Thursday, September 6, 2007

Minority Report. HL Mencken. Significant Sentences 14. Conclusion.

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

"The most steadily attractive of all human qualities is competence...good at his trade...understands its technique thoroughly...surmounts its difficulties with ease...." p. 224.

"Like all other forms of theology, Communism runs aground on the fact that there are frequent bitter rows between different factions of its prophets." p. 225.

"The one thing common to all prophets is their belief in their own infallibility." p. 226.

"I know a great many more people than most men, and in wider and more diverse circles, yet my life is essentially one of isolation, and so is that of every other man; we not only have to die alone, we also...have to live alone." p. 228.

"It is difficult to imagine anyone having any real hopes for the human race in the face of the fact that the great majority of men still believe that the universe is run by a gaseous vertebrate of astronomical heft and girth, who is nevertheless interested in the minutest details of the private conduct of even the meanest men." p. 233.

"The essence of the superior man is that he is free of ...envy." p. 233.

"When I hear a man applauded by the mob I always feel a pang of pity for him; all he has to do to be hissed is to live long enough." p. 234.

"The mob always stones those it has worshipped." p. 234.

"The good humor of the American Negro is largely founded on cynicism." p. 234.

" atmosphere and a heritage--say that of the Renaissance or that of the pre-Revolutionary eighteenth century. p, 239.

"The work of the world, in all departments, is chiefly done by bunglers." p. 240.

"Very few generals are fit to be trusted with the lives of their troops, very few medical men are expert at diagnosis and treatment, and very few pedagogues really know anything about the things they presume to teach." p. 240.

"The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it." p. 247.

"Power is what all messiahs really seek: not the chance to serve." p. 247.

"It is often argued that religion is valuable because it makes men good, but even of this were true it would not be a proof that religion is true.... Santa Claus makes children good in precisely the same way, and yet no one would argue seriously that that fact proves his existence." p. 249.

"...religions for which multitudes of honest men have fought and died are false, wicked and against God." p. 250.

"Perhaps the most revolting character that the United States ever produced was the business man who fought to the end against any approach to rational and humane dealing with labor." p. 250.

"The psychology of the bore deserves a great deal more sober study than it has got." p. 266.

"A bore is simply a nonentity who resents his humble lot in life, and seeks satisfaction for his wounded ego in forcing himself upon his betters." p. 267.

"According to American theory, all power is in the hands of the plain people, and according to American legend they always exercise it wisely.... In fact the plain people can only exert their power through agents, and in the election of these agents they seldom face a clear choice between a good candidate and a bad one, or a wise idea and a foolish one." p. 283.

"Everything considered, perhaps the best job in Christendom today is that of a bishop. Secular functionaries are exposed to the whims of mobs, but a bishop, once consecrated, is almost bullet-proof. If he dislikes anyone, all he has to do is to excommunicate him." p. 286.

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