Friday, October 14, 2005


The novel by Robert Harris, the guy who wrote Fatherland and Enigma, is interesting and entertaining. Two quotations stood out. The first should be taken seriously by all who would attempt to understand the motivation of men in combat. Leadership matters, even to those who value individual freedom above all:

The natural impulse of men is to follow, he thought, and whoever has the strongest sense of purpose will always dominate the rest. (p. 150, emphasis in original)
The second, well, the second doesn't need any introduction I can provide:

Men mistook measurement for understanding. And they always had to put themselves at the center of everything. That was their greatest conceit. The earth is becoming warmer--it must be our fault! The mountain is destroying us--we have not propitiated the gods! It rains too much, it rains too little--a comfort to think that these things are somehow connected to our behavior, that if only we lived a little better, a little more frugally, our virtue would be rewarded. But here was nature, sweeping toward him--unknowable, all-conquering, indifferent--and he saw in her fires the futility of human pretensions. (p. 272)

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