littlemsmack: (I'll Find You)
I began to think that the first step toward seeing the end is to come to terms with what it means to be right in the middle."

From this NYT op ed piece, "When is a War Over?"

It's the closing sentence, and aside the really interesting perspective the writer brings to the value of history, of storytelling, of learning from what has gone before throughout the piece, this sentence makes me want to stop and reflect on the PhD process. I've been busy panicking about the approaching end - dismissing questions of "what will you do after?" -with rejoinders that I'm too busy trying to write to even THINK about the end...but perhaps I do need to pause. See the trees and the wood - the PhD's not just the final written output, it's the journey as well (yup, trying for as many cliches as I can get into this sentence) and perhaps I really can't write the end, if I'm not sure about what's in the middle, and what being in the middle means.
littlemsmack: (Default)

This incredible list has been compiled, of all Polish Air Force personnel who served in the UK during WWII. I've found my grandfather, at which point I think I need 5mins and a cup of tea. Then I'm going to work out why my grandmother isn't on the list.

Never mind. Found her. Totally awesome.

littlemsmack: (I'll Find You)
 Amidst the various articles that my subscriptions dump into my inbox, this one caught my eye this morning: "Partners in War, and Ending It". It actually made me pause for a moment to realise that in looking down at the details, I'd stopped thinking about the big picture. Part way through reading, I paused to think on this

"war continues to seduce people. In war, normal life is suspended. Routines abruptly stop; ad hoc behavior becomes the norm. Few can avert their eyes from a military demonstration of shock and awe, whether with broadsword and catapult or stealth bomber and battle tank.

It's true. War fascinates, throughout history. After all, the Bayeux Tapestry is the 1070 version any documentary or official record produced today, and produced because the events still interest and fascinate us. It's the bit inside all of us that might not be capable of hands on physical violence, but still can't tear our eyes away of the spectacle of it occurring in front of us.

However, it was the concluding paragraph that really prompted me to write this.

And just as different types of men experience war differently – some as drawn to it, some reluctantly doing their duty, some repulsed by what occurs – it will be the same for women. Men and women will be a more effective team in modern warfare. How much better it would be, however, if men and women teamed up to hasten the end of war altogether."

In terms of arguing from the tactical weeds, its a common point. Some women will succeed in ground combat, some will not, just as some men will and other won't. Neither "men" nor "women" can seriously be argued as a homogenous category from which all men, or all women, can be used as a measurement. But it is that closing sentence that gives me pause for thought. I don't envisage a world without war, but I do forget that accepting it as a reality to be dealt with now should not mean stopping work, on ways that would make warfare obsolete and unnecessary. Not my area of work, but a good reminder of a bigger picture.
littlemsmack: (Default)
I wasn't one of those students at school who could memorise and recite whole passages, declaim texts as a parrot repeats words. Probably a good thing, because the achievement of flawless repetition would have occluded attempts to have the brain engage with what words actually mean, and think, not just speak. But even if I couldn't remember the exact content of a text, its style left a mark. Good prose that makes for pleasant reading, and the transfer of information, is a wonderful thing. 

I came across this entry about the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, and events around its evolution as the centenary of WWI approaches. A great entry in itself, it linked to former Prime Minister Keating's eulogy for the Unknown Soldier in 1993. And that is a wonderful text. Fascinating, to see the story told, and place it takes in the fabric of national memory and social legend.

I probably won't remember the text of the eulogy itself, but I shall certainly remember the sentiment and feelings it evoked in me, and that's what will prompt me to come back to it, at any point in the future.

May 2015

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