Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An ill-bred divorce

Russia's seizure of the Crimean
peninsula is a revanchist move
by an incurably degenerate em-
pire; but Russia has the power
to do it, and not least because
it conforms with local tastes.

It is simply the case, that the
jingoists in this country are
greatly more responsible for an
adventure they hadn't the power
to stop, the wit to foreseee, or
the judgment to avoid, than the
hapless wisp we elected on the
silly pretense of curing them
with compromises. The triumphal-
ist idiots of the Right eventu-
ally must answer for the delu-
sion which they, alone, inhabit,
that the Cold War ended in any-
thing other than a divorce.

These events need explanation
to those we raise hopefully to
avoid their repetition. There
is no other excuse for public
comment on them, but mischief. 

There are times in the history of man
when the elements of civilisation are
so adjusted that their relations form
naturally and effortlessly of a consis-
tent pattern, and a perfect unity seems
to enclose the whole; but these are
short times, of rare and distant occur-
rence, like the brief flowering of a
centenarian aloe. The elements change,
and their relations cannot be preserved.

The Palladian front cracks, the plas-
terwork peels, and the wild foxglove
and the rosebay seed in the inter-
stices; the trim lawn is overgrown,
the topiary yews thrust out shapeless
limbs, the fluted sundial sinks awry
on its pedestal, and where then are 
the classical world and the essential

For it is of the relations of elements
not of elements themselves, that intel-
lectual worlds are constructed.

And yet a classical relationship is 
the final justification of a whole
world, the brief moment of its per-
fection, when the moving elements 
(and if they live, they must move)
stand to each other at last in per-
fect symmetry.

The pattern cannot be frozen; the 
elements must move on, and the sym-
metry is lost; but it may be regain-
ed with other elements. And perhaps
our new world, the world of Marx and
Freud and Einstein, that seems now so
harsh and disorderly, will one day as-
sume such a classical harmony before
it too crumbles, against a pink sunset,
into romantic ruins.

  H.M. Secret Intelligence Service
The Wartime Diaries
  April, 1945
Richard Davenport-Hines
I.B. Tauris & Company, Ltd, 2012©


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