Gombrowicz and childish rhetoric

Witold Gombrowicz! What a name to begin a Civil War post with - I read him years ago in parallel with a lot of Civil War nonfiction.

In his experimental 1930s novel Ferdydurke, the lead character regresses into childhood while retaining adult consciousness. One of the neat tricks that this sets up is refiltering the world of childhood rhetoric through adult sensibility.

There is a poetry class depicted in the novel that I remember running something like this (forgive my pastiche, below):

Teacher: And so class, what is it about the incomparable beauty and sweetness of this author's verses that make us adore him as the first and foremost poet of his age? Anyone? Jan?

Jan: Could it be the incomparable beauty and sweetness of the verses?

Teacher: No, Jan, I am asking what is it in that incomparable beauty and sweetness that we all recognize, that makes our hearts beat faster with love and pride and exhiliration such that we crown this man Poet of the Nation as well as Poet of the Age. Yes, Jacek.

Jacek: Is it a certain quality that makes our hearts beat faster with love and pride and exhiliration?

Techer: No, listen to me. What is that quality that causes us to sing the praises of this mighty incomparable man of letters whose verses of sweetness and beauty cause us to feel utterly unworthy to partake of the same air, whose nobility of character elevates us all and whose poetic insights will never be matched? Anyone?

This satire spoke to me then and speaks to me now of the worst Civil War rhetoric ... and the worst seems to be my daily bread. Skeptical? I've arranged a small demonstration with real quotes and links. My additions or changes are in [brackets]:

[Teacher]: What did Lincoln do to become the most honored and revered president in history?

[Jan]: Lincoln's strength and willingness to fight on in the end led him to success and that commitment is what makes him perhaps the greatest President of all time.

[Jacek]: Lincoln's greatness is best appreciated only when we realize he was merely mortal and therefore free to follow any number of courses of actions.

[Teacher]: [But Lincoln was famous for being ugly - would his physiognomy not constantly remind us he was mortal? Yes, Jacek?]

[Jacek]: The measure of Lincoln's greatness is suggested by the very fact that we see him through the eyes of our understanding, and that virtually transforms his physiognomy.

[Teacher]: [Let's talk about Lee.] Would he have led the Federal forces to a quick victory thereby saving hundreds of thousands of lives?

[Jan]: The man was unquestionably the greatest general in the Confederacy, and the finest soldier in both the North and the South. A great man, he was respected in the North, and adored in the South.

[Teacher]: [But would he have made short work of his enemies thus saving vast amounts of blood and treasure? Jacek?]

[Jacek]: One of the most brilliant military minds ever, if he had been with the north the war would have lasted three days.

Civil War rhetoric: it's Gombrowiczian!