O N A RT AND W AR AND T ERROR

ALE X DANCHEV

On Art and War and Terror

By the same author Very Special Relationship (Brassey’s, 1986) Establishing the Anglo-American Alliance (Brassey’s, 1990) International Perspectives on the Falklands Conflict (ed.) (Macmillan, 1992) The Franks Report: The Falkland Islands Review (ed.) (Pimlico, 1992) Oliver Franks (Clarendon, 1993) International Perspectives on the Gulf Conflict (ed.) (Macmillan, 1994) Fin de Siècle: The Meaning of the Twentieth Century (ed.) (I. B. Tauris, 1995) International Perspectives on the Yugoslav Conflict (ed.) (Macmillan, 1996) On Specialness (Macmillan, 1998) Alchemist of War (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998) War Diaries: Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke (ed.) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001) The Iraq War and Democratic Politics (ed.) (Routledge, 2005) Georges Braque (Hamish Hamilton, 2005) Picasso Furioso (Dilecta, 2008)

ON ART AND WAR AND TERROR
2
Alex Danchev

Edinburgh University Press

Figure 8: Man with a Guitar, 1914 (oil on canvas) Figure 11: The Black Fish, 1942 (oil on canvas) Both by Braque, Georges (1882–1963) Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France/Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library

© Alex Danchev, 2009 Edinburgh University Press Ltd 22 George Square, Edinburgh www.euppublishing.com Typeset in Sabon by Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Stockport, Cheshire, and printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham and Eastbourne A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978 0 7486 3915 1 (hardback)

The right of Alex Danchev to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Published with the support of the Edinburgh University Scholarly Publishing Initiatives Fund.

For D .

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or. The Face. 7. Art and Current Affairs: Georges Braque and the Occupation All This Happened. Senseless Kindness: War Photography and the Ethics of Responsibility 3. The Artist and the Terrorist. The Soldier’s Tale: Diaries and Diary-Keeping in War Like a Dog.Contents List of Figures Acknowledgements Introduction: Out of the Marvellous. Scholarship and the Magic Arts 1. The Paintable and the Unpaintable: Gerhard Richter and the BaaderMeinhof Group viii x 1 8 33 58 76 100 125 146 172 197 218 237 2. Animal House on the Night Shift: Kafka and Abu Ghraib It’s All Fucked Up. 4. or. Provenance. or. 9. The Real Waugh: Sword of Honour and the Literature of the Second World War The Secret Life. or. 5. or. or. Authenticity: The Guitar Player and the Arc of a Life Broomstick Horrors. The Fog-Walker in the Wood: Keeping up Appearances in the Great War The Strategy of Still Life. 10. or. The Non-Fiction Horror Movie: The Cinema and the War on Terror Waiting for the Barbarians. or. 6. or. or. The Hospitality of War: Civilisation and Barbarism in the War on Terror Index . 8. or.

Florence. (page 20) Don McCullin. Nina and Gordon Bunschaft Bequest Fund. Hue. each 44 ϫ 40¼ in (112 ϫ 102 cm). gift of Philip Johnson. Enid A. Huy. Oil on canvas. (page 41) Figure 3 Figure 4 Figure 5 Figure 6 . US Marines dragging a wounded comrade to safety. Uncle Rudi (1965) (Gerhard Richter). The back. according to Don McCullin. 1812) (The Trustees of the British Museum.Figures Figure 1 Figure 2 Gerhard Richter. Vietnam. The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection. from 18 October 1977 (1988). Enid A. The Citadel. MoMA. (page 35) Goya. 24½ ϫ 24½ in (62 ϫ 62 cm) and 13¾ ϫ 15½ in (35 ϫ 40 cm). (page 17) Gerhard Richter. gift of Philip Johnson. Arthur Wellesley. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)/Scala. Florence) Gudrun Ensslin. Florence) Ulrike Meinhof. Haupt Fund. 2 and 3. (page 37) Don McCullin. Confrontation 1. London). (page 12) Gerhard Richter. Haupt Fund. Dead. Shell-shocked US Marine. 1968 (NB Pictures). New York/Scala. Nina and Gordon Bunschaft Bequest Fund. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)/Scala. MoMA. The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection. and gift of Emily Rauh Pulitzer (Digital images 2008. Oil on canvas. 1968 (NB Pictures). New York/Scala. Bliss Bequest (all by exchange). and gift of Emily Rauh Pulitzer (Digital images 2008. New York. Florence. and acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (all by exchange). 24½ ϫ 28¾ in (62 ϫ 73 cm). 1st Duke of Wellington (c. from 18 October 1977 (1988). and acquired through the Lillie P. New York.

(page 205) Figure 17 Staff Sergeant Chad Touchett (centre) and soldiers from A Company. (page 110) Figure 12 Felix Man. Man with a Guitar (The Guitar Player). (page 60) Tony Blair playing the guitar (1995) (Andrew Dunsmore/Rex Features). Abu Ghraib. London). Man/National Portrait Gallery.figures Figure 7 Figure 8 Simon Norfolk. London). (page 151) Figure 14 Private Lynndie England and ‘Gus’. 24 October 2003 (PA Photos/AP). glimpsed here with camera (PA Photos/AP). 12 December 2003 (PA Photos/ AP). The Black Fish. 7 April 2003 (PA Photos/AP). Sergeant Santos Cardona with Duco (the tan dog). 2005 (NB Pictures). relax in one of Saddam’s palaces. London). 2008). Baghdad. the original photograph was taken by Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick. (page 128) Figure 13 Howard Coster. 7th Infantry Regiment. (page 184) Figure 16 ‘Gilligan’ (Abdou Hussain Saad Faleh). General Sir Alan Brooke (1945) (National Portrait Gallery. Paris. Abu Ghraib. France/Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library. 2008). (Estate of Felix H. (page 78) Figure 11 Georges Braque (1882–1963). Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick watching. Centre Pompidou. This picture was taken by Specialist Sabrina Harman. Paris. 1914 (oil on canvas) (Musée national d’art moderne. 3rd Battalion. France/Lauros/ Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library. Basil Liddell Hart (1927) (National Portrait Gallery. Artist’s permission cleared through DACS. 5 November 2003. London. Bratunac Stadium. (page 73) Figure 9 Figure 10 Bassano. Bosnia. Artist’s permission cleared through DACS. London. (page 42) Georges Braque (1882–1963). 1942 (oil on canvas) (Musée national d’art moderne. tormenting a detainee. (page 175) Figure 15 Sergeant Michael Smith with Marco (the black dog). Abu Ghraib. Evelyn Waugh (c. 1943). (page 228) ix . Centre Pompidou.

2002). elements of it appeared in International Affairs and the Times Literary Supplement. Phoenix. I am grateful to Roland Bleiker and Debbie Lisle. War Diaries (Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Chapter 3 began life as an Inaugural Lecture at the University of Nottingham. Walker. and a truncated version in the Journal for Cultural Research. Rob Walker. which is in a certain sense an on-going project. Penguin. Earlier versions of chapter 4 appeared in the Journal of Strategic Studies and in my Alchemist of War: The Life of Basil Liddell Hart (Weidenfeld & Nicolson. An earlier version of chapter 6 appeared in Diplomatic History. and also to Neil Cox. J. edited by Steve Tsang.Acknowledgements This book is a collection of published and unpublished work. edited by Alex Danchev and Daniel Todman. 2005. edited by Bülent Gokay and R. various other employments and volunteerings. 2007). Phoenix. Andrew Linklater. Earlier versions of chapter 5 appeared in Alternatives and in my Georges Braque: A Life (Hamish Hamilton. and my colleagues in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. Adelheid Scholten. 1998. 2001. An earlier version of chapter 7 appeared as the introduction to Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke. B. Chapter 9 has not been published in this form. The work she did in sourcing the images and inputting elements of the text was invaluable. I am grateful to Laura Graham for her assistance in the assemblage of the book. Earlier versions of chapter 8 appeared in Alternatives and in Intelligence and Human Rights in the Era of Global Terrorism (Praeger. to say nothing of a life of her own. an extract appeared in The Independent. 1999). Ion Trewin. Christopher Hill. For intellectual and moral support in realising this project. Her juggling of these demands with those of her graduate studies. John Horton. augurs well for a future at once successful and sane. 2003). And x . and in International Affairs. elements of it appeared in 11 September 2001 (Cass. Chapters 1 and 2 have not been published previously. Bruce Hunter. 2007). Chapter 10 has not been published whole.

of Edinburgh University Press. who brought it to fruition. I should like to acknowledge the generosity of Gerhard Richter in permitting his work to be reproduced here. London. xi .acknowledgements to Nicola Ramsey. and to acknowledge also the award of a Distinguished Visiting Fellowship in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen Mary. a stimulating environment in which to put the finishing touches to this manuscript and to think about the next one.

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those prepared to sacrifice their honour and their consciences.Our being is cemented together by qualities which are diseased. too. envy. Seamus Heaney† * Michel de Montaigne. trans. to tell lies and to massacre. . A. we must leave that role to be played by citizens who are more vigorous and less timorous. in all polities there are duties which are necessary. M. necessity effacing their true qualities. 357. 892. in Opened Ground (London: Faber. in The Complete Essays (London: Penguin. 1998). If anyone were to remove the seeds of such qualities in Man he would destroy the basic properties of our lives. Ambition. jealousy. . p. as men of yore once sacrificed their lives: for the well-being of their country. Michel de Montaigne* Me waiting until I was nearly fifty to credit marvels. ‘Fosterling’. Men like me are too weak for that: we accept roles which are easier and less dangerous. superstition and despair lodge in us with such a natural right of possession that we recognize the likeness of them even in the animals too – not excluding so unnatural a vice as cruelty. p. So. just as positions are used to preserve our health. . for in the midst of compassion we feel deep down some bitter-sweet pricking of malicious pleasure at seeing others suffer . The public interest requires men to betray. Screech. 1993). † Seamus Heaney. vengeance. ‘On the useful and the honourable’. yet not merely abject but vicious as well: the vices hold their rank there and are used to stitch and bind us together. let us assign that commission to such as are more obedient and more pliant. If vicious deeds should become excusable insofar as we have need of them.

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Introduction Out of the Marvellous. ‘Whatever is given. an agent of equilibration. But in vain. ‘can always be reimagined. The words are Seamus Heaney’s. Scholarship and the Magic Arts The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise Were all at prayers inside the oratory A ship appeared above them in the air.’ So They did.3 That is an inspiring notion.’ he writes in his own idiom. The anchor dragged along behind so deep It hooked itself into the altar rails And then. Seamus Heaney1 ‘The imaginative transformation of human life is the means by which we can most truly grasp and comprehend it. the freed ship sailed. and the man climbed back Out of the marvellous as he had known it. as the big hull rocked to a standstill. / Plank-thick. ‘unless we help him. however four-square. eccentric. hull-stupid and out of its time / It happens to be. ‘This man can’t bear our life here and will drown. I think. fail of their full returns. A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope And struggled to release it.’ The abbot said. as credo and manifesto for this book. resistant. 1 . Not in him but off from him things are grotesque. and self-bracing entity within the general flux and flex’. Walt Whitman proclaimed something similar: Of these States the poet is the equable man.’ That will do. ‘an upright.’2 The words come from ruminations on what he calls the redress of poetry: the notion that poetry – art – can function as a kind of moral spirit level. or.

9 rue Campagne-Première [in Paris]. war stories. Half a century later. Paulhan loaned it to him while he worked at the fi rst of his literary explorations of the artist: ‘Braque the Reconciler’. The attitude of him cheers up slaves and horrifies foreign despots. this modestly-proportioned picture was next to one other painting. I leave to your imagination. He is the arbiter of the diverse. The fi rst picture that I saw of his. the voluntary simplicity of its situation. Ponge testifies precisely that Braque has been good for him. but also in war itself: in blood – ‘blood like a carwash’. Ponge’s claim for painting as reconciliation is very like Heaney’s claim for poetry as redress. The nobility of poetry. they piggy-back on its moral benefits.. 5 That was in 1923. it became his familiar in his own home. He is the equalizer of his age and land. it was the painter Georges Braque who fulfilled the equilibrating function. . was in the studio then occupied by Jean Paulhan.4 In the pages that follow. In a heartfelt éloge. much more grandiose in scale. He supplies what wants supplying. representing vaguely (vaguely is not the word) a violin. leader of leaders. in ambition: one of de Chirico’s big ‘metaphysical landscapes’. as Christopher 2 . in ‘subject’. the beginning of a wonderfully idiosyncratic series. says Wallace Stevens. he checks what wants checking. one of which was translated into English by Samuel Beckett. its deliberate lack of means. the photographer and the film-maker. He was enchanted by its ‘poverty’. the idea of perfect and free individuals. They put the imagination to work in the service of historical. On the big wall of the studio. neither more nor less. Which of them had the grandeur. that I truly frequented. nothing in its place is bad. war photography. war films. It traffics in war poetry. he is the key. For the great Idea.7 This is a book about violence of both kinds. the painter. In 1945..on art and war and terror Nothing out of its place is good. to include the writer.6 The essays gathered here seek to investigate these claims. For the writer Francis Ponge. ‘the poet’ is expansively interpreted. a papier collé of 1912 or 1913. ‘is a violence from within that protects us from a violence without’. not least in its ethical foundation. Employing its second sight. political and ethical inquiry. He bestows on every object or quality its fit proportion. nearly twenty years after he fi rst made its acquaintance. the bard walks in advance. For that. Ponge recalled how that picture had continued to haunt him. war diaries and the like.

political rapacity and personal vanity – the kind that fuses ignorance and arrogance. not to speak of strange things such as active passivity and senseless kindness. the novel. especially. They excoriate binary thinking: us and them. The violence without is unrelenting. or will be.11 The essays also take seriously the cautionary spirit of W. We need all the protection we can get. an audience of sentient spectators. With Geoffrey Hill. therefore. with a moral purpose and a sober hope. Olive Schreiner. in Avishai Margalit’s phrase. Henry James. honour and conscience.introduction: out of the marvellous Logue’s Homer has it – and. the docudrama. as a goal to be achieved. the imaginative ability to see strange people as fellow sufferers. in political legitimacy. moral authority. civility. ‘human solidarity would be seen not as a fact to be recognized by clearing away “prejudice” or burrowing down to previously hidden depths but. ‘I have learned one thing: not to look down / so much upon the damned.’ This process of coming to see other human beings as ‘one of us’ rather than as ‘them’ is a matter of detailed description of what unfamiliar people are like and of redescription of what we ourselves are like. The violence within is illuminating. lexical promiscuity. the journalist’s report.8 These essays offer themselves as miniature models of description and redescription. a moral community. rather. The poets are not the only champions of the imagination. and thereby lets us redescribe ourselves. the comic book. as the painter Gerhard Richter has fi nely said. ‘In my utopia.’ proposed the philosopher Richard Rorty. Auden: 3 . Fiction like that of Dickens. black and white. Art is the highest form of hope. readers. or Nabokov gives us the details about what sorts of cruelty we ourselves are capable of. It is to be achieved not by inquiry but by imagination. viewers. good and evil. self-regard and self-deception. Fiction like that of Choderlos de Laclos. They prize what Henry James called the soreness of confusion. civilisation and barbarism. for whom it stands up and who will stand up for it. H.’9 The essays take seriously the idea of the artist as moralist – an unfashionable idea – or ‘moral witness’. depravity.10 Hope for what? Hope that there is. and. or Richard Wright gives us the details about kinds of suffering being endured by people to whom we had not previously attended. They are much concerned with the bloody consequences of categorical certainty. absorbed in the work: a community. This is a task not for theory but for genres such as ethnography.

have deeply mistrusted the arts. . to act as smuggler. ethically and politically. and think again. interpreter and facilitator across the frontier. Expressed in different ways. but to mingle the two realms fruitfully. Coetzee. to affirm also that each form of knowledge redresses the other and that the frontier between them is there for the crossing. other-wise. and the vision and the insight can be analysed. Not only does it make us feel – or feel differently – it makes us think. M. and the neighbours start talking: There’s many a beast then in a populous city. And many a civil monster. nor even to reconcile. as of all the arts. which is why. and I am quite certain it makes us more difficult to deceive. some such tension or altercation goes back as far as Plato. in other words. According to Carl Becker. I do not know if such awareness makes us more moral or more efficient: I hope not. But it can start us on the way. perhaps. According to J. affectively and intellectually. They notice and say too much.on art and war and terror The primary function of poetry. They mix and match art and war without shame. suggestively) from one domain to another. a professor is one who thinks otherwise – one who is. all totalitarian theories of the state .’14 In sum. we are more alert and less deceived. Poetry makes something happen after all. as translators say. art articulates a vision of the world that is insightful and consequential.12 Armed with art. perhaps. ‘It won’t do the moral work for us. storytelling is another. ‘Between ourselves my friends and for ourselves’. Auden’s Caliban speaks of ‘the academic fields to be guarded with umbrella and 4 . ‘I shall judge this long quarrel between tradition and invention / Between Order and Adventure. I think it makes us more human. wrote another poet.’13 These essays are dedicated to the proposition that art matters. The essays that make up this book are an experiment in thinking otherwise.’ wrote Susan Sontag in homage to Don McCullin’s acts of witness. to translate (to bring over. in being other-wise. ‘A photograph can’t coerce. an other mode of thinking. by penetrating deeper into the work: ‘That “something can be held in our hesitant stay” – this is what art has always been and still is today. Seamus Heaney makes bold to affirm that ‘within our individual selves we can reconcile two orders of knowledge which we might call the practical and the poetic. We go beyond ourselves.’15 My purpose here is not to judge. in Gadamer’s phrase. . is to make us more aware of ourselves and the world around us. to promote a sort of intersubjective understanding.’ The practical and the poetic.

They proceed from the conviction that the imagination has the longer reach. 5 .’ What is lasting. I side with Marguerite Yourcenar. Beware the hospitality of war. ‘If one wanted to put it rather drastically’. p. however. absorption in that sympathetic magic which operates when one transports oneself. quoting from ‘Lightenings’. Beware the madness of art. 364. tamed by research. gentle reader.18 Several of the essays here have a biographical thrust.’19 As between sympathetic magic and speculative theory. 21 Notes 1. The rest is the madness of art.introduction: out of the marvellous learned periodical against the trespass of any unqualified stranger not a whit less jealously than the game-preserve is protected from the poacher by the unamiable shot-gun’. These essays are not a spelling out. Seamus Heaney. This spot is bewitched. It was a reproof of ideological and methodological shortcomings. the poets provide. Coming from Adorno. but an inviting in. They harness the imagination and the reimagination. Only theory could break this spell – your own resolute and salutarily speculative theory. Theodor Adorno wrote severely to his friend and comrade Walter Benjamin that his exposé of Baudelaire (the miniature model of the fabled Arcades Project) served to transport into ‘a realm where history and magic oscillate’. out of date. ‘We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have. They profess poetry. Opened Ground. the other in magic arts’. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. more accurately and without metaphor. The Redress of Poetry (London: Faber. Poetry outbids prescription. as Nadine Gordimer has it in another variant of the old opposition: ‘When testimony has been filed. into another’s body and soul’. in thought. In the hospitality of war We left them their dead as a gift To remember us by. ‘one could say that your study is located at the crossroads of magic and positivism. 203.’20 Have a care. reflects Marguerite Yourcenar. p. poetry continues to carry the experience from which the narrative has fallen away.17 ‘One foot in scholarship. ‘or. In similar terms. this was not a compliment. he continued. said Hölderlin. They embrace body and soul. 1995).16 These essays are careless of trespass.

Cf. 1968). p. 53. 2002). ‘Ovid in the Third Reich’. 18. Freedom and Reason (New York: Oxford University Press. 5. trans. ‘The Relevance of the Beautiful’ [1974]. Francis Ponge. quoting ‘The Settle Bed’. in King Log (London: Deutsch. ‘Braque le réconciliateur’ [1946] and ‘Feuillet votif’ [1964]. W. Gerhard Richter. trans. Redress. 14. trans. pp. Nicholas Walker.). 427. 269–70. p. xvi. in Collected Poems (London: Faber. 15. in Edward Mendelson (ed. in Stephen Romer (ed. 224. 8. 2002). ‘The Noble Rider and the Sound of Words’ [1942]. in Memoirs of Hadrian [1951] (London: Penguin. 1977). 15. Friedrich Hölderlin. in The Relevance of the Beautiful and other Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2003). pp. Georges Braque (London: Penguin. in Danchev. 49 (1949). Transition. 253. 1986). 16. 22. 17. Cf. ‘The Pretty Redhead’. in Opened Ground. Walt Whitman. 11. Marguerite Yourcenar. 36. and Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 345–6. ‘Braque or modern art as event and pleasure’. 1989). 2007). ch. Geoffrey Hill. p. 200. Irony. ‘Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian’. in Leaves of Grass (Oxford: World’s Classics. 1995). 1991). 7. New York Review of Books. Susan Sontag. David Britt. The English Auden (London: Faber. Heaney. 1986). 100. trans. 6. Beckett. M. 1998). ‘By Blue Ontario’s Shore’. Apollinaire. Wallace Stevens. quoting from Hölderlin’s ‘Bread and Wine’. 4. 17. p. in The Necessary Angel (London: Faber. ‘Remembrance’. See Avishai Margalit. 9. Robert Chandler. trans. pp. 10. 1984). 1995). trans. 5. R. p.on art and war and terror 2. Contingency. p. pp. 42. pp. p. 275. MA: Harvard University Press. 13. Introduction to Poems of Freedom [1938]. Braque. Heaney. Richard Rorty. 157. 20th-Century French Poems (London: Faber. quoting from Othello. and ‘A Moral Witness to the “Intricate Machine”’. Writing and Being (Cambridge. ‘Braque ou un méditatif à l’œuvre’ [1971]. Auden. 6 . p. ‘The Sea and the Mirror’ [1942–4]. pp. The Daily Practice of Painting (London: Thames & Hudson. Michael Hamburger. in Selected Poems and Fragments (London: Penguin. p. Ponge. 12. Redress. 1986). The Ethics of Memory (Cambridge. Hans-Georg Gadamer. p. Hare. 13. 3. Nadine Gordimer.). MA: Harvard University Press. ‘Witnessing’. xv. p. p. in Don McCullin (London: Cape. 43–7. 1998). 6 December 2007. p. in Alex Danchev. Grace Frick. 157–8. H. Francis Ponge. 371–2.

introduction: out of the marvellous 19. 1999). Henry James. 20. pp. Adorno and Walter Benjamin. in The Author of Beltraffio (New York: Scribner’s. trans. Archilochus. in Walter Benjamin. 21. 7 . 10. Gary Smith and André Lefevere. 282–3. 10 November 1938. MA: Harvard University Press. n. See ch. The Complete Correspondence (Cambridge. Nicholas Walker. in Theodor W. 1999). pp. MA: Harvard University Press. ‘Dialectics at a Standstill’. 929–45. trans. ‘The Middle Years’ [1893]. See Rolf Tiedemann. 105. 35. 1909). The Arcades Project (Cambridge. p. Adorno to Benjamin.

the world as his Fall. I just wanted to put it on record that I perceive our only hope – or our one great hope – as residing in art. plenty of hope. The Paintable and the Unpaintable: Gerhard Richter and the Baader-Meinhof Group Crime fi lls the world. and collectively entitled 18 October 1977. the difference is merely quantitative.) Our horror. our horror feeds not only on the fear that it might affect ourselves but on the certainty that the same murderous cruelty operates and lies ready to act within every one of us. so absolutely that we could go insane out of sheer despair. Gerhard Richter1 I remember a conversation with Kafka which began with present-day Europe and the decline of the human race. that come into God’s head. inhuman. dead or dying in their 8 . ‘Oh. beaten. guards discovered the leaders of the Red Army Faction (RAF). it is a constant reality.’ ‘Then there is hope outside this manifestation of the world that we know.3 The date has a malign significance.’ Kafka said. people are maltreated.1 The Artist and the Terrorist. a bad day of his. ‘Our world is only a bad mood of God. humiliated. in the high security wing of Stammheim Prison.’ Max Brod 2 Perhaps the only great art yet made of terror and counter-terror in the contemporary world is a cycle of fifteen paintings by the leading German artist Gerhard Richter. suicidal thoughts. or. completed in 1988. too. tormented and murdered – cruel. otherwise known as the Baader-Meinhof group. This reminded me at fi rst of the Gnostic view of life: God as the evil demiurge. ‘We are nihilistic thoughts. Every day. said Kafka. raped. ‘Oh no’. we protect ourselves with ignorance and by looking away). That morning. inconceivable. an infi nite amount of hope – but not for us.’ He smiled. which we feel every time we succumb or are forced to succumb to the perception of atrocity (for the sake of our own survival. (Not only in systems based on torture. Stuttgart. and in concentration camps: in civilized countries.

The Baader-Meinhof group were terrorists (homegrown). on the ground that it was a factual report and not an insult. Of course. either survival at any price or fight to the death. and continuing tremors to this day. There’s nothing in between. Jan-Carl Raspe.5 In 2008. Meinhof’s daughter. For many good Germans they 9 .4 Meins and the others had revolutionary aspirations. Irmgard Möller alone survived her wounds. I was on the right side anyway – everybody has to die anyway. he was rushed to hospital but died soon afterwards. Gudrun Ensslin hanged.the artist and the terrorist cells. Only one question is how one lived. such was the media frenzy that she was released two days early in order to avoid the pack of ravening reporters: in itself an inflammatory concession. the syndicated photograph of him on his death bed and his last recorded words lent him the air of a martyr cloaked in the mantle of a soixante-huitard. They were tried for hijacking. kidnapping and murder. also shot in the head. was still alive. Andreas Baader had been shot in the head. In 2007. The fi lm was described acidly by Bettina Röhl as ‘the worst-case scenario – it would not be possible to top its hero worship’. when a former member of the group came up for parole after serving the minimum term of twenty-four years.6 Normalisation is difficult. and that’s clear enough: fighting pigs as a man for the liberation of mankind: a revolutionary battle with all one’s love for life. either problem or solution. despising death. The brand may have sunk from a vanguard movement to a fashion statement (‘PradaMeinhof’) – truly the ‘polit-kitsch’ discerned by Richter’s friend and fellow-traveller Benjamin Buchloh – but for the older generation Baader-Meinhof still touches a raw nerve. history has not yet had its due. Their methods were more prosaic. There is no getting away from their crimes. an impression only reinforced by the authentic argot: Either pig or man. Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex. Ulrike Meinhof had been found hanging from a window grating in her cell the year before. In 2006. Bettina Röhl. Ah well.7 Whatever the verdict of criminal justice. They caused convulsions in the body politic. Holger Meins died from starvation in a hunger strike to protest prison conditions in 1974. failed in her attempt to sue the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung for describing her as a ‘terrorist’s daughter’: Germany’s highest appeal court ruled against her. They were already dead. Udi Edel’s film. The existential struggle for control over his body. so that was it. I don’t know what it’s like when you die or when they kill you. served only to renew the controversy.

or pity. ‘I was impressed by the terrorists’ energy. another specialist in airplanes. who scrambled in the ruins of Salzburg much as Richter did in Dresden. they had moved to a village outside the city – American bombers dropped propaganda leaflets.on art and war and terror were a shameful excrescence. on the Eastern Front.’ He watched the bombing of Dresden in 1945 and listened to his grandmother and aunt tell their survivors’ tales of the firestorm and the carnage. their sheer implacability aroused a certain sympathy.’8 Richter knew more than most. Thomas Bernhard (1931–89). Bernhard’s memoir of that formative experience must have spoken powerfully to the painter of ruination and mutilation: The whole square below the cathedral was strewn with fragments of masonry. ‘There were weapons and cannons and guns and cigarettes. yet at the same time fascinated by the monstrous sight before my eyes. and I had known other. Later still he painted exact pictures of military aircraft and ambiguous aerial cityscapes. The arc of his life describes the torment of the century. like most civil servants. Trenches were dug outside the house – fortuitously. their idealism. their uncompromising determination. Young Gerhard was captivated by it all. more ruthless ones. Gerhard was the apple of her eye. Suddenly confronted with the absolute savagery of war. Soviet fighters flew overhead hunting for German army trucks. Soon enough. and. however. Horst Richter was congenitally overmatched. he remarked wryly. he was a schoolteacher. however much their actions were to be deplored. with a passion for music and the classics of German literature. and the family was caught in the toils of the ‘war of annihilation’. the year before Hitler came to power. a member of the National Socialist Party. which to me seemed monstrously beautiful and not in the least frightening. Later he explored the ruins. it was fantastic. Gerhard was pressed heedless into the Hitler Youth. the artist recorded boldly on the unveiling of his work. a staunch Protestant. ‘I am a specialist in airplanes’. ‘but I could not find it in my heart to condemn the state for its harsh response. their youth. That is what states are like. I stood for several minutes silently contemplating the 10 . With his father. He was born in Dresden in 1932. and the people who had come running like us from all quarters gazed in amazement at this unparalleled and unquestionably fascinating picture. and their absolute bravery’. as Hitler called it.9 His mother was a cultured and purposeful woman. Affable and ineffectual. there was always a certain distance. including Gerhard Richter. For others. In later life Richter’s favourite author was his contemporary.

Richter’s flamboyant uncle Rudi waltzed off to war and was killed within days. committed to a mental institution from the age of eighteen and forcibly sterilised in 1938.11 There were other losses. for it was not immediately clear by whose hand they had perished.’ Richter remembered. personally implicated in that same programme. The supposition is suicide. never quite laid to rest.’ Horst Richter remained in some sense a prisoner of war. however. a state as airless as it was ruthless.13 After the war he trained as a mural artist in the service of the state. Unbelieving. and also his private conviction. The Baader-Meinhof group were nothing if not conductors of strong feelings. under the vigilant apparatchiks of the German Democratic Republic. Richter’s mother let him know that his revenant father was not his real father. indeed a senior officer in the SS. it transpired that Richter’s father-in-law was himself a Nazi doctor. ‘Nobody wanted them.the artist and the terrorist scene of destruction presented by the square with its brutally mutilated cathedral – a scene created only a short while before. Mobilised in 1939. is the sullen myrmidons of the state. which had still not quite come to rest and was so overwhelming that I was unable to take it in. after all. he slipped over to the West in 1961. his family life. Germany has some 11 .14 Increasingly disaffected. fifty years after the fact. Eventually he committed suicide. Subsequently. did not mean unfeeling. a small biographical bombshell dropped in an academic footnote. Richter was in every sense an unbeliever: such was his public persona. nor. fell victim to the ‘euthanasia programme’ so efficiently administered by the Nazi doctors. Much later. of these phantom presences in his life.15 the suspicion. such is the weight of circumstantial evidence.10 Richter’s father disappeared for the duration. This long apprenticeship in the red-brown spectrum of totalitarianism served to inoculate him against ideologies and belief systems of all sorts.12 Over the years Richter compiled his own family album. Their deaths in custody – the manner of the dying and the spectacle of the dead – unleashed a torrent of complex emotion and prejudiced opinion. He never found his place in civil society. His aunt Marianne. the trademark ‘photo-paintings’. ‘He shared most fathers’ fate at the time. He was not permitted to resume his teaching post. just before the Berlin Wall went up. it seems. he served on both the Eastern and the Western Front before being captured by the Americans. He did not return home until 1946.

on art and war and terror Figure 1 Gerhard Richter. 12 . Uncle Rudi (1965).

reflecting. He seriously considered using a selection of those images in a columnar construction he designed for the towering atrium. to give an opinion. making a kind of spinal memorial – the very backbone of the building – a parliament of hopes and bones. perhaps. The mystery of the meaning of the October cycle is still unresolved.19 The first batch he assembled in 1967. Their presence is the horror and the hard-to-bear refusal to answer. forced to surrender to the clenched power of the state. Like all great art. to explain. mostly very blurred. The burn marks of the past are as visible as the burn marks on Ulrike Meinhof’s neck in three spectral images Richter called. 13 .20 One can only speculate on what the reaction might have been. when he was done. postcards.17 Richter could not help but remember: ‘I had kept a number of photographs for years. archiving: this was his normal modus operandi. grey record player – a youthful portrait of Meinhof. On the latter occasion he had been commissioned to make a work for the newly restored Reichstag in Berlin. under the heading of unfinished business. drawings. In the end he decided against. Once the dead Meins. They come into play ‘at this blind spot where “being unable to forget” and “not wanting to remember” cross paths’. Goya’s Third of May 1808 (1814) and Picasso’s Guernica (1937). Altogether. But he seems to have wondered every so often whether he could find a way. By his reckoning: Three times Baader.21 The unmasterable past is very much on his artistic mind. So. shot. neutral (almost like pop stars). ‘What have I painted?’ Richter asked himself in December 1988. Three times the dead Meinhof after they cut her down. Richter is in fact a deeply political painter. Then a big. the second in 1997. clippings. Despite repeated protestations that he is not interested in politics.16 They are history paintings but also memory paintings. too. Three times Ensslin.the artist and the terrorist experience of state repression. some of them blurred. The Holocaust was ‘unpaintable’.’18 Collecting. Embedded in his Atlas – a scrapbook or sourcebook of photographs. Richter’s cycle stands in succession to David’s Death of Marat (1793). it continues to mutate. not least. unspecific burial – a cell dominated by a bookcase – a silent. grey. in ‘questions of political content or historical truth’. the images have an uncanny affect. Dead. All the pictures are dull. sentimental in a bourgeois way – twice the arrest of Meins. diagrams and plans from his bottomless bottom drawer – there are two batches of photographs of the Holocaust. 22 Like his work. the intransigent present. Three times Ensslin. for its creator. simply. diffuse. hanged.

retorted Buchloh. photographed in extreme close-up by the artist. He was thirty and 1962 was year zero.on art and war and terror however. Unconventionally. This sequence appears alongside some abstract collages. Surprisingly enough. he told an uncomprehending Benjamin Buchloh. for example. he is hard to enlist. anonymously. ‘But magnificent in what way?’ ‘I can’t describe it now’. roughly framed in white paper. but in the end paintability is a matter of judgement – for Richter. commemorated by Fassbinder. few have voiced the thought. He cancelled his past and set about creating the real Gerhard Richter. a ready-made. ‘I’d rather have Barnett Newman. and also issues of scale. the paintable and the unpaintable are shifting sands: not a question of taboos or proscriptions. He is an artist of Proustian premeditation. Nothing arrives in the Atlas by chance. WTC is his madeleine. he set to work some ten years after the events of that traumatic ‘German autumn’ of 1977. or a necessary period 14 . complete with contemporary reportage. judgements about his own capacity. it is labelled. and an obsessive arranger and re-arranger of the facts of his life and work. 9/11 is paintable. the snare of inanity and the scent of hope. rather an exercise of individual artistic conscience. It consists of 216 ‘excerpts’ or ‘blinks’ from one of his abstract paintings. or a subject for their own work.’23 He has continued to respond characteristically to the world of affairs. For Richter. For a specialist in airplanes. War Cut (2004). No catalogue raisonné in modern times has been more actively managed by its living subject. ‘If I’m thinking of political painting in our time’. he started his own catalogue raisonné. Schlöndorff and their collaborators on film.’ ‘So it is said’. given or handed down. Other artists have dared to think of the toppling of the towers as a spectacle.25 These are not random placements. is a kind of abstract serial of the Iraq War. Such an exercise might well traverse issues of taste. juxtaposed with reports from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 20 and 21 March 2003. in 1962. Richter is meticulous in his dispositions.26 In the case of the Baader-Meinhof paintings. ‘what gets to me in them – I believe they’re among the most important paintings of all. and fewer still have acted on it. replied Richter. He painted some magnificent pictures. Richter is different. and three colour printouts of the Twin Towers ablaze. as the war was launched. or discretion.24 In 2006. the Atlas disclosed a new intimation: a newspaper clipping. Yet he is no mere self-publicist. ‘Stripes and WTC [World Trade Center]’. Ten years was a decent interval. once he had found his feet in the West.

the problem of trying to come to terms with the terrorist (and the counter-terrorist) was in some ways analogous to the problem confronted by the warring historians. not to say a battle royal. ‘and there’s no argument with them!’30 Richter would have read of these things in the course of his exhaustive preparatory research. and so I got hold of some more photographs and had the idea of painting the subject’. It might be called the problem of the perpetrator. how an ethical but usable past could be reconstructed from the wreckage. announced Gudrun Ensslin.’29 Moreover. could be ‘dealt with’. how the Holocaust. For the artist. in a feverish political climate.28 At issue were fundamental questions about how that history could be understood (and communicated).the artist and the terrorist of maturation: ‘it’s hard to say how it came about that late in 1987 my interest revived. as the Baader-Meinhof group proclaimed in word and deed. as parallel plots spun out of control. some of these issues were his issues. This was a very public quarrel. In 1977. engaging many of the country’s leading intellectuals. the Hanns-Martin Schleyer Foundation sponsored a symposium in Berlin which addressed itself to the question: ‘To Whom Does German History Belong?’ That question was in part a generational question. For all that he likes to play up the proverbial stupid painter (‘most artists are afflicted with more than common stupidity’). these paintings seem to re-enact that painful process. Richter cannot but have been aware that it was going on. The October cycle is among other things a cycle of memory: tenebrous memory made manifest. but it rhymes. the industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer was kidnapped and executed by the terrorists. said Mark Twain. As Richter put it to Jan Thorn Prikker: 15 . societal and personal. the National Socialist past. The daily practice of painting is the remembrance of things past. in particular.27 It may have been hard to say – Richter’s self-explanation tends towards the elliptical – but the revival of interest coincided exactly with the famous German Historikerstreit: a quarrel. The historical connections were there to be made. he comes dangerously close to being an intellectual himself. morally. If painting is remembering. Ten years later. historically and psychologically. ‘This is the Auschwitz generation’. It was precisely in this period that he asserted. as his writing and reading and talking amply demonstrate. that ‘There is lyric poetry after Auschwitz. among German historians about the proper interpretation of the German past – specifically. History does not repeat itself. publicly and emphatically. It touches on myriad repressions and suppressions.

