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A delight in production and invention with a view merely to more production and more invention is a conspicuous feature of modern industry. The tale told in the February "Current History", by John W. O'Leary, President of the United States Chamber of Commerce, fairly bubbles with the joy of quoting seven figure sums. His article, "Twenty-five Years of American Prosperity", is a paean of industrial progress. For the American may vaunt that the wealth of his country, 89 billions of dollars in 1900, has more than trebled since. Some Croesus power has magically turned a five billion dollar debt into a present credit of sixteen billions. The industrial majesty thus won sweeps swiftly down a prolific path of production, invention, and copious remodeling. New attachments, parts, and styles are flooding the twentieth century triumphs, the automobile, the aeroplane the radio, the motion picture.
The age is intent upon obscuring with a strange glorification of its new tools, their beneficial intensification of its life. Yet it takes but little detachment and contemplation to minimize the importance of these inventions while still recognizing their value. They are not necessary to life. They but facilitate extensive and intensive living. An automobile is a better cart; the radio and the moving pictures provide a keener hearing and a farther sight. They are valuable wherein they increase the sensations and hence broaden the conclusions of life, which has always been a thing of sensation and conclusion. And he who receives the sensations and reaches the conclusions of life is man; he still remains, among all his creatures the paramount figure.
It is thus unfortunate to confine his discernment to features of size, speed and novelty. Industrialism tends to emphasize a rapid rhythm at the expense of a lingering over the rich notes. When one rose is about to flower and one tree about to bear, whole gardens of novelties and orchards of variations are already in bud. Time is not left to determine whether the apple, apart from its fractional refinements, is socially palatable, much less to test its elder worth in the press of speculation.
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