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.

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Zitate Henry Louis Mencken

„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 American of today, in fact, probably enjoys less personal liberty than any other man of Christendom, and even his political liberty is fast succumbing to the new dogma that certain theories of government are virtuous and lawful, and others abhorrent and felonious.“

— H.L. Mencken
Context: The American of today, in fact, probably enjoys less personal liberty than any other man of Christendom, and even his political liberty is fast succumbing to the new dogma that certain theories of government are virtuous and lawful, and others abhorrent and felonious. Laws limiting the radius of his free activity multiply year by year: It is now practically impossible for him to exhibit anything describable as genuine individuality, either in action or in thought, without running afoul of some harsh and unintelligible penalty. It would surprise no impartial observer if the motto “In God we trust” were one day expunged from the coins of the republic by the Junkers at Washington, and the far more appropriate word, “verboten,” substituted. Nor would it astound any save the most romantic if, at the same time, the goddess of liberty were taken off the silver dollars to make room for a bas-relief of a policeman in a spiked helmet. Moreover, this gradual (and, of late, rapidly progressive) decay of freedom goes almost without challenge; the American has grown so accustomed to the denial of his constitutional rights and to the minute regulation of his conduct by swarms of spies, letter-openers, informers and agents provocateurs that he no longer makes any serious protest. The American Credo: A Contribution toward the Interpretation of the National Mind (1920)

„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.“

— 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

„Liberty means self-reliance, it means resolution, it means enterprise, it means the capacity for doing without.“

— H.L. Mencken
Context: Liberty means self-reliance, it means resolution, it means enterprise, it means the capacity for doing without. The free man is one who has won a small and precarious territory from the great mob of his inferiors, and is prepared and ready to defend it and make it support him. All around him are enemies, and where he stands there is no friend. He can hope for little help from other men of his own kind, for they have battles of their own to fight. He has made of himself a sort of god in his little world, and he must face the responsibilities of a god, and the dreadful loneliness.

„The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.“

— H.L. Mencken
Context: All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are. "Le Contrat Social", in: Prejudices: Third Series (1922)

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