Why not suppose the world purposely purposeless?
Any good gambling house is. And its purpose (too?) is to separate the winners and the losers.
Do we want to go to a gambling house or a racetrack where we are metaphysically guaranteed all bets made will win?
I have twice gone more than 70 races bet without a winner.
The above are characteristically arresting passages from Proprieties and Vagaries by Dr. Albert Lanphier Hammond (The Johns Hopkins Press, $5.50), a newly published work dealing with science, sexual customs, religion, politics and horse racing. For upwards of 40 years Dr. Hammond has been teaching philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and betting on the horses at tracks from New Orleans to Toronto. He once picked up $4,000 at a meeting at Pimlico and another time made his way back to the college from the Fair Grounds in New Orleans with nothing to eat on his journey except 10� worth of cashew nuts.
Dr. Hammond's career as a teacher and a serious gambler began at about the same time. In 1919 he was a graduate student in philosophy and an instructor at Hopkins, working on his doctor's thesis (Anti-intellectualism in Present Philosophy). Another graduate student persuaded him to take a day off and visit the track. Although he was born and raised in Baltimore, a horse racing town, Dr. Hammond had never been to a race, let alone bet on one.
"I remember my first winner," said Dr. Hammond last week, "a 2-year-old named The Cook." A gleam of reminiscent satisfaction appeared briefly behind his silver-rimmed spectacles at the thought of The Cook's victory and his own happy initiation into the sport. "Well, I went back the next day," Dr. Hammond went on, "and then as often as possible, usually two or three times a week. Finally, in 1926 or 1927, I gave up teaching, and for nine years I followed the horses as a full-time bettor."
Except for Florida, which he somehow missed, Dr. Hammond regularly attended almost all eastern tracks in these years, following a circuit from New Orleans to Louisville, on to Canada and back again.
"There was a pretty little track up at Ottawa," he said. "My, they had a hard time getting people to bet there in those days. They would hold up the start of a race for five minutes, begging someone to come and put down a bet so they could start. Finally someone would go to the window and bet $2 on a horse and away they'd go. Connaught—that was the name of the track."
Dr. Hammond is 69 years old, an alert, erect, carefully groomed individual who is austere and dignified, as befits a professor of philosophy, and yet with a certain jauntiness, a trace of the man about town in his manner. He could easily pass for the cashier of a rich and old-fashioned bank, but he might also be mistaken for an experienced dealer in a first-rate gambling house.