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Missive #54

I couldn’t find a book promo for this book and the very few customer reviews were nothing that I wanted to copy. So I will simply say that there are twelve essays that have been compiled as a book. From some of them I have extracted quotes that are show below. The essays:

  • One And Many
  • Silence Is Golden
  • Spinoza’s Worm
  • Swift
  • Paradise
  • Wordsworth In The Tropics
  • Fashions In Love
  • Francis And Grigory
  • Baudelaire1
  • Holy Face
  • Revolutions
  • Pascal2

1This essay has a lot of quotes that are in French. This was common for books of this type that targeted an audience that was well educated and multilingual. I skipped over them all.
2This essay makes up about a third of the book. It also has French quotes but not nearly as many as the one above.

  Rationalized division of labor takes all the sense out of his work. (For, as I have already pointed out, the more elaborately complicated the social organization, the more inhumanly and abjectly simple becomes the task of the individual.) Machines relieve him, not merely of drudgery, but of the possibility of performing any creative or spontaneous act whatsoever. And this is now true of his leisure as well as of his labour; he has almost ceased even to try to divert himself, but sits and suffers a standardized entertainment to trickle over his passive consciousness. Amusements have been mechanized; it is the latest and perhaps the most fatal triumph of our industrial-scientific civilization. — One And Many

  I have just been, for the first time, to see and hear a picture talk. ‘A little late in the day,’ my up-to-date readers will remark, with a patronizing and contemptuous smile. ‘This is 1929; there isn’t much news in talkies now. But better late than never.’
Better late than never? Ah, no! There, my friends, you’re wrong. This is one of those cases where it is most decidedly better never than late, better never than early, better never than on the stroke of time. One of the numerous cases, I may add; and the older I grow, the more numerous I find them. There was a time when I should have felt terribly ashamed of not being up-to-date. I lived in a chronic apprehension lest I might, so to speak, miss the last bus, and so find myself stranded and benighted in a desert of demodedness, while others, more nimble than myself, had already climbed on board, taken their tickets and set out towards those bright but, alas, ever receding goals of Modernity and Sophistication. Now, however, I have grown shameless, I have lost my fears. I can watch unmoved the departure of the last social-cultural bus—the innumerable last buses, which are starting at every instant in all the world’s capitals. I make no effort to board them, and when the noise of each departure has died down, ‘Thank Goodness!’ is what I say to myself in the solitude. I find nowadays that I simply don’t want to be up-to-date. I have lost all desire to see and do the things, the seeing and doing of which entitle a man to regard himself as superiorly knowing, sophisticated, unprovincial; I have lost all desire to frequent the places and people that a man simply must frequent, if he is not to be regarded as a poor creature hopelessly out of the swim. Be up-to-date !’ is the categorical imperative of those who scramble for the last bus. But it is an imperative whose cogency I refuse to admit. — Silence Is Golden

  The Greeks were not Wordsworthians or Meredithians; they never went for walking tours nor wasted their energies unnecessarily climbing to the tops of mountains. Nevertheless, their religion kept them more intimately in touch with the alien world of external things and the (to the conscious will and intellect) hardly less alien inner world of instinctive and passional reactions to things, than all the high-class nature-worship of the moderns could have done. Their ritual put them into a direct physical and emotional relationship with the forces of nature-forces which their mythology had represented anthropomorphically, indeed, but in the likeness of man the darkly passionate and desirous being as well as in that of man the conscious, the spiritual, the intellectual. The modern nature-worshipper’s God is apt to be visualized too exclusively as homo sapiens — and sapiens to the nth degree. — Francis And Grigory

  The time is not far off when the whole population and not merely a few exceptionally intelligent individuals will consciously realize the fundamental unlivableness of life under the present régime. And what then? Consult M. Malraux, The revolution that will then break out will not be
communistic — there will be no need for such a revolution, as I have already shown, and besides nobody will believe in the betterment of humanity or in anything else whatever. It will be a nihilist revolution. Destruction for destruction’s sake. Hate, universal hate, and an aimless and therefore complete and thorough smashing up of everything. And the levelling up of incomes, by accelerating the spread of universal mechanization (machinery is costly), will merely accelerate the coming of this great orgy of universal nihilism. The richer, the more materially civilized we become, the more speedily it will arrive. All that we can hope is that it will not come in our time. — Revolutions

  Expect three evolving dynamics to stipulate our country’s zeitgeist in the stirring months to come. First, the collapse of our project for using Ukraine to destabilize Russia, an enterprise so feckless it could have only been conceived by the dead-of-brain.…
Third will be the transformation of a raging inflation into a ruinous debt deflation that leaves Americans, one way or another, with no money. At the same time, the people will wake to the wrecking of their energy and food supply. A line will appear drawn in the ground from sea to shining sea, as by a cosmic power, and everybody… the formerly Woke, the unvaxxed, the penitent and unrepentant, the middle and lower orders especially, who suffer most harshly… will find themselves all on one side of that line in opposition to the wicked who have brought a hard rain upon them. And there you will finally see the beginning of your long-promised hope and change. No need even to wait for it. At long last, it’s upon us. — The Season is Here by James Howard Kunstler

America is not at war. The military is at war. America is at the mall… — J. L. Curtis

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