The Most Fatiguing of Occupations”* | You Do Hoodoo

A narrator of an autobiographical tale pleads with his parents not to marry—their courtship is up on the screen in a documentary/romance. ‘Don’t have children,’ he yells at them, helplessly, ‘what are you doing?’ An usher in the dream cinema says, ‘Wait, what are you doing? You can’t say whatever you want in a theater.’ A microcosm not only of a life but of a removed and powerful feeling for and against that life—“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” by Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966) has a poetic transcendence condensing thousands of movies and novels.

At 21, in July, 1935, near the calendar day of his death, Delmore Schwartz wrote perhaps the best short story in English (go read it now if you haven’t).

Get ready.

A Delmore Schwartz revival is coming.

The only possible breakthrough equivalent in American Letters, equal to Delmore’s tale, which did not involve obscenity issues or cunning self-promotion, was Poe’s Raven/Philosophy of Composition/”A long poem does not exist” phenomenon a century earlier.

Like Poe, Delmore was no blue-blood who belonged to a well-established clique. Poe was an impoverished orphan, cut off by a wealthy guardian. Schwartz was a Jew trying to succeed in a world with WASP Harvard at its center and he was also bitterly aware of an inheritance denied him—a Great Depression and corrupt lawyers ate into his father’s legacy which would have made Delmore quite well-off.

Delmore was acutely aware of his outsider Jewish immigrant background even as he ran in Allen Tate’s Modernists circles in a vain attempt to be the next Ezra Pound. He was both arrogant and brilliant enough to half-laugh at this dilemma, ignore this dilemma, perhaps, even as one suspects it pushed him towards paranoia and madness.

Poe and Delmore were outsiders, yet so extraordinarily adept at poetry, fiction, and criticism—all three—they threatened to outstrip every Anglophile above them.

Poe tangled with the wealthy Harvard professor, Longfellow, and thumbed his nose at Emerson. Poe also wrote devastating reviews against New England circles—the same circles which would produce the American-turned-Britisher T.S. Eliot (Eliot’s grandfather, who knew Emerson, left Harvard Divinity School to co-found Washington University in St. Louis).

Delmore was a bit more ingratiating than Poe. Schwartz was pals with nearly everyone, from big shots like Pound, Eliot, Tate, and Ransom, to second-tier figures like Berryman, Jarrell, and Lowell. James Laughlin, who used his Steel fortune inheritance to float Modernist-literature-which-didn’t sell (New Directions) was Delmore’s publisher; a year younger than Delmore, Jay loved to ski and was prone to depression and Delmore bossed him around—when it came to making publishing decisions, it was the blind leading the blind.

Inside positions, top appointments, tenured professorships eluded Delmore, and in the end, Delmore was just as much of an outsider as Poe.

Delmore’s longest term of employment was as an English Composition instructor at Harvard, correcting endless “themes” (freshman papers). He should have been given a chair in his honor and a couple of small seminars of graduate students to teach, but the fates were not kind to him—given how much talent and intellectual ambition he had.

Delmore’s age consisted of short lyric, simple painting, poignant story, strident essay, and cement architecture, but just as the Civil War with its body count shocked the delicate aesthetic community of Poe’s, World War Two and its Boom swamped the introspective, modernist, pessimism of Delmore—a film fan and a philosopher, who lamented TV’s popularity.

Schwartz was on top of the world in 1938—and lost to it by 1943—drinking and popping pills. He did pick himself up a few times, no doubt breathing a sigh of relief when newspapers announced the Axis Powers lost in 1945. Delmore was seeking to add to his fame during a window of time in the early 40s when Pound and Eliot headed up the clique he labored in and no one was sure which side was finally going to win the war. Delmore’s biggest award was the Bollingen Prize (awarded to him in 1959)—a prize made famous by Pound, who won the first-ever Bollingen in 1948 after escaping hanging for treason.

A lady’s man, Delmore would re-marry in 1949 (Elizabeth Pollet, a beautiful blonde novelist who married someone else in 1948 when Delmore got cold feet, admitting she loved Delmore the whole time) and his stories, reviews, and anthologized poems secured his reputation during the late 40s, but as his biographer put it, 1947 saw the “beginning of his worst depression—from which he never entirely recovered”—at this time, “Allen Tate, in Sixty American Poets, concluded that Schwartz had not ‘lived up to his early promise.'” Delmore knew this to be true—but hated someone else saying it.

Delmore did say it, in a journal entry, quoted by Robert Phillips in the introduction to the selected Letters:

“I must think of the house on Ellery St: where I lived alone, drank until I was a problem drinker, fell in love foolishly and vainly wasted the years when I should have been at the height of my powers: during most of the Second World War and after…”

Delmore does not blame his failure on the United States—but this is what Delmore-intellectuals all like to say, by way of some crude remarks made by Baudelaire. Dwight MacDonald, one of Delmore’s oldest friends from the Partisan Review days, in his introduction to Delmore’s Essays, compares Delmore to Baudelaire’s Poe. Here is MacDonald quoting Baudelaire:

“In Paris, in Germany, he [Poe] would have found friends who could easily have understood and comforted him; in America he had to fight for his bread.”

Delmore came to believe this rubbish (the food of nearly every literary intellectual) that Europe is superior in every way to America. Here is Delmore in a letter (8/8/1957) to the English poet Stephen Spender:

“English publishers…do not believe that the best of all books is the bankbook and the writing of poems a self-indulgent hobby…”

This is ironic, since Spender was being secretly paid by the CIA (this would have been “paranoia” had anyone said it then). Here Delmore’s naive side is on display: the belief in the nobility of English publishers; the cynical side of Delmore was constantly ridiculing president Eisenhower.

Delmore was always complaining about the “Almighty Dollar,” and he did face money problems—this did belong to his decline.

Middle-aged Delmore was like the Rolling Stones, who made money touring, long after they stopped writing good songs—only Delmore’s 1930s reputation was used by others (Recommend/review my friend’s book! Be our mag’s poetry editor! Write an introduction for our anthology!) while no one paid Delmore much money; he was fairly stable in the 1950s until his second wife left him—this, combined with his poverty, and everyone using him, and his non-existent belief-system, finished him. Delmore was a dead man walking for the last ten years of his life.

In the last third of his career, Delmore had no center, no belief, nothing to fall back on, except poetry—which he wasn’t able to write. It would be wrong to make too much of Delmore’s Jewishness. Delmore was whatever he wanted to be; he could admire Heine and discuss Jews with Karl Shapiro, but then turn around and say to Robert Lowell (in a 1/27/55 letter):

“I am…a royalist in literature, a classicist in politics..and an Anglo-Catholic in all questions of lyric poetry.”

Delmore said his favorite of his own poems was “Starlight Like Intuition Pierced The Twelve,” written, he said, in 1943, because it had him liking Christianity without having to believe it. Delmore’s madness may have been partially due to his inability to feel genuinely about anything.

As James Atlas describes Delmore in the 1940s—only the second decade of his career—and yet, sadly, the beginning of the end:

“Delmore’s most famous epigram, that ‘even paranoids have real enemies,’ could well have served to characterize Harvard’s intellectual climate, for he was hardly alone in being competitive, high-strung, and temperamental, and had only to elaborate and refine real instances of rudeness in order to arrive at the conspiracies he found so dramatically satisfying.”

Atlas, again: “Bowden Broadwater refused to invite the Schwartzes [Delmore and his first wife, Gertrude] to his parties because ‘they are always imagining that people are talking about them, and they glower from corners.'”

The only certain thing about Delmore’s entire life and literary career is the perfection of the tale, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities;” everything else is ambiguous and painful.

First—and what gets the most attention—mainly because the embarrassment was fictionalized so well by Delmore’s friend, Saul Bellow, is Delmore’s personal destruction: he died, childless and alone, from a heart-attack at 52, looking like an old man.

Second, is the poetry, which is decidedly minor: three anthologized poems, but no great poems, towering above the rest, were ever produced. The world waited, but it never happened—yet he’s remembered as a poet.

Third, he did go on to produce more fiction, mostly realistic and autobiographical, occasionally transcendent or surreal, but none of it has the poetic intensity of “In Dreams,” which has a vivid, searing quality lacking in Delmore’s other stories—which often read like he took a vacation from the calling that produced that first masterpiece. He never escaped the autobiographical fire which burned so brightly in the tale which introduced him to the world—he didn’t use it; he let it use him. He never “got over” things—he picked at them. He suffered from insomnia his entire life. Was this his fault? Do we love him in spite of it? Yes, we love him: no, we don’t blame him; but this is beside the point.

Fourth, the criticism, which is surprisingly polished, even-handed, and likable. And this is somewhat disappointing, given Delmore’s genius. In the critical prose we get Delmore’s Dr. Jekyll side. His essays are full of phrases like “We ought to remember that perhaps…” Pound, though it’s clear Delmore had no illusions about him, is defended as a beautiful and historically important poet who must be read over and over again. Delmore repeats all sorts of Modernist truisms—Rimbaud was great because he hated the bourgeoisie and capitalism and yet Rimbaud failed because his hatred was too extreme, and yet, this too, makes Rimbaud great. There is a faint sympathy for things like Christianity (one can feel Delmore always trying to come across as calm) but every time Christianity is mentioned, it is “dying.” A diligent errand-boy for Modernism, we are continually reminded, “The age in which one exists is the air in which one breathes.” Capitalism isn’t dying, but it’s hateful. The Romantics (old-fashioned, every one) wrote about “nature.” Poe (who Schwartz, like all Modernists, never admitted to, nor actually seemed to, have read) was “naive.” Twentieth century letters, for Delmore, quite simply pours from the head of Rimbaud (and Blake). Because “Christianity was dying.”

In “Rimbaud in Our Time,” Schwartz writes, “[Rimbaud] attempted to return to an ancient purity, a time previous to Europe, and Christianity, a pagan culture: ‘I am a beast, a Negro’… But he cannot accomplish this departure because Europe is everywhere.”

The Rimbaud of “I am a beast, a Negro” is one of those big, stupid ideas which poets and intellectuals should examine, dismiss or refine, not feed. Schwartz was certainly not the only one guilty of this; the young Delmore strove to please a Modernist hierarchy which mostly accepted him; he belonged to that camp and willingly, or unwillingly, breathed that air.

Delmore favored a “special language” for the poets (he adored Finnegan’s Wake) and privileged the didactic over beauty in poetry. If we believe Delmore’s own words, it was because he was stuck in “his age.”

Delmore loved to gossip, joke, and argue—and exceptional at all three, these three inform his work—which continually struggles to rise above gossip, joke, and argument—and reach the level of literature.

He made two great mistakes in his late 20s, following his initial splash.

First, rushing into print a poorly translated Rimbaud.

Second, spending five years writing and publishing a long, didactic, Greek-chorus, autobiographical, prose poem full of exclamation points.

If someone were bent on ruining his career, they could not have given him better advice to that effect.

Glancing at Understanding Poetry 3rd edition, the textbook used in all the schools (the surest way to fame, actually) during Delmore’s lifetime as he sought the lasting respect and recognition he never got, what do we see?

The influential textbook, put together by two New Critics (the unofficial group Schwartz lovingly worked for and with) is filled with Delmore’s rivals, their poems prominently illustrating poetry lessons.

Only one of Delmore’s poems sits at the back of the book, within almost 100 pages of poetry merely reproduced for extra reading, or “study” as the book puts it.

What is this poem?

It is the “Heavy Bear” poem which appears in Delmore’s first book, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” named after the tale, but which contains mostly poems—of uneven quality—published by James Laughlin at his family estate in Norfolk, Connecticut. Laughlin was pushed into publishing by his friend Ezra Pound (who Laughlin stayed with in Italy after graduating from Harvard). Both publisher (Jay) and writer (Delmore) were in their early 20s.

“The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me” (untitled in the book) depicts a person clumsy with appetite and anxiety—a poem of adolescent trepidation and nervousness, which unfortunately contains the lines “Climbs the building, kicks the football,/Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.”

One knows poets through textbooks. Unfortunately, for Delmore, “The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me” sitting in the back of Understanding Poetry was not enough to keep his poetry in print.

Pound and Williams were used to illustrate lessons (paltry ones—but nonetheless) in Cleanth Brooks’ and Robert Penn Warren’s tome.

Another poem in Delmore’s first book shows the same theme, but here adolescent anxiety mars the writing itself:

I am to my own heart merely a serf
And follow humbly as it glides with autos
And come attentive when it is too sick,
In the bed cold of sorrow much too weak,
To drink some coffee, light a cigarette
And think of summer beaches, blue and gay.
I climb the sides of buildings just to get
Merely a gob of gum, all that is left
Of its infatuation of last year,
Being the servant of incredible assumption,
Being to my own heart merely a serf.

(first stanza)

This is the humble, depressed side of Delmore—he also could be imperious, caustic, and manic.

