Imparcial were shocked by the first installment of Ortega's essay "On a National Nuisance," for in it Ortega had the quite impartial gall to condemn the Liberal Party as a retrograde factor thwarting Spanish rejuvenation. Three weeks later, Ortega completed the essay, its point and tone uncompromised, by publishing it in El País, a competing paper. To sign on with El País, however, would not have been a solution, for Ortega was not anxious to toe its line as a Radical Party organ any more than he was to toe that of El Imparcial. Ortega set seriously to work to organize a new type of publication in Spain.
Ortega mentioned his participation in its founding in "El Señor Dato, responsable de un atropello a la constitución," El Sol, June 17, 1920, Obras X, p. 654. His articles in Faro were "La reforma liberal" in the first issue, February 23, 1908; "La conservación de la cultura," March 8, 1908; "Sobre el proceso Rull," April 12, 1908; and "La moral visigótica," May 10, 1908; Obras X, pp. 31–8, 39–46, 47–50, and 56–8. My account of Ortega's involvement in publishing is based on a survey of the publications in question. The Hemeroteca Municipal of Madrid has an excellent collection of newspapers and magazines from the late nineteenth century on. With the publication of Vols. X and XI of Ortega's works, his contributions to Faro, Europa, España, El Imparcial, El Sol, and other papers are now available, but to get a feel fer the type of publications that those were it is important to go to the archives. The best available study of Spanish journalism is by Henry F. Schulte, The Spanish Press, 1470–1966: Print, Power, Politics. It is not a good study, however¡ some of my disagreements with it may be found in a review of it in the Comparative Education Review, June 1969, pp. 235–8. In addition to the initiatives discussed in the text, Ortega took part in the mass journalism of Crisol and Luz, for which he wrote in 1931 and 1932. The papers were backed by the El Sol group. Their format was more popular, close to that of a tabloid, although their content was of high quality. Unlike El Sol, which in addition to politics devoted much attention to cultural events, these papers concentrated mainly on politics, and they seem to have been intended as popular, partisan papers for the Republicanism of the Group in the Service of the Republic. In addition, Ortega had close relations with the Argentine press, not to my knowledge involving the creation of any publications, but using them to publish numerous articles. Although Ortega had, prior to 1916, published in Argentine papers, he established close connections with them in 1916 when he went on a successful lecture trip to Buenos Aires with his father. The trip was sponsored by the Institución Cultural Española and it is described in detail in its Anales, Tomo primero: 1912–1920, pp. 149–208. A careful cataloguing of Ortega's writings that appeared in La Prensa and La Nación might add significantly to his bibliography.
Anonymous, "Al Público." Europa, February 20, 1910
This desire was not entirely new to Ortega, for by 1913 he had already learned by several mistakes. Soon after his return from Germany, Ortega had helped found Faro, a short-lived weekly in which he discussed many of his ideas about pedagogical reform. Then in 1910 Ortega had helped Luis Bello, who had succeeded Ortega's father as editor of Los Lunes del Imparcial, in starting the unsuccessful "review of popular culture," Europa. Both Faro and Europa had a rather narrow appeal to those who already believed in a sophisticated form of Europeanization. The cover of Europa's first issue was a drawing of Oscar Wilde, in an art nouveau frame, sniffing a flower in dandy dress. Europa was snapped up by those In The Know, but they were not numerous enough to support the magazine, which failed to encourage those Not In The Know to find out what it was all about. The tone of Europa was too negative. Even while trying to gain attention for the magazine by writing about it in El Imparcial, Ortega stressed the negative, remarking that Europa's title could not be more divisive. "Europa is not only a negation: it is a principle of methodical aggression against national bungling." Europa was elitist in style if not doctrine. Of course, Europa expressed the faith that the Spanish people were ready for it, that they would respond to its snobbish notion of Europe and appreciate its excellence. "Those who publish this review," the manifesto of the first issue confessed, "believe one can now give the Spanish people something more than a stamp album. The public will decide." The public decided; number 13 of volume I was the last issue of Europa.
From Europa's failure to España's success was but the ability to learn from mistakes. The new undertaking began in 1914, soon after Ortega broke with El Imparcial. España, despite its title, continued the Europeanizing commitment of the young writers who in Europa had showed their dedication to improving popular culture—Pío Baroja, Luis Araquistáin, Corpus Barga, González Blanco, Ramón Pérez de Ayala, Manuel Abril, Ramón del Valle-Inclán, Manuel Machado, Ramiro de Maeztu, Luis Bello, and Ortega, among others. España was devoted to cultural and political concerns; and, most importantly, its tone was more open than that of Europa. The purpose of España, like that of the earlier magazine, was to promote Europeanization, to deflate the authority of official Spain, and to concentrate and amplify the powers of vital Spain. But where Europa had stressed negative criticism of national deficiencies, España encouraged cooperative effort and the fostering of hope.
"España saluda al lector y dice," España, núm. 1, January 29, 1915, Obras X, pp. 271·3.
Ibid. Cf. Anonymous, "Gratitud de España" and "Propósitos" in España, núm. 2, February 5, 1915.
Ortega wrote the manifesto for España's first issue, which set a warm tone of mutual respect in its very title: "España Greets the Reader and Says." In what followed, España spoke of the sorry state of official Spain. "But España has not been founded with the aim of saying only this, which is a negation. Negation is only useful and noble and pious when it serves as a transition to a new affirmation." The task of the new magazine was to bear witness to this affirmation, to give it a voice, to show it gaining resonance in the capital and the provinces. España would be the organ of no existing party; it would speak for the ideal party of those who believed in the Spanish future. "We will work in solidarity with every noble intention, with every worthy person, with every just cause whatever its origin and name may be." Ortega stated clearly in the first issues that its editorial principle was to have the best available writers speak their mind to all who sought to build a Spanish Kinderland. "Thus, we solicit—and without it we can accomplish nothing—the collaboration of all who aspire to a better Spain."
