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Yesterday

Half Asleep

"These are the time that try men's souls." So said Tom Paine, at the beginning of the American Revolution. He said a lot more, during the course of that struggle; he tactfully remarked that General Howe "showed an inbred wretchedness of heart made up between the venomous malignity of a serpent and the spiteful imbecility of an inferior reptile;" he laughed at the Tories, then cursed them; and he stirred the people. But if he had lived today, he would have found a new enemy, and faced a struggle for which he could have found no words. One can no longer put an edge on the verbal sword, and dash up intellectual Bunker Hills; if one did, one would trip over the scabbard. Any one who tries to give battle at the present day can echo the despairing words of Peer Gynt: "It's like a fight among bears, half-asleep and snarling." The fact is, there's nothing to hit, and if one hits it, it doesn't care. Yesterday Britain and Italy demanded that Germany return to the League and to the arms parley: Germany only withdrew in the first place to give her State officials something to do; Britain and Italy don't really care if they ever hear from the Reich again; in fact, if all three countries were to sink rapidly into the sea tomorrow, it would only provide a human interest story for the Boston American, with cuts, and a new job for the Physics profs. The latest cheerful dispatch from Manchukuo, indicating the altruistic mission of a large body of soldiery to "deal with bandits on the Siberian frontier" doesn't bother anyone but the Russians, who, as everyone knows, don't count. In fact, all the European countries are wishing they could run excursion trains into the maritime provinces in the spring to cheer the Japs as they munch the bored cadavers of stagnant Siberians. In short, the world is walking on its heels; it has a glassy eye and waddles like a duck; instead of the music of the spheres, the snore of nations now regales the public ear, and even the esoteric mouthing of peripatetic anarchists on route to Union Square sound on the senile eardrum of the universe like the hum of beneficent bees to an oldster, drowsing in the hot mid-summer afternoon of life. NEMESIS.

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