Lu Xun

Fighters and Flies

Date: March 21, 1925
Source: Lu Xun: Selected Works, Volume II, page 133
Online Version: Lu Xun Reference Archive, September 2010
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Mike B.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2010). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

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Schopenhauer has said that, in estimating men's greatness, the taws governing spiritual stature and physical size are the reverse of each other. For the further they are from us, the smaller men's bodies and the greater their spirit appear.

Because a man seems less of a hero at close quarters, where his blemishes and wounds stand out clearly, he appears like one of us, not a god, a supernatural being or a creature of a strange new species. He is simply a man. But this precisely is where his greatness lies. When a fighter has fallen in battle, the first thing flies notice is his blemishes and wounds. They suck them, humming, very pleased to think that they are greater heroes than the fallen fighter. And since the fighter is dead and does not drive them away, the flies buzz even more loudly, and imagine they are making immortal music, since they are so much more whrlc and perfect then he is.

True, no one pays any attention to the blemishes and wounds of flies.

Yet the fighter for all his blemishes is a fighter, while the most whole and perfect flies are only flies.

Buzz off, flies! You may have wings and you may be able to hum, but you will never surpass a fighter, you insects!

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