Friday, May 5, 2023


Carl von Clausewitz

An eye for an eye is like “war,” a card game that’s popular among kids. It’s very simple, you split the deck and the high card wins in each scrimmage between the two players. Turning the other cheek doesn’t bring to mind any games since there are no winners or losers where forgiveness is the currency. Recently the father of a young girl who had been shot stated to the court that he wished her assailant would die in prison, but there have been cases where even the victims of the most egregious and horrifying crimes do little more than pray (or even try to understand those who have harmed them). Penitentiaries are based on an eye for an eye. In states where there's capital punishment, killers are captured and executed. The word for penitentiary contains the root “repent” which is express sorrow for wrongs done, but a penitentiary is also a place where one is pensive and thinks. The Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that were established in the wake of apartheid and repression in South Africa and Tunisia essentially are penitentiaries—albeit with a different mandate than ones like Sing Sing. Truth and memory are the lingua franca of such organizations and they represent a triumph of love and intelligence over revenge. The example of Hitler and Chamberlain is often given to justify the notion of payback or consequences. It’s CBT on a diplomatic scale, an example of Clausewitz’s famous “war is diplomacy by other means.” The only problem is that such games of war only end with winners and losers. If you have any cards left to play you’re going to use them until the tide turns. The loser will never be content until he becomes a winner again.

read "Francis Levy's Divine Comedy," Exquisite Corpse

and listen to "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones

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