War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges; 7 editions; First DAISY for print-disabled Download ebook for print-disabled (DAISY). Read "War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning" by Chris Hedges available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first download. As a veteran war . Read "War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning" by Chris Hedges available from Rakuten Kobo. As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived.
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Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. "The communal march against an enemy download War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning: Read Books Reviews. As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza and petty thugs elevated into war heroes in the Balkans. Mixing hard-nosed realism. As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi.
Mises Review 9, No. Much has been made in recent years of the so-called "war on drugs. Stern action by the state must suppress this danger. As Thomas Szasz and others have amply shown, this danger is vastly exaggerated. In two excellent books, Chris Hedges has called attention to a genuine deadly drug, one that the state creates rather than endeavors to suppress. His diagnosis of the danger is outstanding, but his account leaves a key issue unresolved. Paradoxically, the horrors of war attract many people.
This was how doctors and others who committed or enabled atrocities at concentration camps during the day could go home and be family men at night, even at times being highly cultured individuals.
Hedges describes many of the symptoms of these phenomena throughout his book and his recognition of the seductive, even addictive aspects of war is important. But he could have drawn on more schools of thought on the subject and come up with an even more comprehensive analysis. Suggested Further Reading and Viewing: The Human Potential for Peace: Fry 3. Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram.
Oct 12, George Polley rated it it was amazing. Curious title, isn't it? If war is a force that gives us meaning, how does it give us meaning? The answer lies in the underlying myth that supports it, and has supported it, from the dawn of the human species.
This is the Warrior Myth, and it is part of every culture and society. We see it in familiar stories of great warriors, heroes, heroines and gods, all of whom fight great battles to defeat "the enemy".
In these tales, it is the warrior that is held up to be emulated by the young, especiall Curious title, isn't it? In these tales, it is the warrior that is held up to be emulated by the young, especially young men. In Japan it is the samurai and his code; in America it is the pioneers, the adventurers, the men and women who fight our wars, and the war heroes. Underlying the Warrior Myth are two underlying assumptions that are woven so tightly into it that they reveal the great myth that underlies and defines it.
This is the myth that says that our side is goodness incarnate, and their side the enemy is evil incarnate and must and will be destroyed, since the gods or God is on our side the side of virtue and goodness.
If you don't think so, review the history of the past thirty years, or the past sixty years, in which our acts have uniformly been presented as necessary and good, and their acts as unnecessary and evil. Anyone who questions our collective behavior, motives and the Warrior Myth is labeled as foolish or dangerous -- an enemy, an outsider who is, at best, shunned. A myth is a traditional story that is accepted as history, a story that explains the origins and the world view of a people.
In America's national myth, ugliness, brutality and meanness are denied, or are romanticized, explained away and justified. We declare our motives to be pure, we set our heroes on pedestals, and we parade the veterans of our wars up and down streets on national holidays, all in the service of the great, underlying myth that we are paragons of virtue who do not and never have engaged in questionable or wrong behavior.
If you doubt this, look back over the past seven years of the Bush Administration's "war on terror", in which every single act, no matter how questionable legally, has been justified as right and good, and all who have questioned it declared to be irrelevant buffoons or traitorous.
Myth, and more particularly the Warrior Myth may make great drama, but it is lousy history.
As Chris Hedges powerfully illustrates, it is destroying us and the planet on which we live. The Warrior Myth devours the soul of our humanity, destroys countless lives including those who return from combat, and those civilians who have survived it , and has morphed into a huge, powerful automated machine that has proven almost impossible to shut down because our society and our culture has become dependent on it.
Myth is self-justifying, self-reifying As a veteran war correspondent, he has lived it, and it shows. One of the chapters, and the longest one Chapter 4: I recall reading "The Brothers of Gwynedd", three historical novels by British writer Edith Pargeter, and having to stop midway through the second novel because the stupidity and carnage of battle was too overwhelming.
Set in medieval Wales at the time of the Plantagents, I read until I literally could not read any more. We must change ourselves before we destroy ourselves, either accidentally or on purpose. What is the solution? And, when Thanatos" the death instinct "is ascendant, the instinct must be to reach out to those we love, to see in them all the divinity, pity, and pathos of the human.
And to recognize love in the lives of others -- even those with whom we are in conflict -- love that is like our own. It does not mean that we will avoid war or death. It does not mean that we as distinct individuals will survive.
But love, in its mystery, has its own power.
It alone gives us meaning that endures. It alone allows us to embrace and cherish life. Love has power both to resist in our nature what we know we must resist, and to affirm what we know we musts affirm.
And love, as the poets remind us, is eternal" pages , This is an important book for your future and for mine, and for our grandchildren. Unfortunately it is not a book that those in whom the Warrior Myth is most embedded, most especially our leaders and those dependent upon it for their livelihood, are likely to recommend or read. But it is a must read for anyone who wants a better future for those we love. Mar 22, grace rated it it was amazing. Hedges takes no sides in his painfully poignant work, except perhaps the side of humanity, which as Freud writes and he one of the most powerful books i have ever read.
Hedges takes no sides in his painfully poignant work, except perhaps the side of humanity, which as Freud writes and he notes, exists defined by the inescapable dynamic between Eros and Death and is compelled by its very nature to seek out self-destruction.
Fascinating and profoundly disturbing, this book explores the dizzyingly narcotic elements of war and the atrocities-- in horrifyingly accounts from personal experience-- of which man is not only capable, but to which he is driven. And it is sterile when devoid of meaning. But meaning, when it is set in the vast arena of war with its high stakes, its adrenaline-driven rushes, its bold sweeps and drama, is heartless and self-destructive. The initial selflessness of war mirrors that of love, the chief emotion war destroys.
And this is what war often looks and feels like, at its inception: We are tempted to reduce life to a simple search for happiness. Happiness, however, withers if there is no meaning.
The other temptation is to disavow the search for happiness in order to be faithful to that which provides meaning. But to live only for meaning-- indifferent to all happiness-- makes us fanatic, self-righteous, and cold.
It leaves us cut off from our own humanity and the humanity of others. We must hope for grace, for our lives to be sustained by moments of meaning and happiness, both equally worthy of human communion. But "Aristotle said that only two living entities are capable of complete solitude and complete separateness: God and beast.
Because of this May 18, Sarah rated it it was amazing Recommended to Sarah by: Jonathan Morgenstern. So excellent. Why do you feel so intensely in war? Yet it fades so quick? Comrades seek to lose their identities in the relationship. Friends do not Friends find themselves in each other and thereby gain greater self-knowledge and self-possession. They discover The struggle to remain friends, the struggle to explore the often painful re So excellent. The struggle to remain friends, the struggle to explore the often painful recesses of two hearts, to reach the deepest parts of another's being, to integrate our own emotions and desires with th needs of the friend, are challenged by the collective rush of war.
There are fewer demands if we join the crowd and give our emotions over to the communal crusade. Why are survivors so outcast and stigmatized? There is a spiritual collapse after war. Societies struggle with the wanton destruction not only of property and cities but of those they loved.
The erosion of morality and social responsibility becomes painfully evident in war's wake.
Many feel used. By then it is too late In the wake of the war comes a normalization that levels victims and perpetrators. Victims and survivors are is an awkward reminder of the collective complicity. Their presence inspires discomfort. So too with perpetrators. But it is often the victims who suffer the worst bouts of guilt and remorse. Many victims grasp, in a way the perpetrators do not, the inverted moral hierarchy. They see this inversion in their own struggle to survive.
They realize, in a way that the perpetrators again do not, that the difference between the oppressed and the oppressors is not absolute.
And they often wonder if they could have done more to save those who were lost around them. Why do we feel so erotic and alive in a war zone? War fills our spiritual void. I do not miss war, but I miss what it brought. I can never say I was happy in the midst of fighting but I had a sense of purpose, a calling. And this is a quality war shares with love, for we are, in love. Feb 20, Sarah rated it it was ok Shelves: I was really excited to read this book when I found out it was assigned for one of my classes.
I was disappointed. I found it more annoying than anything else. He has chapter titles that ostensibly correlate with the subject of each section, but he'll stick to that topic for about a page and a half before going back to rambling on about whatever the hell he felt like writing about.
It's really annoying and the disorganization made the book seem even more self-indul I was really excited to read this book when I found out it was assigned for one of my classes. It's really annoying and the disorganization made the book seem even more self-indulgent.
He writes as if he's somehow peeling back the curtain to reveal some brand new profound truth, but there's nothing truly new or thought provoking here. It just felt like he was preaching to the choir. Particularly with his discussions on nationalism I just think it's easy for him, from his cushy position as a privileged, educated man from a stable, secure, rich country, to treat nationalism as a foolish, primitive thing.
It can be those things. But I think it would be more interesting if he actually made an attempt to understand why these identities have become so important and why nationalism can resonate so strongly with people rather than just dismissing them as stupid and irrational and fanatic and emotional. I appreciate that he was trying to bring a sense of historical context into his discussion of our attitudes towards war, but it just felt kind of random and pretentious.
I just didn't enjoy this book. It wasn't particularly original, the writing was sloppy, and I felt like I was being lectured at rather than feeling engaged and challenged. Jun 10, Tracy rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is a wonderful and brutal book. Hedges draws on a number of brilliant thinkers He says, in part, that we humans crave meaning, and war gives us meaning in a more intense fashion than anything else.
What else could so quickly and easily delineate who the enemy is? It's the person trying to kill me! What else could shape life so perfectly but the need to save my own skin? Hedges experienced this directly in many This is a wonderful and brutal book. Hedges experienced this directly in many different places. He was a war correspondent who finally woke up to his addiction to war.
I guess he decided to write about it like any good recovering addict! The book might bother some when it draws from other thinkers -- from Ancient Greeks to LeShay -- but I think it helps him validate the nature of his own experience.
Interestingly, he allowed himself to admit something kind of sappy. He said that the only other place he felt intense meaning grow was when he'd find shelter in someone's home when that someone was in a loving relationship with another.
So, a warm couple would be evidence that there is one thing that beats addiction, excitement, and war: A little cliche! But, Hedges makes it true.
Oct 25, Will Byrnes rated it really liked it Shelves: Hedges is a particularly effective analyst. This is an outstanding look at the forces behind decisions to go to war, whether public ornot. Oct 07, Benito rated it it was amazing. This is one of the most amazing books I have ever read.
I devoured it in two sittings after being handed it by a friend. Immediately after opening it I wanted to sit down and not stop reading. It is addictive, and addiction, as well as the competing passions of Eros love and Thanatos death , are it's subject.
Hedges is a self-confessed war addict who describes the memories that haunt him from his decades This is one of the most amazing books I have ever read. Hedges is a self-confessed war addict who describes the memories that haunt him from his decades as a war correspondent on every page, using them to illustrate his points. He enunciates through his time as both a hostage and reporter on front lines in Sarajevo, El Salvador, Iraq, Israel, and throughout Africa, that there is no personal or social upside to war but yet, like it's co-joined opposite love, it is crucial to human experience and as addictive as the heroin and other drugs it drives it's participants to partake of.
War is a drug that one grows to love, one that drives it's users to suicidal exploits both during and after battle. All sane soldiers are emotionally scarred for life, only true psychopaths such as Milosevic et al are not altered. War correspondents such as himself, along with politicians and historians, are complicit in constantly recreating the myth of war as noble and personally fulfilling. This myth is shattered within the first moments of real warfare.
People do not die like actors, but slowly, painfully, crying for their mother's teat. Most of them are civilians, increasingly so. Killing another human being is physically sickening as well as psychologically scarring, soldiers sometimes vomiting and pissing their pants after their first socially-sanctioned butchering of another person.
Even those soldiers and correspondents who seem unmoved, who walk casually amongst rows upon rows of dead, eventually erupt in moments of either socialised or internalised violence. Hedges describes his own violent moment of catharsis when he took out his frustrations from Sarajevo upon a hapless airline clerk.
Once the myth of war is shattered, a myth we are all unwittingly raised with, the individual can never engage with civilian society the same way again. He has seen past the lie of it. War to Hedges is also a form of socially-sanctioned necrophilia. Sex and death are immutably entwined in this tome and his writing style is so fluid and forward-driving that you may, like me, find yourself devouring the book in one or two sittings.
Hedges' education in Latin, Greek and English allows him to punctuate his work with appropriate musings from Catullus to Philip Larkin, giving those poets renewed relevance and intensity for this reader. If you are interested in war, sex, love, death, politics, or just human psychology in any sense then you should read this book.
The beauty of Hedges' prose and the way he unfolds his story means that it is with both joy and apprehension that I fear his words will be with me forever. It should be noted however that as dark as his story is Hedges, as a Harvard scholar of Divinity amongst other things, knows that some positive message of hope must be found for his own and his readers' sanity amongst his decades knee-deep in death and suffering. Hence his focus by the end becomes increasingly towards Eros, as entwined with Thanatos as she always is.
This is Hedges' first book and he has written eight more since on conflict, class and religion. Hedges in no pacifist, and no atheist. In fact in another book he apparently argues that atheism is a form of fundamentalism. This fear will probably pass. However War, Hedges argues, will not, at least as long as humanity is existent.
Strange then that he never quotes Mathew For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom Benito Di Fonzo. Sydney, October, Feb 24, Vikas Erraballi rated it it was amazing. War journalist Chris Hedges describes the allure of war, before, during, and after. How the myth of patriotism and the enemy is created by the leaders, the soldiers, and the media; the vicious cycle of hatred that fuels itself - the division lays the ground for hatred, the hatred causes more division.
How the moral universe changes during times of war, how what is acceptable, normal is ultimately a mental construct with as much reality as any dream. How even the nature of relationships, between War journalist Chris Hedges describes the allure of war, before, during, and after. How even the nature of relationships, between friends and lovers, takes on a less meaningful tinge in the midst of it all - forms of both that are more bestial than what we think of as human.
How even in the midst of the hate, violence, tribalism, predation, there is still scope for something better , by those who can avoid accepting the nightmare as reality - and reach out to the victims on the other side - and wrap them in their protection and care. Ultimately Hedges makes me feel that under present conditions, a reappearance of nightmares is inevitable - as long as power is held by the unscrupulous, as long as the people are given to falling into camps based on the stories they are told - hate and violence will be a part of our reality.
The stories here at least provide some ways to combat the starting conditions from taking root, and failing that, some spiritual preparation for being amidst it. Sep 11, Ryan rated it really liked it Recommends it for: This book was an unexpected gut-shot to my moral understanding of war. I was tempted to add a fifth star. He bore witness to some revulsive acts of violence and became intimate with the victims and crimes of war.
And yet he also became "addicted" to war, to the rush of combat and the sense of purpose that "allows us to be This book was an unexpected gut-shot to my moral understanding of war. The Mueller Report. Robert S.
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