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23 March 2015


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Mr. Sale
Thank you as always for your insight to
all things Americana. Two words I may
add as a catalyst to our present conundrum.
"Madison Avenue"


Dear Mr. Sales
You are a very insightful and gifted writer. I apologize if I offended you in the past. But I thought you took some extremely cheap shots at Flannery O’Connor, so I bowed up a bit, I reckon. She was one tough lady, let me tell you…and a Catholic mystic too. She never sold out. Not one time. When I say she never sold out, I am also including that Iowa writing school, off to NYC, stuff. But I apologize if I offended you and I enjoy reading your essays these days.

The Twisted Genius

Richard Sale,

I imagine you may share my disappointment in this age of endless selfies. Such shallowness. Such self-centeredness. Now an occasional well staged and executed self portrait, I'm okay with that.

What I take from this essay is a yearning for craftsmanship. To create something with skill, care and inspiration. I am the son of a tool maker. I understand this. What a craftsman creates is enduring, beautiful and often amazingly useful. It can also be fleeting, beautiful and inspirational. What a craftsman can do is limitless.

I've always enjoyed the works of Eric Sloane and his reverence for the craftsman of old New England. I heartedly recommend him.


Richard Sales -- your thoughts reinforce those of an experience last weekend.

A professional choir performed Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle at a magnificent old Presbyterian cathedral in my town. The pastor welcomed all to the cathedral space where, he said, "many different kinds of events take place, that continually shape the stones." His hope was that the choir's music would shape the stones of the cathedral and of our souls.

Most of the audience was of the grey-haired set, but many of the choir members were young, a very encouraging sign.

If Huizinga means that TV and internet add to the haystack, making the search for the needle more not less difficult, then I agree.
Is this the same man? -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_Huizinga
Wikipedia says he was detained by the Nazis but died (in detention??) in the Netherlands.


"Wikipedia says he was detained by the Nazis but died (in detention??) in the Netherlands."

Croesus, that is no contradiction. The Nazis had detention camps in the Netherlands.


I agree with TTG. We have become adept at creating hordes of new barbarians, to whom the selfie is manna and the thought of trending is the new Aandy Wharhol 15 minutes of fame. We use to rely on our institutions to educate and broaden young minds. Now, we had better follow the advice of Messrs Crosby, Stills and Nash - "Teach your children well."


I don't like taking cheap shots about anyone. So I apologize to you. I am a big fan of her stories.


A beautifully written passage about Rossini's Mass.

He died at Auschwitz.

Thank you so much.


thank you, Richard Sales and confused ponderer.

My confusion is that Auschwitz was not in Netherlands.

but Wikipedia is frequently not accurate ---

"In 1942, he spoke critically of his country's German occupiers, comments that were consistent with his writings about Fascism in the 1930s. From then until his death in 1945, he was held in detention by the Nazis. He died in De Steeg in Gelderland, near Arnhem, just a few weeks before Nazi rule ended, and he lies buried in the graveyard of the Reformed Church at 6 Haarlemmerstraatweg in Oegstgeest.[3]"

Babak Makkinejad


I hope you guys are not too offended by my observation that you all sound like quintessential grumpy old men, complaining that the world has gone to dogs and with it the new generation as well.

Observations like those of La Bruyere can be found in Persian literature, and I suppose among Chinese, Bengali, and Tamil works as well.

The world has always been like that and evidently will continue to be so.

Complaining about "selfies" is like begrudging children their new toys - for that is what they are and who they are - children.

Babak Makkinejad

Vast majority of mankind cannot be fine craftsmen even if they tried.

You just have to try to provide for all these hordes of human beings from their birth to their deaths in a reasonably secure and stable manner.

They cannot be evaluated, leave them to their harmless toys which amuses them for however long it amuses them.

Babak Makkinejad

Don't you see?

Broadmindedness is something that people are born with - it is a form of innate generosity of spirit that is expansive and brave.

For the rest, there is the Law to protect them from one another.

William R. Cumming

Thanks Richard for this amazing and thoughtful post. Turning 73 in August but reveling to some degree in my reclusive life in the Town of Fleeton [incorporated 1903]in Northumberland County, VA, in Virginia's Northern Neck [the original NNK patent from King Charles II in the 17th Century was all the land between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers from the Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge mountains (about 8600 square miles).

My wife and adult married sons had no clue as to why I was upset in their gift of a cell phone last Xmas. I use it to check the time.


The Twisted Genius


Yes, I do sound like a grumpy old man and I am not offended by you noticing that. While I endeavor to prevent the grumpiness from consuming me, there is little I can do to prevent me from becoming an old man... short of going out in an exuberant blaze of glory. I still decry the pervasiveness of selfies. Why not photograph something else in this world other than one's face? There is so much out there to see and document, both beautiful and horrific.

BTW, I love your statement on broadmindedness. I'm saving that as a memorable quote.


that is wonderfully expressed.

Thank you,




In keeping with the tone of your
post may I share an inscription
from a sundial in one of Arturo Perez
Reverte's novels [can't remember which one]
"Omnes vulnerant,ultima necat" [trans:all wound,
the last kills].

USMC 65-72
FBI 72-96


The spouse of a friend used to live in that neck of the neck. He died a few years ago, leaving behind his extensive and well-loved collection of daylilies.

Only our bodies die. Our spirits live on, in memories, in flowers, in stories -- like Richard's -- well written, in a thousand ways. Happily, the universe does not become overpopulated by all these perpetuating spirits.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your kind words.

Regarding "selfies":

"When I was a child, I liked childish things...."


Aren't selfies a different expression of the mirror checking reflex that confirms "I am." It is a developmental phase that persists till one realizes that the "I am" state is achieved from inside out rather than outside in.


That is a beautiful thought, Babak. I cling to the hope that it can be instilled by the environment we surround our children with. Yes, the outside world of churlishness will be there but we can counterbalance and help keep their minds open to the possibilities.

I take the opportunity to say this. We should have never stopped the draft and should have expanded public service in other forms. It provided a broadening, an inoculation against jingoism, for many young Americans and that is sadly lacking in today's world.

Charles I

I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would have me yet here I am and its not so bad, every body else is at least as cranky as me, hurts more, and their kids are all doing well but now seem like . . . kids with nothing but struggle and trouble ahead, whereas I'm now of an age when a simple Fukidol cure climate change.

Charles I

its also a function of the fact the our old am radios with their little ear buds - remember making your first coil radio and hooking it up to the clothesline? - did not back at look at us and talk back to us or demand and tickle our senses with the same agency as today's ubiquitous device.

Charles I

no cell, no watch, no job, no pants.


I admire our statement about broadmindedness.

It's a gift few have.

Richard Sale


I was enormously touched.

There are so many uplifting and noble insights that are being offered.

We will going, doing our best as long as we can.

Richard sale

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