Orwell, Kafka and Us or, It’s All Part of Der Process

Back in 2008 Roger Cohen wrote the following in the New York Times – the same newspaper that declined to use the word “torture” as a matter of editorial policy:

Of the 770 detainees grabbed here and there and flown to Guantánamo, only 23 have ever been charged with a crime. Of the more than 500 so far released, many traumatized by those “enhanced” techniques, not one has received an apology or compensation for their season in hell. What they got on release was a single piece of paper from the American government. A U.S. official met one of the dozens of Afghans now released from Guantánamo and was so appalled by this document that he forwarded me a copy. Dated Oct. 7, 2006, it reads as follows:

 

“An Administrative Review Board has reviewed the information about you that was talked about at the meeting on 02 December 2005 and the deciding official in the United States has made a decision about what will happen to you. You will be sent to the country of Afghanistan. Your departure will occur as soon as possible.”

 

That’s it, the one and only record on paper of protracted U.S. incarceration: three sentences for four years of a young Afghan’s life, written in language Orwell would have recognized. We have “the deciding official,” not an officer, general or judge. We have “the information about you,” not allegations, or accusations, let alone charges. We have “a decision about what will happen to you,” not a judgment, ruling or verdict. This is the lexicon of totalitarianism. It is acutely embarrassing to the United States. That is why I am thankful above all that the next U.S. commander in chief is a constitutional lawyer. Nothing has been more damaging to the United States than the violation of the legal principles at the heart of the American idea.

 

This weekend, courtesy of The Guardian, we now understand the CIA coerced doctors into torturing suspected terrorists. More here.

Let’s face it, Orwell has become kind of a cliché. (No fault of his own; if the most sincere form of flattery is imitation, the most flattering form of sincerity is to have one’s ideas transmorgified into clichés.) It’s not just that Orwell was, in 1984, writing about a futuristic dystopia; he was describing parts of the world that already existed. The best science fiction, of course, has always anticipated the future by channeling the present. History is obliged to repeat itself because the human beings who make history do so in such a predictable, patterned fashion. And so, Orwell has the curious fate of being over-quoted and under-read: everyone knows what Orwellian means because they’ve already seen what it means (in movies, in the news). More importantly, everyone understands that the horrors Orwell depicted are passé; totalitarianism is so 20th Century. Except for the fact that it isn’t, and never was.

(It’s tempting to point out another immortal text, one that is arguably second only to 1984 in terms of ubiquity and the type of cultural resonance that is so often invoked and so seldom analyzed. Nevertheless, it’s all there in Conrad’s fin-de-siècle classic Heart of Darkness: the dehumanization, for political purposes and/or the expedience of power, of the Other; an “other” who is assigned this designation necessarily from a position of powerlessness (powerless to protect, powerless to define). The naked will of brute force for the ostensible purpose of “exterminating the brutes” invariably involves religion or money, but either way, it always involves a struggle for power. Sadly, few seem to have actually bothered reading Conrad’s novella, but everyone has seen Apocalypse Now, so it’s a wash.)

But there is an exposed nerve running from Conrad to Orwell that might be best explained by considering the two Russian masters who connected the dots in between them: Yevgeny Zamyatin and Mikhail Bulgakov. The former’s novel We (1921) and the latter’s The Master and Margarita (commenced in 1928, completed in 1941) deal directly with the dehumanizing repercussions of totalitarian rule. Focusing more on the (very human) consequences of identity destruction and the suppression of self–a paramount objective of those in power, and a necessary condition of remaining in power–these novels are quite literally notes from the underground, infused with the verisimilitude of an insider’s experience. They lived it and they wrote about it.

 

Orwell took that torch of truth and continued onward even as the scope of Fascism cast an ever-enlarging shadow over other parts of other continents: again, his work resonates because he is depicting (then, and now) realities that anyone who has lived inside an autocratic regime can easily recognize. And as Americans, we quickly apprehend the causes and effects of totalitarianism because, our history books austerely inform us, we did much to eradicate them. And so we did. But it was well before 9/11 that certain segments of society (usually the dreaded leftist types who work in universities or for newspapers –or even worse, the ones who write fiction or poetry or music) perceived the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which even this most democratic society has at times unintentionally and at other times willfully revealed a dark heart that contradicts its own Constitution.

