3.7.2021 – mediocrity!

crass, gross, vulgar, obnoxious
and simply senile

Part of the HL Mencken Project.

This haiku is drawn from the Prejudices – The Sahara of the Bozart – a look a the Southern States 50 years after the end of the Civil War.

This is one of the essays that won Mr. Mencken the everlasting enmity of the south.

Mr, Mencken wrote, “Virginia is the best of the South today, and Georgia is perhaps the worst. The one is simply Senile; the other is crass, gross, vulgar and obnoxious. Between lies a vast plain of mediocrity, stupidity, lethargy, almost of dead silence.”

Mr. Mencken continued, “In the North, of course, there is also grossness, crassness, vulgarity. The North, in its way, is also stupid and obnoxious. But nowhere in the North is there such complete sterility, so depressing a lack of all civilized gesture and aspiration.”

In a preface to this essay printed years later, Mr. Mencken wrote, “This produced a ferocious reaction in the South, and I was belabored for months, and even years afterward in a very extravagant manner. The essay in its final form, as it is here reproduced, dates sadly, but I have let it stand as a sort of historical document. On the heels of the violent denunciations of the elder Southerners there soon came a favorable response from the more civilized youngsters, and there is reason to believe that my attack had something to do with that revival of Southern letters which followed in the middle 1920 ‘s”

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