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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 4, No. 5. June 6, 1941

The College And Culture — Is There Any At V.U.C. ?

The College And Culture

Is There Any At V.U.C. ?

What is culture and have we any around Victoria? These questions are the broad basis of this issue of "Salient."

Culture is something rather vague and indefinable. We all think we know what it means but would find it difficult to say just what. We would probably wander off into some sort of a diatribe about manners and the art of Epstein by way of explanation, but is this really culture? It looks as if I'm getting myself into the inevitable verbal morass such attempts usually lead to, however it's fun, so I'll struggle on.


My idea of culture is something more than just a disposition towards art and gentle manners. It is a state of cultivation of the mind according to that integration of qualities and reactions which society holds as most desirable. It is an empirical ideal rather than a standard or a norm. We observe society and note which qualities are considered best and the possession of which will get us round in society with least friction and most satisfaction to ourselves. These are fused together to make the ideal of the cultured human, and culture is the abstracted sum of these qualities.

But What Are They?

This gives us some idea of the outline we're going to hang our details no.

The first essential of a cultured mind is that it should be thoughtful. It may be possessed of strong ideas but it must hold them on reasoned grounds and defend them by rational argument when attacked. Such a mind is free from emotional warpings.

This type of mentality naturally leads to an attitude of tolerance and friendliness but not of patronage. It also desires expression in art. It has a more than cursory knowledge of all the main fields of art. Such a man can speak intelligently and interestingly on topics connected with music, painting and [unclear: literature] and at no time is he stuck for lack of acquaintance with a topic of conversation. However he also knows when to retain his place, the art of conversation being, after all, silence. He is familiar with the main lines of the development of human thought and the principle features of contemporary thought and knowledge.

Such a man as this, one who has developed a knowledge and felt the spirit of all aspects of mankind's intellectual background, who lives a satisfied and varied life is the cultural ideal. He does not exist of course. There is no man who has the correct harmonious balance of intellectual, artistic, and physical activity in his life, the desire to cultivate which we have inherited from the Greeks. However there are many who strive for it.

Culture At Victoria.

We have such people in Victoria, those who set out to get the most out of living and at the same time develop themselves as nearly perfectly as possible. They are those who keep the music and other cultural interests centreing in the Phoenix Club alive. Unfortunately Victoria has a night school air about it which is hardly conducive to such development. We come up for lectures then scuttle away again for several years until we get a degree to help us professionally and that is the extent of our contact with the College. In spite of this a small group of interested people struggle on. The music committee sponsors regular recitals and additional ones as requested. The Phoenix Club is this year trying to rise once more from the ashes. So far its efforts have been mainly preparatory and hampered by student apathy, but if all those with any interest in its activities were to support it a deal of good work could be done. We can't hope to become perfectly cultured beings, we haven't the time, we are too keen on sport or even not keen enough. However, there are facilities here if they are made use of to make many of us more civilised and useful to both ourselves and society.