Hello Cruel World
Friday, October 18, 2002
"Facts are mere accessories to the truth, and we do not invite to our hearth the guest who can only remind us that on such a day we suffered calamity. Still less welcome is he who would make a Roman holiday of our misfortunes. Exaggeration of what was monstrous is quickly recognised as a sign of egotism, and that contrarious symptom of the same disease which pretends that what is accepted as monstrous was really little more than normal is equally unwelcome."
from A SUBALTERN ON THE SOMME in 1916: Mark VII (Max Plowman)
(Tolkien as Post World War I Novelist)
There is also a matter of "the polarization of consciousness - what [Fussell] calls 'the gross dichotomizing' - imposed by the war - the habit of reading the world and all experience as a struggle between our side and 'the enemy'"
Fussell writes "'We' are all here on this side: 'the enemy' is over there. 'We' are individuals with names and personal identities; 'he' is a mere collective entity. We are visible; he is invisible. We are normal; he is grotesque. Our appurtenances are natural; his, bizarre. He is not as good as we are . . . Nevertheless, he threatens us and must be destroyed . . ."
Fussell, Paul, The Great War and Modern Memory (London, 1977), gets quoted in
Brogan, Hugh, "Tolkien's Great War", Children and Their Books: A Celebration of the Work of Iona and Peter Opie, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1989)
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