Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Only Yesterday (continued). Significant Sentences.

Significant Sentences. Only Yesterday. Frederick Lewis Allen. History of the 1920s.

"...they were discovering [that] the transmutation of love [into something too easy and too biological] had robbed the loveliest passages of life of their poetry and their meaning." p. 169.

"They believed also, these intellectuals, in scientific truth and the scientific method--and science not only took their God away from them entirely, or reduced Him to a principle of order in the universe or a figment of the mind conjured up to meet a psychological need, but also reduced man, as Krutch pointed out in The Modern Temper, to a creature for whose ideas of right and wrong there is no transcendental authority. No longer was it possible to say with any positiveness, 'This is right or this is wrong'; an act which was considered right in Wisconsin might be (according to the ethnologists) considered wrong in Borneo, and even in Wisconsin; its merits seemed to be a matter of highly fallible human opinion. The certainty had departed from life. And what was worse still, it had departed from science itself.... Einstein and the quantum theory introduced new uncertainties and new doubts." p. 170.

"As Charles Metz had clearly showed in his excellent history of the first ten years of the Prohibition experiment, the forces behind the Amendment were closely organized; the forces opposed to the Amendment were hardly organized at all." p. 174.

"In 1926, the O'Banians, still unrepentant despite the loss of their leader, introduced another novelty in gang warfare. In broad daylight, while the streets of Cicero were alive with traffic, they raked Al Capone's headquarters with machine gun fire from eight touring cars. The cars proceeded down the crowded street outside the Hawthorne Hotel in solemn line, the first one firing blank cartridges to disperse the innocent citizenry and to draw the Capone forces to the doors and windows, while from the succeeding cars, which followed a block behind, flowed a steady rattle of bullets, spraying the hotel and the adjoining buildings up and one might play the hose upon one's garden....and Scarface Al himself remained in safety, flat on the floor of the Hotel Hawthorne Restaurant." 185.

"The word 'racket' in the general sense of an occupation which produced easy money...." p. 188.

"But the basic principle was fairly uniform: the racket was a scheme for collecting cash from businessmen to protect them from damage, and it prospered because the victim soon learned that if he did not pay, his shop would be bombed, or his trucks wrecked, or he himself might be shot in cold blood--and never a chance to appeal to the authorities for aid, because the authorities were frightened or fixed." p. 189.

To be continued.

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