The late 1920s were an age of islands, real and metaphorical. They were an age when Americans by thousands and tens of thousands were scheming to take the next boat for the South Seas or the West Indies, or better still for Paris, from which they could scatter to Majorca, Corsica, Capri or the isles of Greece. Paris itself was a modern city that seemed islanded in the past, and there were island countries, like Mexico, where Americans could feel that they had escaped from everything that oppressed them in a business civilization. Or without leaving home they could build themselves private islands of art or philosophy; or else - and this was a frequent solution - they could create social islands in the shadow of the skyscrapers, groups of close friends among whom they could live as unconstrainedly as in a Polynesian valley, live without moral scruples or modern conveniences, live in the pure moment, live gaily on gin and love and two lamb chops broiled over a coal fire in the grate. That was part of the Greenwich Village idea, and soon it was being copied in Boston, San Francisco, everywhere.
When a man hath no freedom to fight for at home, Let him combat for that of his neighbours; Let him think of the glories of Greece and of Rome, And get knocked on the head for his labours. To do good to Mankind is the chivalrous plan, And is always as nobly requited; Then battle fro Freedom wherever you can, And, if not shot or hanged, you'll get knighted.
Sexual frenzy is our compensation for the tedious moments we must suffer in the passage of life. 'Nothing in excess,' professed the ancient Greeks. Why if I spend half the month in healthy scholarship and pleasant sleep, shouldn't I be allowed the other half to howl at the moon and pillage the groins of Europe's great beauties?