Skip to main content

Thoughts from Christopher Hitchens on Turkey

Image result for Christopher Hitchens

A warning from the late Christopher Hitchens, one that seems especially pertinent in the light of the post-coup turmoil in Turkey these days:

In a Bush speech to the new membership of NATO, delivered in Istanbul last June, one of the  President's handler's was astute enough to insert a quotation from Pamuk, to the effect that the finest view of the city was not from its European or its Asian shores but from -- yes -- 'the bridge that unites them.' The important thing, as the President went on to intone from Pamuk, 'is not the clash of parties, civilizations, cultures, East and West.' No, what is important is to recognize 'that other peoples in other continents and civilizations' are 'exactly like us.'  De te fabula narratur.

Human beings are of course essentially the same, if not exactly identical. But somehow this evolutionary fact does not prevent clashes of varying intensity from being the norm rather than the exception. 'Remember your humanity, and forget the rest,' Albert Einstein is supposed to have said. This already questionable call to amnesia translates badly in cultures that regard Einstein himself as a degenerate imp spawned from the hideous loins of Jewish degeneration.

----------

The Latin phrase Hitchens employs is from Horace. It translates, "the fable is about you." It is usually given in a somewhat broader context, "Why do you laugh? With a name change, the fable is about you." Hitchens of course is using it to crystallize the (very western) 19th century liberal sentiments to which Bush or his "handlers" were making appeal.

In the next graf, of course, we get the warning. He wrote this 12 years ago, in The Atlantic, in a review of a book by the above mentioned Orhan Pamuk, Snow.

Pamuk received the Nobel Prize for Literature two years later.

Hitchens died of cancer in December 2011.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Great Chain of Being

One of the points that Lovejoy makes in the book of that title I mentioned last week is the importance, in the Neo-Platonist conceptions and in the later development of the "chain of being" metaphor, of what he calls the principle of plenitude. This is the underlying notion that everything that can exist must exist, that creation would not be possible at all were it to leave gaps.

The value of this idea for a certain type of theodicy is clear enough.

This caused theological difficulties when these ideas were absorbed into Christianity.  I'll quote a bit of what Lovejoy has to say about those difficulties:

"For that conception, when taken over into Christianity, had to be accommodated to very different principles, drawn from other sources, which forbade its literal interpretation; to carry it through to what seemed to be its necessary implications was to be sure of falling into one theological pitfall or another."

The big pitfalls were: determinism on the on…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…