Personal War

Finally! The Old Continent has a war going again. Who remembers the exact dates of those in former Yugoslavia? The decade even? Or the names of the nations involved, new, old, self-declared? Or what the various casus belli were in the first place. Who remembers Susan Sontag? (To read up: Benjamin Moser, Sontag, Her Life and Work, First edition. |New York : Ecco, [2019] | Includes bibliographical references and index.)

A certain pandemic had started to bore people. It never even threatened to decimate the world population. Some pandemic! Worse, it had started to positively annoy people, because they were fed up with being thwarted at destroying everything in them that has the potential of making their life worthwhile to society.

A good thing this war segued!

The papers and radio news shows (I never watch television, unless the concept of ‘watching television’ includes the use of the device for streaming services. I have sat through wars, terrorists attacks, beheadings, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural or manmade disasters, without ever having seen a single image, watching some Netflix, HBO, Amazon or Disney franchise instead. I wouldn’t know what a man dying, maimed or bleeding from his nose looks like in real life, except my father, at whose side I was when he died; his breathing was shallow, became intermittent; in a single cycle – a reflex – his tongue exited and re-entered, and that was it; and my husband; vide infra), these papers and shows, they are having the time of their life. Rather than just mention that a war has started and shut up until it has ended, they claim disproportionate quantities of extra air (only, obviously, the commercial blocks are untouchable), lining up expertologists, politicians, retired generals, history of warfare professors (not kidding), opinion makers, ‘influencers’ and such other people as never fail to leave me in awe at the many ways in which one can earn a living without having had a serious education, being challenged for a living, or adding an ounce of productivity, creativity or innovation.

Is the horror of war in the numbers, its abjectness in the inexhaustible ways people can get maimed, killed, made wish they had been? Oh, no! The horror of war is that we speak and write of it, that we picture it, shoot it, film it, that we have a name and rules for it, that it is a system that can be taught and studied. The horror of war is that people need it. It is in its never being condemned, but only the people who wage it. It is in its not being ignored, in its not being left to rot in its own decay. The horror is not in a war. It is in people pandering to the ritual of secondary emotions they allow, nay, will it to evoke. The true horror is in what any of one’s neighbors is willing to do to a single one of any of their fellow human beings. True horror was in my husband dying before my eyes, hemorrhaging internally, brains drained of blood, thereby of oxygen, in mere minutes. True horror is in one’s friends and associates and therapists not accepting that this was and always will be a thousand times more horrible than three hundred people dying in a plane that got shot down accidentally around that same time.

Would I care if a regime of idiots decided to run over the nation where I live, even if that were not the country of my exile? Oh, no! I would let them. Aggression, aversion to freedom, aversion to the free spirit, bigotry, conceit, crass stupidity, domination, hate, misogyny, murderous intent, racism, vanity, war (one will note the politically correct alphabetical order), they are all deeply ingrained in the human species. I would have to fight the exact same personal war.

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