Witness to Freedom: The Letters of Thomas Merton in Times of Crisis [NOOK Book]


Witness to Freedom is the fifth and final volume in the extraordinary correspondence of “one of the most original and challenging minds of the mid-twentieth century” (John Tracy Ellis, The New York Times Book Review). Dramatic and revealing, these letters deal with periods of serious crisis in Thomas Merton’s life and vocation, giving readers, in his own words, the details and behind-the-scene facts of his personal struggles as well as his ...
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Witness to Freedom: The Letters of Thomas Merton in Times of Crisis

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Witness to Freedom is the fifth and final volume in the extraordinary correspondence of “one of the most original and challenging minds of the mid-twentieth century” (John Tracy Ellis, The New York Times Book Review). Dramatic and revealing, these letters deal with periods of serious crisis in Thomas Merton’s life and vocation, giving readers, in his own words, the details and behind-the-scene facts of his personal struggles as well as his lifelong commitment to peace.

This remarkable collection includes the unpublished “Cold War Letters” (as well as a complete list of the series), with Merton’s original preface, which confirms their continuing relevance in the cause of peace. There are letters to ecologist Rachel Carson; artist and type designer Victor Hammer; Merton’s friend and agent Naomi Burton Stone; his teacher Mark Van Doren; the Canadian philosopher Leslie Dewart; the French Arabic scholar Louis Massignon; and other famous as well as unknown correspondents. There is a courageous open letter to the American hierarchy on the issue of war. Witness to Freedom shows Merton as a living witness against war, perhaps one of the greatest of our century.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Trappist monk, novelist, poet and social critic, Merton (1915-1968) oscillates between engagement and solitude, hope and despair, in these impassioned, searching letters. This fifth and final volume of his correspondence--all of which are edited by Shannon--reflects his commitment to nuclear disarmament, his immersion in Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence, his growing ecological awareness and his quest for a political philosophy of freedom grounded in his Catholic faith. Merton critiques the United States as a ``warfare state'' in which the convergent interests of big business, the military and the wealthy dominate and dictate national policy. The content of his letters to ecologist Rachel Carson, folksinger Joan Baez, fellow poet-teacher Mark Van Doren, French-Arabic scholar Louis Massignon and Zen adept Masso Abe show the breadth of his pursuits. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429966863
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 11/10/1995
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • File size: 696 KB

Meet the Author

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is one of the foremost spiritual thinkers of the twentieth century. Though he lived a mostly solitary existence as a Trappist monk, he had a dynamic impact on world affairs through his writing. An outspoken proponent of the antiwar and civil rights movements, he was both hailed as a prophet and castigated for his social criticism. He was also unique among religious leaders in his embrace of Eastern mysticism, positing it as complementary to the Western sacred tradition. Merton is the author of over forty books of poetry, essays, and religious writing, including Mystics and Zen Masters, and The Seven Story Mountain, for which he is best known. His work continues to be widely read to this day.

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Read an Excerpt

Witness to Freedom
I.Art and Freedom 
It is the greatest glory of Christian art that it expresses the freedom of the children of God.PREFACE TO WILLIAM CONGDON'SIn My Disc of GoldTo Victor HammerBorn in Vienna on December 9, 1882, Victor Hammer was brought up in the old quarter of the city among modest artisans. At the age of sixteen he entered the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and learned to support himself by drawing and painting. An inveterate traveler, he visited many places in Europe and before he had reached the age of forty had gone twice to the United States. He became famous as a typographer who formulated principles that others were to follow; he was also adept in bookbinding and calligraphy.With Hitler's rise to power and the spread of Nazism to Austria, Hammer gave up his position as professor of art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and came to the United States. In 1939 he accepted the position of professor of art at Wells College in Aurora-on-Cayuga, New York, where he taught lettering, drawing, and painting and, with his son Jacob, founded the Wells College Press and the Hammer Press. In 1948 he retired from Wells College to become artistin-residence at Transylvania College in Lexington, Kentucky. He and his wife, Carolyn, whom he married in 1955, lived in a historical residence in Gratz Park in Lexington. One of his presses was brought from Florence and became the King Library Press. Under the imprint he had used in Italy, Stamperia del Santuccio, he printed special limited editions of several of Merton's books. On one of his visits to the Hammers, Merton saw a triptych that Victor had painted. The central panel showed a woman and a young boy standing in front of her; the woman was putting a crown on the child's head and Merton asked who the woman was. Hammer answered that he had begun to paint a madonna and child, but it had not turned out as he expected and he no longer knew who the woman was. Merton said, "I know who she is. I have always known her. She is Hagia Sophia."On May 2, 1959, Hammer wrote to Merton asking him to come bless the triptych and also to explain in more detail what he had said about Hagia Sophia. Merton did so in the following letter. The contents of this letter later grew intothe text of his long poem, "Hagia Sophia," printed by Hammer in a limited edition; it was also published in Emblems of a Season of Fury and appears in Collected Poems. 
