Wisdom on Wednesdays—The world’s best obeyers

Portrait of Griswold Hurlbert, oil on board, 15 x 12 in.

“We Americans are the world’s best obeyers when it comes to obeying money and machinery.  We stand in line, jump to attention, get out of bed, go to work, sit at table or generally obey any mechanical contrivance which immediately dictates to us, and not a person.  But what power to place in the hand of the man who sets all this machinery in motion!”   —from the essay “Obedience” (1936)

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Wisdom on Wednesdays—Prosperity as an ideal

Gertrude Holding Baby, March 29, 1926, charcoal on paper.

“Prosperity as an ideal (the philosophy of cunning) is sterile.  An institution, a society, or an individual based upon it is doomed, because it contains not in itself either the seed of birth or rebirth.  Its appeal lies in the fact that while it lasts it succeeds perfectly.”  (October 1929)

Wisdom on Wednesdays—The breakdown of civilization

Lady in Garden

Lady in a Garden, pastel on paper, c. 1922, 14¼ x 11¼ in.
A portrait of Schmitt’s wife Gertrude done outside his studio in Silvermine.

“Can our national virtues of Comfort, Wealth, and Success be reconciled with the Cardinal Virtues of Chastity, Poverty, and Humility?  I am afraid that the answer must be honestly faced.  And the answer is, No.  The breakdown of civilization has probably been caused by the attempt to reconcile the two sets of ultimately contradictory, exclusive values.”  (1943)

Wisdom on Wednesdays—Making oodles of money

Portrait of H. K. Wick [11410]

Portrait of H. K. Wick, oil on canvas, 1917, 28 x 23 in.
Butler Institute of American Art; gift of Mrs. H.K. Wick, 1934.
Read the story of Carl Schmitt’s struggle to paint this portrait here.

“To be quite healthy the soul must be large enough to either (a) face the risk of poverty by concentrating on things more fitting to man’s nature and end, or (b) take the responsibility of making oodles of money and giving it away to the unworthy as fast as it is made.”   (1942)