A Journal Discovered Among the Papers of Thomas Kjar  


Been reading a good deal on battle, war and such things. The Face of Battle Is the best thing l've read about actual combat- the phenomenology of battle- the reader is on the soggy plains of Agincourt. The author does some basic psychology on men in battle- makes the battle as explicit as possible. There is no romanticism in battle or war. Yet, reading these accounts of old battles engages something in the mind. Ssomething is fascinated, as if, indeed, war and battle are the bottom line in human existence. Intellectually one knows that isn't the case since rarely is war fought for its own sake. But, sometimes one has to believe that the will to war is ever present even among the civilized pursuits of politics and diplomacy.

American revolutlon; civil war; Mexican War; Spanish War; Vietnam War; World Wars; Korean War. I am immersing myself In these things again. The Red Badge of Courage. Of course, these events are so different from the present that it Is hard to get into the conflict, except as monumental events that one, invariably, tries to understand the way he would understand bad neighbors.

Felix Mong and Chuck have been in war. Felix was telling me that his first kill left an indelible mark on his mind and that the most shocking thing was how the others, his comrades, were watching him. "The first time a guy goes out the vets check him out, see how he responds, if he has courage. If he does he's brought into the brotherhood and told the things he needs to know to survive. If he doesn't he's not told anything and is dead in a short time. It's Darwin." The others haven't been in war and they act like spoiled children, as if everything they have is a right of some sort.

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February 27, 2002
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