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“There is,” he said after a brief pause, “an appropriate maxim, which bears upon what I was just telling you, and that is, that unless evil ideas take root in a mind marked by depravity from the outset, human nature, in its right and wholesome state, considers crime repugnant. Just the same, wants, vices and false appetites are the products of our civilization, which occasionally become so powerful as to stifle within us our desire to do good, and ultimately to lead us into temptation and wickedness. Hence is to be derived this maxim: Si vous voulez découvrir le coupable, cherchez d’abord celui à qui le crime commis peut être utile! — That if you seek to discover the culprit, seek first to discover the person to whom the perpetration of that crime could be in any way advantageous.”
–Alexandre Dumas, père, Le comte de Monte-Cristo vol. 1, ch. 17 (”La chambre de l’abbé”) (1845-46)(The abbé Faria to Edmond Dantès, in prison)(S.H. transl.) in the Pléiade ed., p. 175.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Number of people who attended the World Grits Festival, held in St. George, South Carolina, last spring:
The brown bears of Greece continued chewing through telephone poles.
In Peru, a 51-year-old activist became the first former sex worker to run for the national legislature. “I’m going to put order,” she said, “in that big brothel which is Congress.”
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“Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.”