Yakov Petrovich, Yakov Petrovich!

September 24, 2015 § 1 Comment

thedouble2Dear reader, let me lay before you the facts surrounding this matter; I am not a man to speak in a roundabout manner, but in fact one who employs lucid, direct and clear language. Yes dear reader, I speak in clear and forthright terms; let me lay before you the facts; the facts as they are dear reader. It is those that wish to deceive, wish to weave webs of intricacies, that wish to conspire that use unclear, ambiguous words. But upon my honour dear reader I, of noble stock, shall do no such thing, for it would be a stain upon my honour and my name, the honour and name of my family, the honour and names of my distinguished colleagues, indeed upon my class to sink to such depravity. Ech! it is a bad business dear reader; that is I mean to say, this of speaking in a roundabout fashion, and I continue to address you dear reader if it has failed your notice, but it is my duty to lay before you the facts and give an honest appraisal; a true account; a veritable review. « Read the rest of this entry »

The Tedium Of War

September 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

I was moved by a rather bizarre piece that I read today. There was nothing bizarre about the article itself, but it described how accustomed Syrians have become to the violence and desecration around them. Vasily Grossman, the war correspondent on the Eastern Front had something similar to describe: how the corpses strewn around the road that they were travelling on might just as well have been trees and hedges; fixtures on the landscape.

It’s not often that I quote mass murderers, but Stalin did have a point with his infamous “one man’s death is a tragedy, a million are a statistic” (interestingly enough this was made in conversation with Churchill). We have a very finite grasp, and sadly very parochial view, of matters beyond which we both cease to understand and care. It’s why we shrug at the mention of casualty figures or the corpse on the road fails to arouse any emotion.

When events of such colossal magnitude ravage our lives, we are reminded of how insignificant and powerless we truly are. And so, the semblance of normality is all that remains: the need to resume with our daily lives. As the bombs continue to drop in Syria: milk has to be bought, dinner has to be made, and the children have to be picked up from school. It is the grotesque paradox of war.

Ozymandias

September 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

I met a Traveller from an antique land,
Who said, “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings.
Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!’
No thing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

A World on Fire

September 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

A life free of fear; free from suffering. Happiness and comfort. It’s what we all seek. That is at the very heart of the matter involving Europe today. You would think that with such basic needs in question we would all be able to sympathize with those fleeing violence and terror, yet to some there are far more pressing concerns. These range from the banal to the pragmatic. My compassion does not blind me to the fact that our hospitality may be cynically exploited by some; a concern that I believe it would be wise to heed. But when the lives of thousands of innocent people hangs in the balance I find myself pushing caution aside.

The most horrendous atrocities were committed when humans blocked their senses to the sanctity of life; to the pain of others. If there is any duty to which we, those saved from suffering so horribly, are bound, then it is to be wary of the mistakes of the past. If the generosity of the peoples of Europe, hitherto, is any indication, then perhaps we’re on the right path.

Ozymandias

September 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

In Egypt’s sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desart knows:–
“I am great Ozymandias,” saith the stone,
“The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
“”The wonders of my hand.”–The City’s gone,–
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The sight of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,– and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro’ the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

by Horace Smith

Where Am I?

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