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The Vagabond


Sunday night in a long fest of bull with friends and a discussion (invoked by the hideous fact of our common servitude under Mr. Brinton in Intellectual History) of what is progress. Which tied us up in a thousand knots such as what is civilization what is man what is science what is anything. Some of us wanted to let it go at that and make up limericks.

But I remember being very worked up about the problem in hand and refusing to quit till I had my say. I was very doctrinaire in my defense of the (I suppose) obscurantist position that it all didn't amount to that. That progress was a myth and science just encouraged it to be one that we had been better off hundreds of years ago when people had never heard of progress and never stopped their plowing for a minute to think of it. That we lived and ate and sang and suffered and died and we had better do them all gracefully and how much more gracefully they did them way back then. Then we seemed to progress only and never discovered anything new, and what we did discover was apt to boomerang back on us any minute like instant communication and aeroplanes and T.N.T. That anybody was a sucker to be optimistic like Browning. That science was merely building up to a great big let-down when came the Jeansian Millenium, that everything new that came out was a new responsibility and made us more surely and completely serfs than our ancestors (probably) had been.

Electric lights failed when the current went off, and thus you were just the tools of Mr. Insull or Mr. Hopson. The bigger and shinier and faster you automobile was the more apt you were to get bamped off unpleasantly. A medieval arquebus was much more decent. It was all a lot of rot--modern existence. I was insistent. I was almost a Miniver Cheevy.

Monday morning I stopped in the Square and bought that electric razor I had been admiring. I like it very much.

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