So this terrorism is inside all of us. is not quite what it seems. unspecific burial’. while individual images found their way into the press. As so often. . They are easier to read than some of the others – less blurred – but the message of the 16 . They are us. Each of the paintings in the cycle has a photographic model. It bears on responsibility – and guilt – and it demands an effort of empathy. . But that comforting thought is pursued by another. Gudrun Ensslin. We’re always both: the state and the terrorist. and published in glossy magazines: Der Spiegel and Stern. that’s only a part of it: there’s something else that puts an additional fear into people.32 The photographs in question are. this sequence. The provenance of the photographs is highly appropriate. painting is a moral act. that goes to the heart of Gerhard Richter’s project. and that’s what I don’t want. famously. All this was broadcast on the evening news. breathing Ensslin. They are not like us. These people. namely that they themselves are terrorists . For Richter. are human. that’s what generates the rage and fear. a German television crew had filmed the arrest of Baader and Meins in Frankfurt on 1 June 1972. if less dramatically. yet these pictures are entitled Confrontation 1.on art and war and terror If people wanted to see these people [the RAF] hanged as criminals. discomforting as it may be. The October cycle is a moral tale – at once metaphysical quest and police procedural. all too human. The terrorist is not of our tribe. Extraordinarily. so alien to us. the creative process began with the photographs he had collected. ‘Three times Ensslin neutral (almost like pop stars)’. Ulrike Meinhof and Holger Meins). Nowhere is this more subtly observed than in Richter’s three snaps of the living.31 The problem of the perpetrator is at heart a moral issue. police photographs – scene-of-crime photographs – taken in the course of investigations into the deaths of those featured (Andreas Baader. neither is the policeman. 2 and 3. one of several mini-series within the cycle. was also filmed by a television crew (not to mention numerous police photographers). recorded Richter. Ensslin and Raspe at the Stuttgart Waldfriedhof on 27 October 1977. the ‘big. Two of them are originally film stills. any more than I want the policeman inside myself – there’s never just one side to us. The shootout between the terrorists and the police left Baader wounded and Meins forced to surrender (and strip) under the guns of the menacing armoured vehicles – ‘the clenched power of the state’. so naturally of the person who is but one frame away from extinction. which seem to communicate so much. Similarly. for the most part. the funeral of Baader. In keeping with the overall tenor of the work.

the artist and the terrorist Figure 2 Gerhard Richter. 17 . 2 and 3. from 18 October 1977 (1988). Confrontation 1.

. on the other. The artist’s stolen images are a representation of a battle of wills – a confrontation – and a revelation of subterfuge. so he became more involved. . As his knowledge deepened. ‘And the feelings built up. And then the work bears a strong sense of leave-taking for me personally. or being put through her paces in a line-up. he sifted and re-sifted the photographs. As it turns out. including photographers . because I had not satisfactorily dealt with their existence’. as Richter seems to be suggesting. In fact. Perpetrators come in different guises. therefore. and their non-existence. 33 Richter has written of the October cycle as a form of leave-taking. photographically. Richter’s reflections on the RAF are unusually personal: ‘Knowledge of the people. Ensslin has been photographed refusing to be photographed. knowing the people. performing perhaps. as Gerhard Richter knows only too well. The photographs from which Richter worked were shot through a peephole in a flower picture on the wall of the interrogation room. because it is all too easy and too misleading to use them to explain things away in psychological terms. as if in a photo-booth. the living reality – I was thinking in terms of something big 18 . ‘I was touched by them’. He got to know them. And then ideologically: a leave-taking from a specific doctrine of salvation and beyond that. and painters. I wanted more to paint the whole business. or play-acting. . They have a lighter emotional tone. Factually: these specific persons are dead. It ends the work I began in the 1960s (paintings from blackand-white photographs). as it were. she refused to be photographed when taken into custody. On the one hand. on a very basic level . they have to be disregarded. from the illusion that unacceptable circumstances of life can be changed by this conventional expedient of violent struggle (this kind of revolutionary thought and action is futile and passé). a feeling almost of complicity with the viewer – with us.on art and war and terror image is ambiguous. was basic to the pictures. Richter responded: The ones that weren’t paintable were the ones I did paint. as a general statement. To start with. . Ensslin turns this way and that for our inspection. Of course. the world as it then was. death is leave-taking. The dead.’ He studied the literature. And so it is a leave-taking from thoughts and feelings of my own. an improvised quality. personal circumstances play a part in all this.34 Death is indeed the dominant motif. they cannot be seen in isolation from the generalized ‘leave-taking’ mentioned above. Perhaps it is also a kind of mourning. Asked which pictures remained unpainted. he told one interviewer. with a compressed summation that precludes any possible continuation.

Meinhof.’41 Gerhard Richter is an admirer of Kafka. and he expresses himself in like fashion. harsher – a tight close-up. too. There’s One in Every Crowd by Eric Clapton is on the turntable. Ironically. 35 He painted them dead or alive. a play on the name of the magazine in which she originally appeared and her celebrity status variously construed. This shrieking reprise is titled Stern (star).39 Among artists. the burn mark a choker. redoing Richter has become a minor industry. Exactly sixty years before. Making work of his work is now an art of its own. has her mini-series. Baader lies dead on the floor of his cell. save for a cadaverous overcoat. One commentator has gone so far as to suggest that death is for Richter a criterion of what to paint. by Marlene Dumas.40 There is an element of justice in this. a homage to Gerhard Richter. A cell dominated by a bookcase is void of human presence. grey record player – a true memento mori – where the gun is hidden.the artist and the terrorist and comprehensive. The deathworks of the deathnight are painted dread: 19 . shrinking and blurring a little more with each repetition. which might be called poetic. A still life sits in lonely eminence: the silent. Richter has made a career of romping through the canon of Western art. In these iconic images she appears to fade away before our very eyes. in 2004. But then it all evolved quite differently. who painted the same image. another series of unnerving encounters. in the direction of death. The October cycle is the ultimate wanted poster. starker.36 Death as a subject had preoccupied him for some time. Elsewhere. the scene befogged. The October cycle is already a source text.38 It is also. on 18 October 1917. in the first instance with the works themselves. mouth agape. Dread of not-night. It has inspired a short story from Don DeLillo. It is only fitting that the great appropriator is himself appropriated. Richter’s Meinhof is evanescent. It may also have to do with the nature of his sources – the cherished photographs – with ‘that rather terrible thing which is there in every photograph: the return of the dead’.37 The motif is often repeated. Franz Kafka wrote in his notebook: ‘Dread of night. The night of 18 October 1977 is closing in. Dumas’s Meinhof is ghastly – blacker. Ensslin hangs from a window grating. ‘Three times the dead Meinhof after they cut her down’. inescapably. from the same shock photo. she was brought back to life (or death) sixteen years later. the torso smudged. making free with images of all kinds. the legs dangling in ghostly suspension.

Dead .on art and war and terror Figure 3 Gerhard Richter. from 18 October 1977 (1988). 20 .

Compassion also for the failure. which for me makes it almost more terrible.42 The cell is a transit camp. ‘The pictures are not partisan. He offers abbreviations of worldcontent. variations on the Old Masters: About suffering they were never wrong. a pathos and an essential privacy foreign to Picasso. and. unspecific burial. frozen. His paintings have an extraordinary reflective quality. Grief is not tied to any “cause”. Richter is also an expert in coffins.the artist and the terrorist dark. a marvellously expressive work with more than a touch of Manet about it. the fact that an illusion of being able to change the world has failed. in Hermann Broch’s phrase. They probably did kill themselves. Beerdigung. One of the earliest entries in his self-selected catalogue raisonné is a photo-painting called Coffin Bearers (1962). They never forgot That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course Anyhow in a corner.43 In the antechamber of death we weigh our emotions. these ex-people? The paintings are beautiful. ‘They are hard to enlist.44 The wound is depicted on the body. to make use of. Richter’s penal colony is harrowing indeed.47 The big. some untidy spot Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse Scratches its innocent behind on a tree. It is a wounded beauty – like the ruined Dresden – for Richter.48 21 . possibly.’ as he puts it. The Old Masters: how well they understood Its human position . Nor is compassion. the paintings express both sorrow and horror. The October cycle has a stillness. but it is not a surface beauty. It is the coffins that stand out from the crowd. but the work is not didactic.’45 Like Guernica. the coffins and the small cross on the skyline. our death’. cloudy. Their surfaces are beautiful. How are we to feel? What are we to make of these scene-of-crime images. as in Kafka’s penal colony. Unlike Guernica. As we peer at them (into them) we glimpse something of ourselves. Richter eschews exclamation. these absent presences. our hopes and failures.’ Asked about the object of his compassion. he replied: ‘The death the terrorists had to suffer. Richter himself has proposed that these paintings ‘are also to do with us. . says Gerhard Storck suggestively. And yet they dwell in hope. is less a burying than a coffining.46 No one screams. . like the artist. almost a contradiction in terms. they have a deadpan affective atmosphere.

‘And so they are ever returning to us. The artist and the terrorist met on common ground. Youth Portrait ( Jugendbildnis). desperation and helplessness (I am thinking of crucifi xion narratives. was an Easterner. also. his dead Meinhof to David’s dead Marat. is not quite what it seems. her mouth is set as firm as her gaze. but Ulrike Meinhof was almost Richter’s age – or would have been. as if from an earlier age of innocence. Rembrandt. but resolute. but he has half of art history in his head. her eyes are wide open. too. and unveiled in 2005. They are stylistically troublesome. the Rubens that he forgets he knows is as important as the river he knows he is remembering. Richter’s coffins look like the tops of the columns of Peter Eisneman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. already married and divorced. She. Richter for his part rejects the idea of direct quotation. quaintly. but also of Renaissance portraits. Its photographic model (most likely a publicity photograph) dates from around 1970. the body count is mounting.’49 The memory banks of agony. Mondrian.’ Seamus Heaney has written of another painter: ‘As he makes his mark. The October cycle inaugurates and instantiates Richter’s late work. In the photograph she looks unblemished. when the subject was thirty-six. the dead. Buried and unburied. she coolly meets the camera’s stare. the lips are softer and so is the look. full-face and wholesome. from the Middle Ages to Grünewald. but a study of character and expression. ‘the style 22 . seen from above. Dead or alive. gentler. had she lived. almost airbrushed. Donatello and Pollock). blurrier.’50 One painting in the cycle breathes life: a portrait of Meinhof as a young girl. His dead Baader is supposed to owe something to Manet’s Dead Toreador (1864). That memorial was commissioned in 1999. where the artist’s goal is not portraiture as such. One would not know it from the painting. Richter called it ‘sentimental in a bourgeois way’ and titled it. and it is nothing if not eclectic: ‘Art has always been basically about agony. Late style. This intriguing ‘youth portrait’ is something akin to a ‘face’ (tronie) in the tradition Vermeer would have understood. after much agonising. A hint of vulnerability has crept in around the eyes. In the painting she is younger. as he says. in Berlin. to say nothing of twin ‘terrorist’s daughters’. and an intellectual.on art and war and terror A Manet hangs in Richter’s studio. The young woman lacks only a pearl earring. the Baader-Meinhof paintings have never been easy to take in. with a reputation as a writer and activist. his burial to Courbet’s Burial at Ornans (1849–50).51 This portrait. desperation and helplessness are constantly being replenished.

with whom they were in regular contact. Adorno’s analysis of the late work ‘refusing to reconcile in a single image what is not reconciled’ speaks eloquently to these paintings. Politically.53 The paintings are not transparent. just as Conrad predicted. his superiority is evident.56 The life and death of the detainee has become one of the defining issues of the age. They are continually reformulating the question of what attitude it would be appropriate to adopt towards them. and that we are not yet equipped to see it. All of this makes for demanding viewing. To all outward appearances the Baader-Meinhof group were well looked after. Suicide itself – the last act of rebellion. It is the reaching of a new level of expression. neither is his purpose. they had lawyers. a kind of ‘abstractism’. 23 . and so does he. what we concede to her – Richter found the women more interesting than the men – these are some of the more pressing questions posed by the work. a conscious summation. What is the fate of our implacable foe? What we wish for her. were described by the commander of the camp as ‘an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us’.’ as Ensslin said. They seem to insist that there is more to see than we can see at present. In the era of a ‘global war on terror’ they have acquired a new resonance. ‘Even if they have taken the guns out of our hands. and by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State as ‘a good PR move’. as Rilke remarked of Cézanne.52 The result is a set of radical finalities. blacked out and blurred.’55 In 2003 the Pentagon re-classified hangings (attempted suicides) by detainees at Guantánamo Bay as ‘manipulative self-injurious behaviour’. Stammheim was not Abu Ghraib. according to Meinhof – is an essentially contested concept. The suicide bomber is also one of us. they continue to disturb. Baader for one had hundreds of books in his cell. Gerhard Richter came early into lateness. in 2006. a densely populated ethical universe. and yet. Knowing no restraint. we are still left with our bodies.the artist and the terrorist of old age’. grey-within-grey. is a tricky proposition. They do not surrender themselves to mere delectation. They had free range within the wing and more or less free association by day. These we will now use as our ultimate weapon.54 We need the right eyes. The first attempts to succeed. The terrorist haunts our imagination. Richter’s images are unreconciled. ‘The struggle goes on. after the images of Abu Ghraib. In Stammheim they enjoyed every comfort. Such is the cycle. as Richter’s spooky painting shows. They refuse that. what we see in her. but the style of old age is not always a product of years. the images of Stammheim.

he crouches. but against my wish or intention. Stammheim has been exhibited only rarely. it worked accidentally. December and November. the case against is a smear. applies with special force to a little known second cycle. The works he made are at once timely and timeless. in white. a kind of corollary of the first. Humiliation is the watchword. If Blanket is a chance addendum.’ The painting was retitled Blanket.60 It does not hide everything: a vestige of the original remains. Richter has spoken of a particular state of mind necessary to carry through the project. like a shroud. ‘I started to cover it. He began over-painting a rejected version of Ensslin. The space is like a cage or a cell. The artist is a creature penned in solitary confi nement. twenty-three abstract paintings on pages torn from a book by Pieter H. Bakker Schut. It was provided by one of the women. indeed. abstract paintings as powerful as any in Richter’s œuvre. by accident or design. Hanged.on art and war and terror accumulate another layer of meaning. At Richter’s hands. Richter seems to have been remarkably prescient. The full title of that scabrous cycle of 24 . though they have almost never been shown together. Bringing the work to completion was emotionally exhausting. hopelessness the aim. half-naked in the gloom. chased by an underlying sense of emptiness – a recurrent feeling.62 The photographs are murky. or involuntary association.59 This appears to mean a combination of the meditative and the melancholic. In the annals of Baader-Meinhof this is an old story. Richter painted the diptychs in just four months. it is surely no accident that Richter went on to paint a coda: three huge diptychs entitled (in order of composition) January. or memory. he took up his camera and turned it on himself. Each day for six days he took a single self-portrait in his studio.57 The noose is a common appurtenance. seem to belong naturally (and affectively) with the cycle. The guiding principle of the penal colony returns with a vengeance: guilt is never to be doubted.58 Other works gather in the penumbra of the October cycle. Corporal instruction and corporal indignity feature large. and so I left it that way. He is hunched. he bends. as if leading inexorably back to October. like Goya’s Disasters of War (1810–20). In this work the text is visible but for the most part illegible under the smeared and scraped paint. Like the terrorists themselves. Stammheim: The Case Against the RAF (1986). he squats. the artist had to find a way out. he is a prisoner of his own studio. At the end of that creative burst. Stammheim (1995). Blacked out. multiple exposure.61 These moody and magnificent works.

In the land of prosperity. Any attempt at understanding the terrorist. this was painting as an immoral act. without fanfare. conformity and guilt. let alone sympathising. terror is a toxic subject. After Krefeld. The artist had hoped to avoid any unseemly spectacle: ‘The relatives and friends of these people are still alive. therefore.’65 Inasmuch as a certain sympathy for the terrorists as human beings might be discerned. as Richter duly noted. In a different idiom. the cycle travelled to Frankfurt.63) After 9/11 it has become infinitely more perilous. ‘is a dark and totally staged pathos. Richter was widely assumed to be on the side of the pigs. the figure of ‘the sympathiser’ is at once politicised and compromised. this was too little. ‘The quality most evident in Richter’s treatment of these still disturbing images’. And other emphatic caprices. But ‘virtuoso oil paintings on the subject of Stammheim’ were not to everyone’s taste. too blurred. It was generally assumed that 18 October 1977 belonged in Germany. it was provoking and perplexing in almost equal measure. just as Guernica belonged in Spain. Montreal. 18 October 1977 was exhibited for the fi rst time. The 25 . they are every bit as unsparing. I neither wanted to hurt them. St Louis. (In this context as in others. before coming to rest in the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art on a tenyear loan from the artist. Los Angeles and Boston. The opening was the day of Thomas Bernhard’s funeral. but polemic and partisanship overflowed.’64 He was to be disappointed. Richter himself tended to share that assumption. For the unreconstructed of all persuasions. an artist conspicuous by his absence on the barricades. He wanted it to be seen freely. Drink may have been in short supply. nor did I want an opening with people standing around chatting and drinking wine. not to say scandalous. They are also untimely. especially not from Gerhard Richter. in a museum collection.’ Richter’s cycle of paintings treats of similar consequences and caprices. New York. Now the toxicity has spread. In many quarters the cycle was immediately recognised as a masterpiece. was hazardous enough in Germany in 1988. nor to a private collector. The controversy was ferocious. Richter had indicated that he would not sell it piecemeal. Rotterdam. In the battle of pig and man.the artist and the terrorist etchings is ‘Fatal consequences of the bloody war against Bonaparte in Spain. one critic wrote venomously. as Richter well understood. in Krefeld in 1989. and seen whole. and too late. London. For several years its final destination remained open. Coming from him. They might have been called Disasters of War on Terror.

If it held up there. against the competition. sub specie aeternitatis. The sculptor Richard Serra justified the purchase and the project: ‘I don’t think there’s an American painter alive who could tackle this subject matter and get this much feeling into it in this dispassionate way. but they’re disturbing in a way the Rembrandts are. 26 . which withdrew its support when the cycle was accepted as a loan. In 2000–1. it would hold up anywhere. reputed to be $3 million. Eventually in 1995 the issue was resolved with the announcement that it had been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York for an undisclosed sum. and this was readily agreed. the museum devoted a special exhibition to its prize acquisition. Amman protested that transfer to the United States would render the paintings ‘ineffective’.’68 And so they dwell in the heart of the wounded city. There’s a despair in them.on art and war and terror director of the Frankfurt museum. What mattered to Gerhard Richter was what matters to all great artists: whether the work will hold up. as soon as it decently could. no firm offer was forthcoming. an important patron of the museum.66 Richter for his part was prepared to think of the United States in general and MoMA in particular as a suitable environment for his work.’ he told the critic Michael Kimmelman as they studied the work. and then to late Rembrandt. The announcement caused widespread consternation on both sides of the Atlantic. publicly expressed his wish to acquire it. in New York. ‘These paintings aren’t like late Rembrandts exactly. 18 October 1977 was art. a view with which many Europeans were only too ready to concur. to late Goya. Certain American commentators proceeded to give colour to their fears by criticising both the purchase and the artist for his martyrology. not current affairs. in the very temple of modernity. which is what we respond to in them. precisely because the Atlantic crossing would serve to remove it from the febrile domestic political debate. and also the means to raise them. And both the Richters and the Rembrandts are about people recognizing their own solitude through the paintings. the so-called second generation were responsible for the murder of the head of the Dresdener Bank. Man Shot Down. Jean-Christophe Amman. Richter’s condition of sale was that MoMA should respect the existing arrangement with Frankfurt. The response was overwhelming.67 At MoMA it would find a good home and a fitting context. Frankfurt lacked the funds. However. They have a forensic specificity. The RAF had been active in that city. He compared the dead Baader.

28 September 2008. Richter reflected: What counts is the world of the mind.69 The dead do not return alone. 18 February 2007. Four years on from the hullabaloo of the opening. Notes 1. This was Brigitte Mohnhaupt. Harry Zohn. October 48 (1989). Art returns. philosophers and scientists. No greater contrast is conceivable than that between Kafka and Kaiser Wilhelm II. Kafka lived from 1883 to 1924. in Gerhard Richter. Observer. ‘Franz Kafka’ [1934]. Neal Ascherson. who has kept her silence. we know their work and their lives. MA: Harvard University Press. are horrific ones: for rulers can make their mark only through atrocities. borderless reach. The Daily Practice of Painting (London: Thames & Hudson. quoted in The Guardian. 3. p. quoted in Walter Benjamin. 2002). p. Gerhard Richter: Doubt and Belief in Painting (New York: MoMA. Gerhard Richter: October 18. Notes. Selected Writings. they – and not the politicians and rulers – are the history of humankind. 27 . 2. trans. II. Bettina Röhl blog. in which we grow up. 798. In more ways than one. p. 100. They are sumptuously reproduced in Robert Storr. p. ‘A Note on Gerhard Richter’s October 18. she served a fouryear sentence. 2008). they reconnect. if any. The works may be viewed on: www. vol. 2003). who has shown some remorse. 2000). Anthea Bell. in October 18. She has since worked as a picture editor at the The Independent in London and as a photography lecturer in Berlin.com. 5. 96. as Astrid Proll testifies. this remains our home and our world. Benjamin Buchloh. 25 September 2008. Cf. The Baader-Meinhof Group [1985] (London: Bodley Head. and of art. To us. 4. the others are barely names to us. 6. David Britt.baader-meinhof. We know the names of those artists and musicians and poets. ‘Der Dichter Franz Kafka’ [1921]. Proll was once Baader’s getaway driver. part 2 (Cambridge. 1999). and less sumptuously but more accessibly in idem.the artist and the terrorist and a boundless. 262–3. 125. and the associations that they arouse. 7. as Paul Celan said. Over the decades. 1977 (New York: MoMA. trans. The deathbed image is reproduced. and Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting (New York: MoMA. 1995). Reintegration is also difficult. from Richter’s notebook. 1977 ’. Stefan Aust. trans. pp. 17 March 1986. Another case is pending: Christian Klar. The Independent. ‘A terror campaign of love and hate’.

By this reckoning there appear to be a total of nineteen. 15. That painting (which is also a self-portrait. Bombs and Bernhard’. for a full-scale retrospective. Cf. 457–78. 173. p. pp. For a potted biography of the early life see Doubt and Belief. 75. 14. p. 2006). and for a copy of the interview transcript. not included in the collected portraits. Geoff Dyer. no. both celebrated paintings. 40. St Louis Art Museum. 7 December 1988. ‘Overcoming Ideology: Gerhard Richter in Dresden. ‘Divided Memory and Post-Traditional Identity: Gerhard Richter’s Work of Mourning’. n. This is the conclusion of Aust. See Stefan Gronert. Horst and His Dog. Paul B. ‘Reflections on Sebald. 122. Aunt Marianne especially so after it was sold at auction at Sotheby’s for £2. 9. an early version of Baader. 32–63. Gerhard Richter. 90 (his emphases). 79–94. Oxford Art Journal. Daily Practice. Notes. 16. When 18 October 1977 was fi rst exhibited Richter was tickled to discover one aficionado who saw in the paintings the world of Thomas Bernhard. David McLintock. Thomas Bernhard. pp. Doubt and Belief. Forty Years. A companion work from the same year. Forty Years. Evidently there was some culling or over-painting. 175. p. pp. 2005). I am grateful to Valerie Rudy-Valli for access to the curatorial files on its Richters. 11 June 1991. The New York Times Magazine. ‘went wrong’ and had to be destroyed. Gathering Evidence (London: Vintage. Jaskot. ‘Gerhard Richter and Adolf Eichmann’. Dietmar Elger. At least one over-painted canvas remains as a pendant to the cycle: see below. 11. October 75 (1996). Daily Practice. 10. 12.1 million in 2006. See Jeanne Anne Nugent. 2006). Uncle Rudi and no. Notes for a press conference [on the cycle]. 13. Baader-Meinhof. for the authorised version. Interview with Michael Shapiro. November–December 1988. unpublished transcript. pp. 2003). p. the early years’. Richter relied heavily on it in his own preparatory research. appeared in the mammoth MoMA retrospective. 28 . the most exhaustive and persuasive account thus far. 2002). Pretext 9 (2004). Acknowledged by the artist in Michael Kimmelman. 236 and 270. Cf. 27 January 2002.on art and war and terror 8. ‘Gerhard Richter: An Artist Beyond Isms’. Cf. According to Richter. Aunt Marianne (both 1965). Ein Maler aus Deutschland (München: Pendo. See Benjamin Buchloh. trans. Maler (Köln: DuMont. 3. p. 61. shot. Bernhard’s autobiography fi rst appeared in German in five separate volumes over the period 1975–82. in From Caspar David Friedrich to Gerhard Richter (Los Angeles: Getty Publications. pp. This is the burden of the ‘family drama’ by Jürgen Schreiber. aged four months) has returned in a way to its origins: it is now on long-term loan to Dresden. 28 (2005). 91–7. Gerhard Richter: Portraits (Ostfi ldern: Cantz.

2006). 1990). Such protestations recur throughout. 44. in Mysteries of the Rectangle (New York: Princeton Architectural Press. 23. ‘Stripes and WTC’ (2006). 2005). 44–52. Daily Practice. In his case. see the interview with Robert Storr. Doubt and Belief. ‘The War of the German Historians’. 29. Richter reads widely in philosophy and literature. p. 1992). Gordon Craig. 148. 25. 158. no. Gerhard Storck. then certainly not on the left. Quoted in Aust. p. pp. It became a giant abstract of the German flag. interview with Buchloh (1986). Daily Practice. 7. 183–4. 6 September 2006. 30. pp. Daily Practice. The Unmasterable Past (Cambridge. 1998). Notes for a press conference. 31. Siri Hustvedt. 20. 173. MA: Harvard University Press. 2004). notes. ‘Layout for the Book War Cut ’ (2004). Daily Practice. 26. the conventional polarities are not very illuminating. Baader-Meinhof. 171–208. Conversation with Prikker. Notes. 12 March 1988. in Gerhard Richter: 18 Oktober 1977 (Montreal: Museum of Fine Arts. perhaps. The formulation about the state and the terrorist echoes a famous passage in 29 . 28. nos 697– 736. Atlas. 18. Daily Practice. p. Conversation with Prikker. Daily Practice. See. nos 16–20. 164–5. Gerhard Richter. Atlas (London: Thames & Hudson. p. His ideas for the design can be traced in the Atlas. 19. pp. ‘Untitled (Mixed Feelings)’. Richter himself speaks the language of capacity. ‘Reichstag’ (1997–8). The abstract expressionist Newman was an anarchist. and the conversation with Prikker. inanity and hope. CA University of California Press. Politics and the Image of the Past’. 183. Richter himself is popularly supposed to be. 1 October 1989. p. 744. a real one. pp. his foreword to Kropotkin’s Memoirs of a Revolutionist (1968) in his Selected Writings and Interviews (Berkeley. pp. 27. p. 24. 185–6. On the paintable and the unpaintable. as Richter would have known. Cf. pp. 15 January 1987. and in slightly longer perspective Charles Maier. 177. Walter Benjamin conceived of hints or ‘blinks’ – ‘thought fragments’ as Hannah Arendt says – for The Arcades Project. 174. Gerhard Richter. The original clipping was pinned up on the wall behind his desk for several years before it found its way into the Atlas. if not on the right. Past and Present 121 (1988). War Cut (Köln: König. interview with Marian Goodman. 21. ‘Photos from Books’ (1967) and 635–46. See ‘The True Revolution is Anarchist!’. ‘Gerhard Richter: Why Paint?’. nos 648–55. ‘Holocaust’ (1997). 22. Cf. for example. New York Review of Books. Daily Practice.the artist and the terrorist 17. 158. Interview with Buchloh (1986). 183. The original work was Abstract Painting 648–2 (1987). pp. Atlas. Conversation with Prikker. Geoff Eley. ‘Nazism.

