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Renaissance redux?

By Joel Brouwer

antony-gormley-terracotta-army

Pop quiz: What do Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, Frank McCourt, Art Buchwald, Pete Hamill, Edward Abbey, Elmore Leonard, Mario Puzo, James Dickey, James Wright, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Randall Jarrell, Frank O’Hara, Anthony Hecht, Richard Wilbur, A.R. Ammons, Paddy Chayevsky, Rod Serling, Aaron Spelling, Terry Southern, Walter Matthau, Robert Duvall, Tony Curtis, Harry Belafonte, Rod Steiger, Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Rauschenberg, Leo Krikorian, Dan Spiegle, Robert Miles Runyan, Kenneth Noland, LeRoy Nieman, Richard Callner, Ed Rossbach, and Robert Perine have in common?

Answer after the break. Don’t click until you’ve made your guess. One thing you’ve already noticed is that they’re all men. That’s sort of a hint.

All these artists went to school on the G.I. Bill after WWII. I snipped this list from a review of Over Here: How the G.I. Bill Transformed the American Dream, by Edward Humes. Did you guess correctly?

Today the government rolls out the new G.I. Bill, for veterans who have served since 9/11. You can read more about the program here. It is huge. According to the AP, “In the next decade, $78 billion is expected to be paid out under the new GI Bill, which is the most comprehensive education benefit offered since World War II.” And this time around, of course, there will be women as well as men eligible to benefit from the program.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of impact this new GI Bill might have on the arts in five or ten years. And on arts education as early as, well, a month or so from now, when classes begin again. Some of these veterans are bound to happen into poetry classes, don’t you suppose?

(P.S. Image is from an installation of Antony Gormley‘s “Terra Cotta Army.”)

Comments (25)

  • On August 1, 2009 at 9:46 am Christopher Woodman wrote:

    Fascinating observation, Joel–you certainly do keep the spot sore, and by doing so get me into all sorts of trouble!

    You can’t imagine what it’s like to be an American poet who went to school along with the G.I. billers but was at the time totally unaware of them — and even more mind-boggling, didn’t publish his first poem until the same G.I. billers had already done their MFAs and were teaching the subject!

    Christopher

  • On August 1, 2009 at 11:45 am NEG wrote:

    They’re already here: one of my creative writing students from this summer was on the new GI bill…

  • On August 1, 2009 at 5:34 pm My_antonia_78 wrote:

    I’m sure there will be many GI Bill-ers in our classes. What I thought of first upon reading your post, though, was how de-valued the liberal arts have become since the last GI Bill so many years ago.

    Often we hear people point out that the military is essentially no different than the general, civilian population (except for the not-so-small fact that the military is predominatly male). There’s truth in this, I think. When the first GI Bill was instituted, there were quite a lot more people in general choosing to go into the arts, from what I understand, than nowadays.

    I think the Bill’s effect will, of course, undoubtedly be that people who might not have otherwise gone into higher education will get themselves degrees–and we’ll be a far better society and culture for it (one need only refer to the list of names Joel provided us–although I’m wont to exclude Aaron Spelling, myself …kidding). But what I’m wondering is will a higher or lower percentage of GI Bill-ers go into the arts in general, and the literary arts in particular, than the civilian population.

    Just to make things interesting, I actually would predict that a slightly greater percentage of military persons will go into the arts/literary arts than the whole population! My experience has been that so many college freshman today want to go into business, or finance, stuff like that. It used to be one went to college to become an educated (and therefore more rounded) person. But now education, and liberal arts in particular, has become de-valued, no longer its own end to be pursued for its own sake. College is a means to an end whereby one becomes “successful.”

    But I have to assume that those young kids fighting in these rotten, bloody wars–having those experiences, seeing the things they have seen, getting that education, as it were–would come out of it, perhaps, with a, shall we say, less shallow conception of success that would in turn compel them to pursue their passion rather than their pocketbook. I think of Wilfred Owen. Does war make a poet out of someone? I don’t know. But I just have to reckon that it makes many a soldier less likely see “success” in life as simply a race to see who can amass the largest pile of money.

    It’s a thoughtful question, Joel, one that will certainly be essentiall to how literature and the arts understands itself in the coming years.

  • On August 1, 2009 at 9:59 pm Joel Brouwer wrote:

    I *knew* someone would go after Aaron Spelling, and so prepared the following defense in advance: The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. I’m sure we can agree that that settles that.

