Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's very clean

A bit of a slow day in hero land, the fellow above, T. E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) is the best we can do. Granted, he did possess some heroic qualities, but he also had very deep, very odd, flaws. I suppose we all do, and maybe heroes are just people who possess normal human qualities in large quantities. Born this day in 1888, one of five illegitimate children, our boy above was a very clever lad, and one prone to making myths about himself at an early age. Known for his exploits in Arabia as one of the leaders of the Arab revolt during World War I, our boy was a rather talented leader of irregular troops. His Seven Pillars of Wisdom chronicles his time with the Arab Revolt, and deal with his attempts to convince his superiors that an independent Arab state was in their best interests. It is a wonder book, and I recommend it as a very good read. His pleas fell on deaf ears, and in 1920 the fledgling Arab state he help create was crushed by the French, and perhaps a chance for a more stable region was lost. The film starring Peter O'Toole was my first exposure to Lawrence, and as with most films, it takes certain liberties with the truth. However, if you have about fours to kill, and about 10 beers it is a lovely film to watch. It is in the film that the title of this post comes from. Someone asks Lawrence why he likes the desert so much, and he replies that "it is very clean." O' Toole's portrayal does point out Lawrence's eccentricities, but not to the extent that he was very eccentric. He was apparently a masochist that paid people to beat him. I guess we all have our personal issues that we do not talk about at parties, or want exposed to the light of day. Lawrence's issues should not distract from his achievements, helping to tie down thousands of Ottoman troops in Arabia probably saved thousands of lives on some other front of the war, and his death even had it positive effects on the world. He died of head injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident that led his attending physician, Hugh Cairns, to eventually help develop crash helmets. For that, and for writing a cracking good yarn, T.E. Lawrence (August 16th 1888- May 19th 1935) you are my hero of the day.

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