Charles Dudley Warner and the newspaper

town crier Once upon a time ago the only means of receiving news was via the “mouthpiece” of a town crier… a person who because he could read and probably had a loud voice, would go about the town, stand in a designated location and impart to the public information from the King; where upon he would then “post” it on a door of an inn or other such place. It is said that he was protected by law since not all the news was greeted with civility. (Hence the expression, “Don’t shoot the messenger!”) And then, there was the invention of the mechanical printing press…thank you Mr. Gutenberg, a most ingenious fellow from Germany who opened the world of local news into mass communication in the 15th century… the printing revolution had begun…though it was a most laborious but effective means of reproduction. And as technology progressed, so has the system of mass producing; no longer are small blocks of letters needed to be placed individually to create independent words, but the voice of the writer now is digitally set.

There are very few places where the newspaper hasn’t graced our lives. For centuries news has magically appeared in the wee hours of the morning just waiting to be unfolded and read. They have traveled with us on the subway, found morning coffee dripped upon their pages , rolled up for an occasional disciplinary tool for that naughty puppy, lain flat across the bottom of the canary cage , and even insulated newborns in bitter cold apartments. The newspaper has dotted our lawns, provided job security for countless youth, and even though scoffed at for staining our finger tips with ink…it has been like a friend who not always tells us what we want to hear.

However, the 21st century has not been kind to our faithful companion, who even expanded its “greetings” to early and late editions. Folks today have changed their habits; like those who once ate a wholesome breakfast at the kitchen table, presently have little patience for even a café grande” in the car. So it appears that taking time to peruse a newspaper has diminished into moments to scan paperless waves ….

Charles Dudley Warner _2 Today’s blog reinstates esteemed thinker: Charles Dudley Warner to the forefront; friend to Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain; he is a noted and accomplished 19th century essayist and writer. Extracted from his essay “American Newspaper” I give you his “clever” writing that will take you on a cerebral sabbatical away from the hustle bustle of the day.

“… Yet it must be confessed that here is one of the greatest difficulties of modern journalism. The newspaper must be cheap. It is, considering the immense cost to produce it, the cheapest product ever offered to man. Most newspapers cost more than they sell for; they could not live by subscriptions; for any profits, they certainly depend upon advertisements. The advertisements depend upon the circulation; the circulation is likely to dwindle if too much space is occupied by advertisements, or if it is evident that the paper belongs to its favored advertisers. The counting-room desires to conciliate the advertisers; the editor looks to making a paper satisfactory to his readers. Between this see-saw of the necessary subscriber and the necessary advertiser, a good many newspapers go down. This difficulty would be measurably removed by the admission of the truth that the newspaper is a strictly business enterprise, depending for success upon a ‘quid pro quo’ between all parties connected with it, and upon integrity in its management…

The power of the press,” as something to be feared or admired, is a favorite theme of dinner-table orators and clergymen”… The power of the press is in its facility for making public opinions and events. I should say it is a medium of force rather than force itself. I confess that I am oftener impressed with the powerlessness of the press than otherwise, its slight influence in bringing about any reform, or in inducing the public to do what is for its own good and what it is disinclined to do..

The publication of the news is the most important function of the paper. How is it gathered? We must confess that it is gathered very much by chance. A drag-net is thrown out, and whatever comes is taken. An examination into the process of collecting shows what sort of news we are likely to get, and that nine-tenths of that printed is collected without much intelligence exercised in selection. The alliance of the associated press with the telegraph company is a fruitful source of news of an inferior quality. Of course, it is for the interest of the telegraph company to swell the volume to be transmitted. It is impossible for the associated press to have an agent in every place to which the telegraph penetrates: therefore the telegraphic operators often act as its purveyors. It is for their interest to send something; and their judgment of what is important is not only biased, but is formed by purely local standards. Our news, therefore, is largely set in motion by telegraphic operators, by agents trained to regard only the accidental, the startling, the abnormal, as news; it is picked up by sharp prowlers about town, whose pay depends upon finding something, who are looking for something spicy and sensational, or which may be dressed up and exaggerated to satisfy an appetite for novelty and high flavor, and who regard casualties as the chief news. Our newspapers every day are loaded with accidents, casualties, and crimes concerning people of whom we never heard before and never shall hear again, the reading of which is of no earthly use to any human being…
And there is scarcely ever a cause, or an opinion, or a man, that does not get somewhere in the press a hearer and a defender. We will drop the subject with one remark for the benefit of whom it may concern. With all its faults, I believe the moral tone of the American newspaper is higher, as a rule, than that of the community in which it is published…”

