Saturday, June 08, 2013

Existing in New York City: Reading a Path to Glory

Foto by tgw, New York City, April 2013
Say Goodbye to: Stumpy Cromer, the Stumpy half of Stump and Stumpy. Stumpy Cromer, 92, American comedian and dancer (Stump and Stumpy, DuBarry Was a Lady).
Reading and Its Aftermath
I just finished reading Jacob Wassermann's 646-page tome, Doctor Kerkhoven, a draining yet thrilling experience.  A depressing yet inspiring feat.  Reading it was like running a race that in a quaint way I never wanted to end yet by the finish line I was totally void of strength to go any further had it so decided to go so.  I'm not wanting to give a book review of this mighty novel; I do however hope the spirit of Wassermann's marvelous way of relating a tale has invested itself in my own humble efforts at churning out a novel (I've currently completed 100,000 words on a novel).  I've got another novel of Wassermann's to read but I'm afraid to read it, Doctor Kerkhoven was such a dramatically powerful book.  I don't dare find Wassermann losing lustre, which is silly of me, I know.

I've read books all my life since I grew up in a home with my hometown's head librarian who was also a published novelist and poet and a brother who eventually became the writer of 30 published books and who was also a successful newspaperman, historian, and at one time a bookstore owner.  As a high-schooler, I worked in my brother's bookstore and as a result sometimes sneaked certain books I desired to read in the back rest room where I'd read at them until I heard either my brother or one of his helpers hollering for me to return to the store and get back to work.  I remember one time while reading a book in the restroom and being caught doing so by the bookstore clerk in haste to heed her calling, I marked my place in the book by folding down a page corner.  I returned the book to the shelves and before I had a chance to return to reading it, it sold.  A day or so later, the person who bought the book brought it back, complaining to my brother that he wanted his money back because he'd found the page that I had turned down the corner and since he had bought the book as a brand new book,  the turned down page made it obvious that the book was actually a used book.  My brother was so irate, he made me pay for the book out of my scant wages.  The book was Mezz Mezzrow's  wonderful book (written with Bernard Wolfe), Really the Blues, the first book I bought in life, accidentally, but certainly not the last book I ever bought.  At the height of my book collecting years, my library contained 2,000 volumes. [Mezz Mezzrow was a saxophonist and clarinetist of what was then called the Chicago school of Dixieland persuasion.  He was born Milton Mezzrow in Chicago in 1899 (the same year Ernest Hemingway was born in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park).  The first line of Really the Blues reads:  "Music school?  Are you kidding?  I learned to play the sax in Pontiac Reformatory."]

Bankers Have Always Ruled This (Stolen) Nation
From my reading of Van Wyck Brooks' New England: Indian Summer (published in 1940):

"He [Henry Adams] had a taste of politics, the politics of the new age, that somewhat disillusioned him in London, for the British statesmen seemed to him highly disingenuous and very unlike the Adamses in this respect; but he never supposed that America would dispense with its best-trained statesmen and cast its lot for politicians who took their orders from bankers." 

"They [America's statesmen] had really believed in the cause of advancing mankind, and for three generations they had sacrified personal interests and local interests to the welfare of the country as a whole.  They had really believed in the cause of advancing mankind, and for three generations the family [Adamses] had fought for the country against the British and against the bankers,--Downing Street, Wall Street, State Street--and Charles Francis Adams, as Minister to England, had foiled the British again and kept them out of war.  He had raised to its highest pitch the prestige of American policy; but the bankers had prevailed in his absence.  They had won the war [Civil War] for the North and demanded their pound of flesh, if they had to kill the country to obtain it."

"John Quincy Adams, who had formed the faith of his sons and grandsons, had had a noble vision of the country's future.  He had hoped to develop the national wealth on a collective, not a competitive, basis.  He thought there was a volume of energy stored within the Union, enough for the prosperity of all: if this could be brought into use in accordance with the laws of science, it would lead the population to perfection.  For this reason, John Quincy Adams had promoted the study of science, while he fought with all his might against the bankers, who stood for competition and disruption.  And now it appeared that science itself, applied in machinery and railroads, had stimulated nothing but ambition and greed."

"Thomas G. Appleton suggested in Windfall that 'a gallows conveniently placed at either end of Wall Street might be useful.'"

And Finally...
From Henry Adams' A Cycle of Adams Letters:

"I firmly believe that before many centuries more, science will be the master of man....Someday science may have the existence of mankind in its power, and the human race commit suicide by blowing up the world." 

for The Daily Growler

1 comment:

Marybeth said...

The bit about the Adames is most interesting.

And of course you were reading a book on the Blues when you got busted. That's sweet.

Interesting that you know how many books you have owned. I don't dare count the books in this house. It will depress me. I have books stashed behind books in closets, books hidden under furniture, books in piles on the floor, book cases in every room with books stuffed in horizontally on top of vertically arranged books. It's probably a fire trap, all these books. Physics books, math books, music books, art books, history, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, chemistry, bird books, gardening texts, botany, philosophy, religion, poetry, great novels, terrible novels, biographies, herbology, anatomy, alternative medicine, martial arts, meditation, French, German, Russian, Czech, Chinese, etc. Books on every subject you can think of and some that you can't. More than one boyfriend of mine has asked "Can't you throw all these books out?" NO!!!