 

Here’s the thing: people have read Orwell even if they haven’t (because the author of Animal Farm is a de rigeur point of reference for any writer, particularly a politically oriented writer, who hopes to be taken seriously), and they’ve watched Conrad (or at least a sensationalized action-epic that delivers visually even if it severely lacks the scope or coherence of its inspiration), and few people have any interest in reading dead Russian writers not named Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky (and those that do are already ensconced in English graduate programs).

Fortunately, for better or worse, we nevertheless have an author (and text) that covers everything already mentioned (the fiction, the non-fiction, and the considerable overlap in between them both, otherwise known as History). The good news: his name is, if possible, even more incessantly invoked than Orwell’s. The bad news: even fewer people have actually read him. If that seems Kafkaesque, it’s because it is. Well, actually it isn’t; but that is the point: as an adjective, Kafkaesque is misused with greater abandon than Orwellian. Or, to put it slightly less pessimistically, it has been bludgeoned into submission. Put slightly more pretentiously, Kafkaesque awoke one morning from uneasy dreams it found itself transformed in its bed into a gigantic Cliché.

 

 

Listen: an unassuming citizen is informed, one day, that he is accused of a crime. He has committed no crimes that he is aware of, but that is all but irrelevant, since a description of the crime is not given. He spends the rest of his harried life making the futile attempt to exonerate himself or, short of that, have the specific charges explained to him. Immersed in a Byzantine maze that is at once inherently bureaucratic and at the same time nonsensical, his will slowly dissolves in this irrational paralysis. When, ultimately, he is executed, it comes almost as a relief. (That’s from The Trial, original German title, Der Process.)

 

Sound familiar?

 

Of course, it scarcely suffices to look at what we’ve wrought at Guantánamo and abroad and call it Orwellian or Kafkaesque. It is both of those, in equal measure, but it’s also something quite a bit more appalling. Partly because it’s true–this has actually happened; partly because we’ve done it before and claimed we would never do it again. Mostly because, while it was happening, there were actually people (quite a lot of them) who raised the alarm and found themselves scoffed at, or threatened. Some were actually disenfranchised; most were simply dismissed. Eventual (inevitable?) progress has been sickeningly slow in coming, but at least there is a miniscule crack in the one-way glass.

 

Once that hole gets bigger (and it will, as it always does) many of us are going to be disgusted at what we see (what we did, who was responsible for organizing it all, what was done in our name by others we paid to do what we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to do). Some will defend it all, naturally: the acts, the people who undertook them; it is, after all, just good business. Others will, obviously, decry the (demonstrably liberal) media that seems to take so much pleasure pulling back the curtain to reveal the cretins scurrying into the cracks. Same as it ever was. And finally, there will be the newly-awakened, who’ll shake their heads and lament that extraordinary times occasionally inspire atrocious activities. But never again, at least. At least we’ll have learned that much.

 

A cliché: those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

 

A tragedy: those who do not read literature are doomed to inspire it.

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Curiosity Can’t Kill The Cat or, Art Becomes Life*

I.

You Can’t Go Home Again, someone once wrote
And he was wrong.
Of course you can—all you have to do is never leave—
Leaving it behind does not mean it leaves you.
(And certainly I can’t be the only grown child
who returns often—in dreams, in memories and yes,
in my mind, I must confess: earnestly, ardently, often—
to the old streets that I came to outgrow
the way we outgrow games and bikes and friends
and exchange them for jobs and cars and co-workers).

A life is not unlike a novel: too often they are eager to please, predictable, safe.

You can always go home, and you need to go home,
It is only when you want to go home that you should
Start asking yourself: What are you doing to keep things interesting? What can you do to generate momentum, keep the narrative flowing?

II.

When some of your best friends are people who exist elsewhere—characters in books you’ve read, musicians you’ll never meet, people from the past who died decades (even centuries) before you were born, or people you knew intimately who are no longer around—it might be time to ask some complicated questions.

Who are you?

That is, or should be, the first question, as well as the last question, and it should be asked as often as possible along the way.

You see, all men are islands. After all, no one else is inside you when you’re born, no one is going with you when you die, and between those first and last breaths, the decisions, actions and accountability are your own. All, all yours.

So: you find friends, you seek solace in yourself, you learn to discern redemption through the aimless affairs that comprise the push and pull of everyone’s existence. You realize, in short, that you are going through it alone, so you should never go through it alone.

