Introduction

‘From my point of view, these literary critics, owing to the influence of their authority as writers on the general mass of naive and easily suggestible people, are a thousand times more pernicious than all the slobbering boy-­reporters.

‘I myself knew a music critic who had never once in his life touched a musical instrument, and therefore had no practical understanding of music: he did not even know what sound was in general, or the difference between the notes “do” and “re” But, owing to the established abnormalities of contemporary civilization, he somehow occupied the responsible post of music critic, and thus became an authority for all the readers of a well-­established and widely circulated newspaper. And it was, of course, according to his quite illiterate indications that unshake­able opinions were formed in all his readers on the question of music—that question which should in reality be like a beacon light for the correct understanding of one of the aspects of truth.

‘The public never knows who is writing; it knows only the newspaper itself, which belongs to a group of experienced businessmen.

‘What the person writing in these papers really knows, or what is going on behind the scenes in the newspaper office, the readers never know, but take everything written in the papers at its face value.

‘According to my conviction, which has finally become as firm as a rock—and anyone thinking more or less impartially will come to the same conclusion—it is chiefly owing to this journalistic literature that any man who tries to develop by the means available in contemporary civilization acquires a thinking faculty adequate, at the very most, for “the first invention of Edison”, and in respect of emotionality develops in himself, as Mullah Nassr Eddin would say, “the fineness of feeling of a cow”.

‘The leaders of contemporary civilization themselves, standing on a very low level of moral and psychic development, are incapable, like children playing with fire, of knowing the force and significance of the effect of such literature on the mass of the people.

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