The token has become indistinguishable from the fact or the deed

Italy speeds toward its historic goal of becoming a comic-opera parody of itself.

An iPhone app featuring text, audio and video of one hundred speeches by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini is, according to the Times of London, the best-selling app in the country.

RELATED: Early 20th century aviatrix Beryl Markham has Italy’s number.

The symbols of war—impressive desert forts, shiny planes, beetle-browed warships—all inspire the sons of Rome, if not to gallantry, then at least to histrionics, which, in the Italian mind, are synonymous anyway.  I sometimes think it must be extremely difficult for the Italian people to remain patient in the face of their armies unwavering record of defeat (they looked so resplendent on parade).  But there is little complaint.

The answer must be that the country of Caruso has lived a symbolic life for so long that the token has become indistinguishable from the fact or the deed.  If an aria can suffice for a fighting heart, a riband draped on any chest can suffice for a general—and the theory of victory, for victory itself.

— Markham, Beryl. West with the Night.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1942.

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