May 17, 1948
I am so delighted about your coming here that I consider it conclusive proof of a totally benevolent universe, and I almost feel benevolence toward the Catholic philosophers.
I won’t take time now to continue that discussion, but if you want to, we will do it in person. I am terribly sorry if I gave you too much trouble answering me point by point. I was delighted that your letter was so long, and it was extremely interesting, but I am sorry if the job of writing it tired you out. Maybe I shouldn’t bother you with discussions of the ideas of other philosophers, but only discuss our own ideas.
Most certainly, you were the very first person to see how Capitalism works in specific application. That is your achievement, which I consider a historical achievement of the first importance. How on earth did you gather that I was denying you that accomplishment? I learned from you the historical and economic aspects of Capitalism, which I knew before only in a general way, in the way of general principles. What I take credit for is the definition of the ethical theory on which Capitalism has to be based. Since we were discussing the relation of Capitalism to ethics, that was the reason your statement astonished me.
I am glad you know that I would not invent or misrepresent what I said about your former ideas on morality. I did not imagine it. That was what I remembered from one of our conversations. However, if you tell me that you did not hold such ideas, I will take your word for it. I know that I do not always understand you clearly and that you do not like to explain things in detail, so it is very possible that I misunderstood you through my own fault or yours, or maybe both. I will not accuse you of a belief you did not hold, but I do remember the conversation that gave me that impression, though I must have been wrong.
Don’t take the blame for the expression: “unconscious ideas.” You did not use that expression in your letter, you merely said that the Catholic Church did not consciously know what it was preaching about Capitalism, so I took the liberty of describing it as “unconscious ideas.” I think this is what it amounted to, but you did not use such a blatantly inaccurate expression—and I would not expect you to use it.
There is an awful lot of other things about your letter which I would like to discuss—and I mean discuss, not argue—because all these points interest me very much, and I am looking forward most eagerly to staying up with you all night, if you care to. Incidentally, the sunrises here are very beautiful, so I think we will have a good time.
Is it very unphilosophical of me that I don’t want to discuss philosophy right now, but only think about your visit? We are both so excited about it that we are running around in circles. Yesterday I had my director, King Vidor, and his wife here for dinner and also our neighbors, Adrian and Janet Gaynor, and I was telling them at great length about your coming. They are all excited and waiting for you. Adrian and Janet have been hearing from me about you all these years, so now this is the big event of Chatsworth—the personal appearance of a star from New York.
I don’t know whether you gathered on the phone yesterday what I tried to explain to you about the picture. I will have my script finished within a few weeks now, if all goes well, but there is a possibility that the studio may keep me on while they are actually shooting the picture, which I would love to do, of course. If they don’t [handwritten insertion], I will be free as soon as I am finished with the script. But, in either case, I think it is wonderful that you should come here just when they are starting the picture, and I hope they will start it before you leave. That seems to be another sign of God’s hand over the picture. I’ll tell you in person how many things have happened to justify your prediction that the studio will not be able to ruin the story. You said that the idea of the story would protect itself—and so far it has done just that. If you can be here on the set with me when they take the first shot of the picture, I really think that it will be a wonderful philosophical omen. That is what would happen in a well-written novel—and I would love to see it happen in real life.
I have all sorts of plans on what we can do here in regard to the magazine. I’ll tell you about it in person, and you can tell me what is the best practical way to go about it. There are many people here who are on our side and who are sincere about it, they have the enthusiasm and the money—but no way of doing anything constructive for the right cause. I think that it may be possible for us to get them behind the magazine.
You did not tell me about the article you sold to the Georgia Review. Would you bring me a copy of it? I would love to read it.
Thanks a lot for the gold dollars. I am enclosing the check for them.
Since you are Frank’s guest, he will tell you himself about all the practical details of your trip. I will say only that it is getting to be very hot here, so you had better bring your lightest summer clothes, but you will need a warm coat or jacket for evening. I suppose you know that the California climate is always too hot in the daytime and too cold at night. I’ll still have time to hear from you and to write again before the twenty-eighth. If there is anything you want to find out in a hurry, please don’t hesitate to telephone us long distance and reverse the charges. Our phone number is Rugby 6-3941.
I am probably forgetting all the things I wanted to say, but I am actually too excited to think straight at the moment. I suppose you will never believe how much Frank and I love you, so there!