Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 09.

Significant sentences for HL Mencken's Minority Report, acerbic thoughts on American life and culture.

"The medical specialist is simply a man who has seen the situation now confronting him a great many times, and is familiar with its variations." p. 86.

"The believing mind is... impervious to evidence." p. 96.

"Not long ago, in fact, an actual investigation in Pennsylvania demonstrated that college students often regress so much during their four years that the average senior is less intelligent, by all known tests, than the average freshman." p. 98.

"Life has been defined as...the capacity to suffer." p. 99.

"A professor, even at his best, is a pedagogue, and a pedagogue is seldom much of a man." p. 102.

"The notion that it is against human nature to want to die is...absurd; many men, in fact, show an active desire to die and have it over." p. 108.

"Of all varieties of men, the one who is least comprehensible to me is the reformer, the uplifter, the man, so-called, of public spirit. I am chiefly unable to understand his oafish certainty that he is right--his almost pathological inability to grasp the notion that, after all, he may be wrong." p. 113.

"Anything is conceivable in a world so irrational as this one." p. 113.

"Actually, altruism simply does not exist on earth; even the most devoted nun, laboring all her life in the hospitals, is sustained by the promise of a stupendous reward...billions of centuries of indescribable bliss for a few years of unpleasant but certainly not unendurable drudgery and privation." p. 114.

"Ideas of duty are mainly only afterthoughts." p. 118.

"...it is hard to imagine even an idiot believing seriously that he will exist as a gaseous vertebrate for a hundred billion years." p. 119.

"The elements in democracy that are sound in logic and of genuine cultural value may be briefly listed: equality before the law; the limitation of government; free speech." p. 119.

"Of all human qualities, the one I admire most is competence." p. 120.

"...my contempt for teachers of English: not one in ten of them has any sort of grasp of the difficult subject he professes, or shows any desire to master it." p. 120.

"The teacher of English can outfit himself for his career by reading a few plays of Shakespeare, memorizing the rules of grammar laid down by idiots, and learning to pronounce either as if it were spelled eyether." p. 121.

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