Monthly Archives: September 2013

Moon-Struck

CDF--Two_men_gazing_at_moon

Caspar David Friedrich, Two Men Contemplating the Moon, 1819.

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Trends in Modern Warfare

War, which used to be cruel and magnificent, has now become cruel and squalid.

— Winston S. Churchill, My Early Life: A Roving Commission, 1930.

The development of war since Churchill’s day has seen a flourishing of squalidness, and little respite in cruelty. People, when they seem to care for no obvious reason about the means of warfare instead of the ends (drone strikes, for example), are reacting subconsciously to this horrid and dismal reality. As we go ever onwards into the depersonalisation of social relations and the total mechanisation of all life, with armies of killer robots and digitally orchestrated zones of mass extermination, those few remnants of man’s higher nature cry out against it. All to no avail, of course, and with less and less vigour as liberalism’s dominance becomes more complete. Eventually, this too shall pass, as a mass man emerges who cares not for his alienation, who does not shy away from annihilation and the end of humanity, but who celebrates the absence of man and personhood from every sphere — and his own consequent descent to the level of beasts and even of mindless automata — as a historical triumph and the summum bonum itself. Hymen Io Hymen!

(Adapted from a comment at Handle’s Haus.)

What People Mean Nowadays by a Philosopher

People mean nowadays by a philosopher, not the man who learns the great art of mastering his passions or adding to his insight, but the man who has cast off prejudices without acquiring virtues.

— Antoine de Rivarol, quoted in Irving Babbit, Rousseau and Romanticism, 1919.

Dost Thou Know Me, Fellow?

KING LEAR: What art thou?

KENT: A very honest-hearted fellow, and as poor as the king.

KING LEAR: If thou be as poor for a subject as he is for a king, thou art poor enough. What wouldst thou?

KENT: Service.

KING LEAR: Who wouldst thou serve?

KENT: You.

KING LEAR: Dost thou know me, fellow?

KENT: No, sir; but you have that in your countenance which I would fain call master.

KING LEAR: What’s that?

KENT: Authority.

— William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act I, Scene IV