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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Thursday October 03, 2002
02:18 AM

Name that tune

[ #8149 ]
Dear All,

So I came across the following passage, and I'm curious if you can guess where and when it refers to. I've blacked out the parts that could give it away.

Another idea, even more widespread, is that except for a few scholars, the _____ [nationality adjective] people are a mass of illiterate and, mentally, almost inert people who neither know nor care what goes on in the world at large, or even in _____ [the nation] as a whole. Among them, it is supposed, such a force as "public opinion" could hardly be said to exist, except as the masses are told what to think by the _____ who dominate them. In accord with this theory it has been assumed that in order to control _____ [the nation], a foreign government needed only to cultivate the favor of the high officials, or pay regular bribes to the ______. The people in general, it has been thought, could be ignored.

So: where and when is this about?

For extra credit, guess the original language of the above language passage.

I'll post the answer in a few days.

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  • I thought that it could be the British talking about their Indian subjects during the Raj - then I realised that it wouldn't need translating...

    Back to the guessing board.
  • This kind of crap does nothing but fan the flames of international discord and raise the import tariffs on Canadian Bacon.

    Who's responsible for this garbage? I blame Canada.

  • I'm guessing it's much older than that, perhaps the Romans -- Julius Caesar or Marcus Aurelius or someone like that. That would make the original language Latin.
    • I'm with Walt. My vote goes to Romans, referring to the Gauls or somesuch.
    • Not the style of Caesar and Marcus Aurelius was far more diplomatic as I recall from the 8 years of Latin I endured. It could be a bad translation of Pliny but I'm guessing it's a bit more modern.

  • Sounds like a generic sentiment that could easily be Greek or Roman. I'll go with my first guess, though: Alexis DeTocqueville, from "Democracy in America", writen in French.
  • Am I the only one who thinks it's someone, French perhaps, talking about Americans? No concept of what goes on in the world except what is handed to them? Check. No need to address the people, but bribe the higher officials? Check.
  • I don't think this comes from Antiquity, if occidental this looks recent (Renaissance at least.) Probably some occidental country, about some non-occidental country (XIXth century China ? or Maghreb ?)

    This can also be some asian country, about some other asian country -- and in this case this could be far older. Sun Tze ?

    The name of Machiavel comes also to mind. Italy, XVIth century.

  • The quote is about modern China, written in about 1952, in English (my asking about the source language was just a feint!), in the intro to a little paperback on Chinese history I found at a used bookstore, by some guy named H. G. Creel. But the way you can change the names and have it work for all sorts of places and times, is amazing.

    Another idea, even more widespread, is that except for a few scholars, the Chinese people are a mass of illiterate and, mentally, almost inert people who neither know nor c