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the end of the film. A man or woman may go the limit; but an easy reformation, feebly motived, the opportune deaths of a few extra wives, husbands, or incriminating witnesses, and other dfta-ex-machina contrivances, readily clear the way for them to retain, under a semblance of righteousness, their ill-gotten gains or pleasures. Whatsoever a man soweth, he can reap something else with a little manipulation at the studio. Mrs. Gerould's constructive criticisms of the cinema are admirable; in her destructive criticisms she has praised them with faint damnation. Clyde Murljey.
And, by way of final suggestion, this: —
Dear Atlantic, —
Mrs. Gerould's article on the movies is one of the happiest of her many delightful contributions to the Atlantic. She pungently phrases what many of us have been soberly feeling about the movies' vulgarity, sensationalism, and sentimentalism. She also feels the big epic and realistic appeal that may be made, and, for that matter, has been accomplished, to a certain extent.
May I make a supplemental suggestion, along the lines of what we want the movie to become —• namely, a work of art? The movie is not drama, says Mrs. Gerould. Very true. But it is a picture — not necessarily a realistic or epic picture, at that. All the world loves good pictures. We hang them in galleries and call them art. A movingpicture has all the advantages of a static picture, save one, — color, — and that, we are told, will soon be supplied by a new process of color-photography. Moreover, the movie has an advantage which the painting has not, namely, motion.
Why can't we have the tragedy and comedy of life portrayed by motion? In other words, why should not the art of pantomine be revived? Likewise, the art of dancing. Sculpture, too, might come to life. New phases of art might be tested, — cubist, futurist, what not, — and new theories of stagecraft would inevitably develop. As for suggestions from the past, I can imagine a farcical skit, Moliere-like in texture, in which grotesquerie would prove an art; another, a dancing pantomime of lyric love, a veritable spring song; Judith of Bethulia, a pantomime of tragic intensity; and the Book of Ruth, one of solemn beauty.
If only the movie would stop trying to talk, it might act. It could move the world with the poetry at motion. LcRor Arnold.
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How often must we be told that in the wilderness true values appear?
Camp Yale, Daily, Col., July 6, 1921. Dear Atlantic, —
It is tough, as well as inconvenient, to be poor, but honest, and I am wandering if the opposite life is any better — that is, less inconvenient. I have stopped working, and therefore my income ceases to flow into my coffers, if such an oldfashioned thing still exists in this modern age. I am enjoying a sort of enforced exile up 8000 feet in the air, camping by my lonesome, and I assure you it is great fun.
The dreaded hour has arrived when my sub
scription to Boston's only magazine has expired, and I must decide between two alternatives: shall I renew my subscription immediately and live for a while on beans, which, though a Bostonian, I dislike, or shall I expend the money on food for the body? Here is where the inconvenience of being poor but honest comes in. I might borrow the magazine from some good Samaritan; but I very much doubt if the ranchers around here ever read the Atlantic.
I must confess, Atlantic, that I have literary ambitions, which one of my English professors in college seemingly tried to destroy; for he had a very disagreeable habit of selecting my themes and exposing their crudeness to the public gaze. According to him, my sins of ommision and commision were like the sands of the sea. First, he began to howl over my scarcity of commas; and when I tried to satisfy him by scattering them liberally around, he objected very sarcastically. Then, at another time, he read a short story of mine in which the hero's name changed very frequently. I wrote that story in a hurry and could not remember my hero's name. Fortunately, I did not have a heroine. I hope, Atlantic, you are not so particular as to commas and the changing of the hero's name.
During the past few months, the Atlantic has contained many articles on education, and I think that something is the matter with our educational system, for, in spite of a college education, and some experience in teaching, I am having the deuce of a time to spell some words, and I have no dictionary here. If I have mispelled a few words, please overlook them and blame it not on my ignorance but on the system. Sincerely yours,
P.S. Have decided to live on beans.
How we came to say it is past understanding, but say it we did. We make tardy amends to our readers by printing these pleasant paragraplis from a friendly reader, Mr. H. W. Yozall.
