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Die Schicksalsfrage der Menschenart scheint mir zu sein, ob und in welchem Maße es ihrer Kulturentwicklung gelingen wird, der Störung des Zusammenlebens durch den menschlichen Aggressions- und Selbstvernichtungstrieb Herr zu werden. In diesem Bezug verdient vielleicht die gegenwärtige Zeit ein besonderes Interesse. Die Menschen haben es jetzt in ihrer Beherrschung der Naturkräfte so weit gebracht, dass sie es mit deren Hilfe leicht haben, einander bis auf den letzten Mann auszurotten. Sie wissen das, daher ein gut Stück ihrer gegenwärtigen Unruhe, ihres Unglücks, ihrer Angststimmung. Und nun ist zu erwarten, dass die andere der beiden „himmlischen Kräfte“, der ewige Eros, eine Anstrengung machen wird, um sich im Kampf mit seinem ebenso unsterblichen Gegner zu behaupten. Aber wer kann den Erfolg und Ausgang voraussehen?
The fateful question for humankind appears to me to be whether and in what measure its cultural development will succeed in mastering the disruption of communal life which results from the human drives towards aggression and self-destruction. The present times warrant special attention in this regard. Human beings have gained control over the forces of nature to such an extent that at length they will have no difficulty in exterminating the species down to the last man. They know this, and hence is to be derived a good portion of the current unrest, unhappiness and the sense of anxiety. And thus it is to be expected that the other one of the two “celestial powers,” namely the eternal Eros, will make an effort to assert itself in battle with its equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee with what success and with what result?
–Sigmund Freud, Das Unbehagen in der Kultur pt. viii (1930-31) in: Werkausgabe vol. 2, p. 424 (A. Freud & I. Grubrich-Simitis eds. 1978)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Average amount the company paid each of its 140 top executives last year:
Between one fifth and one half of England’s leisure horses are obese.
Scientists in the Galápagos Islands credited an endangered giant tortoise named Diego with saving his species by fathering more than 800 offspring.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”