The Epiphany of the False Priest

| Books | 1 Comment
Upon the first reading of the following paragraph, I was struck by its profound meaning and disturbed by its painful truthfulness at the same time. It's stuck in my head ever since, and I've reread it on a number of occasions in order to be able to soak in the totality of its forcefulness.

"At the imminent prospect of battle one experiences a wild excitement that precludes rationality. But in the boredom of waiting for it, one's mood changes. The excitement transforms itself into a kind of thoughtfulness that is solitary, but which requires the reassuring presence of others; people offer each other cigarettes in low voices, and when they pat each other's backs, their touch feels the need to linger. Some write notes or poems that will be found upon them after the event of their death, detailing regrets and previously unacknowledged longings. Others pass the time dismantling, cleaning, and reassembling weapons that are already in immaculate condition. They pass handfuls of ammunition from one pocket to the other, weighing up the best way to distribute it for ease of access. Others walk about with their hands in their pockets, smiling wanly, and with genuine affection, even at those who have always annoyed them intensely. Everyone looks at the world with heightened acuity, as though perceiving for the first time the globular abdomen of an ant, or the porous texture of snow."

- The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman by Louis de Bernieres.

Other books by him that I've read:
  • Captain Corelli's Mandolin
  • Birds Without Wings
  • Red Dog

1 Comment

I remember hearing something similarly striking, once.

Soldiers fight and train using terms, such as maggots, swine, and dogs. They do so to dehumanize the enemy; to alieviate their guilt. Some, however, find the burden of battle too heavy. Many aim to miss.

This is what little I could remember of that conversation, but it's something that I do wonder about, once in a while.

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