Thoreau was quite correct about quiet desperation and the long shadow it can cast over us all, but you don’t want to run off to your own unseen island. For one thing, there are no islands anymore, except the ones you pay admission to enter; plus, it’s already been done; and above all, when Thoreau got lonely or hungry he walked home and had his mother cook dinner for him, a fact he forgot to mention in his quite convincing case for individuality. Besides, everyone is already on his or her own island. You can’t run away, and the farther you run, the closer you get to yourself. And you’re all you’ve got.

If you are fortunate enough to figure this out early on, you find friends: the ones who exist in your everyday world, and the ones who have been there all along, the ones you can always turn to, wherever or whoever you happen to be.

III.

Listen:

To win? To lose?

What for, if the world will forget us anyway?

I didn’t write that. A poet wrote that. I’m no poet. Poets are always looking for things, like heroes. Who wants to be a hero these days? Who can afford it? The world could be—and might very well already be—full of folks who will ring changes and do their part to shake up the constricting and crazed institutions that keep us chained, bound and complacent.  There are lots of these people, I’m sure: tons and tons of them.  But the thing is, most of us are too busy trying to live.  It’s enough to just survive without seeking to pursue such lofty, such poetic propositions.

This is the new poetry: the more things stay the same, the more they change. Here is our art: haikus of horror in the cities, sonnets of sin and corruption, limericks of deregulation, free verse free trade, rhymed lines of laissez-faire, and the emboldened ghost writer, Death, forever at work on our collective life stories.

These days we look for poetry in all the wrong places. Some of us even believe we are gazing more deeply into the murky waters of existence when all we are actually seeing is our own reflections.

Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?

What he said.

IV.

Awake, alive. Alone.

Never forget this feeling.

You can remember what it was like: seeing the world through another set of eyes—that evening, halfway through high school, watching the snow fall outside your window. Lights out and that music playing: Beethoven. The sonatas, with titles that seemed mysterious and exhilarating: Pathetique, Appasionata, Mondeschein.

The music, it seemed, was always there for these significant moments: remembering those times, always accompanied by this music that was solemn yet ecstatic. Later on, being ushered into the other worlds of sexual activity, or studying for fast-forgotten exams, or those solitary seconds that sometimes turned into hours, the time alone, in the darkness, before sleep overtakes awareness and you still know who you are—tracing it all back to that first evening, staring at the snow: the sound of the piano, feeling connected to lives apart from your own, able to imagine what the world was like, then, feeling deeply aware of your own life, wholly there, utterly cognizant—which, of course, did not mean you were only aware of yourself; it was exactly the opposite sensation—and not realizing, not needing to know, yet, that this feeling would be increasingly difficult to capture, transitory moments of perception as a tonic for, or distraction from, the push and pull of adult life and the urgency and oddness that this new reality entailed. It was not that this music facilitated these feelings, but that it accompanied them. This was what made it central to your world, so inextricable from your soul, from the way you wanted to see yourself.

V.

“Have you really read all these books?”

He said nothing. He could not say.

He looked at her eager expression—anxious for the reciprocity her youth was seeking, and finding: an outlet for admiration—and smiled. That was not a lie, at least. But neither was it the truth.

The truth was that he collected books as he had at one time collected friends: easily, earnestly, with hope and expectation. And like these books, which stood in austere, orderly rows, collecting halos of time and dust, his friends also existed. In his mind, and of course in their actual lives (lives he no longer knew): unexamined, or overlooked possibilities, wellsprings of potential, and reminders of unfulfilled promise. They were there, at once inviting, yet distant. Overwhelming by their sheer being, their ceaseless existence: a comfort, an illusion. A mirror that reflected his reality, the only truth that mattered: effort brings return.  And despite his seemingly endless contemplation, the erudition and intimacy he hoped for and always had sought seemed to elude him.

“Can we listen to some music?”

“Put on whatever you’d like.”

He sat on his bed and watched her sort through his collection.

She lit a candle as he stood up to turn off the light. He looked down at her and was struck by her blithe, yearning expression. The budding sensualist, he thought sardonically. Hermann Hesse, Jack Kerouac, and eventually Ayn Rand would still hold promise, and purpose. Each experience a lesson: another flashing chance at bliss. As he gazed at her face, glowing in the candle’s light, he realized, finally, that he envied her insouciance. Of course he could still recall that feeling: having no fear as the world seemed laid bare before him, wanting whatever was out there: Bring it on, I’ll take all comers. And he was suddenly cognizant that she undoubtedly regarded him the way he had once viewed his professors, and this knowledge made him feel uneasy, and ashamed.

