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Antonio Manetti

I've posted this on the dotcommonweal thread but I think it's appropriate here for what it has to say about human nature and the always-latent savagery that seems beyond the reach of religion. It's from an interview with Paul Fussel, professor of English Literature, historian cultural critic and ex-gi.

Hackney: You write in one of your essays — your essay “My War” in The Boy Scout Handbook and Other Observations, which is a wonderful collection — you say toward the end of that essay, “Those who fought know a secret about themselves, and it is not very nice.”

Fussell: They have experienced secretly and privately their natural human impulse toward sadism and brutality. As I say in this new book of mine, not merely did I learn to kill with a noose of piano wire put around somebody’s neck from behind, but I learned to enjoy the prospect of killing that way. It’s those things that you learn about yourself that you never forget. You learn that you have much wider dimensions than you had imagined before you had to fight a war. That’s salutary. It’s well to know exactly who you are so you can conduct the rest of your life properly.

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