I've been slogging away at this genre of war art for a while. Or more correctly, at the genre of trying-to-understand-the-draw-of-soldiering. Sometimes I feel like I am stuck within the gravitational pull of a planet I know too well but don't know at all. So while this project has its official component and is about the Canadian infantry as it finds a post-Afghan combat place for itself, I must also admit to a self-serving end. There is something out there and I am drawn to it.
The title of this blog was chosen partially because those were two terms that I was often confused by when a serving soldier. They might be the academic equivalent of "pedantic and polemic". While I now have both those twins under control, the notion of trying to relearn something, come at it anew and more specifically, pin things down, makes "enfilade and defilade" apropos.
As far as the visual imagery is concerned, below are a triptych of quotes that square themselves nicely against one of my favourite hangups: The indifference of the universe to our suffering, and how, out of that suffering, we might learn something otherwise unattainable.
Tim O'Brien: "Like a killer forest fire, like cancer under a microscope, any battle or bombing raid or artillery barrage has the aesthetic purity of absolute moral indifference – a powerful, implacable beauty."
Kathleen Norris: "The Beauty of the plains is like that of an icon; it does not give an inch to sentiment or romance."
Gerhard Richter: "Agony, desperation and helplessness cannot be represented except aesthetically, because their source is the wounding of beauty (Perfection)"