My friends and my road-fellows, pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion. Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own winepress. Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful. Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block. Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking. Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpetings, and farewells him with hootings, only to welcome another with trumpetings again. Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.
No book has yet been written in praise of a woman who let her husband and children starve or suffer while she invented even the most useful things, or wrote books, or expressed herself in art, or evolved philosophic systems.
Nothing, it appears to me is of greater value in a man than the power of judgement and the man who has it may be compared to a chest fulled with books, for he is the son of nature and the father of art.
Oh, thou hast a damnable iteration, and art indeed able to corrupt a saint. Thou hast done much harm upon me Hal, God forgive thee for it. Before I knew thee Hal, I knew nothing, and now am I, if a man should speak truly, little better than one of the wicked.
On the whole, age comes more gently to those who have some doorway into an abstract world-art, or philosophy, or learning-regions where the years are scarcely noticed and the young and old can meet in a pale truthful light.
One of the grotesqueries of present-day American life is the amount of reasoning that goes into displaying the wisdom secreted in bad movies while proving that modern art is meaningless. They have put into practice the notion that a bad art work cleverly interpreted according to some obscure Method is more rewarding than a masterpiece wrapped in silence.
Only conservatives believe that subversion is still being carried on in the arts and that society is being shaken by it. Advanced art today is no longer a cause --it contains no moral imperative. There is no virtue in clinging to principles and standards, no vice in selling or in selling out.