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69

Study War No More: Violence, Literature, and Immanuel Kant

2
terms
3
notes

Hass, R. (2012). Study War No More: Violence, Literature, and Immanuel Kant. In Hass, R. What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World. Ecco, pp. 69-96

70

The main consequence of the war so far has been the death of a very large number of innocent Iraqi civilians and the flight from their country of two and a half million others who could afford to leave. The country is in such chaos that it’s impossible to get an even remotely accurate count of the casualties, but the most conservative estimate is one hundred thousand people, and the count may be as high as half a million. These are civilian casualties. A significant part of that number has been children. That means—inside a head made slightly demented by the violence that is invisible to us here in the United States—that the average length of these dead Iraqi bodies must be no more than four feet, and so, taking the median casualty estimates, that would mean that, if you laid out the dead in a straight line, head to toe, along Interstate 80 on a cold spring afternoon like this one, they would reach from San Francisco to somewhere between Truckee and Reno. If the higher estimates are accurate, possibly to Salt Lake City. Swaddled mostly in black, dusted with new snow.

wow

—p.70 by Robert Hass 2 years, 10 months ago

The main consequence of the war so far has been the death of a very large number of innocent Iraqi civilians and the flight from their country of two and a half million others who could afford to leave. The country is in such chaos that it’s impossible to get an even remotely accurate count of the casualties, but the most conservative estimate is one hundred thousand people, and the count may be as high as half a million. These are civilian casualties. A significant part of that number has been children. That means—inside a head made slightly demented by the violence that is invisible to us here in the United States—that the average length of these dead Iraqi bodies must be no more than four feet, and so, taking the median casualty estimates, that would mean that, if you laid out the dead in a straight line, head to toe, along Interstate 80 on a cold spring afternoon like this one, they would reach from San Francisco to somewhere between Truckee and Reno. If the higher estimates are accurate, possibly to Salt Lake City. Swaddled mostly in black, dusted with new snow.

wow

—p.70 by Robert Hass 2 years, 10 months ago

(noun) the concluding part of a discourse and especially an oration / (noun) a highly rhetorical speech

76

This is peroration, a way of saying that reading Immanuel Kant led me to wonder if his essay embodies what reason brings to the idea of perpetual peace

—p.76 by Robert Hass
strange
2 years, 10 months ago

This is peroration, a way of saying that reading Immanuel Kant led me to wonder if his essay embodies what reason brings to the idea of perpetual peace

—p.76 by Robert Hass
strange
2 years, 10 months ago
78

The truth is that we have no control for testing the proposition that literature or philosophy, or religion for that matter, has had any mitigating effect on the violence of human behavior. This is the only world we’ve had and it is an exceedingly violent one, made more violent in the last hundred years by the enormous inventiveness of human technology and the greater ability of nation states to mobilize vast populations for the purposes of war. We know that the human heart loves images of superior strength, loves especially the combination of superior physical strength with superior agility of mind and nobility or gracefulness of demeanor. It loves vengeance, though there is some hope in the fact that, through some scruple in our natures, it loves vengeance against those who have done harm to the innocent and the weak, and it constructs plots, just as nation-states construct ideological justifications for war, that allow for this moral gratification of the love of violence and vengeance. Would some better and more powerful act of imagination make the world any better than it has been? Is the world better than it would have been had there been no songs or stories that rebelled against the violence in our natures and mirrored it back to us in a way that might have made us, or some of us, hesitate? There isn’t a control for this experiment. We have no way of knowing.

—p.78 by Robert Hass 2 years, 10 months ago

The truth is that we have no control for testing the proposition that literature or philosophy, or religion for that matter, has had any mitigating effect on the violence of human behavior. This is the only world we’ve had and it is an exceedingly violent one, made more violent in the last hundred years by the enormous inventiveness of human technology and the greater ability of nation states to mobilize vast populations for the purposes of war. We know that the human heart loves images of superior strength, loves especially the combination of superior physical strength with superior agility of mind and nobility or gracefulness of demeanor. It loves vengeance, though there is some hope in the fact that, through some scruple in our natures, it loves vengeance against those who have done harm to the innocent and the weak, and it constructs plots, just as nation-states construct ideological justifications for war, that allow for this moral gratification of the love of violence and vengeance. Would some better and more powerful act of imagination make the world any better than it has been? Is the world better than it would have been had there been no songs or stories that rebelled against the violence in our natures and mirrored it back to us in a way that might have made us, or some of us, hesitate? There isn’t a control for this experiment. We have no way of knowing.

—p.78 by Robert Hass 2 years, 10 months ago
92

What the poem does, in fact, is one of the things art has the power to do. It refreshes our sense of ordinary life, and—in this case—our sense that there are lives other than our own and that people with hopes and dreams and desires are going about them as we are going about ours. Boris Eichenbaum, the Russian formalist critic, has said that “the function of art is to make the grass grass and the stone stone, by freeing us from the automatism of perception.” It may be that the small power of the literary arts to make some contribution to resisting the violence of princes, and of the human heart that princes like George Bush symbolize, lies here.

on a poem by Ko Un in Ten Thousand Lives

—p.92 by Robert Hass 2 years, 10 months ago

What the poem does, in fact, is one of the things art has the power to do. It refreshes our sense of ordinary life, and—in this case—our sense that there are lives other than our own and that people with hopes and dreams and desires are going about them as we are going about ours. Boris Eichenbaum, the Russian formalist critic, has said that “the function of art is to make the grass grass and the stone stone, by freeing us from the automatism of perception.” It may be that the small power of the literary arts to make some contribution to resisting the violence of princes, and of the human heart that princes like George Bush symbolize, lies here.

on a poem by Ko Un in Ten Thousand Lives

—p.92 by Robert Hass 2 years, 10 months ago

the process of making a revision or correction to a text

93

It requires an emendation

—p.93 by Robert Hass
notable
2 years, 10 months ago

It requires an emendation

—p.93 by Robert Hass
notable
2 years, 10 months ago