A broom is drearily sweeping

Up the broken pieces of yesterday’s life–

Somewhere a Queen is weeping,

Somewhere a King has no wife…

VI.

“I don’t understand,” she said.

“You don’t have to understand Kafka,” he wanted to say. “As long as you feel him.”

“Well, it’s about Art,” he said.

“Oh,” she said.

“And, you know, the lonely life of the artist,” he said.

“Oh,” she said.

And for the first time, he found that he was not inclined to discuss the matter further. He just didn’t have it in him. That’s when he knew, finally.

“I don’t understand, why won’t he ever come down? If he’s so upset, why doesn’t he come down from the trapeze?”

Only the one bar in my hands—how can I go on living?

He recited the words to himself, and thought about repeating them aloud, then decided against it. He thought of other things he might say—so many other things to say—and decided it was best to remain silent. In fairness to her, he was not sure he understood either. In truth, he was not sure he understood Kafka, but he most certainly felt him.

VII.

When the train left the station, it had two lights on behind,

Well, the blue light was my baby and the red light was my mind.

I didn’t say that.

A vision. Actually, a fantasy: Every so often I can’t help hoping that there will be a knock on my door and when I open it, who is there but my sexy soul mate, a beautiful woman who heard the blues music every time she walked by, and wondered if, according to her own fantasy, a sensitive, erudite dude had been right there all along, waiting for her, waiting for happily ever after. And after a while, she could no longer ignore the siren song escaping through the small space under the door and came knocking.

Of course, this illusion presupposes three things, in descending order of unlikelihood: one, that there are such things as soul mates; two, that my soul mate happens to live in my building; and three, that anyone actually listens to—much less enjoys—blues music.

All my love’s in vain.

What he said.

VIII.

Bathing.

A little bourbon, a little Beethoven, and a bath. This is living.

Much earthly suffering is redeemed during that fifteen-minute interval between initial scrotum shrinkage and full body pruning as the steaming water suffocates the pains of life. For a few sublime moments this is about as good as you can feel while not on drugs or inside a woman. 

 

Later. Alone. Listening:

I’ve been down the road and I’ve come back

Lonesome whistle on the railroad track

Ain’t got nothing on those feelings that I had…

Doesn’t that make me sad?

No. In fact, exactly the opposite; it helps. Life might leave a mark, but music is always medicinal. Make me sad? No; happy movies make me sad. Manufactured moments sold on shelves are too easy to see through. Sparkly-toothed simpletons who tell us how to live leave me cold. Too-cool commercials give me cancer. And, of course, the ingenious march of a million soulless pixels remind everyone of everything they’ll never obtain.

Reality is never enough, so sometimes anything approximating art will suffice. I would, for instance, love to instigate some excitement into my own humble narrative. Unfortunately, a fight scene is not feasible; a car chase is too much to ask for, and a love interest would appear to be out of the question. And so: it’s just the music and me, as usual. As always, this isn’t all that I need, but it’s more than I should expect, especially at night.

You know better than to try to sleep, so it’s just you and the music. Listening once again to the one person who always pulls you through, no matter what. You can listen to the symphonies or the string quartets anytime, but the sonatas, the Pathetique, especially appropriate for nights like tonight, nights when no sleep will come. That sublime suffering, the solitude, the sacred requital of this illimitable expression. The music, always the music.

After a while, before you can stop and think about it, you fall asleep.

Dreaming:

Beethoven. Not the celebrated facsimile of the consecrated composer (the image that often accompanies this effulgent music) staring down sternly at an adoring audience—the people to whom he had dedicated his great gifts—as the applause he can no longer hear surges through a breathless auditorium, but a frail, confused old man, huddled over a candle, awakened from an uneasy slumber and called into the darkness, again, to wrestle with the terrible, silent voices that fill his head.

What sort of God would suffer a man so great to be stripped of the very faculties that once compelled his creations? That refractory grace: continuing to conceive music, in the mind, yet prevented from hearing the sweet crescendo of the final coda. Agonizing over those last movements in the isolation of a lonely hour, perhaps looking to the sky, beseeching supplication, a respite, a return of the courage that once restored him.

