Tuesday, April 27, 2004

more on the subject of War and the NEA 

Owen and Sassoon were both gay - sometimes in reading their poems I
wonder if they weren't able to express their disgust and horror with
war, while simultaneously still remaining involved in it, because being
in the field involved being away from home (England), which in the wake
of Wilde's trial was hardly a good place for them to be. It was an
option. There are other reasons to enlist besides wanting to kill
enemies. Not that I'm saying I endorse war - far from it - but I think
that you're being unfair to individual soldiers. Maybe I'm overly
naive, but the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines don't use images of
killing in their advertisements. It's about "being all you can be,"
and I wonder if, for many, the armed forces offer an alternative, an
opportunity to get out of their existing lives. There's structure, and
training, and hierarchy, and a sense of knowing where you belong and
knowing exactly what you have to do in that position. You don't have
to think outside of that; you can just follow orders, and not have any
agency or responsibility. For some that could be very appealing. I'm
not saying it's right, or using it as an excuse. I abhor killing in
any form. Which is why, for me, the idea of writing workshops for
soldiers isn't offensive. It might get some of them thinking for
themselves. And the possibility for witnessing, for them to feel
enabled to tell their own experiences -- we get so very little
information from over there, even pictures of coffins shipped back are
being suppressed -- and I for one want to know what's happening, what's
REALLY happening. Not that I think these ridiculous workshops will
result in something that tells me, but there's a possibility that
something could come out of it that might give another piece of the


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