Above: A table top
Below: Barry Maguire’s “Eve of Destruction”. “You’re old enough to kill, but not for voting.” “Hate your next door neighbour, but don’t forget to say grace.”
Hadn’t had any appetite since Monday, hadn’t eaten practically anything and then, on Thursday, I managed to get my hands on some weed oil and man, did things ever change, and quickly; seems like I haven’t stopped eating since. That’s an exaggeration but the drift of what I am saying amounts to this: I am really angered by governments, groups and individuals who stead-fastly refuse to recognize that (a) medicinal weed is good, and (b) pot, in general, is just a fun thing to do, enhances creativity, increases sensibility as well as giving you feelings of euphoria far removed from desires to hurt people by making war on them. In both situations, though, there are dangers inherent in smoking weed, like the possibility of contracting lung cancer, for instance, but smoking weed is no more dangerous than smoking cigarettes and, besides, one doesn’t have to smoke.
To wit: our featured table top today contains no tobacco, no skins, no lighter, no smoking paraphernalia whatsoever. What it does contain includes the following:
* a paper plate on which I cut up sugar cubes (also pictured) and the little red Swiss Army knife that I’ve had for years
* syringes of weed oil
* a sugar cube ready-to-eat on the plate … look harder
* (my glasses and my iPad)
See JL 234, posted on Sunday (06/08), for a demonstration on the preparation and consumption of pot oil.
Rex Murphy: The mighty combustion of small events, and other lessons from the First World War
— Courtesy of the National Post and the Montreal Gazette, 08/02/14.
The leaders of 1914 recklessly led the world into a nightmarish war. Do you really believe today’s leaders are any smarter?
History, said T.S. Eliot, has many “cunning passages, contrived corridors and issues.” He continues rather bleakly that what history might or could teach us emerges with “subtle confusions” offered only when our “attention is distracted.”
Eliot’s is a necessary caution against seeking specific lessons from history; despite the maxim, it never “repeats itself.” Rather it is like the ancient oracles, speaking always in riddles, hiding its truths in ambiguities and perplexity. The only lessons we may draw are general ones. It will never speak to a single or particular event, but it has its maxims and morals which we cannot safely ignore.
From the First World War, most have taken the theme that (relatively) small events can spiral into a mighty combustion. Europe was a cat’s cradle of connections and alliances, its rulers abominably short-sighted and absurdly confident, no controlling mind overseeing or attempting to oversee what a single push on the chessboard might eventually precipitate. That war resulted from a cascade of misjudgements and misperceptions set in motion by the singular deed of a Serbian terrorist.
People looking at the world today are, I think rightfully, seeing something of a parallel with confusions of a century ago. In the last weeks and months, what a crowding and a tangling of events we have seen. And we have seen, too, how, just like a hundred years ago, an event in one place has its connection and impact in others. A jet shot down over Ukraine has a consequence for Israel a week later.
We draw too from the reckless drift into the First World War how small and underscale the actors of that day were, how little the rulers, whether czars, monarchs, presidents or revolutionaries, truly understood of the events they thought they were managing. The leaders then were tragically unequal to the times, but of course, as leaders unfailingly do, thought otherwise.
The few who did see — like Lord Grey, who looked out on the world at the eve of war and uttered the memorable prophecy “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime” — were destined as Cassandras have always been to see their judgements ignored and their laments unheeded.
“Put not your trust in princes” is not Eliot, but the Psalms. The “princes” of 1914 we now see for what they were — befuddled, arrogant and above all careless of consequences. Who has optimism that today’s leaders are any more wise or ready? Looking at events since the destruction of the twin towers in September, 2001, the inaugural deed of the current crises, who can draw coherence or logic from them. It has been a scramble and a tumbling from one event to the next since that awful day. And by one of history’s “subtle confusions,” as Eliot had it, Afghanistan and Iraq are tending now (and in Iraq’s case, is already there) to a condition more threatening than when the vast effort here in the West to confront terrorism began.
And in all of this, there is no voice that articulates the dangers potentially present, no leadership that has the reach of the globe that inspires. That Mr. Putin should be, even in a negative sense, the “strongest” leader on the scene, the one with a thought-out, calculated agenda, is a deep sadness.
The West has had some peace since the last great war, almost 70 years of it now. And we have had with that peace an astounding march of technological and material progress. Both tend to make people forgetful of worse times. It renders them careless of the foundations upon which peace is first secured and then maintained, and nourishes the delusion they are exempt from the horrors and perils that have been a constant in human affairs.
So it seems now to some, as it seemed to some a century ago, that there is a menacing scattering of events and conflicts, where a disturbance, an accident or misadventure (such as the shooting down of the passenger jet) in one arena could unwind into a chain of unforeseen events, a haphazard flow of unpredictable cause and effect. And here, despite Eliot’s cautions, we can draw another clear and unconfused message from history: Whenever full-scale war comes. it is always worse than the previous one. Not even the trenches of the First World War,
Eliot was right in his main assertion. Every period has to learn its own history, but we can so frame our minds and school our judgments on the permanent elements of human conduct as to be duly wary of the play of forces beyond our ability to grasp.
We may start with the axioms that human affairs are always riddled with error, confusion, misjudgement and carelessness, and that all of those fallibilities and failings have had, and will have again, massively turbulent consequences. The example of a century ago is ominous and necessary. History “deceives with whispering ambitions, guides us by vanities.” Eliot again.