The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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Skeert ‘n’ compliant

March 26th, 2017 · No Comments

“The court must not exclude terror. It would be self-deception or deceit to promise this, and in order to provide it with a foundation and to legalize it in a principled way, clearly and without hypocrisy and without embellishment, it is necessary to formulate it as broadly as possible, for only revolutionary righteousness and a revolutionary conscience will provide the conditions for applying it more or less broadly in practice.” – Vladimir Lenin, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, letter to People’s Commissar of Justice Dmitri Kursky, May 17, 1922 (quoted by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney))

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Shake it up, baby, twist and shout

March 25th, 2017 · No Comments

“Terror is a powerful means of policy and one would have to be a hypocrite not to understand this.” – Leon Trotsky (quoted by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney))

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Phoenix

March 24th, 2017 · No Comments

“There is a simple truth which one can learn only through suffering: in war not victories are blessed but defeats. Governments need victories and the people need defeats. Victory gives rise to the desire for more victories. But after a defeat it is freedom that men desire—and usually attain. A people needs defeat just as an individual needs suffering and misfortune: they compel the deepening of the inner life and generate a spiritual upsurge.” – Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney)

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And they should remain in their proper places

March 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

“The foundation stones of a great building are destined to groan and be pressed upon; it is not for them to crown the edifice.” – Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney)

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Sentimental journey

March 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

“Cruelty is invariably accompanied by sentimentality. It is the law of complementaries. For example, in the case of the Germans, the combination is a national trait.” – Arnold Susi, (quoted by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney))

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You could line them all up over there

March 21st, 2017 · No Comments

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn’t change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil. Socrates taught us: Know thyself! Confronted by the pit into which we are about to toss those who have done us harm, we halt, stricken dumb: it is after all only because of the way things worked out that they were the executioners and we weren’t.” – Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney) (emphasis in original)

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Fries up crispy

March 20th, 2017 · No Comments

“Pride grows in the human heart like lard on a pig.” – Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney)

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The walking dead

March 19th, 2017 · No Comments

“How can you stand your ground when you are weak and sensitive to pain, when people you love are still alive, when you are unprepared? What do you need to make you stronger than the interrogator and the whole trap? From the moment you go to prison you must put your cozy past firmly behind you. At the very threshold, you must say to yourself: ‘My life is over, a little early to be sure, but there’s nothing to be done about it. I shall never return to freedom. I am condemned to die—now or a little later. But later on, in truth, it will be even harder, and so the sooner the better. I no longer have any property whatsoever. For me those I love have died, and for them I have died. From today on, my body is useless and alien to me. Only my spirit and my conscience remain precious and important to me.’ Confronted by such a prisoner, the interrogation will tremble. Only the man who has renounced everything can win that victory. But how can one turn one’s body to stone?” – Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney)

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Not like it is today

March 18th, 2017 · No Comments

“If the intellectuals in the plays of Chekhov who spent all their time guessing what would happen in twenty, thirty, or forty years had been told that in forty years interrogation by torture would be practiced in Russia; that prisoners would have their skulls squeezed within iron rings; that a human would be lowered into an acid bath; that they would be trussed up naked to be bitten by ants and bedbugs; that a ramrod heated over a primus stove would be thrust up their anal canal (the ‘secret brand’); that a man’s genitals would be slowly crushed beneath the toe of a jackboot; and that, in the luckiest possible circumstances, prisoners would be tortured by being kept from sleeping for a week, by thirst, and by being beaten to a bloody pulp, not one of Chekhov’s plays would have gotten to its end because all the heroes would be gone off to insane asylums.” – Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney) (footnotes omitted)

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The treason of the exhausted

March 17th, 2017 · No Comments

“A district Party conference was under way in Moscow Province. It was presided over by a new secretary of the District Party Committee, replacing one recently arrested. At the conclusion of the conference a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up . . . . The small hall echoed with ‘stormy applause, rising to an ovation.’ For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the ‘stormy applause, rising to an ovation’ continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin. However, who would dare to be the first to stop? The secretary of the District Party Committee could have done it. He was standing on the platform, and it was he who had just called for the ovation. But he was a newcomer. He had taken the place of a man who’d been arrested. . . . NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who quit first! And in that obscure, small hall, unknown to the Leader, the applause went on—six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn’t stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! . . . The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter. . . . Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indestructible enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! . . . . That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them. That same night the factory director was arrested.” – Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (trans. Whitney) (emphases in original)

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The end of the world and we missed it

