Sunday, September 18, 2016

Truth and Lightness

I was sitting in the shiny new local public library yesterday, reading a bit of Joy Williams' nihilist very-short fiction while thinking of my Iliad reboot, when a voice in the back of my head started into its usual, "You have to explain this. All of this." And another voice said, totally unexpectedly, "No, I don't."

Ah, the sudden decompression! I often say that the shortest answer can be the most true, and there it was. That bit of dialogue repeated itself as I returned the book to the stacks, visited the rest room, strolled back to the car, drove home. Every time it repeated, it was even more true. And I felt even lighter.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Every Picture Tells a Story

Some do, some don't, some tell stupid stories that no one should bother with, some contain in their apparent simplicity an entire world full of brilliant stories.

Take, for example ....

Things Fall Together

From 'The Warrior's Honor: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience" by Michael Ignatieff:

"Warrior's honor implied an idea of war as a moral theater in which one displayed one's manly virtues in public. To fight with honor was to fight without fear, without hesitation, and, by implication, without duplicity. The codes acknowledged the moral paradox of combat: that those who fight each other bravely will be bound together in mutual respect; and that if they perish at each other's hand they will be brothers in death.

"Warrior's honor was both a code of belonging and an ethic of responsibility. Wherever the art of war was practiced, warriors distinguished between combatants and noncombatants, legitimate and illegitimate targets, moral and immoral weaponry, civilized and barbarous usage in the treatment of prisoners and of the wounded..."

However: "Warrior codes were sharply particularist: that is, they applied only to certain people, not to others. The protections afforded by the chivalric code applied only to Christians. Toward infidels, a warrior could behave without restraint."

And then: "In the 1990's, most of the fighting is done by irregulars - the casualties of collapsing societies - or by paramilitary gangs that combine banditry with soldiery. As war passes out of the hands of the state into those of warlords, the rituals of restraint associated with the profession of arms also disintegrate."