16 April 2008

The Rot Goes All the way to the Top

"We had got wind of an impending atrocity." ~ Antonio Martens

"The interrogations went on for a while longer. we summoned witnesses, took statements, followed procedure. In the course of that procedure we drew the net of logic ever tighter. . . . At the time, with unfavorable portents multiplying, we had a lot to do.

The tape-recorder spools spun on, though automatically, constantly in their slots. Recording their words, the sounds of their prison life that were no longer of any interest to anyone.

. . . Then there are the silences between the words. I care for those silences least of all. Because the silences are never complete. They are full of murmurs, characteristic flutters, sighs, groans. the real sounds of an imprisoned man. How many shades of sigh exist, for example? Only these spools know. Consider me mad, but as I say: I find these silences the most difficult to bear." ~ Antonio Mertens
Hungarian novelist Imre Kertész won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002. In this slender, timeless book he offers the reflections of the fictional Mertens, a torturer awaiting sentencing for his crimes. Detective Story originally was published in 1977 and only just recently translated into English. How appropriate. The story Kertész relates is especially instructive for those pondering the "logic" of the BushCo "Principal's Group" as they sat around "the Situation Room" deciding which 'harsh techniques' to apply to which prisoners and with what intensity. And now, of course, W himself acknowledges that he approved of the meetings; the original story from ABC News is here, a nice follow-up (surprise!) from The Washington Post here.
"In short, as I say, we were groping around in the dark, metaphorically as well as literally." ~ Antonio Mertens
So too Condi and Colin, George and Dick, Don and Dick. Not a principle among them.
Citation: Imre Kertész. Detective Story. Alfred A. Knopf, 2008 (Detektívtörténet. Budapest: Magvetö, 1977).

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