And when logic has won, and the man--or the civilization--is entirely cynical--then the man or civilization is ready for the eternal junk-pile. Novels and poems don't necessarily die at such a time. Novels can be made out of pure gossip; poems can be made out of pure despair. But a play cannot exist without some kind of affirmation.
The fission of the atom adds to our confusion, of course. With unlimited power in a few hands it grows doubtful that democracy can operate much longer, and democracy--a faith that the people will somehow feel and find their way, even though blindfold--was about all we had left to cling to. Only the insensitive and the fanatics remain unconfused at present--and they don't write good plays.
This requires no answer. I don't answer letters and I don't expect it of other people.
March 8, 1946
Dear Mr. Fackenthal:
It will give me great pleasure to be present at Columbia to receive the degree of Doctor of Letters on June 4th.
I have always had an aversion to the medieval symbolism of the cap and gown but now that I have very little hair on the top of my head, I see that there is a point in the costume. I[t] makes elderly men more presentable. And the same, I suppose, goes for honorary degrees.
But, seriously, I have an increasing respect for Columbia. Having two sons there, 2 I receive very constant and accurate reports. You