Thursday, May 18, 2006

I've been reading Lewis Mumford's Technics and Civilization this week. Always good to read a book about technology written back in 1931. I like this quote particularly:

Physical power is a rough substitute for patience and intelligence and cooperative effort in the governance of men: if used as a normal accompaniment of action instead of as a last resort it is a sign of extreme social weakness. When a child is intolerably balked by another person without precisely seeing the cause of the situation and without sufficient force to carry through his own ends, he often solves the matter by a simple wish: he wishes the other person were dead. The soldier, a slve to the child's ignorance and the child's wish, differs from him only by his ability to effect a direct passage to action. Killing is the ultimate simplification of life: a whole stage beyond the pragmatically justifiable restritions and simplifications of the machine. And while the effort of culture is toward completer differentiation of perceptions and desires and values and ends, holding them from moment to moment in perpetually changing but stable equilibrium, the animus of war is to enforce uniformity--to extirpate whatever the soldier can neither understand not utilize. (page 94 in my edition)

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