Posted by PintofStout on July 3, 2007
It’s funny how the mind works. It seems that every time I write or discuss or even think extensively about something, it inevitably turns up in discussions wherever I look – at least I see correlations. This leaves me with no doubt that the minds sees what it wants and shapes perception. After writing about the authoritative personality and insecurity and the desire for control in search of security, I read an essay by H.L. Mencken entitled “American Culture” in the Mencken Chrestomathy which contained the following closing paragraph:
For it is upon the emotions of the mob, of course, that the whole comedy is played. Theoretically, the mob is the repository of all political wisdom and virtue; actually, it is the ultimate source of all political power. Even the plutocracy cannot make war upon it openly, or forget the least of its weaknesses. The business of keeping it in order must be done discreetly, warily, with delicate technique. In the main that business consists in keeping alive deep-seated fears – of strange faces, of unfamiliar ideas, of hackneyed gestures, of untested liberties and responsibilities. The one permanent emotion of the inferior man, as of all simpler mammals, is fear – fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants beyond everything is security. His instincts incline him at all hazards, and not only against perils to his hide but also against assaults upon his mind – against the need to grapple with unaccustomed problems, to weigh ideas, to think things out for himself, to scrutinize the platitudes upon which his everyday thinking is based.
From The National Letters, Prejudices: Second Series, 1920, pp. 65-78
First printed in the Yale Review, June, 1920, pp. 804-17
I thought the preceding paragraph was a nice-tie in to my post and obviously better articulated than I could ever manage. While looking online for a version of the essay I read, I came across other links of fascination. I’ll list some below that tie into the current holiday.
The biggest difference and hypocrisy I see in this holiday is the attitudes’ of the rebels of yesteryear and the attitudes of the slaves who are convinced they are independent. So here are some links I thought would be good reading while digesting hot dogs and potato salad.
The first is what I wrote last year, dissecting the language of the naming of the holiday and some spirit of the citizenry, as well.
This link is a common language translation of the Declaration of Independence as written by H.L. Mencken. I wonder if we can get James Earl Jones to read this one.
Also by Mencken, and about another great writer with a fierce independent streak, Mark Twain:
And finally, a spot on explanation of the title of this post by Butler Shaffer:
Enjoy your cookouts!