The Contributors' Column
It has long seemed to the editors of the ATLANTIC (hat, despite the acute intelligence displayed by designers of American advertising, the individual character of the separate advertisements constantly diverted the reader from the realization that advertising has become the condensed and accurate present-day history of American business to which future historians must continually recur, After careful reflection, the ATLANTIC has hit on an idea whereby a lucid and stimulating study by Arthur Pound, interpreting each month the philosophy of one of the great units of American industry, is combined with a series of graphic pages outlining individual characteristics of different companies, so combined as to give a single dominant impression. The whole enterprise is an advertising venture which we believe quite as interesting to the thoughtful reader as any purely literary feature of the magazine, and the coördination seems to us amply to prove the basic theory of the enterprise, that America and American industry are one.
IF you are a radio listener you have been exercised over the problem of radio control. How can the cost of radio best be met? What should the relation of government to radio be? Reformers have urged the British system of government control; conservative Americans have pointed out the superiority of many programmes sponsored by commercial interests. But it remains for one who has himself contributed largely to the delight of radio audiences to remind us that an even more fundamental problem is the technical one of transmission, of sending music and speech over the air in complete and undistorted form. It is needless to add that Leopold Stokowski, the great musician who calls attention to ‘New Vistas in Radio,’ was leader of the Philadelphia Orchestra for twenty-two years until his resignation on December 6. Perhaps his most creative contribution has been the encouragement not only of new and original talent in composition and performance, but also of mechanical experiments and developments which will enrich the music of the future. A pioneer in radio, his vision of its possibilities is as informed as it is farseeing. Berwin Kaiser (‘ The 810,000 Gallon of Oil’) ‘lived in a household where the Atlantic was the only magazine permitted to cross the threshold,’ presumably until he went to Harvard, where he graduated in 1923. Since then he has been advertising copy-writer, editor of retail-store trade publications, and free lance; he is now engaged in sales promotion.
‘History and the Louse’is a chapter from Pals, Lice, and History, a book to be published in the early spring by the Atlantic Monthly Press, which deals with the immense influence of great pestilences upon human civilization. Readers who discovered ‘ The Deadly Arts’ in our November issue do not need to be reminded that Hans Zinsser, in addition to being an authority on infectious disease, Professor of Bacteriology and Immunology successively at Stanford, Columbia, and Harvard Universities, is also that rarest of phenomena, a scientist who can write. ▵ Sir Esme Howard once cabled the f oreign Office: ‘Simonds was optimistic in his dispatch this morning. What’s wrong with the Naval Conference?’ ‘From Wilson to Hitler’ is no such aberration, perhaps, but it reveals the usual knowledge and clarity which characterize all of Frank H. Simonds’s pronouncements on international affairs. ▵A ‘Moonlight’ brings another vision of the English countryside through the observant eyes of Henry Williamson, winner of the Hawthornden prize with his novel, Tarka the Otter. Gertrude Scott (‘Obit for E. Harris’) has published only one previous story, and that, too, had for background a familiar scene: Miss Scott works in a New York bank and hopes some day to write a novel about a bank ‘without a holdup or a forgery.’ ▵A ‘Who Gets Relief?‘ Douglas McClure Anderson, a young college graduate educated for teaching, who has served for two years as investigator for a County Relief Board, offers entirely factual information. John A. Holmes (‘Testament ) teaches courses in modern poetry and composition at Tufts College.
