December 8th, 2017

More books. thoughts, frustrations

So, I am going to try to copy this to the Dreamwidth site too. It should be easy enough. I feel dubious abnout DW. I know everyone has decamped to over there-- or decamped completely. I did not recognize anyone at a brief glance tonight, but it appears to be hopping with new people. New Hornblower people, even. That is great. I do still have the urge to write about them. They make me happy--when they don't make me sad, if you know what I mean.

Son set the desktop up for me today in a better way. We had reduced our furniture in anticipation of me getting a laptop. But laptop is delayed. Also the battery on my phone died, so it is useful tonight as a very small doorstop, or a rockish thing to heave in frustration...

White sky today, all day, and the temp dropping. Snow tomorrow, not much predicted but enough to make everything clean and silent for just a moment. I love when that happens. Clean and silent is so brief and rare here.

Let me tell you guys about the second November book. I was so taken by The War Nerd Iliad. I moved on to Achilles in Vietnam by John Shay.

I wanted to think about the story that so many men carried into war. What they expected, what they found, and maybe to try to get some grip on what they carried back. Some translations of the Iliad have it all prettied up. (Or the language of the time feels fancy, and insulates us from the actual violence of it all.) My translation claimed not to be doing this. It was written in modern words, earthy words. Words like: teeth, blood, hide, river, dust... It certainly felt immediate to me. Even so, a second book that drags you to the modern world, to a historical time, makes it all so much more real.

This second book book talked about some really hard stuff. Uncomfortable to read. About trauma, and honor, and what happens when things go really really askew.

One of the points the second book made is that much of the trouble in the Iliad came from the betrayal of what the officer-soldiers believed to be honorable behavior. (For example: Stealing women from each other, that each had stolen for himself...) The fact that their behavior was off the charts awful by our standards is not the point. Achilles in Vietnam posits that the men in the Iliad were traumatized firstly by the subversion of the honorable behavior that they expected in war. This set them up to be further unhinged by the violence that came later. It compares this to events in Vietnam, as desribed by vets who remember them. The comparison seems apt.

Again, I want to say, the book is a hard read. Go, if you go, with caution.

Long ago wars get sanitized. The pain seems remote. Taken together these books form an antidote.