(AKA the questions the old man will be asking himself as he reads your paper)
The basic three questions:
Did this student read the documents assigned for this synthesis project?
Did this student understand the documents assigned for this project?
Did this student understand the connections between the documents assigned for this project?
Can I find evidence in this paper to demonstrate an answer to the above three questions? (and maybe to some of the additional questions below?)
Does this student writer understand David James Duncan's assertion about the importance of truth over 'facts' and reporting? Does this writer understand the connection between Duncan, Orr and O'Brien's themes in "How to Tell a True War Story?"
Does this writer avoid relativism and solipsism? (look up these terms if you don't understand this question)
Does this writer honor Czleslaw Milosz's assertion that "the true enemy of man is generalization?" Is the paper padded with generalization? Does the generalization obscure the specific and genuine and human?
Does this writer understand the connection between Curt Lemon's sister and the woman who wasn't listening? (characters in O'Brien's story)
Can Miss Jadwiga be saved? Or at least not forgotten? Does this writer seem to understand that question?
Does this writer understand why Orr makes poems? Why Duncan makes fiction? Why humans tell stories?
Monday, March 17, 2014
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace
American Scholar article here
The soldiers around me were barely visible, but I could smell them. They had not washed for days, and a sharp musk of sweat and sleeplessness, tobacco and chemically mummified food, wove through the fields and orchards. It was after midnight, moonless, the stars brilliant but unhelpful. The soldiers wore night-vision goggles, but I did not, so I stumbled after their scent along the remote edge of a fading war, envisioning things I could not see.
Up ahead, in the stream of black shapes, were the American soldiers I had come to fear. They were men who enjoyed demolishing Afghan houses, men who shot dogs in the face. The pair who had embraced like lovers, one tenderly drawing the blade of his knife along the pale, smooth skin of his friend’s throat. There was a guy who’d let the others tie his legs open and mock-rape him, and there were several men who had boasted of plans to murder their ex-wives and former girlfriends.
We paused in the darkness. A line of Afghan soldiers shuffled past, also nearly blind without night-vision equipment. They moved into position for the coming raid, clumsy as boxcars, trailing their own earthy stink. I thought back to what an American Army sergeant had told me hours earlier.
“This is where I come to do fucked-up things.”
His face had been clear and smooth, his smile almost shy. It was a statement of happy expectation, as though Afghanistan were a playground. He was the de facto leader of a platoon I will call Destroyer, and although he is a real person, not a composite, I have heard his words in many variations, from many American combat troops. But he and some of his men were the first I had met who seemed very near to committing the dumb and vicious acts that we call war crimes.
Chris Hedges: Murder Is Not an Anomaly in War - Chris Hedges (extra resource for students working on 'war story' papers)
Chris Hedges: Murder Is Not an Anomaly in War - Chris Hedges - Truthdig
War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation—spiritual, emotional and finally physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems—economic, social, environmental and political—that sustain us as human beings. In war, we deform ourselves, our essence. We give up individual conscience—maybe even consciousness—for contagion of the crowd, the rush of patriotism, the belief that we must stand together as a nation in moments of extremity. To make a moral choice, to defy war’s enticement, can in the culture of war be self-destructive. The essence of war is death. Taste enough of war and you come to believe that the Stoics were right: We will, in the end, all consume ourselves in a vast conflagration.
A World War II study determined that, after 60 days of continuous combat, 98 percent of all surviving soldiers will have become psychiatric casualties. A common trait among the remaining 2 percent was a predisposition toward having “aggressive psychopathic personalities.” Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his book “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society,” notes: “It is not too far from the mark to observe that there is something about continuous, inescapable combat which will drive 98 percent of all men insane, and the other 2 percent were crazy when they go there.”