‘Finale in Moscow’ closes the chapter called ‘Youth and Revolution’ from the forthcoming Personal History which Vincent Sheean, a foreign correspondent in the nineteen-twenties, will shortly publish. J. W . N. Sullivan ( ‘This Mysterious Universe’) reviews scientific books for the London Times Literary Supplement and sheds light on the mysteries of science in books and articles of his own. ▵ The Steep Path should recall ‘Leora’s Father,’ in our November issue, which was the first. published story of Katharine Hamill, a voluntary exile to Vermont this winter from her work on Fortune magazine. ▵A Professor Carl Joachim friedrich’s paper in October, attacking ‘progressive’ education, called forth the progressive reserves en masse, so that our choice of a champion was almost unlimited. James L. Mursell (‘Education and Happiness’), was one of the latest to appear in the lists, and one of the bestequipped. Educated in England and Australia, with a Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard, he is now Professor of Education in Lawrence College, Wisconsin, and author of several books on his subject. ▵ That ’retired bookseller, Alan Devoe, has retired still farther into the country, — this time upstate New York, where apparently he cannot resist setting out ‘More Books by the Roadside.’ ▵ ‘Religion in England’ contains reflections by the Very Reverend W. R. Inge, Dean of St. Paul’s from 1911 until his recent retirement. A ’With the A. E. F.’ concludes the Atlantic’s excerpts from the war-time journal of Harvey Cushing, America’s most distinguished brain surgeon. ▵ Last-October Arthur Pound paid his native Pontiac, Michigan, a two-day visit, and the event was celebrated as a ‘ Homecoming’ at which the whole town turned out to do him honor. At that time the Editor of the Atlantic wrote of him: —
‘My friend Pound.’ I think ten thousand others might use the phrase with literal truth. Certainly I can. I have known him some fourteen years and am familiar with the qualities of his mind. Put into a word, he is intelligent curiosity incarnate. His mind is speculative and constructive. What are the valuable elements in American life? How can we enlarge them? How add to them? Thought of this kind he carries to bed with him, and when he gets up in the morning the yeast is fermenting.
Out of the multitude of his ideas one is gradually taking precedence: the industrial history ot America, as it was. is. and shall be. I am ONE of the friends of Pound who believe that his first conspicuous work, The Iron Man in Industry, is the true guidepost of his trail through life. His interpretation of the social effects of rapid communications as seen in the telephone industry and his fascinating Turning Wheel confirm my assurance.
With this steadily in mind I have persuaded him to write a volume to be entitled Industrial America: Its Way of Thought and Work. The plan is to select a number of examples from amongst our greatest businesses, and to follow the indust rial philosophy of each with understanding, sympathy, and ever-present realization that upon the wise and humane conduct of industry the welfare and happiness of the people depend.
It is with rare pleasure that the Atlantic introduces the first chapter in this series, ‘Precision and Perspective’ — a study of General Motors.
On the eighth page of Mr. Stokowski ’s article, at the end of the first paragraph in the second column, the author wished to insert the following sentences which reached us too late to be printed with the text : —
‘The physicist has developed new principles and techniques. But it is for others to apply these principles and techniques to our daily life. All of us who find inspiration in great music can receive the benefit of these new principles and techniques if we make our demand clear and strong.’
From a radio engineer.
Mr. Stokowski sends us the Following letter which he has just received from Mr. C. W. . Horn, Director of Research and Development of the National Broadcasting Company. Though long, il is worth quoting in full for its bearing on Mr. Stokowski’s article in this issue.
Dear Mr. Stokowski: —
I had the great pleasure of reading your article entitled ‘New Aistas in Radio.’ It afforded me much satisfaction to realize that a musician undertook the study of sound and recognized the laws of physics governing sound. I am sure that you w ill agree with me that this is rather unusual and that there is generally a wide gulf between the physicist and the musician.
You have very clearly explained, so that the layman may recognize, the principles underlying sound, the mechanism required to pick up sound and transmit it by wire and radio, and the reproduction of it into pressure waves. Obviously, the ideal is to have the ear present where the sound is being generated. Radio endeavors to convey the sound from its originating source over distances and to reproduce it with as much fidelity as possible. Right here is where the primary difference between reproduced sound and sound being heard at its source comes in. The listener in the presence of an orchestra depends upon his ears, behind which there is a brain. It is possible for him to disregard annoying incidents, disturbing sounds, and even reverberations and echoes. He can concentrate and focus his attention on the sound that he desires to hear. Because he has two ears, he is able to so concentrate and focus his attention. By placing a microphone in a room we immediately lose the benefit of the brain. A microphone will pick up sounds that strike it and it has no discrimination as to their origin or direction, as a rule. This is somewhat overcome by using the so-called binaural effect. But even with such a method the microphone will pick up whatever sound exists in its vicinity. This sound is then amplified and transmitted, by whatever means are used, to a loud Speaker which reproduces what this microphone has heard. The human being then concentrates his attention to the loud speaker and is unable under this condition to differentiate or discriminate against unwanted sounds. For this reason reverberations are more exaggerated when heard over a loud speaker than when a person is present in a hall where the sound originates.
