Marginalia, no.46

Danger is a good teacher, and makes apt scholars.  So are disgrace, defeat, exposure to immediate scorn and laughter.

~ William Hazlitt, “The Indian Jugglers”

I’m still waiting to see how good a crystal ball reader my grandmother turns out to be.  She spent the Great Depression on a farm in Iowa and has been predicting a repeat performance (and stocking up on canned foods) for several years.  FDR said in ‘32 that the economic crisis required “bold, persistent experimentation.”  The key word there is experimentation.  Perhaps it was simple honesty (translation: “I don’t know how to fix this”) or perhaps it was a political hedge against the above-mentioned disgrace, defeat, exposure to immediate scorn and laughter.  You’re less likely to laugh at a juggler’s bruises if he assures you beforehand that he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

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