    But seriously, Willa, I’m grateful for your insightful development of the topic here. I’ve noted that older, more experienced students are more likely to be attracted to less-remunerative but more substantive courses of study in the humanities; it would stand to reason that many vets would fall into this category. I’ve also found that economic downturns tend to bring more students into creative writing classes, and that’s certainly the case right now, too. For both these reasons I think your prediction makes a lot of sense. Time will tell.

  • On August 1, 2009 at 10:43 pm NEG wrote:

    a dislike? come the f on!

  • On August 2, 2009 at 2:46 am Desmond Swords wrote:

    There are always those who do not and will not equate success with money, but rarely soldiers I think. Not true soldiers doing it so we can sustain our energy needs unhindered by something so trivial as a native people attempting to claim we have no rights to invade and kick ass, set up our dictatorships and secure the contracts which make our economy so great and free and competitive. Democracy for the contract is enshrined in law and though some may find success with hack war poems, most will end up flipping dead meat and serving our needs that way; maybe writing can help them get through the day and feel as though their voice has a chance of being heard, which is all very well, but who’ll kill the people in our way if every soldier started asking questions about the legitimacy of taking orders and being told YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU to kill for us who were born multi-millionaires and have never doen a days real graft in our life? The US way of ordering the best because we find the cash from birth to make us the cleverest bunch of killer business people taking care of, as/is vis a vis the per se, hand it over or else daddy will have you and yours supporting the west link of the new contract for 10 bill buster.

  • On August 2, 2009 at 5:12 am Margo Berdeshevsky wrote:

    Yes. We can hope or pray it (war) might lead to poetry again, or art, or life. We might hope.

    From today’s NY Times, “After Combat, Victims of an Inner war,” : “The number of suicides reported by the Army has risen to the highest level since record-keeping began three decades ago. Last year, there were 192 among active-duty soldiers and soldiers on inactive reserve status, twice as many as in 2003, when the war began. (Five more suspected suicides are still being investigated.) This year’s figure is likely to be even higher: from January to mid-July, 129 suicides were confirmed or suspected, more than the number of American soldiers who died in combat during the same period.”

    I’m so unsure that any GI Bill will save them, or us. Only the end of all war would do that.

    margo

  • On August 2, 2009 at 6:09 am thomas brady wrote:

    “In an oft-told story, [Benny] Goodman was not expecting anything special, and when Sinatra stepped onstage and was greeted by the screams of a house packed with adoring bobby-soxers, the band-leader’s response was, ‘What the fuck was that?’

    Sinatra was classified 4-F because of a punctured eardrum, but it was no accident that during these [war] years his wimpy physique was a running joke–his habit of holding onto the mike stand while he sang provoked comments that it was all that kept him from falling over, and thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, appearing opposite him on a radio broadcast and invited to touch his chest, responded, ‘Would you mind pointing it out to me?’”

    I’m surprised there are no popular singers or musicians on that GI Bill list.

  • On August 2, 2009 at 6:12 am thomas brady wrote:

    pssst– the’dislikes’arecrazy

  • On August 2, 2009 at 7:11 am Margo Berdeshevsky wrote:

    Link for the NY Times story I referenced:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/us/02suicide.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

    I think it makes my point far better than I have. Truly, I don’t hope that war “will” lead to the arts. How could I? The products of the GI bill whom you cite, Joel, created out of a time, and an illusion, about the possible success of life after a war. The article I’m referencing tells me, at least, that such an illusion, along with its soldiers, have so little life left.

    margo

  • On August 2, 2009 at 8:47 am thomas brady wrote:

    War is caused by ignorance; if we encourage ignorance we are pro-war.

    High suicide rates in the National Guard? First, doesn’t the National Guard help out in all sorts of non-war ways?

    Second, the suicide rates are probably high because a greater percentage of the poor participate in the National Guard.

    I would think poets would be the first to be wary of jumping to conclusions based on selective use of social ‘science’ statistics.

    I don’t think Joel meant this to be an anti-war thread, the whole subject of which tends to bring out the worst in people, including myself.

    p.s. that quote on Sinatra I made in my other comment is from ‘How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll’ by Elijah Wald, Oxford U. Press 2009. A mistake to post in the morning before I’ve had my coffee…

  • On August 2, 2009 at 10:54 am Thomas Rees wrote:

    Margo, I feel as if you might have missed some of the more interesting, and perhaps encouraging, snippets of that Times story.