May 14, 1959I have not rushed to reply to your letter--first, because I have been a little busy, and second, because it is most difficult to write anything that really makes sense about this most mysterious reality in the mystery of God--Hagia Sophia [Holy Wisdom].The first thing to be said, of course, is that Hagia Sophia is God Himself. God is not only a Father but a Mother. He is both at the same time, and it is the "feminine aspect" or "feminine principle" in the divinity that is the Hagia Sophia. But of course as soon as you say this the whole thing becomes misleading: a division of an "abstract" divinity into two abstract principles. Nevertheless, to ignore this distinction is to lose touch with the fullness of God. This is a very ancient intuition of reality which goes back to the oldest Oriental thought. (There is something about it in Carolyn's wonderful book Peaks and Lamas [written by Marco Pallis], incidentally.) For the "masculine-feminine" relationship is basic in all reality--simply because all reality mirrors the reality of God.In its most primitive aspect, Hagia Sophia is the dark, nameless Ousia [Being] of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the incomprehensible, "primordial" darkness which is infinite light. The Three Divine Persons, each at the same time, are Sophia and manifest her. But where the Sophia of your picture comes in is this: the wisdom of God, "reaching from end to end mightily" is also the Tao, the nameless pivot of all being and nature, the center and meaning of all, that which is the smallest and poorest and most humble in all: the "feminine child" playing before God the Creator in His universe, "playing before Him at all times, playing in the world" (Proverbs 8). (This is the Epistle of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.) This feminine principle in the universe is the inexhaustible source of creative realizations of the Father's glory in the world and is in fact the manifestation of His glory. Pushing it further, Sophia in ourselves is the mercy of God, the tenderness which by the infinitely mysterious power of pardon turns the darkness of our sins into the light of God's love.Hence, Sophia is the feminine, dark, yielding, tender counterpart of the power, justice, creative dynamism of the Father.Now the Blessed Virgin is the one created being who in herself realizes perfectly all that is hidden in Sophia. She is a kind of personal manifestation of Sophia. She crowns the Second Person of the Trinity with His human nature (with what is weak, able to suffer, able to be defeated) and sends Him forth with His mission of inexpressible mercy, to die for man on the Cross, and this death, followed by the Resurrection, is the greatest expression of the "manifold wisdom of God" which unitesus all in the mystery of Christ--the Church. Finally, it is the Church herself, properly understood as the great manifestation of the mercy of God, who is the revelation of Sophia in the sight of the angels.The key to the whole thing is, of course, mercy and love. In the sense that God is Love, is Mercy, is Humility, is Hiddenness, He shows Himself to us within ourselves as our own poverty, our own nothingness (which Christ took upon Himself, ordained for this by the Incarnation in the womb of the Virgin) (the crowning in your picture), and if we receive the humility of God into our hearts, we become able to accept and embrace and love this very poverty, which is Himself and His Sophia. And then the darkness of Wisdom becomes to us inexpressible light. We pass through the center of our own nothingness into the light of God.I wrote that first page without keeping a carbon, but I am getting someone to copy it because I am going to want to know what I said. I say these things and forget them, and then someone refers to them again and I can no longer remember what is being talked about. I cannot remember what it was I said when I was there in Lexington and we were looking at the triptych.The beauty of all creation is a reflection of Sophia living and hidden in creation. But it is only our reflection. And the misleading thing about beauty, created beauty, is that we expect Sophia to be simply a more intense and more perfect and more brilliant, unspoiled, spiritual revelation of the same beauty. Whereas to arrive at her beauty we must pass through an apparent negation of created beauty, and to reach her light we must realize that in comparison with created light it is a darkness. But this is only because created beauty and light are ugliness and darkness compared with her. Again the whole thing is in the question of mercy, which cuts across the divisions and passes beyond every philosophical and religious ideal. For Sophia is not an ideal, not an abstraction, but the highest reality, and the highest reality must manifest herself to us not only in power but also in poverty, otherwise we never see it. Sophia is the Lady Poverty to whom St. Francis was married. And of course she dwelt with the Desert Fathers in their solitude, for it was she who brought them there and she whom they knew there. It was with her that they conversed all the time in their silence.I wish I had a fuller remembrance of your pictures. I just remember the general idea. The story you tell of its growth is very interesting and revealing and I am sure Hagia Sophia herself was guiding you in the process, for it is she who guides