Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Assuming the impossibility of knowing anything true about a warwhile it is happening, during my country's more recent invasion of Iraq, I read Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves.

It's partly about going to an expensive British boy's school and being brutally mistreated, as per usual, and then going to fight in World War I.

It surely made it clear how going to an old fashioned elite UK boarding school was the best preparation for hanging in there in a brutal war.

When I read this book, my country invaded Iraq, I read it to get a soldier's point of view on a war, from the bloody ground, written fairly soon after the war happened.

I kept reminding myself it was a whole other kind of war.

It wasn't a whole other kind of war. What's the same for some U.S. soldiers today and Graves then is being right there in the war, and then going back to a jolly peacetime city in the country you grew up and and then again back to the war and once again back to the peace. Which is crazy making and not functionality making

Graves wrote as he was doing the frontlines to London merry-go-horror-go-round, if I go back and forth one more time I won't be able to function in any normal way in civilization. I'll have to live a rural life and I don't know if I'll even be able to manage that.

After the war, in his twenties, Robert Graves moved to the Spanish island Majorca, where he lived the rest of his life. He wrote 140 books, of which fairly famous ones are I, Claudius and The White Goddess.

He found a way to be productive partly because he got really early, during the war, what the problem was and what the possible solution was.

He had talents to make a good living in a rural setting where most people were of another culture and didn't speak his language. Goodbye to all that indeed.

There's something about him doing that, finding a way to produce after doing his duty to his country had semi-ruined him that reminds me of the line from Howl by Allen Ginsberg--"America, I am putting my queer shoulder to the wheel."

Even those in effect or actually spit on want to help the enterprise, want to help the enterprise be what it should be instead of what it is.

We want to help whose right here, and something also larger even if we have to hide in quiet corner and hope the larger enterprise doesn't notice we're helpign and throw and grenade.