Why is it I’m finding parallels with our immediate lives in old stories I am reading? Does the following conversation in a train feel like an analysis of today’s news?
‘The way I look at it is this,’ pursued the stout man. ‘Here we’ve been and had a war, what has left ‘undreds o’ men in what you might call a state of unstable ekilibrium. They’ve seen all their friends blown up or shot to pieces. They’ve been through five years of ‘orrors and bloodshed, and it’s given ’em what you might call a twist in the mind towards ‘orrors. They may seem to forget it and go along as peaceable as anybody to all outward appearance, but it’s all artificial, if you get my meaning. Then, one day something ‘appens to upset them — they ‘as words with the wife, or the weather’s extra hot, as it is today — and something goes pop inside their brains and makes raving monsters of them. It’s all in the books. I do a good bit of reading myself of an evening, being a bachelor without encumbrances.’
‘That’s all very true,’ said a prim little man, looking up from his magazine, ‘very true indeed — too true. But do you think it applies in the present case? I’ve studied the literature of crime a good deal — I may say I make it my hobby — and it’s my opinion there’s more in this than meets the eye. If you will compare this murder with some of the most mysterious crimes of late years — crimes which, mind you, have never been solved, and, in my opinion, never will be — what do you find?’ He paused and looked round. ‘You will find many features in common with this case. But especially you will find that the face — and the face only, mark you — has been disfigured, as though to prevent recognition. As thought to blot out the victim’s personality from the world. And you will find that, in spite of the most thorough investigation, the criminal is never discovered. Now what does all that point to? To organization. Organization. To an immensely powerful influence at work behind the scenes. In this very magazine that I’m reading now’ — he tapped the pages impressively — ‘there’s an account — not a faked-up story, but an account extracted from the annals of the police — of the organization of one of these secret societies, which mark down men against whom they bear a grudge, and destroy them. And, when they do this, they disfigure their faces with the mark of the Secret Society, and they cover up the track of the assassin so completely — having money and resources at their disposal — that nobody is ever able to get at them.’
Not really a spoiler to tell you neither of these solutions to The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face, published probably in 1924 by Dorothy Sayers, is accurate, as Lord Peter Wimsey demonstrates in subsequent paragraphs.
But a long war as a progenitor of violence in peacetime?
And “”In this very magazine that I’m reading now…there’s an account — not a faked-up story, but an account extracted from the annals of the police..'” “‘…the organization of one of these secret societies…having money and resources at their disposal–that nobody is ever able to get at them'”?
The Deep State, QAnon, fake news or pizza-parlor-child-abuse paranoia?
Please do not tell me I’m seeing the Meaning of Life in everything I read. Maybe I am, but don’t tell me. I’m a bit sensitive these days while waiting for indictments.