Louise Lawlor. The Blue Octavo Notebooks (Cambridge. 186. 1998). p. p. forms of idleness at bottom identical. To add a further layer of replication. Daily Practice. at www. strictly speaking. See. 100 ‘Baader-Meinhof Photographs’ in the Atlas (nos 470–9) are. Sarah Kent. p. photographs of reproductions. 37. ‘Untitled’. Camera Lucida [1980] (London: Vintage. 35. ‘Richter Scale’. p. from the artist’s notebooks or from the original magazine features. 1977 ’. 30 August–6 September 1989. Third Notebook.’ The Secret Agent [1907] (Oxford: World’s Classics. Baader-Meinhof: Pictures on the Run (Zürich: Scalo. in Franz Kafka. and he embarked on a new relationship with Sabine Moritz.frithstreetgallery. interview with Schütz (1990). 186. Mysteriously. 1991).html Don DeLillo. 1986). Conversation with Prikker. p. 42. Many of them also appear among the images collected by Astrid Proll. Nude (2002–3). 10. Richter would have been familiar with the ubiquitous wanted poster for the Baader-Meinhof gang. Death as criterion is Jürgen Harten’s suggestion. Marlene Dumas. reproduced in Doubt and Belief.on art and war and terror Conrad: ‘The terrorist and the policeman both come from the same basket. p. 39. Roland Barthes. Was their leave-taking already in train? Another interpretation of personal circumstances is offered below. p. Notes. 13. 178. Kent. they are dated 1989. Cf. 43.com/dumas_ secondcoming. a study of Richter’s Ema (Nude on a Staircase) (1966). 1 October 1989. MA: Exact Change. ‘A note on Richter’s photographic models for October 18. p. 209. The delphic remarks on ‘personal circumstances’ are difficult to interpret. ‘Richter Scale’. p. many of them so blurred as to be almost illegible. Daily Practice. 9. 149. 52. Conversation with Prikker. Daily Practice. He plays his little game – so do you propagandists. New Yorker. 1 April 2002. The relationship with Genzken (a fellow artist who once made a work called Master Gerhard) was by all accounts a tempestuous one. . Gerhard Richter (Düsseldorf: Städtische Kunsthalle. This is ‘appropriation art’. 36. 33. for example. p. Not long after this. 2004). p. 30 32. Time Out. 18 October 1917. itself an allusion to Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase (1912). Storck. 190. in October 18. that is. 38. Richter’s relationship with Isa Genzken came to an end. 2000). 34. They are reproduced in that work. legality – counter moves in the same game. ‘The Romantic Intent for Abstraction’. 21. headlined ‘Anarchist Violent Criminals’. Daily Practice. 40. Revolution. after the paintings. trans. ‘Baader-Meinhof’. Stern (2004). Richard Howard. 41.

118. p. pp. Adorno. ‘Agony. p. pp. 133–69. 50. 199 and 227. 102. 23. This is Adorno’s formulation. Gillespie. 45. It is reproduced in Forty Years. 48. ‘Gerhard Richter’. Daily Practice. ‘Unbidden Memories’. see the interviews with Prikker and Jonas Storsve. The Guardian. 52. ‘The Tomb of Art and the Organon of Life: What Gerhard Richter Saw’. trans. Coffin Bearers is currently no. 2005). The Emigrants [1993] (London: Harvill. Michael Hulse. p. Ensslin quoted in Jillian Becker. Michael Fried’s phrase. 1991). 244. he says to Storsve. in Simone Weil and Rachel Bespaloff. pp. Susan H. p. p. 2006). 103–21. Cf. 203–4. 9. in Essays on Music (Berkeley. 31–49. pp. 264. ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ [1938]. trans. 2000). 1997). 2002). 2001). David Green. apropos Burial at Ornans (1849–50). 4–6. 179. 27 January 1983. p. ‘The Style of the Mythical Age’ [1947]. and Gregg M. Cf. Seamus Heaney. 158. Daily Practice. 47. 1990). because their source is the wounding of beauty (Perfection). The New York Times. p. 70. Horowitz. Hitler’s Children [1977] (London: Pickwick. 51. and history painting. in David Green and Peter Seddon (eds). These meditations are the starting point for Edward Said’s posthumously published reflections. 53. in 18 Oktober. 46. 31 . 12 June 2006. 564–7 and 569–82. The photographic model is in the Atlas.’ Notes. p. For his rejection of quotation. Baader-Meinhof. G. See Hermann Broch’s magisterial essay. pp. 49. Sebald. See Theodor W. ‘Green Man’. H. W. W. Conversation with Prikker. CA: University of California Press. Hustvedt. War and the Iliad (New York: New York Review. Daily Practice. On Late Style (London: Bloomsbury. pp. Daily Practice. p. 11 June 2006. desperation and helplessness cannot be represented except aesthetically. Auden. in Courbet’s Realism (Chicago. Notes. I am grateful to Adelheid Scholten for discussion of the title. pp. p. ‘From History Painting to the History of Painting and Back Again: Reflections on the work of Gerhard Richter’. 102. 54. in Sustaining Loss (Stanford. CA: Stanford University Press. History Painting Reassessed (Manchester: Manchester University Press. ‘and I don’t know much about it. Modern Painters 3 (2000). These propositions borrow from Stefan Germer. 109. ‘I’m not really very interested in history painting’. 347. in Collected Poems (London: Faber. 5 in the catalogue raisonné. Robert Storr offers another reading of this painting in Doubt and Belief. no. ‘Newspaper and Album Photos’ (1962–8). Meinhof quoted in Aust. 27 January 1983. 1989). IL: University of Chicago Press. 56.the artist and the terrorist 44. 55. ‘Late Style in Beethoven’ [1937] and ‘Alienated Masterpiece’ [1959].’ These claims should be treated with caution. p.

Notes. 18 March 1989. 195. Stammheim (London: Anthony d’Offay. 63. Flash Art 146 (1989). Alternatives 31 (2006). Die Tageszeitung. 140. 97. St Louis Museum of Art Bulletin 2 (1992). 30 December 1992. a limited edition in facsimile. 65. 203. p. pp. the paintings reproduced actual size. 60. pp. Daily Practice. January. ‘I ask myself.on art and war and terror 57. what does it mean?’. 58. 61. 99. The over-painted book is Stammheim: Der Prozeß gegen die Rote Armee Fraktion (Kiel: Neuer Malik. p. December. pp. 203–4. no. 25–44. 68. ‘Gerhard Richter: for me it is absolutely necessary that the Baader-Meinhof is a subject for art’. 61–2. 2–7 May 1989 (1991). Sophie Schwartz. 224. Gerhard Richter. Lisa Saltzman. 141. pp. p. See Daily Practice. ‘Gerhard Richter’s Stations of the Cross’. See Alex Danchev. for example. see. One page is illustrated in colour in October 18. p. p. ‘Gerhard Richter: Galerie Haus Esters. Daily Practice. p. 1998). pp. 69. Doubt and Belief. reproduced in Forty Years. Cf. reproduced in Forty Years. 251. These insights into Richter’s emotional or psychological state derive in particular from two lengthy interviews he gave to Michael Shapiro on 11 June and 19 November 1991. November (1989). his interview with Schütz. Michael Kimmelman. ‘“Like a Dog!” Humiliation and Shame in the War on Terror’. Six Photos. 67. Portraits (New York: Modern Library. 32 . Krefeld’. 73. 226–31. 8–28. 259–83. 59. pp. p. 208. Gregorio Magnani. pp. For Richter’s expression of ‘a certain sympathy for these people’. See Doubt and Belief. reproduced in Portraits. On the theme of martyr-portraits and the past. Blanket (1988). cf. 64. 1995). Contemporanea 3 (1989). 1986). 62. They may offer an alternative explanation of his ‘personal circumstances’. Oxford Art Journal 28 (2005). 66. Michael Shapiro. 264–5.

. my heart. John Berger1 War photography is the new war poetry. The dead and the wounded bleed black blood. attending the roll-call in his darkroom. the young bleed into the old.4 Men-at-arms are shot and shot again. the combat veteran who had his own demons to deal with. or. brief as photos. They are rung now by the photojournalist. who carried photographs of the dead in his wallet – the foot soldier photographer.. And our faces. The classic war photographs (photographs of the classic wars) are all in black-and-white. Men I’d seen killed came up out of the mist of war to join me.2 The Face. Men marching through the mist. The flower in the heart’s wallet.5 In the meantime the bodies pile up.. ‘What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?’2 The passing-bells are plangent still.’3 The photograph is a prophesy in reverse. Don McCullin is Wilfred Owen incarnate – Owen. they practise composition. I can remember the strange feelings I had when I was a kid looking at war 33 . Contortionists. We goggle at them and try not to look. as Roland Barthes divined. ‘It was like All Quiet on the Western Front. Senseless Kindness: War Photography and the Ethics of Responsibility When I open my wallet to show my papers pay money or check the time of a train I look at your face. the haunted witness. You know how it is. the force of what lives us outliving the mountain. you want to look and you don’t want to look. shot in black-and-white. the poison bleeds out. eventually.

. Look what I can do. for it was a blindfold look. I didn’t have a language for it then. The strategy is the original shock and awe. The darkroom is a memory place and a site of judgement. The original war poets did something very similar. and as searing. Wilfred Owen wrote to his mother of the ‘very strange look’ he had seen on the faces of soldiers at Étaples in 1917: an incomprehensible look. .’ Susan Sontag concluded. . Ethically. Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address spoke of ‘the mystic chords of memory. which a man will never see in England . making them lie anywhere and anyway it left them. Or the total impersonality of group death.on art and war and terror photographs in Life. as surely they will be. and tried to fathom what they found there. They have a point of view: they are against forgetting. by the better angels of our nature’. something wasn’t clear at all. like looking at fi rst porn. It will never be 34 . seeming to hold each other. They sought the whites of the eyes. Exemplary practitioners like Philip Jones Griffiths. If art is anamnesis. as the verbal one. .8 The visual lexicon of war is as well-learned. bodies wrenched too fast and violently into unbelievable contortion. It may have legitimized my fascination. ‘A photograph is not an opinion. Even when the picture was sharp and clearly defi ned. Simon Norfolk and Gilles Peress are documentarists who refuse to be confined by that designation. it was more terrible than terror. with an active conscience. or the poses and positions that always happened (one day I’d hear it called ‘response-to-impact’). Don McCullin is partially colour-blind. something repressed that monitored the images and withheld their essential information. letting me look for as long as I wanted. James Nachtwey.6 Like André Kertész. hanging over barbed wire or thrown promiscuously on top of other dead. These photographers are moralists at heart. or up into the trees like terminal acrobats. The classic war photographers have all been portrait photographers in extremis. without expression. It was not despair or terror. the great master of composition (and no mean war photographer). when again touched. stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave. I could have looked until my lamps went out and I still wouldn’t have accepted the connection between a detached leg and the rest of a body. they are artists too. like a dead rabbit’s. In the darkroom it is all day shades of grey. often touching. the ones that showed dead people or a lot of dead people lying close together in a field or a street. all the porn in the world. ‘Or is it?’ It may be a mission. to every heart and hearthstone . The concerned photographer bids to be a better angel.7 He and his confrères conjure with shadows. they raise the game. but I remember now the shame I felt.

Vietnam. The problem of the communicability or incommunicability of suffering is nested in atrocity of all sorts.the face Figure 4 Don McCullin. ‘Wasn’t it noticeable at the end of the war that men who returned from the 35 .9 There have been many attempts to describe that look. What have they seen? They cannot say. and passed on. suddenly materializing in a sun-drenched field that stank of dead cows or in a small mud-filled copse where all the branches had been broken by shellfi re. Shell-shocked US Marine. painted. And to describe it.10 The look is the look of those who have seen too much. and no actor will ever seize it. logged ‘that peculiar loneliness that comes from knowing and seeing a lot that you can’t do much about’. and it would never be the same. they had already survived their fi rst patrol. I think I must go back and be with them. 1968. John Le Carré. orders to kill. Richard Wollheim served in the sequel to Owen’s war. By the time I saw them. Huy. or their fi rst battle. wise in the ways of the world. They had a look of greyness around the eyes. who reappeared in France or Germany. He remembered young officers he had trained with and then lost sight of. They had received. and irreducibly in war.

David Douglas Duncan. ‘let this be my parting word. Their eyes all have the same look. The look is the look of the unsurpassable. They are nameless and numberless. says Szarkowski. The face is the face of battle.on art and war and terror battlefield had grown silent – not richer but poorer in communicable experience?’11 Walter Benjamin’s observation of the First World War could apply to any war. that what I have seen is 36 .15 These men are all face. They are new knowledge. whose speciality is not the battle but the banal. Winogrand. whose coverage of the Korean War for Life magazine was acclaimed by Edward Steichen as ‘the highest tide that combat photography has achieved’. wrote Tagore. ‘Photography is naively believed to reproduce visual reality’. ‘discovered that the best of his pictures were not illustrations of what he had known.’12 Such is the revelatory property of photography. that is to say. they are also naked. calls it the Thousand Yard Stare. The look was seized. Portraits from the battlefield are not so much taken as frozen. David Douglas Duncan’s formula is at the same time homely and profound. It is set out in his memoirs like a creed: Be close – Be fast – Be lucky Easy Always remember Be humane Never close-ups of the dead War is in the eyes17 The eyes make the face.13 So it is with the battlefield portraits. but were new knowledge’. They are not merely illustrations of what was already known. or denuded. apprehended. Janet Malcolm has observed. Taking a picture is a transformative act. Once it had been captured on film – once it had been exposed – it could be seen. What do they disclose? More than their mute subjects. ‘When I go from hence’. as if for the fi rst time. as if wrung from the very soul of the subject. ‘but in fact the images our eyes take in and the images the camera delivers are not the same.16 Perhaps in the end that is the most evocative description. It has been well encapsulated by John Szarkowski in a reflection on the influential American photographer Gary Winogrand.’14 These portraits lay claim to being the most immediate communication of incommunicable experience that we have. Sartre speaks of the nudity of the face on film. not by an actor. but by the camera. ‘The living do not give up their secrets with the candour of the dead. The photographer is normally said to take a portrait.

He is riveted by the scene. the mouth is weak. The skin is drawn. oblivious.19 Arthur Wellesley’s war was not quite that of the common-or-garden grunt. the look (or rather the condition) has been classified. and the humanity and vulnerability of the warrior: the servitude and grandeur of arms. Arthur Wellesley. and it does have a certain artistic pedigree. 1812). in red chalk over graphite. battle fatigue. The artist was Goya. They are fi xed.’ ‘I saw it. 37 . who knew more than enough of men and war. Around 1812. His Grace has the Thousand Yard Stare.21 Don McCullin made these mottos his own. the eyes are wide and dead. variously. but the artist caught something soldier-like in his expression.’ ‘This is the truth. 1st Duke of Wellington (c. Whether or not it will ever be painted.’ Every war photographer has Goya on his shoulder. unsurpassable. the world’s greatest war artist made a small portrait of the Duke of Wellington. on the far distance.20 Le grand diable de milord anglais is harrowed.the face Figure 5 Goya. as shell shock. In his autobiography he recalls coming on a father and two sons lying in a pool of their own blood in a stone house in Cyprus during the conflict of the 1960s. The mottos of his Disasters of War (1810–20) are legendary: ‘One cannot look at this. war neurosis and post-traumatic stress disorder.’18 The unsurpassable eludes definition. something to do with the monotony and melancholy of war.

I was. they instruct. a quotidian determination. Eduardo Galeano has written of Sebastião Salgado’s photographs of famine in the Sahel – another battlefield in another war – These photos watch you. Neither shell-shock nor starvation extinguishes human dignity. after all. ‘that is all they do. there is also a submerged strength. Every photograph is a certificate of presence. In the hands of a McCullin or a Salgado. as Barthes pointed out. But they look at you and silently they address you. photographs may be indictments. The faces in the photographs endure. James Nachtwey has said. 23 The shell-shocked and the starving have something to tell us. 22 The faces may not look at us directly. (The photographer is a medium. he is suddenly conscious of trespassing with his camera. If the face is a mask of fatalism. through which images are channelled. I realized later. They communicate through the photographs. what we are. but they address us unmistakably. My world is your world too. They seem more dead than alive. in the body counts and 38 .’ remarked John Updike of Disasters of War. I started composing my pictures in a very serious and dignified way. applying the composition to a story I was telling myself. and what we are capable of. Their photographs are a shocking reminder of the human beings stacked up in the meat markets and the mortuaries. trying to photograph in a way that Goya painted or did his war sketches. Their very presence attests to their ordeal. They tell us about themselves. These people fi x their gaze on you. ‘To bring human pain into depiction was a mighty deed.’25 But that is not all they do. McCullin is an ethical professional. The address is at once stoic and urgent. stroke by stroke. It was the fi rst time that I had pictured something of this immense significance and I felt as if I had a canvas in front of me and I was. But the survivors are content for him to do what he has to do. What is more. exotic phantoms flowering in a desert of thorns that isn’t of this world or of this time.26 Goya’s inheritors perform a similar feat.on art and war and terror as much for the tableau as the tragedy. my time is also your time. When I realised I had been given the go-ahead to photograph. the camera pricks the conscience. and who we may become. Photographs may be documents. Indomitability overrules passivity. wrote Auden.24) The first thing they register is: we are here. Still riveted when the rest of the family return. ‘They are and suffer’. they say. and they tell us about us – who we are.

This is the signature of the master photographer: ‘It allows his subjects to be themselves and more than themselves at once. ‘the face is a hand in search of recompense. For Levinas. what Levinas calls ‘the face’ is not to be understood literally. but poetically. The face tells true. but also revealing. on the other hand.’ At the same time he weighs our response. like body-builders. muscling the moral imagination. an open hand. The face asks something – demands something – something more than pity. That is. And that. these faces help us to recognise others. in its silence. Telling. about abnormality. ‘There are these two strange things in the face: its extreme frailty – the fact of being without means – and. ‘Are we allowed to view what is being exposed?’30 Levinas insists on going further. Levinas liked to say. about ostracized or clandestine worlds?’ What are we to do? We are to work out. and. in the process. Not just a response. the self. ‘I think that the beginning of language is in the face. the face is a demand – a demand.’31 We are hostage to the other. then. pity will not suffice. (And it is all “human”. or even metaphorically.’27 In other words.) But what are we to do with this knowledge – if indeed it is knowledge. raises the unspoken questions: ‘How can this be?’ or more transgressively. it needs something.the face the news bulletins. ourselves. It is going to ask you for something.’32 39 . As that oracular announcement might suggest. It is as if God spoke through the face. For the survivors of the unsurpassable. we are to build the best selves for ourselves that we can. Photographs may also be instruments of the imagination. it is a rhetorical figure. In considering the face. on which she brooded for so long: ‘A photograph may be telling us: this too exists. it calls you. For him. not a question – which calls for an ethical response.28 The look is blank. is not the only work it is doing. Strictly speaking. From these premises he develops a number of suggestive ideas. The pre-eminent philosopher of the face-as-demand is Emmanuel Levinas. Here is an answer to Susan Sontag’s final question about photography. ‘the face is a fundamental event’. It is also asking. there is authority. he weighs its resources. in his figurative fashion: ‘The tie with the other is knotted only as responsibility. Your reaction to the face is a response. In a certain way. for example. in one characteristic formulation. tools for morals. To say “Here I am”. Thus.’29 It has been suggested that the face in Salgado’s photographs. And that. say. but a responsibility. about. however.

Levinas was often pressed to explain precisely what he meant by the face. he would divagate. Throughout a long philosophical lifetime. as Levinas saw it. however. indeed. A line is formed at the counter. their raised shoulders with shoulder blades tense like springs. Don McCullin himself saw the back. à la Grossman. a line where one can see only the backs of others. in the battle for Hue. Life and Fate. He also saw the feet. in his rather abstruse usage. by Vasily Grossman (1905-64). the boots all at rakish angles. but he provided no defi nitive answer. In Levinas’s recounting: In Vassily Grossman’s Life and Fate the story is of families.’34 ‘The face. as photographs of war. Persons approaching the counter had a particular way of craning their neck and their back. A woman awaits her turn: ‘[She] had never thought that the human back could be so expressive. These are action photographs. clustered together as if for a group photograph – the naked and disarmed mortality plain on the soles of the feet. he furnished an illustration of extraordinary imaginative power. but also thinking. and scream. He would demur. the face is the back. is not the colour of the eyes. as US Marines. in Vietnam. or the nape of the neck. The illustration came from a monumental novel. all the naked and disarmed mortality of the other can be read from it. then. sob. photography is subversive not when it 40 . wives. In Life and Fate. feeling photographs. ‘but that all the weakness.on art and war and terror These brilliant excogitations leave open a crucial question. ‘Grossman isn’t saying that the nape is the face.’ The face may be a face – a human face – but it may also be another part of the body. which seemed to cry.’ he explained in one interview. and could convey states of mind in such a penetrating way. all the mortality. and became almost a key to his thought.’ In his own work Levinas underlined the moral of the story: ‘The face as the extreme precariousness of the other. a vignette that made a deep impression on him.’35 Following this example. and parents of political detainees travelling to the Lubyanka in Moscow for the latest news.33 Towards the end. or rather the boots. to be sure. hunched under fire. the shape of the nose. Peace as awakeness to the precariousness of the other. a kind of Second World War and Peace. ‘Ultimately. it becomes possible to see the face as Levinas saw it in a variety of war photographs not usually treated as portraits from the battlefield or. haul a wounded comrade to safety. the ruddiness of the cheek. he would discourse. of bodies heaped in a British Army Land Rover in Cyprus. perhaps even a body part.

They contain few people but many remains. or even stigmatizes. There is the face of the skeleton on the white sheet over grave number 327. The Citadel. some of his scenes look almost arcadian. inspecting the ground and the guilty secrets sown there. Peress traces the bones. with tripod. and the massacres. the most reliable witnesses to atrocity. the face abounds. Each in his own way conducts a kind of autopsy.38 At fi rst sight. US Marines dragging a wounded comrade to safety. when it thinks. Hue. using an old-fashioned wood and brass field camera of the kind familiar to war photographers of the nineteenth century.’36 The contemporary practitioners with the most Levinasian vision are Simon Norfolk and Gilles Peress. but when it is pensive. Abu Ghraib Cemetery.) Others pit beauty against incongruity. a tradition going back to Roger Fenton in the Crimea. frightens. according to Don McCullin. In these depopulated landscapes. Iraq. magnifying glass to focus and blanket over the head. These are the remains of Shalal Moussa Al-Zubeidi. Norfolk now identifies himself as a landscape photographer. The back. repels. from Amarra. He follows the wars. (Simon Norfolk has Claude Lorrain on his shoulder. 1968.the face Figure 6 Don McCullin. jailed in June 1993 for Islamic political 41 .37 Norfolk fi xes the scars. Simon Norfolk is the portraitist of the disappeared. Stupendous images form slowly on outsize negative plates.

39 These haunting images. Bosnia. Afghanistan.on art and war and terror Figure 7 Simon Norfolk. his relatives came to dig up the bones and move them to the family plot in Najaf. for the nature of its individual encounters. it is supposedly the one from which the Taliban hanged the US-sponsored opposition leader. Then there is the face in the empty noose hanging from a tree at Rishkar Camp. where Médecins sans Frontières once saw 700 prisoners.’ Life and Fate was for Levinas much more than an illustration. an Al Qaeda ‘facility’. in the terminology of the war on terror. Al-Zubeidi was killed a few months later. his body was buried in a secret part of the cemetery in a numbered grave. activity. Bratunac Stadium. Abdul Haq. are meditations on the ethics of response and responsibility. It was both a confirmation and a revelation. and a UNHCR team in a nearby hotel reported hearing gunshots all night from the direction of the stadium. Ten years on. And there is the face in the gibbet-like basketball hoop in Bratunac Stadium. Bosnia. 2005. ‘chronotopia’ as the photographer calls them.40 They are Simon Norfolk’s way of saying ‘Here I am. and above all for the message at its moral centre 42 . The noose was used for punishment beatings.

Undaunted. No other work. the notorious Mikhail Suslov. in 1988 – too late for Vasily Grossman. the KGB raided his apartment and confiscated not only the manuscript but also the carbon paper and the typewriter ribbons. Andrei Sakharov and Yelena Bonner. The book itself was arrested. Grossman had few illusions about the Communist system. The life and fate of the book was a tormented one. Grossman continued to petition for his work to be published: ‘There is no sense or truth in my present position’. For I wrote it. For Grossman. with the help of the most eminent microfilmers in all Russia. he wrote to Krushchev. I ask for freedom for my book. and smuggled out to the West by the dissident writer Vladimir Voinovich. borrowed from Osip Mandelstam. but this was at the height of the Krushchev ‘thaw’ and he clearly believed that the novel was publishable. It was eventually published. and highly appropriate: The wolfhound century leaps at my shoulders. In the fullness of time he was summoned to an audience with the chief ideologue of the Central Committee. and Grossman an underestimated author. who coolly informed him that the book could not be published for another 200 years. He was. Grossman submitted the manuscript to the Soviet authorities in 1960. was ever considered so dangerous. not completely bereft. and finally in Russian.’ he said. ‘They strangled me in a dark corner.43 That phrase was a favourite of his.41 After working on it for the better part of ten years. He had taken the precaution of making two clandestine copies of the manuscript. What he had written was in many ways heretical. against the advice of his closest friends. While this history of suppression and persecution may have boosted its reputation among the cognoscenti. . in the last days of the USSR. except for The Gulag Archipelago. in Switzerland in 1980. however.’42 He received no reply. but they had disappeared. At length one of them was found and microfilmed. and I have not repudiated it and am not repudiating it . Thanks largely to the historian Antony Beevor. in French. his remarkable achievement as a war correspondent and witness of ‘the wolfhound century’ has latterly gained or regained some currency. 43 . but in this he was sadly mistaken. this was devastating (regardless of the implicit endorsement of the novel’s significance). as the author said. then in English in the United Kingdom and the United States in 1985. But I am no wolf by blood. Life and Fate remains an under-recognised masterpiece.the face – its ethics. ‘in my physical freedom while the book to which I dedicated my life is in prison. .

perished in a pit. to imagine how you died. He heard about Babi Yar. how you walked to meet your death. The other photograph is from another man’s wallet.’47 His mouthpiece in Life and Fate is IkonnikovMorzh. after his own death. an envelope was found among his papers.46 She is small. Yekaterina Savelievna. it seems. his homeland. In Berdichev. the eyes are black and dull. the face is worn. He was the last person to see you. A terrifying and strange beauty: the light pink sky is looking through thousands and thousands of empty windows and roofs. or maybe hundreds of times. together with two photographs. he learned the gruesome details of the death of his mother and other relatives. as if not long for this frame but overdue for another – a painting by Gerhard Richter. Twenty years later. ‘I tried to imagine the person who killed you. he failed. Grossman was a moralist in Red Army clothing. In it were two letters he had written to his dead mother. in September 1941. who witnessed the massacre at Berdichev 44 . We who come after him strain to catch it in her passport photograph. the Red Army newspaper. his birthplace. ‘I have tried. dozens. Passport holder 35116 has seen enough already. He knew ‘the usual smell of the front line – a cross between a morgue and a blacksmith’s’. She is slightly blurred and a little off-centre. like a convict or a detainee. he lived more of the war of annihilation on the Eastern Front than most. he learned.000 Jews were slaughtered by an SS Special Commando and two police battalions. perhaps. outside Kiev. In a deathly Stalingrad he noted nature like a poet in the trenches: ‘Sunset over a square. that their Ukrainian neighbours had collaborated with a will in the round-up. in 1950 and 1961. where 100. in 1943. Her head is heavy. in a large pit. a former Tolstoyan.’ he wrote to her in the earlier letter. To his everlasting sorrow. Grossman’s mother. naked.on art and war and terror ‘But this time was his own time’. One photograph was truly the flower in the heart’s wallet: it shows him with his mother when he was still a child.’45 What he tried to imagine was her face – her look. in a mass execution at around the same time. conveniently stationed on the lip of a ravine. He witnessed the battle of Stalingrad – not so much a battle as an epic siege-offensive – and then joined the first Red Army units to liberate the Ukraine.’44 As a correspondent in uniform for Red Star. Taken by Grossman from a dead SS officer. too. A huge poster painted in vulgar colours: “The radiant way”. Grossman added autobiographically: ‘he lived in it and would be bound to it even after his death. it shows hundreds of dead women and girls. dwarfed by the number plate over her head.

in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. His spirit has rebelled. and a stray Italian priest. or to refuse. He has seen what the century has to offer. and soon enough it becomes clear that what they are constructing is a gas chamber. ‘and that you yourself are only an innocent slave. together with other Russian soldiers and commissars. even though he would go to bed without taking off his rain-soaked clothes. They looked on him as a holy fool and treated him with a mixture of disgust and pity. he reaches out and grasps the bare foot of the priest. For he is resolute. he tells the assembled company in the hut. it turns out.’ [‘What am I to do. For Ikonnikov this realisation triggers a crisis of conscience posed as an agonising dilemma – to carry on working.’ as Conrad took care to remind us. It is construction work. He slept in the worst place in the whole hut: by the main door. I’m helping to build an extermination camp. despite his anguish. The Russian prisoners are set to do some hard labour in the marshland not far from the camp. and condemn himself to death? One day. father? We are working in an extermination camp. I’m responsible before the people who 45 .50 All of Europe contributes to Ikonnikov’s life and death and utterance. He has seen the face in the pit. He never once caught a cold. where there was a freezing draught and where the huge latrine-pail or parasha had once stood. mio padre? Nous travaillons dans una Vernichtungslager. ‘a strange man who could have been any age at all’. is at the same time an oddity and a recognisable character. Ikonnikov.48 It is the holy fool who voices the ethics of Life and Fate. He has seen the killing squads. He was endowed with the extraordinary powers of endurance characteristic of madmen and simpletons. He has seen the purges and the terror. sitting on the second tier of bunks in their hut. and in scrambled French. and to his salvation. in his torment. He has seen the great hunger. Kurtz had given his answer: ‘Exterminate all the brutes!’ That answer in its chilling simplicity tickles the ear of any exterminator.the face (unnamed in the novel) and now finds himself in a German concentration camp. ‘It’s wrong to make out that only the people in power are guilty’. He has poured the concrete for the gas chamber. Fifty years before. The other Russians referred to him as ‘the old parachutist’.’]49 The question hangs in the air of the twentieth century. And surely only the voice of a madman could be so clear and ringing. ‘All of Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz. and helping. German and Italian asks this anguished question: ‘Que dois-je fais.

There is a deep and undeniable sadness in all this: whenever we see the dawn of an eternal good that will never be overcome by evil – an evil that is itself eternal but will never succeed in overcoming good – whenever we see this dawn. 53 In them beats the ethical heart of the work. Ikonnikov does not believe in Good. 46 . times when people were tossed about like branches in the wind. the kindness of a peasant hiding a Jew in his loft. je dirai non!’51 Ikonnikov is taken away for interrogation. . the kindness of a soldier allowing a wounded enemy to drink from his water-flask. for his edification. but his eloquence is not stilled by his disappearance. mio padre. ‘Ikonnikov’s scribblings’ are reproduced in full in the novel. never to return. 52 Ikonnikov has been writing for himself. an Old Bolshevik. . fi lling ditches and gullies like stones in an avalanche – even then this senseless. and possibly for his bunkmate and ideological foil Mostovskoy. but to his wife and mother. But I’m free. He clings instead to what is human in human beings. there is everyday human kindness. Like Kurtz. to the human qualities that persist ‘even on the edge of the grave. Or rather he has lost one faith and found another. Kurtz has been writing a report for the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs. and ours. through all the mad acts carried out in the name of Universal Good and the glory of States. even at the door of the gas chamber’. an unwitnessed kindness. I can say “No!” What power can stop me if I have the strength not to be afraid of extinction? I will say “No!” Je dirai non.on art and war and terror are to be gassed. In keeping with Conrad’s voracious irony. not to his ideological comrades. ‘for its future guidance’. He believes in human kindness. The kindness of an old woman carrying a piece of bread to a prisoner. The private kindness of one individual towards another. Something we could call senseless kindness. a petty. and God is of no avail. the blood of old people and children is always shed. For Ikonnikov the battle of good and evil is a delusion. where they take up nearly a whole chapter. he leaves a kind of testament. the kindness of youth towards age. The holy fool has lost his faith. The kindness of a prison guard who risks his own liberty to pass on letters written by a prisoner. Yes. Even at the most terrible times. pathetic kindness remained scattered throughout life like atoms of radium. as well as this terrible Good with a capital ‘G’. thoughtless kindness. A kindness outside any system of social or religious good .

If This Is a Man. The prophets. There are few who have discharged that onerous task with such a powerful combination of gravity and veracity. The ethic adumbrated here. there is also senseless kindness. eventually. from the concrete of the gas chamber. as Tony Judt has remarked. has a long reach. Tzvetan Todorov. The book emerged inconspicuously. The Drowned and the Saved (fi rst published in English in 1988). religious teachers. When asked about the rejection of If This Is a Man. In fact. Grossman felt a duty to speak on behalf of the dead. An English translation appeared in 1960. in 1958. the more helpless it may seem. Apparently Levi’s brand of testimony was not to the public taste. The more stupid. There and elsewhere. ‘on behalf of those who lie in the earth’. if in fact he would have accepted that speaking for the dead was where his duty lay. blind love is man’s meaning. was not entirely dissimilar to Grossman’s. Levi ascribed it laconically to ‘an inattentive reader’. Only after his death in 1987 did he begin to gain recognition in France. Many more were lost in a great flood. Primo Levi did not become Primo Levi until the success of The Periodic Table (fi rst published in English in 1984) some twenty years later. is the secret of its immortality. the following year. Einaudi recanted. Primo Levi (a fellow chemist) is one. 47 . I have seen that it is not man who is impotent in the struggle against evil. of senseless kindness. It had a tremendous impact on Emmanuel Levinas. many of them were remaindered. the US edition entitled Survival in Auschwitz. Evil is impotent before it. This dumb. Sales were meagre. The powerlessness of kindness. It can never be conquered. herself a member of a prominent Jewish family from Turin. Few copies were printed. reformers.the face My faith has been tempered in Hell. and embodied in Life and Fate. as he put it. the more senseless. social and political leaders are impotent before it.54 If there is lyric poetry after Auschwitz. The life and fate of his first book. the vaster it is. My faith has emerged from the flames of the crematoria. When Levi took it to the prestigious Italian publisher Einaudi in 1946 it was rejected out of hand by the publisher’s reader (Natalia Ginzburg. perhaps. but the power of evil that is impotent in the struggle against man. Even then the translation was in every sense incomplete. near-neighbours of the author). and on another influential inquirer into the human potential for moral life in our time. from a small press. Todorov has become the leading exponent of Grossman’s ideas and importance in the age of the gulag and the Vernichtungslager. which captures the subject but misses the point. full realisation of the importance of his fi rst book had to await the appearance of his last.

