Johnson to Wolfe; Wolfe to Johnson by Sarah Groothuis '08

Samuel Johnson to Tom Wolfe

The charge is pride. Only criminals improve their condition. They have such a high opinion of themselves, the ones with success. But success to them is never-it would be impossible- the product of a convenient friendship or accident. Every day things don't happen to them. Not to these criminals. Imaginary merit, like wealth not virtue, is the basis for their favorite rating system. Their eyes are wide, looking for fakes, the kind that only exists if you are searching. In effect, every behavior is false. Freedom becomes rudeness. There is too much formality in seriousness. Right now mirth and reserve are dressed down and introduced as negligence and sullenness. He sees condescension if faced with the formalities that come attached to some greetings. They insult him. But ceremony, in the same situation, is stiffened and cut into respect.

Danger follows sudden change. Instant wealth, the kind with a quick transition from poverty isn't safe. God, if only they hadn't been surrounded by things they couldn't reach. Moderation isn't real for them. They would sit on their rooftops, start a riot, and work out their new power.

You can deny it if you want to, but wanting something makes it sweeter to have. One is, after being exponentially excluded, going to be way too happy with what they got out of a deal you get to hear them retell, his grinning face shows it. Spend it before there is a hole in his pocket, that's his goal. He stands out. Wearing his money on his back, like a sign telling his next-door neighbors he can't hold it. His new clothes, too much, refer to weakness.

Tom Wolfe to Samuel Johnson

The soft spoken man, who had dressed for the outing in leather sandals over strapped over stocking feet, called to his wife, urged her to move more quickly up the sidewalk, away from the intimidating group.

Their progress slowed, a younger man's feet impeding their path, although there was no intended trouble between the traveler and the stationary boy, only segregation. The old man, who had only managed to display a slight smile across his face, moved quietly away before he could be further prevented from moving along path on which he walked.

A common understanding of segregations according to our age has been equally expressed within the concerned populations. It needn't be discussed at any length, those of us nearing fifty years of age, will see none but those who have lived half our years along the beach. Most separation is due to the physical danger placed on those who chose to casually swim along side a young surfer. He, who has traveled along the California coast, will note the expansion of this era of segregation. We, being long segregated according to age, may note a significant alteration in the system; even strictest forms of separation yield over the course of a single day, and the practical embraces of community networks specify necessary interactions among the most variant of ages.

Victorian Web Overview Victorian courses

2 October 2007