Luzuriaga, "Las fundaciones de Ortega y Gasset," pp. 38–9.
"Una manera de pensar, II," España, October 14, 1915, Obras X, pp. 339–344.
When España was well on its way to success, Ortega withdrew from active collaboration. This withdrawal has been interpreted by some such as Lorenzo Luzuriaga as a sharp break that resulted in España falling into other hands. If it occurred at all, this break would have to have come over World War I. Some people thought that Ortega was pro-German because of his studies there. But Ortega was not a Germanophile. During 1915 he repeatedly wrote in España's columns that Spain should back England and he averred that he desired "very deeply the triumph of England." But not only was Ortega sympathetic to España's position on the war, the record does not even show a clear break between Ortega and España.
J.M.M.S., "Ortega y Gasset en América," España, March 'J, 1917, p. 11.
If Ortega wrote less for España in the Spring of 1916, it was because he was hard at work getting out the first volume of The Spectator, a series of his personal essays that he sold by subscription. Ortega found time, however, to publish "Cervantes, plenitud española" in the May 4 issue of España, which appeared just prior to his leaving with his father on a joint lecture tour in Argentina. Ortega's relations with España were still good enough early in 1917 for it to run an article on "Ortega y Gasset in America." In Argentina, Ortega spent most of his time with newspapermen; and on his return he seemed anxious to re-establish his connections with the daily press. He wrote a few articles for Imparcial and El Día while working to start up El Sol, a major new paper that was to follow the same publishing principles pioneered by España.
Luzuriaga, "Las fundaciones de Ortega y Gasset," p. 40.
Money for El Sol was put up by the wealthy engineer, Nicolas Maria de Urgoiti, who wanted to start a newspaper that would give a voice to spokesmen for reform. At first he had tried to buy Imparcial, for its readership was most like that of the paper he wanted to start. However, the deal did not go through. As a result, the capital that would have gone into the purchase of an established readership and an existing, albeit decrepit plant, was put instead into the purchase of new, efficient presses. Now, at last, a Madrid paper was equipped to print a straight line of type on a clean page! This was a source of economic strength and even of political power, which predictably hurt many journalists and politicians, and caused much resentment. El Sol was an immediate success; and Ortega, with Manuel Aznar and others, was responsible for its editorial policies. He made it his major means of addressing the public. Not only did El Sol publish the quantitative bulk of Ortega's writings, it first published, in feuilletons his qualitatively important works: Invertebrate Spain, The Theme of Our Time, The Dehumanization of Art, On Love, and The Revolt of the Masses, to name only the better known books. In addition to these contributions, Ortega provided El Sol with hundreds of reflective commentaries and editorials on Spanish public affairs.
"Hacia una mejor política," El Sol, December 7, 1917, Obras XI p. 368.
El Sol had grown out of the earlier publishing projects in which Ortega collaborated. The same writers who had often written for Europa and España appeared frequently in the pages of El Sol. Like these magazines, El Sol was self-consciously independent of the established parties; and like España, but perhaps unlike Europa, El Sol was not edited in Madrid solely for Madrileños. Much attention was given to news of the provinces, and the intention was clearly to create a national paper. Furthermore, El Sol was not narrowly devoted to politics. Close attention was given to culture, economics, technology, entertainment, sports (notably excepting bullfighting), and education. Recall how the imperative of intellectuality called on Spaniards to clarify the full complexity of their common lives, to make manifest the nature of its many different components, to bring each of these to its perfection so that no single Spaniard could absent-mindedly confuse his interests with those of the whole. Here was El Sol's function. "The title of this paper," Ortega wrote in its first issue, "signifies above all a desire to see things clearly."
This circulation was claimed in "La segunda Real orden contra El Sol," El Sol, July 20, 1920.
El Sol brought many technical innovations to Spanish journalism, for this time an eager staff was backed by an engineer who appreciated the importance of good technique. The paper became the first in Spain to use the graphic techniques of mass journalism and to print legibly in larger characters on good newsprint with high speed presses. By combining quality with unmatched efficiency, El Sol offered readers and advertisers a better paper at competitive prices. As a result, Spaniards almost proved that mass journalism need not be sensational, irresponsible journalism. El Sol quickly achieved one of the higher circulations in Madrid, 110,000 after three years, and because of its more readable format, it began to cut severely into the advertising revenues of competing papers. By 1920, it began to appear as if the established papers might be driven either to change their ways or to go out of business. But "la vieja política" would not let "la vieja prensa" collapse.
On the Royal Orders and El Sol, see especially "La R.O. contra El Sol: lo qué significa la Real orden:' El Sol, June 16, 1920. Cf. articles on the matter in El Sol foe June 15, June 17 (by Ortega), June 19 (by Ortega), July 29 (by Ortega and Manuel Aznar), July 30, July 31, August 3, August 4:, August 5, and August 9 (by Ortega).
In the summer of 1920, at the behest of the Conservative paper, A.B.C., Eduardo Dato, the Conservative Prime Minister, promulgated two Royal Orders that counteracted El Sol's advantages. Ostensibly, the regulations were to reduce the amount of newsprint consumed in Spain. But only El Sol and several other technically advanced papers were affected; and these all happened also to be the politically advanced papers. In effect, the regulations forced El Sol to cut down to a format of eight pages, rather than its customary sixteen—unless penalties were paid. Formulas were given fixing the price of classified advertisements, requiring El Sol either to double its normal charges or to reduce the width of its advertising columns to that of its competitors. Lastly, regulations prohibiting cooperative sales practices made El Sol abandon the circulation campaign that had proved successful in building up a national audience.
