I am Marie-Céline Dundelle, and I do not need a book contract to reveal that French women are superior in all matters
the story of a father who on Christmas Eve puts into one son’s stocking a fine gold watch, and into another son’s, a pile of horse manure. The next morning, the first boy comes to his father and says glumly, “Dad, I just don’t know what I’ll do with this watch. It’s so fragile. It could break.” The other boy runs to him and says, “Daddy! Daddy! Santa left me a pony, if only I can just find it!
August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.
As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.
In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.
Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.
From your old servant,
“it is said that Americans” [Google.fr search ten first results]
It is said that Americans have a genius for simplification.
it is said that Americans think Copenhagen is Sweden’s capital ;-(.
it is said that Americans are sharply divided over these values.
It is said that Americans spend millions of dollars in the cosmetic products.
It is said that Americans do not hate the rich, but admire them.
it is said that Americans eat more popcorn than any other part of the world.
It is said that Americans are geographically challenged.
it is said that Americans only consume about half of the recommended daily amounts of fiber.
it is said that Americans got the lead of the Al Qaeda leader’s whereabouts.
it is said that Americans are embracing the new policy of negotiation almost as eagerly as they adopted that of war.
“The standard loan terms include a fee of up to US$1,000,000 per year and a provision that any cubs born during the loan be the property of the People’s Republic of China.”
“the first European to land in North America (excluding Greenland), nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus.”
“composed music to the writings of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.” Listen
“the scent of rain on dry earth.”
“They can tell fairly early that the strange old man who’s offering free lollipops is probably best avoided. And they’ve seen enough Horror movies to know that when there’s an ax murderer on the loose, the last thing you want to do is either split up, boink your significant other, or investigate strange noises in the Sinister Subway. They know how to avoid getting a bad rank on the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality.The live to hang lampshades, give Aside Glances, and say, “You just had to say it, didn’t you?” right after use of a Tempting Fate Stock Phrase. Their exasperation with the sheer stupidity of the entire universe usually makes them a Deadpan Snarker. They are likely to be told that This Is Reality or just ignored, and likely to be the one who always wanted to say that. A useful person to have around if you get Trapped in TV Land.”
Princeton, 3. 1. 1954
Dear Mr Gutkind,
Inspired by Brouwer’s repeated suggestion, I read a great deal in your book, and thank you very much for lending it to me … With regard to the factual attitude to life and to the human community we have a great deal in common. Your personal ideal with its striving for freedom from ego-oriented desires, for making life beautiful and noble, with an emphasis on the purely human element … unites us as having an “American Attitude.”
Still, without Brouwer’s suggestion I would never have gotten myself to engage intensively with your book because it is written in a language inaccessible to me. The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. … For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstition. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong … have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything “chosen” about them.
In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision…
Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, i.e. in our evaluation of human behavior … I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.
With friendly thanks and best wishes,
“Je crois qu’on ne peut pas construire une pensée politique critique et radicale si on ne la fonde pas sur le principe du déterminisme, et donc sur l’analyse minutieuse et répétée des mécanismes sociaux qui façonnent et perpétuent les inégalités. On le voit bien quand on examine ce phénomène terrible et inquiétant qu’est la montée de l’extrême-droite dans de nombreux pays d’Europe : c’est lié, en grande partie, comme je l’ai souligné dans D’une révolution conservatrice et de ses effets sur la gauche française puis dans Retour à Reims, au fait que la pensée de gauche a cessé de penser en termes déterministes. La gauche française, par exemple, s’est convertie à une conception bourgeoise et droitière du monde social, avec au cœur de son discours une pensée de la « liberté » ou de « l’autonomie » individuelle et donc de la responsabilité des individus dans ce qui leur arrive. C’est comme si on pouvait combattre la violence sociale qui s’abat sur des populations entières par de bons sentiments et de bonnes résolutions moralisantes. Toute idée de déterminisme social a disparu et avec elle toute idée de domination, d’oppression, d’antagonismes de classe, de conflictualité sociale, de luttes sociales. Et donc les luttes apparaissent comme des aberrations ou des pathologies qu’il faudrait soigner et guérir dans une sorte de grande réconciliation harmonieuse de tous avec tous dans un « monde commun ». D’où les slogans absurdes qui reviennent comme des litanies sur la nécessité de « vivre ensemble », de « faire société » ou « refaire société », etc. Comme si le problème n’était pas la violence sociale omniprésente, mais un délitement du lien social qu’il conviendrait alors de restaurer à l’aide de bonnes paroles sur la « réciprocité ». Ce qui ne veut strictement rien dire, et ce qui explique évidemment que tous ceux pour qui ce genre de discours n’a aucune signification, ou pour qui la signification est très clairement de les renvoyer à l’impuissance et au silence, et qui veulent manifester leur colère contre les ravages que la crise économique répand dans leurs vies quotidiennes, soient amenés pour exprimer cette colère à se réfugier dans une abstention systématique ou à voter pour l’extrême-droite. Penser les déterminismes , les mécanismes par lesquels la violence sociale s’exerce, et ne cesse de s’exercer et de recommencer à s’exercer, c’est se donner les moyens de penser ce que peut être la résistance et ce que peuvent faire les luttes. Et c’est se donner les moyens de réinventer une gauche digne de ce nom à l’échelle européenne et internationale.”