Monday, May 25, 2009

In Memoriam


Germany, 1945

For my grandfather, and every great American hero, from Bunker Hill, to Shiloh, to Iwo Jima to Kandahar.


New Guinea, 1943


Saipan, 1943


Spotsylvania, Virgina, 1864


Coral Sea, 1942


Okinawa, 1945



Germany, 1945


Korea, 1951


Iraq, 2003


Iraq, 2004

All WWII photos copyright Life magazine. Visit their online archive here.

7 comments:

  1. great post. same for my grandfather.

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  2. i hope this won't become a site for indiscriminating glorification of american wars. in ww2 america did save the world from germany's psychotic episode. but i see vietnam and iraq in a very different light.

    i would also like to understand the relation you see between war and game.

    and while we're at it: reading your interesting post about nietzsche (in particular slave and master moralities), i felt that though i value intelligence over stupidity and beauty over ugliness, the kind of general embrace of a master morality you seemed to be suggesting was uncompelling: i didn't see the line between your rejection of a slave morality and social darwinist and national socialist thinking.

    to me master morality is only a means and the ends have to come from independently defined values: e.g. protection of life and freedom -- not hegemony of those who kill all others -- but that would be slave morality.

    perhaps you can review "mein kampf" for us when you have a moment.

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  3. That's a bit facile.

    For the record, my co-blogger 11minutes also took time out to address this post with me, as it's clearly off-topic from our normal themes.

    To be clear, I'm not advocating nationalism, per se. I'm merely calling attention to the bravery it takes to strap on a helmet and a gun and go off and be willing to kill or die for what you believe in. It's something that's very easy to ignore in the comfortable lives that most of us lead (myself included). Whether or not the cause is just is a separate issue.

    I share your concern about indiscriminate glorification. Point taken, and no, this will not become a site about that.

    To address your specific concernt "the relation [I] see between war and game," there is no direct connection. I'm just an advocate of men embracing their true strength. Being a man means seizing a role and not letting a role be thrust upon you. The role of soldier takes a lot of guts and in that sense it's worthy of praise. I don't believe in indiscriminate killing, I don't think that holding a gun and following orders makes you more of a man, but I do believe that sacrifice, action, and bravery count for something. This post went up on Memorial Day, which is one specific day on which we are invited to consider these things, and so consider them I did. I'm not ashamed of that at all.

    You said: i didn't see the line between your rejection of a slave morality and social darwinist and national socialist thinking." Certainly I don't see any such line either. Do you mean you do see a line? Because the argument that Nietzsche's philosophy led to nazism is well-debunked. They took what they wanted from his ideas, digested it in their sick entrails and shit out a sad little turd of groupthink and cowardly murderousness that bore little relation to Nietzsche's actual philosophy. If you go back and actually read Nietzsche, it will allay any misconceptions about whether Nietzsche could have ever endorsed Hitler's insane project. What happened to his legacy after he died is not his fault, and it's no reason for any modern people to discount what he said. Just like, on the flipside, the fact that the Spaniards chose to string up people by their balls and burn them alive in Christ's name doesn't detract one bit from Jesus's message of love and forgiveness (to take a different example).

    One of the main reasons for all the namby-pamby cowardice you see among "men" these days is due to the left successfully branding any sort of strong assertion of values as somehow fascist. It's like when people suggest that Obama is "communist." Any person who lived under real communism would just laugh in your face. Communists are fucking evil, and so are fascists.

    I agree with your comment about means and ends.

    As for the "Mein Kampf" comment, with all due respect and friendship, for even suggesting that, I offer you two words from the depths of my heart: Fuck you.

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  4. thanks for your thoughtful response. i understand a bit better now, but i'm still wondering about the relationship between master morality and values.

    like you i love (and have read) nietzsche, hate national socialism, and think it's ridiculous to argue that the former somehow caused the latter.

    but i can't bring myself to whole-heartedly reject what nietzsche called slave morality, because i feel that a pure master morality does lead to social darwinist ideas.

    when i said i didn't see the "line", i meant the clear "dividing line".

    perhaps i'm highly sensitive to the inherent dangers of glorifying the victory of strength over weakness (and the strong over the weak) because i am german.

    i'm looking for a way to embrace what makes sense about nietzsche's ideas while defending protection of the weak and innocent. this would include valuing every human life equally -- be it of one's own or of another nationality.

    on a related note, i find it difficult to whole-heartedly admire the bravery of soldier independent of the justness of the cause. individually, many of nazi germany's soldiers may have had similar emotional motivations for fighting as those on the side of the allies -- yet my admiration for their bravery is limited. in fact i wish they had wavered in their patriotism and questioned the cause. this would have taken a different kind of bravery -- but it would likewise have meant risking one's life.

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  5. I can dig it.

    I'll think about this and maybe post some more in the coming days.

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  6. i look forward to reading more of your ideas.

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  7. Master Dogen and stagetwo, I actually think that there is much more agreement than disagreement between the two you.

    As stated above, Master Dogen did discuss the post with me. And we both agreed. This blog should be not just about sex, but on "becoming a better Man" in general (and this post is archived under this more general tag). I would not even mind if the topics take on a wider range than that. And as upsetting as it may be at times - I also appreciate controversy. We will not start to grow by learning from each other if we merely agree on each other's points of view.

    I do not have strong feelings on most political issues myself since I tend to see a complexity in the underlying problems that defies the one dimensional system commonly applied. In fact, I can even relate to both "sides" of the argument above (as far as there there is one).

    I guess it is my own German upbringing that gets me close to some of the feelings stagetwo voiced in his second comment. At the same time this is what gets me to question my own motives and assumptions. My experience of living on the both sides of the Atlantic has helped me see things in a different light at times, and I I might have lost some idealism along the way. Then again, I am biased since I feel more "at home" in the US than in Europe.

    I think it is a very interesting topic to explore how we should deal with the "weak" once we have climbed up the ladder ourselves.

    Any rational approach needs to deal with this problem. Because, if the weak are not taken care off, they will start taking things into their own hands. That is a constant threat to the "winners" since the "losers" are in the majority.

    Nietzsche is (yet again) an interesting read in this respect:
    Friedrich Nietzsche believed that pity causes an otherwise normal person to feel his or her own suffering in an inappropriately intense, alienated way. "Pity makes suffering contagious," he says in The Antichrist, meaning that it is important for the pitier not to allow him/herself to feel superior to the pitied, lest such a power imbalance result in the pitied retaliating against the help being offered.

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