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Salient: An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington Vol. 24, No. 6. 1961.

Middleway Again

Middleway Again

Sir,—Religious Legalist and J. K. Murphy have misinterpreted the letter I signed "Middle Way." They associated "Middle Way," which was a reference to Buddhist doctrine, with the wonderful Kiwi cult of mediocrity. In fact I was trying to point out that certain behaviour-patterns needed to be recognised by their authors as plain immaturity.

For. example, excessive drinking and complete abstinence from alcohol are, in most cases, I feel, both immature behaviour-patterns. The mature individual being the one who follows the middle way with regard to drink.

Likewise blind devotion to a political system or to the principle of nuclear disarmament, or to sectarian ritual, is just fanaticism; while complete apathy is vegetative refusal to face reality.

The genuine beatnik is indeed an individual, but for every one of these, there are a dozen phony beats. My plea was: Don't conform to unconformity—try being yourself without laying on a coat of eccentricity—the individual emerging from the coat may be 10 times more eccentric—give him a go.

These behaviour patterns are often necessary stages to pass through on the road to individuality, being an exploration of new freedoms, but are not to be confused with individuality itself, as is done by "Religious Legalist."

To suppress such behaviour is the last thing I would dream of advocating; to have it recognised for what it is would be enough. Like William Blake I say "If the fool persists in his own folly he will become wise."

A "religious legalist" is, I feel, one who clothes himself in a code of living—a beautiful protection from reality—and the more noble the ideals in that code, the greater the protection; and the greater the imprisonment of the individual in conformity. The pity is that he justifies his legalism by inventing the doctrine of original sin.

Yours, etc.,