Building peace in the minds of men and women

From the neck up: the art of decorating ourselves

How can the great creative minds of our times, such as the great musicians, painters, writers, scientists and statesmen who live in different corners of the globe be drawn more closely to Unesco? This was the deep-reaching question raised in a recent issue of Unesco House News, a monthly bulletin produced for Unesco staff members in Paris and in the field.

"I believe, and have often defended the idea at Unesco and elsewhere," replied Professor Henri Laugier, France's representative to the Unesco Executive Board, "'that one of the best methods (though not the only one) of rallying the great creative minds of our epoch and of mobilizing certain of their activities for the benefit of Unesco's objectives, would be to organize great universal prize competitions open to all countries and to all thinkers.

"If, for example, Prizes were instituted to crown the best film or the best essay, or the best novel or the best work of music, or the best theatrical production dealing with the emancipation of mankind in the course of history, with the victorious advances made in Human Rights, with mankind's efforts to break the shackles of ignorance, poverty, political oppression (or economic or other forms of tyranny), disease and slavery which bind him, we would see a powerful movement of thought and art develop in the world on behalf of one of the essential objectives of Unesco. We would witness a great competitive effort and emulation by thinkers and artists, inspired by the noble aims inscribed in the Charter of the Organization. And we would have grounds to hope that from such a Unesco initiative great works of art would be born and see the light of day."

Professor Pierre Auger, noted French physicist and director of Unesco's Natural Sciences Department, expressed his frank views in the following terms :

"Unesco's programme already contains many elements the principles of which should attract the attention of scientists, artists and men of letters, and which can form the basis for fruitful collaboration. The difficulties encountered in establishing such collaboration stem, at least in part, from a kind of incompatibility of temperament between great creative minds and great administrators, be they national or international. Great or small, the wind of the spirit blows where it will and it is not always in the direction that the organizations expect.

'"This results in disappointment on both sides. The difficulty can be compared to that of the harnessing and utilization of free natural forces such as the wind, or to the taming of wild though beautiful beasts. Much patience, ingenuity and tact are called for. The promises held forth must be both generous and tempting and above all the promises must be kept. We should offer the creative mind great occasions to express itself freely, yet we should not hesitate afterwards to change plans laboriously established in advance. For creation, by its very nature, is unpredictable.

"The Prize competitions proposed by Professor Laugier are excellent bait; Cern (European Nuclear Research Centre) is a great snare-for-scientists but it is a voluntary snare. And when a few years from now the first international océanographie vessel lifts anchor and sets out to sea under Unesco's auspices it should be allowed to charter its own course unhindered."

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July 1958