DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Freud And Murder

There has been another mass murder school shooting, this time Friday in Santa Fe, Texas.

Not long ago,m I wrote down some thoughts and an extract from the 92-page book “Civilization and Its Discontents” by the Austrian neurologist and writer Sigmund Freud (1856-1939).

It was completed during the rise of Adolf Hitler, and among other insights the book anticipated the horrors of World War II. I first read the book in the 1960s as a college student. I happened upon a copy the other day and was struck again by Freud’s realistic view of human behavior.

Here’s the extract:

“Men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved, and who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked: They are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowment is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him.”

In my opinion, Freud was correct and little has changed.

The state-sponsored mass destruction of humans continues around the world.

Closer to home, active shooter mass killings are regular occurrences in the U.S. And nearly every day, most of us hear of horrific individual murders in our own cities big and small.

Of course, Freud was generalizing. The world then and now is occupied by mostly good and humane people.

And yet one can’t deny that humanity has an evil side that constantly manifests itself. Today’s psychologists disagree with some of Freud’s theories, but agree that he got the evil part right.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — A Proustian Moment

Here’s another photo from my visit Tuesday to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum not far from our place in Bloomington, Minn.

These are hawthorn blossoms, French writer Marcel Proust’s favorite flower.

When I got home, I looked up what he had to say about them. Those who haven’t read Proust will notice he used long sentences.

“I found the whole path throbbing with the fragrance of hawthorn-blossom. The hedge resembled a series of chapels, whose walls were no longer visible under the mountains of flowers that were heaped upon their altars; while underneath, the sun cast a square of light upon the ground, as though it had shone in upon them through a window; the scent that swept out over me from them was as rich, and as circumscribed in its range, as though I had been standing before the Lady-altar, and the flowers, themselves adorned also, held out each its little bunch of glittering stamens with an air of inattention, fine, radiating ‘nerves’ in the flamboyant style of architecture, like those which, in church, framed the stair to the rood-loft or closed the perpendicular tracery of the windows, but here spread out into pools of fleshy white, like strawberry-beds in spring.

“How simple and rustic, in comparison with these, would seem the dog-roses which, in a few weeks’ time, would be climbing the same hillside path in the heat of the sun, dressed in the smooth silk of their blushing pink bodices, which would be undone and scattered by the first breath of wind.

“But it was in vain that I lingered before the hawthorns, to breathe in, to marshal before my mind (which knew not what to make of it), to lose in order to rediscover their invisible and unchanging odor, to absorb myself in the rhythm which disposed their flowers here and there with the light-heartedness of youth, and at intervals as unexpected as certain intervals of music; they offered me an indefinite continuation of the same charm, in an inexhaustible profusion, but without letting me delve into it any more deeply, like those melodies which one can play over a hundred times in succession without coming any nearer to their secret.”

Yup, that’s exactly what it was like Tuesday.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Little Crow

One of my favorite places is the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Dorette and I are frequent visitors. She’s out of town, so I drove to the MIA on Saturday and wandered around for a couple of hours.

It’s truly a world class institution.

Photography is allowed, not the case in many museums.

Among the works of art I’m most drawn to is this one of Little Crow, painted in 1863 by Henry H. Cross, 1837-1918. Little Crow was the leader of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

I was reminded of the fairly recent series about the war by Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Curt Brown. It was titled “In the footsteps of Little Crow 150 years after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.”

Powerful stuff that ends with the chief’s remains being returned from South Dakota to Minnesota many decades after the conflict.

As the procession began, one of the Elders pointed upward and a murmur rose from the mostly Native American crowd. A huge flock of birds was circling overhead, then headed east. Many of those present believed they were accompanying Little Crow’s spirit home.

I searched Amazon today, but a print version of Brown’s history is unavailable. It is on Kindle, however, now on my “to-buy” list after I upgrade my device .

Amazon did display a few pages from the book, including one with this photograph of Little Crow.

DAVE VORLAND: Photo Gallery — Sights Of Spring

Spring has finally sprung in the Midwest, as Bloomington, Minn., photographer Dave Vorland’s most recent images show. But it hasn’t been like that since its start March 20, when the landscape was snow-filled and trees were bare.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — ‘Vronsky’

Dorette and I love to attend the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival every spring. On Thursday, we saw the new Russian-made movie “Vronsky,” complete with English subtitles.

The flick is set in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. It imagines the aftermath of Leo Tolstoy’s novel “Anna Karenina” from the point of view of Anna’s lover, Count Vronsky, several years after her death by suicide, including flashbacks to her failed marriage with her husband Alexi. A spunky woman, that Anna, way ahead of her time.

I liked it a lot.

Years ago, I read a lot of Tolstoy’s writing — novels such as “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace” as well as nonfiction works such as “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

I also read his diary written right up to the day of his death in 1910. In his last year at age 82, the entries always began with the words “Still Alive.”

Anyway, I think I’ll read “Anna Karenina” one last time.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — On Reading

Reading has been important to me since I was a first-grader at Fram Township School No. 3 in Wellsburg, N.D. My teacher, Sylpha Hovland, inspired me. I still have my “report card” from that year long ago — the marks were great for reading, not so hot for “deportment.”

Here are the first lines of 10 of my favorite novels. The answers are at the end of this blog. Add your favorite book or books in a comment if you wish. (Don’t worry: this post is not like one of those Facebook “quizzes” that allowed Cambridge Analytical to influence the presidential election).

(1) “In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.”

