1893 Grand Exhibition. The world's intro to PBR, hot dogs, ice cream cones and the Ferris Wheel.

1893 Grand Exhibition. The world's intro to PBR, hot dogs, ice cream cones and the Ferris Wheel.
A view through the wheel. The black, horizontal line is the axle, the single largest forging to that time.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I Need a Hero

"I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe
that the War is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this War, on which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purpose for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would nowbe attainable by negotiation. I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops,
and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerity's for which the fighting men are being sacrificed. On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practised on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the contrivance of agonies which they do not, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize."

Sassoon, born 8 September 1886, was on the fast track to spending his life as a rich screw-off.
Born of a wealthy Jewish father and an Anglican mother, he attended university in Cambridge during 1905-07 but dropped out without a degree (Hey, That's me!).
He was, however, fully primed and loaded for a life of fox-hunting, sleeping 'till noon and writing mushy, "Moon in June" poetry.
That all changed in August of 1914 when he, along with many, many others enlisted in the first rush of patriotic fervor.
He had actually joined up, as a private, with the first rumors of war and was in the service, in the Sussex Yeomanry, at the time of the declaration of war on Aug. 4.
However, a riding accident kept out of the game through much of 1915 until his convalescence was complete and he joined the venerable Royal Welch Fusiliers as a commissioned officer.
Decorated for bravery, earning the Military Cross "for exceptional gallantry", he was an exemplary company commander in France, at one point, he single-handedly captured a German trench on the Hindenburg Line.
In between times he was active in night raids and bombing expeditions.
But, the stress of the danger, filth and horror surrounding him, produced a depression that manifested itself as a manic type of courage, leading his men to refer to him as "Mad Jack".
A slight wounding in 1917 sent him back to England where pacifist friends ("Pacifism is the privilege of the protected" Mad Ogre. What horseshit) encouraged him not to return to duty.
So, in July of 1917 he penned his "Soldier's Declaration" reproduced (complete with quaint Brit spelling and syntax) above.
This is where he becomes heroic to me. His Declaration was read out in Parliament by a sympathetic MP on July, 27 and thus his action became irreversible.
The Brits, needing cannon fodder desperately, were quite cruel to the "Conchies" (conscientious objectors) at this point, some being imprisoned in hole in the ground needing only a willingness to enlist to gain freedom - sort of.
Sassoon's friend and fellow poet, Robert Graves pulled some strings and had his buddy diagnosed with "neurasthenia", what was called in the day, "Shell Shock".

He never really copped to being mentally unfit even though he experienced repeated psychotic breaks. At one point he was having to step around rotting corpses in Piccadilly Circus. At night he saw dead members of his company crawling across the floor to him with accusation in their eyes.
Out of loyalty to his men, he ultimately returned to his company with his Declaration seemingly meaningless.
After the war he still carried the burden of what he'd seen and did and it colored the rest of his life.
So, this guy's my hero? Fuck yes.
What's this in aid of?
I've become disgusted with the tone of many of the "Bloggers" that I share the web with.
People dying in their thousands on the other side of the world are unimportant compared to the horrors of - wait for it - SUMMER VACATION WITH GAS AT $4 A GALLON.
So, yesterday, these feckless, callow Bozos found my inability to "get the joke" offensive to their well-developed sensibilities.
I guess I just don't find it funny.
Somebody (Not me!) elected our present, laughably incompetent "commander in chief" and we're now in the same place as Sassoon - having to watch treasure and young lives and limbs squandered on a venture that anyone with two neurons to rub together recognized as a bloody disaster waiting to happen from the beginning.
But remember, Fortress America remains threatened.
Legions of "Little Brown Border Jumpers" and "Islamofascists" (has anyone told these idiots what fascism is? No, of course not) await just a moment of weakness on our part before they rush in like Khan's hordes to deprive us our "Freedom" and our "Way of Life".
I think these morons need a new hobby.
Don't tell them to read history. They already do that - just silly history.
What makes it silly? They fully buy the PR (bullshit) surrounding such grandstanding, marginally competent dipshits like MacArthur and Patton.
Really, having them read at all is dangerous.
So, off my chest. To celebrate I'll salt in some appropriate photos.
To set the "proper tone", you know

Finally, offered as a digestif:
Sassoon's "For the Warmongers". This's for you, Ben - if you ever turn up here.
By the way, the bit accompanying Sassoon's pic is the final stanza from "Suicide in the Trenches ". It's my favorite bit of "Fuck You, Asshole" to throw up to... you know...callow,feckless bozos.

To the Warmongers

I’m back again from hell
With loathsome thoughts to sell;
Secrets of death to tell;
And horrors from the abyss.
Young faces bleared with blood,
Sucked down into the mud,
You shall hear things like this,
Till the tormented slain
Crawl round and once again,
With limbs that twist awry
Moan out their brutish pain,
As the fighters pass them by.
For you our battles shine
With triumph half-divine;
And the glory of the dead
Kindles in each proud eye.
But a curse is on my head,
That shall not be unsaid,
And the wounds in my heart are red,
For I have watched them die.

6 comments:

Andy said...

I think you've mentioned him before, but now it might be appropriate to touch on good ol' Smedley Butler.

Bellicini said...

If you encounter any Boers
You really must not loot 'em!
And if you wish to leave these shores,
For pity's sake, DON'T SHOOT 'EM!!


And if you'd earn a D.S.O.,
Why every British sinner
Should know the proper way to go
Is: "ASK THE BOER TO DINNER!"

Oliver Hart-Parr said...

Makes sense to me.
But those Teutonic type's tastes are all over the map as far as what any rational person would eat.
Hot potato salad! As an example.
Chocolate and ginger!
Actually, both are really good. The PS is just not church picnic, buy-it-at-Costco PS, but nice stuff.
Seriously,
Nice bit of doggerel. Where'd it come from.
Or do I inspire such a muse?

Bellicini said...

BUTCHERED TO MAKE A DUTCHMAN'S HOLIDAY by Harry ("Breaker") Morant.

Oliver Hart-Parr said...

Oooh,
Way cool.
I saw the movie about a million years ago and never bothered to see if there was a book behind it.
Thanks.

Oliver Hart-Parr said...

Of course I meant,
poem.

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