How is it that the human has become so entangled with the inhumane? That humanity’s highest creative aspirations of literature and imagination have been all but inseparable from its most terrible invention: the scourge of war? Most other creatures engage in violence, and some insects and animals with elaborate social structures reflect those systems in their modes of fighting and aggression. But humans are unique in their creation of an institution of war that is designed to organize violence, define its purposes, declare its onset, ratify its conclusion and establish its rules. War, like literature, is a distinctively human product.
Some might see the connection of war with human creativity as the inevitable outcome of the prevalence of war in human experience. If one considers any period of 100 years in the last 5,000, an average of 94 of those years would have witnessed a large-scale conflict in some area of the world. Our stories and histories are so full of war, we might conclude, because our history is so full of war. But if we think of our own Civil War example, its four-year duration — less than two percent of our national history — is certainly disproportionate to the volume of both literary and historical writing it has generated. We don’t just write about wars because, like Mount Everest, they are there. Human beings are in fact powerfully attracted to war.
The seductiveness of war derives in part from its location on this boundary of the human, the inhuman and the superhuman. It requires us to confront the relationship among the noble, the horrible and the infinite, the animal, the spiritual and the divine. Its fascination lies in itsability at once to allure and repel, in the paradox that thrives at its heart. For the Civil War, it was perhaps Robert E. Lee who captured this contradiction most memorably in his often — and variously — quoted remark to James Longstreet as they watched the slaughter at Fredericksburg in 1862. This was a dramatic victory for the Confederates, gained as Union troops charged utilely up Marye’s forbidding Heights in one of the war’s most costly and pointless efforts. “It is well that war is so terrible,” Lee observed, “else we should grow too fond of it.”
Drew Gilpin Faust
Telling War Stories: Reflections of a Civil War Historian (PDF)
Via Sullivan (Nota: a parte interessante começa na pag. 4)