(2) “Laura was washing the dishes one morning when old Jack, lying in the sunshine on the doorstep, growled to tell her that someone was coming.”

(3) “For a long time, I went to bed early.”

(4) “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

(5) “Call me Ishmael.”

(6) “I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father’s house.”

(7) “On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.”

(8) “In the year 1896, my great-uncle, one of the first Catholic priests of aboriginal blood, put the call out to his parishioners that they should gather at Saint Joseph’s wearing scapulars and holding missals.”

(9) “Bright, clear sky over a plain so wide that the rim of the heavens cut down on it around the entire horizon.”

(10) “In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father give me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”

THE AUTHORS
(1) Ernest Hemingway.
(2) Laura Ingalls Wilder.
(3) Marcel Proust.
(4) J.D. Salinger.
(5) Herman Melville.
(6) Robert Louis Stevenson.
(7) Thornton Wilder.
(8) Louise Erdrich.
(9) O.E. Rolvaag.
(10) F. Scott Fitzgerald.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Sinking Of The Indianapolis

I can’t resist a used bookstore. On Saturday, I picked up a volume that tells the story of the cruiser U.S.S. Indiana, sunk by the Japanese in World War II after delivering the atomic bomb that would end the conflict.

The book, “In Harm’s Way,” reminded me of the description of the disaster that the character “Quint” (Robert Shaw) provided in the 1975 movie “Jaws,” still one of the most popular films ever made.

Here, slightly edited, is how Quint described what happened.

“Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, chief. Our ship was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte, just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes.

“Didn’t see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. Thirteen-footer.

“You know how you know that when you’re in the water, chief? You tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week.

“Very first light, chief, the sharks come cruisin’. So we formed ourselves into tight groups.

“You know it’s kinda like ol’ squares in battle like you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. And the idea was, the shark comes to the nearest man and that man, he’d start poundin’ and hollerin’ and screamin’ and sometimes the shark would go away. Sometimes he wouldn’t go away.

“Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white. And then, ah then you hear that terrible high-pitch screamin’ and the ocean turns red and spite of all the poundin’ and the hollerin’ they all come in and rip you to pieces.

“Y’know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men! I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand! I don’t know how many men, they averaged six an hour.

“On Thursday mornin’ I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player, boson’s mate. I thought he was asleep, reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up and down in the water, just like a kinda top.

“Up ended. Well, he’d been bitten in half below the waist. Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper in a Lockheed Ventura saw us, he swung in low. He’s a young pilot, and anyway he saw us and come in low.

“And three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and starts to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened? Waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again.

“So, 1,100 men went in the water, 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — A War Story

Friends know I enjoy used bookstores. There are many within easy driving distance of our place in Bloomington, Minn.

I recently purchased the above book for $1.50 at a Salvation Army resale outlet near the place that sells me Starbucks Italian Bold coffee.

“What Did You Do In the War, Daddy?” was self-published by Gordon C. Krantz, who like Dorette and me is (or was) a resident of Bloomington, Minn. It is subtitled “The Reminiscences of an Ordinary Draftee in World War II.”

Krantz was a member of the 537th engineering company, involved in combat during 1944 and 1945 after shipping to Europe aboard the passenger liner “Queen Elizabeth.”

The book describes his wartime experiences (as well as a tour of the battlefields he took with his wife many years after the war).

Here’s a brief excerpt, apparently from his diary:

“I don’t expect to come back. In a war you get killed. The ways things are going in Europe, we are in for a grim time. We know how to kill the other guy and he knows how to kill us. I may be alone in this expectation of getting killed, but I don’t think so. We have a song, a parody of the WWI song “over there.” It ends with ‘We’ll be over, we’re going over, and we’re all coming back in wooden underwear.’ Wooden underwear is a pine box.”

The 16.1 million veterans of World War II are rapidly disappearing. Only about 3.4 percent of those who served are still alive.

The book has a warning notice on its title page: “This version is a private publication for family use only — Not for sale.”

If my calculation is correct, Krantz would be 93 years old. Not impossible, of course.

But given the fact his request that the book not be sold was ultimately ignored (recall that I bought it used at the resale store), Krantz may have crossed to the other side.

Dead or alive, I salute you.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — The Last Good Year?

When Dorette and I visited New Zealand a while ago, we heard a Maori proverb.

“Walk backwards toward the future.”

I thought of it when this picture of me as a kid (above) surfaced recently from my archive (that is to say, from my boxes of clutter).

It was taken by my father decades ago on the family farm in Wells County, North Dakota. Some of the tones have shifted over the decades, but the image still captures me. I have no recollection of the occasion — perhaps I was duded up for a school or church “program.”

As we used to say about active old guys, I’m still “spry.” But lately, a darker thought has occurred to me: “Is this my last good year?”

Hopefully not.

But I now truly understand the meaning and wisdom of the Maori saying — it’s useless to dwell on the future.

I’ll learn the ending of my story soon enough.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — My Favorite Bird

I’ve been hearing northern Cardinals but had not seen one close up until Saturday. They don’t migrate — one of the handful of species that live in Minnesota all year.

I photographed this female (above) under one of our feeders in Bloomington.

We’ll soon be hearing more of them. Both the males and females sing in earnest in March and April to establish territories and attract mates. They are the opera stars of the bird world — each individual has 10 to 12 unique song types, although some diva cardinals can sing more than 25.

It’s music to my ears.

According to my guide book, to maintain contact, males and females also give short nonmusical, metallic sounding “chip notes” singly or in a series. The frequency and volume of these calls increase with the level of agitation.