« Impending | Main | Elevator Man »

Ben Hecht's Erik Dorn

I just came across this remarkable passage in Ben Hecht's Erik Dorn:

It had been easy during the war. Democracy-Autocracy; a tableau to look at. Thought had been unnecessary. In fact, the popular intelligence had legislated against it. The tableau was enough--a sublimated symbol of the little papier-mache rigmarole of their daily lives, the immemorial spectacle of Good and Evil at death grips, limelighted for a moment by the cannon in France. The unreason and imbecility of the mob crowned themselves...

Dorn returned to find the tableau had suffered an explosion. It had for some mysterious reason glibly identified as reaction burst into fragments and vanished in a skyrocket chaos...The distracted mob become privy for the moment to the vast biological disorder eternally existent under its nose, snorted, yelped, and shook indignant sawdust out of its ears.

"In the temporary collapse of the banalities that conceal the world from their eyes," thought Dorn, "they're trying to figure out what's really around them--and making a rather humorous mess about it...People want things straight again. They want black and white so's they can all mass on the white side and make faces at the evil-doers who prefer the black. They don't want facts, diagnosis, theories, interpretations, reports. They want somebody to stand up and announce in a loud, clear voice, 'Tweedledum is wrong. Tweedledee is right, everything else to the contrary is Poppycock.' Thus they'd be able to put an end to their own thinking and bury themselves in their own little alleys and be happy again."

This book was published in 1921, but its truths still hold true. One could easily insert the phrases "war on terrorism," "weapons of mass destruction," and "Fox News" into that passage, and it would still be accurate.

August 11, 2003 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink


can i get a free copy from you guys since the book is named my name.

Posted by: Erik Dorn at Jun 30, 2005 4:53:06 PM

can i get a free copy from you guys since the book is named my name.

Posted by: Erik Dorn at Jun 30, 2005 4:54:38 PM