One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Chateaubriand on Civilization


In what concerns the dead, it is easy to find signs of the savage’s attachment to sacred relics. Civilised nations, in order to preserve their country’s memories, have the mnemonics of writing and the arts; they have cities, palaces, spires, columns, obelisks; they have the marks of the plough on once-cultivated fields; their names are cut in bronze and marble, their actions recorded in their histories.

Nothing of that appertains to the peoples of the wilderness: their names are not written on the trees; their huts, built in a few hours, vanish in a moment; the sticks with which they labour barely scratch the earth, and cannot even raise a furrow. Their traditional songs die with the last memory that retains them, vanishing with the last voice that repeats them. The tribes of the New World have only one monument: their graves. Take the bones of their fathers from these savages, and you take from them their history, their laws and even their gods; you remove from those men, for future generations, the proof of their existence as that of their extinction.
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