“Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.”
– William Westmoreland
They’ll always water you down
When I listened to my Schopenhauer audiobook I was surprised by the beginning warning in which the editor apologized for some of the more offensive ideas that were present. This wasn’t the first time that I’d seen something like this though. I have a Nietzsche book which starts with a warning about “It was a different time and he didn’t know better.” One of my editions of Huckleberry Finn, and the one I never read, removed all of the racial slurs and replaced them with more tame material.
If you live long enough and create something profound enough everyone will try and water you down. Something that you said or did will be considered offensive to someone and a whole bunch of academics will try to trivialize and downplay it. Indiana Jones used to gun down hordes of Nazis during the 1980’s. When they dusted him out in 2008 there was virtually no violence. “That was a different era” things had to be family friendly.
The world was an orgy of sex, violence, and war. People dueled to the death, got in bare knuckles brawls, and beat each other into a pulp. Men rode viscous beasts across harsh mountain terrain so that they could stab other men using crude blades and spears. A brief trip to the Ancient History Encyclopedia is like traveling to some distant planet that knows nothing but war. You get mad about someone cutting you off in traffic and mumble under your breath, your ancestors disemboweled people and enslaved whole civilizations so that they could get a better trade route.
In 1914 men speared one another on bayonets, burnt their enemies lungs out with poison gas, and slaughtered whole armies with bulky machine guns. Human history is brutal. Men of the past sailed across oceans in wooden boats, battled with clubs, and fought their environment just to survive. It’s something none of use could ever comprehend. In a world of modern convenience and civil society we could never wrap our brains around the level of violence that most living humans had to endure.
When I go boxing I have to pay money to be in a controlled environment that merely simulates the savage nature of man. Sure I get hit and throw some punches back, but it’s never really life or death. You can go shower afterwards and then call up some friends to celebrate. It’s imitation war.
While I’d love to have something profound to say about violence and our love of it, nothing comes to mind. Conflict is something we all crave. There’s no question there. I’m just glad I live in a time where combat and fighting are leisure activities, not requirements for survival.