Levi and Grossman are in the same key. in Ikonnikov’s idiom. This is an uncomfortable notion of which I have become conscious little by little. there is a certain dissonance. If This Is a Man. one might say.57 Their ordinariness consists in such unheroic acts as caring. They have been appositely labelled ‘ordinary virtues’. Survival is a life sentence. The literary quality of Levi’s writing 48 . Ethically. over many years. the divine spark dead within them. with head dropped and shoulders curved. private. Those who did so. His guilt was greater.58 Artistically.’ They crowd my memory with their faceless presences. One hesitates to call them living: one hesitates to call their death death. on whose face and in whose eyes not a trace of a thought is to be seen. already too empty to really suffer. slowly. ‘who march and labour in silence. The ethics to be extracted from Primo Levi’s writing have some affinity with the ethics of Life and Fate. and ordinary virtues consort well with senseless kindness. I would choose this image which is familiar to me: an emaciated man. the submerged.on art and war and terror He would surely have appreciated the irony that The Drowned and the Saved would be published posthumously. those who saw the Gorgon. and. In both cases they begin at home. as they are too tired to understand.55 ‘Those who saw the Gorgon’: is this the look. but they are the ‘Muslims’. recognising and being recognised. the survivors. They are the rule. His own reflection is definitive: I must repeat: we. and small-scale – petty. have not returned to tell about it or have returned mute. Ordinariness is a good match for senselessness. Levi was drowned. are not the true witnesses. looking: seeing and being seen. and if I could enclose all the evil of our time in one image. we are the exception. they are essentially individual. in the face of which they have no fear. We survivors are not only an exiguous but also an anomalous minority: we are those who by their prevarications or abilities or good luck did not touch bottom. the complete witnesses. Primo Levi was a survivor. thoughtless and unwitnessed. 56 On the face of the Muselmann the ‘Thousand Yard Stare’ has turned to stone. If Grossman was strangled. at its most abject? Levi is referring to the so-called Muselmänner (‘Muslims’). indeed. reading the memoirs of others and reading mine at a distance of years. the ones whose deposition would have a general significance. the fundamental demand articulated in the title of Levi’s book. the nonmen.

followed by a non-fiction article plainly titled ‘The Killing of Jews in Berdichev’. struggle for his right to be pure and kind. he has no peer. Grossman had a consuming personal interest in these events and these deaths. moreover.’ he said to himself. published in the journal Znamya in November 1944 and later used in evidence at the Nuremberg trials.’ Grossman blows hot by comparison. The distinction of his work lies in its precision and concision.’60 Senseless kindness may be rooted in personal experience.’ he wrote to her on the twentieth anniversary of her death. to borrow his own words. your care for people. he mustn’t be afraid even of death. ‘I cried over your letters because you are in them. year out. your fairness. not only to imagine her. many individual chapters of the novel are like Chekhov short stories. coupled with moral clarity. He must do this with humility. your purity. never finished. it is derived from Chekhov. Insofar as the idea is derived from any authority. despite its Tolstoyan scale and structure. Life and Fate is a surprisingly Chekhovian work. ‘with your kindness.’ Her example.the face is concealed in a scientist’s report. And if it came to it. The tone is cool. Grossman himself 49 . your generosity. your wonderful mind. The lesson is written into the conclusion of Life and Fate. but for compelling immediacy. She was his model of human kindness. bitter life. His article. your bitter. a sober but stomach-turning reconstruction based on interviews with local Polish peasants and about forty survivors. ‘The Hell of Treblinka’. but it is something more than a mother fi xation. year in. Much of it can be read as a series of miniatures.59 Of course. As its English translator Robert Chandler has pointed out. Making the best selves for ourselves that we can is not a project for the faint-hearted. . ‘Ukraine without Jews’. There seems little doubt that his sense of duty was in part filial – towards his mother – fed by a sense of guilt about his failure. he must struggle to be a man. . ‘Well then. we’ll see. your love for me. . was the first in any language about a Nazi death camp. in terms reminiscent of Primo Levi: Every hour. even then he must remain a man. every day. Your strength. ‘Maybe I do have enough strength. . taught him an important lesson: moral muscle-building is an arduous process. together with a litany for the dead. he had published a detailed fictionalised account of the events leading up to the massacre of several hundred Jews in an unnamed town resembling Berdichev. A year before. Mother . never complete. and its scrupulous restraint: ‘Death begins with the shoes . but to save her.

constant reading.61 One of the characters in Life and Fate offers a paean of praise to Chekhov as cultured person: He said – and no one had said this before. workers . and therefore pay their debts. No less an authority than Shakespeare. Do you understand? Human beings! . . Yet there were surely other sources of inspiration available to him. They have not shallow vanity . They develop aesthetic feeling in themselves . This is what cultured people are like. . He said that fi rst of all we are human beings – and only secondly are we bishops. . satisfy the following conditions’. . . They respect human personality. not even Tolstoy – that fi rst and foremost we are all of us human beings. and therefore they are always kind. In the matter of moral muscle-building. He and his co-adjutors also procured the carefully 50 . 4. If they have talent they respect it . In the interests of that war the US Secretary of Defense personally authorised and monitored the ‘special interrogation plan’ for certain high-value detainees. 3. Chekhov’s wonderful letter to his older brother Nikolai offers a template that might well have appealed to the author of Life and Fate. and ready to give in to others . let’s be kind and attentive to the individual man – whether he’s a bishop. an industrial magnate. for example. a peasant. study. He held the leash. in my opinion. 1. They do not disparage themselves to rouse compassion .on art and war and terror thought that Chekhov’s stories can be read as a single epic. . What is needed is constant work. he admonished. The History of King Lear. compassion and love for the individual – or we’ll never get anywhere. Chekhov said: let’s put God – and all these grand progressive ideas – to one side. . and dread lying like fi re . They have sympathy not for beggars and cats alone . . . 5. . and the debt is clear. Tartars. . Let’s begin with respect. polite. 6. . And so on. will. . . In order to be cultured and not to stand below the level of your surroundings it is not enough to have read The Pickwick Papers and learn a monologue from Faust.62 Chekhov was Grossman’s hero. the still unrealized democracy of the Russian people. gentle. ‘Cultured people must. Let’s begin with man. day and night. They respect the property of others. 7. . is a catalogue of torture and abuse and arrogance and weasel words of self-exculpation which would do credit to the chief architects of the war on terror. written four centuries ago. Russians. That’s democracy. 8. shopkeepers. as it were. . . while the dogs of war did their work. 2. . a convict in the Sakhalin Islands or a waiter in a restaurant. They are sincere.

’ The harm is done. Master and servant draw their swords and fight.’ On Regan: ‘If she live long / And in the end meet the old course of death / 51 . sadism. First. ‘bring him before us. mortally wounded. they offer some reflections on the action they have just witnessed. writes Stephen Greenblatt. t’other. signals his new allegiance: ‘O. In King Lear. As the pitiless Regan urges him to finish the job (‘One side will mock another. they authorise the seizure of the Earl of Gloucester as a traitor. and yet not quite over. The Duke of Cornwall and his wife Regan. running him through from behind. and let him smell / His way to Dover. too’).’64 The regrettable excesses are truly horrific. suspend all customary relations and operate something very like a latter-day state of exception. the well-ordered world has been turned upside down. Gloucester is interrogated. There follows an exchange between two other servants. ripostes: ‘Lest it see more. prevent it. Regan snatches up another sword and rushes the upstart. the king’s daughter. The scene is over. Though they are guests in his house. The dying servant. and public relations. Out. To Regan’s insistent questioning about why he has sent the king to Dover.the face drafted legal extenuations. as if Cornwall were already thinking about how he will excuse the fact that there were certain regrettable excesses in his otherwise legal treatment of the prisoner. yet our power Shall do a curtsy to our wrath.’ Cornwall and Regan are astounded. ‘is its nauseating blend of legalism. the ruler-perpetrators go even further: they conduct the interrogation themselves. / But better service have I never done you / Than now to bid you hold.’ Cornwall. I am slain. one of Cornwall’s servants intervenes: ‘Hold your hand. commands Cornwall./ I have served you ever since I was a child. On Cornwall: ‘I’ll never care what wickedness I do / If this man come to good.’ Without further ado. vile jelly!’ The blind Gloucester is driven out of his own house with Regan’s cruel words to hound him: ‘Go thrust him out at gates. he replies: ‘Because I would not see thy cruel nails / Pluck out his poor old eyes.63 ‘What is at once horrible and familiar about this declaration’.’ Though we may not pass upon his life Without the form of justice. Cornwall puts out one of Gloucester’s eyes. ‘Pinion him like a thief’. taunted and tortured. which men May blame but not control. addressing himself now to Gloucester. my lord. my lord! Yet have you one eye left / To see some mischief on him.

The first servant’s selfless intervention in the blinding is quixotic indeed. ‘O my good lord / I have been your tenant and your father’s tenant / This fourscore . John Berger. he would give a standard answer. p.’67 Notes 1. good friend. One of the Earl’s old tenants is glad to be his guide.’ Then they turn practical. Yet even at the edge of the grave there is hope.’ he would say. His roguish madness / Allows itself to anything. Brief as Photos (London: Bloomsbury. / Thee they may hurt. In a world where kindness is not only senseless but treasonous. he responds. they do everyday human kindness. Flax and whites of eggs are the very definition of petty kindness reduced to its constituent properties – kindness expressed almost as organic elements – kindness to warm the heart of any chemist. they see more clearly. . and responsibility. The two other servants. When the photographer Gary Winogrand was asked a stock question about his photographs.’ In a celebrated essay on ‘the avoidance of love’ in King Lear. ‘but.on art and war and terror Women will all turn monsters. 52 .’ But the eyeless face in its extreme precariousness demands a different response. / Thy comforts can do me no good at all.’ And some salve: ‘Go thou. morally. it was a short lesson in the ethics of response. Stanley Cavell has argued that ‘the isolation and avoidance of eyes is what the obsessive sight imagery of the play underlines’. ‘Alack. 5. My Heart. and gets him killed. be gone. anxious not to expose him to danger: ‘Away. 2005). too. ‘What is this supposed to mean?’. ‘you cannot see your way.66 Avoiding the eyes of another is excruciatingly imagined. I’ll fetch some flax and whites of eggs / To apply to his bleeding face. are notably wiser than their masters. sir’. small acts of senseless kindness punctuate the mayhem. as Stephen Greenblatt observes. And our Faces. ‘They too have no large political agenda or ambition’. The answer was felt by some to be an evasion. if not exactly wise fools. ‘The photograph is not my problem. and the senseless old man has recognised it. get thee away. they practise Ikonnikov’s ethics. they demonstrate what is human in human beings.’65 Practically.’ Gloucester cuts him short. like their slain fellow. Not everyone turns away. They do not do Good. On the contrary. . ‘it’s yours. they express a fundamentally ethical attitude to authority. Gloucester needs a guide: ‘Let’s follow the old Earl and get the bedlam / To lead him where he would. Now heaven help him!’ Throughout this high drama.

1978). 8. 5. 5 March 2005. 16. 91. 6. p. in David Douglas Duncan. 102–3. Winogrand: Figments From The Real World (New York: MoMA. p. too. 12. For a selection of Kertész’s photographs from the Eastern Front in the First World War. See Roland Barthes. Emmanuel Levinas. 1996). Basic Philosophical Writings (Bloomington. Raymond Rosenthal. 40. ‘Red Hussar Going to War’ (1919). 2003). trans. One dissenter from the general thesis of incommunicability is Primo Levi. 18. 2003). p. 44. 87. US Marines. Richard Howard. obituary of the Reverend Vivian Green (a model for his fictional hero George Smiley). ch. Naktong Perimeter. p. Jean-Paul Sartre. Korea (1950). 1963). Bleed (Manchester: Dewi Lewis. 4.’ Quoted in David Travis. trans. Letter of 31 December 1917. p. p. Photo 53 . New York Review of Books. Collected Letters (Oxford: Oxford University Press. John Le Carré. 521. see André Kertész: The Early Years (New York: Norton. 23 (his emphasis). p. Simon Norfolk is alive to this notion in his book on Bosnia. 2005). MA: Harvard University Press. vol. I borrow from Christopher Logue. Janet Malcolm. his portrait of Captain Ike Fenton.the face 2. p. See. 90. Germs (London: Waywiser. ‘Theatre and Cinema’ [1973]. Richard Wollheim. Szarkowski’s formulation has its origins in a remark of Winogrand’s: ‘The photograph isn’t what was photographed. ‘the nudity of pure exposure’. trans. for example. 4. Quoted in The Eye of War (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. III (Cambridge. 1995). All Day Permanent Red (London: Faber. 2004). Selected Writings. speaks of the nudity of the face in this context. Dispatches (London: Pan. The Guardian. 2000). Lord Acton. 1960). At the Edge of the Light (Boston. in Collected Poems (London: Chatto & Windus. 11. ‘The Work of Gary Winogrand’. p. 167. p. John Szarkowski. MA: Godine. in homage. Robin Buss. It’s something else. The Drowned and the Saved (New York: Vintage. 2002). 2003). Peter Atterton and Simon Critchley. 13. trans. is analysed by John Berger in Another Way of Telling (New York: Vintage. Camera Lucida (London: Vintage. 7. 143–4. ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ [1917]. in ‘Peace and Proximity’ [1984]. Wilfred Owen. It’s a new fact. 1989). pp. 2000). 2005). 14. 225. Modern Times (London: Penguin. Harry Zohn. 200. 1967). Walter Benjamin. 9. IN: Indiana University Press. Michael Herr. pp. 15. 1988). ‘The Storyteller’ [1936]. One of the best. ‘Burdock’. 3. ‘The Study of History’. 10. Lectures on Modern History (London: Fontana. 14 August 2008. trans.

1977). trans. p. 23. 278–9. Irony. Provocation. 174–5. Due Considerations (London: Hamilton. p. ‘In Time of War’ [1939]. 311–16). 2004). Levi Strauss. Hughes also makes stylistic comparisons between The Second of May. 1974). See the woman of Tanut. p. 1921). pp. John Updike. 21. ‘Paradox of Mortality’. and Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1989). 24. p. 26. p. Auden. David Levi Strauss. p. 2003). 133. Mali (1985). on Salgado. in Sebastião Salgado. ‘War Stories’. 1996). Richard Rorty. 2002). 29. Goya (London: Harvill. 70. Mark Fried. ‘The Paradox of Mortality: an interview with Emmanuel Levinas’ [1986]. W. ‘Photography: A Little Summa’ [2003]. his brief reflection on composing or contriving a kind of real life still life (p. 54 17. 47. p. Cf. in An Uncertain Grace (New York: Aperture. 258.hrc.on art and war and terror Nomad (New York: Norton. 2008). Andrew Benjamin and Tamra Wright. 2003). ‘Salgado’. Sahel. Susan Sontag. Alfred de Vigny. p. 20. The Provocation of Levinas (London: Routledge. Unreasonable Behaviour (London: Vintage. 25. Tamra Wright et al.utexas. 31. Jon Stallworthy. 97. p. 127. Journal of Military History 69 (2005).. 27. p. 33. ‘A dead North Vietnamese soldier and his plundered belongings’ (1968). a favourite passage of Wilfred Owen’s. 1808 (1808–14) and The Third of May. 22. 30. p. Rabindranath Tagore. Eduardo Galeano. ‘Epiphany of the Other’. Sahel (Berkeley. War Photographer (2001). trans. Cf. 28. See Alex Danchev. ‘Sahel: Man in Distress’. Gitanjali (London: Macmillan. At The Same Time (London: Hamilton. Between the Eyes. Roger Gard. The English Auden (London: Faber. Cf. or the child in the refugee camp of Wad Sherifay. 42. 19. x. He can be observed wrestling with it throughout Emmanuel Levinas. 168–9. . said Henri Cartier-Bresson. p. Cf. p. trans. ‘The Documentary Debate’. Robert Hughes. a reference to one of his most famous images. 1808 (1814) and war photographs (pp. Servitude and Grandeur of Arms [1835] (London: Penguin. Orville Schell. Between the Eyes (New York: Aperture. 169. Sudan (1985). 88. 2007). 102). 1990). 80. Interview in Christian Frei’s documentary. in tribute to his Magnum comrade. 32. Contingency. pp. H. ‘Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths’. 215. 7.edu/exhibitions/online/ddd/gallery/ war. 2003). p. 267. A selection of his work can be viewed at: www. p. Don McCullin. Photo Nomad. 1988). CA: University of California Press. pp. Wilfred Owen (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 151. 18.

a place that allows movement through space and time simultaneously. p. 126. Simon Norfolk. respectively. 260. p. This is Levinas’s translation from the Russian original. The same chapter (part 3. Hue’ (1968) and ‘Cyprus’ (1964). A selection of Peress’s work can be viewed on the Magnum Agency website at: www.com. For Most Of It I have No Words and Afghanistan (Manchester: Dewi Lewis. The Graves (New York: Scalo. Russian-Jewish Literature and Identity (Philadelphia: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1992). 201. Camera Lucida. The Radiant Way (1940) was a fi lm by Aleksandrov.com. p. 45. . for example.simonnorfolk.p. pp. 2004). Grossman himself was interrogated in the Lubyanka in 1938. See Life and Fate. Granta 96 (2006). he subsequently edited and translated a collection of these. The images referred to here. ‘Chronotope’ is Mikhail Bakhtin’s coinage. Vassily Grossman. See. 167. Writer at War. pp. Precarious Life (London: Verso. with Luba Vinogradova. p. See. which he seems to have read in 1983–4. 267. ‘Peace and Proximity’. under ‘Scenes from a Liberated Iraq’ and ‘Bosnia’. and also with material from Grossman’s original notes and papers. Gilles Peress and Eric Stover. 2005). p. a collection of essays and interviews. 38. The images of the skeleton and the basketball hoop are at: www. Quoted in Alice Nakhimovsky. Smith and Barbara Harshav.com. the noose is reproduced in Afghanistan. pp. 1998 and 2002). See Norfolk. Entre Nous. and Justice’ [1998]. Writer at War. ch. Utopia. 95–132. 43. 23) contains at least three encounters with the face – the human face – in which the look of the other is vividly evoked: for example. n. 685). 1998). 47. 55 34. pp. Michael B. 42. 36. captioned simply ‘The Citadel. 118 and 96–7. p. simonnorfolk. trans. vii–xxvi. xii. 35. 115. p.magnumphotos. 40. 2006).the face trans. Marilyn Butler. Reproduced in Writer at War. ‘The Other. Entre Nous (London: Continuum. for example. 683. 167. p. A selection of Norfolk’s work can be viewed on his website at: www. She is immortalised in Life and Fate as Anna Shtrum. are reproduced in McCullin. 2006). 38 (his emphasis). Cf. ‘the glance of a Chekist’ (p. Beevor’s Stalingrad (1998) is expertly thickened with Life and Fate. Life and Fate. xv. ‘Speaking for Those Who Lie in the Earth’. displaying the ‘layeredness’ of time and disinterring the shards of the past. 39. Cf. 37. and ‘Military Landscapes’. ‘Peace and Proximity’. Life and Fate (New York: NYRB. 46. Its story is well told in Robert Chandler’s new introduction to the work. p. 44. 41. ‘Chronotopia’. Robert Chandler. in Afghanistan. A Writer at War (London: Harvill.

of which King Leopold II of Belgium was president.on art and war and terror 48. perspective. 53. it was a non-face or ‘anti-face’. 1996). the chapter he considered the most important in The Drowned and the Saved. 2001). who also picks up the remark about the Gorgon. in Janet Malcolm. trans. Life and Fate. Life and Fate. and is presented as an exemplary figure in his own right in the fin-desiècle ‘lessons from the twentieth century’. 60. The Drowned and the Saved. and the life of the mind. 96. 406–7. The ISSSC is a fiction. 2003). 53–4. See Tzvetan Todorov. common sense and friendship. 2003). The figure of the Muselmann is discussed in Giorgio Agamben. pp. 2002). trans. pp. The list is fascinating but diverse. Robert Gordon offers a further elaboration. 1987). 54. Du masque au visage (Paris: Flammarion. 1995). trans. Stheno and Euryale. as Agamben says. 56. Heart of Darkness. Ikonnikov summarises what he has seen on pp. If This Is a Man (London: Sphere. 155. Anton to Nikolai Chekhov. 261. In Primo Levi’s Ordinary Virtues (Oxford: Oxford University Press. March 1886. pp. 98–100. caring (or concern). though possibly an allusion to the International Association for the Exploring and Civilizing of Africa. 56 . 304. Remnants of Auschwitz (New York: Zone. pp. there were three Gorgons: Medusa. Reading Chekhov (London: Granta. trans. 154–5. pp. Grossman is fundamental to his reflections on moral life in the camps. It includes looking. play. memory. 841. 50. rhetorical constraint. 256–9 and 281–306. Primo Levi. Life and Fate. 51. p. Hope and Memory (London: Atlantic. See especially pp. especially pp. ch. Daniel Heller-Roazen. 57. Gordon’s treatment is indebted to ‘the affi rmation of ordinary life’ in Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self (1992). 52. See Joseph Conrad. deriving thirteen (a rather arbitrary number) from Levi’s œuvre. ‘The Killing of Jews in Berdichev’ and ‘The Hell of Treblinka’ are published in extenso in Writer at War. 48–73. Levi. Stuart Woolf. 58. p. p. Life and Fate. In classical mythology. Levi’s refusal of the stark opposition of good and evil fi nds expression in ‘The Grey Zone’. 61. the face of the Gorgon was ‘prohibited’. pp. Facing the Extreme (New York: Holt. 59. 112–18. 55. 26–7. 304–5. For this reason. David Bellos. pp. p. p. Writer at War. The terminology here is borrowed from Françoise Frontisi-Ducroux. 83–4. pp. Their glance turned their victims to stone. 15). In Facing the Extreme Todorov proposes three categories of ordinary virtues: dignity (or self-respect). 49. Life and Fate. Arthur Denner and Abigail Pollack. Heart of Darkness [1902] (Oxford: World’s Classics. 404–10 (part 2. 2002).

‘Shakespeare’. 1988). Subsequent citations come from the end of this scene and the beginning of the next. On the architects of the war on terror. ‘Shakespeare and the Uses of Power’. I follow Greenblatt’s analysis of the ethics on display. IL: University of Chicago Press. ‘“Like a Dog!” Humiliation and Shame in the War on Terror’. in Heather Dubrow and Richard Strier (eds). 92. Life and Fate. see Alex Danchev. 64. ‘The Avoidance of Love: A Reading of King Lear’ [1969]. 66. in Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 63. 283.the face 62. 46. The Historical Renaissance (Chicago. Alternatives 31 (2006). pp. New York Review of Books. Stephen Greenblatt. At the Edge of the Light. Stanley Cavell. 2001). 1987). 67. lines 22–5. New York Review of Books. Cf. 104–33. ‘Faithful Servants: Shakespeare’s Praise of Disobedience’. Travis. Greenblatt. Richard Strier. 57 . 259–83. 12 April 2007. pp. p. 65. He makes the contemporary resonance more explicit in ‘An Exchange on Shakespeare and Power’. scene 14. The History of King Lear (Oxford: World’s Classics. p. 31 May 2007.

through things. Roped together like mountaineers. it is at once a summation and a recapitulation of the revolution called Cubism. The motor of that revolution was the creative partnership between Georges Braque. backto-front. begging to be touched. as if a hand grenade had been tossed into the placid world of the reclining nude. Authenticity: The Guitar Player and the Arc of a Life Life is an experimental journey that we make involuntarily. Landscapes become landslips. or sampled. a little like diving. round things. we see things become things. Painted in the spring of 1914. the forms in Cubist paintings advance towards the spectator. one of the key international relationships of the twentieth century. all-round. a Spaniard. inside-out. they entered into an intense collaboration – at times a veritable cohabitation – legislating the future. Space itself was reconceived and reconstructed. vandalising the past. in Braque’s classic image. John Berger has proposed. completely subverting Western ways of seeing. everyone has the face he deserves. and Pablo Picasso. Everything was shattered. the wedding feast and the woman reading a letter. ‘we follow a sequence of forms which leads into the picture. George Orwell 2 The Guitar Player by Georges Braque is one of the masterpieces of modern art. Still life pushes forward. or caving. Fernando Pessoa1 At fi fty. or played. a Frenchman. we see the component parts of things. a few months before the good soldier Braque went off to win the Croix de Guerre on the Western Front. discomposed. Looking at Cubist paintings is a question of immersion. An entire tradition of visual representation was overthrown.3 Provenance. We see into things. only to be remade anew. or. ‘We start from the surface’. as prescribed by traditional perspective. Instead of receding tidily into the background. askew. without prejudice. 58 .

long after the cat has vanished.provenance and then suddenly we arrive back at the surface again and deposit our newly acquired knowledge upon it. not politicians.’5 Prime ministers and presidents may prattle all the long day. Much is imitation – Braque was the master of the makeover. pipe tobacco.3 This takes time. It is not unlike having an eye test. The arms are those fat arms of comfortable clubland chairs which end in whorls. the life that it led once it left Braque’s studio and set out on its own. One of Braque’s trade secrets was the mixing of all manner of things with the paint: sand. Georges Braque was in every sense well-earthed. they pass away. There is a suggestion that the glass is half-full – or half-empty – but that may be only a trick of the light. it is also that they have almost all their life still before them. the original artist must proceed as oculists do. he writes. deepens.6 The life of The Guitar Player. is a tumultuous life. The guitar is in his lap. the practitioner says. coffee grounds. alters. to make a new world order.4 As for the man himself. if no work is ever absolutely completed and done with. though of course the knowledge is open to dispute. but he does not appear to be playing it. sawdust. Part of the discovery of these pictures is that time seems to pass within the frame. He is sitting in a high-backed armchair. specialising in mock wood – but the matter on the canvas is the very stuff of life as he saw it. not always agreeable. so to speak. On the table is a wine glass. enlightens. In the flesh. confi rms. like a Swiss roll. ‘When it is over. re-creates. The Guitar Player is not an oil painting but an oil and sawdust painting. like all things. it is not only that. In front of him is a small wooden table. still each creation changes. iron filings. exalts. If creations are not a possession. ash. The Guitar Player is the grin. before making another foray’. There is a there there. The paintings are a course of treatment. the thereness is corroborated by the lifelikeness of the surface texture. with a wing collar and a rather fetching spotted bow tie. but it is given to artists. According to Proust. As the philosopher Merleau-Ponty magnificently puts it: If no painting comes to be the painting. or creates in advance all the others. “Now look. a life of 59 . he is dressed in his best bib and tucker.” And then the world (which was not created once but as many times as there have been original artists) strikes us as entirely different from the old world yet perfectly clear. or rather the superimposed planes. No doubt others will have different experiences.

on art and war and terror Figure 8 Georges Braque. Man with a Guitar ( The Guitar Player) (1914). 60 .

There is a lot at stake in that oil and sawdust. It tells us that the painting went straight to Braque’s dealer. at best a deviant tendency. The market in esteem is a difficult one to crack. Big Braques changed hands but rarely. More than that. Kahnweiler was a Francophile based in Paris. Hundreds of paintings. however. It treats also of the politics of possession. When war broke out he was compelled to leave the country. and the international politics of plunder. By the end of the twentieth century a small Braque was all that most individuals (even most institutions) could afford. the politics of property. It treats of the politics of provenance. especially premium cultural property: the acquisitive urge of the covetous. Hôtel Drouot. A Braque was not always a Braque. Paris Musée national d’art moderne. For those weaned on The Mona Lisa. his stock was sequestered and he became the target of some ugly talk about Kubism (spelled with a K) as ‘Kraut art’. Paris7 This provenance serves to conceal more than it reveals. The provenance it gives for The Guitar Player is summary indeed: Galerie Kahnweiler. Paris ?Alphonse Kann Collection. a kind of official biography. Cubism was a cheap trick. will be found in the artist’s catalogue raisonné. the lies and silences of the state. Here Braque has been ill-served. 13–14 June 1921. Nietzsche and sundry other supermen of depravity. at worst a conspiracy to undermine French civilisation. in the first instance. including 135 Braques. a classification of the entire œuvre. Paris First Kahnweiler Sale. He was also a German national. as one might say. Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. In theory. 130 cm high by 73 cm wide.provenance vicissitudes. it is inadequate. a murky area. and then for several million dollars. the sequestered stock was put into liquidation. Paris André Lefèvre Collection. It is in its fashion an exemplary life – a cautionary tale. the aficionados knew that Braque was a marque of distinction. the most authoritative provenance. in league with Wagner. by no means over yet. By 1914. After the war. were auctioned 61 . a summary life story. His catalogue raisonné is incomplete. By 1940 anyone who was anyone had a small Braque. The Guitar Player is a sizeable work. the pre-eminent merchant of modern art in this period. much reviled. though the national collections were remarkably slow to catch on. an outline biography. The provenance of a work of art is. perhaps. though there is rather little evidence of that – threading its way through the century.

820 FF to M. who turns out to be a front for the syndicate comprising Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. and Alfred Flechtheim. The rest of the story is soon told. Braque was a boxer too. Paris.on art and war and terror in four lots. they were officially discounted. his brother. Zürich Musée national d’art moderne (Centre Pompidou). The provenance speculates. Paris (6. We know 62 . The provenance in the exhibition catalogue was an improvement on the catalogue raisonné: Galerie Kahnweiler First Kahnweiler Sale. that the painting entered the collection of Alphonse Kann. an Austrian. and from there into the national collection. provides some further clues and begs more questions. with a taste for the progressive. but does not confirm. Hôtel Drouot. 19818 This provenance fills in a number of gaps. 13–14 June 1921.900 FF in 1924) André Lefèvre Collection. So aggrieved was Braque at this treatment that he attended the sale. recouping a little something for his pains. Kahnweiler was doing his best to buy back his own stock. It then found its way into the hands of André Lefèvre. There is still no indication of how André Lefèvre acquired the painting. he succeeded in repossessing The Guitar Player.820 French francs. The Guitar Player was one of the stars of the show. In 1982 a centenary exhibition of Braque’s work was held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The Galerie Simon was the reassuringly French name under which he traded on his return to Paris. playing the art market with considerable skill as he dallied with his silky friends. Gustav Kahnweiler. Documentary precision then gives out. In effect. based on the artificially low estimates of an ‘expert’ retained by the state for the purpose. Paris (2. a Berlin dealer associate. It was he who sold the painting to Alphonse Kann. collared the expert and did to him what he had done to the prices. in 1924. No dates or details of transactions are vouchsafed. Paris Alphonse Kann Collection. on the outskirts of Paris. the Cubist sale of the century. Grassat) Galerie Simon. who lived in sybaritic style in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Still in exile. a significant figure. naturalised British. Most of these works went at knock-down prices. For a modest 2. Paris Second Lefèvre Sale. The buyer at the Kahnweiler sale is listed as a certain Monsieur Grassat. 25 November 1965 Contemporary Art Establishment.

In 1976 the painting entered the Centre Pompidou. In the spring of 1940. Paris (6. 9 February 1942 ?Paul Pétridès. the task force headed by Alfred Rosenberg. Kann died in 1948.200 artworks in his mansion in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Paris Alphonse Kann Collection. Paris. for permanent display. We know that it was not exhibited again until 1948. Zürich. 13–14 June 1921. Paris (2. The ERR made an inventory 63 . Zürich André Lefèvre Collection. in Fribourg. Hôtel Drouot. Zürich (Heinz Berggruen Collection) Musée national d’art moderne (Centre Pompidou). founder of the Combat League for German Culture. They were duly confiscated as ‘abandoned property’ by the ERR. on loan. Paris ?Marcel Fleischmann. 1997 As so often. Hermann Goering. a collector renowned for his discrimination. A more complete provenance. as the Germans advanced on Paris. November 1940 Gustav Rochlitz. his perseverance. The Guitar Player was bought by the Contemporary Art Establishment. lent by Lefèvre. Grassat’) Galerie Simon (formerly Kahnweiler). with the aid of a grant from the state and assistance from a private foundation. The outline biography of The Guitar Player is being filled in. his cosmopolitanism and his enlightened attitude towards long-term lending for public exhibition. Paris (9 million FF in 1981) Restitution claim lodged by the heirs of Alphonse Kann.provenance that it was exhibited in 1933. alias Heinz Berggruen. Most of the Lefèvre collection was sold at auction two years later. at a price of 9 million FF. who wolfed down old masters like oysters. lent by Kann. In 1981 it was acquired for the nation. as far as can be ascertained: Galerie Kahnweiler First Kahnweiler Sale. the blank spot is a troubling one. Paris Second Lefèvre Sale. Lefèvre died in 1963.280 FF to ‘M.900 FF in 1924) Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR). although blank spots remain: in particular the mystery of its passage from Kann to Lefèvre. in Basle. 25 November 1965 Contemporary Art Establishment. And there is a sting in this tale. leaving a collection of some 1. whose mission it was to ‘safeguard’ cultural property for the good of the Reich. Alphonse Kann fled to London. not to mention the greed of the Reichsmarschall.

who were happy enough to play the role of secret agent and travelling salesman for the insatiable HG and his confederates. ‘In England. but Portrait of a Girl does not appear to have been among them. infantile and mestizo’ – and in any event the Reichsmarschall had no taste for it. In one such transaction. To satisfy their master’s craving. Even so he remained subject to the vagaries and rapacities of the Nazi regime. where it was discovered during the pillaging of his dealer’s. He did. (‘I prefer the English system to the German. Walter Andreas Hofer. In the twisted economy of aggrandisement that ran rampant under Hitler’s imperium. and held out to him the prospect of an early release of his collection if he were ready to sell his Cranach!!! He is reserving the picture for me.’10) His own collection was deposited in a bank near Bordeaux. His other pictures are of no interest to us. Goering did not covet the painting for itself. albeit a degenerate. Hofer apprised his master: Braque is an Aryan and lives in Paris as a painter. nothing but rentiers. The most assiduous looter-collaborator was Gustav Rochlitz. who organised a series of official ‘exchanges’ of degenerate art for something more suitable. including works by Matisse and Picasso. which he intended never to sell. put into security by the Devisenschutzkommando [Currency Control Unit]. have a use for it: as barter for the works he really wanted.’ he remarked in his laconic way to the philosopher Jean Grenier. Braque’s art was degenerate – in Rosenberg’s parlance. The slippery Rochlitz 64 . receiving no fewer than eighty-two confiscated paintings from the ERR’s hoard. however. the ERR made arrangements with a network of dealers across Europe. In September 1941 it came to the notice of Goering’s personal art adviser.on art and war and terror of the spoils: The Guitar Player became KA 1062. at the same time a dictatorship and an organised competition. it was also stamped HG. and will notify me of his decision on my next visit to Paris. His collection is in Bordeaux. According to the strict tenets of Nazi aesthetics. Braques were swaps. in Germany. Goering is said to have acquired for himself fifty-two Cranachs by the end of the war. I negotiated with him personally about his Cranach Portrait of a Girl. must therefore be unblocked. ‘syphilitic. He may have been successful as no further dealings with Hofer have come to light. Braque himself was in a much stronger position.11 Clearly Braque was temporising.9 Ominously. no more unemployed. Rochlitz exchanged a sixteenth-century Adoration of the Magi for The Guitar Player and seven other modern paintings. As an Aryan. nothing but soldiers.

