Home > Uncategorized > Halldór Laxness: In war there is no cause except the cause of war. A bitter disappointment when it turned out they could defend themselves

Halldór Laxness: In war there is no cause except the cause of war. A bitter disappointment when it turned out they could defend themselves

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Halldór Laxness
From Under the Glacier (1968)
Translated by Magnús Magnússon

Embi: You sound as though you’re from America. Why have you come here?

Saknussemm II: We brothers are life-inducers. (NB: He actually said “bioinductors,” a word the undersigned has never heard before or seen in print. I hope this man is not a professor from Los Angeles.) We have come here to bioinduct Snæfellsjökull.

Embi: By killing birds?

Saknussemm II: Killing birds is a game, like war.

Embi: Why do you Americans travel to foreign countries in order to kill birds?

Saknussemm II: War has always been the chief amusement of humankind. Other amusements are a surrogate for war. What are the Olympic Games? Bullshit.

Embi: It is monstrous to amuse oneself by killing defenseless creatures.

Saknussemm II: It has always been popular to attack the weak. A great temptation to take them on – no matter whether they are white, black, or red. A bitter disappointment when it turned out they could defend themselves; tragic, it’s like pricking oneself on a rose.

Embi: Attacking the weak is considered cowardly and contemptible here in this country!

Saknussemm II: …Of all the creatures that man kills for his amusement there is only one he kills out of hatred – other men. Man hates nothing as much as himself. That is why war is called the leprosy of the human soul.

*****

Saknussemm II: … Why do we Americans travel halfway across the globe with the most complex guns in the history of the world to shoot naked peasants in a country we don’t even know? It is because we love these people as ourselves. We adore them. We gladly pay a million dollars to be able to shoot one peasant. We are prepared to spend the last gold coin in our treasury to be allowed to shoot a peasant.

Embi: I would advise you not to say that out loud.

Saknussemm II: You do not understand us because you forget in the depths of our souls we ourselves are naked peasants far beyond unknown oceans. We yearn to kill the naked peasant within ourselves. It is our belief that he who kills a naked peasant with a complex gun is the world’s greatest.

Saknussemm II: …In war there is no cause except the cause of war and that is to have a war…

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: