Puslapio vaizdai
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You will be nestling close in my embrace with only thoughts of me.

Like a naughty child,

Like a suppliant child,

Begging unvoiced forgiveness for your neglect;

Repaying a thousandfold for the few fleeting moments of forgetfulness

With which you pain me.

Little does he dream.

And how I laugh at him!

And how I laugh!

Dance away!

The Latest Thing

Author of "The Great Desire"

HERE is a real vividness in my recollection of an early definition of "news." When

my first editor said, "News is essentially the unusual," I was able to work out a fine piece of comforting philosophy. If all that we saw on the first page represented the unusual, then people in general were not being divorced, not being murdered, not being robbed, not having their houses burned, not finding fault with their legislators, not having trouble with their insides, not punishing their thinkers, not dissatisfied with landlords, not in rebellion against dirty streets, not feverishly interested in clothes or neurotic about sex.

Under the spell of such a definition it was possible to feel a kind of calmness, an assured serenity as to a preponderant rightness. The worse the first page looked, the heavier the emphasis on the disastrous and the scandalous, the greater seemed to be the emphasis on the implied general absence of the disastrous and the scandalous. It might have seemed that no practical optimist could get along without the company of a nice first page, coming, like the Lord's mercies, "new every morning." Reasoning from the certified unusual became a delightfully reinforcing privilege, if not a duty.

There was enough of the plausible in the definition and its corollary to give one pause. History, unless it is the

galloping kind that permits the wars and the plagues to bump one another, appears to show definite proportions of the usual and the exceptional. The character in Sudermann who stood at the window murmuring, "It 's always raining," was obviously inaccurate. Weather statistics were all against her. Fire insurance assumes that flames usually keep their place. In the matter of actual proportion science, in fact, rather favors the optimist.

Yet nothing is plainer than the elemental sameness of much that must pass as news. When the "unusual" begins to bore us we become suspicious. In the end we may come to see that not the unusual, but simply the new, is the point of emphasis, that while the elementally usual keeps its likeness, superficial newness is constantly in change. The newness is not in the fire, but in the house that is burned. The novelty is not in the scandal, but in the dramatis personæ. To-day never happened before.

Interest in the new is as elemental as our interest in something to eat. It not only has its passion point and its pathology, but its strange variations of expression. Some people are gluttons for newness; in others the new excites aversion. It would be possible to claim that interest in the new is essentially a human interest, since the lower creatures are not addicted to novelties. Yet the aversion seems to be quite as human, or if not quite as human in its

degree, at least definitely a human family trait of some familiarity. Perhaps both are equally respectable. History does not make the case wholly clear, though the inference that the new has had the better of it may seem to be pretty well founded.

Evidently, both phases have always been in the blood of the race. A sense of the new is written in the Aurignacian cave drawings. It is certain that a five o'clock "extra" would have made a tremendous hit in a paleolithic village, particularly, of course, if it were illustrated. "All the Athenians and strangers which were there," says the writer of the Acts, "spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing." The disaster to poor Aristides fell when his title lost its freshness. Nothing really old irritates like something that has just ceased to be new. Yesterday's hero must wait awhile.

Testimony to the prevalence of an eager responsiveness to novelty pops up in every age. How closely this may be allied to hysteria is indicated in countless instances. Some punster sturdy enough to carry the onus should try new-rosis. And in the shadow lurks the spirit of hatred for the new simply because it is new. Making terms with this implacable opponent, or going into open fight with him, has scrawled the usual in history. To get itself established the new has always had a monotony of conflict with the haters as well as its perilous intervals with those of its first friends whose intoxication came to the stage of the "hang over.' The plain people who, without hatred for either the new or the old, have thought that simple newness is not enough have often been overlooked altogether.

For some reason people in America are described as illustrating a particularly lively phase of the ardor for newness. Americans themselves are in the habit of assuming that the point is well taken. There is in it a rather flattering suggestion of being "up and coming." We have, perhaps reasonably, come to think that we are extraordinarily clever in invention, and have even grown to be so sure of this that it is often a bit shocking to learn that other countries have stumbled upon an idea or so. upon an idea or so. A "glad hand" for the new of any sort has in general appealed to us as indicating a progressive temper. We like the word enterprise. "What's new?" is, it may be, not wholly an American salutation, but it is unquestionably typical. We should, naturally, not like to be accused, as in the case of the Athenians, of spending our time "in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing"; but we are likely to pardon a good deal to the spirit of alert curiosity quite as if we had invented that, too. How simply human we are in this particular is not often suspected. The antiquity of humanness is to be discovered in antiquity, but antiquity is no place for those who are vigilant for the new. Certainly, those who are still doing "nothing else" can have no time to go back.

The nervous eagerness for the new that is represented by fashion-fashion in its modern sense is certainly not universal. China, for example, has never shown a glimmer of the trait. Plainly, there is a difference between a fashion that codifies and maintains and a fashion that expresses the very spirit of change. Both elicit voluntary submission. Both produce uniformities. But they are utterly differ

ent. You might give a gold bracelet to an African savage girl, and she might privately study it with wonder, but you could not make her wear it in public. Where the code is, and has been for centuries, in favor of bracelets in iron or bone or wood, you will scarcely find a figure bold enough openly to display a variation. The pressure of the established is older than the neolithic. The man who endured the ordeal of carrying the first umbrella must have been convinced of that.

