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itations, none the less real because they are often self-imposed and selfindulgent.
The people who spend most of their spare time and spare money on motoring and comparing motor-cars, on bridge whist and post-mortems, on moving-pictures and pot-boilers, talking always to the same people with minute variations on the same old themes-these people cannot really be said to suffer from censorship or secrecy, the high cost or the difficulty of communication. They suffer from anemia, from lack of appetite and curiosity for the human scene. Theirs is no problem of access to the world outside. There are worlds of interest waiting to be explored, ready for them, and they do not enter. They move within a fixed radius of acquaintances according to the law and the gospel of their social set.
[The fact that the average man spends only a little time each day in the consideration of public affairs limits seriously the amount of information he can possibly have about the world.]
Naturally, it is possible to make a rough estimate only of the amount of attention people give each day to informing themselves about public affairs. Yet it is interesting that certain estimates agree tolerably well, though they were made at different times, in different places, and by different methods.
A questionnaire was used by Hotchkiss and Franken on 1761 men and women college students in New York City, and answers came from all but a few. Scott used a questionnaire on four thousand prominent business and
professional men in Chicago, and received replies from twenty-three hundred. Between seventy and seventy-five per cent. of all those who replied thought they spent a quarter of an hour a day reading newspapers. Only four per cent. of the Chicago group guessed at less than this, and twenty-five per cent. guessed at more. Among the New-Yorkers a little over eight per cent. figured their newspaper reading at less than fifteen minutes, and seventeen and a half at
Very few people have an accurate idea of fifteen minutes; therefore the figures are not to be taken literally. Moreover, business men, professional people, and college students are most of them liable to a curious little bias against appearing to spend too much time over the newspapers, and perhaps also to a faint suspicion of a desire to be known as rapid readers. All that the figures can justly be taken to mean is that over three quarters of those in the selected groups rate rather low the attention they give to printed news of the outer world.
These time estimates are fairly well confirmed by a test which is less subjective. Scott asked his Chicagoans how many papers they read every day, and was told that
cent. in Scott's group, who rate themselves at fifteen minutes a day. The omnivorous readers of from four to eight papers coincide roughly with the twenty-five per cent. who rated themselves at more than fifteen minutes.
It is still more difficult to guess how the time is distributed. The college students were asked to name "the five features which interest you most." Just under twenty per cent. voted for "general news," just under fifteen for editorials, just under twelve for "politics," a little over eight for finance, not two years after the armistice a little over six for foreign news, three and a half for local, nearly three for business, and a quarter of one per cent. for news about "labor." A scattering said they were most interested in sports, special articles, the theater, advertisements, cartoons, book reviews, "accuracy," music, "ethical tone," society, brevity, art, stories, shipping, school news, "current news,' print. Disregarding these, about sixty-seven and a half per cent. picked as the most interesting features news and opinion that dealt with public affairs.
This was a mixed college group. The girls professed greater interest than the boys in general news, foreign news, local news, politics, editorials, the theater, music, art, stories, cartoons, advertisements, and "ethical tone." The boys, on the other hand, were more absorbed in finance, sports, business page, "accuracy,” and “brevity." These discriminations correspond a little too closely with the ideals of what is cultivated and moral, manly and decisive, not to make one suspect the utter objectivity of the replies.
Yet they agree fairly well with the
replies of Scott's Chicago business and professional men. They were asked not what features interested them most, but why they preferred one newspaper to another. Nearly seventy-one per cent. based their conscious preference on local news (17.8 per cent.), or political (15.8 per cent.), or financial (11.3 per cent.), or foreign (9.5 per cent.), or general (7.2 per cent.), or editorials (9 per cent.). The other thirty per cent. decided on grounds not connected with public affairs. They ranged from not quite seven, who decided for ethical tone, down to one twentieth of one per cent. who cared most about humor.
The unseen environment is reported to us chiefly by words. These words are transmitted by wire or radio from the reporters to the editors, who fit them into print. Telegraphy is expensive, and the facilities are often limited. Press-service news is therefore usually coded. Thus a despatch which reads:
Berlin, June 1, Chancellor Wirth told the Reichstag to-day in outlining the Government's programme that "restoration and reconciliation would be the
keynote of the new Government's policy." He added that the Cabinet was
determined disarmament should be carried out loyally and that disarmament would not be the occasion of the imposition of further penalties by the Allies.
will be cabled in this form:
Berlin 1. Chancellor Wirth told t Reichstag tdy in outlining the gvts pgn tt qnrestoration & reconciliation wd b the keynote f new gvts policy. qj He added ttt Cabinet ws dtmd disarmament sd b carried out loyally & tt disarmament
wd n b the ocan f imposition of further penalties bit alis.
In this item the substance has been culled from a long speech in a foreign tongue, translated, coded, and then decoded. The operators who receive the messages transcribe them as they go along, and I am told that a good
operator can write fifteen thousand or even more words per eight-hour day,
with half an hour out for lunch and two ten-minute periods for rest.
A few words must often stand for a whole succession of acts, thoughts, feelings, and consequences. We read:
Washington, Dec. 23-A statement charging Japanese military authorities with deeds more "frightful and barbarous" than anything ever alleged to have occurred in Belgium during the war was issued here to-day by the Korean Commission, based, the Commission
like currency, are turned over and over again, to evoke one set of images to-day, another to-morrow. There is word will call out exactly the same idea no certainty whatever that the same in the reader's mind as it did in the and each relation had a name that was reporter's. Theoretically, if each fact unique, and if every one had agreed on communicate without misunderstandthe names, it would be possible to ing. In the exact sciences there is an approach to this ideal, and that is part of the reason why, of all forms of worldwide coöperation, scientific inquiry is the most effective.
