Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Two items for all of those caught up and destroyed by the periodic death spirals that our species specializes in.

Random thought: I remember having one of those minor flashes of illumination about how the world works when I was reading something about WWI -- maybe it was Hemingway -- that described the role of the Military Police in warfare, which was chiefly to prevent desertion by arresting or shooting those soldiers who did not feel like participating in the collective death machine. All of a sudden one part of the institutional structures that make war possible was clear to me. A soldier on the front lines with his gun and bayonet has a structure of violence behind him as well as in front of him; he has a gun to his back wielded by his "superiors" to deal with, as well as those of the enemy. Here's an article about those who try to break out of this trap.

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, 'They are dead.' Then add thereto,
'Yet many a better one has died before.'
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

Charles Sorley (1895-1915)

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