Friday, November 11, 2005

Rememberance Day

I cried my eyes out for the whole one minute silence today - I've never done that before. World Wars 1 and 2 are events which I haven't had an emotional link with; my grandparents don't speak about it, but neither is theirs a revered, pained silence, they just don't have anything to say.
I don't know what it was that tapped such a well of emotion in me , maybe going to Bosnia made me think about war more, or maybe I just realised the magnitude of what that war overcame. For all the evils that there are in post-war Western society, and despite all the less honourable reasons that England went to war for, World War 2 was a moral victory against a politics too sickening to imagine.
I've always been against that kind of traditional flag waving 'we won the war' pride, and I still am, but I realise the importance of remeberance more than ever. I hope that we as a nation never forget those terrible images of the terrible machine of war, burning skin, ripping flesh, shattering bones, of the terrible absences where limbs should have been, and the rows and rows of gravestones, each one holding someone who was loved, who was hated, who was ignored, who existed, who should never have been there.
I had a lecture this week that glorified the Russian Revolution of October 1917 of its excess of feeling and the artistic acheivement it inspired in comparison with our postmodern 'hyper reality,' our shunning of grand narratives in favour of the new relgion of consumerism. The lecture was neatly wrapped up by saying that, of course, not all the consequences of the Revolution were as noble or as worthy of praise. Postmodernism might have made us apathetic, convictionless, impotent, little better than battery hens in the capitalist system, but surely rather that than those 'big ideas' of fascism, communism, Stalinism, Nazism in whose grasp so many perished.
I know that capitalism is just another of those grand narratives and that we are living under another kind of tyranny, and that we wage our wars in places we can't see. I like post-modernism, I like that it lets me be vague, lazy and contradictory with my opinions, and I want it not to be something that we are force fed 'for our own good', like veal on antibiotics. I want so much to believe that there is a better way, and the only way that I can see is if there is no 'big idea', if everything that doesn't hurt anyone is ok.
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