A youthful major tries to impress an imposing general with his knowledge of battle strategies. (For the unlucky few who missed yestermorning’s journal entry, I started reading Gore Vidal’s novel Burr, so this type of material is on my mind. “Young and opinionated, I hoped to impress my commander not only with my own military prowess but with my wide knowledge of modern warfare.”) This struck me as interesting – I can relate to a certain aspect of it, while the other part is totally foreign to me. I know nothing of physical fighting, but I’m familiar with the foolish practice of gathering knowledge. For me, book-knowledge. The reason I call this practice foolish is that it never got me anywhere – I’d have been better off remaining ignorant. Because then I wouldn’t have forfeited my street-smarts. (Use it or lose it.) But it tickles me to know that I have something in common with ancient soldiers: They were dependent upon the judgment of their superiors, as I am dependent upon the taste of futurity’s readership (just like the fate of a stand-up comedian is determined by the attention of her drunken audience). Instead of studying war, when I was young, I studied rap. Hip-hop music. I knew all the names of the vocalists and the producers. And still to this day, when I grow nervous and wish to focus my thoughts away from any impending misfortune, I mentally recite full verses from favorite recordings; I “play them back” in my mind. (These remembrances often surpass in worth their originals.) Never by rote, though: I prefer memorization that’s involuntary. But at a certain point, my cultural hunger could no longer be satisfied by rap alone, so I ventured out into the realm of visual art and also classic literature and poetry. Now I seek a General Washington of the Creative Mind to impress with my erudition. My problem is that I don’t respect any of the professions.
What is it about dinosaurs that causes their remains to be such good fuel? It’s normal for a middle-aged human to assume that his generation will be the last for the species – I wonder if we’ll become good fuel as well for the next devils. Our sauroid ancestors had a lot more physical bulk. We have nice brains. Too bad you can’t power starships on PURE THOUGHT. Or maybe you can!? I wonder what happens to all the discarded imaginations. It would be nice to think that they might provide some service down the line, these efforts that we failed artists of this final generation keep offering up unto the Moloch of the Internet…
Just think of all those bombs bursting in air: I am told that people fought to gain independence for this country. Why should war be inevitable? What if the dirty secret of life is that organized violence has never been necessary – on the contrary, even: any occasion of warfare is proof that the parties in combat have shrunk from their capacity as human beings: they’ve abandoned the brilliant harmonic potential of language for the sake of easy physical hostility. And yet I can see how convincing it is to blame one’s warring on the other side’s aggression. For what is one to do when a hillside of armored combatants begin to shoot their guns at one’s beloved countrymen? The problem is the strength of modern weaponry. The assumption is that if you don’t fight firearms with firearms, you’ll get annihilated. Don’t bring a spoon to a knife fight. Or a knife to a nuke fight. Always wield a bludgeon grander than your opponent’s. But what if someone were to invent a device that would neutralize any weapon? So guns can’t shoot; toxins don’t spray; missiles remain unlaunched and harmless – or, if one is already airborne, it disintegrates like a graham cracker in milk. The entire nuclear arsenal of every single country on the globe is disabled permanently: What now? All that’s left is fisticuffs. So armies must engage in hand-to-hand combat. Or just talk things out between their governments. But I suppose that someone would sooner or later pick up an old rusty piece of iron and begin to swing that around. So then we’d all remember to beat our ploughshares into swords. And we’d revamp the old catapults, and commence heaving boulders over the neighboring nation’s wall. In short: Surely we’ll find some way to make it all ugly again. But at least these timeworn and tech-deficient means of skirmishing are not as deadly fast as pistols.
My sweetheart and I recently watched D. W. Griffith’s film Intolerance (1916) – during one of the many battle scenes, the villagers poured boiling water on their attackers. I wouldn’t want to go through that experience.
My point is that we think of warfare as normal. My dad held it as a sine qua non: “Humans need war – you’ll never change that,” he assured me; “so you might as well be on the winning side.” I don’t agree with this. Why is there a different expectation of conduct between large nations as compared to proximate families, next-door neighbors? When a yokel can’t get along with his country cousin and so threatens that fellow by firing a shotgun at his house, we think of the shooter as primitive, debased, stupid: an ill-bred ruffian. We expect local problems to be solved nonviolently, in the court of law, if the concerned parties cannot reach an agreement on their own. However, if a country is vast enough to possess armies and navies plus an air force with guns, missiles, and nuclear bombs, then the “civilized” way to solve a disagreement with another nation is to engage in bloody warfare. Nuke ’em into the Stone Age. The Doomsday Device: Mutually Assured Destruction.
Two apes are fighting over a piece of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One ape secures the fruit’s possession, and the other ape shouts: “If I can’t eat the prize, then neither of us shall have it!” and he or she presses the Giant Red Danger Button and the galaxy explodes. There is an outright apocalypse and only I am escaped alone to tell thee. I write this weblog from the aftermath; it’s like a message-in-a-bottle, which I toss against the current of the river of time.
Yet if our galaxy is ruined, what about the others? The others are teeming with life. One by one, they burst in outer space like popcorn kernels. So I should have typed “multiverse” instead of “galaxy,” to scare you more. But isn’t the Big Bang simply the multiverse itself becoming edible? Maybe I should stop fearmongering and clean up my own dimension. Create a new heaven-and-earth, as seen on TV.
Bananas were yellow, apples were either red or green, and oranges were orange, during the last rendition. What color should I make them this time around…?
Why is it so easy to remember what it was like to be God? I can barely recall the years I spent filling out paperwork for my earthly father’s business, but I remember creating the world like it was yesterday. That’s why I like abstract art – it feels like home. But I prefer surrealism, dada, and the happy few who predated or surfed the fringe of those developments.
Now I wonder: Would the States have secured their independence, if, back in the day, the British had had drone bombs? (I sense that the type of warfare and its weaponry have a significant influence over the outcome.)