March 22, 2006
The Spoiled Brat

Theodore Dreiser in Newspaper Days, describing a type of rich kid who played at journalism when he was a poor reporter in New York a century ago. Remind you of anybody?

There is a species of mind which is apparently sealed to the misery of others and fixed solely and narcissistically upon itself. Such brains or temperaments can only view and grasp their own or similar merits and perfections, and, in consequence, what life is likely to do for them.

They can no more visualize the circumstances and conditions which delay and betray and beleaguer another than they can interpret time or space. Little if anything of the grilling forces of nature — its harrying storms, inequalities, traps, lures, deprivations and congenital defects, which delay or destroy the millions via whose defects such brains or temperaments prosper — is ever or even vaguely comprehended by them.

To the eyes and the minds of such mannikins the fate of every individual is in his own hands. All one need do to be successful, attractive, powerful, and so admired, is to try, to bestir oneself, to gallop here and there, willing that this, that, and the other thing shall be, in order that it shall be. The unbelievable handicaps and weights which delay and finally mire the many in the slough of despond or worse are to these unknown…


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To them the less successful individual is never so by reason of conditions which he has not and never can have control, but rather by reason of defects which he himself willfully incurs — ignorance, weakness, dirt, a shabby mind and a cowardly heart — and by reason of which, and the nonwillingness on his part to overcome these same, he fails.

All men are the victims of their own idleness, sins and the like. They court failure and eschew success, while themselves make all the virtues and qualities which further them so rapidly. The asininity of it all is of course enough to make an observer of even ordinary intelligence smile, but so it is.

Such people are most happily insulated against the depressing effect of the woes of others. Your bark may be sinking, but your cries will never disturb their moonlight ditties as they drift before a favoring wind past the scene of your despair.
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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at March 22, 2006 12:40 PM
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When I was a teenager one of my favorite books was "Newspaper Days" by H.L. Mencken. Now I see there are two different books entitled "Newspaper Days." Live and learn.

Posted by: Bill Doolittle on March 22, 2006 2:24 PM

When I was a teenager one of my favorite books was "Newspaper Days" by H.L. Mencken. Now I see there are two different books entitled "Newspaper Days." Live and learn.

Posted by: Bill Doolittle on March 22, 2006 2:25 PM

Jerry, but aren't you describing The American Dream there? From dish-washer (the manual kind, as some may remeber) to billionaire within a couple of years? It can't be done without robbing at least a million people (legally, of course).

Posted by: on March 23, 2006 7:45 AM
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