The Othello Syndrome

I.F. Clarke offers a study of the “pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war” as foreseen by imaginative writers and artists.

One of the more extraordinary developments of modem times has been the way in which scientists and sociologists have taken to discussing the future of the human race at international conferences.

What was once the prerogative of the philosophers and the designers of ideal states has become a matter of statistical enquiry and biological prophecy.

This change is largely a consequence of the new technologies of warfare; for until very recently the question of war had been left for the historians to explain and the military to expound.

Since Hiroshima, however, scientists and sociologists have maintained a running debate about the consequences of total warfare; and nowadays, in marked contrast to the equanimity and frequent cheerfulness with which men tended to regard war in the past, the modern prophets appear at international gatherings to foretell the probable destruction of mankind.

This marks the end of what can best be described as the Othello Syndrome—those romantic and literary associations that go with the “Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war.”

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