The very idea of restitution presents a formidable moral and legal tangle over time. at the Royal Academy in London in 2008. indicating that Lefèvre bought the painting from the Zürich dealer Marcel Fleischmann. The global ripple potential of restitution is enough to give the authorities palpitations. spearheaded a claim by the heirs of Alphonse Kann for the restitution of The Guitar Player from the collection of the Musée national d’art moderne. Fast forward fifty years. The legal issues surrounding The Guitar Player are predictably complex. as both possible and desirable.provenance was interrogated by the Allies at the end of the war. Zürich’. It would certainly apply to the exchange with Rochlitz. Against The Guitar Player is the cryptic notation. also implicated in the illicit trade in ‘Jewish goods’. however. was fenced. This owes something to the end of the Cold War. The vexed question of restitution is in the air. variously defined. personal and international. of which the most consequential is perhaps The Lost Museum by Hector Feliciano. stimulating and facilitating redress of many kinds. The sale by Fleischmann has since been confi rmed. In 1997 a careful reader of that book. beneath the surface the art world is all aflutter. He claimed that he sold The Guitar Player to Paul Pétridès. it seems. increasing awareness of inter-generational justice. Francis Warin.12 The Guitar Player. The dispute was resolved by the accelerated enactment of protection from seizure legislation. another figure deeply compromised by his trade in Jewish goods. à la Berger. that is. Meanwhile André Lefèvre’s records have come to light. Whether 65 . As if to make a foray into the picture. widespread acceptance of the very idea of compensation. a Paris dealer of similar bent. and a spate of sleuthing books. ‘Fleischmann. The Guitar Player is still on display at the Centre Pompidou. from the Centre Pompidou. but they are extremely reticent. a grand-nephew. It is not so long since the French feared that the Italians might reclaim works taken in the Napoleonic Wars. Ostensibly nothing has changed. Pétridès for his part had nothing to say. The published provenance is still mute on its wartime depredations. This seems unexceptionable. ‘From Russia’. Commercial transactions with the German occupiers were declared null and void by the Allies. first published in France in 1995. Russian anxieties about claims made by descendants of the collectors Shchukin and Morosov (whose collections were nationalised in the Russian Revolution) threatened to cancel a major exhibition.

The benighted functionaries sat on their hands. The heirs of Alphonse Kann have been successful in other restitution claims. some of them for a derisory 200 FF. he returned to Berlin. after mediation conducted by Maître Jean Veil. France is therefore entitled to some consideration. France has paid dearly for this dilatoriness. Yet. Not to be outdone. Emphasising the capital importance of The Guitar Player to ‘the artistic heritage of the twentieth century’. and for a tidy sum. the President of the Centre Pompidou was inclined to say. Swiss law stipulates that ownership is final and incontestable. after sixty years of exile. but on the face of it the same goes for the purchase by Berggruen. Official purchases were negligible. Born in the same year as the painting. his birthplace. it held up. along with all the rest of the Braques. and the claimants would receive compensation. The authorities have been dilatory. his reputation unbesmirched. Whatever may be said about the others. if Lefèvre made his purchase in good faith. valued at a paltry $1 million. the argument goes further. neither Lefèvre nor Berggruen can be dismissed as a fly-by-night. In 2005. in spite of all. France bought the painting in good faith. André Lefèvre in his day was one of the most respected collectors in Europe. the state had a right of pre-emption. As for The Guitar Player. No one stirred. The official announcement of this agreement was exiguous in the extreme. Whether Swiss law is the relevant law is another question. In 1921. as he put it in 1998. In art as in international relations. as Braque always hoped it would. Heinz Berggruen probably was the most the respected collector in Europe. and in the matter of restitution perhaps remiss.13 It was not always so. He died in 2007. the next purchaser makes a somewhat similar argument. pre-emption is a ticklish business. and also a fugitive from the Nazis. and again to Fleischmann. his passion for Braque undiminished.on art and war and terror it serves to invalidate subsequent transactions is apparently less clear-cut. the same high official asserted an exalted public interest in the painting remaining accessible ‘to all who wish to know and love the art of our century’. such that the painting would remain in the national collection. and may yet pay more. at the Kahnweiler sales. Evidently it could apply to the onward sale to Pétridès (if Rochlitz is to be believed). an agreement was reached between the French Prime Minister and ‘the claimants’. it did 66 . The Guitar Player came and went. to give the bulk of his collection to a reunified Germany. a second-rank painting by a second-rank painter. and it was not contested within five years. including a lithograph by Cézanne and a Cubist landscape by Albert Gleizes. Legalities aside.

So. JFK and George Bush senior were self-professed profiles in courage. meeting any hardship. who took over from him as the Democratic standardbearer in the 2004 Presidential election. they contrived to say. This natty dresser is a remarkable personage. about paying any price.14 Braque used to take his paintings out into the fields. did John Kerry. for the art of the arc is a matter of moment. The painting is sometimes known as Man with a Guitar. In the United States. demonstrating grace under pressure. the man with a guitar gains moral stature. a quasi-knightly quest involving dragon-slaying and suchlike – or the latter-day equivalent – hero work of a character-building kind. as John F. ‘tempered by war. serenely more himself. unblinking and unblemished.15 The modern politician runs on his mythic arc. John Kerry’s biography was ripe for ransack. Howard Dean had trouble with his mythic arc. Their successors found new dragons to slay. Put differently. It is a concept. Braque’s canvases are not afraid of anything. he had windsurfed from Cape Cod to Nantucket. Kennedy proclaimed in his inaugural address. They knew something. but as the poet Pierre Reverdy once remarked. This second JFK had the makings of a great story. opposing any foe. He was a genuine jock – he had played hockey. The mythic underpinned the hyperbolic.16 Presidential candidates ransack their own biographies for electoral appeal. but the man is not. brave and wise. He takes everything that the twentieth century has to throw at him. The provenance may be tainted. The life story of The Guitar Player is a long journey. from hostility through indifference to veneration: from dispensable to indispensable. Almost alone. supporting any friend. A close study of the proceedings of the Assemblée Nationale reveals a payment of 27 million euros over the period 2006–8: a substantial sum. There are many kinds of gain in this tangled tale. The Guitar Player has an arc: a narrative arc. lacrosse and soccer at Yale. too. In the event it was human nature they had to worry about. bearing any burden. The arc of a life is something more than a figure of speech. disciplined by a hard and bitter peace. but in a country where 100 million people watch 67 . coming through fire. perhaps overripe. These were the wrong sports in the wrong places at the wrong time. The concept has been debated by some of the finest philosophers of the age. a dramatic arc. from Anthony Appiah to the Sopranos.17 Remember Howard Dean.provenance not disclose anything so vulgar as a precise figure. the archetypical arc is log cabin to White House. to see how they would hold up against nature. a mythic arc. proud of our ancient heritage’.

but a cunning way of smuggling in a kind of loyalty test: inviting any equivocator to brand himself a latte liberal. he heard Clinton praise the late King Hussein of Jordan as a man ‘whose immense ambition had an ethically adequate object’. Bush’s mythic arc was stumblebum saved. The literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt tells of an encounter at a White House reception in 1995. Clinton was born in Hope. compromised. no less – ‘Real quick – is God on America’s side?’ A fatuous question. He had fought and thought. perhaps. His tragedy was self-indulgence. the talent squandered. The phrase was an adjustable one. said Clinton. ‘it’s a play about someone whose immense ambition has an ethically inadequate object. ‘No’. It was not a question to which John Kerry had a convincing answer. in the early days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Better still. and also a genuine peace protestor. especially when Clinton proceeded to quote reams of Macbeth by heart. and in the end it is hard to avoid a feeling of bathos. the 68 . ‘means to get clear about who one wants to be. He may have been worthy. His mythic arc was muddled. he was a genuine war hero. . It was a question that Bill Clinton and even George W.’19 Bill Clinton’s story was self-realisation. completely dazzled Greenblatt. but he was always suspect. Bush could have swatted away with ease. as some allowed. un-American.’18 If Kerry was clear. ‘Don’t you think it’s a play about someone compelled to do the morally disastrous?’ asked Greenblatt. a hanging offence in certain states. I realized that Clinton had chosen the right vocation after all. His arc was more priapic than mythic.’ says Greenblatt. . it was also somehow off.’ This insight. In one debate he was asked by a reporter – from the New York Times. of course. Some time later. it was not apparent. and by extension effete. Hope to soap in one generation: the arc crashed. less onerous than oil-prospecting – the exercise of power in the interest of . captured in such a magnificent phrase. Arkansas. George W. Yet he failed to cohere. No one with immense ambition has an ethically adequate object. unless it was the very act of office-holding – more acceptable than whisky-drinking. His quest was much-trumpeted but mysterious. says Habermas.on art and war and terror the Super Bowl he could hold his own in an interview with Sports Illustrated. ‘It suddenly occurred to me. ‘that although the phrase was marvellous. watching the TV news. Bill Clinton had an answer for everything – or so it appeared. It was a question for which Barack Obama would have prepared in advance. a monkey-wrench in the charmer’s toolkit. Clinton recalled being made to learn Macbeth at school. ‘Responsibility to take over one’s own biography’. Kerry lacked clarity.

. But he was nothing. incapacity to reason.’ Shit. Bush. and then I felt ashamed. Well. retrieves a large volume entitled Black’s Law Dictionary. He was one. . There will be others. smouldering hash pipe. leaves only the faculty of conceiving the most common and ordinary ideas. Thompson is asked what he thinks of Bush today. . One might almost say it kept him out of mischief. ‘Derangement: manifested by delusions. This was in the late 1970s. or by uncontrollable impulses. author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.’ George knows all about those . ‘In law. Dunhill cigarettes. ‘Mania Fanatica: a form of insanity characterised by a morbid state of religious feeling .provenance exercise of power. . I had to have him taken away . coffee. actually. yes. he began to reminisce: I remember Bush as a kind of butt-boy for the smart people. Thus fuelled. if the collateral damage were not so great. Thompson. because I had a reputation as a writer. He couldn’t handle liquor. . Some are enrolled at birth. and begins to read: ‘Imbecility: a more or less advanced feebleness of the intellectual faculties. he promised nothing.’ Are you with me so far? ‘That weakness of the mind which. it isn’t. he offered nothing. . I have a friend who was with George W. . and a scabrous wit to rival Jonathan Swift. when he was in his drunken-fool period. But when he passed out in my bathtub. The interview in question was conducted at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. . Bush branded him with a red-hot coat hanger . . He had no humour. . . consisting of Thompson’s usual requirements of orange juice. reaches gamely for a bookshelf. . Every 69 . I knew he was part of the Bush dynasty. such a want of intelligence as prevents a man from comprehending the nature and consequences of his acts’ . He knew who I was. . . It varies in degree from merely excessive folly to an almost vacuity of mind. It’s just incredible to me that Bush ever got into Yale. Perhaps the most vivid account of this petulant pilgrim’s progress derives from an interview given in 2004 by Hunter S. . While he takes a swig of Chivas on the side. ‘until I heard someone call him “Mr President”. He still has the scar . Bush at Yale. . .’ added Thompson. and a small black bowl full of cocaine. half-pint tumbler of Chivas Regal on ice. ‘Dipsomania . Some fraternity thing. without depriving the person entirely of his reason. then I noticed him . . which is to say over breakfast. He was an average farm hand. Purpose is the missing link in the life and times of George W.’ Need I go on?20 ‘I almost felt sorry for Bush. He gets to his feet.’ That’s our boy . He was insignificant in every way and consequently I didn’t pay much attention to him. . at that time. Pyromania . practically. .

The Madness of George III. Being good meant blazing sincerity and breast-beating annunciation. When the King is on the road to recovery Chancellor Thurlow discovers him reading King Lear and congratulates him on seeming more himself. ‘I have always been myself but now I seem myself.’ Time magazine’s correspondent at the Hutton Inquiry made a similar observation: ‘In two and a half hours of apparently frank testimony – always thoughtful and reasoned. Alan Bennett is a peerless authority on the subject. too. War is organised violence. will often say “I honestly believe” rather than just “I believe” says all that needs to be said. which may be why he looked so ill at ease in the company of his folksy friend George. “To be honest” another of his frank-seeming phrases. Weak.on art and war and terror nation in the world despises us. The rhetorical keynote was honest belief – frank-seeming. he was tolerated. no ‘buddy buddy’. impersonal. as Alan Bennett remarked: ‘That Tony Blair . vacant but curiously resonant. the precipitation. or ‘just folks’).’24 70 . the Europeans. diplomacy is organised performance.’23 Politics. Bush was a lame duck from the start. As Prime Minister. How did he do it? Setting to one side the element of contingency – it might have been difficult not to get re-elected after 9/11 – ‘our boy’ mastered the same trick as Ronald Reagan before him. The consummate performer on the international political scene of recent years is Tony Blair. except for a handful of corrupt Brits.’) Tony Blair’s signalled ‘I am good’. I have remembered how to seem.’ In office. . even lauded.21 For someone with so little to recommend him. like that simpering little whore Tony Blair. . by a lot of people for a long time. His presidency bears a striking resemblance to the classic pattern of service life as Evelyn Waugh described it: ‘the vacuum. barely human geniality’. and part of the King’s illness consists in his growing inability to sustain that performance. is a performance. There was no ‘aw shucks’ about Tony. passionate when passion was called for – Blair gave a masterful performance. the spasm. Margaret Thatcher’s speech acts signalled ‘I am right’. ‘Yes’. Musing on his own play. Bennett writes: Monarchy is a performance. speech acts in a similar register (call it ‘aw shucks’. says the King. Blair is famously ‘a pretty straight sort of guy’: he said so himself. (‘They are weak. An American commentator has put it exactly: he didn’t seem phoney. seeming consummate in concert. and with it all the peculiar.22 The emphasis here is on the seeming.

what the hell . as it were promiscuously. The purpose is authentication: a traditional need. it was a pose. and not an imitation. will not suffice. an Old Labour dissident from Liverpool. In a word. He took the ‘cool’ for openness. authenticity is the Holy Grail. Posing is what Robert Altman called bad acting. The seeming should be congruent with the self. The Warhol Authentication Board and the Pollock Authentication Board. even supposing a single self rather than an assortment. ‘Inauthentic politicians win office. who was puffi ng away contentedly. ‘but they rarely hold up as leaders for long. in fact. in another of those plays. that it is what it seems. ‘Tony. The pedigree attests that the work is genuine.’ Altman recalled. but came to realise he had made a mistake. He turned up in a dark suit and a polo sweater. even the presidency’. of course. and even in politics. It is now increasingly common for major artists to have an ‘authentication board’ or artist’s committee to give an official imprimatur. The reverse applies. the fi lm director Robert Altman found himself at a private dinner party with the Blairs during the making of Gosford Park. The Prime Minister gave every sign of enjoying himself: ‘I thought he was pretty cool. That is no easy task.’ enjoins Polonius. Everyone was smoking pot – not Blair. Peter Kilfoyle. ‘He became retroactively popular because he was true to himself’. But there is a word for it. 25 On another occasion. To seem. for example. For the rest. Harry Truman was not much esteemed in his own day. Cherie left early. In art and life. but Tony stayed on. .26 He wanted to like Blair. especially in this pixellated age. Elizabeth Drew has noted. a real self rather than a construction. and it may be a timeless one. For the provenance serves a purpose beyond the reconstruction of the life story. but his stock has soared since. though even this is open to challenge. ultimately in the courts. the provenance is a proof of authenticity. ‘To thine own self be true. as Drew says: ‘he didn’t pretend to be anyone other than the former (failed) haberdasher and machine 71 . once took Blair to a football match.provenance The performance never stopped. but he was sitting opposite Altman. the provenance is a kind of pedigree. The word is inscribed in the provenance. that a Braque is indeed a Braque. are embroiled in disputes all the time. or in history. it is tempting to add. ‘you look like an Apache dancer!’ Blair telephoned Peter Mandelson to ask what he thought.’ Not as long as The Guitar Player. . Posing is seeming gone wrong. He needed reassurance about how to play the part.?’ exclaimed Kilfoyle.

72 . knowledge to illusion.on art and war and terror pol who had run tough Senate hearings on war profiteering. in spite of himself. Ominously.’29 He was re-elected. Truman replied: ‘I took the suitcases up to the attic. one of the very few who thought Truman a great President at the time. History beckons impatiently. His much-vaunted integrity was interred without obsequies.’27 Asked what he did on his first day at home after losing the Presidential election of 1952 to the wide grin and war record of General Dwight D. laughter to solemnity. The watchword came in many forms. subtly subversive. curdling poppy. ‘to be rather than to seem to be’. Blair riffed on being authentic as he riffed on the guitar. The damage was irreparable. Good faith is the spirit of the mind. and abetted by a heart scarce: a frame of fallibility. The Prime Minister was crooked timber – evasive. imprinted in the photographer Rankin’s eerie portraits of Blair as Billy Bob Thornton in a Coen brothers’ film noir. blood-red against bleak grey. The war and its degrading aftermath sealed a kind of transmigration. ‘If he isn’t decent. ‘We look in vain for this man’s convictions. and a moral philosopher to boot. A new image gained currency. The suitcase remark was a favourite of Oliver Franks. Tony Blair is another guitar player.’ There was a third term – an unprecedented feat – but the sedulously promoted self-image was shot. which prefers sincerity to deception. Eisenhower. trust-me Tony’.’ Voicing authenticity is a prime need but a rare accomplishment. at root moral. Blair flipped into Bliar. Sexing-up skewered frank-seeming. As he took care to remind us. curling. The morning after the third. he performed humility: ‘I have listened and I have learned. ‘then who is he?’32 Authenticity is an enigma.’ in Edward Pearce’s blood-curdling exegesis. Newsweek used the Rankin portraits as the backdrop to a cover feature on ‘The Twilight of Tony Blair’.30 The word was out. asked Salman Rushdie of his last hurrah. deceptive. Franks’s own motto was esse quam videre – roughly. a postretirement portrait was at last unveiled: a startling life-likeness. by Jonathan Yeo. with a kind of attribute – a nagging. right down to the dreadful sincerity.28 Tony Blair marched on. Honest belief is akin to good faith. ‘Blair is about power shallowly perceived and public show shimmeringly done. then the British Ambassador in Washington. beyond a negative version of Ecclesiastes with victory the prize for the strong. victorious. Iraq saw to that. manipulative.31 Tony Blair failed these tests. In 2008. Honest belief was undone. in 2005. through three General Elections.

bound up as I am with defi ning and thinking it. The bound volumes of Blair memoirs are still to come. and lo and behold an exemplary feeling has been constructed. Blair is at work on his memoirs. Does he turn to Sartre in the still small hours and recognise himself in that mirror? It’s true. The rest of the time I feel hurriedly. Superseded. In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses. has come to grief. Something kinder. I no longer more than half-feel it. My greatest passions are mere nervous impulses. The posterity project is in deep trouble. row on row. 73 . then elaborate in words. force a little there. That mark our place33 It will surely not be long before another portrait is painted. good enough to put in any bound volume. I’m not authentic. that high-rolling project. With everything that I feel. perhaps. And then. as it may be. press a little here. before actually feeling it I know that I’m feeling it. a return to easel painting after the fly-blown carcasses of his youth. the authenticity project. One thing is certain: there will be apologetics galore. The authenticity project is already lost. The Guitar Player by Sir Damien Hirst. Meanwhile.provenance Figure 9 Tony Blair playing the guitar (1995). 34 Tony Blair does exemplary feeling.

National Archives. 2005). 56. Grenier diary. 14. 8. p. 1997). For the man and the work. ‘Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past ’. p. 6. IL: Northwestern University Press. trans. Nicolas Perruchot sur le projet de la loi de fi nances pour 2007. vol. NJ: Princeton University Press. 18 December 2003. Le Monde. 2. John Berger. Hofer to Goering. 1997). Orwell notebook. no. Cf. Inaugural Address. Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Fernando Pessoa. in The White Bird (London: Hogarth. ‘The Moment of Cubism’ [1969]. p. 55. 1970). 10. II. ERR Card File. 1987). in Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (eds). copy in Douglas Cooper Papers. p. 15 September 1945. 11. Los Angeles. Carleton Dallery.asp.fr/12/ budget/plf2007/b3363-a8. Anthony Appiah. vol. I draw on my Georges Braque (London: Penguin. College Park. p. 4. II. VII. trans. 1982). 579. p. p. Nadine Pouillon. 9. vol. 309. Philippe Dagen. 1. Catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre de Georges Braque (Paris: Maeght. 15. p. 74 . 42A/3. 3363. ‘L’énigme du “Joueur de guitare” de Georges Braque’. Richard Zenith. 18. DC: Government Printing Office. vol. RG 260. in The Primacy of Perception (Evanston.on art and war and terror Notes 1. 179. 2007). Jürgen Habermas. Antoine Compagnon. The Theory of Communicative Action (Cambridge: Polity. 3. 288. Kennedy. 1962). 241. 13. 2001). OSS Art Looting Investigation Unit. 26 September 1941. Braque (Paris: Centre Pompidou. I borrow from Maureen Dowd. T. trans. Le Monde. trans. The Book of Disquiet (London: Penguin. 7. Consolidated Interrogation Report No. p. 99. IV. 5. ‘Eye and Mind’. 23 February 1943. McCarthy. 2. ‘Le tableau doit demeurer accessible au regard de tous’. OMGUS Property Division Miscellaneous Records. 2008). Nicole Worms de Romilly. Arthur Goldhammer. Getty Research Institute. annex 8. Jean-Jacques Aillagon. Looking for Owners (Paris: RMN. ‘Dudgeons and Dragons’. 1964). 17 April 1949. John F. 17. The Collected Essays. Public Papers (Washington. p. 16. 318. Sous l’Occupation (Paris: Paulhan. 20 January 1961. The Ethics of Identity (Princeton. in Jean Grenier. in Pierre Nora (ed. Rapport de M. p. at: http://www-assemblee-nationale. Realms of Memory (New York: Columbia University Press. 27 January 1998. Maryland. 12. 27 January 1998. 1998). 190.). 1982). Isabelle le Masne de Chermont and Laurence Sigal-Klagsbald. Journalism and Letters of George Orwell (Harmondsworth: Penguin. The New York Times.

29. Edward Pearce. Oliver Franks (Oxford: Clarendon. 32. 26. Interview in The Guardian Weekend. 20. 8 September 2003. 25. Jeff Chu. 24. ‘Winning the Battle. 1 May 2004. letter to London Review of Books. Salman Rushdie. 1993). p. Untold Stories (London: Faber. A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues (London: Heinemann. War Diaries (London: Verso. Elizabeth Drew. 210. 22. Interview in The Guardian Review. ‘In Flanders Fields’ (1915). 1984). Bennett diary. Drew. I follow André Comte-Sponville. Temerson. Evelyn Waugh. p. 34. ‘Madness: The Movie’. in Alan Bennett. C. 31. in Jean-Paul Sartre. then who is he?’. trust-me Tony. trans. New York Review of Books. 26 February 2005. Losing the War’. 331. 29 May 2003. 8 April 2005. Alan Bennett. 75 . trans. 61. 8 May 2003. 33. The Observer. The Independent. 27. The Sword of Honour Trilogy (London: Everyman.provenance 19. Quentin Hoare. 30. 1 May 2005. 9 February 1995. Time. Interview in The Independent on Sunday. pp. John McCrae. 28. 29 September 2003. ‘Primary Colors’. Newsweek. David Remnick. p. 21. London Review of Books. Sartre diary. 2002). ‘If he isn’t decent. 2005). 28 November 1939. See Alex Danchev. 23. ‘The Real Mr Blair’. p. 142ff. 1994). 31 October 2004. 11 March 2004. 273. ‘Primary Colors’.

4

Broomstick Horrors, or, The Fog-Walker in the Wood: Keeping up Appearances in the Great War

Droll thing life is – that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself – that comes too late – a crop of unextinguishable regrets. I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary. If such is the form of ultimate wisdom, then life is a greater riddle than some of us think it to be. Joseph Conrad1

In November 1914, after hardly more than a month of training with the Cambridge University OTC, Officer Cadet Basil Hart, aged nineteen, delivered himself of a rather alarming ‘Credo’:
1. I believe (i) in the supremacy of the aristocracy of race (and birth) (ii) in the supremacy of the individual. 2. In compulsory military service because it is the only possible life for a man and brings out all the fi nest qualities of manhood. 3. I have acquired rather a contempt for mere thinkers and men of books who have not come to a full realization of what true manhood means. Military service if intelligently conducted develops and requires the fi nest mental, moral and physical qualities. 4. I exalt the great general into the highest position in the roll of great men and consider it requires higher mental qualities than any other line of life. 5. I consider that the Slavs, by which I indicate a greater Russia, will rule both Europe and Asia and will have world domination, being the fi nest and most virile civilization and having the fi nest qualities of all races, and that the day of conquest and expansion is not yet over. 6. Socialism and its forms are an impossibility unless human nature radically alters.
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broomstick horrors
7. There should be compulsory military service in order that all men may have the chance, which otherwise they would probably avoid, of developing true manhood. 8. . . . I certainly believe that absolute peace is detrimental to true manhood, but 20th century war is too frightful. If you could have war without its explosive horrors it would be a good thing. I worship brilliance and brilliance seems to fi nd its truest and fullest expression in the art of generalship . . . If the war ends by Easter [1915] it will be a great thing for the virility and manhood of Europe. If it continues until Xmas 1915 it will be a disaster. 2

Officer Cadet Hart was the keenest of soldiers, as he later remarked, and also the most conventional. Truth be told, his credo is alarming only to the modern reader. To the well-bred Edwardian male, not to speak of the well-bred Edwardian female, such sentiments were commonplace. What calls attention to this particular specimen of worshipful manhood is not that he professed these beliefs but that he so proclaimed them – and preserved the proclamation – and that the proclaimant was destined to become the most celebrated military writer of his day, ‘the Clausewitz of the twentieth century’, ‘the captain who teaches generals’, B. H. Liddell Hart. Some of the beliefs he recanted or repented, sooner or later. The most thorough-going recantation concerned the manly virtues of compulsory military service. The most spectacular repentance concerned the moral attributes of generalship. During the war, as he observed, ‘any Regular who was not a dolt or a bigot could pass as a Napoleon’. After the war, after an interval, ‘the great general’ receded steadily into the past. As for the average general, his high appreciation of the qualities of that gentleman did not survive extensive personal acquaintance with the brotherhood to which he belonged. ‘Oh for a stethoscope’, says Canetti, ‘a fi ne stethoscope to identify the generals in their wombs!’ Yet complete disillusionment was a long time coming. ‘When one remembers that there are about 200 serving British generals, and about 2,000 living British generals, and at least 20,000 generals in the world’, Liddell Hart reflected in 1932, ‘the position does not appear much of an eminence.’3 His views on war and the pity of war naturally evolved over time; though there are some significant constants. In the 1914–18 war, they are at first sight remarkable only for their shallowness and the triteness of their expression. But that is too easy a dismissal. Here was no Hawkeye, sturdy and intrepid and self-contained. Young
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on art and war and terror

Figure 10 Bassano, Basil Liddell Hart (1927).

Basil, like young Winston, was a jealous warrior. He wanted to play the lion too. He was out to prove himself to himself, and to others. He was almost desperate for glory, or for something that would count as such. As for the alternative, he left clear instructions for his parents:
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broomstick horrors
In the event of my death on active service: It is my wish that you do not wear mourning & that if at any time flowers are used, that they shall be white roses. If you desire to put up any memorial whatsoever, it is my express wish that it take the form of an endowed cot at a hospital, preferably military. I do not wish you to regard my death as an occasion for grief, but one for thanksgiving, for no man could desire a nobler end than to die for his country & for the cause of civilisation. A short life which fi nishes nobly is surely far better than to drag out an ignominious existence. My one hope is that I shall be reunited to you in the next life. Finally, to misquote Dickens, ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done, or ever should have done.’

The quotation or misquotation was apt: these were Sydney Carton’s thoughts on the scaffold, in A Tale of Two Cities. Liddell Hart did not want to die – he seems in fact to have had a callow confidence in his own survival, in spite of what he wrote – but he did hanker after that peculiar relationship between man and man in war, axiomatic in the trenches on the Western Front, a relationship christened with macabre tenderness by one of the missing of the Somme, a regular soldier from France, as ‘the comradeship of the scaffold’.4 For Liddell Hart, therefore, the Great War was a complex weave of what he wanted to experience, what (he felt) he ought to experience, what he actually experienced, what he thought he experienced and what he admitted he experienced – ‘not a record of what happened but a kaleidoscope of hypothetical contingencies which might have arisen’ – to say nothing of what he could remember and what he could forget, and the tangled inhibitions of the telling and the re-telling. ‘La guerre, mon vieux, c’est notre jeunesse, ensevelie et secrète.’5 Ultimately, what really matters is not what happened to him in a vulnerable outpost of the Ypres Salient or a dark wood on the Somme, intriguing though that is, but what he made his experience into. ‘Remember’, admonishes Joseph Brodsky: ‘the past won’t fit into memory without something left over; it must have a future.’ Basil Hart had a future, of this he was thoroughly convinced: the war had to live up to it. Why else would he take such pains to register his front-line impressions in a pocket notebook, or keep reminding his long-suffering parents to preserve his every letter home? The drive towards self-creation and self-realisation was exceptionally strong, and transparent, recorded in his spidery hand. If it is true that no unexamined life is worth living, then surely Liddell Hart lived well. And yet, he might have lived better. His enquiries of himself were zealous, at times almost obsessive, but
79

on art and war and terror neither as remorseless nor as scrupulous as his enquiries of others. In short, he examined other people’s assumptions more closely than he did his own. Perhaps this is not unusual. What is unusual is his passion for the factual and his aptitude for the figurative, the one precociously grown, the other still latent or unlearned. Mixed with heavy didactic purpose and what Virginia Woolf called word-coining power – in Liddell Hart’s case an extraordinary power, unequalled in his field in recent times – this formidable and paradoxical combination was to make him a maestro among modern military writers. But first he had to find his voice; or, more melodramatically, himself. Nominally, Basil Hart had to become B. H. Liddell Hart. That was by no means an insignificant passage, and yet, even so, merely preparative. Essentially, Liddell Hart had to become ‘Liddell Hart’. In 1914 he had scarcely begun. There was always something of the spindling innocent in the later incarnation, but the metamorphosis of the credulous neophyte into the clamorous iconoclast was a wonder to behold. John Buchan used to argue, sensitively, that ‘the military profession gives its members a new artificial personality, so that only at rare intervals does the real man emerge from the ritualism of long tradition’.6 Basil Hart’s war, his fi rst and last war, is in every sense a search for ‘the real man’, in France and Flanders in 1915–16, and at Stroud and Cambridge in 1917–18: heroically, on the Somme, and bathetically, on the Severn. Liddell Hart went to this war three times, a persistence of which he was achingly conscious: ‘On going to the front for a third time, I desire to say that in any notice or memorial, the fact of my going a third time be emphasized.’7 These stints in and around the old front line varied considerably in danger but not in duration. In fact, a curious pattern emerges. Each one was very short, and abruptly curtailed; and in every case a certain vagueness or ambiguity surrounds the curtailment. The first stint was for about three weeks, from late September to mid-October 1915, in a quiet sector just north of the Somme, at Morlancourt, near Albert. The second was for a few beleaguered days in mid-November 1915, very much in the thick of things, in the water-logged lines of the Ypres Salient. The third was again for about three weeks, from late June to mid-July 1916, for the opening phase of the Big Push on the Somme, in the Fricourt sector, aiming first for Crucifi x Trench and then Bazentin, through the much-mythologised Mametz Wood. That was enough, but that was all. Unlike his friend Guy Chapman, Liddell Hart was never a true grognard.8
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He remained in hospital for about a fortnight. 6 Entrenching Battalion. ‘ptomaine [food] poisoning’. There the same thing happened. His own accounts vary. his most mundane account or annotation reads.’ remembered Chapman. ‘We had not yet learned to discount all these communications. so I wanted to go back to the battalion – which merely convinced the doctors that I must be ill. out of the blue. serving nearby. scheming his release. ‘How will they regard these exploits which even we who perform them don’t know whether one should compare them with those of Plutarch’s and Corneille’s heroes or with those of hooligans and apaches?’10 The grown-up Liddell Hart always retained something of the small boy’s notion of doing good. simply. to the base hospital at Rouen. his temporary billet.broomstick horrors The Somme in 1915 was a gentle introduction to war. ‘Magniloquent news of the battle up north at Loos was published several times. This was all the more marvellous because there was indeed a war on just up the road.11 Whatever the cause. and if at all possible rejoin a battalion of his 81 . As Liddell Hart marvelled repeatedly. Liddell Hart was stricken by sickness and high fever. For most of the year it was still possible to drill a battalion of men in full view of the German lines without a shot being fi red to interrupt the manoeuvre. He wanted to escape not only the doctors but also the entrenchers. and I had trouble persuading the doctors to let me off being put on a hospital ship for England’ – a kind of Catch-22 in reverse. On the other hand. ‘Next day I felt better. and then to the casualty clearing station at Corbie. the condition was immediately alarming. where the opening stages of the Battle of Loos (what the Germans more accurately call the Graveyard of Loos) coincided almost exactly with his arrival at Morlancourt. or merely a relief from the boredom of the diurnal round. so I was sent off. He was carted off on a stretcher to the nearest field ambulance. What caused the condition is not entirely clear. and the unblooded twenty-year-old with his camp-bed and his cigars was still not so far removed from that small-boy self. but the most suggestive runs: ‘the only apparent cause was that the previous day in search of adventure near our trenches I had got into contact with the gases of an exploding shell.’9 This prelapsarian period came to a sudden end when.’ Whether the ‘adventure’ was anything more than an advanced variation of Red Indians in the garden. no one knows. ‘one can hardly believe that there is a war on’. but that costly affray barely disturbed the tranquillity of No. still on a stretcher. and my temperature was down.