The pairing of a young, arrogant, writer with a younger publisher (one who was more into skiing than literature, to boot) was bound to lead to disaster. Schwartz was prolific, as well as a genius—but poor publishing decisions can ruin the relationship between public and writer—unless that writer is a Milton or a Poe.

Poor reception—lack of sales—introduces doubt, and this was terrible for a writer like Delmore, a young, sensitive, outsider.

Delmore’s second collection of poetry did not appear until 1950, and was savaged by Hugh Kenner, author of the Pound Era. Vaudeville For A Princess, a thin, rather unattractive, hardcover published by New Directions, was not well received.

The first poem which greets the reader in Vaudeville is “On A Sentence By Pascal:”

“True eloquence mocks eloquence.”
Did that Frenchman mean
That heroes are hilarious
And orators obscene?

Eloquence laughs at rhetoric,
Is ill at ease in Zion,
Or baa-baas like the lucid lamb,
And snickers at the lion,

And smiles, being meticulous,
Because truth is ridiculous.

Then follows a short essay, “Existentialism: The Inside Story,” which ends, “As for me, I never take baths. Just showers. Takes less time.”

And the second poem in the book, begins:

The mind to me a North Pole is,
Superb the whiteness there I find,
The glaring snows of consciousness
Dazzle enough to make me blind,
Until I see too much, in this
Resembling James’ governess.

And the final stanza:

The mind resembles all creation,
The mind is all things, in a way;
Deceptive as pure observation,
Heartbreaking as a tragic play.
Idle, denial; false, affirmation;
And vain the heart’s imagination—
Unless or if on Judgment Day
When God says what He has to say.

This sort of writing may be amusing—but if you wish to be taken seriously as a lyric poet after a 12 year absence, this is not the way to do it.

The only poems Delmore was known for were three—including “Heavy Bear”—included in his first book, all written before he was 25.

The one book of ‘poems only’ which Delmore published was his third collection, Summer Knowledge, Selected Poems, issued 5 years before his death.

Vaudeville for a Princess, his second collection, which biographer James Atlas calls a “slight achievement,” includes dazzling yet bizarre essays, including cynical summations of Hamlet and Othello by Shakespeare—missing what’s great about these plays and explicitly saying they have no meaning—a glimpse no doubt, into Delmore’s soul.

Writing in the Age of Freud, Delmore, in all his work, wrote almost exclusively about himself—and whether he is a great author depends on how much he understood himself—which this reviewer believes was just enough to make Delmore Schwartz a worthy object of study.

In one of the essays in Vaudeville, we read this about a literary party:

“he was making unkind remarks about editors and critics. This caused an awkward silence because several of the critics were friends of his host and his host was a very kind man…” “I had been warped by being forced to earn my living as a literary critic…”

In another essay from Vaudeville, “Don Giovanni, Or Promiscuity Resembles Grapes,” we get insights on being a playboy which ring true—one comes away believing that Delmore was that breed of melancholy and guilty seducer who may have significantly ruined his literary career and his sensitive nature with screwing.

The sonnets which close out Vaudeville is not a “slight achievement;” they are wonderful, but they do tend to be a little didactic. There are three kinds of poets—the bad ones, the ones worthy of study, and the ones who produce poems we just plain love: Delmore, I think, belongs to the second category—which is no mean feat.

The treatment of Delmore in Delmore Schwartz, The Life of an American Poet, by James Atlas, is like most other responses to Schwartz as a literary figure—respectful, when not being condescending.

It is true that Delmore became paranoid at the end of life, but Atlas is clearly not happy with 36-year old Delmore’s behavior during a cocktail party (“Delmore’s suspicions about his friends were by now verging on paranoia”) but one can understand why Delmore might be upset:

“When William Empson, just back from China and sporting a Mao suit, volunteered that giving the Bollingen Prize to Pound was the best thing America had ever done, Delmore turned on him and accused him of being a traitor to England because he was a Communist. The Mizeners, who lived next door, heard Delmore shouting long after the last guests had gone home.”

Atlas ends the anecdote with “Delmore shouting” as if this proves Empson was reasonable and Schwartz was not—clearly it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Hayden Carruth describes the poet’s decline in 1952, when Schwartz was 39:

“He still looked rather boyish like that old photograph in the Oscar Williams’ anthologies, but his features were somehow softened, hazy, blurred, and his voice was so quiet that I had to bend my head to hear him. I had the impression of great sadness and sweetness. It was as if he was lost and knew he was lost, and had given up caring about it. The exhilarated spirit his older friends remember was never apparent to me, but rather a quietness and a desire to cling to little things—little actions and objects—as if from a simple attachment to littleness for its own sake. He looked and spoke like a defeated shipping-house clerk.”

To see how brief the career of Delmore Schwartz actually was:

Schwartz was born in 1913. The composer Verdi was born in 1813.

By 1840, Verdi’s two young children, a girl and a boy, and his wife, were dead of illness. Verdi’s only son died before he was 2.

Life was not easy in the 19th century, but people were tougher perhaps.

In the year Delmore was born, in Brooklyn, in 1913, a statue of Verdi was placed in his home town in Italy. Delmore died not too far from Verdi Square in mid-town Manhattan.

In 1842, Verdi’s opera Nabucco—the subject: Jews in exile—debuted, in the spirit of unification of Italy. “Song of the Hebrew Slaves” from that opera made Verdi famous.

By 1942, decisions by Laughlin and Schwartz were seriously undermining Delmore’s literary career.

Schwartz’s career theme was alienation—Verdi’s, the opposite, even though suffering and sorrow belonged to Verdi’s life and art.

Verdi had been hit with loss of wife and children. Schwartz, according to Delmore’s biographer, mourned the death of James Joyce, his favorite baseball team (the Giants) not doing well, and Adlai Stevenson losing to Eisenhower in the 1952 election—Schwartz said president Eisenhower would be like “Julius Caesar.”

1847, Verdi’s opera Macbeth opened.

With the poor reception of Vaudeville for a Princess in 1950, Delmore’s career as a poet is nearly over. A book of essays never appeared when Delmore was alive. His fiction was good—but didn’t sell. The public thought of him as a poet, or a critic—but the only poetry really known of Delmore’s was published in 1938.

1851 Rigoletto

1853 Il trovatore

1853 La Traviata

1857 Simon Boccanegra

1959 Summer Knowledge, Delmore’s Selected Poems—reprinted old ones, a few new ones—is published.

According to the Atlas biography, in the late 50s “Editors were magnanimous and deferential to his reputation…Poetry encouraged him to submit verse and paid for it in advance (an unprecedented gesture for Poetry…both William Maxwell and Howard Moss at The New Yorker isolated what was publishable from the disorderly manuscripts he submitted…the quarterlies regularly accepted his work, whatever its quality…

1961 Successful Love (stories) is reviewed by Time and Newsweek. Delmore attends the party in which Norman Mailer stabs his wife. By now Delmore’s life is torn by paranoid episodes and poverty.

1865 Don Carlos

1966 Delmore dies on July 11th, (the birthday of Verdi’s son)

1871 Aida

1874 Requiem

1887 Othello

1893 Falstaff

1901 Verdi dies.

But enough bad news about Delmore Schwartz.

I said a revival was coming. What about that?

Thanks to the work of Ben Mazer and the kindness and receptivity of the Schwartz estate and the publishing house FSG, the Collected Poems of Delmore Schwartz should make an appearance as early as next year—Mazer is finishing up his monumental task as we speak, not only collecting Delmore’s poems but discovering ones never seen before.

Mazer has also asked for new essays on Schwartz—which will be coming out even sooner, from Madhat Press.

There is also The Uncollected Delmore Schwartz, already recently published, from Arrowsmith Press, Ben Mazer, editor.

Schwartz produced enough work—not just poems—and was personally involved in so much of 20th century letters, even if he is judged, finally, as a minor poet—and this is open to argument, let the arguments begin—he must be seen as a major literary figure who has too long been neglected and out of print.

There is plenty to cheer about in the career of Delmore Schwartz:

Here he is, writing to Ezra Pound:

“you seem…to have slowed up…in the old days you were in the middle of everything. Now you seem to have your gaze trained on Jefferson and Social Credit…and a phenomenon like Auden…does not seem to exist for you…” (1938 letter)

“I have been reading your last book, Culture. …A race cannot commit a moral act. Only an individual can be moral or immoral… I…resign as one of your most studious and faithful admirers. Sincerely yours…” (1939 letter)

Go, Delmore!

Here he is, in his essay “The Isolation of Modern Poetry,” correcting T.S. Eliot:

“It is said that the modern poet must be complex because modern life is complicated. This is the view of Mr. T.S. Eliot, among others. ‘It appears likely,’ he says, ‘that poets in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult.'”

