Posted 1086 days ago by Tom Sparks
In a modern urban war who is a civilian and who is an enemy combatant / terrorist / soldier?
Israel is on the bleeding edge of military theory and practice and continues to practice as we see this week in Palestine’s Gaza Strip. Eyal Weizman is an architect based in Tel Aviv and London. He has done extensive studies of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and has connected architecture, urban planning, politics and military theory in his published work. Weizman’s book Hollow Land explores the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and shows how architecture and urban planning have been used as methods of control and domination.
The natural and built features function as the weapons and ammunition with which the conflict is waged. link
In the film Moving Through Walls , Mr. Weizman explores the way s the Israeli Defense Forces are rethinking urban space. In a companion piece Walking Through Walls Weizman writes:
The maneuver conducted by units of the Israeli military during the attack on the city of Nablus in April 2002 was described by its commander, Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi, as “inverse geometry,” which he explained as the re-organization of the urban syntax by means of a series of micro-tactical actions. During the attack, soldiers moved within the city across hundred-meter-long “over-ground-tunnels” carved out through a dense and contiguous urban fabric. Although several thousand soldiers and hundreds of Palestinian guerrilla fighters were maneuvering simultaneously in the city, they were saturated within its fabric to the degree that most would not have been visible from an aerial perspective at any given moment. Furthermore, soldiers did not often use the streets, roads, alleys, or courtyards that constitute the syntax of the city, as well as the external doors, internal stairwells, and windows that constitute the order of buildings, but rather moved horizontally through party walls, and vertically through holes blasted in ceilings and floors. ←link
With the current hostilities in Gaza, we can expect that lessons learned in the West Bank will be applied again Gaza. The walls that the soldiers walk through will be in apartment buildings, homes and businesses of Palestinian people, not army or terrorists fortifications. The lives of the people, the space they inhabit will be the battle ground.
Israel is intent on the destruction of Hamas as a fighting force and a political entity. We can expect Israel to use other well know tools, like “targeted assassinations”. On Jan. 1st Israel dropped a 2000 pound bomb on the home of a Hamas leader killing him and his 18 family members. [link] . The destruction of most or all government buildings is expected as well, making Hamas’s ability to govern impossible.
Martin Van Crevald a noted Israeli Military Historian and theorist has stated:
They [Israeli soldiers] are very brave people… they are idealists… they want to serve their country and they want to prove themselves. The problem is that you cannot prove yourself against someone who is much weaker than yourself. They are in a lose/lose situation. If you are strong and fighting the weak, then if you kill your opponent then you are a scoundrel… if you let him kill you, then you are an idiot. ← link
Scroundrels and idiots, they seem to be in great supply.
Some resources and sources:
- Lethal Theory by Eyal Weizman
- Walking Through Walls by Eyal Weizman
- Moving Through Walls
- Martin van Creveld Web Site
- Moving Through Walls YouTube
- Eyal Weizman on Amazon
Posted 1086 days ago by Tom Sparks
I was in England in April of 2006 around the time of Samuel Beckett’s birthday anniversary. Becketts picture was in all the book store windows. I am an ardent student of this master of darkness and mirth. It takes some chewing but with time you can digest Beckett’s unique otput. I particlarly liked his short stories First Love & Other Novellas and his 1946 novel, Mercier and Camier.
First Love & Other Novellas contains one of the harshest and heart breaking stories of a destitute man just released from an unnamed institution . He is homeless penniless and friendless. This gentleman is intelligent and fully aware of his terrible plight, things continue to worsen and in the end he summons the will to do the unspeakable. Few stories carry the same kind of power, showing a reality that truly befalls too many. This story is deeply humanist and tragic.
Mercier and Camier is the story of two drunken French peasants wandering around a country village at night getting into trouble. It predates Waiting for Godot and is full of humor and examples of man’s stupidity and warmth. The purpose of their wanderings is never made clear nor is their destination. Most of the action is verbal, the jaunty drunken conversation between the two main characters. They do meet an array of people in the night, a prostitute a policeman a barman. They seem to be waiting for some thing or someone, but that is never explicit. t rains from begining to end, quite like life here in the NorthWest.
A very interesting review of Mercier and Camier can be found in the book The Art of Hunger by Paul Auster. Samuel Beckett died on December 22, 1989.
