The Rice Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 36, No. 21, Ed. 1 Saturday, December 4, 1948 Page: 4 of 8
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Roussel Sees Reexamination of Our Culture
Our Young Writers Will Answer World
Dilemma Through Humanistic Spirit
by Henry L. Walters, Jr.
I entered a small, drab office, crowded with furniture,
books, and the lank man who occupied it. I introduced myself
and prepared to record the interview but he wanted some in-
formation about the Institute first. What kind of paper had
we, and what had been featured thus far concerning the arts.
I spoke of Mr. Williams' views
on modern taste and Dr. Tsan-
off's article on the moral prob-
lems of our age. Mr. Roussel
took a cigarette from a package
and studied it.
"You know," he said, "Dr. Tsanoff
had the choice subject in this dis-
cussion." I conceded this point, lit
a cigarette and prepared to take
notes. Mr. Roussel turned away
from us and looked out the window.
He began to speak, slowly at first,
carefully considering each word.
"My phase of this subject is that
phase expressed through the the-
ater arts. By this I mean music,
drama—everything that takes place
in the theater. Much that is signifi-
cant concerning American thought
and character can be studied
through the forms of expression
found in the theater."
He turned toward me, the unlit
cigarette still in his hand. I offered
him a light. "At this time," he con-
tinued, "American character is in
a peculiar and significant state of
evolution, and the theater arts, I
believe, have become of particular
interest and real value to the stu-
dent of national life.
"One of the best results, of the
late war, if it can be said to have
any good results, is the fact that
we have been moved to a reassess-
ment. of our cultural values and
aims. The appearance of the atom
bomb was a startling and shaking
thing which cannot fail to. cause us
to look with new skepticism at what
we call scientific progress. It is a
somewhat, dubious form of prog-
ress, cari'ying with it the threat of
an almost total destruction."
Mr. Roussel hastened to explain
an apparently blanket condemnation
of science. "I do not mean" he said,
"that we do not owe our highest
respect and gratitude to scientific
improvement." He pointed out that
the many advances made in the var-
ious sciences have for the most part
had as an objective the creation of
a safer, more luxurious world for
mankind. "However," he added,
"science, in its relentless pursuit
of the secrets of nature has opened
a Pandora's Box as terrifying to
the scientist as to the layman. Un-
der pressure of this thrust we have
been moved to ask ourselves: What
is real progress, and what are the
ends for which man must strive if
he is to keep his civilization intact
in the world he has now made for
Mr. Roussel turned to us and
smiled. "Now let's decide where we
are" going from here," he said. He
surveyed one wall of the room, his
eyes finally resting on that window,
"great question before us today,"
he continued, "are moral questions.
They have thrown us ba^ck on an
examination of our spiritual life and
not our technical and mechanical
positions. If there is any answer to
the dilemma in which the world now
stands it must come through inquiry
into our expression from the human
spirit and not from the external
conditions surrounding us." He said
that we have made a bad world for
ourselves; though, we don't know
what to do about it.
He paused, his hand moved for-
ward in a gesture, and he began to
speak more intently, a slight accent
embellishing each word. All seemed
to emphasize the next statement.
"Man, himselfMs the last frontier,"
he said, "and it .must be through
a rediscovery of himself that he
finds his way out of. the present
wilderness. I believe that our art-
ists know this and are striving to
do something about it. They have
have not done much yet, for this is
an overwhelming problem and three
or four years are not enough for
the creative spirit to adjust itself."
Mr. Roussel explained that the art-
ist needs some assurance that he is
creating for an age beyond his own.
The artist must believe that there
is a future, and among the doubts
and fears of this age h has not been
able to find that assurance.
"There is, however, "he continued,
"a fine earnestness in our young
playwrights and critics, and *our
young American composers are
Main at Richmond Wayside at ^Iarrisburg
2518 RICE BOULEVARD
Commercial photography —-— Kodak Finishing
striving to express through their
music the same quest for higher
moral ground that we feel In some
of our new plays.
"Another important aspect of
the present cultural situation—as re-
vealed in the theater—is the in-
creasing interest in the forms of
theater art which have some spirit-
ual significance combined with a
corresponding decrease in pubtiftr de-
mand for the minor and insignifi-
cant forms. This is expressed
trrough the vast expansion, i$ the
last five years, of public symphon-
ies, and in the eagerness for goodf
drama, manifested in vairous ways,
but particularly in the demand for
more local community theaters of
better quality. What we are seeing
is a decentralization of American
drama. The difference in perform-
ing quality between our professional
and non-professional theaters is
being steadily narrowed, and a
large American public, many of
whom have been brought up almost
entirely on motion pictures, is be-
coming acquainted with , certain
values of the play that they had
not even suspected." Again 'he
paused, and I lit another cigarette.
to People, Schools
(Continued from Page 2)
not wasting it away in flares from
The sky is lighted in many
parts of our State by oil well gas
flares burning valuable gas to the
air. EVERY CITIZEN HAS
SEEN THIS WASTE GOING
ON. It must be stopped. Ii&ipn be
The Railroad Commission ms been'
working for many years toilet tre
operators to cease and desist from
this wasteful practice. At o£e time
a billion feet of gas per day was
wasted in the Panhandle. AH that
waste in the Panhandle has been
Hundreds of oil fields now save
every foot of the gas produced with
ful," he said, "for out of our present
perplexity and soul searching we
are approaching, in American the-
atrical culture, a level of undertak-
ing and appreciation which we have
not known in the past."
He looked at me for a moment,
then he stated emphatically, "It is
my great hope that this has signifi-
"I think all trpse things are hope- cant implications for the future!"
oil. It means added profits to the
Our program is to stop aU
such waste wherever the quantity
is great enough io justify saving
The oil companies ought to save
this gas without being compelled
to do it by law. They are wasting
their valuable assets when they do
not save flare gas and use it either
to lift more oil or for some lawful
purpose or use.
The Supreme Court in the See-
ligson Case said it was within the
powers of tre Railroad Commission
and was the Commissions respon-
sibility to stop this waste wherever
it was economically feasible and
reasonable to do so, and we are re-
quiring that waste of gas be stop-
ped in 16 more fields on December
1, 1948. More show cause orders on
other fields will be soon forthcom-
We tell the operators to either
save the gas or cease producing oil
there until „they are ready to save
th gas that comes with the oil. I
believe thjs is reasonable.
Ideal for the coming holiday sea-
son is this purple satin cocketail
it has an exaggerated
swing ankle-length tekirt emphasizes
the beauteous lines of the dress.
Priced—$75.00. Found at Craig's
. .j. 2nd floor.
«* 0 -V s
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The Rice Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 36, No. 21, Ed. 1 Saturday, December 4, 1948, newspaper, December 4, 1948; Houston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth230776/m1/4/: accessed June 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rice University Woodson Research Center.