Certain events such as love, or a national calamity, or May, bring pressure to bear on the individual, and if the pressure is strong enough, something in the form of verse is bound to be squeezed out. National calamities and loves have been few in my life, and I do not always succumb to May.
Steinbeck from the Paris Review No. 45
I propose a new rule: if someone made it, it’s safe. If something made it, it’s not. Last year, a good friend of mine, and talented cheese maker looked into starting a fresh mozzarella business in Northern California. Where I come from, the river valleys are full of small, family-run dairies. At my friend Kevin Renner’s house we used to have fresh cold milk in the mornings - chilled in a glass pitcher, unprocessed, from the cows 100 yards away. My friend figured that with all this great fresh milk, a local tradition of artisanal cheese making (Humboldt Fog!), and her skills, it was a slam dunk. Then she started asking around. She was told she would need a professional, inspected kitchen, that should she would have to get permits costing as much as $70,000, that inspections and working with raw milk would destroy any profit margin she could hope to achieve. The message was, go big or go home. She went home.
I wonder how many ideas for businesses are killed like this. I’m sure it’s not a few. Regulation in this country (see the SEC) was created by big business for big business. On some level, the intent was altruistic - truly large businesses have a stake in relatively healthy (or at least not immediately dead) customers. They regulate for safety because it’s good for you. But (and big business is very aware of this) it’s also good for their bottom line. Regulation often has the effect of driving out of business anyone who is not big enough or ruthless enough to follow them adequately. So little businesses, the kind that could have supported my friend, put her on the road to self-sufficiency and maybe even created a few jobs, are stillborn. Only big business can afford to produce safe soft-cheese. And cheese is only safe if it’s sterile. So we all eat Velveeta.
This is not to say I’m against regulation. Far from it. The government must protect us from what we cannot protect ourselves from individually. My friend, with her little business does not fall into that category. If she produced good cheese (she would have) she would have thriven. If she had made people sick she would have failed, with only a few belly-aches to show for it.
My point is, a basic component of all regulation should be scale. Let a thousand silly little businesses bloom. Let them make cheese and sausage and whatever else. Let’s promote craft makers. And, only when their size makes them truly opaque to their customers should we regulate. The harder a business is for its customers and the general public to understand, the more people it has the potential to affect adversely, the more heavily it should be regulated. The fact that this is so often not the case is scandal.
Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?
Read it four times.” —
No one is without Christianity, if we agree on what we mean by the word. It is every individual’s individual code of behavior, by means of which he makes himself a better human being than his nature wants to be, if he followed his nature only. Whatever its symbol—cross or crescent or whatever—that symbol is man’s reminder of his duty inside the human race. Its various allegories are the charts against which he measures himself and learns to know what he is. It cannot teach man to be good as the textbook teaches him mathematics. It shows him how to discover himself, evolve for himself a moral code and standard within his capacities and aspirations, by giving him a matchless example of suffering and sacrifice and the promise of hope.
William Faulkner, again.
Mine is the standard which has to be met, which is when the work makes me feel the way I do when I read La Tentation de Saint Antoine, or the Old Testament. They make me feel good. So does watching a bird make me feel good. You know that if I were reincarnated, I’d want to come back a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything.
Would you like to make another movie?
Yes, I would like to make one of George Orwell’s 1984. I have an idea for an ending which would prove the thesis I’m always hammering at: that man is indestructible because of his simple will to freedom.” —
William Faulkner, Ibid. (See below.)
“The best job that was ever offered to me was to become a landlord in a brothel. In my opinion it’s the perfect milieu for an artist to work in. It gives him perfect economic freedom; he’s free of fear and hunger; he has a roof over his head and nothing whatever to do except keep a few simple accounts and to go once every month and pay off the local police. The place is quiet during the morning hours, which is the best time of the day to work. There’s enough social life in the evening, if he wishes to participate, to keep him from being bored; it gives him a certain standing in his society; he has nothing to do because the madam keeps the books; all the inmates of the house are females and would defer to him and call him “sir.” All the bootleggers in the neighborhood would call him “sir.” And he could call the police by their first names.”
William Falkner Paris Review Interview, New York City ca. 1956