March 13th, 2002

bswing

Dan Klein quotes

In bed, Sunday morning, cares for the day come to mind. Let's get things done! Searching for resolve I head for the grapefruit juice, but on the way slip on a grease spot: the morning paper, a cafeteria of easy amusement. Two hours later I try to recall the first care on the list. Some people spend hours every day following the press. A simple pleasure, we might say -- some deem it productive for the valuable knowledge it bestows. Could be, but for some I'd call it addiction. The spouses, children and pets tend toward this view. Books are surely a Good thing -- isn't reading the first purpose of primary school? Still there is excess, "the bibliobibuli . . . who are constantly drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey... They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing."(10)

10 H.L. Mencken, Minority Report: H.L. Mencken's Notebooks (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956), p. 59.

Wilhelm von Humboldt said, a society "in which the citizens were compelled . . . to obey even the best of [behaviors], might be a tranquil, peaceable, [and] prosperous [one]; but it would always seem to me a multitude of well-cared-for slaves, rather than a nation of free and independent men."(22)