A man whose reputed last words were I shall hear in Heaven. Proof of God’s existence for the faithful; proof of life’s capricious, inscrutable fate, for the faithless.

IX.

He puts the needle in the groove and sound cascades into the room. The music: it has saved him so many times. He stands, spellbound and motionless. Hopefully he can take this with him—those words, all the songs. All these things he has loved are lodged, indelibly, in his mind, so if that went with him, so would they. And that was good. And if not? Then he wouldn’t know the difference anyway.

He opens the door and seems to float out to the patio, not entirely aware what he is doing. He is burning up. The snow feels like fire, and he can see the music in the silver flames that suddenly glisten all around him. He feels himself from far away, and an astounding warmth embalms him, holding him in its silent sway.

Then, suddenly, he is no longer hot.

He is aware of the chill air and looks down at his naked, shivering body. He can still hear the music, still making sense, speaking to him. He understands, and he is alive.

As always, he thought about his family, his friends, and especially the heroes who had created the art that made life more worth living; the places and feelings that comprised all the pain and profundity of existence, all the questions that belonged without answers: all of this was inside him. So as long as he lived, and made himself remember, they never ceased to be.

X.

You Can’t Go Home Again, someone once wrote.

Curiosity killed the cat, someone else said.

And maybe they were right.

But something is going to get all of us, eventually, whether we ask for it or understand it. If curiosity doesn’t kill us, contentment gets there quicker.

*From a non-fiction work-in-progress entitled Please Talk About Me When I’m Gone.

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It’s All Part of Der Process

From Andrew Sullivan’s invaluable blog (TheDailyDish), comes the following (quoted from Roger Cohen’s typically sane and salient perspective–this one, here is must reading–via The New York Times):

