I think we should see whether we are wise trying to educate everybody to a high standard the way we are trying to do now. There has to be a high level of education so everybody is literate, but whether university education is necessary for everyone is open to question.
The pleasures of love are for those who are hopelessly addicted to another living creature. The reasons for such addiction are so many that I suspect they are never the same in any two cases. It includes passion but does not survive by passion; it has its whiffs of the agreeable vertigo of young love, but it is stable more often than dizzy; it is a growing, changing thing, and it is tactful enough to give the addicted parties occasional rests from strong and exhausting feeling of any kind.
Speakers' nerves affect them in various ways. Some tremble, some become frenzied. I lose all confidence, and suffer from a leaden oppression that makes me wonder why I ever agreed to speak at all; the Tomb and the Conqueror Worm seem preferable to delivering the stupid and piffling speech I have so carefully prepared.
Comparatively few people know what a million dollars actually is. To the majority it is a gaseous concept, swelling or decreasing as the occasion suggests. In the minds of politicians, perhaps more than anywhere, the notion of a million dollars has this accordion-like ability to expand or contract; if they are disposing of it, the million is a pleasing sum, reflecting warmly upon themselves; if somebody else wants it, it becomes a figure of inordinate size, not to be compassed by the rational mind.
The US, for historical reasons, mistrusts the concept of a welfare state, and this mistrust shows itself nakedly under present US government, which commits uncounted billions of the national wealth to what it calls defence, and is close-fisted in giving money to plans which would ameliorate the grinding poverty of a great part of its people. Quite simply, in Canada you could not get away with that.
Sometimes there was a serious article on a hot topic, and I especially remember one by a bishop headed "Is Nudity Salacious?" The bishop thought it need not be, if encountered in the proper spirit, but he gave a lot of enlightening examples of conditions under which it might be, in his word, "inflammatory." There wasn't much nudity in our neck of the woods, and I enjoyed that article tremendously.
Book lovers are thought by unbookish people to be gentle and unworldly, and perhaps a few of them are so. But there are others who will lie and scheme and steal to get books as wildly and unconscionably as the dope-taker in pursuit of his drug. They may not want the books to read immediately, or at all; they want them to possess, to range on their shelves, to have at command. They want books as a Turk is thought to want concubines - not to be hastily deflowered, but to be kept at their master's call, and enjoyed more... Read more »
Many authors write like amateur blacksmiths making their first horseshoe; the clank of the anvil, the stench of the scorched leather apron, the sparks and the cursing are palpable, and this appeals to those who rank "sincerity" very high. Nabokov is more like a master swordsmith making a fine blade; nothing is amiss, nothing is too much, there is no fuss, and the finished product must be handled with great care, or it will cut you badly.
If I had my way books would not be written in English but in an exceedingly difficult secret language.... This plan would have the advantage of scaring off all amateur authors, retired politicians, country doctors...who would not have the patience to learn the secret language.
I think a lot of people have unreasonable expectations because they never stop to consider what life actually has to offer them. They're always looking for some great epiphany from the skies. They never stop to consider the fact which human beings find hardest to recognize: "Maybe I'm not worthy of an epiphany.
I do not really like vacations. I much prefer an occasional day off when I do not feel like working. When I am confronted with a whole week in which I have nothing to do but enjoy myself I do not know where to begin. To me, enjoyment comes fleetingly and unheralded; I cannot determinedly enjoy myself for a whole week at a time.
It is in this matter that I fall foul of so many American writers on writing; they seem to think that writing is a confidence game by means of which the author cajoles a restless, dull-witted, shallow audience into hearing his point of view. Such an attitude is base, and can only beget base prose.