Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What Would Bernie Do?

Michael Holroyd talks ( in the Times Literary Supplement, via Arts & Letters Daily) about George Bernard Shaw, the great (and now neglected) Irish playwright and what he might make of our modern world:
"What would Shaw be telling us today? Would he, for example, have supported suicide bombing? I hear him answer this with a resounding No! But then he would never have been so stupid, so uncomprehending, as to label suicide bombers “cowardly” – that really is the voice of terror. Early in the twentieth century, Shaw proposed giving all Irishmen guns so that they could enjoy the privilege of a civil war without the intervention of the English. Such a man would not have hesitated to advocate the elimination of suicide bombing by giving Palestine an army equal in strength to that of Israel. He would, however, have castigated a Palestinian culture that encouraged young people to throw away their lives and be applauded for doing so by their parents and grandparents. It would have been far more honourable, I hear him saying, for old people to volunteer – indeed he had recommended calling up seventy and eighty-year-olds for military service before turning to the young in time of war. In short: send Shaw out to the Middle East and he would unite all enemies in opposition to himself. Send Shaw today round the world and he would be called mad for recommending publishers in every country to put all sacred texts, from the Bible to the Koran, on their backlists and find new sacred works from contemporary writing."
Shaw is full of great ideas. Here are some choice quotes:

"A victory for anybody is a victory for war."

"You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race."

"Hell is full of musical amateurs."

"I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation."

Find more quotes here. Shaw, who hated being called George, died in 1950 at the age of 94. He fell off a ladder whilst trimming a tree in his yard. [source]


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