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To die consistent with life

May 12, 2009

I shared a quote from Brave New World a couple of days ago, so thought I would follow it up with one fromArthur Koestler”s Darkness at Noon, to my mind the greatest of the three dystopian novels of the last century, although the least known. The psychological dramaand the exploration of choice, and the consequences of choice are unparalleled. Rubashov has elements of Socrates in accepting the consequence of the life lived, and the interpretation of book in the liberal west is (I think) often mistaken. This book is about the human condition, it posits no simoplistic opposition of good and evil. This quote is one of the best.

There must have been laughter amidst the apes when theNeanderthaler first appeared on earth. Neanderthaler was uncouth and bound to the earth. The apes, saturated and peaceful, lived in sophisticated playfulness, or caught fleas in philosophic contemplation; theNeanderthaler trampled gloomily through the world, banging around with clubs. The apes looked down on him amusedly from their tree tops and threw nuts at him. Sometimes horror seized them: they ate fruits and tender plants with delicate refinement; thedevoured raw meat, he slaughtered animals and his fellows. He cut down trees which had always stood, moved rocks from their time-hallowed place, transgressed against every law and tradition of the jungle. He was uncouth, cruel, without animal dignity – from the point of view of the highly cultivated apes, a barbaric relapse of history. The last surviving chimpanzees still turn up their noses at the sight of a human being…

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