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A challenging text
on 22 February 2016
I found that I needed to read more slowly and sometimes re-read passages in order to attempt to understand this book. The language is very dense although I get the sense that there is something of value here and that perseverance is called for. I then began to feel I was achieving a level of comprehension. Although I should think a re-read would be useful. This book will not appeal to everyone and has a certain scholarly feel about it. This is also a translation of course and I wonder how it might come across to a native speaker in the French. Here is an example of the what we are concerned with here:
`A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly by the chain of their own ideas; it is at the stable point of reason that he secures the end of the chain; this link is all the stronger in that we do not know of what it is made and we believe it to be our own work; despair and time eat away the bonds of iron and steel, but they are powerless against the habitual union of ideas, they can only tighten it still more; and on the soft fibres of the brain is founded the unshakable base of the soundest of empires.`
This book is about attempting to identify and expose the bonds which attempt to constrain and condition us as human beings. Part of me is saying this is too heavy or difficult reading but part of me is also saying this is crucial to understanding ourselves - a dilemma which persists.
I have just found an interesting parallel at the end of Dostoyevsky`s `Notes From Underground`...
`Just try giving us as much independence as possible, untie the hands of any one of us, loosen our bonds, and we...I assure you we should all immediately beg to go back under discipline.`