SUNDAY WORDS

3 Oct

longgoodbye

I see a glint in your eye, Marlowe. Get rid of it. We live in what is called a democracy, rule by the people. A fine ideal if it can be made to work. The people elect, but the party machines nominate, and the party machines to be effective must spend a great deal of money. Somebody has to give it to them, and that somebody, whether it be an individual, a financial group, a trade union or what have you, expects some consideration in return. What I and people of my kind expect is to be allowed to live our lives in decent privacy. I own newspapers, but I don’t like them. I regard them as a constant menace to whatever privacy we have left. Their constant yelping about a free press means, with a few honourable exceptions, freedom to peddle scandal, crime, sex, sensationalism, hate, innuendo, and the political and financial uses of propaganda. A newspaper is a business out to make money through advertising revenue. That is predicated on its circulation and you know what the circulation depends on.”

I got up and walked around my chair. He eyed me with cold attention. I sat down again. I needed a little luck. Hell, I needed it in carload lots.

“Okay, Mr Potter, what goes from here?”

He wasn’t listening. He was frowning at his own thoughts. “There’s a peculiar thing about money,” he went on, “In large quantities it tends to have a life of its own, even a conscience of its own. The power of money becomes very difficult to control. Man has always been a venal animal. The growth of populations, the huge costs of wars, the incessant pressure of confiscatory taxation – all these things make him more and more venal. The average man is tired and scared and a tired, scared man can’t afford ideals. He has to buy food for his family. In our time we have seen a shocking decline in both public and private morals. You can’t expect quality from people whose lives are subjection to a lack of quality. You can’t have quality with mass production. You don’t want it because it lasts too long. So you substitute styling, which is a commercial swindle intended to produce artificial obsolescence. Mass production couldn’t sell its goods next year unless you made this year look unfashionable a year from now. We have the whitest kitchens and the most shining bathrooms in the world. But in the lovely white kitchen the average American housewife can’t produce a meal fit to eat, and the lovely shining bathroom is mostly a receptacle for deodorants, laxatives, sleeping pills, and the products of that confidence racket called the cosmetic industry. We make the finest packages in the world, Mr Marlowe. The stuff inside is mostly junk.”

Raymond Chandler
The Long Goodbye, 1953

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One Response to “SUNDAY WORDS”

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  1. THE PRESIDENT’S COKE « STILL CHAOS - October 4, 2010

    […] world to enjoy a living standard even Sir Robert Dudley couldn’t dream of. But there’s a downside. What exactly is it? Is it, as the cranky media baron in The Long Goodbye whinges, that […]

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