all true artists, and without her they are nothing.When [Ad] Reinhardt [the painter, Merton's classmate] was here he was discussing art too. His approach is very austere and ascetic. It is a kind of exaggerated reticence, a kind of fear of self expression. All his paintings are very formal and black. I certainly do not think he is a quack like so many others; on the contrary, he is in strong reaction against them.I think you and he would be in fundamental agreement. It is a pity he was not able to get over there. He is certainly not a brilliant success (like so many of the others who are making fortunes with their stuff).Now J. Laughlin, whom you know, is coming down in June. He wants very much to see you, and will write to you about it. My novice, who was in the hospital, came out but is going back, and it is possible that perhaps it might be necessary for me to make one trip more. I do not know what the future will bring, but until I know more about it let us wait and expect the possibility at any rate. If nothing comes up, then we could plan on you both coming over here later in June. I could write about that. I think often of the Desert Fathers, and the work [is] progressing. And how is the broadside? Maybe we could make a little broadsheet on Sophia, with the material begun here???I am really enjoying Peaks and Lamas, and also the Athos book has been very fine--and the Hesiod. When you have thought about this material on Sophia, perhaps we could make a further step toward thinking of a title. I am so happy to be involved in what is clearly a very significant work, spiritually as well as artistically.Thank you for the photostats from the [Catholic] Encyclopedia [on Wisdom]. I looked them over, and they just begin to touch on the mysterious doctrine. Carolyn should try to get for the Library a book by Sergius Bolgakov, called The Wisdom of God, published in London in the thirties. It would cover very well the Sophia theme. I have notes on it, but the book is very technical in its way. 
On January 21, 1962, Hammer wrote to Merton and asked him what he thought "brainwashing" meant. How, he asked, can we escape it with all the newspapers and other means of communication? 
[Cold War Letter 24b]c. January 25, 1962As for brainwashing, the term is used very loosely about almost anything. Strict technical brainwashing is an artificially induced "conversion," brought about by completely isolating a person emotionally and spiritually, undermining his whole sense of identity, and then "rescuing" him from this state of near-collapse by drawing him over into a new sense of community with his persecutors, now his rescuers, who "restore" his identity by admitting [him] into their midst as an approved and docile instrument. Henceforth he does what they want him to do and likes it, indeed finds a certain satisfaction in this, and even regards his old life as shameful and inferior.In the loose sense, any mass man is a "brainwashed" man. He has lost his identity or never had one in the first place, and he seeks security, hope, a sense of identity in his immersion in the pressures and prejudices of a majority, speaking through TV, newspapers, etc. Having no real power or meaning in himself, he seeks all in identification with a presumablyall-powerful all-wise collectivity. Whatever the collectivity does is right, infallible, perfect. Anything approved by it becomes legitimate and even noble. The worst crimes are virtues when backed up by the all-powerful collectivity. All that matters is to be part of the great, loud mass.It seems to me that the great effort of conscience that remains for modern man is to resist this kind of annihilating pressure, this defection, in every possible way. The temptation comes unfortunately from very many angles, even seemingly good sources. The Cold War is the deadly influence that is leading Western man to brainwash himself.When the process is completed there will be nothing left but the hot war or the decline into totalitarian blindness and inertia, which also spells hot war in the end. The prospects are very dark, aren't they? Yet I think that perhaps some providential accident may happen that will wake everyone up. Some kind of plague of radiation, perhaps, something unexpected and unforeseen that will force people to their senses. But can we say we have done anything to deserve this? I hardly think so. Fortunately, if we only get what we deserved, we would never have very much of anything good. God is not simply just, He is also and above all merciful. I wish that this had not been so thoroughly forgotten ...The French situation is very disturbing indeed. Much evil can come of this. Everyone expects De Gaulle to get it this year sometime, and I wonder how long he can survive. He has been a good man in many ways, yet perhaps mistakenly messianic too. But what could any reasonable human being [have] done with Algeria? If he goes, then France goes too. And this may be the spark that will finally ignite everything. The next few months will tell us a thing or two. And the next three years, or four: well, to call them fateful is putting it so mildly as to be ridiculous.I wonder if there is going to be much left of the Western world by 1984 to fulfill George Orwell's prophecies.Meanwhile, we have only to be what we are and to retain the spirit and civilization which we were blessed with, and to keep as human as we can. 
