The Blue Wound - part III.
Click here for parts I and II of the Blue Wound "live blog."
In the past couple of days, I have read chapters 4 through 7. I believe that Chapters 3 and 4 should be required reading at the beginning of every history class in every school.
I wrote about Chapter 3 here, in which I discussed Garrett's description of the rise and fall of cities.
Chapter 4 is a more comprehensive description of the rise and fall of one city and one civilization. This chapter, entitled "All East of Eden," appears to describe most closely the life of ancient Rome. Not every civilization follows exactly the same formula, but human nature remains a constant. Every great civilization fits somewhere on to this continuum. History can be reduced to the discovery of where any particular civilization fits, at any given time, into the arc described in "All East of Eden." It would serve us well to learn this lesson, as the end of any civilization is usually long and painful. Garrett's fictional city, which had begun in idyllic circumstances, was ultimately reduced to using slaves, enforcing tribute, outright piracy and other programs necessary to pay for a lifestyle that a free economy would not support. "All East of Eden" ends when a barbarian horde "mercifully terminated the tragedy."
But these chapters are more than a mere history lesson. Garrett presents no dates, names or facts. He tells a simple story in brief allegory form. It is almost as if Garrett has reduced large portions of Will Durant's "The Story of Civilization" to a work of art. Ayn Rand wrote that art serves the purpose of objectifying man's values and placing them into a form that all can experience. If that description is accurate, then Garrett produced a work of art in these chapters, by reducing history to an objective, simple story that we can experience and a framework in which we can understand almost anything that has happened in man's past.
Chapter 5, "The Wages of Thrift," is also a true classic. This chapter should be required reading at the beginning of every economics class. But it is much more than economics. This chapter is about morality, philosophy and much more. And it presents the least dry treatment I have seen of these subjects outside of Ayn Rand. The point of this Chapter is the inevitable punishment that those who work, earn and produce must endure at the hands of those who would reap the benefits. Again, the lesson is presented in the form of a brief story, starring fictional valley dwellers, being observed silently by the narrator and the mysterious man that started "the war" referenced at the beginning of the book.
At this point, I believe Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of Blue Wound rival Absalom Weaver's speech from Satan's Bushel or the Foreward to People's Pottage as true classic gems from Garrett's writings.
As I proceed through these chapters, I come closer to an explanation of how these stories relate to that devastating war. Today's pundits, rather than endlessly debate the minutiae of today's war, would do better to step outside of today's debate and examine Garrett's simple allegories.
update - click here for part IV.