Open Wounds

Deimos kai Phobos (Horror and Fear)

Deimos and Phobos are the moons of Mars – named after the sons of the Greek god Ares (Roman Mars). It seems so many things about Mars are war-like or resonate with the actions of war.  Deimos means horror and Phobos means fear in Greek. I never knew this.

John Carter is of Earth and Mars and he is war-like as are all the Martians in the John Carter stories of Edgar Rice Boroughs. I’m drifting a bit but lets see where it goes.

How can war, something that is both horrific and to be afraid of, also be romanticized? It seems every generation plays with these two pieces of the war puzzle. Isn’t that what video games do for us today – allow us to play at warfare without getting hurt? I struggle with this as a writer who writes about war.

Today the weapons used in warfare are taken for granted – explosives, automatic weapons, missiles. We are used to them in a sense. They are on TV. They are on our visual radar. Can you image how terrifying it was to see them for the first time? The first time seeing an armored tank, a flamethrower, a mortar, a machine gun, large artillery shells and barrages that would make the earth shake,  your ears bleed – that could stop your heart from beating? My chest tightens just thinking about it.

I wonder about this as a reader who reads about war – fantasy, science fiction, historical, non-fiction – and a writer who writes about it.

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11 responses

  1. artanddesignofpaul

    interesting to read

    do check out my D at GAC a-z

    April 4, 2012 at 8:40 am

  2. I worry that living in a land where robotic drones drop death from the sky with impunity is probably the number one thing that turns people into religious fanatics. As warfare gets less and less personal (a fascinating take is in the film The Last Samurai) it also gets less and less honorable, and I think the innocent tend to suffer more and more.

    Hopefully, someday our humanity will surpass our technology.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:18 am

    • The Last Samurai is a great example – loved the film and what it talked about. So here’s my question. Can war be honorable? And if so, does that make war an acceptable consequence of being human? Note, I’m not saying “good” just acceptable. What is our part in this conversation as writers who write about violence and violent times? Are humans inherently violent to some degree? I know I have the capacity for great violence myself – having seen it constrained on the rugby pitch – and having felt its urges in relationships and with a child (hello shaking baby syndrome – I know how that horror can happen). I’m running into dark places this morning. Perhaps I need a bit more tea.

      April 4, 2012 at 10:47 am

      • Personally I think there have been honorable wars, at least as far as our knowledge of history allows us to know them, but I think that society and technology and many other factors have long been leading us in a direction where the chance for honor, or righteousness, or any semblance of “good” is less and less possible.

        I think to deny the violent nature of the human condition is foolish, but we have to learn to channel it. Martial Arts, Fencing, Rugby … there are countless responsible ways to exercise our urges.

        Great conversation!

        April 4, 2012 at 10:56 am

  3. In one of my classes we recently watched a WWI film about the French front. The first predecessors to tanks were actually pretty comical. They were basically upside down wheel-barrels that the soldiers were beneath. They were forced to crawl towards the enemies. I don’t think they had a way to see out of them because I saw a tank/barrel wonder off from the rest of the group and get lost.

    April 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    • I have had five generations of my family go to war.
      The three family members who I knew did not come back whole.
      I don’t see how they could.
      I love The Last Samurai, especially the scene where Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe are talking about the samurai way of life and Tom Cruise’s character asks, “What could be more necessary?”
      But samurai were trained for tea ceremonies and flower arranging and poetry and beauty, not just war.
      I don’t have any answers here.
      I’d rather see warriors spar or box or fence or play rugby, as Matthew observes.
      And write.
      Warriors should write.
      Thank you, Joe, for being an honorable warrior.

      April 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      • That’s exactly why Bushido is so fascinating. Read the Hagakure, and the Book of Five Rings, if you ever get the chance, KPF. You too, Joe.

        April 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      • I’ve never read the Hagakure but will have to. The Book of five rings I read a long time ago – but need to revisit…

        April 5, 2012 at 6:03 am

      • In Mathew’s book he has his younr warrior’s learn the art of drawing characters with a brush and ink in addition to the arts of physical combat. They must draw with thought, with intention, with the power not just of their mind but of their elemental force or life (qi, prana). I love that image. I do not know a warrior who has returned from war who has not been changed, who has not been harmed, by what has been asked of them to do in the name of their country, in the name of survival, in the name of protecting their friends – their family. I know only that as a writer this is territory to be wary of, ground to be touched with care.

        April 5, 2012 at 6:03 am

  4. I never even thought of that, but thanks for bringing it up, Joe. Now if only I can get that thing published.

    April 6, 2012 at 6:59 am

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