Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Weakness For War

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

[Never in human history had so many causalities been inflicted on one army in a single campaign. Over a half million corpses left in the grip of Russian ice, Napoleon wiped out along with his myth of invincibility. On his long, withering journey back, Major Louis Pattone suffered as never before - as he believed no human could ever be, scarred by his survival to the innermost reaches of his being. Had God granted him the power, he'd scream from the mountaintops of the futility of war and order it ended for all time.

The truth had been brandished before his eyes, he could close his mind no more: if war does not stop it will consume us all and mankind will be no more. It is the year 1812, time to come to our senses!]

How do I tell them - or do they already know? My secret thoughts haunt me here in the night - thoughts no one can know - and yet I feel them branded on my face in the daylight. No time machine exists to allow me to escape from responsibility, to go back and make things right. I'm just a stupid, lonely man lying in bed with my eyes awake and my wife asleep.

She pretends it's all the same - as do I. Thomas has grown so much since I left for the Cossack catastrophe. I sense their silent resentment. Is it for leaving or for failing? But I find myself defenseless - we did not fight the good fight. My god and idol, the madman genius Napoleon, has proven himself false. My dirtiest secret of all? I yearn to follow him still, that I can still somehow mine precious glory from the illusion of war.

And yes, illusion is what it is! How heartbreaking to see Thomas' eyes light up, eager for tales of battle. I oblige him, weaving words I know will sell, despising my weakness to portray the hero. Frankly, it all seems a vast, eerie conspiracy of pretense, each human desperate to please the god of war none of us truly wish to serve. We can't wait for it to end - or for the next one to begin. Our emperor has no clothes and we mutely agree to look the other way. What price in history will we pay for this?

Oh dear God, please help me here in the dark! It's not the same, it can never be the same. I feel as the autumn leaf, doomed to turn a lifeless brown, awaiting my inevitable fall. My body came back but I did not. My crippled left hand, bitten by the bear of the Russian wind, I hide in constant shame - not because of its deformity but because of how it got that way - in the folly of defeat.

pastedGraphic_1.pdfMight wanna hit the treadmill there, mon empereur.

Never will I speak of that journey back! To my grave I take it! On the battlefield, I've witnessed the range of human behavior, from bravery to cowardice, but never the depravity I witnessed in that alien cold, starving us in both body and soul. Unmasked we were, revealed as animals of the lowest order. Dear God please tell me that's not I! How do I dare stand before my Maker? I'm back - but somewhere on the hell of those Russian steppes I died - and I've no way to tell my wife and child.

I must tell Thomas of the evils of war so that he may escape them, to keep our globe from spiraling further and further into insanity. His is the new generation, embracing the light of the revolution, not holding onto our prejudices for monarchies and inequality. Yes, they will pick up the banner of justice where we have failed! I hear him speak words of freedom never crossing my mind as a child. The age of war is ending and our children shall step out of the darkness.



I ran into my old comrade-in-arms Henri in the street last week and I can't stop thinking about it. Our Grand Leader speaks of a new army, he said, that France is not finished. I never thought that if I made it back home from the sacrificial snows I'd ever want to leave again. But as I feared, home is no longer here. I don't know where it is. Perhaps it's back with the regiment after all. Was I wrong or did I see a knowing understanding of my plight in Henri's eyes? It's his plight too I suspect.

Maybe no one survived the unspeakable horrors of cruel carnage we dare not mention. We live in bondage to that time; unclean spirits. We older generation are finished. We had our shot and blew it, betraying our revolutionary ideals, traded for the trinkets of war. Why am I so helpless to continue down this path? Why does my blood unbearably boil in my house, anxious to grab a rifle with the one good hand I have left? Someone explain this addiction of war to me. Is it really a mere extension of our lives?

I cannot stay, dear Caroline, so romantic in our youth. Where did it all go, when life seemed so endless and free! I carry more shame than any man can face and how can I not help but feel an everlasting fool? These thoughts, these feelings, these hopes, these fears, these torments and regrets in my life I can share with no one. I must not shatter the illusion of war that gives my life meaning. I must never admit it serves no noble purpose but rather sucks like shit from a peasant's ass.

[Napoleon managed to rally an army of 400,000 from his exhausted and war-weary nation, with a further 250,000 in allies. All to no avail. In the battle of Waterloo, Col. Pattone, as a member of Napoleon's trusted Old Guard, died as enemy reinforcements doomed the battle for the French. The Bourbon monarchy was restored, the French revolution imploding under the weight of its injustices done in the name of justice. The fatherless Thomas became anUltra-Royalist, in favor of absolute rule by the king as in the horrid days of old. Thomas, wounded by life, declared his loyalty "this time for the winners" - for a father who would not leave.]

No comments:

Post a Comment