Posted by: HAT | March 3, 2010

Blast from the Past

HAZMAT Class 7 Radioactive image
“This is a test. This is only a test . . .”

  1. Identify the presuppositions in the following discourse:
    “What’s wrong with you? Do you want to grow up to be just like your father?”

  2. Formulate a strategy for dealing with the problem of the excluded middle contained in the following formulation:
    Everything you finish is proof that nothing you do is ever good enough; everything you don’t finish is proof that you never finish anything.

  3. Write a neat, well-organized, approximately 500-word essay on the origin and personal significance of the following text:

    Men [sic — applies throughout, mutatis mutandis] make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. Thus Luther put on the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped itself alternately in the guise of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and the Revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, now 1789, now the revolutionary tradition of 1793-95. In like manner, the beginner who has learned a new language always translates it back into his mother tongue, but he assimilates the spirit of the new language and expresses himself freely in it only when he moves in it without recalling the old and when he forgets his native tongue.

    (See full text at

“This has been a test . . . If this had been a real emergency, you would have received instructions . . .”


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