Prejudices: Third Series

A. A. Knopf, 1922 - 328 pages
A variety of short pieces by satirist and social critic H.L. Mencken are collected in this volume.

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Page 91 - He is, first and last, simply trying to express himself. He is trying to arrest and challenge a sufficient body of readers, to make them pay attention to him, to impress them with the charm and novelty of his ideas, to provoke them into an agreeable (or shocked) awareness of him, and he is trying to achieve thereby for his own inner ego the grateful feeling of a function performed, a tension relieved, a katharsis attained which Wagner achieved when he wrote "Die Walkure," and a hen achieves every...
Page 175 - The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination, that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.
Page 9 - It is, for example, one of my firmest and most sacred beliefs, reached after an inquiry extending over a score of years and supported by incessant prayer and meditation, that the government of the...
Page 97 - constructive" criticism is based upon the same false assumption that immutable truths exist in the arts, and that the artist will be improved by being made aware of them.
Page 86 - ... and solely to sort out and give coherence to the ideas of Mr. Mencken, and to put them into suave and ingratiating terms, and to discharge them with a flourish, and maybe with a phrase of pretty song, into the dense fog that blanketed the Republic. The critic's choice of criticism rather than of what is called creative writing is chiefly a matter of temperament — perhaps, more accurately of hormones — with accidents of education and environment to help.
Page 84 - ... is something quite different. That motive is not the motive of the pedagogue, but the motive of the artist. " It is no more and no less than the simple desire to function freely and beautifully, to give outward and objective...
Page 241 - A man who knows a subject thoroughly, a man so soaked in it that he eats it, sleeps it and dreams it — this man can always teach it with success, no matter how little he knows of technical pedagogy.
Page 95 - One is the almost universal human susceptibility to messianic delusions — the irresistible tendency of practically every man, once he finds a crowd in front of him, to strut and roll his eyes. The other is the public demand, born of such long familiarity with pedagogical criticism that no other kind is readily conceivable, that the critic teach something as well as say something — in the popular phrase, that he be constructive. Both operate powerfully against his free functioning, and especially...
Page 289 - ALL government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to police him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. Thus one of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another...
Page 109 - Socialism, indeed, is simply the degenerate capitalism of bankrupt capitalists. Its one genuine object is to get more money for its professors; all its other grandiloquent objects are afterthoughts, and most of them are bogus.

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