Someone gave me a dirty look as I was reading this…

From Generation of Vipers, Philip Wylie, 1942 with added notes in 1955 (congratulating himself on being right), page 24.  A hypothetical history textbook from the future explains the state of then present day American culture…

The brutishness and filthiness of the people was equaled only by their ignorance and credulity.  Every mind was clogged with superstitions that had to do with ladders, black cats, hunchbacks, the new moon — an infinitude of objects.  Yet, the people believed themselves to be enlightened — the strangest superstition of all!  They indulged in mass myths of a great variety.  Everybody, for example, “loved his mother” — it was a tenet, and a man would smash your jaw if you said your mother was a back-biting hypocrite — although, likely, in that age, she was was.  Moreover, public opinion would stand behind the man who had smashed the jaw of the critic of his mother — rather than behind the man who had told the simple truth.

Then there’s firemen, (in a section about the evils hats do to man) page 106-107.

The fire hat makes the fireman into a chopping demon whose zeal is highly regarded by the mob but whose effectiveness in putting out fires is open, usually, to question.  This hat, however, is useful for hiding small valuables picked up on the premises where fires are being attacked.  I have heard it said that all firemen are kleptomaniacs, and I doubt this, but the hat may have in it some small part of that special magic or legerdemain.  What the fez does to to the noble of a Masonic order is another thing that fascinates and frightens me.  It makes him, ordinarily a man of aplomb and conservatism, able to parade the streets in outlandish costumes, for one thing.  It also gives him the magic power to jab electrical shocking devices betwixt the glutei maximi of pretty girls — a power he certainly did not have under his fedora.

A bit of an aside on grocers in a chapter about doctors., page 168.

and if the grocer did a tenth as much to you you would have him in the clink, even though we will agree that grocers, as a class, are a collection of choice thieves and liars too.

Back to Mom, though, who is really at the heart of the book…  Page 195

But mom never met competition.  Like Hitler, she betrays the people who would give her a battle before she brings up her troops.  (and etc.)

This is 1942, by the way.  Back when Hitler was a real human being, and we all decided we really hated him.

Note his explanation in an interview with Mike Wallace in 1953.

WYLIE: Well, let me… let me say, that if you had read on, through those pages of indictment, you’d have realized Mike, that I was talking about not mothers, all of them, but a certain kind, whom I classified as I did, and whom I outrageously lampooned, deliberately, from a psychological background, that was well informed.

Just for effect…
Note this phrase from a decades later retrospect.  Probably true.  “Warmed over H.L.  Mencken.”

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