Of the 770 detainees grabbed here and there and flown to Guantánamo, only 23 have ever been charged with a crime. Of the more than 500 so far released, many traumatized by those “enhanced” techniques, not one has received an apology or compensation for their season in hell. What they got on release was a single piece of paper from the American government. A U.S. official met one of the dozens of Afghans now released from Guantánamo and was so appalled by this document that he forwarded me a copy. Dated Oct. 7, 2006, it reads as follows:
“An Administrative Review Board has reviewed the information about you that was talked about at the meeting on 02 December 2005 and the deciding official in the United States has made a decision about what will happen to you. You will be sent to the country of Afghanistan. Your departure will occur as soon as possible.”
That’s it, the one and only record on paper of protracted U.S. incarceration: three sentences for four years of a young Afghan’s life, written in language Orwell would have recognized. We have “the deciding official,” not an officer, general or judge. We have “the information about you,” not allegations, or accusations, let alone charges. We have “a decision about what will happen to you,” not a judgment, ruling or verdict. This is the lexicon of totalitarianism. It is acutely embarrassing to the United States. That is why I am thankful above all that the next U.S. commander in chief is a constitutional lawyer. Nothing has been more damaging to the United States than the violation of the legal principles at the heart of the American idea.
Let’s face it, Orwell has become kind of a cliche. (No fault of his own; if the most sincere form of flattery is imitation, the most flattering form of sincerity is to have one’s ideas transmorgified into cliches.) It’s not just that Orwell was, in 1984, writing about a futuristic dystopia; he was describing parts of the world that already existed. The best science fiction, of course, has always anticipated the future by channeling the present. History is obliged to repeat itself because the human beings who make history do so in such a predictable, patterned fashion. And so, Orwell has the curious fate of being over-quoted and under-read: everyone knows what Orwellian means because they’ve already seen what it means (in movies, in the news). More importantly, everyone understands that the horrors Orwell depicted are passe; totalitarianism is so 20th Century. Except for the fact that it isn’t, and never was.
(It’s tempting to point out another immortal text, one that is arguably second only to 1984 in terms of ubiquity and the type of cultural resonance that is so often invoked and so seldom analyzed. Nevertheless, it’s all there in Conrad’s fin-de-siecle classic Heart of Darkness: the dehumanization, for political purposes and/or the expedience of power, of the Other; an “other” who is assigned this designation necessarily from a position of powerlessness (powerless to protect, powerless to define). The naked will of brute force for the ostensible purpose of “exterminating the brutes” invariably involves religion or money, but either way, it always involves a struggle for power. Sadly, few seem to have actually bothered reading Conrad’s novella, but everyone has seen Apocalypse Now, so it’s a wash.)
But there is an exposed nerve running from Conrad to Orwell that might be best explained by considering the two Russian masters who connected the dots in between them: Yevgeny Zamyatin and Mikhail Bulgakov. The former’s novel We (1921) and the latter’s The Master and Margarita (commenced in 1928, completed in 1941) deal directly with the dehumanizing repercussions of totalitarian rule. Focusing more on the (very human) consequences of identity destruction and the suppression of self–a paramount objective of those in power, and a necessary condition of remaining in power–these novels are quite literally notes from the underground, infused with the verisimilitude of an insider’s experience. They lived it and they wrote about it.
Orwell took that torch of truth and continued onward even as the scope of Fascism cast an ever-enlarging shadow over other parts of other continents: again, his work resonates because he is depicting (then, and now) realities that anyone who has lived inside an autocratic regime can easily recognize. And as Americans, we quickly apprehend the causes and effects of totalitarianism because, our history books austerely inform us, we did much to eradicate them. And so we did. But it was well before 9/11 that certain segments of society (usually the dreaded leftist types who work in universities or for newspapers–or even worse, the ones who write fiction or poetry or music) perceived the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which even this most democratic society has at times unintentionally and at other times willfully revealed a dark heart that contradicts its own Constitution.
Here’s the thing: people have read Orwell even if they haven’t (because the author of Animal Farm is a de rigeur point of reference for any writer, particularly a politically oriented writer, who hopes to be taken seriously), and they’ve watched Conrad (or at least a sensationalized action-epic that delivers visually even if it severely lacks the scope or coherence of its inspiration), and few people have any interest in reading dead Russian writers not named Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky (and those that do are already ensconced in English graduate programs). Fortunately, for better or worse, we nevertheless have an author (and text) that covers everything already mentioned (the fiction, the non-fiction, and the considerable overlap in between them both, otherwise known as History). The good news: his name is, if possible, even more incessantly invoked than Orwell’s. The bad news: even fewer people have actually read him. If that seems Kafkaesque, it’s because it is. Well, actually it isn’t; but that is the point: as an adjective, Kafkaesque is misused with greater abandon than Orwellian. Or, to put it slightly less pessimistically, it has been bludgeoned into submission. Put slightly more pretentiously, Kafkaesque awoke one morning from uneasy dreams it found itself transformed in its bed into a gigantic Cliche.
Listen: an unassuming citizen is informed, one day, that he is accused of a crime. He has committed no crimes that he is aware of, but that is all but irrelevant, since a description of the crime is not given. He spends the rest of his harried life making the futile attempt to exonerate himself or, short of that, have the specific charges explained to him. Immersed in a Byzantine maze that is at once inherently bureaucratic and at the same time nonsensical, his will slowly dissolves in this irrational paralysis. When, ultimately, he is executed, it comes almost as a relief.
Sound familiar?
Of course, it scarcely suffices to look at what we’ve wrought at Guantánamo and abroad and call it Orwellian or Kafkaesque. It is both of those, in equal measure, but it’s also something quite a bit more appalling. Partly because it’s true–this has actually happened; partly because we’ve done it before and claimed we would never do it again. Mostly because, while it was happening, there were actually people (quite a lot of them) who raised the alarm and found themselves scoffed at, or threatened. Some were actually disenfranchised; most were simply dismissed. Eventual (inevitable?) progress has been sickeningly slow in coming, but at least there is a miniscule crack in the one-way glass. Once that hole gets bigger (and it will, as it always does) many of us are going to be disgusted at what we see (what we did, who was responsible for organizing it all, what was done in our name by others we paid to do what we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to do). Some will defend it all, naturally: the acts, the people who undertook them; it is, after all, just good business. Others will, obviously, decry the (demonstrably liberal) media that seems to take so much pleasure pulling back the curtain to reveal the cretins scurrying into the cracks. Same as it ever was. And finally, there will be the newly-awakened, who’ll shake their heads and lament that extraordinary times occasionally inspire atrocious activities. But never again, at least. At least we’ll have learned that much.
A cliche: those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
A tragedy: those who do not read literature are doomed to inspire it.
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