Friday, January 3, 2014

Nature bowls last : Matter over Mind, 1939-1945

Sir Charles Lyell as intellectual godfather to Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will".

Who would have known ?

But it was Sir Charles, in a 1863 book, who first summarily dismissed materialism as a philosophy with a single memorable phrase : "MIND OVER MATTER".

He opined that all the evidence from evolutionary progress ('ever onward to those broad sunlit uplands') indicated that the mind was gradually but steadily winning dominion over mere matter obstacles.

Oh yes, what Canadian can forget that 'dominion' was word de rigueur  for English language intellectuals in the sunny 1860s ?

'Mind over Matter' : Lyell's memorable catchphrase came to sum up Modernity's essence for the populations and leaders of the Allied, Axis and Neutral camps during WWII.

So, in its spirit, on the very first day of the war, headlines all the world over (incorrectly) blatted "German tanks maul Polish horses".

But in the dying days of the European phase of the war no such headlines came out, that by the Spring of 1945 , now "Polish horses haul German tanks".

The tanks were disguised as Polish peasant  haywagons, en route to their last role as hull down pillboxes in the battle for the German heartland.

The Germans had no more gasoline for the tanks and in any case had run out of engine spare parts to re-start them.

German morale was still high..... but motor oil supplies were very low.

In Japan : ditto, ditto.

There legions of schoolkids and grandmothers destroyed all the sacred pine trees they could find, all to extract the basis of very little, very crude, airplane gasoline from their roots.

The German tankers were desperate to get their tanks into hidden position before the Soviets arrived, but the Polish horses took their good old time, re-fueling along the sides of the road, eating the Spring's first tender shoots.

The war - for Germany at least - was no longer moving along at Man's Blitzkrieg tempo, but rather at Nature's own pace.

'Matter over Mind' , at last ....

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