Saturday, March 29, 2008


I went Thursday night and heard Mary Doria Russell talk about her books, most recently Dreamers of the Day. This is a fictionalized account of the Cairo Conference that met after World War I to organize what is now the Middle East. At this conference,the foundation was laid for many of our present day conflicts there.

At the end of the book, Russell says this through her protagonist, Agnes Shanklin:

"The irony is that each new war begins in hope: hope of restoring lost honor, hope of redressing injustices and reclaiming tarnished glory, hope of a grand new world. Each war ends with the black seeds of the next war sown: honor newly lost, injustice freshly inflicted, a world more broken than before. Always, someone steps forward, ready to water and weed and harvest those black seeds, dreaming of the day when they will bring forth their bounty of vindictive vindication. Into that dreamer's ear, a bloodred god whispers, 'Offer flattery in one hand, fear in the other. Rule or be ruled! Dominate or disappear!'

"The rationales warp and twist and shift. The closer war comes, the simpler and stupider the choices. Are you a warrior or a coward? Are you with us or against us?

"'All men dream,' Colonel Lawrence [T. E. Lawrence] wrote, 'but not equally. Those who dream by night wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.'"

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