A Local Habitation and a Name
the inspiration of words by reality

arranged alphabetically by author

Compilation by
Robert Wilfred Franson

  

  
... one of the most absurd, and from every point of view, horrifying events in the whole history of the Soviet labour camp system — the short stay in Kolyma of the Vice-President of the United States, Henry A. Wallace, with a group of advisors headed by Professor Owen Lattimore, in the summer of 1944. ...

Both Wallace and Lattimore published enthusiastic accounts. In his book, Soviet Asia Mission, Wallace tells us that the gold miners at Kolyma are 'big husky young men who came out to the Far East from European Russia'. He adds that they are 'pioneers of the machine age, builders of cities'. He was much impressed by the horrible Nikishov, who enchanted him when he 'gambolled about enjoying the wonderful air immensely'. ...

[ Nikishov was the vicious and high-living wartime head of Dalstroy, the NKVD Far Northern Construction Trust, administering a vast stretch of Soviet Russia plus its portion of the Gulag. Robert Conquest provides several more examples of stupefying gullibility, including Wallace's praise of paid overtime and free schooling in the mining camps, and the much-improved Soviet wages versus Tsarist mine workers.  — RWF ]

Wallace, whose background was of course agricultural, was taken out to the farm 23 kilometres from Magadan — normally a penal camp. He asked the well-dressed girl swineherds a polite question about their work; which caused some confusion as they were in fact NKVD office staff selected for their looks and smartness and had little knowledge of pigs. However, the interpreter saved the situation.

Robert Conquest
"A Clownish Interlude"
Kolyma
The Arctic Death Camps  (1978)
  

  
I am very much surer where I stand — where my arguments come from and where they will lead me — with regard to practical questions than with regard to ethical ones. And I have found that it is much easier to persuade people with practical arguments than with ethical arguments. This leads me to suspect that most political disagreement is rooted in questions of what is, not what should be.

I have never met a socialist who wanted the kind of society that I think socialism would produce.

David D. Friedman
"Postscript for Perfectionists"
The Machinery of Freedom
Guide to a Radical Capitalism  (1973; 1989)
  

  
The Thomist and later derivative systems of universal law rest upon the basic assumption of ascertainable norms of conduct for every entity in the world — norms universally valid and, as operative in the individuals comprising each species, possessing objective reality. Hence, when Ockham asserted that the universal was merely a word (nomen), and that nothing was real except the individual, he dealt a blow directly at the heart of this systemization. ...

In short, nominalism begets a scientific skepticism which prohibits the knowledge and validity of law, since law cannot be applied successfully in a universe where each individual unit is considered unique. Category and abstract concept, essential for science, are dismissed as unreal.

Philosophical skepticism goes beyond nominalism, in denying the certainty of any knowledge, even that of the individual. Whereas Ockham would admit that any individual object may be known through sense percept and intuitive concept, Sextus Empiricus, denying any certain objective validity to whatever is grasped by sense and intuition, as well as by intellect, would insist upon the complete relativity of all knowledge.

These two streams, nominalism and philosophical skepticism, as well as their tributaries, swelled the broad river of the Counter-Renaissance. It is not difficult to surmise the consequence to the surrounding country, that beautifully surveyed, fenced-in and marked-off land of universal law. The cartography of Aquinas and his successors has no counterpart in reality after the inundation, and the resulting wasteland is redeemed and newly developed only with the full advent of the Scientific Reformation.

Hiram Haydn
"The Repeal of Universal Law"
The Counter-Renaissance  (1950)
  

  
The dawn of literature ... was bathed in the twilight of mysticism and mythology. ... But the earliest literati — priests, prophets, rhapsodes, bards — had less direct means to impress their audiences than their older colleagues, the masked and painted illusion-mongers. They had to 'dramatize' their tales, by techniques which we can only infer from hints.

The dramatization of an epic recital aims, like stage-craft from which it is derived, at creating, to some extent at least, the illusion that the events told are happening now and here. Perhaps the oldest of these techniques is the use of direct speech, to make the audience believe that it is listening not to the narrator but to the characters themselves; ...