The fashion that interprets the itch for change is another matter. This assuredly does "nothing else" but peer tensely for the new. Newness is its basic quality. It subdivides newness. Its high spot is the latest thing.

In clothes this passion is not merely dramatic. It is sacramental. When Emerson remarked upon the fact that the consciousness of being well dressed imparts a peace and confidence which even religion may scarcely bestow, he was recognizing the pressure of a social expectation which only a Socrates might ignore. This pressure can be defied. "Bohemian" rebellion (in a New York, for example) may bob its hair and leave off stockings; but its "difference" is soon standardized, and presently there is no way in which the "bohemian" can be different save by being conventional again. The Greenwich Village girl, aspiringly radical, who wept when it was discovered that she was really married to her husband was illustrating the fate not of a defiance, but of a fashion.

Clothes fashion offers the most conspicuous and the most successful exploitation of the new because of all the avenues open to the expression of superficial change it presents the amplest opportunities. Its implements of va

riation are the most amenable as well as the most spectacular. We must admit this whether it is of something we might choose to call whimsical or of something as intrinsically horrible as the black lips of the heroine in the movies. Incidentally, newness in clothes has enormous "attention value" compared with almost any other media. A girl with a shrinking mind, diffident speech, and a habit of selfeffacement (there are such girls) can scorch a situation with a scarlet hat, if it chances that scarlet hats have not been happening, and do so without a sign of timidity. A newness in herself would be terrifying to her. A newness in the hat, a newness to this point of excoriating conspicuousness, she can carry without a tremor. It is evident that in her mind the hat receives the impact. She insists upon that. If she finds your attention fixed upon her, she is disappointed. "You have n't said a word about my hat!"

Each clothes newness has merely a theoretical life period. There is only a "constructive recess" between one expression and another. No amoeba has a shorter life. As a matter of sheer dress art, the newest thing dies as soon as it has really happened. In the fever of this iteration there is nothing for it but to beat the calendar, to wear a winter hat in the autumn and a spring hat in the winter, thus adding paradox to precision.

It is quite plain that no other art has anything like such a privilege. Even the fluid elements of language can reach no corresponding pace. The latest thing in slang has an appreciable life, and you never can tell when it may acquire real age. As Mr. Howells once suggested, the new slang word may drop its s and become language at

last. The new word is thus under a discovery of sky-scrapers was surely

double suspicion.

Probably it is true that in all the arts mere newness, mere difference, is disproportionately acknowledged. An artist may attract more attention by a new difference than by a new rightness. The degree of his difference frequently wins more homage than the degree of any other quality; than sincerity or truth, for example. He will be particularly extolled in some quarters if his difference expresses not a need of his thought, but a conscious rebellion against the old or the fixed, an irritated concentration upon the matter of rebuke. A work that might carry the subtitle, "A Study in Exasperation," can win an hysteria of praise.

And this is quite understandable. The refreshment of change for its own sake is never likely to be successfully disparaged because pugnacious men have forgotten everything but a passion against restraint. Most restraints are illusory. But this does not matter. The habit of exasperation gathers profound noises from a whisper and feels crowded by the most remote appearances. An intimation that art is not free will lure from his own personal privileges a man who feels the primary obligation to go out and smite passing bigotry over the head. There might be a kind of bigotry in assuming that he was not wise. Emptying a bucket over smugness probably belongs among the ethical considerations in any phase of living.

Certainly there can be no quarrel with art's real discoveries about life. George Moore extolled the genius of Degas because he discovered the possibilities of a shop-window. Pennell's

quite as significant and vastly more provocative. Art sometimes pretends that subjects mean nothing at all, but insight and its revelations continue to mark the output of genius.

There is always fresh astonishment in the fact that people who are sensitive about newness in one art are often content with the dregs of another. Evidently most of us are specialists in newness. A woman who would blush to be convicted of a last season's sleeve will use last season's slang without shame. She is still saying "hectic" and that she is "simply crazy about it," without consciousness of crime, and the word-artist, perhaps morbidly alert to avoid the battered phrase, will tranquilly permit the padding to remain in the shoulders of his dress-coat.

Scandal, I take it, must be new to be acceptable. If it is not fresh, it will lack the pollen of believableness. Since the newest accusation is the most accepted, newness, here, as elsewhere, has its own tang. "What everybody believes is never true," says Nietzsche. What everybody has had interval to hear a second time will not be believed by everybody. Fling a scandalous accusation at a man, and virtually everybody may believe it at first, especially if it is incredible. After a little time even the stupidest minds lose a little of sureness about it, and with time enough there is always a tendency to outlaw the whole thing because it is old. When the man has been dead sufficiently long, the tendency is to decide that possibly it was n't true at all. In any event, not being new scandal it is n't imperative to believe it.

I hope it may not be considered too cynical to suggest that except in the matter of fashion and scandal most

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