For some time I have been haunted by a detail in an article about Rwanda that appeared in the New Yorker several years ago. It hints at aspects of the human soul I would prefer not to acknowledge. It is this comment by one of the people who took part in the massacre of Tutsi:
"For me, it became a pleasure to kill. The first time, it's to please the government. After that, I developed a taste for it. I hunted and caught and killed with real enthusiasm. It was work, but work that I enjoyed. It wasn't like working for the goverment. It was like doing your own true job - like working for myself ... I was very, very excited when I killed. I remember each killing. Yes, I woke every morning excited to go into the bush. It was the hunt."
I wouldn't mind so much, if I thought this was an isolated reaction, but what worries me is that the same potential is hidden deep inside every civilised soul, waiting for the right set of circumstances to animate it. I suppose that is what William Golding was trying to reveal in Lord of the Flies, but it is a very uncomfortable possibility to contemplate..
Ruth Scurr on John Aubrey - I'm 100 pages into Ruth Scurr's unusual new biography of John Aubrey (at this point available only from the UK), which has put Aubrey back front and center...
12 minutes ago