“But the complexity of modern life, [Delmore points out] the disorder of the traffic on a business street or the variety of reference in the daily newspaper is far from being the same as the difficulties of syntax, tone, diction, metaphor, and allusion which face the reader in the modern poem. If one is the product of the other, the causal sequence involves a number of factors on different levels, and to imply, as I think Mr. Eliot does, that there is a simple causal relationship between the disorder of modern life and the difficulty of modern poetry is merely to engender misunderstanding by oversimplification.”

Delmore is right. In fact, Poe, in pointing out how complex civilization had become in his day, asked for brevity in the face of greater hurry due to modernity—which is quite different from difficulty.

T.S. Eliot is wrong. Thank you, Delmore.

Here is Delmore, in another essay, instructing Yvor Winters—who attempts to theoretically isolate every element of poetry:

“One does not start with meter, nor with the explicit statements, but with both, taken together. Their relationship is one of reciprocal modification; each ‘characterizes’ the other, and they cannot be separated, a fact upon which Winters himself insists. This fact is often forgotten. One is offered examples of sublime verse and nonsense rhymes with the same vowels or in the same meter, in order to show that meter is not expressive. This is the error correlative to that of Winters. Mr. Eliot himself was once guilty of it, in a lecture. He read several verses of Tennyson, and then lines with the same meter and rhyme-scheme from a nonsense ballad of Lear. The audience giggled; Mr. Eliot concluded that here was indeed a problem, and then passed hurriedly on to another subject.”

Delmore not only cuts down Winters, he humbles Eliot. Delmore was a real critic.

Here is a poem from the sonnet sequence in Vaudeville, which has both clarity and mystery, and speaks to something not only important to Delmore and to poets, but to all of us:

How Each Bell Rings And Rings Forever More

This life is but fireworks at the fancy shore
Among the summer people, drinking gin,
Chilled by the vanity and the senseless roar
Of breakers broken quicker than a pin,
By the moon broken, soaring and unheard,
–Thus we are tossed! by powers from afar,
By puns on rocks in Christ’s most obscure word,
Or, when the moonlight glitters, by a star!

Look well and you will see there is no stay:
No one takes back a word, but once for all
What has been said can never be unsaid
No matter what trash and newness every day
The fresh years bring and break and take away:
This is the poet’s power, this is his dread.

Let the revival of a writer in the middle of it all, on every level, begin.


  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    September 16, 2021 at 8:25 am

    For a long time and still I have really loved that poem of Delmore Schwarz that begins with the line; I AM A BOOK I NEITHER WROTE NOR READ. For that reason alone I am glad to hear more about him and despite whether he was considered in the top echelon or not I love that poem. I am glad that Ben Mazer is coming out with his Collected Poems and to find out about that through your essay is very important to me as well as to find out about the recent edition of his Uncollected Poems. I do feel he is a real poet. As for how other more “in the swim of things” poets perceived him at the time, that is, in my opinion, their problem, although I do find it useful to try to understand the general circumstances in which a person wrote. You do often make the very good point that the ranking of poets socially and their cliques had something to do with their being more well known even now but that poem I AM A BOOK I NEITHER WROTE NOR READ has shone like a star in my inner poetic universe for a very long time. I always wondered why the heavy bear poem was so highly anthologized and the I am a book poem was not. Some of what you say here really does fill the in the picture a little more and the comparison with Poe seems very real to me. Thank you for this essay, very much, Thomas West Graves Jr. It is a worthy one.

  2. noochness said,

    January 15, 2022 at 7:37 pm

    Speaking of Norman Mailer (referenced in the 1961 section above), here’s a great quote from him, from a 2002 interview:

    “…I am not a liberal. The notion that man is a rational creature who arrives at reasonable solutions to knotty problems is much in doubt as far as I’m concerned. Liberalism depends all too much on having an optimistic view of human nature. But the history of the 20th century has not exactly fortified that notion. Moreover, liberalism also depends too much upon reason rather than any appreciation of mystery. If you start to talk about God with the average good liberal, he looks at you as if you are more than a little off. In that sense, since I happen to be—I hate to use the word religious, there are so many heavy dull connotations, so many pious self-seeking aspects—but I do believe there is a Creator who is active in human affairs and is endangered. I also believe there is a Devil who is equally active in our existence (and is all too often successful). So, I can hardly be a liberal. God is bad enough for them, but talk about the devil, and the liberal’s mind is blown. He is consorting with a fellow who is irrational if not insane. That is the end of real conversation.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: