Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

molded resinoids, does begin to look synthetic.

The wall surfaces, whether plaster, steel, textiles, or resinoid panels, will be made permanent by a coat of one of the new cellulose lacquers, sprayed on, quick drying, and permanent. For house-cleaning just a sponge and water; for redecorating, in case the passing generations tire of the same old walls, just a sponge and the right solvent to remove the finish. Even the rayon draperies will be sprayed with lacquer and washed with a sponge. The completely synthetic house need never be dirty and can never burn. At the same time the architectural and decorative possibilities are greatly enhanced because the finishes are capable of infinite variation in color, texture and design. Finally, construction costs will also decrease either because of standardized interchangeable parts, as in the case of steel, or because of easy methods of application. The only person who needs to worry is the high-priced carpenter.

There will be much more glass-itself a synthetic chemical product.

Modern medical research has demonstrated overwhelmingly the healthful action of sunlight, and especially of the violet rays which our present window glass shuts out. Thousands of hens are increasing their winter egg production by spending their evenings under electric lighting. Even inert and prepared foodstuffs are enriched in certain vitamines by exposure to ultra-violet light.

So we shall have new glasses which are transparent to these healthful chemical rays. Our houses will have sun-rooms, which probably will be on the roof. As we substitute wood beams with steel the old steep roofs will disappear. Their only purpose was to shed or carry safely the heavy loads of winter snow. Steel or concrete buildings will have flat roofs, hence increased usable space, and usually a sun-garden, light bath, and open-air sleeping quarters on the roof. If man learns from the chickens he may even

increase his vigor by sleeping, unclothed at night, under powerful ultraviolet lights.

Our indoor lighting is hopelessly inefficient. But even today we have materials that are 100 per cent efficient in light transmission. These are the various phosphorescent materials like barium sulfide and zinc sulfide. When properly prepared these will take up large amounts of light energy, and will re-emit all the light when placed in the dark. More study, a little im provement, and presto, we shall have cheap luminous paints to take up sunlight by day and light our houses by night without consumption of power. They will be used for ceilings, of When these materials are cheap, they will be applied to the concrete of our streets and country roads. Each road would be a ribbon of soft natural light. It is the only answer to the headlight nuisance.

course.

With the lower cost of electric pow er will, of course, also come a com. plete use of many electric conveniences, such as vacuum cleaners, electric ranges, electric domestic heating systems, electric refrigerators, and brine-coolers for each room, electrically operated to cool the summer air.

The next stride to be made with the radio is the development of the transmission of moving pictures. Single pictures are already being sent across the air by this method. When a more sensitive photo-electric cell is developed a picture will be transmitted as rapidly as the movie can flash it on the screen. I expect not only to hear the inauguration of the next President in 1929 but to see it, by radio. The next war will be seen and heard around the world at the moment it is taking place, and the stay-at-homes will at last learn what war really is. The house of the future will have a movie-room, or, a news-room, where, by a turn of the dial, we shall be able to tune in and look in on Los Angeles, Miami, London, the North Pole or the ringside. It will be the triumph of science.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Gutter Literature

Condensed from The New Republic (February 17, '26)
Ernest W. Mandeville

AVE you looked over the wares

H displayed on an average news

stand lately? If not, there is a surprise in store for you. Within the last years or two a whole new type of periodical literature has sprung up in this country-most of it new in substance and all of it new in that it is now displayed openly where anyone may walk up and buy. The simplest, most accurate phrase by which to describe it is "gutter literature." Taken in the mass, it represents a social phenomenon of decided importance, which merits far more attention than it is getting.

These magazines fall into various groups. One of the commonest is the risqué story group. It consists exclusively of fiction, corresponding more or less to what the "French farce" is on the stage. The formula on which these stories are based is well standardized, though variations in outcome are permissible. Let a woman be exposed to a sex danger, either at the hands of a brutal and unscrupulous male or under the excitation of her own passion.. She may then either successfully resist the aforesaid dastardly male, or may succumb to the compelling passion. In either case (and here is the meat of the matter) the author must see to it that she emerges a better and nobler woman because of the experience she has undergone.

I do not know how I can describe the general tone of these magazines better than in the following words of one of their editors. The document is quoted in his letter of instructions to his authors:

"I want to stick to elementals-sexelementals-the things closest to the hearts of the average woman or girl. Above all, I mean to lift the moral tone of the magazine. Characters may do

anything they please but they must do it from some lofty, or apparently lofty, motive. If a girl falls, she must fall upward. I am particularly partial to the story attacking conventional morals, exposing their hypocrisy and pointing to a higher standard. I also like stories of 'bad' women who, judged by a higher standard, are really quite good."

A few titles from magazines of the risqué story group indicate their general atmosphere:

RED EXPERIENCES WITH MODELS
ONE, TWO, THREE-OUT! One man leads
to another in the hectic life of the pretty
flapper.
APHRODITE'S

GUESTS. If you've forgotten your mythology, Aphrodite-more widely known as Venus-was the hot momma of goddesses.

The ten chief exemplars of this sort of thing last year reached a combined circulation of a million copies of each issue. And they are still growing.

Another new and enormously popular periodical is the "confession" magazine. Its contents are invariably written in the first person. They are labeled genuine, though in reality they are, of course, produced professionally under formula. Since they are very easy to do, no plot technique or writing skill being necessary, a whole new crop of "authors" has sprung up to produce the grist for these hungry mills. Editorial advice from the office of one such journal, typical of all, is as follows:

Here's a man, see? And his wife, see? And another man. Write about that. And let the shadow of a bed appear on every page but never let the bed appear.

These magazines pride themselves -oh, so earnestly and incessantly!—on their morality. No matter how wicked a girl may be during the exciting days

about which she confesses, she must always have reformed and learned her lesson before the final paragraph is reached.

Once in a blue moon, of course, a genuine confession does find its way into these endless pages of turgid, sentimental slush. There is some justification, in fact, for the new proverb: "The wages of sin is a check from a confession magazine." Generally speaking, however, the standardized fictitious product proves more satisfactory to the editors. It is easier to get into the product which is manufactured on the spot just the right proportion of salaciousness, just the proper leering smirk.

Take a look at the title page of a typical issue:

TWO WIVES AND ONE ROOF-Can a Man Love Two Women at the Same Time? THE WAGES OF SIN-Out of the Depths Came a Nobler Womanhood.

BLIND LOVE

WOMEN WITH A PAST

THE SHADOW OF HER SIN-It Returned to Darken Her Late Life.

MURDER WILL OUT-She

Thought Her Youth's Secret Forever Hidden, ButTHE GIRL BETWEEN-Who Almost Shattered a Young Wife's Happiness.

The growth of magazines of this character is almost unbelievable. One of them started about four years ago with an initial print order of 100,000 copies. It has now passed the 2,000,000 mark. There are several imitators, and while none has quite equalled this achievement, most of them have succeeded in attaining figures which in any other journalistic field would be regarded as phenomenally large.

Another distinct group which should not be overlooked is that which provides as its chief fare what might be called "smoking-car anecdotes." Barnyard humor, off-color jokes are the principal fare.

Another important group is made of straight-out imitations of the famous

288

and naughty Vie Parisienne. The drawings are similar to those in the French original.

The newest and one of the most popular of the cycle of publications which base their appeal definitely on sex is the "Art magazine.” Of these we have had a deluge in the past year. Their publishers are extremely moral men, and their only aim, according to their own editorial announcements, is "to bring reproductions of the old masters within the reach of the popu lace."

These magazines have one idea and one alone: the portrayal of nudity.

Some of the pictures, it is

true, are reproductions from art gal leries; but just as many more are photographs of self-conscious chorus girls. In other words, the appeal of these periodicals is no more nor less than that in the old-fashioned "French picture postcards" which used to be offered for sale at two for a quarter"mailed to you in a plain envelope."

For

Most of these journals, of course, and particularly the very popular confessional type, base their appeal on the fact that for the average man, and even more, for the average woman, leading the common existence in this country, only partially literate, with limited financial resources, real life Is a drab, dull and sordid affair. such individuals the keenest pleasure, and almost the only pleasure, comes with temporary escape into a world of illusion and fantasy where they can identify themselves with the imaginary heroes and heroines. For this reason, the literature of escape which these magazines offer in such direct and simple form makes a powerful appeal, and one which it would be very difficult to break down. It is perhaps also for this reason that reformers have almost entirely ignored the growth of these new periodicals. After all, the malady does not lie only in the will. ingness of publishers to pander nor that of readers to be pandered to. In part at least, it is a malady of our civilization itself.

[ocr errors]

าย

[ocr errors]

H

Are Husbands Gentlemen?

Condensed from the Delineator (August, '26)
Alice Duer Miller

ER father snapped his watch with a nervous gesture. "My daughter is so unpunctual," he said, but he said it gently, as if unpunctuality were not so much a fault as an interesting characteristic that went to make up a delightful person. I replied dryly that it was unfortunate, the girl's lateness was inconveniencing half a dozen older people, of whom I was one.

"Yes," answered her father, "yes, I'm afraid it may make life difficult for her, poor child." I inquired whether he meant to reprove her when she came down. He seemed startled at the idea. No, he explained, he did not; in the first place, she would have no time to stop and talk-she would be rushing for her train; in the second, he thought it would be tactless to put an additional strain upon her in an already strained and nervous moment. "I may be peculiar," he said, "but I think you ought to be as considerate and courteous with your children as with a mere stranger. I never reprove my children in public."

