Monday, August 25, 2014

The mind of a totalitarian...

...Darkness at Noon gave me a deep, life-long interest in politics
I remember experiencing the end of the book as a chilling void. The story is told in the third person, but it feels like a first-person account of dying. Koestler had once been sentenced to execution and reprieved, so he had some insight into the abyss. But it isn’t the eradication of life that shocks. It is the moral oblivion of a conscience repressed by mechanical reasoning. It is the realisation that every aspiration to contain human experience in a unified theory, every urge to order mankind in neat rows, every codified system of belief that despises dissent, involves some inward violence. (The outward violence is better documented.) It means shutting down parts of the self that can bear to live with contradiction, which is the beginning of the end of compassion.

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