I could add to that Bah and Humbug, but I’ve read A Christmas Carol and I’ve seen Groundhog Day, so I know that the path to redemption and a happy life is to say Yes!
I’m reading ‘Brave Men’ by Ernie Pyle. Ernie Pyle was a war correspondent during World War II. He was very famous and well liked, in part because he wrote from the perspective of the common man – the soldier, be he a major or a private – who was fighting on the front lines.
He was killed in 1945 on an island off Okinawa, when the jeep in which he was travelling was strafed from a machine gun. He jumped out of the jeep and into a ditch; raised his head to ask whether the other occupants of the jeep were OK, and was hit.
Actually, I have been reading ‘Brave Men’ for about two years now, but I put it away part read as I turned my attention to other books.
But like a bad student turned good, a few days ago I picked up three or four books that I am part-way through, and determined to finish them. And this morning I got to this particular section (it’s on page 224 of the edition I have, which was published in 1944).
In this chapter, Pyle is billeted with a light bomber squadron, and he writes:
“Another one told me felt he just couldn’t go on. He had completed his allotted missions, and nobody could doubt his courage. He want to go and ask to be grounded, but just couldn’t bring himself to do it.
So I urged him to go ahead. Afterwards I got both sides of the story. The officers told me that they were kicking themselves for not noticing the gunner’s nervousness in time and for letting it go until he had to hurt his pride by asking to be grounded.
But those were men’s innermost feelings. They didn’t express them very often. They didn’t spend much time sitting around glooming to each other about their chances.
Their outlook and conversation were just as normal as that of men in no danger at all. They played joked on each other, and wrote letters, and listened to the radio, and sent gifts home, and drank a little vino, and carried on just like anybody else.
It was only when a man “had had it” – the combat expression for anyone who had had more than he could take – that he sat alone and didn’t say much and began to stare.”
Reading Ernie Pyle makes me think of Catch 22.
Fear and Misanthropy
A misanthrope, if you didn’t know, is someone who has a general hatred, mistrust or disdain of the human species or human nature.
I read just now in Wikipedia that:
In Western philosophy, misanthropy has been connected to isolation from human society. In Plato’s Phaedo, Socrates defines the misanthrope in relation to his fellow man: “Misanthropy develops when without art one puts complete trust in somebody thinking the man absolutely true and sound and reliable and then a little later discovers him to be bad and unreliable…and when it happens to someone often…he ends up…hating everyone.”
Misanthropy, then, is presented as the result of thwarted expectations or even excessively naive optimism, since Plato argues that “art” would have allowed the potential misanthrope to recognize that the majority of men are to be found in between good and evil. Aristotle follows a more ontological route: the misanthrope, as an essentially solitary man, is not a man at all: he must be a beast or a god, a view reflected in the Renaissance of misanthropy as a “beast-like state.
…In the Judeo-Islamic philosophies (800–1400), the Jewish philosopher Saadia Gaon, uses the Platonic idea that the self-isolated man is dehumanized by friendlessness to argue against the misanthropy of anchorite asceticism and reclusiveness.”
So I couldn’t help but think that what goes on inside a man’s head might be misanthropy, or it might be fear.
The Edinburgh Science Festival
Which brings me to the Edinburgh Science Festival. I have a sense of affiliation with the festival because one of my photographs (of Nerites shells) is included in a large display in St Andrew’s Square in the centre of Edinburgh as part of the Patterns In Nature exhibition.
As well as messing about with various science experiments at the festival, we have been to several talks. One was given by researchers at Edinburgh and Stirling universities and considered the ‘authentic self’.
That’s the sense of self we feel when we are true to ourselves and in tune with ourselves.
One of the things that came out of the investigation is that in general, feeling ‘authentic’ is a social feeling.
People generally feel it when there are others around. They may be actively engaged or just hanging out. But it’s with others that we feel our authentic selves.
And that’s a long way around to saying thank you, Maria.
1. Cookies or cake? Cake – moist cake.
2, Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla, vanilla to the point that I feel I would stand up and sings its praises like an underdog pitted against more exotic flavours. Chocolate is good, but vanilla is harmony.
3. Favourite sweet treat? Mmmm,… fruit. Any fruit that has reached perfection. It could be a strawberry or a greengage, or…
4. When do you crave sweet things the most? Anywhere near food. I’m very impulsive when it comes to food. I am triggered by what is around me. If you starting eating a cupcake…
5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? ‘Most unlikely’ – that would be my nickname.
Not Complete Without A Photo Of The Outside Of A Dog
I spotted this guy sitting in a pedestrianised street – his compadre was juggling clubs nearby. Is he (the dog) phenomenal or what? Yes, he’s a huskie.
“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx
Mmmm, I don’t follow many people who have a sweet tooth or a penchant for whimsy, so this is a hard one. I’m going for Annette and Rebkins.
Anette from The Blog Formerly Known As Ink
Rebkins from Purrsonal Mewsings