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w HEN the wise old kings of Egypt

decided tohave a ball, I’m as-


sured, they placed a mummy at the head
trapped between a very realdread of
coming alive to something more khan
merely existing and an equal dread of
The condition of liberty is the
,capacity to doubt one‘s own faith and
to doubt it aut loud as well.
of the table to remjnd themselves, even going down to the-grave without having T h e Out-Loud D’oubters who took
at the height of the festivities, of their done more than merely exist? American thought out of the vault where
own mortality. We mighttodaywith If so, this is truly ;the great American the McCarthys and McCarrans of their
equal wisdom, in this our own season disease, and would account in part for time
had locked it-Dreiser and
of celebration, nod respectfully toward the fact that we lead ;the world today in Mencken and Sinclair Lewis and Lin-
She head of our own high-heaped board. incidence of insanity, criminality, alco- coln StefEens-are down in thedust
1 e proud.. .
.- . Lest- we also p r o ~too. holism, narcoticism, cancer, homicide, of the ’20’s.
- -&or~$&.Lx o‘BaIl,
^$$season at all, and pervers’ion in sex as well as perver- And again the anonymous little men
’ - xi liv6<&&j L- a laboratory of human
suffering as vast and terrible as that in
sion just fot. the pure hell of the thing. in the clean white collars will assure us,
througheditorialand rotogravure, that
which Dickens and Dostoevski wrote, NEVER BEFORE till here and now only by superbazooka and thunderjet can
the only real difference being that the have men and women been so divided our famous American way of li€e be
England of Diekens andthe Russia of by the discrepancy between life and the saved.
Dostoevski could not afford the sound representation of life. That if we canbut build a space
screens and the smoke screens with Nowherehas any peopleset itself platformbefore anyone else we shall
which we so ingeniously conceal our a moral code so rigid while applying it thus insurenational contentment for
true condition from ourselves. so flexibly. keeps.
So accustomed hav‘e we become to the Never has any people been so out- A Carthaginian faith in the ships of
testimony of the photo-weeklies, backed wardly confident that God is on its side trade and the chariots of war as sound
by witnesses from radio and T V , es- while inwardly terrified lest He be as Whittaker Chambers. As misleading i
tablishing US as the happiest, healthiest, not. as MacArthur. As complacent as Cape-
sanest, wealthiest, mast inventive, fun- “It is as if we are being endowed hart. As suicidal as Forrestal. As false
loving, and tolerant folk yet to grace the with a vast .and thoroughlyappointed as McCarthy.
earkh of man thatwetend to forget body,” Walt Whitmanprophesied, “and “NOWgitout of the way,” Mr.
that these are bought-and-paid-fur wit- lei% with little orno soul.” Dooley Once doubted out loud, “for
nesses andthatalltheir testimony is A consideration recently emphasized. here comes Property, drunk ’n raisin’
perjured. by William Faulkner when he observed, Cain.”
in accepting the,Nobel Prize for Litera-
FOR IT IS NOT in the afternoon in ture,that“the young man or woman BUT BEHIND Property’s billboards
Naples nor yet at evening in Marseilles, writing today has forgottenthe problems and Property’s headlines and Property‘s
notinIndian hovels half sunk in an of the heart in conflict with itself. They pulpits and Property’s arsenals, the peo-
ancestral civilization’s ruined halls or write not of life but of lust. Not of the ple of Dostoevsb and Dickens yet en-
within lion-colored tents pitched down heart but of the glands.’’ durethe ancestral problems .of the
the Sahara‘s endless edge that we find heart.
faces debauched by sheeruselessness. d PURELY DOUBT thatthe youngman It is therethatthe young man or
Not in the backwash of poverty and war or woman writing today has forgotten it woman seeking t o report the American
but in the backwash of prosperity aqd thing. More likely, he is simply so in- Century ltmthfully today will have to
progress. timidated by our souped-up h i v e mward seek, if it is the truth he seeks.
Here in the back streets and theboule- conformity that he declines any risk A Merry Chrjstmas to aI1. And to all
vards of New York and Chicago and which might conceivably imperil his & good night.
Los Angeles, unused, unusable, and use- livelihood. NELSON ALGREN
- lessfaces, so purposeless yet so smug, For howcan he write of the heart
harassed, or half-dehumanized, so self- and yet conform? There are no Broyles ,+ . [ M r . 2Lgren was ask&! recently by
satisfied yet somehow so abject-for bills for the heart. Its loyalty cannot be the editor of the Chicdgo Daily News
complacency struggles strangelythere bomded by precinct or ward. The t o commentonthe st& of Ammican
with guilt. Faces of (the American Cen- hearthasbut one nationality andthat writing toddy. His reply uppear.& in ths
tury, full of such an immense irre- humanity’s. Daily News O B December 3 and ir ye-
sponsibility toward themselves, -Yet, precisely as the Russians drive printedabove with the author’s and .the ’
As though the human cost OF our blindly to penalize all independence of pczper’s permbion. Mr. Algren is .the
marvelous technology has indeed been action and thought, our specialists press author of T h e MCW with the Golden
much .too great. the stethescope of constituted authority Arm,” which won the N&iopzal Book
Do American faces so often look so to the American breast in the hope of Award in 1949 us tbe most distia-
I
lost because they are most tragically catching the faint murmur of dissent. gslished American novel of the yeczr.1