"Admirable carta de D. José Ortega y Gasset," El Sol, June 29, 1920, Obras X, pp. 659·662.
In a statement protesting the government's fiat, Ortega expressed his poignant disappointment by summing up El Sol's accomplishments. 0 Besides being, neither more nor less, a great paper with a European outlook, it has succeeded in three years in ,creating a format for a daily that is much superior to those familiar in our country. It has created a new journalistic style, and furthermore—a matter I commend to the attention of my readers—it has considerably improved the administrative and editorial techniques of the Press ... "Then, with his accustomed scorn for mediocrity, Ortega stated the historic significance of the effort to thwart the paper's power. "It is appropriate, in order to orient future historians, to underscore the fact that in Spain around 1920 the possession of a good printing press was considered to be an intolerable vice that the State needed to castigate vigorously."
El Sol survived this crisis; it continued to flourish; and Ortega devoted much of his effort to it during the 1920's. Throughout, Ortega's aim was not primarily to make the paper succeed, but to deflate official Spain and advance the new politics. Ortega and other gifted writers used El Sol in an agile pursuit of these more inclusive goals. They were committed journalists, journalists committed not to mere journalism, but to the humanistic regeneration of their country. He and his friends were not as interested in selling newspapers, magazines, and books as they were in apprenticing the Spaniard to intellect. Ortega used publishing, as he used his writing, to make up for the lack of concepts that had traditionally hampered the Spaniard's attempt to deal with the world. Hence, regardless of how popular his audience was, he scrupulously respected its capacity to make a significant contribution to the matter at hand; and usually this involved a fundamental concept that would increase a man's power to live thoughtfully.
Writers could use El Sol to pursue such goals because the paper had a flexible format, which developed from Spanish traditions. In the formation of El Sol, two points were of major importance: Spanish papers had always been a significant forum for leading intellectuals and had never followed the Anglo-American distinction between factual reporting and interpretative opinion. These two characteristics stemmed from the fact that the Spanish press, like that throughout most of Europe, had been a party press in which intellectuals were commissioned to interpret events from the party point of view. Like Le Monde in France, El Sol took these characteristics of the party press and separated them from subservience to any established group in partisan politics, commissioning intellectuals to interpret events independently in the light, as each saw it, of truth and reason. In a partisan milieu, such a paper could serve as a powerful source of enlightenment. With El Sol, these characteristics were intentionally forged into a pedagogical rather than a partisan organ.
To begin, the flexible format of El Sol enabled the paper to accept irregular contributions from a variety of serious writers. The paper had no regular columnists, whose predictable views would be found at a predictable spot in the editorial pages according to a regular schedule. El Sol's layout changed from day to day, depending on the quantity and quality of copy available. Except for departmental pages that were devoted to particular subjects—economics, pedagogy, the provinces, sport, the cinema—various types of articles had no set location. The front page might be laid out in the familiar vertical columns, or in a mosaic of boxed articles; different articles might be composed in various print sizes and in either roman, boldface or italic type. Each day the front page would feature a different combination of news articles, editorials (both signed and unsigned), essays by prominent writers, reports of cultural events, and photographs. Hence although a person could easily become a regular reader of the paper, he could not read it by habit, for to make his way through its ever changing composition, he was continually forced to use his discrimination.
By not being predictable, El Sol elicited its readers' involvement with its content, inviting them to find their way anew, each day, through the paper. Many of the articles, and not simply those by Ortega, emphasized the principles pertinent to interpreting the news rather than a factual chronicle of the news itself. Moreover, headlines frequently called attention to intellectual topics rather than to factual events. In this way the reader was informed that a featured article would lead him into considering the principles of parliamentary deliberation, or the concept of localism, or the dynamics of fascism, or the historical significance of Einstein's physical theories. The reader's interpretative powers were respected by freeing writers to use their own interpretative powers to the hilt. As the freedom to teach is secured by recognizing the student's freedom to learn, so the journalist's freedom to express himself fully is gained by having confidence in the reader's freedom to evaluate what he reads.
See "Ejemplaridad y docilidad," España invertebrada, 1921, Obras III, pp. 103–8. Ortega did not say that he had a tertulia in mind, but that is the institution that most closely approximated the relations he described.
In part, El Sol resulted from the tertulia, the conversation groups that met regularly in local cafes and drawing rooms. Indeed, the paper may have originated in a tertulia, for from the time of Europa until the Civil War Ortega was at the center of such a group, which included the writers who frequented the pages of El Sol. But that is not the point; what is important is not the origin, but the function, of El Sol. The tertulia was a powerful Spanish institution, which could be either a negative or a positive influence on the nation. Whenever a tertulia lost access to dynamic ideas and new information, it enforced intellectual stagnation with terrible effect; but whenever a group became porous to external influence or was dominated by persons of wide curiosity, it became a marvelous center for cultural communion, through which profound changes in character could be quickly transmitted from person to person. In Invertebrate Spain Ortega analyzed the educational power of the tertulia under the heading of "Exemplarity and Aptness"; the tendency toward conformity that existed in any close social group would become a significant source of general improvement if one could introduce exemplary characteristics into those groups. El Sol was to do precisely that. It was to be a great conversation piece, the sun illuminating the sidewalk cafes and streaming through the parlor curtains.
As Nietzsche observed of teachers, no philosopher can be expected to be truly profound week after week at appointed hours. This human limitation holds true for the journalist as well, and the genius of El Sol was its willingness to accept irregular contributions from many writers. As a consequence, a reader never knew who would present views in the morning's paper, and writers were not forced to write their columns mechanically, feigning inspiration to meet a fixed commitment. Thus, writers could preserve their sense of mission and readers their sense of discovery. This practice was possible because El Sol was not considered to be a packaged product that had, at least, to meet certain minimum specifications day after day in order not to let its consumers down. Rather than maintain a respectable minimum at all costs, El Sol daily reached for a maximum. This reach, which sometimes failed, could be justified only with confidence in the discrimination of the audience. The reader, not the editor, had to make the final judgment about the quality of that day's performance. With El Sol, responsibility and initiative for informing oneself were left to the reader, and the journalist was freed to speak, as best he could, to the reader's curiosity and concern.
