I was taught to read by my grandmother. Central to her method was a tale of unnatural love called 'The Duck and the Kangaroo'. Then, because my grandfather, Senator Gore, was blind, I was required early on to read grown-up books to him, mostly constitutional law and, of course, the Congressional Record. The later continence of my style is a miracle, considering those years of piping the additional remarks of Mr. Borah of Idaho.
The ideal to which John Adams subscribed-that we would be a nation of laws, not of men-was quickly subverted when the churches forced upon everyone, through supposedly neutral and just laws, their innumerable taboos on sex, alcohol, gambling. We are now indeed a nation of laws, mostly bad and certainly antihuman.
Big oil, big steel, big agriculture avoid the open marketplace. Big corporations fix prices among themselves and thus drive out of business the small entrepreneur. Also, in their conglomerate form, the huge corporations have begun to challenge the very legitimacy of the state.
You will be favorable to Burr, and so must fail, because the American reader cannot bear a surprise. He knows that this is the greatest country on earth, Washington the greatest man that ever lived, Burr the wickedest, and evidence to the contrary is not admissible. That means no inconvenient facts, no new information. If you really want the reader's attention, you must flatter him. Make his prejudices your own. Tell him things he already knows. He will love your soundness.
I Must warn you, Iris, that I'm not a believer. And though I'm sure that the revelations of other men must be a source of infinite satisfaction to them, individually, I shouldn't for one second be so presumptuous as to make a choice among the many thousands of recorded revelations of truth, accepting one at the expense of all the others: I might so easily choose wrong and get into eternal trouble. And you must admit that the selection is wide, and dangerous to the amateur.
Life will be wonderful when men no longer fear dying. When the last superstitions are thrown out and we meet death with the same equanimity as life. No longer will children's minds be twisted by evil gods whose fantastic origin is in those barbaric tribes who feared death and lightning, who feared life. That's it: life is the villain to to those who preach reward in death, through grace and eternal bliss, or through dark revenge.