Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Innumerable Silences of Stars

The photo above is often attributed to being the wonderful T.E. Lawrence and his favorite camel, unfortunately it's a fake, nevertheless, it conjures up the spirit of his best-known work: Seven Pillars of Wisdom:

Some of the evil of my tale may have been inherent in our circumstances. For years we lived anyhow with one another in the naked desert, under the indifferent heaven. By day the hot sun fermented us; and we were dizzied by the beating wind. At night we were stained by dew, and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable silences of stars. We were a self-centred army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom, the second of man's creeds, a purpose so ravenous that it devoured all our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded in its glare.

Blood was always on our hands: we were licensed to it. Wounding and killing seemed ephemeral pains, so very brief and sore was life with us. With the sorrow of living so great, the sorrow of punishment had to be pitiless. We lived for the day and died for it.

Lawrence wrote his memoirs back in the day when an author was expected to enchant and seize the reader with the first sentence (Some of the evil of my tale may have been inherent in our circumstances).

Tell me, did it enchant you?

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