THE GRAMOPHONE London Offic~ : 58, Frith Street, London, W.I Edited by COMPTON MACKENZIE

TELEPHONE' Regent 1383

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Vol. v.



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THE great mechanical inventions of our age have naturally and inevitably made our contemporaries indulge in dreams of what can be done with them over and above their obvious uses. Of these dreams (perhaps i t is unfair to call them dreams, for they are all practicable) one is the idea of using the gramophone to preserve for our descendants the glories of our t imes in speech; the noble oratory of our politicians, the profound appeals of endowed Churchmen, the exquisite voices of popular singers, and even the exact accents of men who are talked about-for to be talked about I take to be the definition of fame.

Now I desire to suggest a number of crabs-indeed, a l i t t le herd of them; by which I do not mean that I desire to crab the project, but to propose a certain number of doubts. Even if these doubts were justified they woul<l be of no avail, for the truth only works at long More likely they are not justified. Anyhow, It IS my nature to criticise the confidence of my time. So here goes.

I wonder, in the first place, whether our civilisation -as we know i t at least-is going to survive at all-I mean to survive over any appreciable space of years. Of course, " survival" in the sense of survival for several thousand years is impossible. All civilisations crash. But I am in some doubt as to whether our civilisation will survive even for two hundred years (to set a particular limit). I am not here at all opinionated. I would give i t at least even chances of survival for much longer than that, and even if i t declines (on the material side), and rapidly, I can easily believe in i ts survival in a gradually failing condition for several centuries. But I do see in i t very bad signs of decay indeed, the first and most obvious of which is the loss of tradition, and the second the loss of unity.

Now, if our society crashes, or even declines, one of the first things that will go will be mechanical aptitude. People who make our modern machines know a thousand t imes more than I do the dexterity, and inherited and taught aptitude, by which alone

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