The Charlotte News

Friday, March 18, 1938



Site Ed. Note: Probably an omission in the typesetting room, the correct legend is that Diogenes went about with his lantern in daylight searching Corinth for "an honest man", not merely "a man", as Cash no doubt was aware. And no doubt, from his days of penury in Shelby, Cash felt a bit of empathy for old Diogenes who eschewed comforts for the simple life, so much so that when he saw a peasant drinking with his hands, he threw away his last worldly possession, his cup--or so goes another legend. Yet, Cash never played the Cynic (nor was he ever a true ascetic even in Shelby or Boiling Springs, though that he no doubt seemed to the more respectful gentry of the towns--the less respectful having him as the same kind of lout as the Athenians branded Diogenes), though a cynic's wit, (and an ascetic's temperament), he certainly possessed. But don't blame him for that. For who can help but be possessed of such a malady who should grow up in the South and see it as something a little less than a Grand Eden of palatial fonts spewing bucketfulls of the simplest, most aphoristic country wisdom available in the universe whilst simultaneously being possessed of the grandest, most glorious, indeed most splendid, why, the very quintessence of whatever it is that may be supposed to go here as the object of this phrase, that being whatever the limits of one's imagination might conjure at a given moment?

Yet, it's not so bad as they view it sometimes outside it, either. That is, there are raised from its murky waters many of the truest, most splendid, most open, purest liberal souls ever God created, too. How could it be otherwise when the land has so many reactionaries who haven't the slightest bit of reticence about them such that they will say anything that pops into their pins whenever it might?

The truth of the fiction, we have decided, is that it's largely barren, stark, and cold in winter and most usually unbearably hot and humid in the summer, hence…

But this day's initial offering is about Diogenes, and the Brigadier General popping off about him, not the South. So…

And as to John L. Lewis and his comments on the New Deal: He was in 1938 busily aligning himself economically with the Third Reich. So not much of a surprise there.

Debunking Diogenes

Brig. Gen. Farrand Sayre, retired, has been studying at the Johns Hopkins for a Ph.D. degree. And now the General is out to get the scalp of old Diogenes--he who, according to the legend, used to go about Corinth in daylight with a lantern looking for "a man." Research, says the General, has convinced him that Diogenes was in fact a cynical loafer, a beggar and a robber.

But maybe the General is, after all, popping off a bit too fast. The stories he has unearthed may be new to him but they are hardly new to those who know anything about Greek "history." That Diogenes is supposed to have sat under a great tree near the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth and begged for his living; to have performed various obscene acts in public; to have retorted insolently to Alexander, when the latter asked him what service he might do him, "Please to stand out of my light;" and some time to practice brigandage on the great high road that led over the Isthmus of Corinth--all that is common knowledge. But Diogenes was a practitioner of the rude Cynic (dog-faced) philosophy, and his sneers naturally did not endear him to those who reported him in his time. More than that, everything that is "known" about him comes to us at third-hand, and so may not be "known" at all.

Anyhow, the General is butting his head smack into a stone wall. Diogenes is a symbol, like those ostriches which are supposed to "hide" by sticking their heads in the sand. Actually, ostriches don't behave like that, as ornithologists have been fruitlessly pointing out for a hundred years. But the human race finds it to its liking to believe that they do, and so promises to go on believing it until the last cow is in the barn. The General might as well lay off Diogenes.


Diagnosis by a Best Friend

There was an American stood up before a microphone of the British Broadcasting Company one night this week and told Englanders that there are 13,000,000 unemployed in these States. Said he, further:

"Yet (unemployment) is steadily increasing as the nation drifts with terrifying and deadly sureness to the never, never realm of financial bankruptcy, economic collapse, and human tragedy.

"Neither industry nor government has come forth with constructive proposals to meet the problems of the Depression.

"The Federal Congress, lacking adequate or competent leadership... has failed to devise or enact a single statute that would cause a glimmer of hope to penetrate the minds of millions of despairing Americans.

"Meantime, cavilling and confusion prevails, and our statesmen, and those carrying the responsibilities of the nation's manifold enterprises, are reviling each other with an anger and bitterness that defiles, sears and destroys..."

Who was this fellow? Maybe old Herbert Hoover somewhere in Europe? Or Arthur Vandenberg? Or Calvin Bridges? Or Ham Fish? Or, possibly, Hugh Johnson? Certainly a professional hater of the New Deal?

None of these, masters. He was that great labor leader and beneficiary of that New Deal who last election contributed $500,000 toward the election of Mr. Roosevelt--none other than John L. Lewis himself.


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