…understanding that to love is an action, a verb, a thing of choice, and this can be promised and delivered where in love is a more tenuous and fragile thing which may come and go with the wind and the seasons.
In the distant past, in what might be described as the Golden Days of War, the business of wreaking havoc on your neighbours (these being the only people you could logistically expect to wreak havoc upon) was uncomplicated. You–the King–pointed at the next-door country and said, “I want me one of those!” Your vassals–stalwart fellows selected for heft and musculature rather than brain–said, “Yes, my liege,” or sometimes, “What’s in it for me?” but broadly speaking they rode off and burned, pillaged, slaughtered and hacked until either you were richer by a few hundred square miles of forest and farmland, or you were rudely arrested by heathens from the other side who wanted a word in your shell-like ear about cross-border aggression. It was a personal thing, and there was little doubt about who was responsible for kicking it off, because that person was to be found in the nicest room of a big stone house wearing a very expensive hat. Modern war is distinguished by the fact that all the participants are ostensibly unwilling. We are swept towards one another like colonies of heavily armed penguins on an ice floe. Every speech on the subject given by any involved party begins by deploring even the idea of war. A war here would not be legal or useful. It is not necessary or appropriate. It must be avoided. Immediately following this proud declamation comes a series of circumlocutions, circumventions and rhetoricocircumambulations which make it clear that we will go to war, but not really, because we don’t want to and aren’t allowed to, so what we’re doing is in fact some kind of hyper-violent peace in which people will die. We are going to un-war.
“If I stay here I will be found at fifty-five, naked under two secretaries with my feet tied to the bedposts and a lemon in my mouth, and I will be dead and fat and no one will cry except the shy woman living opposite who has always had a crush on me but could never tell me and who might have saved me from myself, but didn’t.”
“Garbage in, garbage out. Or rather more felicitously: the tree of nonsense is watered with error, and from its branches swing the pumpkins of disaster.”
I am being given the Spanish archer (“el bow,” if you are wondering)
The system doesn’t care about people, but we treat it as if it were one of us, as if it were the sum of our goods and not the product of our least admirable compromises.
“We’ve gotta go down there and put that fucker out, blow it out, uh, like a fucking candle, otherwise . . .” At which point he trailed his voice and let the breath flow out of him and he paused to let us construct our own metaphor for catastrophe. And that right there is what you call a rhetorical ellipsis, the cheapest device in oratory and one of the hardest to do well. An ellipsis is like a haymaker punch you throw with your mouth, and the only tricks more low rent than that are making fun of your opponent’s ugly puss and bringing up something by saying you won’t mention it. We all stared at him for a minute, and he went sort of pinkish and closed his mouth.