    Blaylock, the story’s main focus, is said to have written songs, and a lyrical selection from one of these tunes is included in the article. Additionally, it says he lined his rooms with his own pictures and drawings.

    Though Blaylock eventually took his own life, perhaps if the military encouraged more recently discharged soldiers to take advantage of creative, educational opportunities— as well as counseling— we wouldn’t be losing so many bright young people who’ve served an altogether ungrateful country.

  • On August 3, 2009 at 4:42 am Margo Berdeshevsky wrote:

    No, Thomas Rees, I didn’t at all miss the segment about the soldier that you mention, “But the bravado hid a temperament more artist’s than warrior’s, a sensitivity that emerged in the poetry and songs he wrote — “I’m gonna comb away all my fears/and shine my soul,” went the lyrics of one song, “By Broken Ones” — and the drawings that lined his trailer wall.”

    It’s not surprising that this sad soldier had an artist lurking in him. But I don’t find that or the other elements of the tale encouraging. Rather, more tragic that the military is so hungry for cannon fodder it will send this, or any young soul to war.

    I say that, congnizant that there are militaries everywhere, all culpable. More’s the horror.And more’s our own responsibility to be sane.

    Though mopping up the damage done to the individual or collective psyches with good encouragement for the arts in the beings who come home–is well and good. But not at all good enough, imho. The good would have been never to have made them into soldiers.

    And for the other Thomas, no, I’m not at all concerned that Joel perhaps did not intend this thread as anti-war…I don’t think one can speak of GIs or American wars without that element. Joel, you wonder what impact the new bill will have on the arts in five or ten years hence.And I’d have to say my deepest wonder is what kind of humans will remain amongst us–by that i mean ourselves, and those who return– capable of what kind of expression, human, artistic,poetic–or damaged and chaotic. A generation of game-boy addicts is only a tiny manifestation.

    If we receive another “Guernica” or another “Naked and the Dead,” or another “Mother Courage,” even–will they only help us again and again to remember what we have never dealt with in ourselves?

    As you say, time will tell. As long as we have that. Time. And, our awareness, again and again and again.

    margo

  • On August 3, 2009 at 9:50 am thomas brady wrote:

    Margo,

    Art and war are not opposites.

    Anti-war is anti-art.

    You cannot cut out ‘war’ from the patient without killing him.

    Go to a museum sometime. War either brought those objects of art before your eyes, or caused those objects of art to be made, or informed the technique that went into making those objects of art, or, is itself the main theme or story or depiction of those objects of art in at least half the cases.

    I just saw an exquisite show of 17th century Dutch seascape painting: Storms, seawrecks, and ships shooting at each other and sinking each other, were prominent themes. If a Dutch or a Spanish or an English ship wanted to protect itself from its rivals, or from pirates, it had to be equipped with instruments of war.

    If you think you’re going to shame the human race into being peaceful by sitting on the sidelines and wringing your hands in a shallow, uninformed, hand-wringing display of war-hatred, you are doing nothing more than wearing IGNORANCE on your sleeve.

    You have every right to be anti-war and bask in that moral glory which such a moral position brings. But until war is ended everywhere, war will be a duty and a central element of life and art and thus of poetry.

    Poetry is an interesting case because unlike objects of art, poetry is never itself loot, or part of the spoils of war, but again, poetry cannot exist apart and alone.

    I will be the first person to tell you that it makes all sorts of logical sense to hate war and to be anti-war.

    But just a warning: your position, if really taken in more than name only, effectively strips you of all sense and judgment and cuts you off from the human race.

    I am not a solider myself, and I may be wrong, but this is just how it looks to me.

    Thomas

  • On August 3, 2009 at 1:32 pm Desmond Swords wrote:

    Gitmo

    Hello Margo.

    Art and war are not opposites.

    Anti-war is anti-art

    No Scam !

    We can cut out WaR from the poetry patient, without killing Tiny tim or Costello’s hot-aired Her.

    Go to Gitmo museum sometime Margo when the war on horror – is it? – ceases and bring objects of art before either of your eyes the ‘I’ objects in the art of Letters, and get made, named informants and the techniques we use y’all, Da Rage went making objects of that art, or, is itself the main theme or story or depiction of those objects of art in at least half the cases unheard@gitmo babes.

    I saw an exquisite interview from a 17th century Flemish seascape painting: Swords Torn At Seawreck, and the fleet of ships zapping at each other with the heavy gear sinking each other, were prominent themes.

