July 30, 2010

Compaq and a Piece of String

Every once in a while you read a piece of journalism that makes you want to re-read it before it is finished. These types of Gonzo-inspired prose are seldom filled with facts, and you will seldom read them in the New York Times. Some would argue that these opinion filled exercises in snide, cutting edge, in-your-face prose are not journalism at all, but I would say that it is precisely this type of tidy, clever writing that may be the bitch slap most people need to wake them from their stupor.

Perhaps we are too far numb to realize what is happening in the world. Oil spills, death of phytoplankton, indefinite wars all over the globe in the name of fighting evil-doers, don’t seem to be doing it these days.

Enter Matt Taibbi and Mark Morford. Two of the finest journalist writing today. I could have easily Tweeted this article or shared it on Facebook. I could have simply cut and paste the article in full, and let you read it for your self, but I wanted to dissect it and carve out my favorite lines. Enjoy:

*All italicized sections actually caused me to pump my fists in the air and cheer.
You think the Taliban has this kind of time? The brainpower? We have cool iPads, MIT geniuses and supercomputers the size of France. They have a single, filthy 2001 Compaq Presario and some string. I mean, please.

It is this: Despite all our dazzling ultramodern technology, despite all those infrared goggles and laser-guided everything, despite 1,000 advancements in weaponry and body armor, stratagems and 3D mapping, war remains the most despicable, thoroughly miserable human endeavor mankind has yet invented, or will ever invent in this or any lifetime, and that includes "Jersey Shore," Microsoft Windows and Mel Gibson.

Let these 92,000 documents eliminate all doubt: war is our basest, most vile creation. Has been for 10,000 years. Always will be.

It goes on for days, the same tone, in the same way, snippet after snippet, scene after scene, horror after horror. It's like reaching into a giant basket of razor wire and shards of glass, trying to find the bottom that doesn't exist.

Whereas, the real thing is, well, nothing but endlessly ugly, sad, tedious, nauseating, deadening, exhausting, like peeling off a scab that never ends, like rubbing a grain of sand into your eye that only gets deeper and more painful, like driving down the world's longest desert highway stretching off far into the distance, potholed with bombs and dead bodies, war crimes and shrapnel, oil slicks and weapons contracts, all oversprinkled with a trillion American dollars raining down like fine green confetti.

From what I can tell from the WikiLeaks scandal, here is what it does not mean: It does not mean war is some sort of rugged Herculean manly uberpatriotic exercise in glorious freedom, justice, truth, that just might also, whoops, get a little bloody. It does not quite mean a noble force for good and democracy. It might have meant that once, long ago, for a shining moment, maybe, on the back of a coin somewhere. It hasn't meant anything near that for 1,000 years. Capitalism saw to that.

Because evil is more like Dick Cheney's tiny sneer, the religious nutball's weakest synapse, the wheezing death of the soul.

War is similar. It is no grand, melodramatic spectacle, no sepia-toned Spielberg movie narrated by Tom Hanks, no epic "Lord of the Rings" battle royale between ogres and kings. It's just page after page, bomb after bomb, report after report, endlessly and forever, numbing to the core, until history chokes it all down with a dry heave and an exhausted sigh.
I would give my left arm to be able to write with such clarity and wit. Kudos to you Mr. Morford you left me speechless. I just ordered his book.

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