Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
The question is whether anyone has ever been, in any serious way, not sane.
My best candidates are Nietzsche and Christ. It may be objected that their ideas cannot possibly be of interest, since one went mad and the other was crucified. However, I think we should not hold this against them.
They may have felt a trifle isolated.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
I have long had a theory that the popularity of Christianity has always depended on its appeal to the sadism of its adherents. The exceptional should be crucified, saith Society; and somehow everyone suspects (in spite of all arguments to the contrary) that if there is a God, he may be exceptional in some way. So the figure of Christ crucified becomes the figure of the dangerous exceptional alien—suitably defeated. 'Only a suffering God can help', said Bonhoeffer, licking his lips.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
But the bad news is they could fall again next year"
This was a headline in today's Times newspaper.
How has the concept of news been so corrupted that the word is now used to describe things that haven't happened and may never happen? News bulletins are occupied by predictions. Yesterday's news is about tomorrow.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Thanks to Norm for this:
Over at Mick Hartley's invaluable site, we are directed to a report by Adam Hochschild on the Congo that details some of the nightmarish horrors which have been inflicted on the helpless inhabitants of that unhappy country. Hochschild asks, among other things, how it can be that some of the warm and friendly and helpful people that he met there were also rapists, torturers, and murderers; and he offers an answer:
What turns such people into rapists, sadists, killers? Greed, fear, demagogic leaders and their claim that such violence is necessary for self-defense, seeing everyone around you doing the same thing - and the fact that the rest of the world pays tragically little attention to one of the great humanitarian catastrophes of our time.
No doubt all these things are true; such factors do contribute to the enactment of evil. But there's an explanatory gap between the causal factors cited (greed, fear, and the rest) and the horror of what's done. How does greed – the desire to get more and more good things for oneself – or fear – the worry that one may be harmed – lead a warm and friendly and helpful person to eviscerate and dismember a man, force his wife to collect up the scattered body parts, and rape her on top of them? How is it supposed to work, this claim that the sight of other people acting out our worst nightmares turns ordinary men into monsters ready to do such things themselves? The causes on offer seem too ordinary, too everyday, too small, to adequately account for the barely believable enormities to which they lead. This excess, this overflowing of atrocity, this leap from mundane cause to inventively hideous effect, is what's in need of explanation - an explanation which by and large we entirely lack. (Eve Garrard)