I am sorry to see in the June Atlantic one of your contributors assigning Lewis Carroll to the University of Cambridge. Shades of Wolsey and Henry VIII, the faculty of whose great /Edes Christ! Dodgson so originally adorned!
My father once told me of dining at the high' table of the House, and listening with eager expectation for the witticisms of Dodgson, who was sitting opposite. But not one word did he speak during the whole meal. They adjourned to the senior common room for nuts and wine, and talk fell on the subject of notes used by famous speakers and various systems of memorizing. The Dean told how Charles Dickens always visualized his lecture as a wheel, with the different divisions as its spokes. After completing each division, he would strike away a spoke with a curious gesture of the right arm. 'And when he came to the last spoke,' said the Dean — 'Then he had spoken,' Dodgson interrupted, and relapsed into silence for the rest of the evening.
Finally, you of course have heard how Queen Victoria, having read Alice in Wonderland, wrote to the author commanding him to send her his next book; to which request Dodgson responded by sending his Symbolic Logic. * * *
Many readers to whom Miss Converse's miracle play gave pleasure will care to learn that, besides a great number of performances in many American church communities, the play was given by the International College in Smyrna, under extraordinarily picturesque conditions.
To The Editors Of The Atlantic Monthly
There are a lot of people out here in Smyrna, and in other parts of the Near East, who are very grateful to you for publishing in your March issue that beautiful little play by Florence Converse, 'Thy Kingdom Come.'
Each year we hold a student conference here at Smyrna. The conference is held on the campus of the International CoUege at Paradise. (We did not name the place. The Romans called it Paradiso long years ago. We try to make good on the name.) This year there were delegates from the Balkans, Asia Minor, Greece, Syria, and Egypt.
On one evening of the conference, just at sunset, we presented Miss Converse's' Thy Kingdom Come.' Faculty, students, and faculty children took part. Some three hundred watched the play in reverent silence. The play was given outdoors, in a little natural theatre on a hillside overlooking a valley, where the ruins of old Roman aqueducts added to the impressiveness of the hour. In the background was a hill that might have been Calvary. Natural rocks formed the tomb.
The parts had been studied for weeks, and the costumes were perfect. The speaking and the action were so natural that one forgot for the time that it was but a presentation. It thrilled with present life. Of course the conference helped create an atmosphere almost ideal, and the play was given the week following the Eastern Easter. We left out a little of the doughboy slang, which many of these students would not have understood, and we added one thing. As the angels came over the brow of the hill, to roll the stone away, a chorus of girls, hidden in a cleft of rocks below in the valley, sang, —
'Christ the Lord is risen to-day.
There was truly a thrill as those clear young voices carried the song of triumph through verse after verse. It seemed as if angelic voices had joined the earthly choir.
S. Ralph Harlow.
Not the lost Atlantis, but the lost Atlantic, gives the fine tragic note nowadays. Here is a sequel to the grim story in the June Column.
I was more than ordinarily interested in your published account of the man who stole a copy of the Atlantic Monthly. Here in Portland, Oregon, I stepped to a newstand at Morrison and Fourth streets, to buy a Saturday Evening Post containing an article by H. G. Wells, and had recrossed the street, when two men came running up.
'You got an Atlantic,' one of them said.
'No,' I replied, thinking they had brought me a copy they supposed I had bought and left on the counter. 'I got a Saturday Evening Post.'
'No, you got an Atlantic on the stand across the street.'
I did not yet grasp the situation, and replied that I bought my Atlantic some days before.
'But you were seen to take it. You took it from the stand.'
Then I understood what had happened. Someone not myself had stolen a copy from the stand. It appears that out here the Atlantic is one of the fundamental needs of the human race; so much so that, lacking the price, one must steal it. The incident you publish seems to prove that human hunger for the Atlantic is not confined to the Pacific Coast. M. 0. N.
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Now and again brides have written us that they are taking the Atlantic with them on their honeymoon. Those were pretty compliments, of course; but here is incense.
This is not Boston .— far, far from it. Yet the other day, when caring for a young mother (a country girl —. Texas-born and bred), I entered her room and found the young mother lying beside her half-hour-old son, happy and comfortable — reading the last Atlantic.
