Asian and Western Writers in Dialogue: New Cultural by Guy Amirthanayagam

By Guy Amirthanayagam

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Such a happening was a direct brutal fact of 'Reality' itself. To understand the purely symbolic ingredient in that motivational recipe, we would have to concern ourselves with the nature of vicarious sacrifice in general. For even those poor devils who were not just 'realistically' but really killed were also symbolic victims; the Roman public needed them; the cry for bread and circuses (panem et circenses) was not just local to the times. In principle (if in such matters we may speak of 'principle') it is a universal cry- for tragically high among the resources of symbol systems is the principle of substitution.

The political aspects of his democratic gospel, it seems to me, amounted to the celebrating of such a life-style as was made possible by the kind of manufactured commodities that one would find listed in a mail-order catalogue for small farms and on sale in the general stores of towns on the make. The element of\::xpansionist hopefulness derived from the effects of the frontier. Jle the new technology and its corresponding small-scale capitalism (small-scale certainly as compared with the kinds of organisations we confront now, such as multination al corporation s and national conglomerates, or a mixture of the two).

Realisms, Occidental Style 4· But such a 'timely topic' had to be treated via the 'pathos of distance'. For as thus treated in 'mythic' terms of the Trojan War (the Greeks' 'essential' war, as established by the traditional Homeric epic), the subject could be presented in ways whereby members of both the peace party and the war party could weep together, regardless of their views about the disgraceful bullying done by Athens upon little Melos, thanks to the Athenian democratic imperialists of the war party.

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