22 February, 2015

To see and take pleasure in seeing

State Library of Queensland, in Brisbane [click to enlarge]

I really like the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It wouldn't be helpful to describe the movie in detail, except to say that it's set in the final days of of Life Magazine.

The movie is nothing like Thurber's short story that first appeared in the New Yorker in 1939. But, I'm a fan of his and I'd like to think Thurber would like this new movie — although he didn't like the first (1947) movie version that was a vehicle for Danny Kaye.

The new (2013) movie version (directed by and starring Ben Stiller), mentions the motto of Life Magazine, but I didn't recall seeing that motto before. 
So, I did a little Googling and found the prospectus written by Archibald MacLeish and Henry Luce, for what later became Life Magazine.

The motto, recounted in the movie, was reworked from the first part of that prospectus:
THE PURPOSE:
   To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things—machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see man’s work—his paintings, towers and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to; the women that men love and many children; to see and to take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed;
   Thus to see, and to be shown, is now the will and new expectancy of half mankind.
   To see, and to show, is the mission now undertaken by a new kind of publication, THE SHOW-BOOK OF THE WORLD, hereinafter described.
MacLeish was a artillery captain in World War I, editor of the Harvard Law Review, lawyer, poet, three-times Pulitzer Prize winner, Academy Award winner, Tony Award winner, the Librarian of Congress and an editor at Fortune Magazine. (You don't see that every day). And, coincidentally, MacLeish was born in the same town as my father, albeit 20 years earlier.

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