This next theme falls under the title of ‘wartime’ with the more trepidatious and bashful subtitle in extra small writing ‘funtime‘.
War is surprisingly easy to talk about apolitically. It is a subject that is media savvy, universally present in entertainment and saturated with a duality of ambivalence and patriotism. England and Britain at the beginning of this sentence has been in approximately 109 wars and, according to my rashly researched sources, invaded around 9/10 countries: two statistics that are often read with the same pride as your football team winning a match.
In 1984, Orwell colourfully described a forever ongoing war between the three empires to distract away from internal struggles. This idea was to create solidarity with a central cause to suffer personal grief’s for a more benevolent whole; a removal from reality under the ironic maxim “war is peace”.
And it is peculiar the sort of fetish we embellish war with as distractions to its own brutalities. History is jazzed up, polished and dressed by a fetish for stories and a fixation on the quirks of historical figures like Churchill or Napoleon. Its ultimate distraction is in reference to itself, and as good an example as any is the propaganda or war comics of the 1940′s (and they are right, a good comic with Captain America or the Human Torch pummeling Hitler is a good read).
Today, you still find on playgrounds the game of war, where you dramatically fall to the ground to the kid who makes the best machine gun noise, and roll around in mock agony channeling Shakespearian tragedy. I still laugh at the Sergeant in Full Metal Jacket, (“How tall are you, Private? Five-foot-nine, I didn’t know they stacked shit that high”) and I have never touched the button which turns off the blood in videogames.
All this is, terrible really. I don’t think the poet Owen Wilson would have enjoyed the carnal glee we get in the consumption of war. But then, I should say that I do like it, and it’s in my mind a great privilege to be accidentally ambivalent. To actively like watching documentaries and reading books on war is because it is so removed from my reality, and that is all made possible by people who have had war as part of theirs. That freedom gives me the greatest respect for soldiers who protected that right.