Our Texas sunshine seems to produce vigorous bodies and minds. Alice I. B. Massey.
Why drag in Texas sunshine!
When Miss Dora M. Briggs wrote us the interesting letter regarding her unpleasant experience before a Naturalization Board, which we published in the Atlantic for July, she dated her communication from Springfield, Massachusetts. We published the letter with the date-line, and thus passed on to our readers the mistaken impression we ourselves received — that it is upon Springfield that the stigma rests. At the time it seemed extraordinary, for Springfield is famous for its civic sense. We are glad to announce that the responsibility should be placed elsewhere.
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
THE IRON MAN
BY ARTHUR POUND
A Teak ago I sat in a meeting of schoolmen and leading citizens who were wrestling with plans for a new high school and technical college. The leading citizens were manufacturers of motor-cars, because our town's reason for existence is the production of such cars, of which we can be relied upon to deliver upwards of one hundred thousand a year, when the public buys them fast enough to clear the loading-docks. Our leading citizens, consequently, are leaders in their industry as well. For downright public spirit, no more satisfactory group of employers can be found anywhere. They took it for granted that our new high school and technical college was to be keyed to utility. They wanted practical education, or, as one phrased it,'education for life.' As their programme unfolded, it seemed that their goal was rather education for production. They may have seen new light since the wheels slowed down, but neither then, nor later, did the school-men offer any protest.
As an outsider, a member of neither group, I sat there, dazed, silent, a little dashed and fearful, as one amid new ruins. I knew there was something wrong with the programme of these Vol. its—no. 4
manufacturers; but what it was I could not say. Now I know, because I have been studying the reactions of automatic machinery upon social relationships.
There is no better place for such a study than this town of ours. It exists for, and accepts the dictation of, industry highly automatized. In brisk times more than twenty thousand men and women work for three corporations, whose plants are full of automatic machinery. When these marvelous tools are busy, the town is prosperous, gains population, spends lavishly, yet saves much withal; when the tools are stilled, the town loses population, develops poverty, and lives on its savings.
In 1900 this was a quiet little manufacturing city of 13,000. In 1904 it produced its first motor-car, and growth from this time was rapid and sustained, draining away the surplus labor of nearby farms and villages. The 1920 census showed 38,550. In the next ten years, the city achieved a population of nearly 100,000, acquiring, among other interesting phenomena, a Little Poland, a Little Hungary, a Little Serbia, other immigrant colonies, and a Cosmopolitan Club financed by the Chamber of Commerce. We built a Polish church and school, two Russian churches, a Czech church, and presently we shall have a Jewish synagogue. During the war we imported camps of negroes direct from the Black Belt. All these non-natives, about 75,000 in the twenty years, came either to tend automatic machines, to supply the economic and domestic wants of the operatives, or to cooperate in a scheme of production in which the automatic tool was the decisive factor.
Of course, this growth induced the usual and to-be-expected rise in rents and land-values. We built houses as fast as we could find the money; but in spite of enormous profits to constructors and investors, we could not provide housing fast enough to satisfy the industrial leaders. In 1919-20 the corporation controlling our two largest plants built thousands of homes. As a strike ensued, the builders fell back upon the principle which had profited them in automobile manufacture, substituting for skilled labor machinery and unskilled labor.
In 1920, production on automatic machines here and elsewhere having outrun consumption, the wheels slowed down to a fraction of their former speed. Immediately our town began to lose population; thus proving that, with cities as with plants, quick growth means weak roots. Coincidentally rural districts began to gain. While we were losing 15,000 out of our 100,000, a village eighteen miles away added twenty per cent to its 1920 census of 400. Money brought these people into town, and, jobs failing, lack of money took them out again into the fields, woods, and villages. Michigan woods were full, last winter, of men who, a year ago, were tending automatic machines. What back-to-the-land propaganda failed to do in twenty years, economic necessity accomplished in six months.
