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[APRIL 2013.]


“János Starker,” said my cello teacher, “who only just died, said the fourth finger should always rest here—” and pointed to an unlikely spot on the bow.

“Starker is dead?”

He was my favorite cellist because he was a gemcutter. The cello always tempts you to excessive sweetness, to flourish and sway. To hold that sweetness in reserve is to enter the clear water, but only at an altitude of technique such that the technique ceases to tint the music. You should see this—really—for the first few seconds if nothing else: anticipation, anticipation, commencement. And that tone! So smooth and bright you’d swear it was coming through Fender pickups: just sound being sound.

“A lot of confusing things happen and then you die.” Middlemarch; Lanark. Not, say, Proust.


I want, for a moment, to emphasize that word "adjustment." It is almost a forgotten word just as some of you, once upon a time, were forgotten men. As you know, a great many of the high and mighty, with special axes to grind, have been deliberately trying to mislead people who know nothing of farming by misrepresenting - no, why use a pussyfoot word? - by lying about the kind of farm program under which this Nation is operating today.

A few leading citizens have gone astray from other causes - such as ignorance. I must admit that. For example, a few years ago in the countryside where I live, I was driving with a prominent city banker. Everything was brown. The leaves were off the trees. And all of a sudden we passed a beautiful green field. He asked me what it was. I told him it was winter wheat. He turned to me and said, "That is very interesting. I have always wondered about winter wheat. What I don't understand is how they are able to cut it when it gets all covered up with snow."

The other example was down in Georgia. An editor of a great metropolitan paper was visiting me down there in the summertime when I showed him my farm with 40 or 50 acres of cotton, when the cotton was nearly grown but before the bolls had formed. Looking out over the cotton fields he said to me:

"What a large number of raspberries they grow down here."

Well, raspberries was right. Because, at four and a half cents a pound for cotton his mistake was, perhaps, a natural one.

—FDR on the Agricultural Adjustment Act, May 14, 1935

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