Sunday, 7 December 2003; 9:00 AM EST (Updated 6:00 AM; Tuesday, 9 September 2008)
Return to Barbarity
From a collection of paintings by
Japanese citizens on the Atom bomb dropped at Hiroshima, Japan,
at the end of World War II, in which hundreds of thousands of residents died .
Click on image for an index to the entire collection offered by the Peace Memorial Museum.
The common men and women of America dream of a basic social order, an American civilization that allows people to resolve their differences peacefully, only to find the reality of their country's foreign policy, and the actions of their armed forces and police agencies returning again and again to savage brutality and cruelty. This is an American civilization of barbarity that is now armed with hyperpower.
Cornelia P. Atchley, artist.
Here each individual is interested not only in his own affairs, but in the affairs of the state as well. We do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics. is a man who minds his own business, we say that he has no business here at all.
We have not yet escapedthe mode of civilization derived from the barbarian warrior mentality depicted by the ancient Greek poet Homer in the Illiad (c. 750-700 B.C.). In that work Homer describes with unrelenting gory imagry the fall of the City of Troy (c. 1184 B.C.), located in Asia Minor, as in the sequence in which Greek Diomedes, under the protection of Athena, brings down Trojan Pandarus:
With that he hurtled and Athena drove the shaft and it split the archer's nose between the eyes--it cracked his glistening teeth, the tough bronze cut off his tongue at the roots, smashed his jaw and the point came ripping out beneath his chin. T. Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter 32-33 (2003).
What gives the Illiad its seemimgly everlasting historical impact is the context of the warrior's ideals, described by Homer. This is centered on heart warming family and community concerns yet combined with a fixation on his violent "heroic" acts as the committed goal of life, itself:
War may be hell, but it is glorious hell, the height of human suffering, the pith of human virtue, the acme of human achievement, combining the ultimate tragedy of death with the lasting grace of the great deed -- the greatest of all deeds, courage in combat. T. Cahill, infra, at 33.
Homer did not live to see the Golden Age of Pericles and Greek Civilization at its zenith, in Athens (c. 460-430 B.C.), but he wrote of men who dreamed of such a civilization, at least in small scale. Americans sought verily to live that dream in the New World, in large scale, just as inscribed in Mr. Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, in President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and in the Reverend King's, I Have a Dream speech.
However, we are faltering far short of those magnificient goals for the New World. This generation of America's elite leadership class, facilitated by modern American technology, seem to be guided by the same depraved goals that savaged the City of Troy. They have locked ordinary Americans out of the decision making process by the doctrines of injustice imposed upon the nation, subordinating the sovereign democratic powers of the people under Republican Government to the money powers amassed under state charter by private corporations that are guided by a culture of depraved corruption.
Former US Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore described the source of the dire contemporary situation in his book, The ASSAULT ON REASON (2007). This is what he said:
Now that the conglomerates can dominate the expressions of opinion that flood the minds of the citizenry and selectively choose the ideas that are amplified so loudly as to drown out others that, whatever their validity, do not have wealthy patrons, the result is a de facto coup d'etat overthrowing the rule of reason. Greed and wealth now allocate power in our society, and that power is used in turn to further increase and concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few. Al Gore, The ASSAULT ON REASON 178 (2007)
Rather than striving to live the dreams of creation upon which this nation was founded, since the end of World War II the American civilization, governed by the few, has been dedicated to making violent force the center of American history guided by the, "greatest of all deeds," as conceived by the barbarians who waged war upon the Planet Earth three millennium in the past:
Guatemala Death Squads (1962-1996);
El Salvador Death Squads (1980-1994);
Persian Gulf I (1990-1991);
Afghanistan (2001-....); and now
Edvard Munch, The Scream.
Tempera and casen on cardboard.
One of four versions painted in 1893.
MUNCH Museet, Oslo, Norway.
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P. Atchley, artist,
Portrait of Vigdor in blue 2001.