Mencken: Quotes

You will have to forgive me for posting long quotes from Mencken. I think most of you would agree with him in the quotes below.

The whole life of the inferior man, including especially his so called thinking, is purely a biochemical process, and exactly comparable to what goes on in a barrel of cider, yet he knows no more about its chemistry than a cow and no more about biology than its calf.

He is more ignorant of elementary anatomy and physiology than the Egyptian quacks of 4000BC. His knowledge of astronomy is confined to a few marvels, most of which he secretly doubts. He has never so much as heard of ethnology, pathology or embryology. Greek, to him, is only a jargon spoken by bootblacks, and Wagner is a retired baseball player. He has never heard of Euripides, of Hippocrates, of Aristotle, or of Plato. Or of Vesalius, Newton and Roger Bacon, The fine arts are complete blanks to him, He doesn’t know what a Doric column is, or an etching, or a fugue. He is as ignorant of sonnets and the Gothic style as he is of ecclesiastical politics in Abyssinia. Homer, Virgil, Cervantes, Bach, Raphael, Rubens, Beethoven – all such colossal names are empty sounds to him, blowing idly down the wind. So far as he is concerned these great and noble men might as well have perished in the cradle. The stupendous beauties that they conjured into being are nothing to him: he sticks to the tabloids and the movies, with Hot Dog or its like for Sunday afternoon, A politician by instinct and a statesman by divine right, he has never heard of ‘The Republic* or ‘Leviathan/ A Feinschmecker of pornography, he is unaware of Freud.

In the same book, writing on Christianity he says

Do I forget his central virtue – at least in Christendom? Do I forget his simple piety, his touching fidelity to the faith? I forget nothing: I simply answer, What faith? Is it argued by any rational man that the debased Christianity cherished by the mob in all the Christian countries of to-day has any colourable likeness to the body of ideas preached by Christ? If so, then let us have a better teaching of the Bible in the schools. The plain fact is that this bogus Christianity has no more relation to the system of Christ than it has to the system of Aristotle. It is the invention of Paul and his attendant rabble-rousers – a body of men exactly comparable to the corps of evangelical pastors of to-day, which is to say, a body devoid of sense and lamentably indifferent to common honesty. The mob, having heard Christ, turned against Him, and applauded His crucifixion. His theological ideas were too logical and too plausible for it, and his ethical ideas were enormously too austere. What it yearned for was the old comfortable balderdash under a new and gaudy name, and that is precisely what Paul offered it. He borrowed from all the wandering dervishes and soul-snatchers of Asia Minor, and flavoured the stew with remnants of the Greek demonology. The result was a code of doctrines so discordant and so nonsensical that no two men since, examining it at length, have ever agreed upon its precise meaning. But Paul knew his mob: he had been a travelling labour leader. He knew that nonsense was its natural provender – that the unintelligible soothed it like sweet music. He was the Stammvater of all the Christian mobmasters of to-day, terrorizing and enchanting the mob with their insane damnations, eating their seven fried chickens a week, passing the diligent plate, busy among the women.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

8 thoughts on “Mencken: Quotes

  1. I really like the quote on christianity and Paul.


  2. Mordanicus says:

    Interesting, thanks for sharing.


  3. nannus says:

    Hi Mak, how small the world is. I just found out I am somehow related to Mencken (I still have to figure out the details). He is a descendant of the Mencke family in Oldenburg and I have ancestors in that family too (the common ancestors are in the 15hundreds or 16hundreds. It is an interesting family that produced a number of scholars.


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