Esteemed thinker: Charles Dudley Warner

snow_weather It seems as though everyone is complaining that the seasons are changing…this is the hottest spring, the wettest summer, or the coldest winter. For as long as men and women have communicated “weather” has been part of our daily verbiage. In fact it even affects the where and how we choose to live. Folks who live in the northern Untied States and Canada often migrate south to Florida where they spend their winters, earning them the title of “snow birds” by the locals … for they can be seen flocking to the beaches to bask in the sun. While those who live south travel north in the fall to see the changing leaves and receive a perfectly beautiful autumn gift.

And then there are those adages that help us predict what the day’s weather will be; “Red Sky at night sailor’s delight, red sky in morning sailors take warning.” For those who braved the oceans in the days of yore, it was a phrase most presumably uttered for survival in contrast to those today who need to decide if they should take an umbrella to work or not. And then I suppose dog owners and their four legged friends that venture out for an early (too early!) walk in the morning are the first to analyze the weather…that is if they chant this old wives- tale; “If a dog pulls his feet up high while walking, a change in the weather is coming.” Others of us who nurture lovely flower beds can also be considered a forecaster by looking to the garden …”The daisy shuts its eye before rain.”

If perchance you are a supporter or skeptic of a more scientific view of climate… we cannot over look global warming, the greenhouse effect, and the diminishing ozone layer as having contributed to Earth’s changing conditions. As a result of the aforementioned, a roller coaster of affects have been occurring around the world; which range from heat waves to droughts to negative arctic oscillation (a climate pattern where cold Arctic air slides south while warmer air moves north, bringing snow storms and record cold temperatures to much of the Northern Hemisphere) . On the flip side, Earth herself does go through natural warming and climatic revolutions and therefore not all are a factor of human intervention.

So…. if you decide to dash off and spend New Year’s Eve in Taormina, Sicily or take a jaunt to go skiing in Gstaad, Switzerland, you will most likely ask someone somewhere before your depart, “ What’s the weather going to be like?”

charles dudley warner I will now cast a favorable prediction on today’s blog in hopes that you will find it to be most informative. Let me bring to your attention the esteemed thinker: Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900), American author, critic, editor, and travel writer born in Plainfield, Massachusetts. Warner was the co- editor of Hartford’s Evening Press for thirty-six years. His friendship with Mark Twain led to a collaboration of writing… its outcome was a dual authorship of the book, The Gilded Age. Warner was a clever and skilled essayist that earned him the reputation during his lifetime as one of America’s most popular authors. Here is a sampling of a few witty quotes that are often repeated today: “Politics makes strange bedfellows” and “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it”. (Sorry for Mr. Warner…many believe these were from the pen of our illustrious Mr. Twain)

And so…. ‘neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this blog’s courier from the swift completion of the appointed round’ …. I present to you words from Charles Dudley Warner’s clever essay, “How Spring Came in New England”.

New England is the battle-ground of the seasons. It is La Vendee. To conquer it is only to begin the fight. When it is completely subdued, what kind of weather have you? None whatever.
What is this New England? A country? No: a camp. It is alternately invaded by the hyperborean legions and by the wilting sirens of the tropics. Icicles hang always on its northern heights; its seacoasts are fringed with mosquitoes. There is for a third of the year a contest between the icy air of the pole and the warm wind of the gulf. The result of this is a compromise: the compromise is called Thaw. It is the normal condition in New England. The New-Englander is a person who is always just about to be warm and comfortable. This is the stuff of which heroes and martyrs are made. A person thoroughly heated or frozen is good for nothing… The New-Englander, by incessant activity, hopes to get warm…
Let us speak of the period in the year in New England when winter appears to hesitate. Except in the calendar, the action is ironical; but it is still deceptive. The sun mounts high: it is above the horizon twelve hours at a time. The snow gradually sneaks away in liquid repentance. One morning it is gone, except in shaded spots and close by the fences. From about the trunks of the trees it has long departed: the tree is a living thing, and its growth repels it. The fence is dead, driven into the earth in a rigid line by man: the fence, in short, is dogma: icy prejudice lingers near it. The snow has disappeared; but the landscape is a ghastly sight,—bleached, dead. The trees are stakes; the grass is of no color; and the bare soil is not brown with a healthful brown; life has gone out of it. Take up a piece of turf: it is a clod, without warmth, inanimate. Pull it in pieces: there is no hope in it: it is a part of the past; it is the refuse of last year…
During the night there is a change. It thunders and lightens. Toward morning there is a brilliant display of aurora borealis. This is a sign of colder weather.
The gardener is in despair; so is the sportsman. The trout take no pleasure in biting in such weather.
Paragraphs appear in the newspapers, copied from the paper of last year, saying that this is the most severe spring in thirty years. Every one, in fact, believes that it is, and also that next year the spring will be early. Man is the most gullible of creatures…”