Many of the black-joke communication trenches were flooded to the brim. or swept by fi re in the beaten zone. or snagged or sniped or strafed or shelled or shocked beyond endurance at what the grateful rats were eating. if he was lucky or unlucky enough not to be caught in a flare and a lace of flame. Here he was. His most fervent wish was about to be granted. something else would surely follow. Eventually he got his chance. as second in command of a company. Liddell Hart went too.12 He took the train for Ypres that same night and joined the battalion (6th KOYLI) near Poperinghe. Shelling had recommenced. I slipped down to the base headquarters at Rouen and induced a friendly staff officer to post me to a battalion of the regiment stationed in the Ypres Salient that. More than anything. I have to hold on at all costs and to die on the spot but never to retire.on art and war and terror own regiment. alone in the Ypres Salient. When half of them were sent forward. and learned that the enemy were clearing away the barbed wire in front of their trenches in preparation for the expected assault. in support. He confided his thoughts to a trusty notebook. In this event I have 82 . The Salient was a fit place to play the lion. as it is very weak. The enemy was various. the front-line trenches were so deeply filled with water that it lapped over the top of his rubber thigh-boots. During the night Liddell Hart kept the men busy bailing out and digging in. Unspeakable things floated and bloated in the water. The position was reliably reported to be a death trap. glutinous Flanders mud – mud thick enough to drown a man on a dark night. in November. the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI). unconnected by telephone with any other officer: ‘If the line ahead of me (which is the front line) some 500 yards ahead breaks. after suffering heavy losses. was very short of officers. he wanted to see action. By the time Liddell Hart got there. In retrospect it seems a strange choice and desire on my part – as Ypres was notoriously the worst sector of the front – but many of us at that time of inexperience had a similar desire to test ourselves by experience of the worst. Everything that was not submerged was covered in the infamous. Liddell Hart was given an under-strength half-company (about fifty men) and ordered to hold a 300-yard stretch of unprotected trench line abandoned three months earlier after heavy German bombardment – levelled by le bon dieu Boche – and inundated by the autumn rains. The Salient was a nightmarish place. When out on afternoon leave.

From the casualty clearing station at Hazebrouck he was despatched by train to the Duchess of Westminster’s Hospital at Le Touquet. However. The shock however shook me up a good bit and burst blood vessels in my nose.’ Later on he wrote of being ‘semi-concussed’.’ Luckily. he had his own show. to him or to anyone else. and to divert all. . it transpires. ‘Now I am a real soldier.’ he said to himself.broomstick horrors to block the two main communication trenches such as they are and hold fugitives. Whether this was embellishment or explanation is a moot point. His diary records the closest shave: ‘One shell has just burst two minutes ago over our dug-out and a piece of shell has just come through the door and fallen within a few inches of me.’ he scribbled to his parents when out of the line. ‘I have to act as a rallying point. It was decided that no one should be asked to hold such a beastly bit of line for more than twenty-four hours. In self-conception. tout court. but only dirt hit me. ‘Ah! So I am under fi re at last.’13 Liddell Hart was a real soldier. back by using my revolver. though his casualty status was not immediately apparent. except the badly wounded. The following day the shelling continued unabated but the attack failed to materialize.14 ‘Had to do a “die at your post rather than retire” stunt. Liddell Hart himself was not one of them. ‘In other words’. he was principally shocked by the noise. by sandbags from the dug-out. and a narrow escape. While a rather overaweing thought it is an inspiring one. . it was not a small one. it did not come to this. ‘What about a parcel.’ He told his parents that ‘the sandbags which formed the sides of the door were riddled with pieces of shell. later still. It was red hot. What is more. brought down on top of him by the force of the explosion. and I hold my hands to a good degree the destinies of England in the event of the line being broken. into the second line. the grogginess and the bleeding and the vomiting so much got the better of him that he was once again stretchered out of the war. ‘concussed’. Nevertheless he seems to have kept going for those twenty-four hours. which hurt his ears . ‘I have seen the fi ring!’ he repeated with a sense of satisfaction.’ The casualties from this stunt were ‘hellish’. if necessary.’ His predicament was immortalised by Stendhal: We must admit that our hero was very little of a hero at this juncture. and from there by hospital 83 . The next night. fear came to him only as a secondary emotion. however. he continued. and Liddell Hart and his men were withdrawn that night. causing frequent nose bleeding for twenty-four hours.

so rare. but disliked shells exceedingly. Fifty years later he could still recall the ‘long and lone walk every night to visit each of the posts along the road. to which he contributed a soberly responsive foreword. too. he remembered vividly: ‘As 84 . The adjutant there held that young officers who had served at the front needed taking down a peg or two so that they would not ‘play the veteran’. nearby. Fear of death from the air. was the infantryman’s lot.’17 Liddell Hart would revisit these fears sooner than he knew. after a period of convalescent leave. all the fear of mine.15 Liddell Hart was safe and. a few nights after he arrived. after all. and lost and in danger. or capture was this dread of being struck down somewhere where there was no one to fi nd me. This. indeed. and where I should lie till I rotted back slowly into the mud. Pitch-darkness and current spy scares made the round rather eerie. if not shells.on art and war and terror ship across the Channel to the promised land of clean sheets. aircraft themselves – an obsession that developed in the late 1920s ‘from numerous narrow shaves by low-diving aircraft on manoeuvres. Being shelled. Worse than all the anticipation of battle. it was bombs. ‘During this first visit to France I found that I did not mind bullets at all. ‘Throughout the war this was my worst nightmare’. or even for a while. where a detachment was stationed to guard the coast road. In February 1916. Liddell Hart was sent to what the subalterns called the penal settlement of Aldbrough.16 Even more disturbing was to be alone. which was closed to traffic. sick with fear. sound. gnawed at him for most of his life. and the memory of seeing earlier crashes. he had his first taste of a Zeppelin raid. In some fashion he had grown up. he discovered. paradoxically. especially in the dark: ‘To be alone was the rarest of wartime experiences.’ He identified very closely with a striking passage in Sidney Rogerson’s artless evocation of the embers of the Somme. he was posted to 3rd KOYLI. I had seen those to whom it had happened. long sleeps and square meals. wrote Rogerson: ‘to be alone.’18 More spectacularly. Certainly he had learned things about himself: disquieting things. During the war. then stationed at Hull.’ He had a searing memory of being shelled while lying helpless on a stretcher. that when it happened it produced an acute sense of unease. Twelve Days (1933). apparently. it was more easily containable. the draft-fi nding unit for the regular battalions. raid. This time he made no protest. that an aeroplane would crash on top of me’ – an ironical predicament for the passionate advocate of airpower. in various forms. Later on.

and was immediately asked whether he wished to return to France. and with mounting anticipation joined in preparations for the day. on the Ancre. Most of the battalion had gone up the line to take their allotted place in the division’s assault front. Z day – the first day of the Battle of the Somme – was originally scheduled for 29 June but eventually postponed for forty-eight hours. spending night after night huddled in sodden fields. in June 1916 he was sent to 9th KOYLI (21st Division). Quiet people go out in the morning. Z day. and roughly five miles behind the front line of the Fricourt sector. such as Hull. children. Wells’s nightmare ‘fantasia of possibility’ had come true. until 1 July. G.’ A decade later he was already worried about the threat of more devastating raids.broomstick horrors there was no defence. . ‘Who that saw it will ever forget the nightly sight of the population of a great industrial and shipping town. but the impression left by being stationed at Hull during a sequence of Zeppelin raids . from the same platform. bombs drop in the night. ‘Women.’19 In due course he went before the Hull medical board. The war comes through the air. as the previous year. the two airships hovered low over the city. just north of his previous location. I wish I could pin my confidence to such a belief. billeted at Buire. Here he took over as second in command of D Company. leaves me with a doubt. A prompt yes passed him fit. There is no place where a woman and her daughter can hide and be at peace. the psychological impact) of this primitive terror bombing on the civilian population – and not only the civilian population – made an indelible impression on Liddell Hart. . singing ‘Pack 85 . and one could see the gleam of light each time a trapdoor opened to drop a bomb. After a short interval at the vast base camp at Étaples. He set off from Charing Cross on the same train. you will only infuriate them”. midway between Fricourt and La Boisselle.’ H. babies in arms. that everyone knew was coming. streaming out into the fields on the first sound of the alarm signals?’ he asked with a rhetorical flourish in Paris. and see air fleets passing overhead – dripping death – dripping death!’ The ‘moral effect’ (that is to say. you say “you cannot frighten English people that way. ‘No place is safe – no place is at peace. notorious for its draconian pronouncements on any conceivable reluctance. on account of the weather. To one staunch optimist he wrote: ‘with regard to possible bombing attacks on this country. shivering under a bitter wintry sky – the exposure must have caused far more harm than the few bombs dropped from two or three Zeppelins. or The Future of War (1925).

m. unable to continue his war. which ran across and beyond it. eight were wounded but survived until the next time. and. annihilated by a whizz-bang on the parapet of his own trench. Spicer and his band were to get forward as fast as they could.30 p. Liddell Hart was one the nucleus of officers held in immediate reserve. rally the men. Three died of wounds soon after. and one alone was left untouched. Liddell Hart’s battalion lost some 450 men (out of about 800) in the three days 1–3 July. Lancelot Spicer. Early in the afternoon of the first day the call went out for five officers in reserve to report themselves to Brigade HQ at Méaulte. These positions – if they could be found – were at least three-quarters of a mile away. most of them in the fi rst hour of the fi rst day. On 1 July the fi rst wave went over the top at 7.. together with an assorted group of cooks and bottle-washers. his opposite number in C Company. relieve the officers. Liddell Hart. as soon as the reserve brigade arrived. So began an anabasis almost worthy of the wide-eyed Fabrizio at Waterloo. The orders were easier to give than to receive. The little group started walking and running along the road. In his capacity as second in command. Only five officers succeeded in reaching the German front line. perhaps 86 . They reported first to a staff captain in Méaulte. about three miles down the road. By 1. including the four company commanders and the hapless CO. Spicer taking charge. roughly 350 yards away. In all. It was generally believed that the attack would be a cakewalk. pressed into service to ferry the wounded from the battle field. and three others buckled on their kit and set off. ready to carry on in the unimaginable event that others were knocked out. behind and roughly parallel with the old German front line. half of the officers of the regiment were dead. A third was shipped home a few days later. reorganise the battalion in South Sausage Support. a trench line still behind the original German front but not as far behind as the Sunken Road. gave them a lift on its way back. This precaution almost certainly saved his life.m. now established in advanced headquarters in the old front-line trenches. Two of these did not live to tell the tale.30 a. who told them the rest.on art and war and terror Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag’ as they went. Others followed in quick succession. with forward elements in Crucifi x Trench. but it was a warm day and they were suitably grateful when an old horse ambulance. What remained of the battalion was on the aptly-named Sunken Road between Fricourt and Contalmaison. who told them some of the story and sent them on to the brigadier himself. Liddell Hart remained at Buire.

At around midnight. and they had hardly begun. The flesh cringed. After wandering high and low across the field of battle.00 and 11. by a Shakespearian gravedigger. with 9th KOYLI and its two sister battalions in support. newly arrived. Their primary objective was Bazentin-le-Petit Wood and the village beyond. and the dead. He had survived the fi rst day of the Battle of the Somme virtually unscathed. Animal and mineral congealed. The five were hot and tired and scared. Liddell Hart had been lucky. putrid too’ – where Liddell Hart (now commanding C Company) was warned off. Treading on your own men was excruciating. and then they were off again.m. Ignoring them was worse. After two desperate days and nights under the grinding conversation of the guns. On all sides lay a blasted waste. The clamour of the wounded was agonising. Between dodging the living and dodging the dead. The disorientation of no man’s land was complete. across the debatable land between the lines. ‘somewhat jaded’. apparently. The crack and thump and whoop and crash of shot and shell was terrifying. The way led through the charnel-house of Mametz Wood – ‘the putrescent forest. C Company formed the immediate brigade reserve. nauseously.broomstick horrors more. The air moaned. over the lonely top. 16 July. in the teeth of the enemy’s guns. according to the laconic Spicer. as the fighting continued and became increasingly confused. but prudently delayed posting it. they eventually discovered the makeshift battalion HQ in a large dug-out just off the Sunken Road. prophetically. . He composed his own goodbye on 15 July. It had taken the relief party some nine hours to effect a relief. War and the intervals of war . pell-mell into the void.00 p. they lost their way. and narrowly escaping the attentions of several well-placed snipers. Snipers. for a renewed offensive against the German second line. Spicer himself assumed temporary command of the remnants of the battalion from the courageous young subaltern who had carried them that far. which continued to function as efficiently as ever. and tumbled in. they were ordered to occupy an old German trench just 87 . . despite a wound to his jaw. It was somewhere between 9. After a week of rest they shipped out once more. They waited out an extra-heavy barrage. The following day. in the absence of anyone more senior. The assault was to be delivered by another brigade. Not surprisingly. maintaining a sense of direction was almost impossible. 9th KOYLI were withdrawn late on 3 July. were everywhere.

diary keeping may prove fatal. again bereft. too. including ‘poor old Gordon’ (who had a breakdown after his experiences on 1 July). Liddell Hart might well have appreciated how fitting was his fate to be written out of the former. 88 . but after getting the wound bandaged. private correspondence is no help. on the evening of 16 July 1916. For a brief but crowded moment he. he was so inexperienced and jumpy that the NCOs who were commanding the platoons came to me. War diaries are in fact official diaries – ‘washroom prattle and adjutants’ gossip’ (Hans Delbrück) – by analogy with official histories. and clenched tight. remains intensely obscure. The company commander sustained a minor wound: I got a puncture in my hand. this time by his own doing. to fill a gap that had arisen after two companies from another battalion had evidently missed their way. and for the less good reason that there is usually something to hide. Liddell Hart and his men cowered through Mametz Wood under murderous harassing fi re. so I seized the chance of sending him back for medical treatment. Spicer’s résumés for his parents indicate the fate of most of his fellows.on art and war and terror behind Bazetin-le-Petit Wood. Simply put. For Liddell Hart it was a repeat predicament – again helpless. the targets of some gruesome gunnery practice. but there is no mention of poor old Hart. There is. is sadly lacking. More unexpectedly. two of them soon after and two them long after the event – and all in some measure commingled – to say nothing of the ant-like activity in between: the habitual self-analyses. as only one other officer [Beattie] was left. for the good reason that for the war diarist. in spite of the fact that Liddell Hart himself essayed or assayed the story on at least four occasions. kept erratically and as like as not laggardly. a superabundance of Liddell Hart. 20 Finally they found the designated trench. Adept in excoriation of the latter. these last religiously mute on his own experience. and the meaning of what happened next. unlike other diarists. the indefatigable enquiries. the serial histories. yet by no means autobiographically silent. indeed. took cover. with a note asking that he should not be returned as I could manage better without his assistance. to complain that he was upsetting the men. The battalion war diary is no help. for the next twenty-four hours. however. though that is only to be expected. I carried on. together. Liddell Hart disappeared into Mametz Wood. The war diary is a fragmented and untrustworthy document. Moreover. Corroborative testimony. shells splintering the trees as they inched by. Shortly afterward he came to show me an almost invisible prick in his skin. What happened next.

trapes phantom flares. walk confidently into hard junk. a highly poisonous gas shell. Magically. Between disappearance and reappearance is a blank slate on which he alone has written. we thought they were ordinary shells which had failed to explode and we were congratulating ourselves on our lucky escapes. Barrage with counter-barrage shockt deprive all sounds of their identity. mostly a familiar exaltation of the already over-exalted. when as we were passing down the [disused] railway through Mametz Wood. It runs as follows: That night [17–18 July] at midnight we were relieved. the typescript dated 8 September 1916. when suddenly the air was full of the fumes of gas. Liddell Hart is his own best witness. which killed a lot of our gunners and others. And now no view of him whether he makes a sally. warily circumambulate malignant miraged obstacles. Of his various accounts. by your bruised lips and the smart to your cheek bone. no possibility of informed action nor certain knowing whether he gives or turns to stand. a short book or long booklet by ‘a company commander who saw three and a half weeks of it’. and we realised that the Germans had just started to use a new invention. and there was no noise and no flash. grope in extended line of platoon through nether glooms concentrically.broomstick horrors was one of the missing of the Somme. You know the bough hangs low. My personal interest in the offensive ceased from now on. therefore. as these shells came over like whizz-bangs and fell to the ground around us without exploding. the Germans started bombarding the wood and our gun positions near it with thousands of a new sort of shell. At fi rst. Faute de mieux. now stronger and more pungent than ever with the miasma of death and decay. 21 On which enigmatic note it ends. what dark convulsed cacophony conditions each disparity and the trembling woods are vortex for the storm. and I sent my company back by platoons. on the morning of 18 July 1916. the fullest near-contemporary one is contained in his unpublished ‘Impressions of the Great British Offensive on the Somme’. No longer light of day on the quick and the dead but blindfold beating the air and tentative step by step deployment of the shades. Solid things dissolve and vapours ape substantiality. through which their bodies grope their mazy charnel-ways – 89 . When the shivered rowan fell you couldn’t hear the fall of it. he reappeared.

23 What they diagnosed may be inferred from the ‘Notes for Autobiography (of Basil Henry Liddell Hart) written in 1920’. The evidence gives out. ‘I had developed bronchitis and my heart was dilated. and lead them all back to the battalion bivouac [near Méaulte].on art and war and terror seek to distinguish men from walking trees and branchy moving like a Birnam copse. what takes you unawares. probably in that order. and then hurried on to catch the leading platoon at the rallying point. there followed a reprise of 1915: swift passage via Corbie to the Duchess of Westminster’s at Le Touquet. in a dark wood. he continued his narrative: I was coughing violently but stayed on the spot to warn and direct the platoons that were following. What can be deduced from all this? In the small hours of 18 July 1916. by morning on 18 July. panicked and gassed. dark hidden ills. was shelled. like Garlon’s truncheon that struck invisible. Liddell Hart. but he did 90 . history will not avail us. low purlins for high chambers. after a short stay. come on you softly. jutments you meet suddenly. What became of the fog-walker in the wood? What ills assailed him? What took him unawares? What broom-stick horrors flew? The new horror was phosgene. search to the liver. There they insisted on examining my chest. When morning came I went to the nearest field ambulance to get my earlier [hand] wound freshly dressed – feeling rather bad but still unaware how bad. There. ‘more deadly although less painful than the chlorine gas fi rst used in war the year before’. but that’s more like a nettle to the touch. published in 1965. blocks and hard-edged clobber to litter dark entries. 22 In the matter of Liddell Hart and Mametz Wood. All curbs for fog-walkers. what rides the air as broom-stick horrors fly – clout you suddenly. stumble stones and things set up for the blind. and some pointed questions. after a long intermission. where only weeds stir to the night gusts if you feel with your hand. lurkers who pounce. as Liddell Hart put it in his memoirs.’24 Once stretchered. to London. things thrust from behind or upward. in which it is confidently reported that. David Jones’s re-imagination furnishes some clues. You sensed him near you just now. an early presumption on posterity. He did not know exactly what had hit him in that incomprehensible place. and immediately put me on a stretcher. Poetry has the longer reach. and so. & on your left Joe Donkin walked. already shocked.

and of all wars. Officers. with a fine prospect of joining them.25 Was he lost.26 His sympathetic discussion of ‘the men of England’ had a strong personal undertone – self-confessedly. that it is hard to keep up morale when men are tired. but also the German gunners). besides. at least for some of the time. True history and “patriotic history” have little in common. Four years later. Was he alone. His chest must have felt as if it were being compressed by an iron band that was gradually getting tighter. he was one of them – but it was couched overall in terms of the collectivity. Was it also Liddell Hart’s? It seems that it was. He was coughing violently. that it is worst of all when they cannot ease the strain by having someone to fight against. he did not give: so he says. perhaps. was Liddell Hart quite well? Outwardly.broomstick horrors know that it was having an effect. especially when suffering from shock and surprise and shaken by some intangible danger. alone with the lurkers? More likely. in 1939. but we also know. The friend of every country but his own’ – as some of his countrymen undoubtedly came to feel. one of the nameless and faceless of this war. on the eve of 91 . Not totally alone. were almost never totally alone – which is not to deny that they themselves may have felt it. His lurkers pounced in Mametz Wood. in the mazy charnelways? He may well have been. however.’ Once weaned off ‘Really Great British Generals’. among the decaying dead. How did he acquit himself? Did he give or turn to stand? What did it cost him? In the inimitable argot of the Field Service Post Card. He would ransack the official blasphemies and stigmatise as ‘patriotic’ or ‘parochial’ the spineless chauvinism and peevish involution he too often encountered there. and no remains. and that there are more than a few occasions when even “the men of England” suffered from panic like normal human beings. ‘You remark that you “saw the men of England go bravely into battle”’ he replied to a correspondent in 1935. he was alone with his shadow – his human shadow – his soldier servant. if we are honest with ourselves. that men were not always like they are pictured in heroic poems. ‘So did many of us. Liddell Hart became a notable cosmopolitan – ‘A steady patriot of the world alone. There is more to be said than that. especially if he strayed from the railway (which would have served to guide his platoons. He had that merciless taste at the back of his nose and throat. and it is greatly to his credit that he himself made several attempts over the years to say it. This was the sum of Sidney Rogerson’s worst fears. hungry and sick. but alone enough. more than most mortals.

it is a fact that in 1915 I refused the offer of a staff job. merely a threadbare vraisemblance. There is a mismatch between visage and viscera. prone to breathlessness and palpitation. particularly in the personally catastrophic period immediately before and after the outbreak of the Second World War. nor the extent to which I yielded to fear. he gives: so he also says. and that the effects I suffered were largely due to the efforts made in warning my other platoons when I should have let myself be carried down. For it is a fact that I bombarded my parents into giving their permission. it is a fact that when in hospital in Rouen that autumn I resisted being sent back to hospital in England and.on art and war and terror another war. and found wanting. The performance is revealed to be just that – a performance – not truthfulness. Still he turns to stand – repeatedly. in order to seize the fi rst chance of going out to France. All that sounds quite noble. it is a fact that in Bazentin in the Somme Offensive I remained in the front line two days. one of his ‘reflections’ offered a personal statement of a more unfettered kind: How easy it would be on the facts to represent oneself in a heroic light. he was 50 per cent disabled from gas poisoning. painfully. instead. In and out of Mametz Wood. After the Somme – even on the Somme – Liddell Hart lacked intestinal fortitude. it is a fact that the following year I again refused the chance of staying on home service. to me joining up in 1914. until we were relieved. it is a fact that my service at the front was only ended by gassing (from a surprise burst of the new phosgene gas-shells onto the track through Mametz Wood) sufficiently serious for me to receive the maximum wound award. trumped by a cryptic confession (if that is what it is)? To all outward appearances the performance remains unchanged. and fit only for ‘Light Duty in an Office’. But now the essential truthfulness of the performance has been called into question. Officially. as officially required. underweight and overgrown. he knew that he was not physically brave. The fog-walker is in the wood. which would have carried promotion. For Basil Hart the real war 92 . after having had an adequate excuse for going back – in a puncture which at any rate was not so slight as the wound which my second in command got and for which I sent him back. But it is not all the facts – as I am aware of them. certainly not whole truthfulness. That remarkable second paragraph cuts close to something vitally important for Liddell Hart. the Ypres Salient. Having come through the first. 27 What are we to make of this ironic recapitulation. Inwardly. contrived to secure a transfer to the hottest part of the front. the liver had been searched. It does not record the extent to which they were due to a fear of being afraid.

of unknown cause’ – and. including practised self-advertisement. Robert Graves. but there is scant evidence of any deep-seated war neurosis. an element of social construction.broomstick horrors was over – or about to begin. near Oxford. Unofficially. nor nervous strain. and he was too junior to be a château general. and with the officers of his battalion about the much-mocked ‘Beattie’s blighty’. ‘Constitutionally inadequate’. ‘It is neither fatigue per se. Or rather. or in more clinical language neurasthenic. as many did. According to expert opinion. otherwise I had a few reminders of the war. My particular disability was neurasthenia. he had a similar sort of breakdown to the protesting Siegfried 93 . the train journey and the first-class army railway-warrant filled out with my rank and regiment usually produced reminiscential neurasthenia by the time I reached the board.29 One of them was Liddell Hart. He grew up that way. this is ‘a condition of instability and abnormal irritability of the nervous and circulatory systems. in fact. The two writer-captains had a lot in common. In the future. as the term is usually understood. It would be presumptuous to say that he was undamaged. not forgetting his rank and seniority. Liddell Hart’s case was more akin to that of another famous veteran. The only offices on the Western Front were at the Western Rear. He did not have a breakdown. as yet. but slyness was never one of Liddell Hart’s strong suits. and his adventures on the Somme significantly exacerbated the problem. and later a close collaborator. Before the month was out he was in correspondence with the KOYLI depot about his transfer. it is a state of ill-health which may attend or follow each of these conditions or indeed others too. describes him almost perfectly. some of his behaviour might well be characterised as neurotic or hysterical. except my yearly visit to the standing medical board.’ However constructed.’28 Perhaps the imputation is unfair. nor psychoneurosis. given his general disposition and his on-going obsessions and anxieties. He was undismayed. as they were known) soldier’s heart was not only an incontrovertible reality but a more or less chronic condition. for some individuals (the constitutionally inadequate. nor infection. But psychologically he was never seriously at risk. Many of his fibrillations and tribulations could be interpreted as a classic case of ‘soldier’s heart’. or even possibly stand alone. he made a rapid recovery. ‘The villagers called me “The Captain”. For a short period after the war that sly self-advertiser found a temporary billet in Islip. it is now clear. The board continued for some years to recommend me for a disability pension.

greater réclame. Liddell Hart was given his voice by something he hated – rhapsodically. which never completely surrendered the notion that. or because . but hardly less passion. I’ve only broken out’ – except that in Liddell Hart’s case the breakout was not contemporaneous with the war but long after it. certainly. says Valéry: ‘fame. in spite of the Salient. scandal. Like Vigny’s captain. He abhorred war. half-knowingly.’33 As he had written. he felt a similar sort of alienation to the despairing Wilfred Owen – ‘all a poet can do today is warn. in spite of all. instead of a gallant adventure. not because he wrote in verse. Liddell Hart was a war poet of a kind.on art and war and terror Sassoon – ‘I haven’t broken down. there was a small grain of the mature being which never ceased entirely its juvenile exaltation. bloodless struggle may seem a premonition?’31 Liddell Hart was prone to premonition. He abhorred its irrationality.30 The parallels are not fortuitous. ‘Every confession has an ulterior motive’.’ he recorded in 1934. war could be an uplifting experience. Yet his confession. ‘I am haunted by the struggle against the poison gas. but the plain truth that. Yet in the final analysis. The same notion is impregnated in the lines of Owen and Sassoon. stubbornly weighting the scales. Or rather. and nothing is more wonderful than man. he is setting out on a farcical futility. Like the others. with less sublimity. its contagion. Liddell Hart found himself on the Somme. It is not sweet to die for your country. as fundamental to his life as it was fruitful for his art. ‘There are many wonderful things. as many did. Liddell Hart was afraid of being afraid – and of yielding to fear. that is why the true poets must be truthful’ – except that in Liddell Hart’s case again the syndrome was much delayed. embraced a contradiction. an excuse. . . and the despair transferred from the fi rst war to the second. and in his day. too. But it can be noble. In some crevice of his consciousness was always the fog-walker in the wood.’ wrote André Malraux. spent his life chiselling and transmuting war as he knew it into war as we know it. It is bitter.’32 Like a true war poet. twenty years after his ‘Credo’. that crazed.34 94 . was materially incomplete. like all confessions. the mature Liddell Hart was profoundly humane. in spite of the Somme. but belatedly. In this sense. ‘Is this because I pinned down the events of the Vistula long ago. or propaganda. He did not feel alienated. and also because he too. its waste: ‘It is not the horrors of war that will deter any virile young man from welcoming it. he was reluctant to admit that he was also afraid of being thought to be afraid. but because he.

as Liddell Hart delicately put it. There was. as you know. and he is always spending.37 95 . he covered this deficiency of personal observation by an uncanny mastery of what was reported and by a masterly organization of his intelligence. keeping him on a retainer for the purpose.’36 For Liddell Hart. In the well-bred circles of the British Army. commander of the Australian Corps on the Western Front in 1918. most conspicuously through the inspired medium of Lloyd George’s war memoirs. but his central concern was. but that was not all. Thus.broomstick horrors Liddell Hart knew well enough that ‘the only currency of unchallengeable value which circulates in an army is a reputation for courage’. Monash had a good deal to live down. In his historical writings. He was. As one of Liddell Hart’s correspondents informed him. Not only was he Australian. he had the rarer type of courage – moral courage. and usually magnanimous. He promoted this view sedulously and successfully throughout the inter-war period. ‘Monash had probably the greatest capacity for command in modern war among all who held command’ in the First World War.35 Publicly and privately he did what he could to devalue it. He was prepared to warrant the popular allegation of Monash’s relative deficit in physical courage. a six-volume blockbuster. Monash’s account was alleged to be overdrawn. Monash ‘had the moral courage to get rid of an officer who did not like bullets while he himself I really believe hated them just as much. Such a profile was quite sufficient to cater for most of the common prejudices. to recast the conventional figuration. during the composition of which the canny Welsh wizard made sure to pump ‘the world’s great military historian’ very thoroughly for his opinions on strategy and command. Liddell Hart was generally unprejudiced. Moreover. He was thought to lack the he-man stuff. If a man’s courage is his capital (in Lord Moran’s famous metaphor). and highly accomplished. The military historian himself was strikingly free of militarily prejudices – except for the obstinate marble-mindedness of the high command – and he did not subscribe to any of those contaminating Monash. delighting in danger. But if he was not seen much in the front trenches. painter-like. Monash was by no means a born leader of tradition. ‘another cause’. he was not by profession a soldier but a civil engineer. a Jew and I have only met one Jew who was physically brave. the principal vehicle for that effort was the reputation of General Sir John Monash (1861–1935). so that he saw more exactly through these compound lenses than anybody else with their own eyes. and Jewish.

the victory sealed with a jubilant exclamation mark. . it begins with Monash and ends with himself: In criticism of Monash you maintained that no-one who was a physical coward could be a good tactician. of course. 96 . The personal experience he recounted so conclusively to Ironside was a piece of Liddell Hartian selffashioning. I agree that for leadership of troops in the field it is necessary to be able to hide one’s own fears. Contrary to ancient military wisdom. ‘by the incompetent commander during which he hopes that some plan will suggest itself to his muddy brain’. Unless. If that is how things were. yet.38 Well forward. but that is a different thing from not having them. than above. physical courage is the essential demand of the typical British officer – but it might not axiomatically be best. by way of rebutting the latter’s prejudicial account of Monash’s supposed deficiencies. as Liddell Hart understood. lurkers lay in wait. Suggestively. like many victories. had a certain hollowness to it. and one of my COs reported on me to the same effect. a marble-minded antagonist. than above. then the victory. . Lawrence told Liddell Hart. and have found a general consensus of opinion that a man could rarely be a good tactician unless he had a fair degree of fear in his composition . On both counts I disagree. a cigarette case inscribed to the effect that they would follow me ‘to hell’. Liddell Hart believed – more exactly. he would be king. E. the average in physical courage. militarily. Monash liked to say. the men took the somewhat unusual step of subscribing among themselves to give me. perhaps a necessary piece. I can even add some evidence from my personal experience: I know myself well enough to be quite aware that I am rather below. There was no obvious need to say as much to him. He set out his case in a deeply-felt letter to General Sir Edmund Ironside. as a parting token. To be well forward might conform to the insufferable ideal – as T. the average in physical courage’. the venial sin was only a device to introduce the clinching cigarette case – a brilliant stroke – and win the argument. The fi rst I have discussed with innumerable fighting soldiers. time spent on reconnaissance is often wasted. Was confession becoming addictive? Ironside was the old pretender.on art and war and terror Here was the nub of the matter. he was obliged to believe – that physical courage was an overrated quality as compared with moral courage. invoked again in his memoirs. when I left one battalion. or have the necessary strength of character for leadership. So you may grant that I have at any rate some reason to know that the ability of winning men’s confidence in one’s leadership does not depend on being physically brave!39 ‘Rather below.

p. Survivor. 1998). A Kind of Survivor (London: Gollancz. pp. LH to his parents. 28 November 1914. 7 August 1932. Liddell Hart [LH]. 2. ‘Historical facts are. p. in Alex Danchev. up hill and down dale. an imaginative tour de force. 97 . in Alchemist. for they had not yet met. He also had a talent for fugue. H. Liddell Hart was undeniably hot for truth. 9 September 1915. 43–4 (emphases in original). 76. 46.’ he reflected later.41 The case itself was buried in his bottom drawer. 3. for whom the green tree bore scarlet memorial. and herb and arborage waste?42 Notes 1. in essence. The General (1936). p. 45. ‘But it is also a mistake to think of them as grey. Heart of Darkness (London: Penguin. They are black and white. Forester. thought. p. or for preference to a beery smoker in central Stroud. 112–13. ‘It is a mistake to talk and think of people as either black or white. in Alchemist. psychological facts. 19 September 1930. 5. but not as he implied. and deep-bowelled damage. but from the bookkeepers and counter clerks who made up the 4th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Volunteer Regiment. To be precise. review of LH’s The Real War (1930). Joseph Conrad.broomstick horrors It all happened as he said. as inscribed. 4. Alchemist of War (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. That parting token did not come from his old comrades on the Somme. biffing imaginary Boche into the Severn.’ said the French historian Marc Bloch. Daily Telegraph. in Guy Chapman. in Chapman. ‘They therefore fi nd their antecedents in other psychological facts. C. 1975). Commandant Henches. 172. Thomas. puffi ng verdantly to and fro.’40 The facts of the famous cigarette case are very psychological. 66. ‘A Poet in the Trenches’. 6. John Buchan. 1995). S. T. Memory Hold-The-Door (London: Hodder & Stoughton.’ Who under the green tree had awareness of his disremembering. Jacques Meyer. p. pp. p. 1914). the wording of the inscription was the brainchild of the men from the Merry and Bright Section. ‘Credo’. and LH’s comments were mostly confi ned to technicalities. 45. was ‘vetted’ by LH in proof and is strikingly LH-like in outlook – an influence or consonance already present. in Alchemist. Some of these citizen-soldiers surely would follow him to hell.

