October 2, 2008

Slim Glories

I found a blog yesterday that posted a weird rant (not written by the blogger). Here's an excerpt:


One last thought for the day:

Only five defining forces have ever offered to die for you:

1. Jesus Christ

2. The Canadian Soldier.

3. The British Soldier.

4. The US Soldier, and

5. The Australian Soldier

One died for your soul, the other 4 for your freedom.

Setting aside my cynic modern self and just reading that, it fascinates me. I'm not trying to bring up a conversation about religion or far-right politics. I find this email infinitely intriguing. I feel a kinship with the kind of person who would write something like that. I mean, I'm as offended as everyone else by what is ridiculous in those lines -sure, but that's boring. That email's worldview is so beautiful in its simple purity.

I'm coming across condescending... hmm. I'm trying to be honest. I find it lovely. (blah blah blah -I wouldn't vote for it -blah blah blah). There is a symmetry and art in such words that we've turned away from for too long, because it's easier to condemn it outright, than to pick out the barely perceptible grains of truth.

The ugliness is awful -and thus fascinating, but the beauty is even more interesting, so I wish we would learn to separate the quick fascisms from the earthy gems. Stop condemning war entirely; turn and savor the slim glories. Recognize the transcendence of a war torn landscape as much as the feminine sea in a peace accord.

My ideas are half-formed, floating aimless in my brain. I want to look these things in the face.


jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jon said...

that deleted comment was mine. i said something about how the thing was admirable for its simple way of making a point, but how i objected to the content. then i followed your link and went and read the original piece in its entirety and realized that on its own the excerpt seemed to say one thing but the author actually meant it different than i took it.

yeah, there is much to object to as far as content goes (the statement about jesus being a pretty vapid and false cliche) but you are right:

there is something absolutely refreshing about the honesty of it. what frightens me is the militance behind it, but man, does that original piece ever cut throught the crap! makes you realized how censored everything is.

Leif Pederson said...

A few weeks ago I was in the US talking with a guy who is in the military. He was part of the Presidential Guard during 9/11, and it was really odd to hear him talking about things. Usually I consider the hype to be far more than it really was in the eyes of Americans, but his own words of standing at some secret location and watching the Pentagon on fire, and then all the crazy crap he had to do afterwards... he made it really sound like the doomsday Americans portray it to be.

Things like that make me reconsider the views I have on things, since in a lot of cases you really did "have to be there" in order to feel the full effect. The exerpt you posted feels like that to me. Depending upon your experiences and worldview, it could be a very beautiful expression, or a very ignorant one.

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...


For me these words are ignorant, ultimately; but within that there is something compelling about them, something I can't quite put my finger on; like listening to the rant of a racist and thinking, "yeah, I disagree so strongly with this, but this way of thinking does have a beauty in it." It's difficult to talk about that beauty without sounding overly sympathetic, but I'm interested in trying to walk that line. I've been turning away from this stuff for too long. I've written it off entirely, because it is 99.99% crap -but I think there is something important in examining that .01% of truth/beauty/whatever.

I love that story of you talking to the military guy in the US. It's great to hear that perspective without commentary.

I think it is something about what you called the "honesty" of these words that are compelling. The fact that there is no restraint. Restraint is valuable, obviously, but when you encounter a crazy person ranting, their lack of restraint -their stream of consciousness ranting- can really help sometimes in letting you see the world from a fresh perspective.

So much talk I listen to (on tv or in "real life") is people not quite saying what they mean; we hedge our bets and try to be reasonable; this weird rant I posted, and others like it, interest me because that restraint is gone and you just see through to the heart of the person in that moment.

I dunno. I honestly don't understand entirely why I'm so curious, but I am.

jon said...

i think you've explained it quite well.

i think if there is .01% worth in these rants it takes a generous and gracious listener/reader to pull it out. in the process of that graciousness i think both listener and speaker can be made wiser. this seems important to me. in the end it may be the listener that brings the most to the table, but one can not discount the importance of the actual meeting of persons that is involved.