    If a Dutch-English or Spanish-Irish ship ever wanted to protect itself from its rivals, or from pirates, it had to be equipped with instruments of war, before the business of showing it in Letters could enact history at Gitmo darling.

    If we think someone’s going into the same routine again and again, to name and shame them into being the same as we who make matters happen, is really, a very fantastic way for our human race to be won excellently by one’s peacable freinds in Greenzone.

    Harriet people like sitting on the sidelines and wringing our hands in a shallow, uninformed, hand-wringing display of war-hatred, because we can and because if we do nothing other than broadcasting IGNORANCE on our sleeve, the tatto parlours in 85% of bases will belly-up and le creme de le creme of trailered trash will infect as an incubus the very right we have to be anti-war and basking happily in that moral glory which such a moral position brings. Until war is dead and ended everywhere, the central duty of element A in life and art, will be thus poetry darlings, luvvies and dickies who bestrode onstage at Colby dorm, looking towards the campus from Johnson Pond, kicking ass in Waterville, Maine.

    God Bless the graduates who emerge as committed leaders ready to make an impact on their world, with an education so distinctly inspired by the values inculcated in us when we took red green Noh art: the theatrical basket cases; 69 suckers het up and hot for distinctly interesting poetry classes, just because we could – unlike objects of art – reveal what inner loot itself forever, or in part, was legitimate spoils of the WaR back then when I began: the again and again and again of poetry that cannot exist alone and apart, unless gestalt with a metaphysical and incredibly kinetic King Steven becomes the latest person who’d tell us it makes all sorts of logical sense to love hate and war more than being regular commensensical anti-war.

    Without the clever anti-Gitmo means your for Gitmo kinda gig Margo darling, just one warning is given: our position, if really taken in more than name only, effectively strips you of all sense and judgment and cuts you off from the human race.

    We’re all just a Soul Jah myself, and I may be wrong, but this is how just it looks to me-as John Daly, a puppet I appear speaking as in The Other Room with John G. Hall the very Mancunian poet from Manchester England: a dear dear personal friend one has a wonderfully sincere and giving, positive relationship with – as two souljahs being brave for whoever allows us the Honour of being their Facebook freind and who need us, in The Other Room, to do what it is the very talented Lorraine Mariner: Forward Nominee did in her seminal piece published first over at a – tragically – defunct poem.uk site which has been inoperative for several years now; broken down and sadly where the gang parted waves and flew into the different phases of our lives Jack McCool Kerouac rendered to us on the Steve Allen Show:

    I was on the road once for three weeks and it took me seven years to write about it.

    Allen was trying to be funny at Jack’s expense with that crack I think; being a smart guy by just reversing definite nouns. Many people asked Kerouac, what made him write his narrative novel On The Road – on foot wide teletype paper, or decant trains of thought into any book written on foot wide teletype paper.

    Jack
    was travelling west one time
    at the junction of the state line
    of Colorado and its arid Western One
    and the state line of Poor Utah

    and he saw in the clouds huge and masked
    above the golden theory of even-fall

    a great image of God – with a forefinger
    pointed straight at me: through haloes
    and rolls and gold folds that were like

    existence at the gleaming spear
    in his right hand would sayeth:

    Go on boy
    go down across the ground – go moan
    for Man. go moan, go groan, go groan
    alone – go roll your bones, alone.

    Go down and be little beneath my site
    go down and be my nudist-seed in the pod
    go down go dye thy heads and of this world
    report you well and truly.

    So, he wrote the book coz we’re all gonna die

    ..when the sun goes
    down and i sit on the old broken-
    down river-pier watching
    the long long skies over New

    Jersey – and sense all that raw
    land that rolls in one unbelievable
    huge bulge over to the West coast

    and all that road-going, and all
    the people dreaming in the immensity
    of it.

    In Iowa Jack knew by now that
    the children are crying in the land
    where they let the children cry.

    And tonight the stars’ll be out;
    and don’t you know that God is pooh
    -bear? Evening star must be

    drooping and shedding Her sparkler
    dims, on the prairie, which is just
    before the coming of complete night

    which blesses the earth – darkens
    all the rivers: cups the peaks
    and folds the final shore in.

    And nobody. Nobody knows what’s
    gonna happen to anybody besides
    the forlorn rags of growing old.

    I think of myself in Cassidy’s
    at WaR, with the poets at the mic
    Write and Recite – three year tour

    wow ! wow !

