Flight From Byzantium

Civilizations move along meridians; nomads (including our modern warriors, since war is an echo of the nomadic instinct) along latitudes. This seems to be yet another version of the cross Constantine saw. Both movements possess a natural (vegetable or animal) logic, considering which one easily finds oneself in the position of not being able to reproach anyone for anything. In the state known as melancholy—or more exactly, fatalism. It can be blamed on age, or on the influence of the East, or, with an effort of the imagination, on Christian humility. The advantages of this condition are obvious, since they are selfish ones. For it is, like all forms of humility, always achieved at the expense of the mute helplessness of the victims of history, past, present and future; it is an echo of the helplessness of millions. And if you are not at an age when you can draw a sword from a scabbard or clamber up to a platform to roar to a sea of heads about your detestation of the past, the present, and what is to come; if there is no such platform or the sea has dried up, there still remain the face and the lips, which can accommodate your slight—provoked by the vista opening to both your inner and your naked eye—smile of contempt. — Joseph Brodsky