[Cold War Letter 71]May 1962 
More and more I see that it is not the moral principles which are at stake but, more radically, the whole outlook of modern man, at least in America, and the basic assumptions which tend to guide his thought, if it can be called thought. We are living in an absurd dream, and a very bad one. And it is the fruit of all sorts of things we ought not to have done. But the whole world is in turmoil, spiritually, morally, socially. We are sitting on a thin crust above an immense lake of molten lava that is stirring and getting ready to erupt. Nothing will stop this eruption. But at least we can refrain from setting off bombs that will start it in some far worse way than it normally would. 
November 9, 1963I shudder at the thought of attempting a long didactic poem on art. Yet who knows, someday it may happen. I generally end up doing what I never expected to do, and I suppose that is a very good thing. However, I am firmly resolved to do anything but this at the moment.Of course, one could approach the subject of art as a way of "knowing" and seeing. You sometimes cannot see a thing at all unless you take pains to make something like it. And yet not like it. Nothing gets to be known without being changed in the process.As to saying "What is art?," well, I don't think there is much chance of making any sense out of the question if one is looking for a pure essence. On the other hand, the question is not without meaning. It is a matter of communication, not of discovery: not of defining the thing and getting command over it, but of clarifying one's own concepts and conveying what one means, or does not mean.After all, one has to be able to say that abstract expressionism is not art, and I think that clarifies most of what needs to be said about it, both for and against. That is precisely what is "for" it: that it is not art, though it seems to be. I know this statement is scandalous, and I think the ambiguities are bad ones in the long run (it should not pretend to be art, which in fact it does). I do not think that throwing paint on canvas and saying "This is art" merits twenty thousand dollars. It is too obvious. However, even the obvious has its place.If I write a long didactic poem on art it will certainly not be about this. 
December 18, 1963Thanks for your good letter: I find you much more scrupulous about the treatment of religious subjects than most artists would be. In fact, the use of the "vexillum" or cross-flag in the iconography of the Resurrection [Hammer had done a painting of the Resurrection] is not common these days. I suppose it is a late-medieval motif, suggested by the Crusades. In any event, there is no reason on earth why you should even give it a second thought. The flag is simply a sign of victory, and I suppose it means that the artist wants you to recognize the Resurrection, in case the tomb does not look sufficiently like a tomb. There are certainly other ways of doing this.Today is a bright, snowy morning, and it helps make one ready for Christmas. I hope that January will bring us some nice days. The middle of the month is out of the question for me (from the 18th to the 26th) because then we are on retreat and incommunicado. But in any case, things will work out and we will be able to get together in due time.I like Pascal, and of course he was a fervent devotee of Port Royal, where they took the spiritual life seriously. I wonder if I sent you the meditation on Julien Green? I enclose one, it may have something in itof a sardonic comment on that background, but on the other hand I have no notion of saints being dull. It is only the pseudo-saints that are oppressive. The real ones, from what I have read, are exceedingly lively. Of course, canonization manages to wash all the liveliness out of them and reduce them to safe limits, so that the bien pensants will not be disturbed. 
