Exploring a Long Forgotten Book

By M. B. Herring

This is Part 2 of an ongoing series examining Dr. Frank Crane’s 4-Minute Essays Vol. 1, a long forgotten essay collection from 1919 by, you guessed it, Dr. Frank Crane. Several months ago, I stumbled upon this collection of essays and set out explore if any of them contained hidden bits of wisdom.

Also, I really wanted to see if the could be read in four minutes.

What follows here is the amount of time it took me read each essay, as well as my overall thoughts, however random they might be, on each piece. You can read Part 1 here.

The Right to Make One’s Own Mistakes

Time: 1 Minute and 6 Seconds

There is a 4th unalienable right: The right to make one’s own mistakes. Without failure we cannot grow.

“We learn more by our own mistakes than by any other means.”

The Great Man

Time: 1 Minute and 40 Seconds

A description of Dr. Frank Crane’s perfect man. All his great attributes; He feels with the people, is independent, teachable, without vanity etc.

Forget It

Time: 1 Minute and 49 seconds

You can’t change the past, but you can change the future.

Contains the paragraph “Tommorrow’s alive, pregnant with beauty, radiant with power, bulging with all conceivable possibilities. Turn to it!”

A Son’s Letter

Time: 1 Minute and 9 Seconds

A reprinting of a letter from a dead soldier in World War I telling his father thank you and not to worry about his death.

All Noise is Waste

Time: 1 Minute and 12 Seconds

Donald Trump and many others should take note of this essay. Talking the loudest is a sign of insecurity, as the most powerful things are quiet.

The Enemy

Time: 1 Minute and 40 Seconds

No matter what you do, you will always make enemies. Don’t waste your time fighting them.

The Manner of Greatness

Time: 42 Seconds 

We are our actions. If you act in a certain way, say brutish, then you will become brutish. Decide how you want to be. Then act that way.

No Individual, Only Humanity is Competent

Time: Unknown (I forgot to record this one)

Kind of creepy, as at times this essay sounds like an endorsement for the eugenics movement. Concludes we are all incompetent but that this is no reason to despair, for only humanity together is competent.


Time: 1 Minute and 53 Seconds

Radical! A call to action. Utopia is real but only if we turn our dreams into reality.

Contains the lines, “all humanity will run as smoothly as a $7,000 automobile” and “come, let us kill war.”

The Real Aristocrats

Time: 55 Seconds

True nobility does not come from birth. It comes from being above yourself.

What You Are When You Are Not Trying is What You Really Are

Time: 1 Minute and 22 Seconds

“In the day of Judgement, it is our idle words that we are held accountable.”

Missing Pages 61-64. Printing error?

How Much Land a Man Needs to Live on.

Time: 1 Minute and 22 Seconds

Spoiler Alert: The answer is enough to stand on. The real resource/opportunity and the “Das Kapital” in a man’s head. (Yes, “Das Kapital” is in quotes because it is pulled directly from the essay.)

The Meaning of the Day

Time: 1 Minute and 9 Seconds

Very confused by this one. Basically, says the apocalypse is coming but life after the storm will be much more swell.

(Second Read)

Definitely talking about World War One. Trying to say the tragedy was worth it in 1919. Update from 2018: It wasn’t.

For Lovers to Read

Time: 1 Minute and 54 Seconds

A really bad pick up monologue/love prose poem. Unironically uses the words “the little pussy willows.”


Time: 2 Minutes and 16 Seconds

Argues that superstitions are actually truths since they don’t change.

(Second Read)

Makes even less sense. Prejudice = good?


Time: 1 Minute and 37 seconds

You have to work towards your dreams every, single, day, as success comes from practice and mastery.

A Genius is One Who Has Found Himself

Time: 41 Seconds

Life is a struggle to maintain individuality. A genius is simply someone who manages to retain their individuality somehow.

The Sensualist

Time: 2 Minutes and 44 Seconds

“We do not emphasize enough the sheer delight of merely being alive.”

The Lying Art of Morbidity

Time: 1 Minute and 4 Seconds

Opens by saying Tolstoy and others are wrong. Declares life is full of joy not misery. So, Dr. Frank Crane is obviously pretty privileged as to have never experienced misery.

In Praise of Flaws

Time: 1 Minute and 58 Seconds

Don’t beat yourself up over your flaws. To be human is to be imperfect. Majorly sexist

The Religion of the Men of Letters

Time: Unknown

Worthless as it just praises upper-class intellectuals, which the author undoubtedly is.

The Procession of Souls

Time: 1 Minute

Life is constantly bringing people into our lives. And, in some small way, this allows us to be all connected.

Unfortunately, that ends today’s connection between you and me. The 3rd and final post concerning Dr. Frank Crane’s 4-Minute Essays Volume 1 will be coming shortly.

In the meantime, let me know what you think of this post and the prior one. I usually wouldn’t share these spur of the moment notes/thoughts but I felt like experienting as I was intriqued by how forgotten this book was.

Is this an interesting experiment or just disjointed nonsense. Good or bad, let me know what you think.

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