Friday, June 15, 2007

The Power of...

A somewhat dated but provocative commentary on the power of words...

The history of our time is a history of phrases, which rise to great power and then as suddenly pass away: the "merchants of death," the "malefactors of great wealth," "monopoly," "reactionaries," "liberals," the "labor power," "America first," "cash and carry," "unconditional surrender," "peace in our time," "collective security, " "bring the boys home," "disarmament," "the Red menace," "the atomic potential," etc., etc. At the time of their currency, few men have had either the courage or the resources to stand up to these tremendous shibboleths. They develop unpredictable authority.

Men are destroyed by them, and others are raised to power, and others are rallied to a fighting cause, and wars are declared, and people driven from their homes. And after all this havoc has been wreaked, suddenly the phrase disappears and is powerful no more--indeed, is lost and forgotten and replaced by something else, very likely its exact opposite... It's terrifying.... Where, in all this, is truth?

Russell Davenport (1899-1954): The Dignity of Man

(Photo by jacobz against censorship; see for restrictions.)

On my I-Pod... She Will Have Her Way by Neil Finn

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