Friday, April 23, 2004

re: the NEA and their bastard chairman 

CA and all -

Agreed, agreed, the NEA has made a lot of infuriating decisions lately. I haven't read the article (would like to! CA will you forward it to me?), but it does seem to me that there's nothing wrong with giving individual soldiers the opportunity to do writing workshops. And the amount that Boeing has committed to the project is really, when you think of it, a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions of dollars already spent on destroying Iraq in the name of democracy. It's insulting.

But I don't think that "this smacks more of the old BUSH reallocation of funding to better suit his administration's agenda of Jesus and bombs." Isn't giving money for writing workshops for individual soldiers much better than giving money to arms contractors and oil developers? At least Boeing is rechanneling some of the jack it gets from the government (albeit peanuts, no more) to writing. Tom Clancy notwithstanding. But hey, maybe a good dose of Clancyesque conspiracy thinking will do worlds of good for Our Boys In Uniform. They might start wondering what sort of international wheeling and dealing has brought them to this place where the populace doesn't want them, where they're dying in increasing numbers even though technically, the "war" is "over." I would like to hear Frank's view on it - I agree with him that we don't really know in what direction these soldiers might take their writing. Think about Wilfred Owen:

If in smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in.
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desparate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

(Owen was caught in a German machine gun attack just seven days before the Armistice in 1918)

I've never read any German war poetry, from either WWI or WWII, but I've heard from people who have that a lot of German soldiers had harrowing memories, and wrote them down. I doubt the Nazi party would have funded writing projects to write Memories of Invading Poland. They might have gotten Riefenstahl to make the film, but they probably would have burned individual soldiers' diaries. Or refused them paper and pens in the first place.

I do think that writing programs for American soldiers and Iraqi citizens, together, is a great idea. Pity. (Wonder what it would take to get over there and organize one?) CA, the NEA makes me sick too - but this particular program isn't part of my own nausea. I do want to read the article, though.


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