August 5, 1964It is good to see your handwriting again. This is a sign that things are going well and that you are recovering after your operation. But I am sorry to hear there is another one on the way. However, if it will be of some help, then that is good. I hope it, too, will be successful.Will you be ready to come over on the 22nd? If so that would be a fine date for me ... We are now on our summer schedule, which means that though still on Eastern Standard Time, we do everything an hour later. Thus while I can easily meet you at 11:15 in the winter, it will have to be about 12:15 in this season. In any case, unless I hear otherwise from you or Caroline, I will look forward to seeing you at 12:15 on the 22nd.Please thank Carolyn (this time I have spelled it properly) for sending the two reprints ["Pleasant Hill: A Shaker Village in Kentucky," published in Jubilee]. I think I could use half a dozen more, if they can be spared. I believe the Shaker Foundation at Pittsfield wants to get reprints too. If anyone corresponds with them, they can be advised to apply to Jubilee. It is perfectly all right, as far as I am concerned, if any number of reprints are made.Your Latin project sounds interesting and mysterious. For my part I am working on Celtic monks. They have some wonderful poetry, not, of course, that I can translate Gaelic but I read it in English when I can get it. 
August 12, 1964Perhaps your hernia operation is all over by now. I hope so, and hope that it has been successful. May you have a good rest and rebound in happy strength. After that I will look forward to seeing you and Carolyn here sometime soon. I will be eager to hear when it may be possible.Your letter and the letter from Lexi[ngton] reached me. Actually, the book that I sent [through John Howard Griffin] to Clyde Kennard was a copy of your [limited edition] Hagia Sophia, and I know he was very glad to have it. He was then dying in a hospital in Chicago, of cancer. He had been "framed" by the Mississippi police for trying to register at Miss. State University, and had been put on a chain gang and very badly treated though he already had cancer. The story, as I hear it, was simply that he had been very pleased with the book and that it had given him some joy in his last days. It seems the story is becoming a bit amplified now. But still, it is good that we are both able to think we have helped such a person and brought something meaningful into a tragic life, which, however, was full of meaning because of his own dedication.I hear that Jacques Maritain continues in good health, and I am glad of it. I have not heard from him for some time.Please let me know when you will be well enough to come over. 
November 3, 1964I was so pleased to hear from you and to know that you are at least fairly well, that though I am no Latin poet I immediately attempted a poem. Here it is. I do not know if it scans. All I can say is that I think it does. The lines are supposed to be hexameters. If you hear a strange noise it is the whole choir of Latin poets turning in their graves. [The poem is called "A Prayer of Thanksgiving Written for Victor Hammer."]O Tu, Pater Splendoris Dator luminis Ad Te gaudens precor restituto lumine Da quaesumus mihi servulo tecum perpetuam Nox ubi non contristet corda vel umbra diem. 
O thou Father of Splendor, Giver of Light, To Thee I pray in joy, with light restored Grant, I beg, to me Thy servant everlasting Day in which no night makes sad the heart and no shadow [the day].[CP, p. 1005]It is certainly good to know that your eyes are serving you well again and that you are working along as usual, or more or less so. I can well understand that things might be tiring to you and I hope you will not attempt a trip over here until you are sure that it will not be a burden. Meanwhile, perhaps something else might offer itself. We shall see. But we can be patient and look forward to our next meeting whenever and wherever God wills it to be.My hands are still afflicted with skin trouble though I can use them all right. But it is a nuisance. I suppose I will finally have to take some tests and find out precisely what the trouble is and what is to be done. My assumption is still that poison ivy started it all, but I never heard of it going on as long as this.If you should hear news of my exhibiting strange blobs of ink in Louisville, ignore the information: it is not worthy of your notice. As always, my feelings about it are very mixed, but it was something that presented itself in such a way that I thought I could do it without harm to anyone. I think I have made plain to all concerned that I do not regard it as "art" and that they are not supposed to either ...Today I did not vote for Goldwater ... 
