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True Philosophers – “Cannery Row” – John Steinbeck 

November 19th, 2011 · No Comments · Literature, Philosophy, Prose, Writing

Doc said, “Look at them. There are your true philosophers. I think,” he went on, “that Mack and the boys know everything that has ever happened in the world and possibly everything that will happen. I think they survive in this particular world better than other people. In a time when people tear themselves to pieces with ambition and nervousness and covetousness, they are relaxed. All of our so-called successful men are sick men, with bad stomachs, and bad souls, but Mack and the boys are healthy and curiously clean. They can do what they want. They can satisfy their appetites without calling them something else.”

This speech so dried out Doc’s throat that he drained his beer glass. He waved two fingers in the air and smiled. “There’s nothing like that first taste of beer,” he said.

Richard Frost said, “I think they’re just like anyone else. They just haven’t any money.”

“They could get it,” Doc said. “They could ruin their lives and get money. Mack has qualities of genius. They’re all very clever if they want something. They just know the nature of things too well to be caught in that wanting.”

If Doc had known of the sadness of Mack and the boys he would not have made the next statement, but no one had told him about the social pressure that was exerted against the inmates of the Palace.

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