The way Ortega used his access to El Sol's columns shows how flexible these procedures were. Ortega was not a dependable source of copy for El Sol, and sometimes his copy was, by the American newsman's standards, plainly inappropriate. One after another, series of his articles would appear, and then there might be nothing for many months. Ortega would write on whatever struck his fancy: for a time he would concentrate on day-to-day critiques of contemporary affairs, then he would publish a series of essays about "Love in Stendhal," and then a profound reflection on political theory, the texts of several lectures on epistemology, or a two-part meditation on the migration of birds! If a journalist is a person who writes for a paper, then whatever Ortega was, with all due respect to Bergson, he was not a journalist. For Ortega, the newspaper was simply one of many means he used to write for his audience.
With El Sol and España, Ortega collaborated in creating a first-rate daily paper and weekly magazine, yet these left many other publishing areas to be touched. One of the practices the Royal Orders of 1920 had prohibited was the selling of combined subscriptions to El Sol, to a monthly literary magazine, and to a book service. Soon afterwards, Ortega and María de Urgoiti collaborated in starting the publishing house, Espasa Calpe, which put out an extensive collection of serious works, classic and contemporary, in a format that almost anyone could afford. Then, two years later, Ortega independently founded and directed the monthly magazine, Revista de Occidente. Within a year the magazine generated sufficient resources, financial and literary/ to branch into book publishing, a field in which it quickly gained an important place. Next to El Sol, Revista de Occidente is the most significant of Ortega's efforts to bring a cultural elite into communication with the average man.
Revista de Occidente was not a light magazine; one could not claim that it was for the average man qua average man. As Ortega observed in its prospectus, he hoped people who wanted to follow questions in some detail would find it rewarding. With respect to the imperative of intellectuality, Revista de Occidente served neither to create the cultured elite that Spain needed to develop nor to confront the average Spaniard with a compelling clarification of the diverse elements of Spain. It would be left to a university in form to nurture the Spanish elite and to periodicals like El Sol and España to inform the common reader. The function of Revista de Occidente was somewhat different: to encourage curious individuals whose desire to understand their world had been stimulated by El Sol and España to deepen their command of culture. Hopefully, Revista de Occidente would help them master culture to the point at which they ceased to be common readers and became members of the cultured leaven scattered through Spain. Ortega did not believe that difficult matters could be made easy. But like Plato, he held that all men possessed the power of judgment; and the opportunity to perfect and live by that power was not to be confined to a closed elite of those who happened to have the good fortune to earn university degrees.
"Propósitos:' 1923, Obras VI, p. 314.
Of the publishing ventures in which Ortega took part, Revista de Occidente most clearly bore his mark. Like his prose, its pages brought readers a great variety of articles, almost all of which dealt with important principles that Spaniards might use in living their lives. The Revista published articles by leading writers from almost every Western nation. But this fact, by itself, was not the main support for its claim to be a "review of the West." Its real success was in presenting readers the opportunity to acquaint themselves thoroughly with the ideas that were most productive in twentieth-century culture. "Our Review will reserve its attention to the truly important themes, and it will manage to treat them with the fullness and rigor necessary for their general assimilation."
Letter lo Unamuno, Madrid, June 6, 1923, Revista de Occidente, October 1964, p, 27. Perhaps Unamuno's reluctance resulted from a feeling that "a review of the West" was insufficiently Hispanic lo be a proper forum.
As writers serve both particular and general functions, so do editors. The editing of Revista de Occidente showed a keen sense of the universal purposes that a serious monthly could serve. To be sure, editorial details were not ignored. The magazine was technically excellent. For instance, the format and typography of Revista de Occidente were carefully conceived and imaginative. Articles were laid out with the reader, not the cost accountant, in mind; the magazine was generous with paper, providing the thoughtful reader with wide margins in which to record his reactions. In starting the magazine, an exclusive contract was taken on a distinctive typeface, which became an identifying feature of the Revista. Consequently, when the organization branched into book publishing, any reasonably well-read Spaniard could tell at a glance a book published by the Revista. In addition to technical excellence, the magazine could also reward good writing. The Revista could pay significant fees to its contributors, Ortega stated in unsuccessfully soliciting an article from Unamuno. Few other important writers declined opportunities to publish in its pages; and month after month it presented in a distinctive way an interesting selection of significant articles by competent writers.
Without succumbing to didacticism, the dedicated editor can have a clear idea of who his readers are, of what potentials make them worthy of his concern, and of how these potentials can be developed by the readers' involvement with the material he publishes. The readers of Revista de Occidente were persons in Spain and Latin America with intellectual pretensions. They had the ability to take part in Western intellectual life, but to do so they needed to overcome an ingrained incapacity for abstract thinking. Traditionally Spanish intellectuals had disguised their conceptual poverty by accepting a provincial isolation from the rest of Europe. As its name proclaimed, Revista de Occidente would end this isolation. In its "Prospectus" Ortega announced that the magazine would try to develop the Hispanic cultural community through complementary procedures: encouraging Hispanic writers to deal with European themes and bringing the better European thinkers before the Hispanic audience.
For the essays published in the Revista by these men and by those mentioned below, see E. Segura Covarsi's Indice de la "Revista de Occidente". I have mentioned only those writers who have been written up in the Diccionario de literatura española.
A remarkable group of young Spanish essayists, novelists, and poets published in the Revista, and on occasion significant contributions were made by Latin American writers such as Victoria Ocampo. No matter how much influence the Revista' s cosmopolitanism had on its Spanish readers, the magazine seems not to have imparted very much to Spanish writers. Few became preoccupied, centrally concerned, with European themes. Since many of the contributors—for instance Manuel Abril, Pío Baroja, Américo Castro, Eugenio D'Ors, José Gaos, José Martínez Ruiz (Azorín), Ortega, and Ramón Pérez de Ayala—were mature by the time the Revista began, it did not shape their personal interests. Younger writers were also not necessarily influenced by the Revista's Europeanism. Two promising young interpreters of Spanish character, Federico García Lorca and Miguel Hernández, contributed to the Revista without being noticeably influenced by its European concerns. Pedro Salinas, a young poet of marked cosmopolitan character, published much in the Revista; but his European interests were formed by several years of teaching in France and England prior to his connection with the Revista. For most Spanish writers, the Revista did not occasion their taking up new themes; instead it provided a wide-reaching outlet through which they could voice whatever themes—Spanish or European—to which they felt drawn.
The only young writer who was markedly influenced by a desire to address himself to European themes through Revista de Occidente was the prolific novelist, Benjamin Jarnes; and one cannot say that this influence was good for him. Jarnes was a novel-a-year man who, from 1915 through 1936, still found time to contribute over seven articles a year to the Revista. Although his work was significant, it was not first-rate; his writing, both critical and creative, lacked depth, and this characteristic can largely be attributed to the desire, inflamed by the Revista, to encompass too much within his range of reference. For the Spanish writer, the program of the Revista was dangerous to the degree that it forced the intellectual growth of young men: a writer cannot simply will to address himself effectively to cosmopolitan questions; he must slowly, naturally nurture this power, as Ortega did for himself, by pursuing the questions immediately before him to their ultimate significance.
Ortega was more successful with the second policy of the Revista, bringing the better European writers to Spanish readers. By publishing many translations of important essays, the Revista not only brought Spaniards into contact with European themes, it further built up confidence by showing that Spanish writers would not be overshadowed when their work appeared in juxtaposition to that of leading European writers. The cosmopolitanism of the Revista did not consist in slighting Spanish culture, ignoring its traditions, and discussing only European themes. Instead it encouraged the better representatives of Spanish culture to mingle with those of other national traditions. To accomplish this integration, it was important that European writing published in the Revista have a transcendent, universal significance, for otherwise it would not serve to stimulate and strengthen the work of Spaniards. Ortega possessed the intellectual and editorial background to know what Europeans might be pointed out to Spaniards and to understand how the former could best be introduced to the latter.
Rather than tell readers about significant men, Ortega sought out ways through which these men could confront readers. The mechanics of this confrontation were quite simple: to publish translations of substantial works by important European contributors to the arts and sciences. As might be expected, this procedure was premised on confidence in the expressive ability of the writer and the interpretative power of the reader. What were the significant ideas being advanced in various fields at that time? Who created these ideas? Which of their works could best introduce these ideas to a curious, intelligent, educated audience? Such questions informed editorial policy. The Revista had no formula for addressing an audience of non-specialists such as the one that has proved so profitable for Scientific American. Only James Joyce and Edmund Husserl were presented by means of secondary material; and this was mitigated in the case of Husserl by the publication in the "Biblioteca de la Revista de Occidente" of a complete translation of his Logische Untersuchungen, which is yet to be translated into English. As for subjects, the Revista covered the gamut from literature through physics. But there was more to this procedure than mere mechanics.
"Propósitos," 1923, Obras VI, p. 313.
Writers and readers of Revista de Occidente met as equals because they shared concern for the contemporary cultural condition of the West. "At the present moment, the desire to know 'what is happening in the world' acquires great urgency, for everywhere symptoms of a profound transformation in ideas, sentiments, manners, and institutions surge up. Many people are getting the distressing impression that chaos is invading their existence. Nevertheless, a little clarity, as well as a bit of order and hierarchy in our information will quickly reveal the plan of the new architecture according to which Western life is being reconstructed. Revista de Occidente seeks to serve this characteristic state of the spirit in our time." Here was the secret of the Revista: it sold neither its readers nor its writers short, for it assumed that both groups sought to develop an integral conception of Western culture. Rather than cajole name writers to tailor their thought to the supposed capacities of the audience, the Revista freed thinkers to write from their strength, to explain as best they could what they had to contribute to Western culture, for persons read the review to learn about these essential contributions. Although each issue contained variegated material, the actual subject in most contributions was the fundamental principles of contemporary culture. In this way the Revista made good on its claim to be a review of the West.
In this and ensuing paragraphs, 1 hay€' mentioned only those contributors who were of sufficient note to be written up in the third edition of The Columbia Encyclopedia. Some arbitrary procedure seems necessary in order to keep the discussion reasonably brief. However, this particular criterion leaves out significant figures such as the biologists F. J. J. Buytendijk and Jacob von Uexküll, the historians E. R. Curtius and Wilhelm Worringer, the mathematicians Hans Thirring and Hermann Weyl (a close friend of Ortega), the psychologist David Katz, and the philosopher Eduard Spranger.
Take, for instance, the Revista's coverage of contemporary literature. The creative writer did much to define the spiritual possibilities of a people; consequently to make the spirit of the West manifest to Spaniards it was important to have a good selection of the more sensitive Western writers. The Revista gave its readers a remarkable introduction to contemporary Western literature. American writing was represented by works of Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, and Eugene O'Neill. British writing was more fully introduced with translations of Joseph Conrad, Lord Dunsany, Aldous Huxley, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, Liam O'Flaherty, George Bernard Shaw, James Stephens, and Virginia Woolf. Plays, stories, and essays were translated from the French of Jean Cocteau, Joseph Delteil, Jean Giraudoux, Henri-René Lenormand, Paul Morand, and Paul Valéry. From German there were contributions by Franz Kafka, Georg Kaiser, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, Carl Sternheim, and the Austrians Franz Werfel and Stefan Zweig. Finally, three Russians of note, Ilya Ehrenburg, Vsevolod V. Ivanov, and Alexander I. Kuprin, and the Italian, Luigi Pirandello, were introduced to Spanish readers. A review specializing in literature might have been considered successful for publishing writers such as these, along with leading contemporary Spanish writers. But literature was only one of the many subjects covered by the Revista de Occidente.
Among the ten internationally known physicists who published in the Revista, six were Nobel Prize winners; furthermore the Revista was not simply following the judgment of the Swedish Academy of Science, for two of the six—Max Born and Erwin Schrodinger—were awarded the prize after they had written for the Revista. These writings concerned many of the basic conceptual problems of physics and the bearing of these problems on cultural matters. In 1926, Max Born wrote on the relation of scientific laws to matter; in 1929, soon after he delivered his paper on the unified field theory to the Prussian Academy of Science, Einstein explained the need and difficulty of this theory to Spaniards; in 1930, Louis de Broglie discussed the question of continuity and individuality in contemporary physics; in 1932, Erwin Schrödinger reflected on the ways in which natural science was conditioned by its milieu and methods; and in 1934, Werner Heisenberg traced the transformations of fundamental principles that had occurred in twentieth-century physics. Besides these essays the Revista published examinations of various aspects of theoretical physics and of its significance for a philosophy of culture by Sir Arthur S. Eddington, Sir James Jeans, Abbé Georges Lemaître, Robert A. Millikan, and Willem de Sitter.
Other fields besides literature and physics were well represented. The Revista published Leo Frobenius and Sir Arthur Keith on anthropology, Oswald Spengler and Johan Huizinga on history, Werner Sombart on economics, Georg Simmel and Max Weber on sociology, E. F. Gautier on geography, Igor Stravinsky on music, Amédée Ozenfant on painting, Le Corbusier on architecture, H. S. Jennings and J. B. S. Haldane on biology, and C. G. Jung and Ernst Kretschmer on psychiatry. Contemporary philosophers were well represented by A. N. Whitehead, George Santayana, Count Hermann Keyserling, Bertrand Russell, and Max Scheler. Critics like Lewis Mumford, Lytton Strachey, and Edmund Wilson also contributed essays. Many of the writers were not simply published once and then forgotten. Georg Kaiser and Franz Werfel contributed eight pieces each, and Sir Arthur S. Eddington and Sir James Jeans each published four; there were seven contributions by Jung, four by Strachey, thirteen by Simmel, four by Keyserling, five by Russell, and six by Scheler.
Revista de Occidente regularly advertised the books it published. A rather complete list can be found in the advertising pages (unnumbered) of the December 1930 issue.
In addition to the monthly magazine, the Revista de Occidente quickly became a major publisher of serious literature in Spain. Although it specialized in translations of contemporary European writers, significant Spanish writers were on its lists, among them Ortega, Eugenio D'Ors, Antonio Espina, Benjamín Jarnés, Jorge Guillén, Rafael Alberti, Valentín Andrés Álvarez, Pedro Salinas, and Federico García Lorca. The series "New Facts: New Ideas" was characteristic of the Revista's publications. In it, inexpensive translations of important works on theoretical physics, philosophy, psychology, and the social sciences were issued. Hermann Weyl, Jacob von Uexküll, Max Scheler, Kurt Koffka, Franz Brentano, Georg Simmel, Hans Driesch, C. G. Jung, Ernst Kretschmer, Sir Arthur S. Eddington, Werner Sombart, Bertrand Russell, Eduard Spranger, and David Katz were among the authors published in this series. There were also series specializing in history, anthologies of great thinkers, the history of philosophy, anthropology, and contemporary literature. In short, almost any curiosity stimulated by articles in the Revista de Occidente could be pursued in greater depth through the books published by the Revista.
Let us imagine a community in which all men have the opportunity to educate themselves, to shape their character by means of principles. Let us further imagine that each member of this community can partake in a continuous, profound examination of basic theories and the application of these to life. In addition, each person in this community will have open access to unlimited information that exposes the inner workings of the commonweal to scrutiny. In such a community the privileges of power, which have always been based on the fact that a few have had access to superior intelligence and information, would disappear. The state would wither, and men would begin to realize Rousseau's dream of a perfect democracy in which each person, deliberating for himself on the basis of complete information, would independently decide on his course of conduct with respect to the general will. In such a community, the Platonic desire to infuse politics with ethics can be realized. And such a community would be one in which each member would draw, separately yet fully, on the available means of communication: on the schools, books, magazines, newspapers, radio, television, museums, and cinema. From these different media, each member would extract those cultural elements he found pertinent and concert these into his integral, individual mission.
Ortega perceived that the pedagogical usefulness of different publishing media could be fulfilled only as people individually coordinated the bits of information and various ideas that they extracted from their newspapers, magazines, and books. No one could perform the acts of coordination for the reader, but men responsible for the forms of communication could take into account the fact that alert readers would be drawing connections between thoughts stimulated by different media. Together, El Sol and Revista de Occidente were a nascent attempt to recognize that men learned by putting things together from a variety of sources.
Ortega's desire to link the newspaper to the magazine and the book depended on his insight into the character of an intellectually alert audience. Often, communicators described the mental character of a potential audience by establishing what lowest educational attainments all its members might have in common; and for a communication to be addressed to one of these groups successfully, it must be couched so that persons of that educational level can absorb it comfortably. Thus, communicators assume that they must shape their appeal to the supposed characteristics of an audience of children, elementary school graduates, high school graduates, college alumni, professionals, or intellectuals. Many people take for granted the existence of various media such as newspapers, magazines, and books; they are content to match the content of these media to the desires and attainments of one or another audience. All too rarely one thinks to link the media together in such a way that they support a man's effort to transform his personal characteristics. Instead, the newspaper/ magazine, and book become packaged products marketed to known, predictable audiences, and if these products became culturally effective, inducing significant changes in their audiences, it would seriously complicate their very marketability. Hence the complacent communicator prefers to compete discreetly for particular parts of the static pie.
This conception of the relation between the media and their audiences creates a static situation for both writer and reader. Authors quickly learn to specialize, writing invariably on a single level of intellectual difficulty; and the reader comfortably habituates himself to accepting only those communications—be they in newspapers, magazines, or books—that his present attainments enable him to read with ease. This situation is fine for the middlemen; the young writer discovers how to give certain editors what they want and the reader picks his product and nestles in with a long-term subscription. The editor is the patriarch who dictates what is good for both writer and reader. But this system is bad for the intellectual development of both the writer and the reader, for it discourages both from the open pursuit of their talent and curiosity. When audiences are marked off so as to separate out isolated cultural strata, which are defined, when all is said and done, by the difficulty of the prose that will be tolerated in each, the system forces the writer to conceive of his readers by means of a stereotype; and if the writer has any talent, he will subtly insinuate that stereotype into the character of his actual readers. In this way, the system impedes the full development of the cultural community and impairs the continuous humanization of its members.
Audiences, however, need not be defined by their common, extrinsic characteristics. [n Ortega's publishing enterprises much less attention was paid to the external attainments of the audience than to its internal drive. El Sol was not a class or regional newspaper; the intention was that workers, farmers, professionals, and intellectuals, that people in the countryside, the villages, the provincial cities, and the capital, would all read the paper. With El Sol, as with all of Ortega's publications, one assumed only that the audience was curious and intellectually alert. To match a set of publications to this audience, one had to observe how a curious, alert person conducted his intellectual life. Daily, such a person would sift, without a systematic effort to preserve his findings, a wealth of various materials, some of which he would note to be important; periodically, he would follow with some care a variety of topics that he had found to be important, but not essential, for his abiding concerns; and continually, he would devote himself to permanently mastering those powers—personal and professional—that he found necessary for the just conduct of his life. Thus, the intellectual functions of the newspaper, the periodical, and the book were defined. By coordinating the way these served their respective functions, a powerful pedagogical system was created. Then, this system was put in the service of a definite, particular conception of culture and of its potential significance in the life of Spain. The topics treated ephemerally, but compellingly, in El Sol were examined from time to time with more care and permanence in Revista de Occidente, and they were, furthermore, the subject of substantial books published by the Revista.
"Sobre un periódico de las letras," 1927, Obras 111, pp. 446–9.
See "La política por excelencia," "Dinámica del tiempo," "Tierras de porvenir," and "El poder social," 1927, Obras III, pp. 445–505, which were all preparations for The Revolt of the Masses.
By linking different media to each other, one not only encouraged readers to pursue a passing curiosity to the point of thorough mastery, one helped writers explore and perfect their powers. Writers used El Sol to test themes and initiate the public exploration of potential subjects. El Sol was a place in which writers could think in public and readers could get a sense of writers as men thinking, watching their concerns germinate, mature, and ripen. In 1927, in a short essay heralding the appearance of a literary weekly catering to young writers, Ortega explained the different functions that newspapers, magazines, and books could serve in literature. The best use of a newspaper, he suggested, was as a great testing ground and clearing house with easy access for young writers. Through the newspaper there would be a productive, personal, ongoing exchange between writers and their readers. The periodical, in contrast to the newspaper, should be open only to material that had survived a more rigorous selection; its articles should concern matters of recognized importance and be worthy of permanence. Through the magazine a reciprocal relation between writer and readers should be maintained, but at a greater distance than in the newspaper. Finally, the book should be reserved for literature, a work that was of sufficient significance to command enduring interest even though the relation between writer and reader would become indirect. This conception of the literary function of the newspaper explains why preliminary versions of Ortega's most important books first appeared in El Sol. For instance, The Revolt of the Masses was preceded by a series of experimental essays in El Sol in which Ortega worked out his argument and prepared his personal audience for its reception. If due care was taken to use newspapers, magazines, and books with a full sense of their interrelations, all sorts of reciprocal effects between the writer and reader might become possible.
Ortega's publishing activities—each by itself and all in concert—were attempts to educate the public. It would be easy to object that the actual effects achieved were not sufficient to make a decisive difference in Spanish life. However, the education of the public is an indirect mode of influence; it is not dramatically decisive and it requires time to produce results. Art is long and life is short, even in an age of instantaneous communication. In this case, life was too short. El Sol began in 1917, to endure for a mere twenty years. Revista de Occidente appeared in 1923; and although it kept publishing until1936, by 1930 events began to lure Ortega and his colleagues into more immediate commitments. These proved to be premature, but there was no turning back; by the early 1930's Ortega no longer believed that he could deeply influence the Spaniard's character. Hence, the vision of a coordinated system of media dedicated to helping the populace improve itself remains only a vision.