What was then my surprise when a little later his wife came down ten minutes late for luncheon to hear him say in that tone of suppressed irritation that makes anything an insult, "Can't you ever be on time for anything, Marian?" His wife, a sensitive and innately polite woman, ignored the rudeness of his tone and replied that she was late because she had been helping her daughter to pack and dress

at which he turned to the rest of us and said with a contemptuous wave and smile, "In 20 years of married life I have never known my wife either on time or without an excuse for being late." He tried to make it sound like a joke; but it was not a joke; it was a bad-tempered public criticism,

rude to his wife, and uncomfortable for his guests. What was it in him that made him courteous and considerate to his irresponsible 16-year-old daughter and rude and inconsiderate to his devoted 40-year-old wife?

Two answers have been suggested. The first is based on fear. We are most of us afraid of the younger generation. That man was afraid of losing the affection of his daughter. He dreaded seeing in her face the dictum: "Father is simply impossible." loved his wife better than he loved his daughter, but they loved each other equally-they were indissolubly bound. He could not see that there was any danger in being rude to her; there was no penalty attached.

He

Women, too, are sometimes afraid of losing their husbands' affections; women are noticeably civiler to their husbands than men to their wives. But men never seem to think that they can lose the affection of their wives through their own conduct, through being unsatisfactory, even unpleasant, as daily companions. The most jeal ous husband, who fears every other man who speaks to his wife, does not see in his own rudeness and lack of consideration the most potent of all ways of losing her. This seems to be one of the great problems of married life-that men see no connection between lack of manners and lack of af fection. Women most emphatically do.

But there is another explanation, less logical, less plausible, and yet it seems to me the truer one. Men in general want to mould the woman they love. They fall in love with her for being one kind of person, and at once set to work, most industriously, to change her into being another kind, exactly the kind, perhaps, with whom they never would have fallen in love.

It would of course be much more sensible if they put their efforts into moulding their childreu. But that process has little interest for a man. He only wants to mould his equal, his mate. This molding process expresses itself, unfortunately, in eternal comment. And comment, even friendly comment, if it is continuous enough, becomes an intolerable bore, and to any one with a neurotic tendency it is a positive torture. Notice the effect if some one says as you enter a room: "Isn't that a new dress? You look a little tired? Do you really want to sit in that chair? You seem a trifle depressed." But when this series of comments is hostile, it is almost a form of torture--and when it is directed toward the impossible, it is a useless form of torture. Generally speaking, it is my observation that to attempt to alter another person by criticism is useless. We mold each other by what we are and what we do, but rarely by what we say.

Nagging is supposed to be a feminine weakness, but women's nagging is usually directed toward a definite deed which they want done or omitted, and is therefore harmless; but this masculine nagging is directed to the very soul of the victim, and makes a vital wound.

And yet I never see this sort of roughness in the man without think. ing of a tragic story I heard once from a friend of mine, who had been through a very hideous train wreck. He said that at dinner he had been put at the same table in the dining. car with a commonplace, middle-aged couple. The man was obviously in a bad temper and his crossness took the form of criticizing everything his gentle, colorless wife did or said. He sneered at her selection of dishes, which indeed did not seem very wise -salad and ice cream-using it as an opportunity to complain of her housekeeping. He went on and on until

my friend longed to kill him. He read a newspaper while waiting, talked to the head waiter while his wife was talking to him, and swore when he picked up her napkin, which she had dropped more than once.

"Oh," she said apologetically, “I did not know I had dropped it."

"Of course you didn't," he answered, "you never do." And he was off again. He said and did everything that the circumstances permitted to be dis courteous and contemptuous. But an hour later, when the smash came and his wife was hopelessly pinned under the wreckage, he did not rescue her -that was impossible-but he delib erately chose to die with her. "I won't leave you, mother," were the last words he was heard to speak.

It is a story that sets you thinking as to the meaning of the word gentleman. Was that husband a gentleman? He was certainly a hero, and yet, if my friend had been asked the question at dinner he would have said most emphatically no. If any one who knew them had been asked the question at any time during the last 20 years of their married life, the answer. would have been no-that he was a bully and a boor. And if the train had not run into another train, that would have been the final-perhaps the just-conclusion. But you wonder from that poor woman's point of view -what would have made her happi est-if that rich, splendid love and self-sacrifice that made it impossible for her husband to permit his own rescue while she was dying-if tha could have spread out during the 2 years of marriage in kind words an civil deeds-wouldn't it have been hap pier for her than that one great herof gesture? So many husbands behav day by day, as this one did at dinne and so few have the opportunity of th train wreck to prove the devotion tha lurks behind the worst manners.

« AnteriorContinuar »