Zitate von Henry Louis Mencken

Henry Louis Mencken Foto
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Henry Louis Mencken

Geburtstag: 12. September 1880
Todesdatum: 29. Januar 1956

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Henry Louis Mencken war ein US-amerikanischer Schriftsteller und Journalist, Literaturkritiker, Kolumnist und Satiriker.

Zitate Henry Louis Mencken

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„IDEALIST. Einer, der bemerkt hat, daß eine Rose besser als ein Kohl riecht, und daraus folgert, daß sie auch eine bessere Suppe abgeben müsse.“

— Henry Louis Mencken
Aus dem Wörterbuch "Jazz Webster". Autorisierte Übersetzung von Thea Maria Lenz. In: DAS TAGE-BUCH. Berlin, 17. Februar 1923, Heft 7 Jahrg. 4. S. 222 archive. org

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„Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats“

— H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: First Series
Context: Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. Ch. 6, "The New Poetry Movement"

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„The Bryan I shall remember is the Bryan of his last weeks on earth -- broken, furious, and infinitely pathetic.“

— H.L. Mencken
Context: It is the national custom to sentimentalize the dead, as it is to sentimentalize men about to be hanged. Perhaps I fall into that weakness here. The Bryan I shall remember is the Bryan of his last weeks on earth -- broken, furious, and infinitely pathetic. It was impossible to meet his hatred with hatred to match it. He was winning a battle that would make him forever infamous wherever enlightened men remembered it and him. Even his old enemy, Darrow, was gentle with him at the end. That cross-examination might have been ten times as devastating. It was plain to everyone that the old Berseker Bryan was gone -- that all that remained of him was a pair of glaring and horrible eyes. But what of his life? Did he accomplish any useful thing? Was he, in his day, of any dignity as a man, and of any value to his fellow-men? I doubt it. Bryan, at his best, was simply a magnificent job-seeker. The issues that he bawled about usually meant nothing to him. He was ready to abandon them whenever he could make votes by doing so, and to take up new ones at a moment's notice. For years he evaded Prohibition as dangerous; then he embraced it as profitable. At the Democratic National Convention last year he was on both sides, and distrusted by both. In his last great battle there was only a baleful and ridiculous malignancy. If he was pathetic, he was also disgusting. Bryan was a vulgar and common man, a cad undiluted. He was ignorant, bigoted, self-seeking, blatant and dishonest. His career brought him into contact with the first men of his time; he preferred the company of rustic ignoramuses. It was hard to believe, watching him at Dayton, that he had traveled, that he had been received in civilized societies, that he had been a high officer of state. He seemed only a poor clod like those around him, deluded by a childish theology, full of an almost pathological hatred of all learning, all human dignity, all beauty, all fine and noble things. He was a peasant come home to the dung-pile. Imagine a gentleman, and you have imagined everything that he was not. "Bryan" in [http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/menck05.htm#SCOPESC Baltimore Evening Sun] (27 July 1925)

„The profoundest truths of the Middle Ages are now laughed at by schoolboys. The profoundest truths of democracy will be laughed at, a few centuries hence, even by school-teachers.“

— H.L. Mencken
Context: Truth, indeed, is something that is believed in completely only by persons who have never tried personally to pursue it to its fastness and grab it by the tail. It is the adoration of second-rate men — men who always receive it as second-hand. Pedagogues believe in immutable truths and spend their lives trying to determine them and propagate them; the intellectual progress of man consists largely of a concerted effort to block and destroy their enterprise. Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only error to be exposed. In whole departments of human inquiry it seems to me quite unlikely that the truth ever will be discovered. Nevertheless, the rubber-stamp thinking of the world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth — that error and truth are simply opposites. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it has been cured of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one. This is the whole history of the intellect in brief. The average man of today does not believe in precisely the same imbecilities that the Greek of the Fourth Century before Christ believed in, but the things that he does believe in are often quite as idiotic. Perhaps this statement is a bit too sweeping. There is, year by year, a gradual accumulation of what may be called, provisionally, truths — there is a slow accretion of ideas that somehow manage to meet all practicable human tests, and so survive. But even so, it is risky to call them absolute truths. All that one may safely say of them is that no one, as yet, has demonstrated that they are errors. Soon or late, if experience teaches us anything, they are likely to succumb too. The profoundest truths of the Middle Ages are now laughed at by schoolboys. The profoundest truths of democracy will be laughed at, a few centuries hence, even by school-teachers. Ch. 3 "Footnote on Criticism", pp. 85-104

„The public...demands certainties...But there are no certainties.“

— H.L. Mencken
Context: The public... demands certainties... But there are no certainties. Ch. 3

„No matter how stupid they were, they could not be more stupid than the average legislator under the present system.“

— H.L. Mencken
Context: My old suggestion that public offices be filled by drawing lots, as a jury box is filled, was probably more intelligent than I suspected. It has been criticized on the ground that selecting a man at random would probably produce some extremely bad State governors. [... ] But I incline to believe that it would be best to choose members of the Legislature quite at random. No matter how stupid they were, they could not be more stupid than the average legislator under the present system. Certainly, they'd be measurably more honest, taking one with another. Finally, there would be the great advantage that all of them had got their jobs unwillingly, and were eager, not to spin out their sessions endlessly, but to get home as soon as possible. 329

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