What remains of the dead? What remains of every one of us? Tombstones sink in, moss covers them and after a few centuries the name can no longer be read. Every forgotten grave is designated a new corpse. As the generations passed, remembrance of the dead diminished until it was forgotten. What was called everlasting peace only lasted half a century. The bones were disturbed as the graveyards were mulched in to suburbs. The earth had become too small, for the living and the dead. In half a century a funeral had become a luxury that only few could afford who had died before judgment day. But who cares about a single body when the whole planet is dying.[...]Earlier the remains of humanity had only had the right to be there as long as the living remembered them. A human being remembers their relatives, their friends and colleagues. But his conscience only reached back three generations before it faded away. Just more then fifty years.With the same ease, you let the picture of our grandfather or your friend from school out of our conscience into absolute nothingness. The memories of a human can last longer than the bones, but as soon as the last one who remembered us has passed we dissolve with time.[...]Back then there was almost no more space in the thick family album for old and brown turned pictures, but almost nobody that looked through it could say for sure who was on the photos. The photographs of the passed can be interpreted as some kind of mask, but not as a print of their soul when they were living. And the photographs only decay as slow as the people that live inside themWhat remains?Our children?They can look like us. In their reflection we mirror ourselves in a mysterious way. United with those we had loved. In their gestures, in their mimics we happily find ourselves or with sorrow. Friends confirm that our sons and daughters are just like us. Maybe that gives us a certain extension of ourselves when we are no more. We ourselves weren’t the first. We have been made from countless copies that have been before us, just another chimera, always half from our fathers and mothers who are again the half of their parents. So is there nothing unique in us but are we just an endless mixture of small mosaic parts that never endingly exist in us? Have we been formed out of millions of small parts to a complete picture that has no own worth and has to fall into its parts again?Does it even matter to be happy if we found ourselves in our children, a certain line that has been traveling through our bodies for millions of years?What remains of me?[...]What kind of immortality was left for mankind?
Dmitry Glukhovsky
But what I would like to know, says Albert, is whether there would not have been a war if the Kaiser had said No.I am sure there would, I interject, he was against it from the first.Well, if not him alone, then perhaps if twenty or thirty people in the world had said No.That's probable, I agree, but they damned well said Yes.It's queer, when one thinks about it, goes on Kropp, we are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect their fatherland. Now who's in the right?Perhaps both, say I without believing it.Yes, well now, pursues Albert and I see that he means to drive me into a corner, but our professors and parsons and newspapers say that we are the only ones that are right and let's hope so;--but the French professors and parsons and newspapers say that the right is on their side, now what about that?That I don't know, I say, but whichever way it is there's war all the same and every month more countries coming in.Tjaden reappears. He is still quite excited and again joins the conversation, wondering just how a war gets started.Mostly by one country badly offending another, answers Albert with a slight air of superiority.Then Tjaden pretends to be obtuse. A country? I don't follow. A mountain in Germany cannot offend a mountain in France. Or a river, or a wood, or a field of wheat.Are you really as stupid as that, or are you just pulling my leg? growls Kropp, I don't mean that at all. One people offends the other--Then I haven't any business here at all, replies Tjaden, I don't feel myself offended.Well, let me tell you, says Albert sourly, it doesn't apply to tramps like you.Then I can be going home right away, retorts Tjaden and we all laugh, Ach, man! he means the people as a whole, the State-- exclaims Mller.State, State--Tjaden snaps his fingers contemptuously, Gendarmes, police, taxes, that's your State;--if that's what you are talking about, no, thank you.That's right, says Kat, you've said something for once, Tjaden. State and home-country, there's a big difference.But they go together, insists Kropp, without the State there wouldn't be any home-country.True, but just you consider, almost all of us are simple folk. And in France, too, the majority of men are labourers, workmen, or poor clerks. Now just why would a French blacksmith or a French shoemaker want to attack us? No, it is merely the rulers. I had never seen a Frenchman before I came here and it will be just the same with the majority of Frenchmen as regards us. They weren't asked about it any more than we were.Then what exactly is the war for? asks Tjaden.Kat shrugs his shoulders. There must be some people to whom the war is useful.Well, I am not one of them, grins Tjaden.Not you, nor anybody else here.Who are they then? persists Tjaden. It isn't any use to the Kaiser either. He has everything he can want already.I am not so sure about that, contradicts Kat, he has not had a war up till now. And every full-grown emperor requires at least one war, otherwise he would not become famous. You look in your school books.And generals too, adds Detering, they become famous through war.Even more famous than emperors, adds Kat.There are other people back behind there who profit by the war, that's certain, growls Detering.I think it is more of a kind of fever, says Albert. No one in particular wants it and then all at once there it is. We didn't want the war, the others say the same thing--and yet half the world is in it all the same.
Erich Maria Remarque
Miss Mackintosh waved her arms wildly.Oh, please stop and let me guess, she cried. I shall go crazy with joy if I am right. It was an old Peerage and so she found that Lady Deal was Helena Herman--Whom she had seen ten years ago at a music hall as a male impersonator, cried Diva.And didn't want to know her, interrupted Miss Mackintosh.Yes, that's it, but that is not all. I hope you won't mind, but it's too rich. She saw you this morning coming out of your house in your bath-chair and was quite sure that you were that Lady Deal.The three ladies rocked with laughter. Sometimes one recovered and sometimes two, but they were re-infected by the third and so they went on, solo and chorus and duet and chorus, till exhaustion set in.But there's still a mystery, said Diva at length, wiping her eyes. Why did the Peerage say that Lady Deal was Helena Herman?Oh, that's the last Lady Deal, said Miss Mackintosh. Helena Herman's Lord Deal died without children and Florence's Lord Deal, my Lady Deal, succeeded. Cousins.If that isn't a lesson for Elizabeth Mapp, said Diva. Better go to the expense of a new Peerage than make such a muddle. But what a long call we've made. We must go.Florence shall hear every word of it to-morrow night, said Miss Mackintosh. I promise not to tell her till then. We'll all tell her.Oh, that is kind of you, said Diva.It's only fair. And what about Miss Mapp being told?She'll find it out by degrees, said the ruthless Diva. It will hurt more in bits.Oh, but she mustn't be hurt, said Miss Mackintosh. She's too precious, I adore her.So do we, said Diva. But we like her to be found out occasionally. You will, too, when you know her.
E.F. Benson