Men command fewer words than they have ideas to express, and language, as Jean Paul said, is a dictionary of faded metaphors. The journalist who addresses half a million readers of whom he has only a dim picture, the
said, on authentic reports received by it speaker whose words are flashed to
Here eye-witnesses, their accuracy unknown, report to the makers of "authentic reports"; they in turn transmit these to a commission five thousand miles away. It prepares a statement, probably much too long for publication, from which a correspondent culls an item of print three and a half inches long. The meaning has to be telescoped in such a way as to permit the reader to judge how much weight to give to the news. He is able to do just that in the example I have quoted.
But it is doubtful whether a supreme master of style could pack all the elements of truth that complete justice would demand into a hundred-word account of what had happened in Korea during the course of several months, for language is by no means a perfect vehicle of meanings. Words,
remote villages and overseas, cannot hope that his few phrases will carry the whole burden of his meaning. "The words of Lloyd George, badly understood and badly transmitted," said M. Briand to the Chamber of Deputies, "seemed to give the PanGermanists the idea that the time had come to start something."
When we use the word "Mexico," what picture does it evoke in a resident of New York? Likely as not it is some composite of sand, cactus, oilwells, greasers, rum-drinking Indians, testy old cavaliers flourishing whiskers and sovereignty, or perhaps an idyllic peasantry à la Jean-Jacques Rousseau assailed by the prospect of smoky industrialism and fighting for the rights of man. What does the word "Japan" evoke? Is it a vague horde of slant-eyed yellow men, surrounded by yellow perils, picture brides, fans,
Yet the word alien is an unusually exact legal term, far more exact than words like sovereignty, independence, national honor, rights, defense, aggression, imperialism, capitalism, socialism, about which we readily take sides "for" or "against."
The power to dissociate superficial analogies, attend to differences, and appreciate variety is lucidity of mind. It is a relative faculty. Yet the differences in lucidity are extensive, say as between a newly born infant and a botanist examining a flower. To the infant there is precious little difference between his own toes, his father's watch, the lamp on the table, the moon in the sky, and a nice, bright yellow edition of Guy de Maupassant. To many a member of the Union League Club there is no remarkable difference between a Democrat, a Socialist, an anarchist, and a burglar, while to a highly sophisticated anarchist there is a whole universe of difference between Bakunin, Tolstoy, and Kropotkin.
A man who merely rides in other people's automobiles may not make finer discrimination than between a taxicab and an automobile, but let
that same man own a car and drive it, let him, as the psycho-analysts would say, project his libido upon automobiles, and he will describe a difference in carburetors by looking at the rear end of a car a city block away. That is why it is often such a relief when the talk turns from "general topics" to a man's own hobby. It is like turning from the landscape in the parlor to the plowed field outdoors. It is a return to the three dimensional world, after a sojourn in the painter's portrayal of his own emotional response to his own inattentive memory of what he imagines he ought to have seen.
We easily identify, says Ferenczi, two only partly similar things: the child more easily than the adult, the primitive or primitive or arrested mind more readily than the mature. When first observed in the child, consciousness seems to be an unmanageable mixture of sensation. The child has no sense of time and almost none of space; it reaches for the chandelier with the same confidence that it reaches for its mother's breast, and at first with almost the same expectation. Only very gradually does function define itself. To complete inexperience this is a coherent and undifferentiated world, in which, as some one has said of a school of philosophers, all facts are born free and equal. Those facts which belong together in the world have not yet been separated from those which happen to lie side by side in the stream of consciouness.
[This, then, is a tracing in brief of a few of the external barriers to information. But after information reaches us, much happens to it, as it passes through our minds, before it becomes the basis of fixed opinion. This will be the concern of a following paper.]
UST at that moment," concluded Ventrillon, producing an effect by leaning forward over the little iron table between them at the Closerie des Lilas, "I snatched the revolver from him. And-would you believe me, my friend?-it was not loaded." Hippolyte subsided with a gasp. "C'est bizarre," he said, blinking his eyes. "It is all there is of the most extraordinary. In fact, such things do not happen." For the thing that Ventrillon had told him was such as could happen only in Paris and seldom happens even there. "And to think that it was not two hours ago! Truly, it is fantastic."
Ventrillon liked Hippolyte Raton. He found him restful. Nothing had ever happened to Hippolyte, and Ventrillon could talk to him for hours about his own adventures without any such irrational interruption as, "That is almost as extraordinary as what happened to me at n'importe où."
Hippolyte was not merely a good listener; he was that rarest of all rare things, an interested listener. All the things for which he longed with every twisted fiber of his queer and thwarted little soul had already happened to Ventrillon. And through the medium of Ventrillon he managed to lead the life of exhilarating and bizarre adventure otherwise denied to him, albeit he led it vicariously and, so to speak, platonically. This made him a very satisfactory friend.
Besides, it must be confessed, Hippolyte lived near the Etoile and always had the price of a beer in the pocket of that coat which was really very well tailored, but somehow never seemed so upon Hippolyte. And Hippolyte liked buying beers at the Closerie des Lilas. He did not get on very well in good society, and his nearest approach to shining there consisted in being trapped into buying dinners at fashionable restaurants. But if one cannot