there is a corpus,
found in everyone
a way of thinking
one’s reactions to
In fact, primary
attitudes will constitute
place, function as member of
Part of the Mencken Project.
From THE AMERICAN CREDO: A Contribution Toward the Interpretation of the National Mind
By George Jean Nathan and HL Mencken, 1920
From the line: “deep down in every man there is a body of congenital attitudes, a corpus of ineradicable doctrines and ways of thinking, that determines his reactions to his ideational environment as surely as his physical activity is determined by the length of his tibiæ and the capacity of his lungs. These primary attitudes, in fact, constitute the essential man. It is by recognition of them that one arrives at an accurate understanding of his place and function as a member of human society;”
The first multi stanza haiku I ever wrote.
The question then, what are these primary attitudes?
That is what this Mr. Mencken and Mr. Nathan attempted to gather together in this book.
Mencken writes, “Well, here is an attempt to assemble in convenient form, without comment or interpretation, some of the fundamental beliefs of the largest body of human beings now under one flag in Christendom. It is but a beginning. The field is barely platted. It must be explored to the last furlong and all its fantastic and fascinating treasures unearthed and examined before ever there can be any accurate understanding of the mind of the American people.”
Then they two list some 488 odd things that back in 1920 may have been what we call ‘accepted wisdom.’
#411 – That if one’s ear itches it is a sign that some one is talking of one.
Many have not passed the test of time.
#384 – That all Japanese butlers are lieutenants in the Japanese Navy and that they read and copy all letters received by the folks they work for.
Some of these ‘fundamental beliefs’ that are beyond acceptability today I will attribute Mr. Nathan.
Why should I give Mr. Mencken a pass and not Mr. Nathan on some of their comments?
Mr. Nathan seems to be that brilliant man who would have been mad and angry and prejudiced in any era.
Mr. Mencken just disliked everyone.
Maybe we should re-write them for today?
While the list of things needs updating.
I am not sure the opening preface does.