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“Apocalypse Now” is a great movie, with a theme that can accurately sum up my blog.  War derives from nefarious madness.  It is a grown man’s folly.  It is chaos; a violent chaos that turns turns death arbitrary and leaves everything ravished.

In Apocalypse now is set during the Vietnam War.  It is an odyssey of sorts, where the narrator, Captain Williard, is hired to assassinate a high ranking officer (Kurtz) who they say has “gone crazy,” gone native, and has started his own colony-like establishment with natives.  This launches Williard into a journey filled with struggle and an assortment of comrads.  In the end, he descends upon Kurtz’s community, where he has assumed the role of god, ruler, and ultimate

War, as I have wrote in previous blogs, is ridiculous — an absurd phenomenon that takes common men and turns them into killing machines, with little regard for other humans if pegged as the “enemy.”  Our reasons for entering a conflict, as is the case of Vietnam, are illogical and as the fighting increases we find it even harder to cope with the losses, when we are not even sure what we are fighting for.

Throughout the film from the time Williard is assigned the assassination and when he confronts Kurtz, question if his mission to kill him.  He sees the chaos, the intense madness and begins to align with the “extreme,” unsound thoughts of the general. In the end he fulfills his mission to kill Kurtz, but this is not without understanding his insanity.

Many violent conflicts in recent years, including the ones I have exhibited in my blog, are atrocities.  Many are atrocities happening NOW.  It seems we must look in retrospect to realize just how wrong it was to engage, fight, and let the conflicts exist/continue.

All in all, I hold firm to my beliefs that war is unnecessary and from the first hand account through the texts I have read for my English course I have affirmation that violence is, however trite, horrific and incredibly futile.

I still, and always will, believe in the power of one.  One voice can be quite loud, let us not forget this.  One opposition to something horrible can, and does, spark a fire.

A Final Check on Comments

1. http://swanderc.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/guilt-ridden/
2. http://khuss.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/18/#comments
3. http://swanderc.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/major-mom/
4. http://eldribri.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/the-death-of-self/
5. http://eldribri.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/the-death-of-human-compassion-in-wartime/
6. http://robert013.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/its-been-that-long/
7. http://waldronl.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/a-picture-is-worth-1000-words/
8. http://swanderc.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/history-in-the-making/
9. http://robert013.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/wear-the-poppy/#comments
10. http://warvspeace.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/35/#comment-12

I always forget how to replace the url with a nice tag. This looks quite tactless, but at least my comments are there!

Oh, the Absurdity


One theme I’ve found pertaining to war is that war, in itself, it is ridiculous. In retrospect, past conflicts are, even if explained, wildly unreasonable — fought for, sometimes, arbitrary reasons, spiteful, and just plain illogical. Results of war are not always good. Once the fighting commences, wages, and ceases, what is left? Nearly everyone is affected by violence; but this is not a lucid concept. The world is dark; Vonnegut was pessimistic at best, very convinced we live in a world of continuing atrocities, where ideals fail again and again. Brook tried to mask the violence with stoicism and patriotism. The characters The Ghosts May Laugh sought comfort through stories, because the realism of wars horror were unbearable.  These examples show the true struggle and difficulty violent conflicts manifest. So it goes.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”  – Frederick Douglass

Many conflicts leave children stripped of their childhood and forcibly more adult-like. Many find nothing a more compelling to stop violence than for the sake of the children. On November 20th, National Children’s Day, marks also the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. “The effect of war on children is devastating. Girls and boys, and even babies, are killed, maimed for life, imprisoned or raped. Exploitation and abuse remain a sad reality for millions of children who suffer the consequences of armed conflict,” said Kristin Barstad, the ICRC’s adviser on children and war. “There is no valid excuse or justification for this. Universal Children’s Day is an appropriate time to reiterate that children have a right to be protected and are entitled to education, food, water and health care, even in times of war. Those who violate the rights of children must be held accountable.” The UN’s Declaration of the Rights of the Child has, unfortunately, suffered a similar fate also shared by many of the Geneva Conventions provisions; ultimate failure. The convention has done little to keep children safe in war zones. Not only do the young find themselves homeless, hungry, parentless (in some cases), some children are forced to become part of the “war effort,” becoming soldiers themselves, forced to do the dirty work, carry out dangerous missions — exploited, used victims. Sadly, not a new concept.

So it goes.

ICRC
2009
Full Article

a_tralfamadorian_by_animatedpunk

“Billy is spastic in time, he has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren’t necessarily fun. He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act next” (p. 23).

In Kurt Vonnegut’s, Slaughterhouse-Five, the main character, Billy Pilgrim, travels through a time continuum, making numerous bizarre jumps from his past, to the his present — in the midst of war — and even to a time when he encounters things of the third kind, extraterrestrials. It is unknown if the reason he moves from various moments of his life, and even beyond, was due to the trauma of war, or was perhaps predisposed pre-war.

By no stretch of the imagination is it difficult to fathom that people change once they put on the uniform and begin fighting the battle. With the absence of normalcy and with war situated in its void, a bit of sanity may also become absent.