I am afraid that we shall always have difficulty along Ibis line even though we use the binaural effect Which gives us some sense of direction. The only solution to this problem would be a brain at the microphone, which is of course out of reason. I am mentioning this fact merely to show that we are still far from even theoretically reproducing sound absolutely and with perfect fidelity. This therefore leads us to changing the conditions at the originating point in order to make more pleasing the sound as reproduced. This means halls and auditoriums with different acoustics than are used when playing to an aud ience.
There are other compromises which are necessary, some of them due to lack of perfection of apparatus and facilities, which account for many of the shortcomings you criticize. Some of these are gradually being overcome. One is the rather restricted dynamic range which we now are compelled to use. Wire lines with their associated equipment at present are not capable of greatly extending the dynamic range. Radical changes and improvements will have to be made which will take a great deal of time and heavy investments. Receiving sets must have amplifiers of greater capacity, which of course time will also correct.
I do wish to state, however, that broadcasting transmitters as a rule, particularly those installed within the last two years, are capable of handling frequencies of 10,000 cycles and higher. This is getting near the 13,000 cycles which you have set as a feasible limit. I was present when Dr. Fletcher made tests on audiences and found that very few could tell the difference between 8000 and 13,000 cycles except on some instruments. For this reason the engineering groups have accepted 8000 cycles as an immediate step to achieve and to work for. Here in Radio City our equipment, which consists of microphones, amplifiers, and some of our special loud speakers, is capable of going beyond 15,000 cycles. The full advantage of this of course is lost, however, when it goes over the lines and because most of the receiving sets are not capable of responding to such frequencies. However, I want to be put on record as stating that the National Broadcasting Company has recognized this desire and need for improvement in quality and has spent vast sums in its new studios to accomplish this, even though it may be some time before lines, transmitters, and receiving sets are capable of taking advantage of these high standards.
There is one item in your article which I feel deserves mention as being very difficult of achievement. You present an idea of zoning the country in order to have wider channels over which to transmit programmes. It is a fact that the country is already zoned on a 10,000-cycle basis. No two stations in the same vicinity are within 50,000 cycles of each other and there is spacing between zones so that the stations which are neighboring to each other in the allocation band are usually some great distance apart geographically. However, even this does not solve THE problem, because we have no control over atmospheric conditions and it is frequently possible to hear stations at 1000 or 2000 miles distance. Zoning is therefore not the answer.
In order to provide for channels capable of handling frequencies from 30 to 13,000 cycles, they would have to be approximately 30,000 cycles in width, or three times the present capabilities of the channels. This does not mean that if we provided but one station where three now exist we should solve the problem. Actually we should have to discard all but a few of our stations and to a number so small as to inadequately serve the country. This is particularly true if we desire to improve reception from a dynamic standpoint. During the soft passages it is necessary that the interfering signal be kept at such a low value that it would not distract the listener. Excellent reception would only be possible very close to the transmitting stations, as we have not as yet found a way of overcoming fading, with consequent side-band distortion. This is particularly true in short-wave transmissions, where it is more difficult to attain high quality transmissions because of the selective fading and side-band distortion which exist. However, I feel that we shall keep on making improvements which will gradually overcome many of these difficulties.
The engineers are generally pretty much agreed that the next major step is to make available receivers having an extended range over those now in existence for the benefit of those who live sufficiently near their local station to be within the high-signal-level area. Improvements along these lines have been continuously made and will continue to be made. One of our obstacles is the fact that the average purchaser of a receiver is frequently incapable of appreciating the better quality that is offered, usually at a higher price, and it becomes a question of education, which in itself is a slow process.
