Sleeping War 

Tim O'Brien, a writer known for his questioning of "story-truth" vs "happening-truth" as he calls it, wrote a seminal book called The Things They Carried, a book which has subsequently been featured in most of the introductory college literature and writing courses I've taken, sat in, and assisted teaching. Although there are more than two stories in that book, most instructors choose to have their students either read the title story "The Things They Carried," or "The Man I Killed." The first story is generally interpreted through the template of America's involvement in the war, the Vietnam war protests, and the general cultural shift that occurred in society during the sixties. The second story usually focuses on the individual trauma that a soldier experiences after killing the enemy. Male students generally perk up when discussion of this particular story begins, and I also admit to being interested in it when I first read it as well. But while some students, depending on their personality, see as a macho thing, some see it as an intensely introspective experience caused by a trauma that they conceptually could face in the future. It seems safe to say that war, although deeply troubling, has traditionally been viewed as a male experience. In light of that, O'Brien has been criticized--and perhaps rightly so--for excluding the voice of women in his stories. It is a near certainty that women have been involved in every war since the beginning of human experience. To exclude them without a conscious artistic motivation for doing so is a problem for me, but then again, I don't write novels.

However, I do write papers, and I am finding that every paper that I have written for graduate school has so far focused on one war or another. I find myself wondering: why? I did not plan it that way, but that has where my interest has taken me. Whether discussing the colonies and empires of the nineteenth century, or the experience of severe emotional and physical trauma and the ways it is represented in writing, war continually comes back up. I'm beginning to feel that the real reason is that although we currently fighting a war, it is one which feels like a "sleeping war." Like a dream (nightmare), it has been floating through my daily life at the edge of awareness, entwining itself with the unspoken, behind the aether of consciousness--and hidden there, numbly bleeds into my life without knowing it. Perhaps, in some form or another, this is happening to all of us in the states. Only occasionally does the war call our direct attention. For the rest of the time, we act as if the war has become something like a background, like furniture--and as such it disappears from our deliberate attention.

29 January 2004

Blog Not Abandoned 

I haven't abandoned this Blog, I swear. Originally intended as my second attempt, I've realized the importance of my other one and have come to revalue it a little more. Essentially, the trend right now seems to be that I am going to try to divide up the focus between the two. Of course the immediate drawback to this approach is that I really have no idea how to classify the division of focus. My hope is that as I post more, it will become clear over time. All will be revealed in the passage of time. One of the advantages that this bloig has for it is the more elegant and mature style. My other blog is nothing short of a contraption, a rough mish-mash of things tacked together in rough frame that was awkwardly adapted from a template that I little understood. I think, as imperfect as it is, this blog is concrete evidence as my developing skill and familiarity of the blogging template.

As many males of my generation (umm. . .okay nerds), the allure of the personal computers has been nearly irresistible since their mass acceptance in the eighties. Visit ebay and I'm sure you find enough TRS-80 color computers, Commodore 64's, and even Adams to sufficiently convince you that the current nostalgia for those electric dinosaurs stems from the happy memories figuring out how to code yourself a simple BASIC program like the one I mentioned in the previous blog. Yet for me, the love affair subsided awhile because DOS was pretty awkward for a hack like me to ever really come to know. So, while the affinity remained, the distance increased. The slack was more than picked up by a strenghthening and continuing love of video games. From Atari 2600 and Colecovision to Playstation2 and Xbox, I am a confirmed addict--something I have to guard against so as not to waste time. And yet, thanks in large part to blogging, I'm rediscovering a love for gaining knowledge about all things computer. By no means an expert, I'm comfortable enough with HTML to know how to cause mischief and really screw myself up. I am certainly not L33T, something to which I can only say merely: w00t.

Along these lines, I figure I would share with you a webcartoon I found within the last week, something to which I am sure I have come late. (I may be swamped with work, but a guy has to rest an exhausted brain for a minute or two, right?) While it may make me the proverbial Kevin DuBrau of non-coolness, and further seal my doom to nerdom forever, I have to admit to finding it funny. Thus: Player Vs. Player.

25 January 2004