Who is Mencken and why haven’t I heard of him before? One of Mencken’s fans claims online. Same here. I want to make the same claim, but I know why I haven’t heard of him before. I am a sloth and I usually won’t go out of my way to try to know a book or an author. I used to do that, but my experiences have told me that a lot of recommended books don’t appeal to me. Now I practice chance encounter which leaves everything to fate. It’s necessary to point out my notion of chance encounter includes Amazon’s “today only” recommendation of books and Bookbub “ebook bargain” daily emails. Well, I just bought a book that I really dislike due to Amazon’s recommendation. It happens again. When will I ever learn?
Even if I totally disagree with Mencken’s views, his “Notes On Democracy” is a fantastic book. How can I not love him when he made such prescient predictions about democracy like, “They could abolish the jury system, abandon the writ of habeas corpus, authorize unreasonable searches and seizures, legalize murder by public officers and provide that all Federal judges be appointed by the Anti-Saloon League.” Certainly when one is as prolific as Mencken, some of his predictions are bound to hit the target. Still, even if he only gets half of the facts or predictions right, the fun of reading his book far outstrips the annoyance of his unappealing opinions.
I don’t want to be too hard on Mencken even if he ridicules the masses, the mobs, the people who only care about their own jobs and securities. Not that I think he should, but rather I know a lot of people think like Mencken. For example, Shakespeare is not in favor of democracy either, especially in Coriolanus. Remember all those people who favors books and shows of ancient dynasties, medieval royalties, famous conquerors, or anything with glorification of something that’s in its essence unfair and unjust.