Saturday, February 17, 2007

Perspectives on Ideas February 17, 2007

23 Achieving personal excellence and extending a helping hand are indispensable elements of an American future that works.... Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

318 The [American] creed’s touchstones are liberty, equality, individualism, democracy, and the rule of law. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

353 Accentuating difference tends to make us forget our common humanity, yet it is this individuality that shapes a person’s identity…the guiding paradox of America. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

415 Optimism is one of our [Americans’] great virtues. Bradley, Time Present, Time Past.

487 There are...two Americas, of which one is European...chiefly the eastern states, where the older stocks look up respectfully to foreign aristocracies, and more recent immigrants look back with a certain nostalgia to the culture and traditions of their native lands. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

487 [In the Eastern states]...British mood dominates the literature...our standard of art and taste in the Atlantic states is English; our literary heritage is English; and our philosophy, when we have time for any...produced Washington Irving and Emerson and even Poe. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

487 Santayana: America is not simply a young country with an old mentality; it is a country with two mentalities, one a survival of the beliefs and standards of the fathers, the other an expression of the instincts, practices and discoveries of the younger generations. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

488 Santayana: The American will inhabits the skyscraper; the American intellect inhabits the Colonial mansion. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

488 The other the America that produced Lincoln, Thoreau, Whitman and Twain; it is the America of “horse sense,” of “practical men,” of “hard headed business men.” Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

488 The other America...consists of those people, whether Yankees or Hoosiers or cowboys, whose roots are in this soil, and not in Europe.... Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

283 According to American theory, all power is in the hands of the plain people, and according to American legend they always exercise it wisely…in fact [the plain people] can only exert their power through agents, and in the election of these agents they seldom face a clear choice between a good candidate and a bad one, or a wise idea and a foolish one. Mencken, Minority Report.

189 RP Warren paraphrasing Polish writer Adam Gurowski: …begins by saying that America is unique among nations because other nations are accidents of geography or race, but America is based on an idea. Cowley, ed., Writers at Work.

849 Strange, that the solid truth-speaking Briton should derive from an imposter [St. George]; strange, that the New World should have no better luck—that broad America must wear the name of a thief,…Amerigo Vespucci, the pickle dealer at Seville, who went out, in 1499, a subaltern with Hojeda, and whose highest naval rank was boatswain’s mate in an expedition that never sailed, managed in this lying world to supplant Columbus and baptize half the earth with his own dishonest name. Emerson, English Traits.

123 Nine years earlier Denis Brogan had written: “Probably the only people who have the historical sense of inevitable victory are the Americans.” Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest.

276 Philip Larkin: A writer once said to me, If you ever go to America, go either to the East Coast or the West Coast: The rest is a desert full of bigots. Plimpton, ed. The Writer’s Chapbook.

xix …but no other great power has the confidence and stability to expose and face its own blunders. Sevareid, Not So Wild a Dream.

189 I learned to understand a fundamental suspicion in the American character…. Sevareid, Not So Wild a Dream.

378 …in the American tradition to be guilty of incompetence is the one unbearable disgrace. Sevareid, Not So Wild a Dream.

7 Samuel Johnson: “The Americans are a nation of convicts and deserve anything we give them short of hanging.” Hofstadter, ed. Great Issues in American History. Vol. 1. Independence.

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