Charles Waterton and preservation

dodo Such a fragile world we live in; so fragile that what was once thriving can disappear forever. Let us take for example the Dodo Bird. Though it is often thought of with a chuckle; for its name sounds rather silly…its existence was once quite real. A rather large bird of about 3 feet tall, it lived comfortably near Madagascar on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It was first documented by the Dutch when they inhabited the island as a penal colony in the 15th century. As history recalls, it had no natural predators and as such was fearless of humans. Being that they were flightless, they were also easy prey… as one can see where this is leading …. seafarers who used the island as a stop-over point came ashore hungry and along with the animals brought to the island, the poor birds had little chance and have been extinct since the last one in 1681.

We know that the world revolves around progress in many forms; and as we take this into account there is a positive mindset … humans need to be respectful of the world and its creatures. But in spite of this positive attitude…unfortunately, the number of species around the world that are threatened or endangered continues to climb; just as some species have been delisted for a variety of reasons … This month the Grey Wolf was removed from endangered status … however this delisting has become a contested debate for many environmental groups that maintain a continued need for its protection.

The bald eagle is a true success story for recovery… flourishing in numbers, whereby after having been nearly eradicated, in 2009 it was delisted from the Federal Endangered list and does not need protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Sometimes an animal goes off and on a list; such as the Grizzly bear. By 1975 most had disappeared from the lower 48 states mainly due to habitat destruction, roads and reduction of large wildland areas. But thanks to Endangered Species Act protections, the Yellowstone grizzly bear population increased from around 224 bears in 1975 to 582 in 2010. Henceforth, it was delisted in 2007. But then a “grizzly” turn- of- events took place due to more habitat loss and global warming, relisting the poor animal in 2010, and then declared recovered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011.

And then there are some species that no longer exist in the wild; such as the Catarina pupfish of Mexico and the Hawaiian crow, also known as the Aumaka….which perhaps actually makes them extinct. It is no wonder that the sight or sound of an animal in the wild makes us sigh with awe; from the flutter of a yellow tail butterfly, the hovering of a dragon fly over water, to that “once in a while” lucky glimpse of a wading heron; who else but Mother Nature and her family could offer us such life…

Charles waterton 2 So today I bring back Charles Waterton, English naturalist and explorer whose words dating back to 1824 are significant and profound. I invite you to find a few moments and as you are reading be heartened by his insight that still hold so true today. From his book Wanderings in South America, allow me to make room for Mr. Waterton as we interrupt his thoughts about Philadelphia.

“…The extensive squares of this city are ornamented with well-grown and luxuriant trees. Its unremitting attention to literature might cause it to be styled the Athens of the United States. Here learning and science have taken up their abode. The literary and philosophical associations, the enthusiasm of individuals, the activity of the press and the cheapness of the publications ought to raise the name of Philadelphia to an elevated situation in the temple of knowledge.

From the press of this city came Wilson’s famous Ornithology. By observing the birds in their native haunts he has been enabled to purge their history of numberless absurdities which inexperienced theorists had introduced into it. It is a pleasing and a brilliant work. We have no description of birds in any European publication that can come up to this. By perusing Wilson’s Ornithology attentively before I left England I knew where to look for the birds, and immediately recognised them in their native land.