I personally witnessed the demonstration you gave in Washington when you reproduced the Symphony Orchestra playing at Philadelphia. I very greatly appreciated the marvelous control it gave you over the dynamic range and the fine quality of reproduction. You reproduced the music with a dynamic range much greater than any orchestra alone could have accomplished. It was therefore not simply reproduction, but re-creation — or, rather, you improved upon the original production. Being an engineer, I also know something of the tremendous efforts that were made by the telephone engineers to provide the circuits and equipment necessary to do this. What you actually had was a laboratory set-up. To make such facilities available to the general public requires a tremendous realignment of facilities and a great deal of new and expensive equipment. It was not a very simple matter, though one might not so infer from your article. However, it showed what could be done, which is the first step toward final accomplishment on a practical basis. You have not discussed the economic factors involved, which is my answer as to the reason why such improvements are not made immediately available to the public. For many years we have had airplanes capable of flying long distances, but it required many improvements in auxiliary services before regular established air lines could function practically. An engineer always must take into consideration the time factor in any equation. The economist must do the same. The theorist often overlooks the value of this time factor.
From the above you will see that I am in general agreement with your thoughts, but, being one who has in the past frequently been charged with (he responsibility of putting theory into practice, I am naturally somewhat conservative. I have been forced to face the realities and conditions that are in exist cnee. I therefore very greatly value the mind that is capable of finding means and methods whereby theory can be put into practice with the least amount of resistance. On the other hand, however, I am something of a theorist and dreamer myself and have often wished that. I could be an absolute dictator or tsar so that I might accomplish some of these dreams. It is this restless feeling chafing at restraint that is the force behind our major developments.
You mentioned short-wave transmissions. I am a pioneer in this activity and often took tremendous responsibility upon myself when I promised to bring over an important programme from Europe, and if atmospheric conditions had failed me I should have been laughed at and discredited. I mention this merely to show that in our organization, as well as in the engineering field in general, we are always ready to force development and take a chance. Therefore the reader of your article who mistakenly assumes that you are criticizing the engineer, which I do not believe you are doing, is quite likely to mislead himself if he forms such an opinion. We need such comments as you are giving us, and we are naturally spurred on by such criticisms. I believe that we are fortunate in having a man of your ability in the musical field take an intrest in the engineering factors involved, which can only result in mutual benefit. Therefore I feel that your article is one that should be read by serious thinking people with a great deal of interest and I am happy that you have so written it that it is not controversial or in criticism of any group, but is rather a presentation of the possibilities which lie before us. As a radio man true to his traditions. I want to conclude with the statement that radio will accomplish everything that other transmission mediums, such as wires, now do or will be capable of doing. I therefore draw no line between ‘space radio’ and ‘wired radio,’ because I believe that we shall solve our problems one by one.
C. W. HORN New York City
To the chigger.
Dear Atlantic, —
I was very much entertained by Mr. Wendell Brooks Phillips’s article on chiggers— ‘Summer Among the Varmints,’ I wonder if the author has heard the toast to the chigger:—
That ain’t no bigger
Than the point of a good-sized pin,
But the bump that he raises
Itches like blazes
And that’s where the rub comes in.
‘ Bug’ song.
Dear Atlantic, —
I thoroughly enjoyed the paper by Dr. Hans Zinsser in the November Atlantic, especially where the learned doctor practised dissection on some of the hypothetical writers and poets. Granted they are illuminati, as we know they must be by the ‘lightning’s bright flash’ they give us on rare occasions, why, as he says, do they choose to play with their minds, giving out moronic jumbles without thought or reason?
I have in my possession a collection of scribblings written by the inmate of an insane institution in a near-by state that comes perilously near to some of the drivel passing as literature, with this difference: the ‘bug’ achieves at least a readable coherence. Con the poem below and judge if you do not conclude it merits a seat on Pegasus at least as well as some of the Stein songs.
Complete independence is my creed.
No words or acts enable me to know that I will. Behold that which is mine and not thine.
