Saturday, December 30, 2006

Arts and Letters

"The issue of belief in a political leader elides into that of the nature of political leadership itself. In a democracy, does a leader follow the wishes of the people, or does he lead them through the force of his own vision? In the best of circumstances, the political leader persuades the people of the correctness of his own beliefs. This, thus far, George W. Bush has been unable to do. But to expect him, because of this failure, to abandon those beliefs may be as unrealistic as many feel the president's own deeply held beliefs are. No one should be surprised, let alone shocked, or outraged, when he turns out to be unable to do so, and chooses to stand by his beliefs to the end."

"...(Günter) Grass writes: ‘Enough evasions. After all, I have for decades refused to admit to that word and those double letters. After the war, with growing shame, I was silent about something which I had accepted in the stupid pride of my young years. But the burden remained, and nobody could make it lighter.’ During training, he heard nothing about the crimes that the Waffen SS had committed. ‘But the claim of ignorance cannot, I consider, veil involvement in a system which planned, organised and carried out the extermination of millions of human beings. Even if I can talk myself out of the charge of active joint guilt, there remains a residue which to this day has not been lifted, something all too fluently called shared responsibility.’"

"A mid-nineteenth-century English newspaper report described cholera victims who were “one minute warm, palpitating, human organisms—the next a sort of galvanized corpse, with icy breath, stopped pulse, and blood congealed—blue, shrivelled up, convulsed.” Through it all, and until the very last stages, is the added horror of full consciousness. You are aware of what’s happening: 'The mind within remains untouched and clear,—shining strangely through the glazed eyes . . . a spirit, looking out in terror from a corpse.'”


Ahh...George W. Bush and the nature of 'true believers' in US politics, Günter Grass coming to grips with the fact that he joined the SS way back when, and a lively look at the bundle of chuckles that is cholera...all brought to you by the Arts and Letters Daily site, now part of the Amusing Sites menu bar to your deliberate right. Or accidental right. We don't judge here.

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