Peter Viereck's The Unadjusted Man: A New Hero for Americans

Reflections on the Distinction between Conforming and Conserving

Boston: The Beacon Press, 1956


The fight is for the private life; abstract ideologies are Saharas. The Overadjusted Man knows only the public life. Three of the differing modes of creativity--religious, aesthetic, intellectual--have this in common: they are what the individual does with his loneliness. In an impersonal machine-age, the fight is to preserve the concrete, the intimate, the inefficiently wayward; to preserve the inner life, whether as the creatively alone or simply as the playfully private, the unapologetic exhilaration of play. Hence the Yeatsian insight:

               The Muse is mute when public men
               Applaud a modern throne:
               Those cheers that can be bought or sold,
               That office fools have run . . .
               For things like these what decent man
               Would keep his lover waiting? . . .
On the other hand, in certain moral crises the fight is not only for the private life but also for the publicly-embattled right to have a private life. All mechanized societies are over-adjusted but not equally so; therefore, the right to the private life has the corresponding duty partly to forgo itself, in its own partly free society, in order better to preserve itself against the total tyranny next door.

Yes. But first things first: the fight is for the private life.

Peter Viereck


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 31

Contents/Main Page


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Last modified: Thursday, 31-May-2007 09:41:34 EDT