Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Quotes for the Current Canadian Craziness

Peoples at war do not call the same thing good and evil. The one’s victory is the other’s defeat…. War, then, limits speech to the fighting group on one side. War draws a geographical line between two idioms…. A war ends when people begin to speak to each other again.

from The Origin of Speech, page 10-11

War is conflict between here and there, the languages of friend and foe. [R]evolution [is the] conflict between old and new, between the languages of yesterday and tomorrow, with the language of tomorrow attacking.

from The Origin of Speech, page 12-13

The disappearance of war threatens us with the loss of the ability to distinguish between play and seriousness. Let us admit openly: war is the prime example of deadly earnestness. Any action in which I am prepared to risk my life resembles war. Even love sinks to the level of a game when there is no risk of life involved.

from Planetary Service: A Way Into the Third Millennium, page 5

Some pacifists indulge in calling war murder. Ever since men could speak, murder and war stood approximately at opposite ends of the scale of social processes. The murderer was and is pre-tribal; he expresses his will against another will. War defends the order to which the warrior has surrendered part of his will because he believes in a higher, supernatural peace and order between men which depends for its existence on his acts. Not to go to war, means to desert the peace which my body politic has established. Not to murder means to respect the continuity which my body politic has built up.

from The Origin of Speech, page 29

The future does not stay open automatically; it has to be re-opened by your own inward death and renewal. Not steady movement in one direction but continual re-direction, breaking through old ruts, is the formula for progress. All routine, all secondary forms of life, all the organs of our body even, decay when they do not serve and are not keyed up again by the growth of a new leaf, the bursting of one new blossom, by the one step into the unknown and improbable which we experience when we ask ourselves where our heart really is.

from The Christian Future, page 83

If the land is not to be lost to hordes from outside, we in all the Western World shall have to recover the power to build communities. It is quite worthless to map out programs of rehabilitation or resettlement since not one of the individuals thus resettled or rehabilitated has the stamina to partake in the revival of the community. First of all, before any planners can carry out any plan, we shall have to create opportunities in which men recover their power to found or re-found communities. This power is lost. The modern mind has lost the recipe.

from The Christian Future, page 198

Man’s dignity lies not in producing private opinions but in timing public truth. His speech must not only be more than himself: it must come at the right moment, in the fullness of time. Then his words acquire a ‘once for ever’ meaning. All the sayings of Jesus were quite simple; they became important forever because they were spoken at the right moment, ‘when the time was fulfilled.’ A truth taught without the time element is abstract, therefore not vital. Truth is concrete at the lucky opportunity and hour. When we speak too late or too early we are out of luck; our truth remains abstract, and we fail to create a present in which people transcend mere past and future; we lack presence of mind.

from I Am an Impure Thinker: Teaching Too Late, Learning Too Early, page 95

Mankind writes its own history long before the historians visit its battlefields; days, festivals, holidays, the order of meals, rest and vacations, together with religiously observed ritual and symbols, are sources of political history, though rarely used by the average political or economic historian…. It is not necessary to record the everyday life of a nation for a thousand years in order to know its aim and inspiration. The great creations of history do not reveal their deepest sense nor their soul every day. But each has its wedding day; and the words and songs, the promises and laws of this period of a nation’s life express its character viva voce and settle its destiny once and forever.

from Out of Revolution, page 8 & 9

We are shareholders in the truth whenever we think. But thought is and must be, by its very essence, dialectical. Being a shareholder, the individual mind never owns the whole capital of truth. We are thrown on others; our thought provokes other and contrary thought! On the bare physical plane one individual or group can easily cope with the life of many other groups and individuals: indifference and peaceful equilibrium are possible at that level. But thought changes the peace of the world. Thought is always provoking its own contradiction. This eternal dialogue of thoughts and principles organizes humanity into schools of thought. The parties of policy, the armies of war, and the classes of interest, are embodiments of this power of the mind to act like a sword, to distinguish and to polarize, to live by paradox and conflict, by dialectical revolutions.

from Out of Revolution, page 152

Fear acts very differently from love in that it will exaggerate differences.

from The Christian Future, page 152

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