Since his time I fear that the white-headed eagles have been much thinned. I was perpetually looking out for them, but saw very few. One or two came now and then and soared in lofty flight over the Falls of Niagara. The Americans are proud of this bird in effigy, and their hearts rejoice when its banner is unfurled. Could they not then be persuaded to protect the white-headed eagle, and allow it to glide in safety over its own native forests? Were I an American I should think I had committed a kind of sacrilege in killing the white-headed eagle. The ibis was held sacred by the Egyptians; the Hollanders protect the stork; the vulture sits unmolested on the top of the houses in the city of Angostura; and Robin Redbreast, for his charity, is cherished by the English:
No burial these pretty babes
Of any man receives,
Till Robin-red-breast painfully.
Did cover them with leaves…”

Esteemed thinker: Charles Waterton

olinguito Oh, the horrors of a ‘mistaken identity’; we have all had an embarrassing moment when you confuse one person for another and depending upon who it is can result in a very awkward moment. Generally a quick apology can be enough to satisfy most, yet if your error is met during a business meeting, one would think you had committed the crime of the century. And then there are those times when an error in identification can become more than a social faux-pas and resulting in an injurious consequence. Let us take the example of misidentifying a suspect erroneously; such as what transpired in the classic film “12 Angry Men”… and then there was the time the poor grey cat was blamed for breaking into the neighbors screened porch, only to discover after the feline was driven away in the back of a van to an undisclosed location… it was actually a band of roving raccoons that had committed the dastardly deed!

Which brings us to a most important discovery that fringes on the tale of a “mistaken identity”… on August 15, 2013 researchers announced the discovery of the first new mammal found in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years. It is a rust colored furry olinguito, which translates from Spanish to “little olingo.’ According to Kristofer Helgen, the Smithsonian’s curator of mammals, he and his team first saw the animal in the Andes back in 2006 and have been constructing its family history ever since. But behold… “It’s been kind of hiding in plain sight for a long time….” The olinguito once lived in the National Zoo in Washington for a year; it had been mistaken for a sister species, the olingo. Alas, another case of mistaken identity! In retrospect the scientists stated that they wondered how the animals could have been confused; the olinguitos are smaller, have shorter tails, a rounder face, tinier ears and darker bushier fur than the captivated olingo.

Charles Waterton And so, we all can see that even under the scrutiny of science… mistaken identity occurrences can happen ( and probably more often than one would like to admit) …which brings us to today’s blog where I shall introduce you to a more obscure name in the 21st century… the esteemed thinker: Charles Waterton, (1782-1865) English born naturalist and explorer. His adventurous expeditions brought back profound contributions; especially concerning fauna and bird life from South America. One of his more notable additions to science was the introduction into Europe of curare, now an invaluable drug in surgical operations. Considered an eccentric during his lifetime, he turned his family estate into an extensive nature reserve, long before such a concept was ever heard of. From his autobiography, Wanderings of South America, I give you some most interesting observations by nature’s champion, Mr. Waterton …

“…Here I had a fine opportunity once more of examining the three-toed sloth. He was in the house with me for a day or two. Had I taken a description of him as he lay sprawling on the floor I should have misled the world and injured natural history. On the ground he appeared really a bungled composition, and faulty at all points; awkwardness and misery were depicted on his countenance; and when I made him advance he sighed as though in pain…
After fully satisfying myself that it only leads the world into error to describe the sloth while he is on the ground or in any place except in a tree, I carried the one I had in my possession to his native haunts. As soon as he came in contact with the branch of a tree all went right with him. I could see as he climbed up into his own country that he was on the right road to happiness; and felt persuaded more than ever that the world has hitherto erred in its conjectures concerning the sloth, on account of naturalists not having given a description of him when he was in the only position in which he ought to have been described, namely, clinging to the branch of a tree…”

C.S. Lewis and children’s literature

chronicles of narnia An imaginary dividing line has been created in literature, a line of longitude if you please. If we were talking about cartography we may call it the Prime Meridian … or if you prefer, you might decide to call this literary intersection the equator, the 0 degree line of latitude …whichever way you like to cut-up this analogy…some north to south and others east to west, a division is metaphorically visible. This literary line is more obvious when you enter a library or book store resembling a road where there are painted stripes we refer to as the median… However, one has to wonder why in our quest for good books there has been a division at all… making the signage “Children’s Section” like the highway indicator for the fast-food exit.

