December 23, 1933
I have the feeling that I am experiencing one of life's rewards: the budding of a new friendship. A few casual contacts with Morton Klausen, Editor of the Hamilton Press, Norweigan emigrant, super idealist, poet, struggler with fate, and several other qualifications for the friend Eleanor would expect me to make - the contacts mainly through the X Club to which he was iniatiated the same time as I, are always pleasant and intrigueing - we click. We stood in the cold rain on Main Street the other day and clicked. He has been working on his paper for five months and confessed his inability to prove scientifically some metaphisical truths, or some such rot. I recalled old Pop Snyder's reiterated declarations in the Astronomy lab at Central High, as to the one and only method of scientific investigation: observation, guess, test. (I'm afraid Pop did mostly guessing). So I tried to comfort Morton with the thought that even if he has only accomplished the reasonable-to-suppose he stands as well as most scientific columbi; he should give us whatever he has, and we should take it for what it was worth. He was the only member to respond kindly to my "As I see life now" paper last Fall; so naturally I like him. His Christmas Card was distinctive, and displayed his capacity for affection: "The moon seems to set, and the sun seems to rise over by your house." I have a sneaky notion that I may try to crash the columns of his weekly, if he is kind enough to allow it. If I do I shall maintain a careful anonimity, for if activity in my profession ever opens up I shall drop all ideas of this sort of diversion, for which only the lax interests of the times afford the opportunity. So watch your step, Morton, you are subject to be waylaid!
Why shouldn't I take a crack at teaching? AKH has been conducting the night school class in Electricity for several years, and may be tired of it. I shall sound him out soon, and see if I can't pick up a few dollars, as well as test my abilities in another art. Instead of devoting a lot of time to mathematical derivations and some of complexities of applied electricity, I think I would make it a course in fundamentals, assuming that is what the authorities might desire; for my two seasons of contact with the course indicate that many of the group have had little education, and should be approached on as simple a basis as is practical; commonplace analagies should be used extensively. Well we'll see.
Told Robert today I thought pre-Christmas activities for children should be confined to a church party and the home. The present drain on a child's supply of nervous energy is ruinous. It put Dick in bed for two days with fermented innards, and I believe contributed to Jack's heavy cold. By careful supervision the good wife and I hope to have them sufficiently revived to enjoy the main show on Monday. I suppose all the outside activities contrived by well-wishing citizens on the abstract basis that the kiddies must be remembered, is all right for the many who will not get much at home; but for my part I intend to do all I can to provide a real home Christmas, and to discourage the rest for the boys. Strange as it may seem, I am in favor also of my wife feeling well on Christmas; and I hereby disclaim any loyalty to any tradition which demands the contrary.
I like Hamlin Garland's "Back-trailers" better than the "Son" or "Daughter"; it is more mature and reflective. That statement makes me seem ancient; but my point is that the "Back-trailers" adds to the historical and romantic value of the family ups and downs a greater revelation of the author's philosophy. For example: he reflects on the only moderate success (30,000 copies) of the "Son", as follows:
'My position is that of an intellectual aristocrat; I have no confidence in a 'democratic art' if by that phrase is meant an art based on popular approval. With due regard for the welfare of the average man, I do not value his judgement upon wall-paper or rugs or paintings. Why should his verdict on a book or play be considered something mystically sure and high and final? The Tolstoyan belief in the 'intuitive rightness' of the peasant has always affected me as sentimental nonsense. I am gratified when my work appeals to a large number of my fellow republicans, but if one of my books were to have a very wide sale, I should at once lose confidence in its quality. The judgement of the millions, when it comes to a question of art, is usually wrong.
Furthermore, as one who believes in selection, I have helped to form various other clubs and societies where merit counts above success or good citizenship or social position. Wild as I may have been on political economy, I have never believed in artistic anarchy. Ethics and esthetics are separate fields of thought in my world.'
(He should belong to the X Club)
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