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Archive for September 7th, 2004

“in its genes”

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Stirring post from over on Ken Macleod’s site, Early Days of a Better Nation. Some of the finest writing on-line is found on this site, and these two paragraphs speak to that. Check out the last line especially:

‘Finally, it is 1st September, and the first day of studies … For the past week … [p]arents and children … have been crowding the shops for exercise books and satchels. […] This is a day you cannot fail to notice. The street is crowded with children in school uniform. […] Each child is preceded and partially obscured by the bunch of flowers that will be given to the teachers.’
This is not the opening of an article on the Beslan massacre, though it could be, in every detail. It’s from a 1985 BBC book based on a BBC television series on everyday life in the Soviet Union. That celebration of the first day of the school year was a surviving ceremony of the civilization that thirteen years ago was swept away. That custom tells us, in a sense, all we need to know about the Soviet Union. (And yes, I know the rest.) This was a civilization that with all its callouses, scar tissue and war wounds, with all its congenital deformities, with all its inherited savageries, had Enlightenment inscribed in its genes.

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September 7, 2004 at 11:43 pm

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