This imaginary line in writing has been created slowly like erosion over a mountain pass by a running stream…this ever expanding crevice has become a fissure that is widening with each passing decade starting round about the time the publishing industry found out that it could create a marketable and lucrative item, Children’s books. And so, here we have it… the 21st century where the glut of books written just for kids has flooded over into a hot bed of “products”. Yet, children are neither as gullible nor devoid of knowing when they are being conned; they enjoy a well written story. Let’s resurrect Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett; I use these works as an example not because of the story lines or plots…for some would find them too ‘out-dated’ for their liking… but rather because they are beautifully written, well-crafted, and genuine in their allegiance to providing a laudable narrative… none of these authors looked down upon the younger reader as though they were perhaps not worthy of the best.

A delicious meal isn’t usually watered down for a child, for if it was then most of the flavors and taste that the cook intended would be lost, unless of course this cook was not very good. Literature fed to children aught be refined enough to satisfy the reading pallet of an adult; for they too are deserving.

However on a “most” positive note, within the multitude of books published every year there are excellent titles that offer quality writing and craftsmanship by the author… the quest for the buyer or borrower is to heed their selection as if shopping in a grocery store; one needs to know what we are ingesting. (As for the adult readers who like very spicy food, adult books are often written just for adults… while children’s books can be enjoyed by both parties; for who doesn’t like a good kid’s story)

c.s. lewis 2 I now turn today’s blog over again to the esteemed thinker: C.S. Lewis; author, scholar, and literary critic who gained international recognition for his array of popular and scholarly works. Let us take time out from our busy day to read a parcel of words from his essay, “On Juvenile Tastes” ….

“…Surely it would be less arrogant, and truer to the evidence to say that the peculiarity of child readers is that they are not peculiar. It is we who are peculiar. Fashions in literary taste come and goes among the adults…for children read only to enjoy. Of course their limited vocabulary and general ignorance make some books unintelligible to them. But apart from that, juvenile taste is simply human taste, going on from age to age, silly with a universal silliness or wise with a universal wisdom, regardless of modes, movements, and literary revolutions…
It follows that there are now two very different sorts of ‘writers for children’. The wrong sort believe that children are ‘a distinct race’. They carefully ‘make up’ the tastes of these odd creatures-like an anthropologist observing the habita of a savage tribe-or even the tastes of a clearly defined age-group within a particular social class within the ‘distinct-race’. They dish up not what they like themselves but what that race is supposed to like. Educational and moral, as well as commercial, motives may come in. The right sort work from the common, universally human, ground that share with the children, and indeed with countless adults. They label their books “for Children’ because children are the only market now recognized for the books they, anyway, want to write…”

Esteemed thinker: C.S. Lewis

travel If you journey far from home either by car, train, plane, or bus…whatever mode of transportation you may elect to service, it can often be somewhat tedious. Tedious in the sense that unless the route is new and the sites are interesting, the many hours spent in transit from destination to destination can be…shall I say…downright boring. So, in order to ward off the doldrums, we devise methods of diversion from listening to the radio, downloading our favorite music, or borrowing a book on CD from the library. I often listen to a book that I have read before and have found that this audio method of a “reread” is quite entertaining; especially if the reader is animated and acts-out the character’s dialogue, making the author’s title come alive. Listening to someone else read offers a different perspective compared to your first encounter with the story; it is similar to being the passenger in a car on a road that you are familiar with. You see sights that you may have missed while behind the wheel since your focus has been redirected.

Children are delighted to listen to the rereading of a story, for it seems that youngsters never tire from hearing the same book over and over again; even though the adult tries to cajole with an offering of a newer or prettier text… yet we all know it is the grownup- reader who yearns for the change, not the young listener. Reading a book for a second time allows us to discover elements within the plot or quirks within the character in a way that we wonder, “how could I have missed that the first time around?” And then… it is simply fun to rediscover a book that you may have enjoyed years ago, perhaps the novel or story you were assigned to read for class where the teacher seemed to have tortured you rather than inviting you into the imaginary world of the author. (Now you can give it your personal attention without having to answer questions!)

C.S. Lewis And so, in today’s blog I introduce you to our esteemed thinker: Irish born, C.S. Lewis, ( Clive Staples Lewis: 1898–1963) 20th century intellect, Oxford professor, novelist, essayist, and literary critic. He gained popularity for his science fiction Space Trilogy and the Narnia fantasies for children and continues to be one of the most read authors to date. Some believe that his work, the Chronicles of Narnia, served as a model for our modern children’s literature such as A Series of Unfortunate Events, Artemis Fowl, and Harry Potter. Regardless if one agrees with this connection or not, C.S. Lewis’s work holds a prominent place on a majority of children’s’ book lists.

