Published 1933 by Grosset & Dunlap. Contributions by Dos Passos, Lawrence, Steinbeck, Havelock Ellis, Langston Hughes, Erskine Caldwell, my guy Ben Hecht, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Dreiser, Lardner. The women are listed under the byline “Anonymous.” A few spectacularly hilarious and timeless ledes and lines:
“That, taking one with another, women’s minds are less clean than men’s is a fact which, while sufficiently recognized by men in the mass, has yet strangely, so far as I know, not found its commentator and analyst on paper. We have had a few general epigrams on the subject, and we have thought, now and again, that we were about to read some sharp and penetrating statement on the matter, but in both cases delicate evasion and polite half-statement have been the only reward of our curiosity. In the interests of lovely truth, therefore, let us make bold to pursue the inquiry a bit further.” - from “Sweet Faces and Foul Minds,” by George Jean Nathan (George needed (a) an editor, (b) a clue, not necessarily in that order.)
“Too long have they suffered under adversity’s rod.” - from “Latins Are Lousy Lovers,” by Anonymous (Not sure the research bears out but nice line. Well done, chica. Well. Done.)
“Any girl, if the body she possesses isn’t actually deformed and the face badly moth-bitten, is going to become acquainted with the gentle art of seduction fairly early in life. As for myself, I’ve had what I now recognize as more than my share of experience.” - from “The Wench Is Not Amused,” by Anonymous (There follows what may have been among the first lists of the kind, men’s seven fundamental approaches to wooing women, including “The Crudest,” “The Cheapest,” and “The Outright Purchase.”)
“Spring is here, the girls have emerged from their winter cocoons of cloth and fur and the jiggle is once more abroad in the land. All winter long the jiggle, that gayest decoration of the public scene, that champagne of movement which can be accomplished only by the human female, has been obscured from the public gaze by heavy fabrics and voluminous draperies.” - from “Essay on Jiggling,” (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP), by George A. McNamara
“Gentlemen who flip through pages of trade papers in the male-trapping industry, such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, are deterred in this casual practice by the shockingly frank advertising illustrations of intimate items of feminine merchandise. A true gentleman would no more tarry in deliberate inspection of such gems of commercial art than he would pause after blundering accidentally upon an alarmed female stranger partially immersed in a bathtub off the guest room.” - from “A Breast of the Times,” by Herb Graffis (Oh you tarried, Herb. You tarried.)
“The marvelous thing is that it’s painless,” he said. “That’s how you know when it starts.” - from “The Snows of Kilimanjaro, by Ernest Hemingway
“The great surge of emotion, the milling and shouting of the people fell gradually to silence in the town park. A crowd of people still stood under the elm trees, vaguely lighted by a blue street light two blocks away. A tired quiet settled on the people; some members of the mob began to sneak away into the darkness. The park lawn was cut to pieces by the feet of the crowd.” - from “The Lonesome Vigilante,” by John Steinbeck
“First it was that the driver was late, then he had to go to the garage to get a mechanic to tinker with the gasoline pump, then that he had to go somewhere else to wait in line for gasoline; and so, in pacing round the hotel, in running up and down stairs, in scraps of conversation in the lobby, the Madrid morning dribbled numbly away in delay after delay. At last we were off. As we passed the Cibeles fountain two shells exploded far up the sunny Sastillana. Stonedust mixed with pale smoke of high explosives suddenly blurred the ranks of budding trees, under which a few men and women were strolling because it was Sunday and because they were in the habit of strolling there on Sunday. The shells hit too far away for us to see if anyone were hit. Our driver speeded up a little.” - from “The Villages Are the Heart of Spain,” by John Dos Passos (Yes. Yes.)
Someone should build a graduate psychology of journalism master class around the works cited in this Janet Malcolm passage alone (from The Paris Review). What to call such a course? Needs a sexy title.
Interesting. I do wonder, though, if psychoanalysis might be somehow involved in your unearthing of the hidden aggressions involved in the writing process. One of the most striking elements of your work is the preoccupation with the relationship between the writer and her subject. In a recent New Yorker piece, you say of journalism that “malice remains its animating impulse.” This type of motive searching seems to me to be somehow connected to the habits of mind we associate with psychoanalysis.
I think you are asking me, in the most tactful way possible, about my own aggression and malice. What can I do but plead guilty? I don’t know whether journalists are more aggressive and malicious than people in other professions. We are certainly not a “helping profession.” If we help anyone, it is ourselves, to what our subjects don’t realize they are letting us take. I am hardly the first writer to have noticed the not-niceness of journalists. Tocqueville wrote about the despicableness of American journalists in Democracy in America. In Henry James’s satiric novel The Reverberator, a wonderful rascally journalist named George M. Flack appears. I am only one of many contributors to this critique. I am also not the only journalist contributor. Tom Wolfe and Joan Didion, for instance, have written on the subject. Of course, being aware of your rascality doesn’t excuse it.
Yesterday this thing about death moved on the wire (okay, it moved on Facebook), via the “I f***ing love science” page—
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.
It’s a cool and comforting thought, kind of. I wondered if it’s a true one. I’m teaching a narrative seminar this semester to fellows of M.I.T.’s Knight Science Journalism program, and one of the great pleasures of the experience is watching how this enormously talented crew handles complex explanations. When the death thing appeared I sent it to the class and said, “Can I get a Gefter fact check?”
