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Robert Ardrey Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (8) | Personal Quotes (12)

Overview (3)

Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died in Cape Town, South Africa  (lung cancer)
Height 5' 9½" (1.77 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Robert Ardrey was born on October 16, 1908 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He is known for his work on Khartoum (1966), The Three Musketeers (1948) and Madame Bovary (1949). He was married to Berdine Grünewald and Helen Johnson. He died on January 14, 1980 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Spouse (2)

Berdine Grünewald (11 August 1960 - 14 January 1980) (his death)
Helen Johnson (12 June 1938 - 1960) (divorced) (2 children)

Trivia (8)

Playwright, screenwriter and author. Graduate from the University of Chicago, Guggenheim Fellow (1937-38), Sidney Howard Memorial Award winner and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Wrote several books on anthropology, notably the widely read bestsellers "African Genesis" and "The Territorial Imperative", which dealt with the origins of human behavior.
Lived in Rome, Italy, for 17 years, then spent his final two years in Cape Town, South Africa.
Thornton Wilder was his mentor.
Led tours of the Mayan exhibition at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.
Played piano in an Al Capone speakeasy.
Called by famed biologist E. O. Wilson: "The lyric poet of evolution".
Grandfather of Jon Ardrey.

Personal Quotes (12)

We were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted into battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.
Man beset by anarchy, banditry, chaos and extinction must at last resort turn to that chamber of horrors, human enlightenment. For he has nowhere else to turn.
The hungry psyche has replaced the hungry belly.
We seek the sun. We pursue the wind. We attain the mountaintop and there, dusted with stars, we say to ourselves, Now I know why I was born.
Art is an adventure. When it ceases to be an adventure, it ceases to be art. Not all of us pursue the inaccessible landscapes of the twelve-tone scale, just as not all of us strive for inaccessible mountain-tops, or glory in storms at sea. But the human incidence is there. Could it be that these two impractical pursuits - of beauty and of adventure's embrace - are simply two differing profiles of the same uniquely human reality?
The philosophy of the impossible has been the dominant motive in human affairs for the past two centuries. We have pursued the mastery of nature as if we ourselves were not a portion of that nature. We have boasted of our command over our physical environment while we ourselves have done our urgent best to destroy it.
A skepticism concerning what one beholds - whether in the arts, in the sciences, or in the deeply etched channels of fashionable response - contains a force essential to the survival of civilized man.
We build paradises in which we have no faith. When we renounce our hubris; when we see ourselves as a portion of something far older, far larger than are we; when we discover nature as our partner, not our slave, and laws applying to us as applying to all: then we shall find our faith returning.
Intelligence is no human sideshow but an evolutionary main event. The power to foresee, to call upon the past in terms of the future, to evaluate, to imagine solutions, is a power flowing from old time springs. The human mind may be denied the policeman's privilege of arresting this instinct or that. It may sit as no more than a moderator in the eternal instinctual debate. But it is a moderator with unlimited investigative powers.
I find myself frequently maintaining to any young passer-by upon whose attention I can force myself that a genuinely creative career must like a milking stool stand on three legs. There must be accident, there must be sweat, there must be dissatisfaction. That one must work hard is too obvious for comment here. That one must be endowed with native dissatisfaction is very nearly as obvious, for it is the engine that drives you: dissatisfaction with the world and the arts as you find them, dissatisfaction with your own best efforts to capture the uncapturable. What is not so obvious is the support which one must gain from accident, from those dispositions of wind and stars over which one has no control.
As is generally known, Hollywood is not exactly a place, any more than Victorian refers to the court of the departed queen. Even when I arrived there were few film studios left in the district of Los Angeles called Hollywood. Neither was it a state of mind, or a style, for while you might make Victorian furniture in Grand Rapids or pursue Victorian mores in Dusseldorf, Hollywood films were inimitable and could only be produced in the non-place called Hollywood.
Man is neither unique nor central nor necessarily here to stay. But he is a product of circumstances special to the point of disbelief. And if man in his current predicament seeks a fair mystique to see him through, then I can only suggest that he consider his genes. For they are marked. They are graven by luck beyond explanation. They are stamped by forces that we shall never know. But even so, in the hieroglyph of the human emergence certain symbols must stand for all to read: Change is the elixir of the human circumstance, and acceptance of challenge the way of our kind. We are bad-weather animals, disaster's fairest children. For the soundest of evolutionary reasons man appears at his best when times are worst.

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