“It is only possible to succeed at second-rate pursuits — like becoming a millionaire or a prime minister, winning a war, seducing beautiful women, flying through the stratosphere or landing on the moon. First-rate pursuits involving, as they must, trying to understand what life is about and trying to convey that understanding — inevitably result in a sense of failure. A Napoleon, a Churchill, a Roosevelt can feel themselves to be successful, but never a Socrates, a Pascal, a Blake. Understanding is for ever unattainable. Therein lies the inevitability of failure in embarking upon its quest, which is none the less the only one worthy of serious attention.”
This appeared in The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex (1924) and is adapted from Napoleon. Not many people remember what comes next: ‘The little girl’s clitoris behaves just like a penis to begin with; but, when she makes a comparison with a playfellow of the other sex, she perceives that she has ‘come off badly…’ The rest is history.
An aide-de-camp is a military officer acting as a secretary and confidential assistant to a superior officer of general or flag rank.
In modern times aides-de-camp are usually of junior rank and their duties largely social. Military, naval, and air force officers, frequently of high rank, who act as aides to chiefs of state, such as kings or presidents, are also called aides-de-camp. In many countries, the word adjutant is used for aide-de-camp and adjutant general for a royal aide-de-camp.
On Napoleon’s staff such officers were frequently of high military qualifications and acted both as his “eyes” and as interpreters of his mind to subordinate commanders, even on occasion exercising delegated authority.