Occasionally, someone will point out that Marines like Full Metal Jacket, finance guys like Wall Street, and some men like Fight Club more for the masculine fantasy than the critique, and then some teacher’s pet will sneer, “But that’s a misreading of the theme, you idiots!” No.
A work of art is not it’s goddamn theme, or whatever is the obvious and overt intention of the art’s makers.

I blame our education system for this, teaching students to hunt down the theme (and discard the work), treating art like it’s a freaking riddle to be solved.
Marines know FMJ is “anti-war”. Finance guys aren’t confused about Oliver Stone’s politics. The bros punching each other in parking lots after watching Fight Club weren’t under the impression that Pitt was the hero of the film. They didn’t care (and the art didn’t make them care)
A work of art that spends most of its time indulging in our love and fascination with certain types of transgression, only to go “but that’s bad” at the end, is not doing the moral formation you think it is.
While the teacher’s pets confidently asserting the theme whenever someone “misreads” a film will undoubtedly get an A+ on the imaginary quiz they’ve been prepping for their whole lives, the fools happily using the art, and violating it’s creator’s intentions, understand it better
Art is CHAOTIC. And should be.
Critics get so testy when you point out that FMJ is the greatest recruiting commercial for the USMC ever made, while remaining so incurious as to why.

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More from @PhilKlay

23 Nov
“I love shitty crime novels. Yes, I admire the kinds of modern crime novels that feature “good writing” and are favored by my fellow literary types…but I also love books whose lurid covers feature lush paintings of whiskey glasses, loaded guns, and leggy dames”

Of course, the literary crime writers had some amazing covers too
Read 4 tweets
31 Aug
A note on Nick Xiarhos, which entails talking first about another Marine, Jordan Haerter.

Before Afghanistan, Nick had arrived in Iraq in April of 2008. The morning of April 22, his friend Jordan and a Marine from another unit were guarding the main gate, Nick was on the roof.
Around 7:45am, a large truck accelerated toward the gate, careening through the protective serpentine. The Iraqi policemen standing post with the two Marines ran. Jordan and the other Marine stood their ground and aimed in on the truck.
Nick, up on the roof, recalled to me hearing the sound of guns going off, suddenly realizing that, after all that training for war, it had arrived.
Read 13 tweets
15 Aug
“[Wilfred] Owen was against the violence of war, against the massive sacrilegious waste of lives which it involved; he was a natural conscientious objector. And yet, when he actually drilled and led men to death, he was behaving in a way that contravened his personal conscience…
…in order to achieve what he saw as a greater goal, namely the awakening of a general conscience. ‘True poets must be truthful.’ ‘All a poet can do today is warn.’ These imperatives could be effectively fulfilled only if the poet who was warning or telling his truth was doing…
…so with the authority of experience, with the justification of soldiering behind him. Owen therefore suffered the strain of performing what most people perceived to be their unquestionable patriotic duty in order to gain the right to question whether it was duty at all…
Read 4 tweets
6 Jan 20
A note on Trump’s doubling down on his threat to bomb cultural sites.

These are photos I took of the remains of the al-Nuri Grand Mosque last month on a trip to Iraq with @Refugees . Built in 12th century, the mosque was a symbol of Mosul. It was destroyed by ISIS in 2017.
The people we met in Mosul had been through ungodly things. One father, who had returned to the city thanks to the @UNDP restoring his house, described being in the old city during the last months of the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS control:
“We were trapped. We ate cats, rats. For water you had to risk your life to go to the river where the soldiers would shoot at you. We collected rainwater to drink. There were days my children were so hungry, and there was shelling and shooting, and I just wanted to rescue them.”
Read 9 tweets
5 Jan 20
A story about Susan Rice

I attended an event in DC in May of 2015. By this point, after announcing with great fanfare America’s withdrawal from the war, cutting troops and cutting economic assistance in half, Obama had started quietly reintroducing special operators... Image
ramping up airstrikes, and all the while denying that any of this counted as “boots on the ground.” Some vets started joking that special operators must wear combat slippers.
At the event, Ambassador Rice told a room full of active duty military, including several severely injured soldiers, some missing legs, or ears that were burned off in IED blasts, “One of our proudest accomplishments as an administration was ending the wars in Iraq.”
Read 6 tweets

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