Guest Observation: The Vulnerable Spot

“The report of Ross’s death came over the telephone in a three-word sentence that somehow managed to embody all the faults that Ross devoted his life to correcting. A grief-stricken friend in Boston, charged with the task of spreading the news but too dazed to talk sensibly, said, ‘It’s all over.’ He meant that Ross was dead, but the listener took it to mean that the operation was over. Here, in three easy words, were the ambiguity, the euphemistic softness, the verbal infirmity that Harold W. Ross spent his life thrusting at. Ross regarded every sentence as the enemy, and believed that if a man watched closely enough, he would discover the vulnerable spot, the essential weakness. He devoted his life to making the weak strong–a rather specialized form of blood transfusion, to be sure, but one that he believed in with such a consuming passion that his spirit infected others and inspired them. Whatever it was, this contagion, this vapor in these marshes, it spread. None escaped it. Nor is it likely to be dissipated in a hurry.”

–E.B. White, “H.W. Ross”

In “Writings from The New Yorker 1927-1976

Technorati Tags:

4 Replies to “Guest Observation: The Vulnerable Spot”

  1. Outstanding.
    Now, apropos our conversation last week, if you were in on the Amazon affiliate program, I would have bought that book through your site and you’d be 59.8 cents richer.

  2. That’s great shit, Dan.
    “Ross regarded every sentence as the enemy.” Thurber has hilarious exchanges with him, too, of course, with insane queries about cartoons. Ah, them’s were the days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *