Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Friday, January 13, 2006

Capsule 1: Jarhead

Three thoughts after exiting the suck:

1. War is choreographed as much as any ballet. Boneshaking and brutal yes, but some filigree moments can be discerned as well:
  • the quickest way to shift a large number of marines to the void is scheduled flights on TWA (what, no Hercules transporter?). There is perhaps an implicit criticism here of the hollowed out army that now passes for modern forces, and the resulting ever-lengthening supply chain - TWA is, of course, no longer flying
  • the fact that you have shot nothing for four days (and indeed you will only fight for those four days) and that you have permission for the shot counts for nothing when a ranking officer arrives with a whole box of flash-bang wallop tricks, and blows your target up for son et lumiere kicks
  • there is an invisible thread that will instinctively pull a troop of six men into the correct shape to deal with a possible or imminent threat.
2. The colour of war is black. The grinding light of the desert and the infernal glow of burning nights doesn't mask the fact that war is charred bodies, setting fire to shit, grime, oil raining in your face. Roger Deakins' superbly rough-textured yet grainy cinematography brings it so close that you can feel the sand in your throat, especially as Swoff vomits a stream of it.

3. The only victory you need to concern yourself with is staying sane while waiting; for the start, the kill, the end.


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