Friday, July 13, 2018

In the arena

Patrick Kurp's middle son entered the U.S. Naval Academy this summer. Kurp writes that "along with around-the-clock drill and other sorts of physical and psychological training, Plebes at the U.S. Naval Academy are required to memorize and recite on demand vast quantities of text." Two examples:
Theodore Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena":
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.


W.E. Henley’s “Invictus"
Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
    Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.
Stirring stuff.
Anecdotal Evidence: `Sustained Many a Wavering and Fearful Heart'