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The State regiments people. Business, the church, domestic ties regiment them. Innumerable selfappointed agents regiment them. But this does not indicate that we are so hungry for regimentation that we cannot have too much of it. On the contrary, we need perpetual regimentation to keep us even approximately in line. Hem us in with drill-masters, threaten us with penalties if we fail to keep step: you are simply putting a premium on escape. Organized society is unnecessarily annoying. "The world would go around a great deal faster," said the duchess, "if everybody minded his own business." But even that happy consummation would leave us with a business to mind. Patience is the most useful of the every-day virtues, but even in modern novels, a lover proposing to his mistress holds out some more delirious promise of bliss. than, "I will try to be as patient with you as possible."

Human nature seems to have an infinite capacity for boredom. Providers of popular amusement assume this capacity as a fact. Their policy is that a bored man is a meek man,

and will take whatever they judge fit to hand him. Actually a bored man is our one perfect example of frustration. It does not matter whether you read life as a comedy or as a tragedy; your life is a failure only when you see it as a bum show.

A man must either come to terms with reality or find an escape from it. You and I, being pretty wise people, probably do both. But how about Mr. Edwards across the street, with his uninteresting business, his dull wife, his total lack of intellectual resource or imaginative coloring? How about Mrs. Winship next door, with her senile husband, her monotonous housework, her drab problem of making meet those ends that of themselves constantly fly apart? Year after year we see Mr. Edwards and "poor Mrs. Winship" keep on going. In their case living itself seems like the worst of bad habits.

But even they have two soul-sides: one to face the neighborhood and the tax collector, one for private and it may be secret consumption. The Mr. Edwards on my own street turned out to be an inveterate gambler on margins. Mrs. Winship got through her day's duty almost without noticing it, because when the sun set she turned on her reading-lamp and began a new detective story.

When you assume any man's averageness you outrage him to begin with. "The average man" is a mere mathematical abstraction, the result of addition and division. Statistics show that under prohibition more men report at the factory on Monday morning; but a sober workman reporting for his dull duty is not thereby disposed of.

The actual man is not the statisti

cian's creature. He is the center of his own universe. From his own standpoint he is the natural and worthy center. The force that draws him to conformity, to sobriety and decency, is balanced by another force that drives him to burst his bonds. Getting a living is the necessary first step if we would go on living. But the interest of living is something altogether beyond the means. A man's business is only half his business. The other half is the flight to ecstasy.

Now whisky does not furnish the highest sort of ecstasy. It is too deliberate, it is incomplete and it is followed by a decided and painful reaction. Yet any ecstasy that can be summoned at will is more than a temptation-it is a positive resource.

Then if we rule out alcohol, what shall we substitute for it? The substitute must be a stimulus powerful enough to link the days together, to make life not a task to be worked off, but an opportunity to be grasped. The number of such stimuli is small. We should place it at four.


To begin with there is war. Pacifists have failed to grasp the fundamental fact that war is interesting. It not only rasps our sensibilities, it outrages our common sense. Yet it makes us live faster and participate freely in other lives. The game is not worth all those millions of candles, but by their light we look on in absorption, with an accelerated heart-beat.

As a substitute for whisky, however, war is worse than what it substitutes for. It not only kills soldiers, but it disintegrates civilians. If you and I could see ourselves as we

actually were during the World War, the sight would turn us sick. Fortunately memory is kind, and our patriotic motives survive what they made us do.

We rule out war and come to religion. At certain epochs during the world's history religion has been the great avenue toward ecstasy. Our epoch is not one of them. In the Middle Ages religion was an indulgence as well as a discipline. To-day its rôle is restrictive. Yet only when religion is an indulgence can it liberate the spirit of man from the


Sex is by its nature ecstatic. But love does not come at call. It comes seldom even to the most favored. It may come tardily or with its hands tied. If it comes, it has to be dealt with as a somewhat overwhelming fact.

Sex divorced from love is another matter. Deliberately to fall back on sex is to invite either satiety or annihilation. To play with dynamite is thrilling enough for a time. If the player can contrive to get blown up, his personal problem is solved, though the solution is expensive. But to play with dynamite and get away with it is the most unsatisfactory life in the world. The devotees of dynamite live for glamour, and all the while they are doing their utmost to vitiate what they live for.

There remains then but one substitute for whisky. That substitute is art. Art has suffered horribly at the hands of its high priests. Most high priests of art are earnest people who concentrate on a thing that is overwhelmingly important to them. They have striven to keep a pure flame burning. Consciously or un

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consciously they have given the the impression that there is no art except that which burns on carefully guarded altars. To the common man flame is a bore.

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But as a matter of fact there is no real distinction between good and bad art. All art is good as long as it finds its true public. Good technique is thrilling business for a few technicians. Masterpieces are kept alive by the few who actually enjoy masterpieces. But art is not the property of any cult-it is universal.

The masses in America have learned to distrust art because they have seen it carefully "extended" to them. Sunday afternoon lectures on Flemish painting or Byzantine sculpture may reach a few kindred spirits, but in most of their hearers they create a certain resentment. If this is art, it has no direct relation to you and me and the woman across the hall. It may do for Sunday afternoon, but it has no relation to Monday morning, and on Tuesday we would certainly rather go to the movies.

The stock figure of derision is the man who "doesn't understand art, but knows what he likes." Yet if that man really knows what he likes and does not rest satisfied with knowing what he dislikes, there is hope for him. He has only to go one step further to pass from hope to a promise. That one step is knowing what he can do.


