Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

# 13 Post:

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 52

Dear Linda:

Today I would like to discuss with you a very important matter:  The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.  No student of Latin can be entirely serious and ignore this historical fact.  I am enclosing a chart showing how the rise and fall of this empire occurred.  I made it small so you can carry it around in your purse or pocket for easy reference.  You will note, for instance, that the fall was greater by two squares than the rise.  This is very significant.  Another thing is that the Roman Empire could have gone higher before falling.  There are three squares open and available above the peak of the rise.  Now some historians have contended that it was tripped at that point, that it fell without knowing how, but I believe (Chone-Jucks theory) that it was planned that way.  That the rulers of Rome (emperors) knew that the fall was coming sooner or later, well, not sooner—because if it was coming sooner, it would have already happened … and “the higher they went the farther they’d fall.”  Isn’t that interesting?  But how many empires realize this?  How many empires of today study their history?  Look around you and note all these upstart young empires dashing madly off in all directions, rising to dizzy heights, headstrong, foolish.  It is very pitiful.  To me at any rate.

You write a wonderful letter: easygoing, vivid and friendly, a lot of fun to read and, I’ll bet, a lot of fun to write.  Your description of early morning from the porch of the guesthouse was truly a small and lovely masterpiece, worthy of a young Mark Twain, who wasn’t so bad at capturing mood himself.  I guess I don’t have to tell you to keep it up.  If you enjoy writing you’ll unquestionably continue to do so, but I do want to say one thing:  put it down as it occurs to you.  Don’t subject a thought to too much scrutiny before you release it.  This is the basic disease of conversation in this country.  People are prone to say to themselves, is it a good thought?  Is it profound?  Will I be misunderstood?  Will I look silly?  By the time this poor little idea has been subjected to the fearful pounding of these qualifications, the time for its use has glimmered off into the distance and it is so ragged and bruised that no hint of its original spontaneity remains.  Better to take a chance on being misunderstood than to be sure of being dull.  Write and say what you think, when you think it.  The chances are a hundred to one you won’t say anything harmful and you might well say something creative, funny or beautiful.

You seem to be coming out of the dismal incubation period very nicely, so I won’t talk about it any more unless you need help.

Your dirty old every-loving fahther… 

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