Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Brain Candy from the Great War

“Prolonged trench warfare, with its collective isolation, its ‘defensiveness,’ and its nervous obsession with what ‘the other side’ is up to, establishes a model of modern political, social, artistic, and psychological polarization. Prolonged trench warfare, whether enacted or remembered, fosters paranoid melodrama, which I take to be a primary mode in modern writing. Mailer, Joseph Heller, and Thomas Pynchon are examples of what I mean. The most indispensable concept underlying the energies of modern writing is that of ‘the enemy.’”

By Paul Fussell in his classic analysis of the cultural impacts of the First World War: “The Great War and Modern Memory,” Oxford University Press, 1975.

Doesn’t it still grab headlines, raise money, inflame the social media, and make minor talents into major politicians, nearly a century later?

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