Thursday, January 15, 2009

"The notorious Dr. Emil Joystone has formulated, in The Autarkie of Earth a theory that there are three main sources of illusion—drink, sex and religion—and that no modern community can at present survive without copious supplies of at least two out of the three. “Otherwise,” in his view, “a state of illusion-deficiency leads to apathy and even suicide.” The Italians, in his view, get along with sex and religion: the Irish with drink and religion: the Swedes with drink and sex. He warns communities “working on an illusion-basis of only two-thirds” of the danger of interfering in any way with “either of the surviving illusion-habitats.” He relates, with his usual dubious statistical methodology, the high Swedish suicide rate to the increasingly stringent—and effective—liquor laws, and makes a series of coarse Swabian witticisms about the nature of the thread by which the Swedish people now hang."

--Conor Cruise O'Brien, "Why the Swedes Are Sad," Commonweal, Jan 2009

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