Basic ideas

Culture, the Victorious

Excerpt from “Culture, the Victorious” from the book “The Invincible” by Nicholas K. Roerich

…Sometimes it was proposed that I exclude altogether the word culture, because civilization fully expressed both concepts, as it were. I had to take down from the bookshelves various dictionaries in order to prove, at least formally, the difference between these two words. Of course my opponents did not convince me, and I am not certain that I convinced them. Maybe because of certain prejudices they still consider civilization as something tangible and culture as something abstract, ephemeral. Maybe, in spite of all proofs, some still think that the presence of a starched collar or a stylish dress is a guarantee not only of a sound civilization but also of culture. …

But in culture there is no place for light-mindedness. Culture is verily conscious cognition, spiritual refinement and convincingness, whereas the conventional forms of civilization depend entirely upon the passing fashion. Culture, when it arises and is affirmed, becomes indestructible. There may be various degrees and methods of its manifestation, but in its essence it is invincible, and it lives primarily in the human heart. The mind from which haphazard phrases spring up can be satisfied with mechanical civilization, whereas an enlightened consciousness can breathe only through culture. It seems, as was said long ago, that culture is that refuge in which the human spirit finds ways for religion and for everything uplifting and beautiful. …

All this only proves the extent of the frailty of the signs of civilization, and how necessary it is to be reminded of the principles of culture. And not for pseudo-days of culture, but for the establishment of its foundations in daily life. One should not delay any longer the establishment of real days of culture.

Peking – December 27, 1934