“Gefter” is Amanda Gefter, whose book about physics and the nature of reality will be published in January by Random House. It’s called Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn, and you should buy it. Anyway, here’s what she said:
Well, *technically* it’s all true — conservation of mass/energy is an inviolable principle of nature, and quantum physics shows that every particle that interacts with your body carries a trace memory of that interaction forever. Whether that’s really so comforting … I don’t know. The most telling bit is the end: “Not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.” The problem is that what makes you “you” is not the mass/energy in your body but the orderliness of it. I mean, no one at your funeral is crying over the loss of your mass/energy - presumably, that’s still sitting in the coffin. What are they crying about? (What makes you “you”?) For that, you probably need a neuroscientist on the pulpit. But certainly it is something about the orderly pattern of activity in your body (brain), and not the matter itself. (Maybe there’s some way to download that pattern into a computer…. *that* would be comforting!) Also I cringe at the phrase “your energy”. Energy is energy is energy — there’s not “my energy” or “your dead cat’s energy” etc.
However, in the genre of comfort-by-physics, I happen to like what Albert Einstein wrote to the family of his close friend Michele Besso when Besso passed away: “Now Besso has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
The most mesmerizing details about Eric Moskowitz’s Globe exclusive on “Danny,” the young Chinese entrepreneur who spent 90 minutes with the Tsarnaev brothers in his carjacked Mercedes, and lived to tell about it:
1) He went to his college adviser and a criminology professor for help.
2) He devalued himself by aging his car and lying about his car payments.
3) His ATM code = a friend’s birthdate. Aw.
4) The brothers asked if the car could be “driven out of state.” Huh.
5) Danny kept visualizing himself in action: bolting from the car, a roll-away escape, etc.
6) The satellite system that tracked Danny’s car is called “mbrace.”
7) Best kicker ever.
Found in files, a packet of reading materials, provenance unknown. Included:
James Agee’s “Tennessee Valley Authority” (Fortune magazine, October 1934), from James Agee: Selected Journalism. The next story in the collection: “Cockfighting,” a piece most decidedly of its time. The opening:
“Grapes,” by D.H. Lawrence (…For we are on the brink of re-remembrance/Which, I suppose, is why America has gone dry…)
You are a gentleman. You have a taste for sport (most likely horses), leisure to indulge it, and an estate. One quiet morning you walk down to your stables. As you come around the side of the barn, you hear a soft but violent fluttering of wings, an agitated hissing, a passionate exclaiming of low voices. You look down, and there are your Negroes (if you happen to be a southern gentleman) crouched in a wide circle on the ground, leaning on bent knuckles, peering into the center of the ring. They are watching two birds, large and brightly colored, that cling together beak to beak with arched necks, dancing up and down, while their wings whir and they slash at each other viciously, rapidly, with their spurs. The birds are gamecocks, most ferocious of all domestic creatures, and their dance is fatal—it can end only in death. And you are present at one of the many new births of man’s most ancient sport, legally extinct in at least forty of the United States, frowned on in all, minor and surreptitious pleasure of the rich, secret passion of the poor, purpose of the Hell Tap Club, most exclusive in the world: cockfighting.
Pages 180 and 181 of Bob Dylan’s Chronicles (Volume 1), with the following lines underlined and the second entry triple-starred:
There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better. … The city is one very long poem.
Everything in New Orleans is a good idea.
Chronic melancholia hanging from the trees. You never get tired of it.
One of Napoleon’s generals, Lallemand, was said to have come here to check it out, looking for a place for his commander to seek refuge after Waterloo. He scouted around and left, said that here the devil is damned, just like everybody else, only worse. The devil comes here and sighs.
Somebody puts something in front of you here and you might as well drink it.
>“The Emperor,” by Ryszard Kapuscinski (“In the evenings I listened to those who had known the Emperor’s court…”)
Anna Akhmatova’s “The Three Autumns” (I don’t understand summer smiles at all/and winter holds no charm for me/Yet as for autumn, almost without fail/I’ve noticed every year has three. )
An excerpt of James Baldwin’s uncollected writings, The Cross of Redemption, with a passage starred:
And an excerpt of the U.S. Army Survival Manual, an amazing document. Starred: the section on personal qualities (“Being able to make up your mind; being able to improvise; being able to live with yourself…”), along with “Size up the situation,” “Remember where you are,” and:
11.5 x 14 inches
The awesome lede of article headlined “The Bee Business”:
“There are in the U.S. some 250,000,000,000 honeybees, practically all of which are sedulously working themselves to death. Predominantly female, they spend their lives on an aromatic assembly line, supporting lazy males from which they get no pleasure and ravenous young from which they get no affection. Their quarters are as congested as a tenement, and their queen is solely interested in propagation. In their rare moments of elation they dance around the hive to inform their fellow workers that they have discovered a new source of food. Which leads them right back to work again. Their social setup has been variously interpreted as a monarchy, a democracy (English style), and a dictatorship of the proletariat. In reality it is a confusion of all of them. And the honeybees have been conditioned to that setup by the ages. Compared with them, the citizens of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are brazenly individualistic. But it is this unrelenting devotion to a humdrum tradition of duty that makes the honeybee invaluable to man. For in gathering pollen for the larvae in the hive, the honeybee does more to spread fertility among plants and trees than anything else save the wind. And in gathering nectar for adults in the hive, the honeybee not only effects pollination but prepares a foodstuff man has been using since time began.”
Not a barbecue grill:
Kinda cool little infografic, showing location of Wall Street companies:
Too good. See infobox: