The problem is, the new built-in bookcases are installed but not yet finished, so most of the books are packed away, the small subset still available is well-randomized slim pickings. Thus late the other night I found myself spending quality time with Carl von Clausewitz' On War, allegedly a classic, and was unexpectedly rewarded; he has a chapter entitled Information in War which resonates with the now.

Von Clausewitz on a German Stamp

I purchased On War because T.E. Lawrence cites von C. as an influence, and Lawrence is one of mine. I've hurled myself against its splodges of turgid cryptomystical prose once or twice without making any real inroads, and had more or less given up. But then the other night, sleep didn't seem to be on the agenda and the pickings were slim, so Carl von C. got another chance.

The first paragraph of the Information in War chapter is nineteenth-century Teutonic bushwah, but the second goes like so:

Great part of the information obtained in War is contradictory, a still greater part is false, and by far the greatest part is of a doubtful character ... one report supports another, confirms it, magnifies it, finishes off the picture with fresh touches of colour, until necessity in urgent haste forces from us a resolution which will soon be discovered to be folly, all those reports having been lies, exaggerations, errors, etc., etc. In a few words, most reports are false, and the timidity of men acts as a multiplier of untruths. As a general rule, every one is more inclined to lend credence to the bad than the good. Every one is inclined to magnify the bad in some measure, and although the alarms which are thus propagated like the waves of the sea subside into themselves, still, like them, without any apparent cause they rise again.

Now about those Weapons of Mass Destruction...


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May 20, 2003
· The World (107 fragments)
· · Books

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