Thursday, February 9, 2012

Let Mencken Choose Your Major:

H.L. Mencken
Classical Studies
"No rational man can go through the endless volumes of the Loeb library without concluding that the Romans were an essentially dull and practical people, without much more fancy in them than a Congressman or cow doctor. They had their high virtues, of course, but a lush and charming imagination was certainly not one. They were not poets, but policeman and lawyers."
"Classical Learning" from the New York American, January 1936.

"The aim seems to be to reduce the whole teaching process to a sort of automatic reaction, to discover some master formula that will not only take the place of competence and resourcefulness in the teacher but that will also create an artificial receptivity in the child. Teaching becomes a thing in itself, separable from and superior to the thing taught. Its mastery is a special business, a sort of transcendental high jumping." 
"The Educational Process" from Education, Prejudices: Third Series, 1922, pp. 238-65.

Religious Studies
"No, there is nothing notably dignified about religious ideas. They run, rather, to a peculiarly puerile and tedious kind of nonsense. At their best, they are borrowed from metaphysicians, which is to say, from men who devote their lives to proving that twice two is not always or necessarily four. At their worst, they smell of spiritualism and fortune-telling. Nor is there any visible virtue in the men who merchant them professionally. Few theologians know anything that is worth knowing, even about theology, and not many of them are honest."
"Immune" from the American Mercury, March 1930, p. 289.

All selections taken from A Mencken Chrestomathy.

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