Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Leadership of the Lesser

It is healthy to write. Even when you copy and write in verbatim. An excerpt from page 35 of John's The Log from the Sea of Cortez tells:

In the early morning before daylight we came into the harbor
at San Diego, in through the narrow passage, and we followed the
lights on a changing course to the pier. All about us war bustled,
although we had no war; steel and thunder, powder and men ---the
men preparing thoughtlessly, like dead men, to destroy things. The
planes roared over in formation and the submarines were quiet and
ominous. There is no playfulness in a submarine. The military mind
must limit its thinking to be able to perform its function at all.
Thus, in talking with a naval officer who had won a target
competition  with big naval guns, we asked, "Have you thought what
happens in a little street when one of your shells explodes, of the
families town to pieces, a thousand generations influenced, when you
signalled Fire?" "Of course not," he said. "Those shells travel so
far that you couldn't possibly see where they land." And he was
quite correct. If he could really see where they land and what they
do, if he could really feel the power in his dropped hand and the
waves radiating out from his gun, he could not be able to perform
his function. He himself would be the weak point of his gun. But
by not seeing, by insisting that it be a problem of ballistics and
trajectory, he is a good gunnery officer. And he is too humble to
take the responsibility for thinking. The whole structure of his
world would be endangered if he permitted himself to think. The
pieces must stick within their pattern or the whole thing collapses
and the design is gone. We wonder whether in the present pattern
the pieces are not straining to fall out of line; whether the paradoxes
of our times are not finally mounting to a conclusion of
ridiculousness that will make the whole structure collapse. For the
paradoxes are becoming so great that leaders of people must be less
and less intelligent to stand their own leadership.

No comments: