good night, and thank you.
Fascist Nations Shortly after the war of 1914-1918 the first fascist nations emerged in Europe In those nations the sun rose and set at the usual time shedding light on homestead roofs and hills' green slopes Cattle mooed gently in cowsheds Mothers kissed their children's foreheads to wake them at dawn Fathers returning from work with cheerful weariness in their bones smelled the smoke from their hearths and after dinner fell asleep in armchairs or tinkered intrepidly or practiced their music with a passion Children played at stickball at hopscotch and hide-and-seek Little girls sprouted breasts and overnight little girls turned into big girls filled with whisper and murmur like trees in the woods and sudden giggles the sound of which made boys' throats go dry On summer evenings curtains lit from within showed shadows meeting parting and meeting again tenderly Whereas in winter lovers inhaled the steam of each other's breath in snowy gardens And one might also mention cats arching their backs sparrows soaring up above the pavement old women on their porches flowers cut and potted nurses taking patients' temperatures people sweeping streets with brooms One might mention drying wood wind in a thicket damp furrows in a field And one might also call to mind many particulars bearing Witness that For there were no signs on the sky mournful comets burning bushes water turned to blood For life went on as always Hence there truly were in those nations many ordinary people and good people and people who knew nothing and to whom it never occurred and who didn't consider themselves accessories and who had nothing to do with it and who didn't even read the papers or read them carelessly caught up in thoughts of what they had to get done fix the leaking roof get the shoes repaired propose have a beer mix the paint light a candle and who really didn't see the fear in a neighbor's eyes didn't hear the trembling in travelers' voices asking the way didn't see the difference didn't hear an inner voice or if they had their doubts there was nothing they could do and they took comfort saying At least we aren't doing anything wrong we live the way we always did Which was true And yet these were fascist nations
– Wiktor Woroszylski, “Fascist nations”, 1969, translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh
Yet another small opportunistic predator has been nominated to a highly visible position in Theresa May’s cabinet.
Prime Minister’s press secretary announced today that Larry (last name, age, nationality and marital status unknown) has been confirmed as the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.
It is yet unknown which public school should be thanked for his education, but we’ve been reliably informed that Larry shares with his other cabinet colleagues the usual traits of ruthlessness, murderous psychopathy, volatile moods and fondness for tortures.
Unlike them, as we’ve been told by a minor official asking to be left anonymous, Larry is an otherwise adorable furry creature that does not harm humans.
Why, all our art treasures of to-day are only the dug-up commonplaces of three or four hundred years ago. I wonder if there is real intrinsic beauty in the old soup-plates, beer-mugs, and candle-snuffers that we prize so now, or if it is only the halo of age glowing around them that gives them their charms in our eyes. The “old blue” that we hang about our walls as ornaments were the common every-day household utensils of a few centuries ago; and the pink shepherds and the yellow shepherdesses that we hand round now for all our friends to gush over, and pretend they understand, were the unvalued mantel-ornaments that the mother of the eighteenth century would have given the baby to suck when he cried.
Will it be the same in the future? Will the prized treasures of to-day always be the cheap trifles of the day before? Will rows of our willow-pattern dinner-plates be ranged above the chimneypieces of the great in the years 2000 and odd? Will the white cups with the gold rim and the beautiful gold flower inside (species unknown), that our Sarah Janes now break in sheer light-heartedness of spirit, be carefully mended, and stood upon a bracket, and dusted only by the lady of the house?
That china dog that ornaments the bedroom of my furnished lodgings. It is a white dog. Its eyes blue. Its nose is a delicate red, with spots. Its head is painfully erect, its expression is amiability carried to verge of imbecility. I do not admire it myself. Considered as a work of art, I may say it irritates me. Thoughtless friends jeer at it, and even my landlady herself has no admiration for it, and excuses its presence by the circumstance that her aunt gave it to her.
But in 200 years’ time it is more than probable that that dog will be dug up from somewhere or other, minus its legs, and with its tail broken, and will be sold for old china, and put in a glass cabinet. And people will pass it round, and admire it. They will be struck by the wonderful depth of the colour on the nose, and speculate as to how beautiful the bit of the tail that is lost no doubt was.
We, in this age, do not see the beauty of that dog. We are too familiar with it. It is like the sunset and the stars: we are not awed by their loveliness because they are common to our eyes. So it is with that china dog. In 2288 people will gush over it. The making of such dogs will have become a lost art. Our descendants will wonder how we did it, and say how clever we were. We shall be referred to lovingly as “those grand old artists that flourished in the nineteenth century, and produced those china dogs.”
The “sampler” that the eldest daughter did at school will be spoken of as “tapestry of the Victorian era,” and be almost priceless. The blue-and- white mugs of the present-day roadside inn will be hunted up, all cracked and chipped, and sold for their weight in gold, and rich people will use them for claret cups; and travellers from Japan will buy up all the “Presents from Ramsgate,” and “Souvenirs of Margate,” that may have escaped destruction, and take them back to Jedo as ancient English curios.
— Jerome in “Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)”
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
— Douglas Adams