Art does not exist primarily for the consumer. It is a thing made from inner compulsion and marketed only incidentally. Its most interesting stage is the making, its real devotee is the maker. We are all to some extent consumers of art, but it is

only when a man begins to experiment with processes and achieve results that he gets at the inwardness of the matter.

The artistic product which can be bought by a rich man, which can be labeled and exhibited in a museum, is historically interesting and spiritually valuable. But its immediacy is past. It belongs to you and me alike, because it has been withdrawn alike from you and me, and strictly speaking is dead art.

The art that transfigures a man's life cannot be handed down to him from above. It cannot It cannot even be soaked in. The only art that at once tantalizes and reconciles a man, and makes his days pass in a glow and a glamour, is the art which he himself produces.

Here we are halted by the cold hand of fact. It is almost the cold hand of statistics. Great artistic talent is rare; worthy artistic talent is not common. If all the outstanding talent of a generation were developed, if not one true gift were thwarted or deflected or side-tracked into the advertising business, we might get as much as one real artist to every thousand of the population.

Then according to our theory, should we have only one fully developed, satisfactory life, among a thousand stunted or debased? That must be the case if we continue to reckon from the standpoint of the consumer. According to average standards, "worthy artistic talent" means a talent which can create a product that will attract the interest, be worth the time, and exchange itself for the money of you and me and Mr. Jones. That standard leaves you and me and Mr. Jones out in the

cold together. It permits only one man in a thousand to get the finest satisfaction directly out of his life.

Something spiritually vicious sprang into being when the arts became professions. For the professional artist there was a direct gain. His self-respect was enormously increased. His art was no longer a superfluity in the margin of active life. Now that he could make a living at it, art was as practical as soldiering or politics or banking.

But side by side with the practical gain came the tacit assumption that art unprofessionalized had no reason for existing. If a man could write or paint or sing well enough to be paid for his performance, he was justified by his success. Unless he could reach a professional level of excellence, his artistic activities were futile. This is the crudest sort of commercialism, because it judges by a commercial standard things which have no commercial value. It closes to the mass of mankind the most interesting, the most important, and the most dynamic line of human activity.

That line was not closed automatically. Your remainder 999 out of a thousand, your common duffers and shufflers, inclose 999 tiny sparks of talent or at least they once inclosed them. Every child of six has some artistic capacity, and every youth of twenty has some artistic leaning or desire. In most men of fifty it has been quite snuffed out.

The taboo on honest endeavor seems to be especially powerful in some departments. A man may play the piano all his life, and get a great deal out of his playing, without ever cherishing a hope that concert goers will some day pay three dollars a

seat to listen to him. But no man keeps on writing very long unless he can write well enough for publication, or can at least persuade himself that publication is only a matter of time.

Yet writing is the most accessible of artistic activities, the cheapest, the widest in its field. It is highly tormenting, because the bright ethereal idea must be transfixed and held by the blunt weapon of that common speech in which we order our groceries and conduct our feud with the landlord. The pin always disfigures the butterfly. Were you Keats and Joseph Conrad and Anatole France rolled into one, the pin would still disfigure the butterfly.

Yet the butterfly on the wing is wonderful when you first see it, and the thousandth butterfly as wonderful as the first. "Ah, here is an idea!" The actual process of writing is tormenting, but it is a beautiful discipline. If I may be permitted the word, it is highly educational. And it puts a man into a new and creative relation to his fellow-men. Once he saw them as bruisers of his ego, as rival claimants for the too few prizes of life. Now they have all become material. He may not be able to use them as actual "copy," but he finds himself surrounded not by human insects, but by characters, situations, plots. The tangled aspect of the world assumes a pattern under his eyes. These people about us are all living their stories. Priceless discovery, whether you and I can write the stories or not!

There is always a chance that among these 999 buried talents may lie one worthy of emergence. But let us disregard that chance, and suppose that not one of the 999 rises

above mediocrity. Under the new dispensation we shall have John Jones writing bad poetry instead of drinking bad liquor. To the world at large it makes no difference which way he wastes his time, but it makes all the difference to John Jones. Under the new dispensation he is living up to his full capacity; and he is living on his own capital instead of allowing himself to be put off with cheap substitutes.

But an unhappy thought strikes us. What if John Jones wants to read his poetry to us? In the one thousand souls with whom we began, we had one entertainer and 999 audience. If our program goes through, we shall

have one thousand entertainers to every thousand of the population.

We have all sat in actual audiences when our friends amateur acted. There is no severer test of friendship. But at least the actors enjoyed themselves, and unless they were quite hopeless they got something beside the satisfaction of strutting around before a bored audience. They became interpreters of a play, if not to the audience, at any rate to themselves. Between them and an artistic creation there was established a new, definite and significant relation. The danger of encouraging amateurs is that they are always too ready to take themselves solemnly. No professor lecturing on Byzantine art can be half so pontifical as the amateur who takes his own lack of skill for conclusive proof that he has mission.


Now art may be a serious matter, but it is never solemn. What makes the amateur solemn is his sense of his own singularity. This is a case where the clear remedy for evils is more

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Let it come to the worst. A nation of hobby riders would be better than a nation of lookers-on. Too much money, bad liquor, economic injustice and a decadent theater can be dealt with by an active people. If we do not deal with them, the inference is obvious.

The great defect of the twentiethcentury American is that he wants to sit and look on. He can see better baseball than he can play. He can watch worse politics than he would. play. He accumulates fat sitting still, and pays somebody else to rub it off him. A passive public deserves the worst that can be done to it, for it has lost even the chance of learning through its own mistakes.

We have settled our country, organized its business, made a start toward civilized society. If our

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