The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953 Page: 350

This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Southwestern Historical Quarterly and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Texas State Historical Association.

View a full description of this periodical.

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

largely ignores the problem of the psychological debris left in
the wake of their aberrant and fanatical religions.
EDWIN SMYRL
The Desert Year. By Joseph Wood Krutch. New York (William
Sloane Associates), 1951 and 1952. Pp. 270. $3.75.
Something of the enlightenment one gets on turning away
for a time from science-as-mere-fact to science seen through the
eyes of a literary man-that is a man with a feeling for words-
may be suggested by a paragraph in this study of life's manifesta-
tions under desert conditions, wherein occurs the author's crit-
icism of the careless use in scientific literature of the word
"adaptation." I chose this paragraph for specific mention since
it illustrates the method of the whole work.
Certainly thought-horizons are widened as we see Nature through
the mind's eye of one who senses the weight, the dynamics, the impact
and emotional content of English words. We are made to realize that
the printed or voiced symbol is merely a core which sweeps along
in its orbit an aura of suggestion, implication, nuances, or what you
will, endowing the nucleus with its value as a means of communica-
tion between language-using animals, including many individuals of
our own species.
This is only a long way of saying that the so-called "hard-
boiled" scientist (indispensable as he has proved himself to be)
is sometimes unfortunately illiterate. He may defer to the doodle-
bug as an organism but show little respect for the living principle
in language.
"Adaptation"-what sins are committed in they name. "It is a
cold word," says Mr. Krutch.
Its connotations [he continues] are mechanical and it alienates from
us a life process which is thereby deprived of all emotional meaning.
... But those of us who had rather not deny and renounce the rich-
ness of our own experience by thinking of it merely as some process
of mechanical adaptation had better not get in the habit of seeing
nothing but mechanism in the life histories of other living things.
Thus, besides the elevating communion with a genuinely
articulate writer of sound learning and acute sensitiveness to
natural surroundings, the reader receives gently graduated doses
of semantics that will likely do him good.

350

Upcoming Pages

Here’s what’s next.

397 of 766
398 of 766
399 of 766
400 of 766

Show all pages in this issue.

This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.

Citing and Sharing

Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.

Reference the current page of this Periodical.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953, periodical, 1953; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/m1/396/ocr/: accessed September 29, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.