Friday, January 22, 2010

Essay: "Tipperary." George Santayana.

One-minute review: The First World War is over. The world breathes a sigh of relief. But Santayana warns that “they are hardly out of the fog of war when they are lost in the fog of peace.” Living is a continuing state of war. Life demands victory. If not on the battlefield, then in the war of love. “Only the dead are safe; only the dead have seen the end of war.”


“…the very sunlight and brisk autumnal air seemed to have heard the tidings, and to invite the world to begin to live again at ease. Certainly many a sad figure and many a broken soul must slink henceforth on crutches, a mere survival; but they, too, will die off gradually. The grass soon grows over a grave.”

“Their soldiering is over; they remember, with a strange, proud grief, their comrades who died to make this day possible, hardly believing that it would ever come. They are overjoyed, yet half ashamed, to be safe themselves; they forget their wounds; they see a green vista before them, a jolly, busy, sporting, loving life in the old familiar places. Everything will go on, they fancy, as if nothing had happened.”

“God—I mean the sum of all possible good—is immutable; to make our peace with him, it is we, not he, that must change.”

“It is the stupid obstinacy of our self-love that produces tragedy, and makes us angry with the world.”

“War is but resisted change; and change must needs be resisted so long as the organism it would destroy retains any vitality.”

“Certainly war is hell, as you, my fair friends, are fond of repeating; but so is rebellion against war. To live well, you must be victorious. It is with war as with the passion of love, which is a war of another kind.”

Great Essays. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc. 1960.

What is an essay? “They are all prefaces. A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they [essays] do nothing else.” Charles Lamb.

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