Fielding. 136–9. 167. ‘Autobiography’. Memoirs. p. ‘Forced to Think’. pp. p.on art and war and terror 7. in Henry Morley (ed. p. ‘Forced to Think’. 13–14 November 1915. B. xii. His Memoirs do not mention this episode. 20. 18. 50. 47. 17 and 18 November 1915. ‘Autobiography’. in Alchemist. p. pp. 22 March 1935. The same passage is quoted. 98 . 10. 256. The Charterhouse of Parma [1839] (London: Penguin. one real (on the Somme) and one imagined (on the Vistula): Lord Moran. 57–9 (Fabrizio at Waterloo). 1925). The Anatomy of Courage (London: Constable. p.). 1945). Under Fire [1917] (London: Dent. pp. W. in Alchemist. Prodigality. and Edmonds. 45–6. 23 April 1935. 184–6. G. in Alchemist. 24. 21. 1937). 296. 1952). pp. his son]. LH to his parents. in Alchemist. p. A Passionate Prodigality [1933] (London: Buchan & Enright. 17 and 18 November 1915. pp. ‘Impressions’. 59. Cf. trans. 25. p. George Canning. 62. H. Diary. LH to Castlerosse. 23. 328. Memoirs. 102. André Malraux. in George A. pp. LH to Castlerosse. 1926). pp. LH to his parents. 103. Henri Barbusse. 17. 15–16. Margaret R. Panichas (ed. Shaw. pp. 15. two other fog-walkers. Paris. Stendhal. 48. pp. Fitzwater Wray. trans. some thirty years later. 48. in Alchemist. 17. p. 25–6. in Alchemist. 6 November 1934. The War in the Air [1908] (London: Odhams. ‘Forced to Think’. Cf. 50. Guy Chapman. LH to his parents. in Memoirs. W. trans. in Alchemist. p. p. LH.d. 29 September and 6 October 1915. 19. 15 November 1915. 101. p. A. 12. ‘Forced to Think’. ‘Intestinal poisoning due to gas shell’. 27 May 1916. Promise of Greatness (London: Cassell. Chapman. 9. 1985). 1933). Memoirs. 18. 8. The Walnut Trees of Altenburg [1941] (London: Lehmann. ‘Foreword’ to Sidney Rogerson. LH. p. p. pp. 26. in Alchemist. in Alchemist. ‘Moral’ used to be a more common form than ‘morale’. 1968). p. Diary. p. p. Twelve Days (London: Barker. 110. 179–80. n.). p. 5. ‘New Morality’ [1798]. 11. Parodies and Other Burlesque Pieces (London: Routledge. 14. Wells. Adrian Liddell Hart [ALH. In Parenthesis (London: Faber. 49–50. LH. 22. in Alchemist. in a contemporary notebook.). 51–2. 61. ‘Notes for Autobiography’ (1920). p. ‘Shell Shock and gastritus’ in a contemporary notebook. 16. 1890). 1958). ‘The Real War Recalled’ (1980). David Jones. p. or the Future of War (London: Kegan Paul. LH to his parents. 13. 47.

p. 16.). Sherston’s Progress (New York: Doubleday. Masters and Friends (London: Routledge. 25 March 1937. See Alfred de Vigny. Correspondence with Jackson. 57–8. in Alchemist. ‘Reflection’. The reference is to Owen’s ‘old Lie’ (originally Horace’s old truth). in Alchemist. CT: Yale University Press. 1968). Robert Graves. Paul Dudley White. 37. Economy and the Military Mind (London: Croom Helm. 29 October 1917. p. 197–226. p. pp. 28. in T. ‘Gloucester Volunteer Regiment’. 100–1. 1935. 40. Jackson to LH. LH. Sandra M. p. Malraux. 27 July 1917. in Geoffrey Best and Andrew Wheatcroft (eds). 29. 162. 333). p. 1974). 33. 62–3. Antigone (1. draft preface [1918]. in Margaret Randolph Higonnet et al. Gilbert. 39. Wilfred Owen. p. Heart Disease (New York: Macmillan. LH to Ironside. 14. 514. LH. Fog. Sophocles. Paul Valéry. Conventionally. 1996). Goodbye to All That [1929] (London: Penguin 1960). pp. 31. 150. Marc Bloch. 36. 32. War. Through the Fog of War (London: Faber. trans. 35. Siegfried Sassoon. 67–8. The Poems of Wilfred Owen (London: Chatto. 1946). 4 0ctober 1935. 34. 1976). 1938). ‘Regimental Ideology’. 38. 31 October 1933. LH diary. Lazarus. ‘Soldier’s Heart’. in Alchemist. 99 . Lawrence to his Biographers (London: Cape 1963). 197.broomstick horrors 27. pp. p. 1990). 66. 192. LH. Gloucestershire Echo. p. 38. p. Thoughts on War (London: Faber. 42. ‘time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted’. 1987). 41. dulce et decorum est pro patria mori: it is sweet and meet to die for one’s country. Roger Gard. Behind the Lines (New Haven. 68. 150. Martin Turnell. p. reflection. p. trans. 1936). in Jon Stallworthy (ed. pp. 1944). 257. 93. pp. Servitude and Grandeur of Arms [1835] (London: Penguin. 30. p. 4 July 1936. p. (eds). Cf. 23 April 1939. Parenthesis. Apologie pour l’histoire [1949] (Paris: Colin. 189. LH. E. in Alchemist. John Keegan. LH. p. ‘With the Colours’. Jones. Stroud News and Gloucester Courier.

At the declaration. a father. The newcomer went to call on him regularly.5 The Strategy of Still Life. Seasoned Parisians carried their gas masks with soldierly resignation and expected the worst. Miró profited in both creation and reflection. They look for themselves in the past and see themselves in the future. a judge. if you press on the back of them with your fi nger the preparatory coat comes off. Down the lane was the great Georges Braque. and placed by a stranger in a sanctum of his thoughts. renting a house in the village and seeking his own version of renewal. I could start out by taking red-hot irons and applying them to the wood the way Braque and Mariette did . Encouraged by Braque. the preparation Braque and Balthus use . Use a solvent to remove that preparation and then give the canvas a coat of white lead or casein. Georges Braque1 To become for someone else an example of the dedicated life. This was the drôle de guerre – the Phoney War – war declared but not yet battle joined. he began an experimental series of works 100 . Miró took refuge there throughout the Phoney War.3 In spite of the times. being secretly invoked. . Miró’s working notes offer glimpses of what passed between them: The preparation of the series of large canvases for Daphnis and Chloe is very unsatisfactory. like the primitive Mexicans used to . They were not disappointed. Paul Valéry2 The Second World War crept up on Europe. Braque was at his second home in Varengeville. a hallowed mentor. in September 1939. with almost Braquian slowness. . during the winter of 1939–40. . . Art and Current Affairs: Georges Braque and the Occupation Few people can say: I am here. Using the lost wax process – which Braque taught me – I could make some designs that could later be made in gold. near Dieppe in Normandy. pictured. . coaching Joan Miró in poker-work and life. so as to serve him as a witness. . or.

.’5 After a few months in Varengeville he was already talking about attaining ‘a high degree of poetry’ from the contemplative life he was leading. when he spoke of his working methods. His response to Cahiers d’Art constituted perhaps the most important unmediated written evidence he was ever persuaded to give: Contemporary events influence the painter. our future. For all that. Quality itself is innate.’ he reminded himself. the artist should not be expected to deliver a rounded verdict on the future of civilization. Twenty years later. For the rest. he still belongs to his time. he sounded exactly like his hallowed mentor: ‘I work like a gardener or a wine-grower. on the influence of events in the outside world on the creative artist – politically. Miró was inspired by Braque’s example: ‘Look to Braque. ‘as a model for everything that is skill.4 Propinquity paid dividends. that goes without saying. yes. may trouble those to come. and contemporary reference – the second in the series is called The Escape Ladder (1940) – producing some of his strongest images. and may disappear when the painter looks at his canvas. Ideas only ever enter his work as a driving force. .’6 Braque may have appeared serene. standing the test of time. for example. serenity. and reflection. Creative artists of every colouration were asking themselves the same question. unsuspected yesterday. natural phenomena. Other problems. all of a sudden. His role is not to prophesy.’ mused André Gide in his journal.the strategy of still-life on paper.’7 Braque could have said the same. even if he refuses to acknowledge certain a priori facts concerning either external events or the inner life. and we can see it persist. In art. cease to have for the men of tomorrow anything but an archaic meaning. Things come slowly. but the future of France. a delicate matter. who will not even understand our reason for existing . is at stake. it is fate of a kind that leads to valid decisions. but to what extent and in what form they mingle in his work. in which he played with surface texture. sink into the past. that cannot be determined. Biblical allusion. I am well aware in what sense I could say with Valéry that “events do not interest me”. everything that does not assert itself 101 . Constellations. Earlier that year. They bear only a very indirect relationship to the expression of quality. It developed almost in spite of me. He was more unsettled by the gathering storm than might have been supposed. but he was not. ‘Oh heavens. Everything that still concerns our thought may disappear. ‘None of the things I cherish spiritually is dependent on this war. In any case. the magazine Cahiers d’Art published the responses to one of its periodic surveys. I didn’t find my vocabulary of forms. to be sure.

on art and war and terror irresistibly. In this as in other matters he stood four-square with Paul Celan. . He lives on the same level as everyone else. Both felt a spiritual affinity with Hölderlin: But it is the sea That takes and gives remembrance. . Only let us distinguish. One cannot separate him from other men. can only promise failure and destruction. categorically. but that must be controlled. irrefutably.12 102 . I have never thought for one moment that art is an illusion. he lives through his age. he can suffer without being militant. like everyone else. His role is much too serious for what he wishes to contribute to be called ‘escapism’ or ‘happy holidays’ [terms used in the inquiry].11 Both appropriated Apollinaire to their own concerns. how is the painter supposed to stay abreast of events? A painting is not a snapshot. ‘Something is rotten in the state of D-mark. between art and current affairs. of the famous northern light and his carefully-designed south-facing studios. Whether the end result conveys serenity or anxiety is something we cannot know. here. Who said: ‘We have to live out our previous life’? Fulfilment requires physical time. this does not mean that the painter is not influenced. Do we need to repeat. And love no less keeps eyes attentively fi xed. in a manner reminiscent of the cryptograms in Braque’s papiers collés. [his maxim] that we are concerned with establishing not an anecdotal fact but a pictorial fact? The artist is always under threat . concerned and more by history.’9 Guernicas were not his style. We do not give enough credit to the dark forces that drive us. But his work depends too much on the past for him to accommodate to the changes of the hour with a clear conscience. that many – in their optimistic approach to the universe – seek to ignore. advancing slowly and continually rediscovering before us the mystery we are striving to repel.10 Both men loved puns. if it takes ten years to conceive and execute a canvas. Whatever is viable in the creative process develops involuntarily. Once again.’ quipped Celan. The poet of the death fugue and the painter of the dustbin shared an unexpected sense of humour. of the poet-life and his own struggle. he suffered without being militant: ‘The militant is a man behind a mask. engaging one’s whole being beyond all discussion. ‘What a game!’ said Celan. What mattered was staunchness: whether the work (and the worker) would hold. Changes of régime necessarily affect the life of the painter since. But what is lasting the poets provide. According to his own precept. ‘What a joke!’ said Braque.8 Braque had been troubled by the march of events for some time.

Impregnation could not be rushed or forced.’13 Both eschewed direct social comment and were criticised for it.’ wrote Gide. for the undertow of the work in motion. Celan considered Brecht’s hammer-blow agitprop too ‘explicit’. He had no wish to tell stories.’ he confided once to Louis Clayeux. There is the murmur of moral scruple.15 His drum and trumpet played in private.16 The chequebook Braque was a sore temptation – one more sumptuous still life for the wellappointed drawing room. is pure Braque. His apothegm. alert to the appetites of the dollar millionaires hungrily fingering their chequebooks. Constancy is the lonelier furrow. played on that all too human feeling. His dealer.18 He offered quiverings and intimations. ‘One is so alone in life that from time to time one feels the need to make something people like. Celan also subscribed to slowness. hence the sharp distinction between art and ‘current affairs’. too. ‘In art the temptation to please too easily is ever-present’. ‘I call “journalism” everything that will be less interesting tomorrow than today. By the time of the Munich Agreement (September 1938). he did not make statements. above all for the idea of art as a realm not subject to prediction or legislation. quietly. could have come straight out of Braque’s notebook. There is no scream in Braque. in which 103 . Braque’s testamentary emphasis came from the heart: ‘It is very important for an artist to combat routine. ‘How many great artists win their cases only on appeal!’14 There. John Berger has observed: ‘it comes with mastery. Braque did not go in for history painting. the bedrock faith of both practitioners. making towards the unknown. Braque felt similarly about Picasso’s Communist capers and the famous dove of peace. His statement of purpose. Braque was not so much grower as remueur. and his immersive calling: ‘With art you go into your very selfmost straits. Braque and Celan stand together. ‘to sketch out reality for myself’. Ecstasy is easy: talent will see you through. Yet both dwelt in the world.’ This called for constant vigilance and self-scrutiny. turning the bottles over the years as the wine slowly ages. Apart from the utterances in his notebook (‘the democracies have replaced pomp with luxury’). And set yourself free.the strategy of still-life Celan’s characterisation of poetry as ‘a message in a bottle’ might well have appealed to Braque. no ecstatic ululation. So too his predicament. it exposes itself’.’17 In his own fashion he was attentive to the times. and on it.19 Skulls began to appear in his still lifes in 1937. ‘poetry no longer imposes itself. ‘stricken by and seeking reality’. for the element and the method of delivery.

when he was shelled and trepanned and temporarily blinded. ‘Before the war . doubling as a palette (a duality he relished). . seriously considered making a dash for Geneva. Marthe. he wrote to his dealer Paul Rosenberg in October 1939. they came alive to the touch. among his familiars. which I am greatly enjoying. It’s athletic work because I’ve got to bring stones up from 104 . Braque remembered a disturbing encounter with a mummy forty years earlier in the museum of his home town. he was at work on a series of Vanitas – still life as memento mori – culminating in a macabre Death’s Head (1943). he stopped painting. Ever reluctant to explain. but it was almost certainly the sculptor Henri Laurens and his wife. the end of his long convalescence from the trenches.’ as Leo Steinberg has said. With war imminent. Skulls were like musical instruments. The intimations intensified. In the event nothing came of it. engenders a work of art unless it becomes an inward occasion. Braque remained profoundly unsettled.21 It is difficult to believe that he did not also remember a subsequent disturbance in no man’s land.’20 He kept one in his studio in Varengeville. In August 1939 he and his wife. For the first time since 1917. and neutrality. Braque wavered. Georges Braque had a richer store of memento mori than most of humankind. ‘but the turbulence that’s arisen put a stop to all that. Skulls are otherwise absent from his œuvre. They were loath to go alone. Braque may have thought better of it. and asked another couple to join them. Le Havre. I’d started quite a few canvases’. . but Braque made no concession to coincidence. I haven’t gone back to painting and for about a month now I’ve been making sculptures. the drôlerie of the war in its initial stages may have encouraged them to stay put: it is impossible to be sure. a beached boat hoisted a tricolour.22 Braque was careful not to reveal the identity of this couple. ‘No external event. their closest friends. The idea was dropped and never resurrected. in 1915. at once mask and ghost. and floating eerily in space as if obeying a different law of gravity. he claimed that his interest was purely technical: ‘I was fascinated by the tactile quality of the rosary and the formal problems of mass and composition posed by the skull. Only one thing seems certain. In 1939. It may not have found favour with Laurens. Marcelle. In the same period a skull invaded other compositions. and great artists have long memories. before the borders closed. no matter how overwhelming its scope.on art and war and terror Britain and France accommodated to the changes of the hour by conniving at the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia.

Tactically and psychologically. Matisse enquired. poised to ship out 105 . For the next few months he toiled at not painting. occupied Paris. Methodically he cleaned his brushes and made his dispositions. a field force shattered and a people humiliated. don’t you know that the front is completely broken through. Paul Rosenberg had decamped to a rented chateau on the outskirts of Bordeaux. France had been eviscerated. The German armies overran Luxembourg.’24 On 10 May 1940 the weather turned vicious. His sensitive soul couldn’t bear what he had already lived through personally during the First World War. ‘To my tailor. as the Panzers bore down. ‘Our generals – are the École des Beaux-Arts. cuffed the British.000 wounded. Of the cyclone that was about to hit them. Matisse bumped into Picasso: ‘Where are you going like that?’ asked Picasso. they were absolutely unready.25 Open war restored Braque’s equilibrium. French and Belgian forces into the pocket of Dunkirk.’ replied Matisse. Phoney War made phoney work. For the French it was not so much a military defeat as a national catastrophe. It’s that above all that traumatized him for over a year. His faithful studio assistant Mariette Lachaud watched over him in distress: ‘He was so shocked by the disaster that was looming .000 prisoners in a day. ‘What. So deeply were they committed to a cut-price cat-fight on someone else’s territory that they had nothing to offer when lightning war exploded in their faces. In Paris. for the loss of one officer and forty men. it’s a stampede. the general staff had fewer intimations than Georges Braque. tomorrow they might be in Paris?’ ‘But. Rarely has a major power been so cruelly exposed. At one stage in the debacle the invaders took 10.’23 Pleasure leached away with the winter rains. our generals’. imposed an armistice on Marshal Pétain. slashed through the Ardennes. ‘what are they doing?’ Picasso looked at him seriously. Three days before the Panzers rolled. Hitler had achieved in seven weeks what the Germans had dreamt of for seventy years. normal leave was restored for the French army. The other was astounded. Luxury curdled into ignominy. . abandoned them to their fate. For the Germans it was a walkover.’ Competence was not to be expected in that quarter. He was dogged by influenza.the strategy of still-life the beach that sometimes weigh more than 20 kilos. The French counted 124. a further 200. overwhelmed General Gamelin. . the army’s turning somersaults. the Germans are approaching Soissons.000 dead. and staged a victory parade for the Führer on the Champs-Élysées. Churchill dignified it as the Battle of France.

They brought with them what little gold they possessed. and many who did not. Asked by their neighbour. where Rosenberg had already deposited fourteen Braques. near Evreux. Arthur Koestler logged the loss of hope. Mariette was afraid. Bridges were blown. They packed the canvases. a combination of forced migration and mass flight known to the French as the Exodus. 106 . She refused that too. The disappearance of the buses and taxis from the streets. Amélie for her part would not be separated from her daughter. a few kilometres away. He wept. and the canvases from Varengeville. Braque. Instead she set about undoing the canvases from their stretchers – 120 of them. Hitler himself could not have induced her to abandon her post. Mariette and Amélie. In between arrests as a suspicious alien. The melting away of the town. She refused. where Mariette’s family came from. the Braques’ cook. a domestic alliance held fast. twenty-one Matisses and thirty-three Picassos. trailing west and south. Braque returned a few days later. From there the four of them. but he did not linger. but she was the guardian of the studio. ‘The onslaught on the railway stations. were on the move. In the wreckage of international agreements. Those who had the means. together with a choice selection from his fabulous inventory. ‘who are you doing this for?’. where Braque’s elderly mother was staying with his sister Henriette. out of the path of the German juggernaut. Her work done. Mariette meanwhile had been left in the house in Paris with her mother Amélie. so they both stayed. for as long as they wished or felt the need. She was right. The Lachauds had invited the Braques to stay. Their journey was disorderly. north-west of Paris. Braque gave Henriette money – a lot of money – and drove on to Varengeville to regroup. she occupied her time in defiantly watering a row of newly-planted fir trees in the garden. then for the paintings. the fi ne linen and the silver in the car and set off together for Pacy. These were left in the strong-rooms of the National Bank for Commerce and Industry in Libourne.on art and war and terror if the moment came. ‘for my pleasure. if not for her. Marcelle. As German forces closed on the capital her friends tried to persuade her to leave. out of Paris. Braque and Marcelle visited him there in late May. She had instructions from Braque to destroy all his paintings if the Germans came.’26 She was certain that le maître would be back. the roads were chaotic and uncertain. headed south to La Valade in the Limousin. and where her aunt still lived. He was surprised to find his canvases rolled up and ready to go. she replied heroically. a sceptical Communist.

but they would also have heard that the crossing was dangerous and the reception on the other side at best unpredictable. Braque’s friend Carl Einstein took his own life. as Matisse did in Nice. according to the Nazis. The tommy-guns of the “fl ics” [police] at the street corners. The peculiar glance of the people in the Underground. above the fray. He seemed unruffled by all the turbulence.’27 In certain cases the loss of hope was irreparable. observant. not far away. if it came to it? Could he bolt? Bolting.the strategy of still-life as if infected with consumption. Braque presiding calmly at the huge table like a minister. he may have made some more deposits. He displayed a keen interest in their jars of pickled snails and mushrooms. and moved on. they teamed up with the Derains. If the art was degenerate. He was obviously a fine man. in splendid isolation. out of reach? Could he leave France. The caravan divided. The local residents cordially approved of their distinguished visitor. was almost inconceivable. Other questions pressed in.30 Could he exist unmolested in Occupied Paris? Could he paint? Could he sit it out.’ reported the old soldier. The Fifth Column psychosis. impeccable. with the dim candles of fear lit behind their eyeballs. south of Toulouse. where they stayed with André Derain’s cousin. After the Blitzkrieg. or Bonnard in nearby Le Cannet.29 But he could not stay there for ever. and fed a hearty appetite. unaffected. it was only to rule it out for the foreseeable future. The Braques and the Lachauds and their precious cargo were safely established in La Valade by the end of May. pleased to be among these good people. he decided to take his chances in Paris. within sight of the Pyrenees. Braque visited Bordeaux again from La Valade in June. 107 . If he discussed emigration with Paul Rosenberg. In Barbezieux. They buried the canvases. Their odyssey seemed to be tending in that direction. from their youthful sojourns in Céret and Collioure. ‘Morale is good. now. He was still conducting business with the bank. sleeping on straw. near Port Bou. after a month of watching and waiting.31 In July 1940. stashed goods and chattels in the roof. They lived higgledy-piggledy with everyone else. what of the artist under that dispensation? How should he live? Where should he go? Braque had not given up the idea of returning to his house and his studio in the capital if conditions allowed. Braque and Derain would have been familiar with the Mediterranean end of the border. 28 For about three weeks the barnhouse became their southern headquarters. The caravan rolled on to Gaujac. curious about their lives. The parachutist scare.

bent on shaking up this collection of ‘Jews. Some had no wish to fight for the King of England. Braque’s greatest tribune – his Diderot – Jean Paulhan was now the editor of the Nouvelle Revue Française.’33 His commitment was serpentine. basically by love of my native land. There were precedents – Cézanne had painted apples during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 – but the strategy of still life was too indirect an approach for some. 108 . and possibly to crave his indulgence. The Braques and the Lachauds made their way back. Paulhan sat him down and made him welcome. pederasts. ‘I am too modest to commit suicide. In the garden a row of fir trees had taken. Jean Paulhan had presence. ‘I love the poetry that admits defeat and the politics that offers its resignation.on art and war and terror The Derains remained for the time being in Gaujac. One cannot make war with excessive regard for humanity.32 For others it made all the difference. half-seriously. His battle pieces were still lifes and his landscapes interiors. The Occupation tested Paulhan’s considerable savoir faire to the limit.’ he scribbled to himself.34 By night he roneoed for the Resistance. a literate fascist. he was committed to a cause: ‘I am committed. The house opposite had been commandeered as German officers’ quarters. The Germans had entered the studio and stolen his accordion. It was perhaps for this reason above all that a young fi rebrand by the name of Claude Roy made an appointment to see him in the little office to which he had been relegated at the NRF. joking and provoking. dodging and weaving. discoursing capaciously in his cultivated way. He had come as if on a pilgrimage to seek Paulhan’s advice. Claude Roy was a socialist. but nothing else had been disturbed. Others had no wish to fight for the Committee of Ironworks. partly by shyness. to a city under siege. He was an antidote to demoralisation. a car full of apprehension. his tradecraft sublime. The Braque house was empty and virtually unscathed. Braque dug in for the duration. By day he accommodated imperturbably to the exigencies of the moment: the suspension of a ‘free’ NRF and the imposition of a new editor.’ declared Jean Fautrier. an eminence of considerable delicacy. an intellectual and a patriot – not necessarily in that order – and an eager anti-fascist. In every circle in which he moved he became a kind of plenipotentiary. Luck was with them. ‘Defeat is certain. Deep in his selfmost straits he found new resources. ‘One can’t be painting apples while heads are rolling. timid surrealists and agents of free-masonry’. too proud to live. a one-man commissioning agency and clearing house. the doubly dangerous Pierre Drieu la Rochelle.’ In spite of it all.

But painting has hardly ever affected me like that. Ponge immediately recognised a painting he had never seen before. Braque opened the door to the living room. The two men looked at it in silence. You will search in vain for some kindness in the art. . to which his genius would make no concession. Naively. as he remembers. at Paulhan’s behest. Later in the war. to be sure. or (too quickly) that one is wrong? Victory and defeat whisper the same thing: what is done. In his paintings you will find neither houses nor trees nor factories. Most of the time was spent in wordless communion. ‘No doubt a certain nervous disorder had something to do with it: we were all still rather under-nourished at that time.’36 The strategy of still life was a strategy of preservation – selfpreservation. this painter left to others the play of fancy.’ Paulhan wrote to him beguilingly. novel ideas. of a lemon whose yellow was exactly what it wanted. I don’t ask for a big corner. a sort of spasm between the pharynx and the œsophagous’. Without a word. After a while Paulhan spoke again. he asked what he should do. a small corner where the air is free.’ Roy interjected feebly and in vain. I have it near me. of course – The Kitchen Table. . we are inseparable.”’38 Braque’s studio turned aquarium throughout the war. Georges Braque fortified that small corner of the heart.the strategy of still-life In fact no one wished to fight for anyone. Paulhan noticed two little fish in bronze. It read: ‘I can scarcely see how we can avoid a long war. ‘The fish prompts me to ponder your personal blend of extreme violence and serenity. in solidarity. as he put it. Roy took his leave. one would wish it short. Paulhan took the poet Francis Ponge on his fi rst visit to Braque’s studio. swimmingly contentedly on the 109 . I feel one should set aside a few acres. against the grain. Ponge was transported. a plate of fish beside an iron stove: ‘I was seized by an irrepressible sob . ‘You remember the words of Vasari: “Mindful of the most important thing. His eyes filled with tears.’37 Ponge thought Paulhan less affected by the glimpse of the fish. ‘Who knows which is worse? To be convinced that one is right. On their way out. but in an ideal sense – freely. Paulhan steered him gently towards a painting on the wall – a Braque. All the same.’35 Roy’s head was spinning. by any means. Braque had already given him one of his own. is well done. Paulhan was reaching his peroration. whims. where no one lies (even with the very best of intentions). That evening he received a characteristic note from Paulhan.

41 Goya’s golden bream defied war and tyranny in Napoleon’s time. who keeps an eye on things (or people). they were invested with meaning. They were black – black as the market and the years. Braque’s old friend Pierre Reverdy knew too: Do you demand of the painter that he display on this plate. because fish of such a beautiful black are not to be found in nature. the wall panelling 110 . on this white tablecloth. inedible. Perhaps the fish were under surveillance. In French slang.39 On canvas. Stoic black fish knew where they stood. And that for me those black fish are a strong and stirring image that I could not have invented or demonstrated for myself. apparently in their element: ‘See what I sculpted from water. in the lullaby of liberation written during these years by Louis Aragon. In spirit.’ said Braque. anger perhaps.40 For those with the right eyes. so ‘the heavy black fish dream of the open sea’. in particular someone official. and that the wholly unpredictable rapports that I fi nd in the picture between the dish. floor near the stove. On one of their earliest appearances they were accompanied by a nondescript vegetable that might have been a spring onion or a leek. Already you are bristling with disgust. . .on art and war and terror Figure 11 Georges Braque. The Black Fish (1942). the striking thing about these creatures was their colour. As Francis Ponge dreamed of dinner. however. But did no-one ever tell you that Braque’s canvases trailed like fishing nets over the sea floor? . Braque’s black fish did something similar in Hitler’s. fish cooked just so? Well these fish are black. they were free. but only in the privileged human species. ‘a leek’ is someone. the table.

appreciated and transcended.’ And us. a proposition very close to Mallarmé’s aspiration ‘to paint. when they stole the show at the Galerie Maeght in Paris and were offered by the artist to the nation. such determination and authority. like hostages. One of Braque’s portraits lived in the memory for the same reason.’ In more measured terms. but the fight they engage in. bore witness. and then furnished it. The mute fish testified to that condition.’44 In due course he arrived at a stronger formulation. Their blackness was a revelation. ‘Objects! For me. but the silence in Braque is loud.’ The same thought was piquantly expressed in his notebook: ‘Some would die of thirst between a carafe of water and a cup of coffee. They are infinite.45 The changing emphasis was quickened by the pared down pleasures of war. But this was just the beginning of wisdom. Still life may be silent.42 Reverdy’s talk of rapports was an acute perception. he painted space. It was a portrait of his stove – ‘that God-stove with its black belly crammed full of fi re. he explained. Let us forget things. a man always welcome in Georges Braque’s studio. a clever presentation. Black fish confronted with their apples for evermore. Often in his Cubist work.’ Indeed.the strategy of still-life and the apples contrive to make a new living being of such towering free will. he so far forgot himself as to offer something by way of elucidation. The show was entitled ‘Black is a Colour’. but in truth black was more of a condition than a colour. They were not alone. not the thing. beyond the vicissitudes of time. ‘objects don’t exist for me except insofar as a rapport exists between them. that it overwhelms my senses and delights my soul! Black fish that were still not at rock bottom filled my dreams. to be inculcated. through the good offices of Jean Cassou. in infi nity. ‘The object is everything. the still life resembled a landscape. The black fish offered an image of resilience in adversity. stunning still in 1946–7. The war fish were different. and between them and myself. founding director of the Musée national d’art moderne and courageous résistant.” And what is there between the two? That is more important.’ Braque used to say.43 Braque illustrated this proposition with a variety of examples: ‘It is not the boxers that are interesting. that warmed us with its 111 . ‘People are extraordinary! They say to me: “You have painted this tobacco jar and this bowl. Apples. they don’t exist! What counts is rapports. in Braque’s words. he counselled later. He did not paint things. the spectators: ‘between the thing presented and the thing seen’. but the effect it produces’. and consider only rapports.