There is hardly a novelist who had not wished at times that he were a histrion [stage-player], and could convey by direct voice, grimace, and gesture what his characters look like and feel. But writers have evolved other techniques to create the illusion that their characters are alive, and to make their audience fall in love with a heroine who exists only as printer's ink on paper. The real tears shed over Anna Karenina or Emma Bovary are the ultimate triumph of sympathetic magic.

Arthur Koestler
The Act of Creation  (1964)
  

  
The decision that the main Nazi forces should be deployed agains the Soviet Union, that the Soviet-German Front should become the main battlefront in the summer of 1943, and that the main question pertaining to the outcome of World War II would be settled there did not raise any doubt in higher political and military circles of Nazi Germany. And they were most resolute in implementing this policy.

To launch the offensive, the German warlords chose the Kursk direction. The [Soviet armies'] Kursk salient — extending far to the west in the Kursk area — created, according to the concept of the German command, the proper prerequisites for surrounding and smashing the defending armies of the [Soviet] Central and Voronezh Fronts and their strategic reserves. The operation received the code name Citadel. The main stake was placed on the effectiveness of a sudden massive strike of tank forces on narrow sectors of the breach. ...

On April 8, Marshal G. K. Zhukov, who was in the Kursk salient area, sent a report on the character of possibile military actions in the summer of 1943, in which he particularly stressed the following: "I consider it inexpedient for our troops to launch a preventive offensive in the near future." He also considered: "It would be better to wear down the enemy on our defensive positions, knock out his tanks, and then bring in fresh reserves and finish off his main groupings in a general offensive." ...

The Soviet Command, knowing the date set for the enemy's offensive, at the dawn of 5 July 1943 launched powerful artillery and air counter-preparations agains the enemy poised for a thrust. A rain of artillery and mortar shells and air bombs fell on his positions. The main blows were directed at artillery battery positions, observation posts, HQs, troop concentrations and airfields. The enemy sustained considerable losses while in assault position, and was compelled to assume the offensive somewhat behind schedule. The Nazis had failed to gain the element of surprise. ...

V. Larionov, N. Yeronin, B. Solovyov, V. Timokhovich
"4. The Battle of Kursk: Force Versus Force"
World War II: Decisive Battles of the Soviet Army
(Vazhneĭshie bitvy Sovetskoĭ Armii vo vtoroĭ mirovoĭ voĭne)
Progress Publishers: Moscow  (1984)
translated by William Biley
  

  
If they [recent immigrants to America] look back through this history to trace their connection with those days [of the American Revolution] by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,"

and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote the Declaration, and so they are.

That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.

Abraham Lincoln
Speech on the Dred Scott Decision, etc.
Chicago, Illinois; 10 July 1858
The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II: 1848-1858
Speeches and Writings: 1832-1858
  

  
4.3  Psycho-Kinetic Felinecide

In 1935, the physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed a thought experiment — that he certainly had no intention of carrying out — intended to ridicule the notion that the act of becoming conscious of an outcome determined that outcome. ...

... quantum mechanics says that the photon ... has been both detected and not detected, that the signal to the gun has been both sent and not sent, that the gun has been both fired and not fired, and that the cat is both dead and alive. The act of opening the container and looking at the condition of the cat would be the first act by which the experimenter could determine which way the photon went. It would thus be that act that would either kill the cat or grant it a stay of execution. ... Whether the cat lives or dies is determined exclusively by the experimenter's becoming consciously aware of the cat's state by looking at it. ...

4.4  TEW Rescues the Cat

[The theory of elementary waves] explains these polarization experiments without any special measurement theory. ...

Consciousness does not create reality.

Lewis E. Little
"Schrödinger's Cat"
The Theory of Elementary Waves
A New Explanation of Fundamental Physics  (2009)
  

  
In this town, he thought, The Love That Dares Not Speak Its Name almost never shuts up.

Armistead Maupin
Tales of the City  (1978)
  

  
What has kept England on its feet during the past year? In part, no doubt, some vague idea about a better future, but chiefly the atavistic emotion of patriotism, the ingrained feeling of the English-speaking peoples that they are superior to foreigners.

For the last twenty years the main object of English left-wing intellectuals has been to break this feeling down, and if they had succeeded, we might be watching the S.S. men patrolling the London streets at this moment.

George Orwell
"Wells, Hitler and the World State", Horizon, August 1941
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