In thunder6’s blog, he covers a few points that warrant the toll paid of fighting for one’s country. He speaks of his commander, first giving background, painting a picture for the reader, and eventually telling us of his death. He says:

“In the face of such a stunning loss it is natural for your soul to grow weary, and for your mind to scream for what has been so violently ripped away.”

The reconstruction of Iraq with current state of the country can undoubtedly be considered a crisis. American soldiers, who at one time were ravishing the land, are now working in concert with Iraqi citizens to rebuild the nation. This reconstruction does not mean peaceful rebuilding, for the “war” wages on. Violence ensues, and with that minds may waver. Tralfamadorians may not swarm and time may not warp, but the equivalent is perhaps a constant stage of anxiety without the knowledge of what is coming next, if one will live to see another day, and how they are going to have to act the next day, or even next moment.

365 and a Wakeup
2009
Full Article

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder?

The prolonged, untimed absence of someone produces fierce loyalism and devotion. Now, the distance can not be minimized, but its effects can be decreased through communication and a strong link to home. In a previous post I wrote of the video-calls that are facilitated for persons in Guantanamo Bay, and how imperative they have become to the morale of the detainees. The link home can come in various forms: most modernly communication has moved to the digital form — e-mails, facebook messages, and video-chat conversations are frequent methods of keeping in touch with individuals who are apart. Traditional letters are still mediums to pen thoughts, too, although they may not be the chosen method anymore.

We are currently reading the book “Since You Went Away,” a compilation of  letters from women to their soldiers overseas written during WWII. It is an interesting read because most of the letters from the homefront are similar in the fashion they are written and in the words which are inscribed. The women write of love, hope, longing, loneliness, and of their devotion to their boyfriend, fiance, or husband in uniform. It is blatantly obvious that they are loyal beyond conceivable thought, for they write often, sometimes as frequently as more than one note a day. I could choose any number of excerpts of affection from any number of women who were missing their loved one, but I choose one from a woman, Flora, because I feel her language leaves nothing to the imagination for how she feels about her “darling:”

“Dearest Darling, I am so unebelievably happy, when I think about how close you are and everything, I just don’t really seem able to take it in – oh darling, darling, I love you, love you” (p. 114).”

Absence makes the heart grow fonder? I would say, absolutely yes.

Fast forward to the present and again, Africa.

Forced disappearances are becoming an issue in many areas, but most certainly in Africa. In Zimbabwe, Jestina Mukoko, who heads Zimbabwe Peace Project, a human rights organization, was abducted last year, around this time, and subjected to torture on the grounds that she was trafficking persons from Botswana, unconstitutionally. The Zimbabwe Supreme Court rules in her favor and she was freed, but she says letters, cards, calls and good wishes “give them [human rights activists] hope for another day.” This may be a bit far-fetched to connect this to WWII letters, but the common ground is found in the hope a tie of communication, like a letter, an e-mail, or a card can hold.

 

The families of those who are taken by forced disappearance, are forced to keep faith, loyality, and devotion that their loved one will return. They have no letters. They have no connection. This shows just how impacting a letter, or note can, in fact, be.

Amnesty International
2009
http://blog.amnestyusa.org/iar/all-charges-against-zimbabwe-poc-jestina-mukoko-dropped/

Comments

1. http://swanderc.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/guilt-ridden/
2. http://khuss.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/18/#comments
3. http://swanderc.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/major-mom/
4. http://eldribri.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/the-death-of-self/
5. http://eldribri.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/the-death-of-human-compassion-in-wartime/
6. http://robert013.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/its-been-that-long/
7. http://waldronl.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/a-picture-is-worth-1000-words/

The Words They Write

I think there is something to be said about how compelling something can be when it is a first-hand account verses a speculation or a piece of fiction. We have discussed in class how literature that comes from times of war seems to possess a morality and truth that other pieces of writing lack. It is incredibly brave to expose experiences from any situation that left scars, whether it be the battle field (where the WWI poetry found consummation, and The Ghosts May Laugh), or a concentration camp (Vladek from Maus and Primo Levi from “Survival In Auschwitz”).

Depending on the subject I generally find non-fiction to be a bit bland. A lot of words that do not evoke anything of meaning in me. In contrast, works of fiction are usually great reads, because they are just that – fiction, made-up, scenes that come from someone’s imagination. But, in the pieces we have read for class we get fact in addition to true, vivid scenes that in any alternative world (where these events did not actually take place) seem like pure fiction.
In Primo Levi’s “Survival In Auschwitz,” I sometimes wish it was purely fiction I was reading; fore his account is grave, but also incredibly moving. Levi, unlike various other written accounts of the Holocaust, develops his piece in a way so that we are not just presented with an image of the concentration camps, but are given deeper insight into what it was like to be in, and survive, the camps.

A lot of sorrow exists in the world, from civil conflicts, to oppression, internment, torture, etc — it can only be speculated what kind of literature will come from modern conflict. I have no specific crisis to parallel with our class text in this post, because each case of humanitarian havoc, those I have written about and those I have not, are bound to produce some significant stories. I cannot bring myself to isolate one situation (and its hypothetical literature that has not yet been penned), to compare with the historic literature we have read. I do undoubtedly know powerful pieces will be written eventually, by survivor’s in Angola, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Chad, etc — and the list goes on.