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- Nonsenseorship - 1/23 -
HEYWOOD BROWN GEORGE S. CHAPPELL RUTH HALE BEN HECHT WALLACE IRWIN ROBERT KEABLE HELEN BULLITT LOWRY FREDERICK O'BRIEN DOROTHY PARKER FRANK SWINNERTON H. M. TOMLINSON CHARLES HANSON TOWNE JOHN V. A. WEAVER ALEXANDER WOOLLCOTT and the AUTHOR of "THE MIRRORS of WASHINGTON" Edited by G. P. P.
SUNDRY OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING PROHIBITIONS INHIBITIONS AND ILLEGALITIES
Illustrated By RALPH BARTON
WE HAVE WITH US TODAY
At current bootliquor quotations, Haig & Haig costs twelve dollars a quart, while any dependable booklegger can unearth a copy of "Jurgen" for about fifteen dollars. Which indicates, at least, an economic application of Nonsenseorship.
Its literary, social, and ethical reactions are rather more involved. To define them somewhat we invited a group of not-too-serious thinkers to set down their views regarding nonsenseorships in general and any pet prohibitions in particular.
In introducing those whose gems of protest are to be found in the setting of this volume, it is but sportsmanlike to state at the start that admission was offered to none of notable puritanical proclivity. The prohibitionists and censors are not represented. They require, in a levititious literary escapade like this, no spokesman. Their viewpoint already is amply set forth. Moreover, likely they would not be amusing.... Also, the exponents of Nonsenseorship are victorious; and at least the agonized cries of the vanquished, their cynical comment or outraged protest, should be given opportunity for expression!
Not that we consider HEYWOOD BROUN agonized, cynical, or outraged. Indeed, masquerading as a stalwart foe of inhibitions, he starts right out, at the very head of the parade, with a vehement advocacy of prohibition. His plea (surely, in this setting, traitorous) is to prohibit liquor to all who are over thirty years of age! He declares that "rum was designed for youthful days and is the animating influence which made oats wild." After thirty, presumably, Quaker Oats....
And at that we have quite brushed by GEORGE S. CHAPPELL. who serves a tasty appetizer at the very threshold, a bubbling cocktail of verse defining the authentic story of censorious gloom.
Censorship seems a species of spiritual flagellation to BEN HECHT, who, as he says, "ten years ago prided himself upon being as indigestible a type of the incoherent young as the land afforded." And nonsenseorship in general he regards as a war-born Frankenstein, a frenzied virtue grown hugely luminous; "a snowball rolling uphill toward God and gathering furious dimensions, it has escaped the shrewd janitors of orthodoxy who from age to age were able to keep it within bounds."
Then RUTH HALE, who visualizes glowing opportunities for feminine achievement in the functionings of inhibited society. "If the world outside the home is to become as circumscribed and paternalized as the world inside it, obviously all the advantage lies with those who have been living under nonsenseorship long enough to have learned to manage it."
WALLACE IRWIN is irrepressibly jocose (perhaps because he sailed for unprohibited England the day his manuscript was delivered), breaking into quite undisciplined verse anent the rosiness of life since the red light laws went blue.
"I am not sure, as I write, that this article ever will be printed," says ROBERT KEABLE, the English author of "Simon Called Peter." (It is). Mr. Keable, a minister from Africa, wrote of the war as he saw it in France, and in a way which offended people with mental blinders. He declares that the war quite completely knocked humbug on the head and bashed shams irreparably. "Rebels," says he, meaning those who speak their mind and write of things as they see them, "must be drowned in a babble of words."
And then HELEN BULLITT LOWRY, the exponent of the cocktailored young lady of today, averring that to the pocket-flask, that milepost between the time that was and the time that is, we owe the single standard of drinking. She maintains that the debutantalizing flapper, now driven right out in the open by the reformers, is the real salvation of our mid-victrolian society.
No palpitating defense of censorship would he expected from FREDERICK O'BRIEN of the South Seas, who contributes (and deliciously defines) a precious new word to the vocabulary of Nonsenseorship, "Wowzer." The nature of a wowzer is hinted in a ditty sung by certain uninhibited individuals as they lolled and imbibed among the mystic atolls and white shadows:
"Whack the cymbal! Bang the drum! Votaries of Bacchus! Let the popping corks resound, Pass the flowing goblet round! May no mournful voice be found, Though wowzers do attack us!"
DOROTHY PARKER gives vent to a poignant Hymn of Hate, anent reformers, who "think everything but the Passion Play was written by Avery Hopwood," and whose dominant desire is to purge the sin from Cinema even though they die in the effort. "I hope to God they do," adds the author devoutly.
From England, through the eyes of FRANK SWINNERTON, we glimpse ourselves as others see us, and rather pathetically. In days gone by, lured by reports of America's lawless free-and-easiness, Swinnerton says he craved to visit us. But no more. The wish is dead. We have become hopelessly moral and uninviting. "I see that I shall after all have to live quietly in England with my pipe and my abstemious bottle of beer. And yet I should like to visit America, for it has suddenly become in my imagining an enormous country of 'Don't!' and I want to know what it is like to have 'Don't' said by somebody who is not a woman."
Also is raised the British voice of H. M. TOMLINSON, singed with satire. He writes as from a palely pure tomorrow when mankind shall have reached such a state of complete uniformity of soul, mind and body, that "only a particular inquiry will determine a man from a woman, though it may fail to determine a fool from a man." Tomlinson's imagined nation of the future is "as loyal and homogeneous, as contented, as stable, as a reef of actinozoal plasm." And over each hearth hangs the sacred Symbol--a portrait of a sheep.
Next is the usually jovial face of CHARLES HANSON TOWNE (that face which has launched a thousand quips) now all stern in his unbattled struggle with Prohibition, dourly surveying this "land of the spree and home of the grave."... "My children," says Towne, "as they sip their light wine and beer..." He is, at least, an optimist! But then, we are reminded he is also a bachelor.
In his own American language JOHN WEAVER pictures the feelings of an old-time saloon habitué when his former friend the barkeep, now rich from bootlegging, with a home "on the Drive" and all that, declares his socially-climbing daughter quite too good for this particular "Old Soak's" son. Weaver's retrospect of "Bill's Place" will bring damp eyes to the unregenerate:
"So neat! And over at the free-lunch counter, Charlie the coon with a apron white like chalk, Dishin' out hot-dogs, and them Boston Beans, And Sad'dy night a great big hot roast ham, Or roast beef simply yellin' to be et, And washed down with a seidel of Old Schlitz!"
"The Puritans disliked the theatre because it was jolly. It was a place where people went in deliberate quest of enjoyment." So says ALEXANDER WOOLLCOTT, who emerges as a sort of economic champion of stage morality, though no friend at all of censorship. Despite the _mot_ "nothing risqué nothing gained," Woollcott emphatically declares the bed-ridden play is not, as a general thing, successful. "A blush is not, of course, a bad sign in the box-office," says he, developing his theme, "but the chuckle of recognition is better. So is the glow of sentiment, so is the tear of sympathy. The smutty and the scandalous are less valuable than homely humor, melodramatic excitement or pretty sentiment."
And last in this variegated and alphabeted company the anonymous AUTHOR OF "THE MIRRORS OF WASHINGTON" who views the applications of nonsenseorship from the standpoint of national politics.
G. P. P.
We Have With Us Today. G. P. P.
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