By Leonas Sabaliunas
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Extra info for Lithuania in crisis: nationalism to communism, 1939-1940
I listened to that set of records over and over and let it really sink in. The idea of an evolutionary 44 universe hit me as being true, with an evolution toward higher and h i g h e r states of self-consciousness, and the philosopher's brain being the m o s t highly developed tool for the cosmos coming to know itself. I felt I understood what Shaw meant. " I obtained a copy of Man and Superman, the play Pierce referred to a n d read it. 1 It was first performed in 1905 in London and has been a t h e a t e r staple ever since.
T h e r e was a sense of fraternity among us. I’m not talking about the football, r a h rah, our-team-win sort of thing. I mean, if you were a Rice man, that w a s something special. It made a difference while you were in school and l a t e r on in life. That kind of feeling is virtually gone today, even in the b e s t universities. Now it is every man for himself. Society--white society anyway--has been atomized. Not completely, but the trend is clear t o someone like me who is old enough to have lived through the change.
Often act three is performed as a separate piece and called Don Juan in Hell, and this is what Pierce listened to on the record. After reading and seeing the play, it became clear what it was a b o u t this particular play that so captured Pierce's imagination at that time in h i s life. The central question the play explores is the very one that Pierce himself was confronting: what is the most important thing to do with one's life? And not only was the question relevant to Pierce's life at that point, the answer Shaw gives to that question through this play had great a p p e a l to Pierce, and that was to give your all to being a "force of Nature," so t o speak.