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Ask not for whom the axe falls

February 5, 2010

A literate insult, with complex metaphors can be a delight. Regardless of your views on the legitimacy or not of the invasion of Iraq, this recent comment from the Archbishop of Canterbury is a delight. I quote: I did once rather unkindly say that Tony Blair did do God but he didn’t do irony. Irony is when you recognise that your own sense of dramatic power is always something that is going to be absurd in the light of truth. The readiness to cope with that absurdity is something that you have to learn in order to grow up.

The context was a lecture on Dostoevsky, easily one of my favorite authors (and I am pleased to say my daughter as well in recent years). The best teacher I had in my philosophy course at Lancaster was Prof. Benson whose original degree was Literature, and he taught ethics in part through the medium of Dostoevsky. A point he made, which is repeated by Rowan in this lecture is a good one. The characters in Dostoevsky reflect on their actions, and share the burdens of others. The recommendation that Blair read more of the great Russian has many layers of meaning. In that spirit you can work out the significance of the image for yourself.

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