Snipped from his essay, “On Stories” here is C.S. Lewis in his own words…..

“… As I have admitted, it is very difficult to tell in any given case whether a story is piercing to the unliterary reader’s deeper imagination or only exciting his emotions. .. The nearest we can come to a test is by asking whether he often re-reads the same story. It is, of course, a good test for every reader of every kind of book. An unliterary man may be defined as one who reads books once only… There is hope for a man who has never read Malory or Boswell, or *Tristam Shandy or Shakespeare’s Sonnets: but what can you do with a man who says he “has read” them, meaning he has read them once, and thinks that this settles the matter? …the re-reader is looking not for actual surprises (which can come only once) but for a certain suprisingness. The point has often been misunderstood. …In the only sense that matters the surprise works well the twentieth time as the first. It is the quality of unexpectedness, not the fact that delights us. It is even better the second time. Knowing that the ‘surprise’ is coming we can now fully relish the fact that this path through the shrubbery doesn’t look as if it were suddenly going to bring us our on the edge of the cliff. So in literature. We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading. Not till the curiosity, the sheer narrative lust has been given its sop and laid asleep, are at leisure to savour the real beauties. Till then, it is like wasting great wine on a ravenous natural thirst, which merely wants cold wetness… It is better when you know it is coming: free from the shock of actual surprise you can attend better to the intrinsic surpisingness of the *peripeteia.

* Tristam Shandy (1759) humorous English nine volume novel written by Laurence Sterne
* peripeteia: a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work

Vincent van Gogh and his thoughts on art

van gogh museumMuseums are the windows to the past. They house treasures that have been unearthed, borrowed from other civilizations, reassembled from a time long ago, or displayed for the very first time. They are a wonderland of things that allow each of us admission to a time, place, or experience where we can become intimate with another. Museums come in many forms, some are for objects such as furniture, some are for prehistoric relics like dinosaur bones and fossils, some are for paintings and sculpture, and there are even museums for the news. Whatever the pleasures of men and women there is likely to be a collection somewhere displayed in some building…and fortunately saved for posterity.

Let’s look more closely at the fine art museum, a place where differing sets of values have decidedly created the spaces for viewing. There is modern art, classical art, ancient art, abstract art, and so on and so forth…and with each generation that visits and for each group of curators that have established the exhibitions, so has the appreciation for what we determine as “art” run the gambit. If we were to examine works through the ages we would find that a vast number of contemporaries often yearned for what came before. Many who lived during the age of “modern art” in the 1960s either liked the “new” works or scorned it… many longing for the look, feel, and style of “the past”. So it is with so many things, we often desire a return for what came before… and the appreciation for art is no different.

flower buds van gogh Today’s blog revisits the words of our esteemed thinker: Vincent van Gogh, a Dutch artist that hardly needs any introduction. A kind and troubled man who graced us with his gifts…where his paintings will forever be noted as “a Van Gogh” and we will all understand what that means…. although he lived a pauper’s existence he never extinguished his calling, art…

Let us now take a few minutes to look over his shoulder and read the words from a letter (1883) to his brother Theo …and we reaffirm that time stands still and often things we feel today have really not changed….

“… It makes me more nervous than is good for me to try to talk with people about my work. And what is the result? A refusal or being put off with fair promises. I assure you that I feel less energy for my work when I have been among people. …….I do not doubt that my wok has fault, but neither do I doubt that I am not quite wrong, and that I shall succeed, be it only after long seeking. And I do believe that it is dangerous to look for success elsewhere.
I think there is a difference between art appreciation today and that of earlier years. There used to be more passion both in the making and in the judging of works of art. This or that work was chosen deliberately; one side or the other was energetically taken. There was more animation. Now I think there is a spirit of capriciousness and satiety; people are in general more lax. Some time ago I wrote that I had noticed there was since Millet* a marked decline, as though the summit had been reached and decadence had begun. This has its influence on everybody and everything. …”

*Jean-Francois Millet (1814 – 1875) French realist painter and one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France; best known for his paintings of peasants.