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Why am i reading about it?

23 Feb

(Rwanda Genocide)

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“Leontius, the son of Aglaion, was going up from the Piraeus along the outside of the North Wall when he saw some corpses lying at the executioner’s feet. He had an appetite to look at them but at the same time he was disgusted and turned away. For a time he struggled with himself and covered his face, but, finally overpowered by the desire, he pushed his eyes wide open and rushed towards the corpses, saying, “Look, you damned wretches, take your fill of the fair sight.”

Plato, Republic

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“Like Leontius, the young Athenian in Plato, I presume that you are reading this because you desire a closer look, and that you, too, are properly disturbed by your curiosity. Perhaps, in examining this extremity with me, you hope for some understanding, some insight, some flicker of self-knowledge – a moral, or a lesson, or a clue about how to behave in this world: some such information. I don’t discount the possibility, but when it comes to genocide, you already know right from wrong. The best reason I have come up with for looking closely into Rwanda’s stories is that ignoring them makes me even more uncomfortable about existence and my place in it. The horror, as horror, interests me only insofar as a precise memory of the offense is necessary to understand its legacy.”

– Philip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Books, In-Depth

 

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