The erroneous belief, unfortunately propagated by T. S. Eliot in Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, 1949, that there is a divergence between the so-called "literary" idea of culture and the "anthropological" has freed too many writers who should know better to play fast and loose with the idea of culture. If "culture" is to denote human artifacts, the word itself is meaningless, for it will denote everything. Hence, it will become significant only when qualified: aristocratic, democratic, proletarian, mass, high, middle, low, popular, unpopular, primitive, and so on ad infinitum. There are, taking up this procedure, many interesting essays on the problems of popular or mass culture. Many of these are gathered by Bernard Rosenberg and David Manning White in Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America. See also Dwight Macdonald, "Masscult and Midcult," in Against the American Grain. Most of this writing seems to have missed the reality of culture, which is not in the artifact, but in the man. Both the literary humanist and the anthropologist seem to be nearing agreement that culture is man's symbolic means for giving a particular character to himself. The important book here is not the overrated compendium by A. L. Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn, Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions, but Eric R, Wolf's Anthropology. Wolf shows that anthropologists need to view the culture of any particular people as a hierarchical symbolic system by which those people give themselves their unique character. As soon as culture can again be seen as an hierarchical system, the disjunction between different strata of culture can be overcome, and we can make the concept serve as a powerful tool for fashioning a better understanding of education. In this context, John Dewey's Freedom and Culture will be found to be a much more effective examination of the function of culture in industrial democracies than the confused talk about mass culture. There is an immense literature on the idea of culture. Raymond Williams' Culture and Society is a useful survey of the development of these two concepts in English intellectual history. Such a study should be made of how ideas of culture and education have developed since 1750, for it may well be that many of the current difficulties with the idea of culture have arisen because educators, in the name of democratic egalitarianism, have avoided dealing with "culture," which can only be defined properly in relation to education. Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy: An Essay in Political and Social Criticism is an excellent companion to Ortega's Revolt of the Masses. Arnold's conception of culture as the pursuit of perfection (see especially Chapter 1) is still valid; it is consistent with current anthropological findings; and it is crucial to developing an alternative to the continued aggrandisement of the contemporary state, a state very different from the one Arnold so revered.
Nevertheless, this vision is particularly significant. It clarifies principles of culture that are easily ignored in the high finance and publicity politics of mass communications. It illuminates alternatives to the qualitative stagnation that has characterized most of contemporary culture. During the early twentieth century, writers hopelessly confused the concept of culture by cant about various kinds of culture—aristocratic or democratic; high, low, or middle brow; proletarian, mass, elite, popular, primitive, and so on ad infinitum. The only distinction that needs to be made is between culture and pseudo-culture, or ornaments, roles, "bags," and other disposables. Here culture means precisely what the etymology of the word suggests, that which promotes the growth and development of man. Pseudo-culture, despite its enticements, is too insipid to conduce to the spiritual development of those who produce and consume it. Whereas with culture, the effects on a man's character are essential and those on his appearance are incidental; with pseudo-culture, the effects on his appearance are essential and those on his character are incidental. Real culture is continuous, cumulative in the character of the person, and difficult; it is the result of a man's efforts to develop his mission, to embody what he stands for with respect to the absolute .. The capacity for the participants in a community to cultivate their character is the ultimate foundation of their common life. And cultural democracy is the audacious yet desirable attempt to develop a community whose success, whose very survival depends on the manner in which each member of the community, not only a privileged few, cultivates his character.
No man, however, can force culture on another. True culture is self-culture. In the light of this proposition, Ortega made the assumption basic to all efforts at cultural democracy: any man who asserts his will has the power to cultivate his character; through self-culture all men can expand their abilities and minimize their deficiencies. The basic threat to cultural democracy is the paternalistic assumption that the average man is incapable of cultivating himself and that he should therefore be provided with a veneer of pseudo-culture, something he can consume without having to change his character. And the worst paternalist of all is the professing democrat whose nerves have failed, for his efforts to encourage the people to rely on his superior wisdom will simply reinforce the popular inadequacies that prompted him to exalt himself in the first place.
"Hacia una mejor política: El hombre de la calle escribe," El Sol, December 7,1917, Obras X, p. 368.
In his teaching, writing, and publishing Ortega assumed that his audience was composed of sentient, intelligent persons who were to be addressed as peers. He tried to build up the intellectual elite of Spain, not so that its members could think for the people, but so that they could more effectively provoke the people to think for themselves. El Sol, which was the work of intellectuals, tried to win a provincial, rural audience, not to carry another party line to isolated areas, but to bring to rural life a new set of stimuli and, equally, to experience new stimuli itself. "We wish and believe possible a better Spain—stronger, richer, nobler, more beautiful...," Ortega wrote in the opening issue of El Sol. "In order to achieve it, it is necessary that each of us be a little bit better in everything; that an affinity for the powerful, clean, clear life disperses through the entire race; that each Spaniard resolves to elevate by a few pounds the pressure of his spiritual potencies." Cultural democracy would flourish in Spain only when the inhabitants of the central cities and the rural villages had sufficient respect for one another to attempt to converse as equals.
Ortega understood that mutual respect was the principle of cultural democracy. The alternatives that he perceived to cultural stagnation arose from his willingness to act on the premise of respect, even though, judging from past performance, the meager achievements of many men might suggest that such respect was not merited. But Ortega respected the potential that men possessed, not their past achievements. No culture would be created by those who began with the inductive discovery of what, at the present moment, a given group could comfortably comprehend. The teacher, writer, and publisher had to take human potentiality as his starting point; he also had to be able to do justice to all aspects of human endeavor—to technology, economics, law, sport, science, art, speech, myth, love, and morality. The publisher's genius; like that of the teacher and the writer, was to avoid cutting these endeavors down to the size of the average man, and to manage, instead, to introduce each concern in such a way that the average man could, with earnest effort, develop in himself all the possibilities that each realm of culture offered.
If a few men began to use a liberal pedagogy in their teaching, prose, and publishing, Ortega believed that others would respond and that a nation could spontaneously reform itself. Spain almost did.
Men should speak with rational awareness and thereby hold on strongly to that which is shared in common—as a city holds on to its law, and even more strongly. For all human laws are nourished by the one divine law, which prevails as far as it wishes, suffices for all things, and yet is something more than they.