Of all the states, Michigan shows the greatest percentage of urban growth from 1910 to 1920; also the greatest growth in the use of automatic tools. This is because ours is the automobile state. The automobile, as an economic want, burst into being rather than grew. It was a new means of transportation, not the development of an older means. Its makers faced the markets with open minds and almost empty hands. They had no well-established shop-practice to consider, little or no machinery to junk. Their margins were large enough to ensure that whatever increased production would return profits. Moreover, the nature of the business required large outputs of identical parts, accurately machined, standardized and interchangeable. Hence the automobile industry is to-day the most highly automatized. Hence the reactions of automatic machinery upon human nature and the social order may be observed here in all their vigor.
Those machines which tend to replace the worker or reduce his function to a minimum are described as automatic. They are so designed that the worker need not know the vital steps which the mechanism takes in producing the desired result. The dividing line between these tools and those that merely lengthen or strengthen the arm of man is nowhere definite and precise, but examples will help to point the distinction.
With the power wool-clipper, as with the sheep-shears, the mind of the operator must work with his muscle, to extract from use the increased efficiency of the tool. But with an automatic tool, the attendant is required only to feed the machine and relieve it of its produce from time to time. There are a good many semi-automatic machines; but the tendency is toward their complete automatization. Each year sees semi-automatic machines develop toward automatic perfection; each month' sees the scope for skill in industry lessened, particularly in those basic industries which concentrate large numbers of workers in given centres, and so exercise a determining influence upon social relations.
Skill, of course, is still vital; but the need for skill has passed upward. Machine-design, shop-organization, routing of materials, and distribution of produce — these require a concentration of skill and technical knowledge far beyond the similar requirements of non-automatic industry. The rank and file need use only a fraction of their native intelligence and manual dexterity, while the skill-requirement, which formerly spread more or less over the whole shop, is distilled into a relatively small group of engineers and executives.
This shift of vital function from the man to the machine is the key to many problems. It affects all departments of life. We have seen how it broke down the barrier of apprenticeship which had sealed factories more or less against rural labor and brought raw farm-boys into town, leveling farm and factory wages, lifting food prices. We have seen the power of the Iron Man to pull the negro north and the peasants of Europe west. And we have seen something, but not all as yet, of his influence in shifting women from the home to the mill. The clear, unmistakable tendency of automatic machinery is to level labor, as to both supply and wage.
Certain collateral effects are equally impressive. Many automatic machines can be operated as well by a child of twelve as by his parents. In fact, the tender of automatic machines reaches his or her highest economic power early in life, when nerves are steadiest. The strain involved in nursing automatic machinery is a repetition-strain, complicated by clatter. The operative does the same thing over and over, amid
rhythmic sounds, in an atmosphere frequently stale with oil or dust. Youth stands this better than age, because youth reacts more quickly. Whereas, in the old days, a man used to come more slowly into earning power, reach his highest pay at thirty-odd, and continue fully competent until age began to slow him down at sixty-odd, his son leaps into high pay as a hobbledehoy, reaches his economic apogee short of twentyfive, and from thirty-five to forty-five slides swiftly downhill. He is a better earner at twenty than his father was; but the chances are that he will be a poorer provider at fifty.
I prefer not to be too dogmatic on this point. Automatic machinery is so new, having been in common use about twenty years and still being in its infancy, that present deductions- on economic life-expectancy are founded upon too few instances to be altogether conclusive. Moreover, the swift decline of earning power in middle life may be partly due to causes only indirectly related to industry — poor housing, youthful excesses, and the like. However, present indications point to the correctness of the cycle outlined above.
Now the difficulties of the problem presented to educators by automatic machinery begin to emerge. The majority of youths, male and female, no longer need to be taught how to earn their living. Three days after the law that sets limits on child-labor leaves them free to work at the machines, they will be earning big money — practically as much as they ever will earn. There is little to learn; the mills can teach that better and cheaper than the schools. The labor turn-over cost per man ranges from $25 to $100; this includes the pay of the novice and his instructor, investment, depreciation, and overhead. Since it includes the non-automatic and semi-automatic processes, the cost of training men to serve the automatics