Friday, January 1, 2010

Five Second ... Scoop on Simplicity/Complexity

An excerpt from Scoop by Evelyn Waugh on how to tell the good guys from the bad guys, one of our subjects yesterday. Boot is the greenest of journalists being drafted by his paper to cover an erupting civil war in the fictional country of Ishmaelia. Salter, the foreign editor, fills him in. With thanks to Blattman for recommending the book on my Christmas list and my parents for getting it for me.
Boot: Well, there is one thing. You see, I don't read the papers very much. Can you tell me who is fighting who in Ishmaelia?
Salter: I think it's the Patriots and the Traitors.
Boot: Yes, but which is which? ... I gather it's between the Reds and the Blacks.
Salter: Yes, but it's not quite as easy as that. You see they are all Negroes. And the Fascists won't be called Black because of their racial pride, so they are called White after the White Russians. And the Bolshevists want to be called Black because of their racial pride. So when you say Black you mean Red, and when you mean Red you say White, and when the party who call themselves Blacks say Traitors they mean what we call Blacks, but what we mean when we say Traitors I really couldn't tell you. Lord Copper only wants Patriot victories and both sides call themselves Patriots and of course both sides will claim all the victories. But of course it's really a war between Russia and Germany and Italy and Japan who are all against one another on the patriotic side. I hope I make myself plan?"
Boot: Up to a point.   (p. 58-59).

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