Monday, July 13, 2015


The "thousand-yard stare" perhaps....
Repetition and re-enactment ... whether anyone can do something once is not so much the point: It's being able to do it again ... and again ... and again. But of course there is no doing anything again. Done is done... good, bad or indifferent.

Still, there is practice and pretense to move things along.

Here in the U.S. July 4 is dubbed "Independence Day." Fireworks go off, hot dogs are grilled and there is often potato salad. A national celebration: The tawdry revolutionaries, with the help of the French, beat the civilized Brits in a war ... an activity at which the Brits were past masters.

The Fourth of July is also a time, among others, when Civil War re-enactors may put on a replication of one battle or another. Great attention and detail and money is ponied up for these events. The uniforms, tents, weapons, battle configurations and movements are lovingly attended to.

In looking up "war reenactment," I found that re-enactment is hardly limited to the Civil War here in the U.S. Pick a war and there is likely to be a re-enactment. Revolution, War of 1812, World War I, World War II ... the list goes on and on. And the United States is hardly alone.

Strange how all this loving memory aids nothing so much as determined forgetfulness. How can anyone re-enact the thousand-yard-stare, the underfed narrowness of frame, the just-plain-horror, or the shredding of everything combat soldiers are told they are fighting for ....? How could anyone depict the love or fear or bestiality or honor?

Much, if not most, of what made the situation memorable is left out in the representation of a memorable event. It cannot be adequately replicated or re-enacted. So let's skip over the hard facts and stick with the comprehensible and quantifiable and tell a good tale. And then, as if our stories are not enough, engage in a new war.

I guess it is left to individuals to separate tale-telling from the tale itself.

Spiritual life, for example, can paint a wondrous picture ... right up to the moment anyone actually tries it out. In order to understand the crucifixion, I have a hunch Christians are forced to forget about their very own Jesus or God. No book or movie or holiday could ever tell the tale, although there may be a hell of a tale to tell. And what, to use another example, would a Buddhist do with anything as creative as "enlightenment?"

Re-enactment and replication ... very informative ... and as useless as teats on a bull.

1 comment:

  1. A determined calf might find teats on a placid bull to be an advantage, but then a magic wand would be advantageous too.