    WaR

    ..even i think of younger me in Brogans

    the father who he never found.

    Think of Marge ‘n Tre Marge, Joel, My_antonia_78 and NEG, T ‘n C – when I think of top cats in Dé Danann and stroll on through the wind, walk on through the rain, with dreams tossed off and blowing with Jack in Highgate Woods, four young rents, Al getting it all on camera, secret stills and hardcore boring into one another in the underthrumb of it all: a Noh devotee at a watersports cage in Gitmo and the applause from an audience of just wowed with the one true soul of a beat poet from the WaR which began on Monday July 19 04 in Brogan’s basement: the underworld where love, lo and behold, is not cold but warm there; here at Noh Theatre, Kilmainham, D8.

    We’ll always have the cranes,
    Be Yeatsean and Noh-like; a greenzone
    not read.

  • On August 3, 2009 at 6:53 pm Margo Berdeshevsky wrote:

    We will profoundly disagree. He says ”you cannot cut out war from the patient without killing it.” I will say there are some illnesses from which it is better to die. And some cancers that need to be cut. If the life force persists, it will reaffirm its place, its time.

    He says “art and war are not opposite.” We will profoundly disagree. I will shiver in this grey summer heat, who long ago chose to be one voice in my time. Who wrestles with dark and void and impotence as every other truthful human — unable to force a birth of peace, in a world whose legs are clamped shut in terror of such a child — peace — locked in its trauma. But some births are very long. This one is. (Wanting to be born.)

    But one voice. (And, there are many.)

    We need no wars to inspire art in us. No murderers or villains to raise our empathy or capacity for wild passionate dramatic or loving life. Nature has quite enough violence, and enormity, if ever we need it on our palette, it is always there. And the struggle that is quotidian, or even exalted life, for most — is quite enough color or language or sound to fill our stages and pages and canvases, and imaginations, and human homes.

    If you are one who would be bored without what you construe as war, or the art that comes of its blood,you have my condolences.

    pacem.

    margo

  • On August 4, 2009 at 7:28 pm Terreson wrote:

    I’ve been following the thread less with amusement and more in reflection. Here are some reflections at random.

    ~ Anyone who thinks the new GI bill is primarily intended to reward military service to the country needs to take a closer look at American economic history. And to motive. The original 1944 GI bill FDR signed into law amounted to a part of his stimulus package following the Great Depression and WW2. He reasoned that the bill would stimulate the economy. And he was right. In terms of impact, the bill actually exceeded what he thought it would accomplish. Any economist will tell you the two great formative factors of the largest middle-class the world has ever enjoyed (at least for about twenty-five years) were unionization of America’s working class and ’44 GI bill. And the bill was profitable too. For every dollar invested it returned seven dollars in taxation, based on taxable income. This is what is going down now. The new GI bill amounts to an ingredient in the government’s present stimulus package, which is fine by me. But it ain’t an expression of gratitude.

    ~ The notion that thousands, or tens of thousands, of ex-soldiers are going to use the new bill to formally, institutionally explore poetry and creative lit in colleges strikes me as implausible. Back in the fifties America’s creative writing programs were in their nascence. Now, and in my opinion, they are saturated with PhDs and MFAs. Bloated is actually the word that comes to mind. I find it hard to think that an Iraq War vet or a surivor of Afghanistan is going to opine that an MFA in a saturated market is going to earn her or him a reasonable income. The market has all but collapsed.

    ~ On the strength of the exchanges upthread I note again the extreme to which America’s foreign wars (or adventures) divide Americans. This has been going on for a long time. Thoreau got jailed for his stand against a war. Clemmens forcefully spoke out against the occupation of Cuba. Jeffers spoke out against FDR’s imperialist designs. Writers who stood against that Nam named war got Hoover’s censorious attention. Anyone now speaking against another immoral war tends to get the thumbs down vote here. War does not unite our country and the exception proves the rule.

    ~ Speaking of Harriet’s thumbs down feature, how can anyone bringing attention to the high rate of suicide in America’s military today, as Margo B has done, earn a thumbs down? This makes no sense to me. Among poets it makes less than no sense.

    ~ The blog’s starting illustration is so faceless, so en masse, it puts me in mind of something Sarte and de Beauvoir said about America. They said America had introduced a new type of personality to the world. They called this new type the organizational man. They were not complimentary of the type. I think they have a point. And any of us, I am one, who work for a large organization need to recognize the dangers involved when identity becomes hip-connected to the organization.

    Terreson

  • On August 4, 2009 at 8:52 pm thomas brady wrote:

    Don’t dentists have the highest suicide rate per occupation? I’d hate to be a dentist, but someone’s got to do it.

    The new VA Chapter 33 ‘Yellow Ribbon’ GI Bill was signed into law by president Bush in 2008; it has no connection to the current stimulus plan.

    I couldn’t care less what Sartre thinks of Americans. Merde.

    In 1945 GIs were coming home to Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks and the Red Wheel Barrow. That was bad enough.

    Now they’re coming home to the Red Wheel Barrow built by an MFA assembly line. Once they get a taste of the MFA bullshit, they’ll want to start up another goddamn war.

  • On August 4, 2009 at 8:53 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    Margo…Wow!

  • On August 4, 2009 at 8:55 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    Good contemporary war poems here:

    http://www.itsjustwar.com/

  • On August 4, 2009 at 9:33 pm thomas brady wrote:

    Here’s an unpublished poem by my GI Bill friend:

    Epitaph for an Unknown Soldier
    (St. Lo, Normandy, 7/17/1944)

    First of the fallen angels I have known,
    I came upon you in obscurity
    and found your arms embracing all the sky
    as life escaped you. In the midst of dull,
    engulfing battle, thunder and black flame,
    this peace is terrible. Your eyes are glacial lakes;
    your lips are dry: you are still beautiful.

    I twist my helmeted neck to meet your gaze,
    but stand dark, unreflected in those lakes
    now frozen by an age which has no end.
    I bow and hover, too afraid to touch,
    unable to breathe life on wrinkling lips,
    to see them tremble–and return to pain.
    I bend to drink your death, and numbly wish
    to halve my useless living and to share
    what I have too much of, if you have none.

    Antonio Alfredo Giarraputo
    1925-1989

  • On August 5, 2009 at 11:31 pm Terreson wrote:

    Mr. Brady says: “The new VA Chapter 33 ‘Yellow Ribbon’ GI Bill was signed into law by president Bush in 2008; it has no connection to the current stimulus plan.”

    Possibly Mr. Brady has forgotten that former President Bush put out the first stimulus plan for the current economic problem. Said GI bill renewal is clearly an elememt in the ongoing stimulus.

    Lordy but it gets tiresome treating with talking heads.

    Terreson

  • On August 6, 2009 at 5:40 am thomas brady wrote:

    Tere,

    I was just making a simple clarification; you did say ‘present stimulus bill.’

    And by the way, everyone knows Thoreau’s ‘jail time’ was symbolic; he was ‘in jail,’ for what, 10 minutes?

    ‘Lordy but it gets tiresome’

    It does.

    Thomas

  • On August 6, 2009 at 10:57 am Joel Brouwer wrote:

    Taking the long view, some scientists, including Steven Pinker, who is perhaps my favorite scientist, think war is on its way out:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327151.500-winning-the-ultimate-battle-how-humans-could-end-war.html?full=true

  • On August 6, 2009 at 1:51 pm Margo Berdeshevsky wrote:

    That’s a fine link, Joel, thank you for bringing it to the fore. Yes, there are many ways to deal with who we are and/or hope NOT to be. “Speaking words of wisdom… let it be.”

    I appreciate this quote from the link, which pertains in so many ways: “Humans have a substantial capacity for dealing with conflicts non-violently”, he says. One group might simply “vote with its feet” and walk away from the other. Alternatively, a third party might mediate a resolution. Or in rare cases, a man might be so compulsively aggressive and violent that others in the band would banish or even kill him. “In band society, no one likes a bully,” says Fry.”

    I do have trouble with the statement “There have been relatively few international wars since the second world war, and no wars between developed nations.” There was a powerful attempt to turn Iraq into an international war, but some few chose to refuse to participate, at the start. And in the Middle East presently, Israel is certainly a developed nation, while others are not. And certainly economic and cultural and environmental factors cry out for our universal compassion.

    Bt yes, oh yes, let us sit at any campfire with Pinker when he says ” War is not in our DNA. And if warfare is not innate then, surely, neither is it inevitable.”

    “Speaking words of wisdom… let it be.”

    As I tried to say, above: It is a long birth. May we be around to rock its cradle.

    margo


Posted in Poetry News on Saturday, August 1st, 2009 by Joel Brouwer.