Posted 1086 days ago by Tom Sparks
Op Ed piece Knight of the Living Dead published 3/24/07 in the New York Times, Slavoj Zizek cuts to the chase on how far we have fallen as a nation, our moral compass has broken, we have retreated to the dark past of the middle ages when the value torture was argued in the public sphere. The U.S. has created a gray world protected by the law but not regulated by these laws.
The case of Mr. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is well know by now by most of us, a terrible terrorist who confessed (under the torture of waterboarding) to many heinous crimes including planning the 9/11 attack. Mr. Mohammed has become what Zizek calls a homo sacer a person who is excluded from all civil rights, he is now outside legality.
Now after nearly three years of incarceration at Guatanamo Mr. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has submitted a guilty plea to the military tribunal along with his co-conspirators. The U.S system is in a disarray of it’s own making. The people of the U.. want justice, but justice has been badly served in this case, it will hard if not impossible. Due to the illegal nature of the Bush administration detention policies.
Reading this essay by Slavoj Zizek is like turning on a light. Please read it, we seem to be stumbling in the dark.
Something a little lighter and entertaining, ZIZEK’S review of Children of Men by Alfonso CuaronPreviously pulished in part at FieldNotes 1/5/8
Posted 1622 days ago by Tom Sparks
Roberto Bolaño died of liver failure in 2003 in Spain, many people think the cause was drug use; his family and agent deny this, emphatically.
The New Yorker published a short story by Bolaño in the Aug 4. 2008 edition, CLARA , translated, from the Spanish, by Chris Andrews, translator of Distant Star and three other books by Bolaño.
Clara is a young women, the story is told by one of here admirers. Her character is drawn naturally, she seems like one of your acquaintances or friends. We never learn the name of the narrator, but he is smitten by her from the first line, till the last. Clara dies at the end just like the writer Bolaño, you can’t help but think about that connection. The story was published in English a year after his death.
She had big breasts, slim legs, and blue eyes. That’s how I like to remember her. I don’t know why I fell madly in love with her, but I did, and at the start, I mean for the first days, the first hours, it all went fine; then Clara returned to the city where she lived, in the south of Spain (she’d been on vacation in Barcelona), and everything began to fall apart.
One night I dreamed of an angel: I walked into a huge, empty bar and saw him sitting in a corner with his elbows on the table and a cup of milky coffee in front of him. She’s the love of your life, he said, looking up at me, and the force of his gaze, the fire in his eyes, threw me right across the room. I started shouting, Waiter, waiter, then opened my eyes and escaped from that miserable dream.
So begins the tale. It is the story of a beautiful bright star named Clara, a that star burns out and leaves the narrator in the darkness. CLARA is not a ground breaking story, it isn’t perfect but it is affecting, it has a beautiful naturalness and is a great introduction to Roberto Bolaño.
Posted 1625 days ago by Tom Sparks
2666 published posthumously in Spain in 2004 one year after the death of Mr. Bolaño, the now famous and celebrated Chilean author, is a complex and convoluted tale with a grand and dark cast of characters.
“ I conceive, in a very humble way, the totality of my oeuvre in prose, and even some of my poetry, as a whole. A whole not only stylistic, but also narrative. The characters are continously dialoging among them and they are appearing and dissapearing. “ – Robert Bolaño
If Mr. Bolaño is describing his complete body of work in the above quote, 2666 must be considered the Mother Lode. 2666 and Bolaño other work can be consider a break from the cliched “Magic Realism” popular in Latin American Fiction. Bolaño and authors like Ignacio Padilla have choosen to leave the magic behind and focus more on character and plot ala Julio Cortázar and Jorge Luis Borges.
2666 is broken into multiple sections or novellas that placed together make a whole. The dark core of the novel focuses on Saint Teresa which is a fictional representation of Ciudad Juárez, the border town, site of many grisly murders of women and girls. These murders are fictionalized and documented by Bolaño and make for difficult reading. 2666 is both linear and a non-linear in style. It consists of stories within stories, many of the characters tell stories to each other or relate dreams to the reader. It makes for a complex plot.
The center of the novel called The Part About The Crimes is more realistic less poetic more like reportage. The real Ciudad Juárez is a part of a vast “Metroplex” of more than 2 million people. It is in the junture of three states Texas, New Mexico and Chilhuahua Mexico. It is the largest border community in the world and is growing at an astounding 5% a year. In 2666 Ciudad Juárez is a nightmare world.
I can’t conclude this brief review with out a few words of praise for the translator Natasha Wimmer. She has done a herculean job and done it well. There is an iterview with Ms. Wimmer here