Paul Fussell’s THE GREAT WAR: What Is a Poet? (And: Saw Great War Documentary, “Restrepo,” Today)

A poet, we remember Aristotle saying, is one who has mastered the art of telling lies successfully …

— from Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory, Chapter VI (“Theater of War”)

In the same chapter, Fussell quotes the World War I writer Robert Graves (BTW, this is the reason Tim O’Brien’s short story, “The Things They Carried,” about the Vietnam War, is classic):

The memoirs of a man who went through some of the worst experiences of trench warfare are not truthful if they do not contain a high proportion of falsities.

Paul Fussell Biographical Note (Dear blog readers take note: the bio is from the book jacket of the copy self has had in her possession since her Stanford grad school days, so it is wildly out of date!):

Paul Fussell, author and editor of many books on literature, is John DeWitt Professor of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His most recent books are Abroad: British Literary Traveling Between the Wars, The Boy Scout Handbook and Other Observations, and Siegfried Sassoon’s Long Journey.

* * * *

Since self is so into the war stories, what with the Fussell book, she persuaded hubby to see “Restrepo,” based on the months Sebastian Junger and cameraman Tim Hetherington (partly financed by National Geographic, whose embedded reporters, incidentally, have been filing the best stories of the war — check out the NatGeo channel, dear blog readers!) spent embedded with an American platoon in one of Afghanistan’s most hotly contested combat regions, the Korengal Valley. Unforgettable. Will blog about movie shortly!

For now, self would just like to say that those soldiers fighting and dying in Afghanistan look like absolute babies! Younger even than son! What are they — 18? 19? One said he was raised by a mom who was a “f—ing hippie” in Oregon: she wouldn’t even let him play with toy guns!

The movie is currently showing in Palo Alto Square, off Page Mill Road (which incidentally is where self first saw “The Hurt Locker” — before it went mainstream and found its way to the Redwood City Century 20!)

Stay tuned.

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