Editorial: When the winds of war start to rise (North Korea, Afghanistan) I reread All Quiet on the Western Front to help me think about war. This is a grim bit, but telling too. Life is at an end
(p. 117) We see men living with their skulls blown open; we see soldiers run with their two feet cut off, they stagger on their splintered stumps into the next shell-hole; a lance-corporal crawls a mile and a half on his hands dragging his smashed knee after him; another goes to the dressing station and over his clasped hands bulge his intestines; we see mean without mouths, without jaws, without faces; we find one man who has held the artery of his arm in his teeth for two hours in order not to bleed to death. The sun goes down, night comes, the shells whine, life is at an end.
Still the little piece of convulsed earth in which we lie is held. We have yielded no more than a few hundred yards of it as a prize to the enemy. But on every yard there lies a dead man.
Also after this reading I watched for the first time the 1930 film adaptation. Who knew old movies were so goofy, even ones about the horrors of WWI that won two Oscars? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Quiet_on_the_Western_Front_(1930_film)
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
The Once and Future King, by T.H. White
Filed under Praxis, Quotes
All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.
Time is slipping away from me, running through my fingers like sand while I do what? Clean floors, wash clothes, make dinner, wash up, go shopping, play with the children in the play areas, bring them home, undress them, bathe them, look after them until it is bedtime, tuck them in, hang some clothes to dry, fold others, and put them away, tidy up, wipe tables, chairs and cupboards.
My Struggle: Book Four, by Karl Ove Knausgaard,
If I become popular when I grow up I’m going to fake my own retirement.
Preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass.
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.
Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer.
Editorial: If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. Voltaire wrote this famous (and largely misunderstood) aphorism in 1768 in an epistle denouncing a group of atheists. Taken out of context it seems weirdly pragmatic and even cynical, and at odds with Voltaire’s faith in the sublime (in his words, the bridle to the wicked) and in a shared order in society (created by a heavenly architect). For those of us with less confidence than Voltaire, the question is not whether you might believe God actually exists, but rather whether the act of believing in a god is a right and good thing.
Addendum: A little anthropology will help with any confusion lurking out there. Anthropology maintains that religious beliefs and the gods they create are extensions of old magic. Therefore the human product of religion necessarily flows from economics, politics, relationships of power, and other such human idiosyncrasies. As such you might even say that God is dead.