December 4, 1964Yesterday I asked Father Abbot if I could perhaps have an exceptional permission to get over to Lexington to see you. He said that someone is driving over to the doctor on December 16th and that he would let mego with them and have lunch with you, if this were possible. So I am writing to ask if that would be a good day for me to come over for lunch. It is Wednesday. I think that if that day is impossible for you, if you can suggest another thereabouts I might be able to get a ride. But in any case I hope I can see you and Carolyn and have lunch in your fine studio, as monastic as any monastery, and in fact more.For my part things are going quite well. There is every likelihood now that I will be able to live at the hermitage continuously. In fact, I am already sleeping there and coming down for some of the offices and for my work in the novitiate, which still takes up quite a bit of time, but anyway in the night hours and in the afternoon at least I am in the woods and it certainly agrees with me. It seems to me that this is really what I came here for, at last, and that the community life has been somehow provisional and preparatory. However, we shall see what develops. Part of the agreement may end up by being a cutting off of contacts with visitors, perhaps almost completely. But as I say, we shall see. I will do my part and leave the rest up to Superiors with their concept of how things ought to be.Meanwhile, I look forward to the joy of seeing you.Very best wishes to both you and Carolyn. Yesterday I sent a copy of the new book [Seeds of Destruction], which is not like the others in many respects. God bless you. Is it really five years since I was last in Lexington? 
January 9, 1965Thanks for your letter. I am glad that you liked the "Pilgrimage" piece [see "From Pilgrimage to Crusade" in Mystics and Zen Masters] and I think you are right about the title. I will have to give it some thought. A more complete text with footnotes, etc., was published by a magazine called Cithara at St. Bonaventure University, New York. I had not thought about the title problem at that time, however. Marco Pallis also asked me to let him submit it to some magazine in England for which he himself writes. Incidentally, I have been trying to get the Columbia Record people interested in recording some of the works of Marco Pallis' group called "The English Consort of Viols." They must play a lot of things I would like to hear, especially settings of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century songs. Does the university library have a record collection from which one can borrow? Perhaps not. I would be interested in some of the original settings of songs by Edmund Waller, etc., if they exist and are there. But I suppose this is rather a complex and difficult request. You can suggest it to Carolyn, but probably nothing can be done.Certainly I would be delighted to write some notes on your religious paintings for a booklet of reproductions. I think it is an excellent idea. I would have to look more at the paintings to get my thoughts in order. We shall see what comes of the project. But I am certainly willing to getinto it, though of course I cannot right at this instant. I still have a couple of prefaces and reviews hanging over my head.Here are the best pictures I took, or rather two of them Carolyn took. They are not as bad as all that, in fact in every case I was disobeying the advice of the camera. So that just shows that one must not always bow to technology. In fact I am sure that if I did what the camera wanted and took the pictures with a flash, they would have been very stupid and insipid. As it is, they seem to me to have a little character.It was very good to see you, and it is good to hear from you. Your writing is as firm and regular as ever, and I am sure that working on the "Resurrection" [painting, which he never completed] will keep your hand in trim. It is a pity you can't print "Pilgrimage." It is something I would love to have in a booklet from the Stamperia. 
March 24, 1965Thanks for your letter. I was glad to get it because I had been thinking about you and wondering how you were. I am happy to hear that things are going better.The note of Maritain is splendid and I am delighted that he sent it. Your translation, as far as I can see, leaves nothing to be desired. You are correct in your rendering of "roman" and you need have no misgivings about it. I am returning Lexi's letter and the copy of the Maritain note.I have been pretty busy, and have had the usual series of slight mishaps, trouble with an eye which was accidentally injured and so on. There is a fair amount of flu about in the monastery and I seem to be getting a bit of it. But that is all quite usual at this time of year. Later, after Easter, I am hoping that J. will be down.Did I send you the notes on the eremitical life I put out recently? I think you might be interested. In any case, I enclose a copy, as I have plenty of them. Naturally this is the kind of thing I am most interested in at present ... 
June 23, 1965Here is an uncorrected carbon copy of the complete Chuang Tzu ms. I will need it back before too long, so what I suggest is this: that you look through it and pick out the pieces you want, which you can copy, and if you like I will proof and read the copy to make sure it is all right. I do not mean to rush you, and certainly you can take a reasonable time, but I would like to have the ms. back, say, about the middle of August. Would that be all right? I hope you find it fairly legible.Things were quite unpleasant in the hospital but they found out that the trouble was, as I thought, an infection. They gave me some antibiotics, which have cleared it up quite efficiently. So I am grateful for that.I have very much enjoyed The Tao of Painting, which I will send back soon. Duveen is priceless. But I am afraid it has almost fallen apart. Could I borrow your copy of Eric Gill on Clothes?Carolyn, I have here a copy of Giles's Confucianism and Its Rivals, which you sent me. I have never been clear if this was a loan or an extra that you wanted to get rid of. Could you please let me know. 
July 11, 1966Everything is going all right with me, do not worry about me; except for details like bursitis and now a sprained ankle, I imagine I will survive and go on to other follies, and I am not disturbed.When do you suppose you will be able to come back this way again? Should we plan something for August? It is a bit hot now, though we had a fine wild storm here last night.Carolyn, thanks for the books. I would like to look at the two books you do have of Jean Grenier since he is important for Camus. 
August 29, 1966Many thanks for your note and for Lexi's good letter, which I return herewith. Yes, I knew that Maritain was coming and I am delighted that he will be able to. I hope nothing gets in the way, as I look forward very much to being with him for a little while.As to you, yes, by all means let us plan on something in September. The first Saturday is bad for me. The 10th, 17th, and 24th are all right, and maybe the 17th would be the best. However, any of those three will do. Just drop me a line when, and I will expect to meet you at the usual time.Have we ever spoken of Thomas Mann? I do not recall. I have never really been able to get into him, but I see that I must quite probably read Doktor Faustus. Do you know it? It is apparently a horrifying indictment of modern art and culture and probably a hair-raising book to read. I wonder if Carolyn could get it for me. If you want to look at it before she sends it on, fine. Or perhaps you would prefer to look it over in German.Does she perhaps have in the library any poems of Miguel Hernández? A modern Spanish poet who died in one of Franco's jails. I am very impressed by him. Not to be confused with Menéndez, a Peruvian. 
December 24, 1966Thanks very much for your two notes. I was very glad to hear from you and to know you were out of the hospital. I agree with you, a hospital is an awful place, and sometimes that is good only for getting out of. I hope everything will go well at home, and that you will get the necessary rest and make a quick recovery.Any Saturday in January will be all right. Can we plan on the 7th or 14th? Those would both be good. In fact if it seemed we were going to have nice weather on the 31st and you felt like coming over then, just call me the day before, in the morning. But make sure I get the message. In any event, drop me a note when you hope to come. 
April 24, 1967Thanks for your letter of the other day. I was very pleased to hear from you and to receive a letter in your own handwriting, which shows you are better. The papers are going off to Friedrich Georg Juenger but I have not been able to find exactly the ones you asked for. However, the material I am sending is roughly equivalent--including, for example, the article that was recently in the Saturday Review, which has a bearing on technology, at least indirectly.In such lovely weather as we have now, I wish I could spend a few hours quietly picnicking with you and Carolyn. The spring has been perfect. However, I shall probably have to be content with the hope of dropping in on you again in Lexington next time some friend of mine comes down with a car. I have been rather overvisited lately--largely for business reasons--and that has held up both work and correspondence.The other day I sent the new book, and I want also to send you the little book (Cassiodorus) which they printed at Stanbrook. I like it in its splendor, but I prefer the simplicity of the Stamperia del Santuccio. But the nuns went to immense trouble to get paper and so on. 
June 16, 1967It was very good to hear from you again. Yes, I would very much like to come and see you and see the book too. I am not sure what I can plan just now, but I have a friend coming to visit and he will have a car. Perhaps then we will be able to drive over to Lexington. I am not sure when he will be coming. Perhaps next week. If he comes and I can get permission I will try to call you, but will come over to Lexington anyway ...It is rather hot now, and I suppose that is uncomfortable for you: it certainly is for me, as I do not get all the breeze in my cottage. However, I can go out into a cool place in the woods. I am reading [Lewis] Mumford's new book, which the publisher sent me as a reward for writing that letter to the Times, more or less.Father Juenger sent me a nice letter and I must reply sometime. As to the Herrigel book on Zen: actually there are two, one of which is quite good--Zen in the Art of Archery.Yes, you are right about "getting old." I have more aches than I used to have and the machinery runs less well from year to year. Not having found the secret of arresting the process, I must accept it as you also do. Let us rejoice that things are not worse and go on as happily as we can. I hope to see you soon, if I possibly can. I will let you know as soon as I have more definite plans. 
On July 10, 1967, Hammer died in Lexington, Kentucky.Copyright © 1994 by The Merton Legacy Trust
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