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Silent_Water

Spectator
By knowing many terrible stories from history, I am afraid that the historical truth of (in)human behaviour is not only based on the society in which one is living. There is a book about the Vietnam war by the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci which I bought in those days not only because of its German title which was interesting enough for me: "Wir, Engel und Bestien" (= translated in English it would sound more correct as "We, Angels and Devils"). This book is not only a subjective description of her life as a journalist in Vietnam but also a reflection of inhuman behaviour in history because one of her fellow French journalists liked to recite quotations of Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and philosopher (1623-1663), who is quoted by sentences like "So, the king tells his soldiers to kill those people over there on the other side of the river and his soldiers do that. But why? Only because they speak another language and they want to read the bible in their own one or simply better because they do not want our king to be their king, too? Then the king could also tell his soldiers to kill them simply because they are living on the wrong side of the river. ... Human beings are crazy in finding reasons to kill other human beings and you need to be crazy in your own way in order not to become as crazy and devilish as most of the others. ... So, it is good and necessary for human beings to know that they can be angels and devils at the same time and by their own will, they can turn their world in heaven or hell for others and in the end for themselves because only this knowledge of both extremes - of the possibility of being culprit-offender and victim in one's same life could prevent all human beings from becoming devils in their own hell for ever."
Well, I do not really know if Blaise Pascal knew of the story of the Dutch ship Batavia, which happened in 1629, ...
... but that story is a proof of the pessimistic saying "a civilizated society is only a thin layer on human beings who can be turned back into beasts of prey without this layer at any time". Not only a society can tell you that it is OK to kill this or that one, also the absence or sudden disappearence of a society can turn human life into hell and I do not know what might be more terrible for a single person and I dare not to decide that. In this discussion here, I mentioned the earthquake of Lisbon in 1755 with the temporary breakdown of the society with all imaginable atrocities from crimes to cannibalism and the history of the ship Batavia is the story of a criminal who turned a shipwrecking accident into his own reign of terror by finding enough other men ready to follow him in his orders of crime and rape during the absence of a civilized society with law and order.
 
By knowing many terrible stories from history, I am afraid that the historical truth of (in)human behaviour is not only based on the society in which one is living. There is a book about the Vietnam war by the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci which I bought in those days not only because of its German title which was interesting enough for me: "Wir, Engel und Bestien" (= translated in English it would sound more correct as "We, Angels and Devils"). This book is not only a subjective description of her life as a journalist in Vietnam but also a reflection of inhuman behaviour in history because one of her fellow French journalists liked to recite quotations of Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and philosopher (1623-1663), who is quoted by sentences like "So, the king tells his soldiers to kill those people over there on the other side of the river and his soldiers do that. But why? Only because they speak another language and they want to read the bible in their own one or simply better because they do not want our king to be their king, too? Then the king could also tell his soldiers to kill them simply because they are living on the wrong side of the river. ... Human beings are crazy in finding reasons to kill other human beings and you need to be crazy in your own way in order not to become as crazy and devilish as most of the others. ... So, it is good and necessary for human beings to know that they can be angels and devils at the same time and by their own will, they can turn their world in heaven or hell for others and in the end for themselves because only this knowledge of both extremes - of the possibility of being culprit-offender and victim in one's same life could prevent all human beings from becoming devils in their own hell for ever."
Well, I do not really know if Blaise Pascal knew of the story of the Dutch ship Batavia, which happened in 1629, ...
... but that story is a proof of the pessimistic saying "a civilizated society is only a thin layer on human beings who can be turned back into beasts of prey without this layer at any time". Not only a society can tell you that it is OK to kill this or that one, also the absence or sudden disappearence of a society can turn human life into hell and I do not know what might be more terrible for a single person and I dare not to decide that. In this discussion here, I mentioned the earthquake of Lisbon in 1755 with the temporary breakdown of the society with all imaginable atrocities from crimes to cannibalism and the history of the ship Batavia is the story of a criminal who turned a shipwrecking accident into his own reign of terror by finding enough other men ready to follow him in his orders of crime and rape during the absence of a civilized society with law and order.
thank you. I found this to be interesting and thought provoking
 

Silent_Water

Spectator
Thank YOU, but I am usually only making quotations of people who were / are more intelligent than I am.
(OK, I am already very intelligent :cool: but I can always find someone in history who is much, much better than I ever thought to be and to accept this fact is also very, very intelligent. ;))
Blaise Pascal must have been really very extremely intelligent, because his aphorisms are still stunningly working over four centuries later and his thoughts about God and the universe were made in a way that I am sometimes not sure if he was meaning this really serious or if he was also mocking about human stupidity and also a bit about himself or alltogether.
In any case, only 200 years before these thoughts, he would have been burned at the stakes in his own home town and in some places of our world today, he would still be killed for this idea by religious fanatics:
 
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Silent_Water

Spectator
This morning, I have read some more quotations from Blaise Pascal about history of human beings and I think they easily explain how impressive this man's kind of thinking and sometimes his sense of humour was:

“If man exalts himself, I humble him.
If man humbles himself, I exalt him.
And I go on contradicting him
Until he understands
That he is a monster that passes all understanding.”