March 16th, 2017 · No Comments

“All too often ‘modernity’ has meant nothing more than the assault of capitalism on tradition, with enlightenment nowhere in view. Commodification, wage labor, and mass production have drastically undermined craft, regional, ethnic, religious, and even familial loyalties and virtues, substituting only the abstract disciplines of the market. Industrial capitalism may be readier than traditional societies to exploit the distinctive virtues of modernity — intellectual curiosity, originality, tolerance, social solidarity — but it does little to foster them. The result is an unanchored moral culture: shallow, fragile, manipulative, in a word, narcissistic. Modernity without enlightenment seems to be a prescription for nihilism. Premodernity, both psychic and political, must be outgrown rather than merely suppressed, as industrial capitalism tends to do. On the other hand, it is arguably only developed industrial capitalism that allows a society the economic luxury of postponing adulthood, whether through higher education, travel, or some other vocational moratorium. Between these constraints, it is difficult to see any clear path to a secular democratic-socialist utopia.” – George Scialabba, “A Prophet, Honored”

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You’re a big boy now

March 15th, 2017 · No Comments

“The infant’s and child’s outsized fantasies — of omnipotence and terrified helplessness, of rage and undifferentiated union, and so on — must gradually be worn down, reduced to human scale. And this inward, intensive identification — different from the outward-turning, assimilative identification that enlarges our sympathies — is what gives us human shape, psychically speaking, along with other, secondary identifications the same sort: with church, neighborhood, ethnic group, and their beliefs and practices. The memories of which these local identifications consist constitute us. We are our histories, in a way more precise and intimate than previously appreciated.” – George Scialabba, “A Prophet, Honored”

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Is it ever

March 14th, 2017 · No Comments

“On a warm day, and all alone, it was not easy to die. Death could be slighted or even ignored close by; but when the time came to meet it unexpectedly, no man could find it in himself not to cry silently or aloud for just one more reprieve to keep the world from ending.” James Salter, The Hunters

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Goes the same for women

March 13th, 2017 · No Comments

“Anything that men would willingly die for had to be considered seriously.” – James Salter, The Hunters

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Seemingly willingly

March 12th, 2017 · No Comments

“The Korean War ended inconclusively on 27 July 1953. Not until long afterward was it even dignified by the name of war—the government euphemism was Korean conflict—and it rapidly became the most forgotten war in American history. There was little in it, from near-disastrous beginning to honorable but frustrating end, that appealed to American sensibilities. Because they cannot look back on it with any sense of satisfaction, or even the haunted pride that a defeated nation sometimes finds, Americans prefer not to look back at all. Yet men forget, as always, at their peril.” – T. E. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War

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There you have it

March 11th, 2017 · No Comments

“The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of cities, nor the crops—no, but the kind of man the country turns out.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Society and Solitude”

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The truth will out

March 10th, 2017 · No Comments

“A diplomat’s words must have no relation to actions—otherwise what kind of diplomacy is it? Words are one thing, actions another. Good words are a concealment of bad deeds. Sincere diplomacy is no more possible than dry water or iron wood.” – Josef V. Stalin (as quoted by T. E. Fehrenbach in This Kind of War)

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And to every other living being

March 9th, 2017 · No Comments

“From the time man first raised fist to man, the lot of prisoners of war has been hard. The ancient peoples sometimes crucified captives; they invariably enslaved them, for life. From the time of Peter of Dreux, who burned out the eyes of prisoners, with hot irons, to the captives of Stalingrad and the hell camp of Cabanatuan, it has often been better for men to die fighting than to be taken by the enemy. No nation, no culture has an unblemished record in what is merely a part of the long story of man’s inhumanity to man.” – T. E. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War

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Snowflakes and hailstones

March 8th, 2017 · No Comments

“The values composing civilization and the values required to protect it are normally at war. Civilization values sophistication, but in an armed force sophistication is a millstone. The Athenian commanders before Salamis, it is reported, talked of art and of the Acropolis, in sight of the Persian fleet. Beside their own campfires, the Greek hoplites chewed garlic and joked about girls. Without its tough spearmen, Hellenic culture would have had nothing to give the world. It would not have lasted long enough. When Greek culture became so sophisticated that its common men would no longer fight to the death, as at Thermopylae, but became devious and clever, a horde of Roman farm boys overran them. “ – T. E. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War

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An unintended side-effect

March 7th, 2017 · No Comments

“There is no getting around the fact that cops and sergeants spoil your fun.” – T. E. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War

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A man could stand up

March 6th, 2017 · No Comments

“There is much to military training that seems childish, stultifying, and even brutal. But one essential part of breaking men into military life is the removal of misfits—and in the service a man is a misfit who cannot obey orders, any orders, and who cannot stand immense and searing mental and physical pressure. For his own sake and for that of those around him, a man must be prepared for the awful, shrieking moment of truth when he realizes that he is all alone on a hill ten thousand miles from home, and that he may be killed in the next second.” – T. E. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War

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How to win wars

March 5th, 2017 · No Comments

“Under the Constitution of the United States, Congress holds the power of life and death over the military, and no one would have it otherwise. History has shown very clearly that for democracy to continue, the people, and not the generals or even the executive branch, must have control over the military. The people must dictate its size, composition, and its use—above all, its use. But control does not imply petty interference.” – T. E. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War

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And the winner is . . .

March 4th, 2017 · No Comments

“What is basic and decisive is the strategy of the nation-state, which the political class of every nation devises and then declares to be identical with their country’s interest. The various universalist appeals to the working class or to Christianity, to freedom or to socialism, are merely weapons in the strategy of the nation-state.” – George Konrad, Antipolitics

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For others, it’s no so hard

March 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

“For an intellectual, it is the hardest thing in the world to be both passionate and disinterested, committed and open-minded, eager to convince and willing to listen: to be, in a word, fair.” – George Scialabba, “Why Orwell Matters”

 

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No matter how little sense they may make

March 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

“Because old beliefs are not simply displaced but persist within new ones, dominant ideologies cannot be merely refuted but must be demystified, which means that their plausibility must be acknowledged and accounted for.” – George Scialabba, “Moneybags Must Be So Lucky”

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No drink before the war

March 1st, 2017 · No Comments

“When American soldiers went into action, it had become customary to provide them with a free issue of candy, cigarettes—and beer. In the places American troops fought, there were rarely any handy taverns or supermarkets. Reported to the home front, the ‘beer issue’ rapidly became a national controversy. Temperance, church, and various civic groups bombarded the Pentagon and Congress with howls of protest against the corruption of American youth. . . . But no one polled the troops for their opinion or said openly that a man who was old enough to kill and be killed was also old enough to have a beer if he wanted it.” – T. E. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War

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Executive action

February 28th, 2017 · No Comments

“In using whatever means necessary to stem the attack against South Korea, the government of Harry Truman unquestionably acted in the best interests of the United States and of the world. But characteristically, that government took action in a manner that could only make later trouble. As with every major policy decision that Administration had made, it was announced to the public only after the decision was irrevocable. With the orders already speeding to Tokyo, Truman called in the balance of the Cabinet, the Vice-President, congressional leaders of both parties, and told them what he had done. In effect, Truman had engaged the nation in war by executive action. Some of the leaders were understandably shaken. In the afternoon [of June 30, 1950], President Truman issued a terse statement to the press, terming the Korean venture a ‘police action.’ Something new had happened. The United States had gone to war, not under enemy attack, nor to protect the lives and property of American citizens. Nor was the action taken in crusading spirit, as in World Wars I and II, to save the world. The American people had entered a war, not by the roaring demand of Congress—which alone could constitutionally declare a state of war—or the public, but by executive action.” – T. E. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War

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Stormy weather

February 27th, 2017 · No Comments

“(1) How can a material thing (a mechanism?) be correctly said to reason, to have reasons, to act on reasons? (2) How can the unique four-dimensional non-branching world-worm that comprises all that has happened and will happen admit of a notion of possibilities that are not actualities? What does an opportunity look like when the world is viewed sub specie aeternitatis? (3) How can a person be the author of decisions and not merely the locus of causal summation for external influences? (4) How do we make sense of the intuition that an agent can only be responsible if he could have done otherwise? (5) How can we intelligibly describe the relevant mental history of the truly culpable agent—the villain or rational cheat with no excuses?” – Daniel Dennett, Brainstorms

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Better that way

February 26th, 2017 · No Comments

“I no longer wanted any buddies. Afraid I’d lose them. If I liked someone, I believed he’d get killed. Who needed the additional trauma? I sure as hell didn’t. If you get killed, I don’t know you and I don’t care. You’re just another number, another rifle—who cares. New people: ‘What’s your name? How ya doin’?’ But nothing more. Don’t tell me your hopes and dreams. You’re going to get killed and I don’t want to know you, think about you, remember you.” – Private First Class Doug Michaud, Headquarters & Service Company, First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment (quoted by Donald Knox in The Korean War: Pusan to Chosin – An Oral History)

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A bird in the hand

February 25th, 2017 · No Comments

“I remember the bitter cold and the snow and never being warm. I remember always being hungry, never having enough rations or being able to find any food. I remember the chicken my buddy found, killed, and gutted. I remember how small and skinny it was and how I carried that chicken in my field pack for three days before getting a chance to eat it. We got these tankers to give us some oleo. We fried the chicken in my helmet and shared it with four other guys. I can still see all the fires and hear the explosions from the ammo dumps that were being destroyed so they would not fall into the enemy’s hands. Everything, including supplies and vehicles that could not be gotten out, were blown up, set on fire, or destroyed. Rice fields were set on fire. When the rice caught fire, it popped. Guys were always running into the fields and grabbing handfuls of popped rice.” – Corporal Fred Duve, A Company, Seventh Cavalry Regiment (quoted by Donald Knox in The Korean War: Pusan to Chosin – An Oral History)

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