I will do with just as I will as it is but for me.
I the master and you the slave, come do my will For you shall, as it is that way.
Go my servant to the field Fetch me the finest melon.
No such has ever ye| proved the equal Of presenting itself to me,
As my mind has forever roved
Over millions of bright, beautiful day-dreams.
I live and move with power to create And my own hand is capable of anything.
I am the all in all, with all power,
Knowledge, etc., fully mine.
Reminds one of the early Whitman,too, does n’t it ?
of the early Whitman, too,
PAUL M. STRAIN Bloomington, Indiana
Another doctor looks at poets.
Dear Atlantic, —
Truly I love ‘The Deadly Arts’ by Dr. Hans Zinsser in your November number! Do find place for these lines by another physician, Dr. Doremus Seudder, who, enraged by a recent lecture on poetry, writes of modern poetry and poets: —
. . . Stirrers of emotion, devotees of beauty, creators of thought,
Rhythmic singers, interpreters of the Ideal.
Can claim no more the sacred name of Poet. Give place then to these worshippers of verbiage, Uncouth, strange, lovers of sound sans meaning, Crown them alone with laurel wreath.
PUEBE ESTELLE SPALDING
In public places.
Dear Atlantic, —
Speaking of signs, why travel so far as New Hampshire, Indiana, or Missouri, when you need only cross the Hudson on a Weehawken Ferry to read the following: —
NO SPITTING ALLOWED LIFE PRESERVERS UNDER THE SEAT
MARIAN SACHS New York City
Dear Atlantic, —
Here’s another sign decorating the corridors of an excellent hospital in Illinois: ‘No Children under Twelve Allowed in the Maternity Ward.‘
REVEREND J. A. RICHARDS
Dear Atlantic, —
Until the building was torn down a few years ago, I used often to pass the window of a tailor’s shop in which was a sign reading: ‘Pants Pressed in the Rear While You Wait.’
HELEN C. BACON Boston, Massachusetts
A punster’s geography of Montana.
Dear Atlantic, —
That Titular Tourist of yours had better stay away from Montana or preserve his anonymity while, he is in the state, He finds only two towns in the whole great state worth visiting, does he? The very idea!
Where else will he be able to drive into a Rearmouth? Where else, if his car breaks down, can he Hopp to Big Sandy and Roundup a Jitney, or Pray to live in sweet Accord, Content, or like a bee in Rosebud? If all else fails, where better can he Locate Cyanide? Has he ever Been to Bean? He admits having unsuccessfully hunted for Hell. In Montana he can go through Hell Gate, spend an hour in Paradise, and be past Hope in a few short hours.
Maybe your Titular Tourist is timid and fears to spend his time in a state that tolerates a rather large Anaconda sprawling in the western sun. Still, many provisions have been made for the comfort of travelers. There are a Baker and a Barber, a Bay Horse, Plenty wood. Pure Water oi Whitewater, as you prefer, Whitefish and Prairie Elk for dinner, a Basin to cook them in, and an Emigrant, an Amazon, and Coolidge to eat the least after it is prepared. Coffee Creek, of course, provides another beverage for the credulous traveler.
Until I saw a resident of the state, I thought that the Titular Tourist ignored Montana because a Society for the Renaming of Settlements had been busy since my last visit. But Twodot is still on the map, I learn, Giltedge is unaffected by the depression, and in spite of Roosevelt’s warnings Goldbutte and Gold Creek still flaunt their riches. Sweet Grass, Rattlesnake, Rig Arm, Beehive, Silverstar . . . Ho, hum! Is it because the towns of no other state lend themselves so readily to the lowest form of wit that your Club Contributor scorns a state with a laugh in nearly every name?
As one contributor to another.
Dear Atlantic, —
I am much impressed with what Albert Jay Nock says in ‘ Artemus Ward’s America.’ He speaks in such a pleasantly offhand way, and with such charm of personality, that some readers may not realize how trenchant is his thinking. It cuts deeper than most of our ponderous articles.
WILLIAM TRUFANT FOSTER Ashland, New Hampshire