“For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either. The ends of things and their beginnings are impregnably concealed from him in an impenetrable secret. He is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness out of which he was drawn and the infinite in which he is engulfed.”

“If they [Plato and Aristotle] wrote about politics it was as if to lay down rules for a madhouse.
And if they pretended to treat it as something really important it was because they knew that the madmen they were talking to believed themselves to be kings and emperors. They humored these beliefs in order to calm down their madness with as little harm as possible.”

“No religion except ours has taught that man is born in sin; none of the philosophical sects has admitted it; none therefore has spoken the truth.”

“God probably instituted prayer to communicate to creatures the dignity of causality.”

“Words differently arranged have different meanings, and meanings differently arranged have different effects.”

“Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips. They make other people good-natured. They also produce their own image on men's souls, and a beautiful image it is.”

“Just as I do not know where I came from, so I do not know where I am going. All I know is that when I leave this world I shall fall forever into oblivion, or into the hands of an angry God, without knowing which of the two will be my lot for eternity. Such is my state of mind, full of weakness and uncertainty. The only conclusion I can draw from all this is that I must pass my days without a thought of trying to find out what is going to happen to me.”

“Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.”

“What is the self?
A man goes to the window to see the people passing by; if I pass by, can I say he went there to see me? No, for he is not thinking of me in particular. But what about a person who loves someone for the sake of her beauty; does he love her? No, for smallpox, which will destroy beauty without destroying the person, will put an end to his love for her.
And if someone loves me for my judgement or my memory, do they love me? me, myself? No, for I could lose these qualities without losing my self. Where then is this self, if it is neither in the body nor the soul? And how can one love the body or the soul except for the sake of such qualities, which are not what makes up the self, since they are perishable? Would we love the substance of a person's soul, in the abstract, whatever qualities might be in it? That is not possible, and it would be wrong. Therefore we never love anyone, but only qualities.
Let us then stop scoffing at those who win honour through their appointments and offices, for we never love anyone except for borrowed qualities.”

“Unless we know ourselves to be full of pride, ambition, concupiscence, weakness, wretchedness and unrighteousness, we are truly blind. And if someone knows all this and does not desire to be saved, what can be said of him?”

“When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant, and which know me not, I am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than there; for there is no reason why here rather than there, why now rather than then. Who has put me here? By whose order and direction have this place and time been allotted to me? Memoria hospitis unius diei prætereuntis.”

“Cleopatra's nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed.”

"I discovered that all human evil comes from a single cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room.”

“Please forgive me this long letter; I didn’t have time to write a short one.”


Blaise Pascal, Pensées
 

Silent_Water

Spectator
But you can always be friendly to everyone - even in suffering times. Marie Antoinette was setting new standards in politeness when she ascended the stairs to the guillotine: She accidentally stepped on the executioner's foot, saying to him “Pardon me Sir, I meant not to do it.”
 

Barbaria1

Rebel Leader
Staff member
But you can always be friendly to everyone - even in suffering times. Marie Antoinette was setting new standards in politeness when she ascended the stairs to the guillotine: She accidentally stepped on the executioner's foot, saying to him “Pardon me Sir, I meant not to do it.”
I can’t image a few of our current political leaders, no names, doing that ...
 

Silent_Water

Spectator
I can’t image a few of our current political leaders, no names, doing that ...
I agree because I am sometimes afraid that I have never seen before in my life time so many silly, nationalistic, destructive and narrow-minded politicians with narcisstic personality disorders governing their countries at the same time. I did never really like so much our German chancellor Angela Merkel but compared to creatures like Bolsonaro in Brazil and many others I would not like to mention, she is like a fat pure gold nugget in a stone field. I also never thought that in my memory, someone like George W. Bush would look like an intellectual professor compared to one of his successors but ... gngngrrrr ... aaargh!
An old Romanian proverb says: There is nothing so bad that it could not become even worse!

Sorry, but I am right now in my black humor mood for testing if a joke works also in English which I have seen decades ago on German TV and this conversation remembered me of it.
When I tell it in German to younger people who never heard about it, they start crying in laughter.

During the 70s, there were several rather silly commercials on German TV for a headache tablet with the name "Togal" which usually started like that:
Rainy dark evening and a man comes from outside into a petrol/ gas station to pay for the petrol and says: "It is such a bad weather, I still have so long to drive and even worse: I have such a bad headache!"
The petrol station's attendant answers: "Bad headache? So, I think I can help you with ..."
Stop of the movie's motion - voice from the off: "We don't know what the friendly attendant is recommending. We are recommending "Togal" as the best tablet against headaches!"

The German comedian "Otto" made a satirical persiflage out of it which was probably only shown once around 1976 on German TV because later, the pharmaceutical company of Togal most probably made a legal complaint against this satire:

Scene of a medieval prison: "Otto" is clothed like Robin Hood, handcuffed and taken to an old scaffold. On its steps, he is saying: "Such a bad rainy weather, I still have to liberate the suppressed poor, to comfort so many widows and worse: I'm having such a bad headache!"
The executioner on the scaffold is weighing his axe and saying: "Bad headache? So, I think I can help you with ..."
Stop of the movie's motion - voice from the off: "We don't know what the friendly executioner is recommending. We are recommending "Fatal" as the best tablet against headaches!"

