Quote Of The Day #31

Finally I am at the last quarter of this book. Here Mencken is getting more pessimistic and more entertaining. We can’t take him too seriously and his ideas are often stretched for comedic effects.

Mencken thinks that hard working can kill inspiration.

…the observed hopelessness of trying to pump up inspiration by mere hard industry—the essential imbecility of the 1,000 words a day formula. … not all the industry of a Hercules will suffice to awaken the lethargic brain. Here, indeed, the harder the striving, the worse the stagnation—as every artist knows only too well.

“Mencken Chrestomathy” by H.L. Mencken

Mencken argues that other people’s good opinion of an author’s book can work against the author.

Having favored an author with his good opinion, he expects the poor fellow to live up to that good opinion without the slightest compromise or faltering, and this is commonly beyond human power. He feels that any letdown compromises him – that his hero is stabbing him in the back, and making him ridiculous—and this feeling rasps his vanity.

“Mencken Chrestomathy” by H.L. Mencken

Mencken’s notion of truth.

Truth, indeed, is something that is believed in completely only by persons who have never tried personally to pursue it to its fastnesses and grab it by the tail. It is the adoration of those who always receive it as second-hand. Pedagogues believe in immutable truths and spend their lives trying to determine them and propagate them; the intellectual progress of man consists largely of a concerted effort to block and destroy their enterprise. Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only error to be exposed. In whole departments of human inquiry it seems to me quite unlikely that the truth ever will be discovered. Nevertheless, the rubber-stamp thinking of the world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of the truth—that error and truth are simply opposites. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it has been cured of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one. This is the whole history of the intellect in brief.

“Mencken Chrestomathy” by H.L. Mencken

Mencken considers that the Prohibition caused a great increase in wine making in private homes. According to Wikipedia, “Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933.”

Before Prohibition the American people drank very little wine. They were, in fact, just beginning to appreciate their excellent California wines when the Eighteenth Amendment was passed. Some of the California grape-growers, in despair, plowed up their vineyards and planted oranges and olives. Now they wish that they had been less hasty. Last Autumn wine was made in hundreds of thousands of American households, and the price of grapes rose to $125 a ton. I know of no American home, indeed, in which some sort of brewing, wine-making or distilling is not going on. Even in the country, where belief in Prohibition still persists, practically every housewife at least makes a jug or two of blackberry cordial. Every known fruit is expectantly fermented; in the cities raisins and currants are in enormous demand. Even the common dandelion, by some process unknown to me, is converted into a beverage that gently caresses.

“Mencken Chrestomathy” by H.L. Mencken

Mencken thinks that playing sports is detrimental to the health of the body.

IN the American colleges, … , there goes on a crusade against the gross over-accentuation of athletic sports and pastimes, but it is not likely that it will ever yield any substantial reform. On the one hand, college authorities, and especially college presidents, are far too politic a class of men to take any really effective steps against an enterprise that brings in such large sums of money, and on the other hand they are far too conventional to challenge the common delusion that athletics, in themselves, are uplifting and hence laudable. The most one hears, even from the radicals among them, is that it is somehow immoral for college stadiums to cost five times as much as college libraries; no one ever argues that the stadiums ought to be abolished altogether. Yet it is plain that that position might be very plausibly maintained. The popular belief in athletics is grounded upon the theory that violent exercise makes for bodily health, and that bodily health is necessary to mental vigor. Both halves of this theory are highly dubious. There is, in fact, no reason whatever for believing that such a game as, say, football improves the health of those who play it. On the contrary, there is every reason for believing that it is deleterious.

“Mencken Chrestomathy” by H.L. Mencken

17 thoughts on “Quote Of The Day #31

  1. “What the world turns to, when it has been cured of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one. This is the whole history of the intellect in brief.”
    This does have some truth. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Now all americans drink Prosecco and don’t know that thus wine is full of poison. I live in the prosecco area and I see everything they spray and how many pesticides they put and all the chemical fertilizers. It’s really awful that people don’t know that what they drink is poison. 😒

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, that’s nice to know. You just make me think differently about wine now. I watched a YouTube video about Norway’s salmon fishing and that makes me think differently about farmed salmon.

      Liked by 1 person

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