(Did it work in English?)
:eyebrow2:
 

Silent_Water

Spectator
Fine! It obviously worked. By the way, I am the "owner" of so much superficial knowledge about strange coincidences and unbelievable "miracles" in history that I am really playing with the idea of writing a book about the question if many historical national myths are founded or simply faked by persons who were more intelligent and foreseeing more political possibilities than their contemporary people. Usually I hate all these modern conspiracy theories during the last 150 years but when you go back further in time, it's getting more and more interesting if the official description or religious believing can be true.
My favourite example is the story of Jeanne d'Arc / Joan of Orleans / Johanna von Orleans. Certainly, you can explain everything by telling the people that it was a miracle sent by God - but I am like the unbelieving apostle Thomas in the bible. There are often simply too many miracles and the most cynical miracle about Jeanne d'Arc in my opinion is that she later was declared a Saint of France, when you know at the same time that the French king put a very special knight of noble birth with terrible war experiences to her side as a kind of bodyguard in order to protect her during the battles: Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, Baron de Rais - shortly spoken: Gilles de Rais. After the victories over England, Gilles de Rais was declared "Maréchal de France" (similar to commander-in-chief of all French troops) and he could have become the most powerful man behind the French king. But he obviously developed a problem with his lust for killing and occultism and so - 11 years later - he was declared to be "a devil from hell in human shape" because of killing more than 100 children around his castles in 10 years. And now imagine that this male "devil" was the bodyguard of a female "Saint" in a "holy war" - hrm - that sounds "somehow funny", doesn't it? In 1429, the battle of Jargeau - from today's point of view - most probably was a war crime because more of 1100 English soldiers were killed by order of Jeanne d'Arc although they tried to surrender and Gilles de Rais was one of the knights who liked the most to see his enemies die as slow as possible.
But the most interesting miracle around Jeanne d'Arc was part in a TV-portrait in 2008 on the French-German cultural channel ARTE which you possibly could still see in French here:
The "funniest part" is that about 4 years after Jeanne d'Arc's burning at the stakes, a woman appeared in Cologne, Germany, who had a kind of bodyguard, knight and translator for Dutch and German with her and she declared herself to everyone who asked for her background, she was some years ago "la pucelle d'Orléans de France" (the virgin of Orleans in France) who managed to escape from a castle in Belgium where she should be hiding but was hold there like a bird in a golden cage what she would not tolerate any more. She caused some sensation in Cologne because no German had ever seen in 1436 a woman who obviously knew no fear in any situation and who was behaving like a male soldier. She was jumping on a horse from behind, making sword fights for show with men in order to prove her abilities as a warrior and was playing cards for money with man in the darkest "dives" of the city. After about one week, the arch-bishop of Cologne knew of her presence in the city and sent soldiers to capture her, wanting to know if she is a witch or really the Jeanne d'Arc of this incredible story from France but his soldiers came too late. She was obviously warned by some German knights who believed and liked her, so she disappeared from Germany. Some months later, most probably the same woman appeared in France and even more incredible, there are allegedly still a few historical documents existing which show that she managed to meet the king of France who talked to her, gave her money, punished at least one knight from Belgium and gave her a husband with a castle at Armoises near the border to Germany in order to get rid of this miraculous and troublesome woman. ("Calamity Jeanne"?)
So, when she really was Jeanne d'Arc - who was burned by the English troops in Paris then? Why did the king obviously absolutely nothing to save (the "real"?) Jeanne d'Arc from being burned at the stakes although she made him more powerful than ever before? Was there a secret pact between England and France to stop the war for a while by making Jeanne d'Arc disappear? And would anyone in France ever like to read a different story about a national mythos? Because the following book to that TV-event was torn apart by historians but they usually did not answer the questions I mention later down below:
On the other hand: There most probably really was a French-speaking woman behaving like a warrior in Cologne around 1436 and probably the same woman later really met the French king.
So, who was she and why did the king meet her?
Still interesting questions, I would say.
 
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Migoz2

Tribune
I can’t image a few of our current political leaders, no names, doing that ...
"I didn't tread on his foot. FAKE NEWS. So fake. And he's from a shit-hole country. In fact, HE trod on MY foot. I have the best feet. Nobody has feet like I have. Well, yes, you have a photo of my treading on his foot, but he put his foot there so I would tread on it. I'm so good at treading. The best ever treader. No-one has ever treaded as good as me. And I hurt my bone spurs."

Alternatively:

"I am very clear. Treading on feet is what the other guy would do. As Pliny the Elder said, 'Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?' I would never tread on a foot, no ifs or buts. I would rather be dead in a ditch. Oh, that foot, yes. He wasn't looking where I was going. 'Velocius quam asparagi coquantur.' Anyway, look, a squirrel!"

This is an interesting thread. I shall have to come back to it and read it properly when I have cleared my head of typing the nonsense above.
 
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