Happily. and their application. Wherever he laid his head during the Occupation – Ponge was another active résistant – he pinned up a small illustration of that painting. ‘very bold but properly arranged in all their variety. when we were frozen to the marrow with cold. the humblest thing. with an especially violent mauve’. The subtle art of salvage went further than the found object. the precautions he had taken before his departure were not equal to the depredations of the New Order. His possessions could be expropriated with impunity. public and private. the only way to see new Braques in the period 1940–3 was to secure a visit to the artist’s studio. Old Braques were hardly more visible. I wrote.on art and war and terror embers during the Occupation. Braque smiled his spiritual smile. ‘and bring that to light and life. the most useless. The Nazis specialised in corruptions large and small. ‘The Jew Paul Rosenberg’. That was the fate of the works in the bank. the Braque held. to give it more body. It was the colours he remembered. like the inventor of fi re itself: ‘It was a God. guided by the Latin alphabet and the roots of our French words. Francis Ponge was sustained for most of the Second World War by The Banjo. . As a Jew. To be so authentically well-earthed must have pleased him enormously. In sight of that. The opportunities they offered were legion. 100 more in the chateau. It furnished Ponge’s small corner: ‘That’s why I could live. The Galerie Rosenberg was defunct. had sailed for New York. ‘Start with ash.’48 Tattered reproductions apart. Braque was represented in the Fauvist exhibition at the Galerie de France in 1942. The aristocracy 112 . Unfortunately.’ When he was reminded of it in these terms after the war. .’ he would repeat. Braque was fascinated by the ash it produced. as he was known to his persecutors.46 The painter had his own rapport with the pot-bellied beast. One or two strays were sold at auction. or my reasons for living (and struggling)’. and the writer with it. Reduced. The right customer might just be able to find something suitable in the inner recesses of the Galerie Simon (formerly Kahnweiler). and in the hastily assembled opening exhibition of the Musée national d’art moderne at the Salon des Tuileries the same year. at modest prices. That was all.’ he replied. creased and foxed. some 400 in all: a vast haul. ‘a little like my flag. and the remainder in Paris.’47 It was not all black. Cézanne had advised. First learn your stovepipe. He added some to his paint. That’s the society (of friends) for which I fought . torn out of a cheap picture book. during my rare moments of leisure. he was declared stateless. under Nazi law. also known as Mandolin and Score (1941).

busy excluding work from the Salon des Tuileries according to the German whispers in his compliant ear. Camus’ spokesman in The Plague. on account of the promised releases [of prisoners]. Kees Van Dongen and Maurice Vlaminck.” You understand: they ask you that with guns in their pockets!’49 The caravan divided for the second time. Like Tarrou. with the look of a monk and the eyes of an inquisitor’). The organisers were the German Ambassador. Arno Breker. he was not a moraliser. and Braque and Derain were never again as thick as thieves. whose prime concern was to exonerate Derain from the charge of collaboration. a ‘purge’ of the guilty. Vlaminck was beyond the pale after a poisonous tirade against Picasso and the past. to see for themselves how seriously Hitler and his henchmen were taking their artistic responsibilities. It was made to Fernand Mourlot. .’ Braque told Grenier. from the release of French prisoners to the promise of more fuel. whose wife had modelled for Derain before the war. Nevertheless his comment concealed more than it revealed. otherwise. A variety of sweeteners were put before them if they accepted. . perhaps I would have gone. as did other veterans of the avant-garde. ‘I said: “I think that’s amazing. His relationships with the others went the same way. His only recorded comment on the subject was a conciliatory one. complete with racial overtones (‘this Catalan. Breker himself had spent many years in Paris and knew most of the artists personally. ‘Other men will make history . I clearly cannot judge those others. he distanced himself from the thirst for épuration. In the circumstances Braque was not about to disavow his old friend. Derain duly went to Germany. There is a quality which is lacking in me to make a reasonable murderer.50 Braque was not invited. He had no more truck with Friesz. several pronounced themselves favourably impressed. trumpeted in the periodical Comœdia in June 113 . whose wife had been friendly with Derain before the war. to generate some propaganda – similar tours were laid on for actors and writers – and to compromise.’51 He may well have felt relieved. tinged with relief: ‘Fortunately my painting didn’t please. I wasn’t invited.the strategy of still-life of French artists were invited to go on a guided (or misguided) tour of Germany. Otto Abetz. On their return.53 Braque sometimes happened on Van Dongen in Deauville after the war but not a word was exchanged between them. and the Führer’s favourite sculptor. the tourists. if not suborn. ‘They asked me what I thought of Breker. including Othon Friesz. the printer.’52 But the tie had been broken. stooge-like. He was a moraliste. to repair FrancoGerman cultural relations.

There was a small Braque exhibition at the Galerie de France in May–June 1943 (twelve paintings from 1908–10). the newlyinstalled stable-cleaner of the NRF: Ah yes. Comœdia also carried an extraordinary tribute from Drieu La Rochelle. you stand in front of a Braque and you say to yourself: ‘What is that?’ You can see only a mass of green porridge? . a combative intellectual partisan of the avant-garde (and an ardent anti-fascist). make an effort. nor a landscape. For French painters. that buttock-dauber you admire in the confectioners of the Champs-Élysées. ‘Cubism! Perversity of spirit. that he builds and harmonizes unlike any of your safe painters. a great composer. Braque embodied what painting could be. Otherwise posterity will mock you.’54 In fact Braque’s painting pleased an influential and surprisingly vocal constituency. memento mori.on art and war and terror 1942. Well. kitchen tables. where twenty-six paintings and nine sculptures were on show for the first time. that he is so much more fond of severity and order. Monsieur. That would be a small consolation for the exile of the canvases of the Louvre. smoke-signal clouds. and before he goes. given the official promulgations. the centre of attention at the 1943 Salon d’Automne was the room devoted to Georges Braque. science and reason. black fish and all. together with some startling new interiors: a concertina table-top in reverse perspective. That makes me think that it would be good to prepare an exhibition on Braque or on another of those ‘Cubists’ of yesterday. . as far from painting as pederasty is from love. Come on. this wish was granted. from the moment you concede that Braque depicts nothing on his canvas – nothing you have been expecting – that is to say neither a human figure. I train 114 . Braque emerged in his own words as a mixture of seer and under-labourer: ‘I am among my canvases like a gardener among his trees: I trim. as it mocks your esteemed grandfather who became indignant in front of a Degas or a Renoir. hurry up and admire Braque before you go. I prune. fulfilled Drieu La Rochelle’s best hopes and published an admiring profile. perhaps in due course you will perceive that Braque is a great architect. In occupied Paris the contents of the Braque room caused a suppressed sensation. than such and such a fabricator of nudes. a memory of childhood. . For French citizens. a levitating jug.56 Jean Bazaine. but that he uses colours as a musician cherishes sounds. Braque embodied what French painting could be. amoralism. and funnelling up through open windows. Monsieur. And in another of the long cycles of the artist’s life. inadequacy.55 More surprising still.

They lose their way. privately condescended to Braque. the odious Gerhard Heller swooned: ‘He speaks to us and listens to us with great patience and gentleness. was ‘the Chardin of the ashes’. He pushed it onto his pump.the strategy of still-life . he wrote.) One day. or ‘Monsieur Braque’. Jean Cocteau. at table.62 A reaction was only to be expected.60 Nazi functionaries with cultural pretensions beat a worshipful path to his door. just like in a painting. He says to me: “Don’t call me ‘Maître’. replete with the sayings of the master: I’ve always liked to look at rubbish dumps. I saw this amazing thing: a cyclist stopped in front of a rubbish bin. the aesthete Ernst Jünger. (A painting should also be distasteful. that of a dream.’ There was an encomium from Paulhan. their gravity and their humanity were an inspiration. As for the works themselves.58 Paulhan was famously exact. In that sense. I’ve finally found my climate. Braque. He pulled out an umbrella handle. and I shall call you ‘Heller’!”’61 A more substantial figure. Their patron was Braque. were loaded with meaning for a public starved of everything from sausages to self-respect. Nicolas de Staël and many others – needed no instruction from Jean Paulhan. who had publicly saluted Breker. The handle was all that remained of the umbrella. that Braque’s painting was at once acute and nourishing. without knowing how many legs that animal had. Painting is just that. he related how he had recently put a lobster in one of his paintings. he realized that he had given it exactly the right number – he posited a relationship between this fact and Aristotle’s conception. whose presentation intrigued him: Braque. naturally. always paints from memory. Later. . and it is that which gives his paintings the most profound reality. according to which each species has its own characteristic number. It is objects removed from their usual function. Bodies change their nature. ‘with 115 . but quite simply ‘Braque’. That made a pump handle. Collaborationist critics fell over themselves to praise his work. their taste. Escorted by Paulhan. who detests having the model or the object in front of him. 57 This was a captivating way to put painting into words. André Fraigneau was ‘enraptured’ by the almost funerary colours of the recent still lifes. Jean Deyrolle. Events take place in them. when he could check. they represent the moment when we emerge from nihilism and gather within us the material for new creations’ – and then the painter.59 But the adulation was not confi ned to the resistant. forcing it a little. and the exact terms of his verdict. . The younger generation – Louttre Bissière. went first to see the paintings – ‘for me.

Disappointingly. . he could not find a Jewish conspiracy. who perished in the transit camp at Drancy.63 The notorious Lucien Rebatet. a ceremonious simpleton amidst all the blunders and nonsenses of the inter-war period. Cocteau hesitated to go any further. with Albert Camus as stage hand – a nest of free-thinkers whose very assembly was a conscious act of intellectual resistance. they’re vermin. replied Braque. . The old fox’s technique was unfailing politeness. The same month he attended another discreet gathering. Aryans deeply ashamed of their foreskin and baptism. in the apartment of Michel and Louise Leiris – among the readers Simone de Beauvoir. Gallimard’s penpushers . (Or who needed no courting: Gertrude Stein foolishly volunteered to translate Pétain’s speeches. Dora Maar. had no such inhibitions. Jean-Paul Sartre and Raymond Queneau. . but Aryans nonetheless . It is still not known precisely who in the artistic community was courted by the Nazis and their satraps. Albert Gleizes spoke favourably of the Nazi ‘revolution’. Rebatet detected a plot to promote the ‘decadent ornamentation’ he saw on the walls of the Salon. thank you’.on art and war and terror his perfect taste of a poor milliner’. Derain and Maillol received lucrative commissions from Berlin. at the parish church of St Roch: a funeral mass for Max Jacob. He had been arrested a few days earlier. that crafty schemer. with a finesse much toasted among his friends. I should no longer be able to speak well of you. ‘We will provide you with two lorry-loads of coal. A direct appeal to Gerhard Heller to intercede. madame. however hard he tried: This murky business is conducted by Aryans. from the wife of another detainee. who analyzes the subconscious of that old fox. the wretched Jean Paulhan. among M. ‘How can a great painter like you work in the cold!’ was their cocksure refrain. before Treblinka or Auschwitz could claim him.’65 More exclusive offers met the same response: Braque also refused a commission to make an emblem for the Vichy government. had been perfunctorily dismissed: ‘Max Jacob is a Jew. The Jews would have been too cunning to go and hunt out. a foaming anti-semite. One winter evening a couple of German officers marched into the glacial studio. these people. ‘for if I accepted.64 It was the everyday corruptions that were the hardest to resist. Georges Braque. . Desire Caught by the Tail. Other invitations he accepted.’66 Those without compunction did not like to be refused.’ ‘No. on the outskirts of Paris.67) According to Breker. In March 1944 he attended a star-studded reading of Picasso’s surrealist farce. 116 . Le Corbusier tried to interest his government in some building projects.

it was not an accidental one.’). Grenier was Camus’ teacher.74 117 . was not immune to a little fawning from the well-bred German general staff.70 Henri Laurens was a man of principle. but examples of it could be seen in gallery windows all over Paris – it was his disposition. fatalism is not a passive state. even a jingoist. Braque’s friend Laurens was not invited either. palpitation. Braque had the opposite failing: he was not biddable. his opinions were well-known. Extends himself but not at the expense of others.69 The rejectionist stance of no commissions and no concessions cannot have gone unnoticed. The Taoist requirement to practise a certain measure of ascetism was no more of a burden to him than it was to the painter. nor yet in membership of a faith. like Derain in his senility’. ‘True wisdom is not of a rational order. It was not his painting that deterred them – Vlaminck’s painting was equally unacceptable. it lies in a willingness to be.71 His fellow sculptor Lobo.’ It was echoed in Braque’s reflection on fatalism: ‘Contrary to belief. that would make Marthon [Marthe] laugh too much. who had fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. in theory. they felt.68 Whatever the truth of such claims. Braque was more fibrous than many.72 Living under the Occupation was a stern test of moral fibre. Georges Braque’s presence on the artists’ tour of the Fatherland would have been a major propaganda coup for the Germans. Like Braque. an “active passivity” that is rooted in living sensation.the strategy of still-life Derain’s loyal sidekick Papazoff claimed that the great man received many seductive offers – a castle at his disposal if he would paint the family Ribbentrop – and that he declined. Shines but does not dazzle. Principled non-engagement had a strong appeal for both of them: Therefore the sage is square-edged but does not scrape. he spent an ethical lifetime working on the problem of moral choice and the limits of commitment.’73 If these formulations suggest a family resemblance to the quietism of the Tao Te Ching. he was steeped in the old Chinese. it seems that ‘Maître Derain’. but too sensible to have gone in for being servile and licking the boots of the Nazis. Anti-fascists. had to make common cause. Has corners but does not jab. one of the very few people to turn down the Légion d’ honneur (‘Oh no. ‘he is a patriot. as General Stulpnagel called him. found refuge in the Laurens’s home throughout the war – courageous hospitality. The dealer Kahnweiler remembered him fondly as a modest anarchist. feeling. His posture is perhaps best encapsulated in Jean Grenier’s expression active passivity. In Jean Hélion’s cool estimation.

Wisely the commandos did not loiter.’ Braque endured. He found a discarded parachute and made off with some of it. Planes flew over the house. Stopped by the Germans. ‘He who does not lose his station.76 Other stories went stubbornly untold. It was dissolved into the Parti Social Français (PSF) in 1936. The Croix de 118 .’ says Lao Tzu. In the early 1930s. Georges Braque in being. in August 1942. and like Camus after him. They were virulently anti-communist (‘muscovite and cosmopolite slime’). there was a prolonged bombardment. was already important. in August 1944. he was exultant.’78 At the Liberation. originally restricted to holders of the Croix de Guerre. ‘Now I accept being what I am. in the village a German battery was put out of action by British commandos. he was in Varengeville. These organisations addressed themselves to ‘the true France’.77 For the rest. a body whose programme and ethos lead some commentators to describe it as fascist or quasi-fascist. In the historical reckoning.’75 He said as much about this war as he did about the previous one.and as far as possible one must refuse to be on the side of the pestilence.on art and war and terror Braque shone but did not dazzle. as a kind of existential reassurance and symbol of hope. he said he was a painter. but invited the hotelier to come back with them. under the sway of Colonel François de La Rocque. In the evening Braque went out see what had happened. All I say is that on this earth there are pestilencies and there are victims . short of materials. it became more of a social movement and a political force. who were rewarded by the proprietor of the Hôtel de la Terrasse with the pick of his cellar. they let him go. A fleeting reference in one of Braque’s letters to Paulhan indicates that the Germans felt it necessary to have a number of conversations with him on the subject of ‘Jewish goods’ in his possession (possibly an allusion to Carl Einstein’s papers). ‘will endure. in Paris. one indignity has been visited upon him. Like Grenier. The parachute silk made several fi ne cravats. however.80 They had their share of thugs. The goods remained in his possession. but their appeal extended far beyond the lunatic fringe. I have learned modesty.79 Founded in 1927. His war story: at the time of the abortive raid on Dieppe. the Croix de Feu began as an old comrades’ association. he meditated on fate: ‘To explore fate is to discover oneself. John Richardson has proposed that he lurched so far to the right in the period between the wars as to become an adherent of the ultra-nationalist Croix de Feu (Cross of Fire). he was a believer in absolute truths who acknowledged human frailties. Their god was Order. Braque held.

Stuart Gilbert. Neither is there any indication in the file kept on Braque as he advanced through the grades of the Légion d’ honneur. The ‘ism’ was too doctrinaire. too programmatic. Associations were for followers. Leaving aside the whole tenor of his human relations – his proven concern for victims like Carl Einstein. trans. 2. Politics are porous. Paul Auster and Patricia Mathews. Braque le solitaire was not a joiner. When others joined him.82 The case for scepticism is clear enough. except perhaps Cézanne. ‘Never adhere’ was his watchword. His sympathies were under scrutiny as never before. But Georges Braque was not an island. Paul Valéry. Ideas were there to be effaced. and in the nature of the case. trans. however much he might have wished it. nor in their propaganda literature. it seems there is only Douglas Cooper’s table talk. His name does not figure in their membership lists. Georges Braque followed no one. Joan Miró. but always fought shy of Cubism as a denomination. as Paul Valéry once remarked. Cahier de Georges Braque (Paris: Maeght. social. 3. in Margit Rowell (ed. 1941–42’. Selected Writings and Interviews 119 .the strategy of still-life Feu/PSF attracted more supporters than any other party of the day. p.2 million members. Against the weight of negative evidence. ‘Working Notes. it was time to move on. To his dying day he defended his own revolutionary practice. 90. Braque’s temperament rebelled. boasting as many as 1. were not for him. It is powerfully reinforced by a certain intrinsic implausibility. There was not a squeak from any corner. There is no evidence that Braque was one of them. 1970). the well-documented sympathies of his closest friends – when it came to associations or organisations. a file in which questions of that sort are routinely asked and answered. 227. Only oysters adhere. or cultural. p. too collective. 1994). political. Systems were the enemies of creation. Analects (London: RKP. and his partnership with Picasso.83 The Chardin of the ashes walked by himself. his allegiance was a matter of moment. nor in their leaders’ correspondence. Notes 1. he insisted. If the Croix de Feu or its successors had had the slightest inkling that he was in their camp they would surely have tried to make use of it.81 No doubt the records are incomplete.). and their opponents would have done the same. Especially during the Occupation. there must be some whose allegiance was never recorded in the fi rst place. Movements of any stripe.

in Selected Poems and Fragments (London: Penguin. 9. Celan. ‘Remembrance’. Miró to Pierre Matisse. pp. 30 June 1945. CT: Yale University Press. For the reinforcement of Braque’s good opinion see Miró to Pierre Matisse. p. 1962). p. 20. 23–4. 120 4. p. Réalités 93 (1958). 1963). 195. 5. 243–4. Journals 1889–1949 (Harmondsworth: Penguin. Sacred Masters (London: Cape. 142. p. p. ‘The Meridian’. [1952]. 2001). 13. Gide. p. pp. 1982). 11. p. and ‘The Meridian: speech on the occasion of the award of the Georg Büchner prize’ (1960). Dora Vallier. n. Braque: Les Ateliers (Aix-en-Provence: Édisud. pp. in John Felstiner (trans. Gide journal. 50. p. 1990). 181. 28 March 2001. ‘Giorgio Morandi’. 1959). 17. in Felstiner. ‘Braque: Un enrichissement de l’espace’. Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan (New York: Norton. Mariette Lachaud was Braque’s studio assistant and ministering angel. ‘Braque discusses his art’. 22–3. interview with Jacques Dupin. Jean Bazaine. 65–6. in Marie-Alain Couturier. Celan to Margul-Sperber.d. in Selected Writings. p. Georges Braque (Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1987). . ‘Réponse à l’enquête sur l’influence des événements environnants’. trans. 253. Se Garder Libre (Paris: Cerf.). p. in Sacred Monsters. pp. John Richardson. For Richardson they are a tribute to Marcelle’s piety. 14. Grenier diary. Cahier. 12. 7. ‘Braque’s Late Greatness’. 191. Justin O’Brien. 168. Selected Writings. Cahiers d’Art 1–4 (1939). 16. p. 4 February 1940. 15. 18 November 1954. pp. 8. 1967). 76. in André Gide. John Richardson. 2001). 168. 1995). p. 1921 detached pages. Selected Writings. 714. Braque. 1998). p. Cahier. in Le temps de la peinture (Paris: Belfond. 148. in Journals. pp. 77. Paul Celan (New Haven. 69. p. pp. ‘Braque. 181. la peinture et nous’. reproduced (in French) in Jean Leymarie. 2001). p.on art and war and terror (London: Thames & Hudson. Friedrich Hölderlin. in Selected Poems. Cf. in The Shape of a Pocket (London: Bloomsbury. Celan (following Büchner). 110. 19. pp. 18. John Berger. 26. 12 January 1940. 6. ‘Speech on the occasion of receiving the literature prize of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen’ (1958). in John Felstiner. 8 February 1962. trans. p. Couturier diary. 409–10. 1991). 158–60. Je Travaille comme un jardinière (Paris: XX Siècle. 396 and 411. 10 April 1943. 19. Celan to Hans Bender. in L’Intérieur de l’art (Paris: Seuil. 10. Carnets (Paris: Paulhan. 2001). 345. Michael Hamburger. in Jean Grenier.

28. Couleurs et mots (Paris: Cherche-Midi. 121 . MA3500. ‘La Mort posthume’. 31. and a member of the party). ‘Les révoltes de Fautrier’. p. 50–1. Mariette quoted in Sabina Santovetti. 30. unpublished Mémoire de Maîtrise. 29. Rosenberg wrote to his secretary in Paris in 1941 wondering whether Braque and Picasso could have their work transferred to the US. 306. Art History 23 (2000). Brigitte Hedel-Samson. Hector Feliciano. Braque to Rosenberg. Braque to Paul Rosenberg. in Entretiens. in Jean Fautrier (Paris: RMN. 30 November 2001. is incomplete. 24. p. p. 1979). Braque to Rosenberg. 13 April and 4 May 1940. There is no further reference to the subject in the extant correspondence. 29. p. Mariette tapes. 27. vol. p. University of Paris IV. Matisse’s War (London: Vintage. The next letter in the collection in the archive. Leo Steinberg. and ‘Georges Braque: découvertes et tradition’. though there are no obvious signs that the correspondence has been weeded. 23. Somme Tout (Paris: Gallimard. p. 1997). 22. 121. The Lost Museum (New York: Basic. p. p. 1997). Jean Paulhan. 25.. No other written evidence has emerged. dated 6 October 1939. La Vie est pleine de choses redoutables (Paris: Paulhan. Braque to Rosenberg. 90. just before the eruption. 74. 418. ‘Picasso et ses environs’. 152. 15 January 2001. 27. This conversation is re-imagined in Peter Everett. in the nature of things one cannot be sure. notes et écrits sur la peinture (Paris: Galilée. in Dans le secret des ateliers (Paris: L’élocoquent. The mummy in question is illustrated in Neil Cox. pp. Out of touch in New York. ‘The Skulls of Picasso’. 32. Georges Limbour. 1978). p. In fact. PML. to my knowledge. privately held (hereafter Mariette tapes). PML. PML. 1986). 26. Interviews with Blanche Lachaud and Odette Constanty. 24. 1969). 33. interview with Geneviève Taillade (Derain’s niece. p. 1989). Pierrepont Morgan Library. Les Sculptures et les plats gravées du peintre Georges Braque. André Verdet. quoted in Claude Roy. 1997). n. 28 May 1940. elided with his ‘guerrier-appliqué’ (‘ginger warrior’). he did some painting in April–May 1940. Tape-recorded recollections of Mariette Lachaud. Rosenberg Collection. Alistair Horne. 22 August 1939. Jean Bazaine. in Other Criteria (New York: Oxford University Press. p.d. 606. 6 October 1939. L’Œil 33 (1957). I. 1972).the strategy of still-life 21. 1996). PML. ‘Georges Braque à Varengeville’. 28 May 1940. Braque to Rosenberg. To Lose a Battle (Harmondsworth: Penguin. New York (hereafter PML). 31. and whether they themselves intended to come and join him.

p. Albert Camus. 73–4. n. n. Stanislas Fumet. 46. 75. July 1960. interviews with Jean Leymarie and Geneviève Taillade. 1996). 1965). Paris. 37. Mariette tapes. 60. 79–83. p. Sculptors and Architects (London: Everyman. in André Derain (Paris: Paris-Musées. Archives Jean Paulhan. 1948). ‘Feuillet’ and ‘Méditatif’. in L’Atelier. 195. p. 44. 100. Douglas Johnson. 1959). in Painter as Critic (London: Tate. 246–7 and 300. [1951]. p. Gaston de Vere. ‘Visite’. pp. 59. pp. Paulhan to Braque. Somme Tout. Braque to Paulhan. ‘Les poissons noirs’. vol. Observer. Patrick Heron. Somme Tout. Cahier. 696. 122. See Laurence Bertrand-Dorléac. Georges Braque. 53. The Plague (London: Penguin. 57. 1974). trans. Robin Buss. ‘Une aventure méthodique’. Lives of the Painters. Paris. 39. 1973).. Le Figaro littèraire. 1977). 301. n. p. Fernand Mourlot. 1940–4. Pierre Reverdy. 10 February 1950. 302. Braque. Paul Guth. Paulhan. 1998). 22 December 2000 and 15 January 2001. Guth. Roy. Patron. Arno Breker tells a different story. 43. Souvenirs et portraits d’artistes (Paris: Mourlot. 23 February 1943. p. Braque dialogue with Reverdy. 51. 35. Institut Mémoires de l’Édition Contemporaine (IMEC). Mallarmé to Henri Cazalis. in André Berne-Joffroy. 14. ‘Too much Gide’. 317. in Stéphane Mallarmé. 45. Jean Paulhan à travers ses peintres (Paris: RMN. Grenier diary. 1952). p. Roy. 1973). p. Louis Aragon. ‘Braque se retourne sur son passé’. in L’Atelier contemporain (Paris: Gallimard.on art and war and terror p. is known as les années noirs – literally. 303. in Note éternelle du present (Paris: Flammarion. ‘Visite’. . 123. pp.d. in Sous l’Occupation. ‘Visite à Georges Braque’. in Derrière le miroir 144–6 (1964). Pierre Cabanne. Guth. Francis Ponge. 52. Georges Braque (Paris: Maeght. Hitler et moi (Paris: Cité. in Le Nouveau crève-cœur (Paris: Gallimard. 92–4.d. ‘Feuillet votif’ and ‘Braque ou un méditatif à l’œuvre’. p. p. p. 48. 137. p. the black years. 40. Arts. 47. Braque. Paulhan’s idiosyncratic masterwork on Braque is Braque le patron (Paris: Gallimard. 246 and 296–7 (his emphasis). Cahier. 36. Ponge. ‘Le voyage en Allemagne’. 122 34. ‘The Power of Mystery’. ‘Braque at the zenith’. 1970). London Review of Books. In France the period of the German Occupation. 38. II. 42. 41. [1864]. The painter was Michelangelo. 13 May 1950. 1 December 1957.d. See Giorgio Vasari. trans. 50. pp. 2001). p. 15 November 2001. pp. 49. 1994). Correspondance 1862– 1874 (Paris: Gallimard. p.

Je Suis Partout. 4 September 2001. 31 October 1942. p. Un Allemand à Paris (Paris: Seuil. ‘Braque au salon’. 217–18. Gallimard was the publisher of the NRF. interpreting that as a manifestation of resistance. 18 September 1943. Entretiens avec dix-sept peintres non-figuratifs (Paris: Folle Avoine. Originally ‘Opinions libres sur la peinture’. 68. ‘La peinture et les siens’. 171. 57. in Ernst Jünger. Comœdia. Hélion was obsessed with 123 . 1943). 56. Journal d’un peintre (Paris: Maeght. 62. CA: Stanford University. 1992). Portraits avant décès (Paris: Flammarion. 30 September and 4 October 1943. Cocteau diary. deeply confused and deeply unattractive. Françoise Gilot. in Journal 1942–1945 (Paris: Gallimard. 25 June 1942. 29 October 1943. 1981). Mariette tapes. 2001). 132. are sympathetically analysed in Peter Brooke. 127. 30 January 2001. Hélion diary. trans. Jean Paulhan. 1966). 2. ‘Georges Braque dans ses propos’. Gleizes’s politics. 1990). 210–12. 67. pp. Gerhard Heller. Artists under Vichy (Princeton. 184. p. Youki Desnos. Maurice de Vlaminck. Lucien Rebatet. Comœdia. NJ: Princeton University Press. 168. 50–1. in Michèle C. 167. Comœdia. Paulhan. p. Interviews with Laure Latapie and Louttre Bissière. Drieu La Rochelle. pp. 173–4. Letter from Laure Latapie Bissière. 59. 61. Mary-Margaret Goggin. 1957). Jünger diary. Françoise de Staël. Patron. I. 25 May 1948. Derain (Paris: SNEV. Picasso and his Art during the German Occupation 1940–1944. in Jean Hélion. Comœdia. 1989). pp. Jean Deyrolle in Jean Grenier. Cone. 58. pp. ‘Révolutionnaires d’arrière-garde’. 25 June 1984. Comœdia. p. 60. The author herself was the petitioner. on behalf of Jacob and her husband Robert. CT: Yale University Press. vol. p. 65. 6 June 1942. 23 August 1941. 120. p. The clandestine but widely-circulated periodical L’Art français (‘the organ of the committees of painters. Georges Papazoff. Confi dences de Youki (Paris: Fayard.the strategy of still-life 54. 15 March 2001. p. 5 June 1943. sculptors and engravers of the Front National in the struggle for the independence of France’) applauded the return of ‘faithfulness to the spirit of honest research and audacity’ for which French art was famous. Jean Bazaine declared that Braque had come once again ‘to give us the true measure of French art’. Cf. ‘Braque au salon d’automne’. L’Art français 4 (1943). 66. ‘A propos du salon’. ‘Braque’. 19 May 2001. p. (from the German) Frédéric de Towarnicki and Henri Plard. 22. 64. 1960). 55. Bazaine. Breker to Cone. 65. p. 63. Second Journal Parisien (Paris: Bourgois. unpublished PhD thesis (Stanford. Albert Gleizes (New Haven. 1995). 69. 1992).

p. Braque.’ [‘There’s something I’d like to say . 1988). p. p. p. Signed Malraux (Minneapolis. p.d. 75. Mady Menier. as consistent with appointment to the Légion d’honneur. 44. Jean-François Lyotard. 73. p. Louis Latapie. Braque to Paulhan. 79. ‘Un sculpteur devant la critique’. Manifesto of the Croix de Feu (1929). pp. note 70. 1996). 117. 71. Mady Menier-Fourniau.’ The Plague. 124. Le Point XXXIII (1946). . 65. just before the war broke out. the paperwork required the Prime Minister or his representative to attest to ‘the comportment’ of the candidate during the war of 1939–5. ‘Quisiera decir algo . in Lynn Zelevansky (ed. 182. Braque. 38. 81. L’Art de la défaite (Paris: Seuil. 83. 76. L’Œuvre Sculpté d’Henri Laurens. 97. 21. 1993).on art and war and terror differentiating himself from Braque. Theodore Reff. in Université de SaintÉtienne. 77. p. . Mes galeries et mes peintres (Paris: Gallimard. 72. La Dernière page (Paris: Ramsay. 1963). Tao Te Ching. ‘Braque’. Commandeur in 1951. See John Richardson. Robert Harvey. 124 . p. Conversations with John Richardson. unpublished PhD thesis (Paris: University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. Le Colonel de La Rocque (Paris: Fayard. 47–8. 1127–9. I. 32. Lobo. but only if he was allowed to add the adjective “active”. n. and is not always to be relied upon. interview with Claude Laurens. pp. 4 January 2001. and Grand Officier in 1960 (on the personal initiative of André Malraux. 195. unpublished memoirs. 1978). 133. p. ‘The reaction against Fauvism’. Additionally. Vallier. 48. p.’]. he lent his name to a committee formed to support artists persecuted by the Nazis. Lao Tzu. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (London: Cape. He also thought that in 1938 Braque admired Mussolini. 329. p. p. . Mariette tapes. vol. Picasso and Braque: a symposium (New York: MoMA. Cf. Patafioles. 78. By the time of his fi nal elevation. 80. [1951]. Minister of Cultural Affairs). Braque. MN: University of Minnesota. Cahier. 1999). Laurence Bertrand-Dorléac. Jean Grenier. IMEC. p. for example. the suggestion has naturally been given credence in the art-historical literature. 74. 96. 1998). . p. Camus. 70. The Plague. pp. which is hardly likely. 82. One of Camus’ characters remarks on ‘the dreadful word “fatalism”’: ‘Well. 1999).). 33 and 42. 1992). trans. Braque was promoted Officier in 1946. pp. 175. Cahier. Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler/Francis Crémieux. he would not shrink from this term. Art et ideologies (Saint-Étienne: CIEREC. 68. 1966). reproduced in Jacques Nobécourt. Cahier. Tao Te Ching (London: Penguin. Coming from such an authority.

6

All This Happened, or, The Real Waugh: Sword of Honour and the Literature of the Second World War

A poet’s object is not to tell what actually happened but what could and would happen either probably or inevitably. The difference between a historian and a poet is not that one writes in prose and the other in verse –indeed the writings of Herodotus could be put into verse and yet would still be a kind of history . . . The real difference is this, that one tells what happened and the other what might happen. For this reason poetry is something more scientific and serious than history, because poetry tends to give general truths while history gives particular facts. Aristotle1

Once upon a time, we used to read novels – Balzac, Dickens, Tolstoy – to find out about the way we live now, in Trollope’s phrase, or, rather, the way we lived then, and what it means to us now. We tend not to do that any more. We read history instead. Seeking to understand how it really was – that peculiar combination of pedantry and knight-errantry suggestive of the scholarly pursuit – we privilege the fact over the fancy, the documentary over the imaginary, the history over the poetry. We show and tell the truth – telling and retelling and retailing while there is some profit in it, as one might say. Perhaps, following Bakan, we need to make a distinction between literal truth and some deeper or higher truth: ‘There is an old tradition, going back at least to Plato, that there can be a truth in madness, dreaming, poetry, or prophecy, which is higher than literal truth. A metaphor or a fiction might open a door that cannot be opened by approaches that are too weighed down by duty to literal truth.’2 Yet, in our reading and our writing, ‘fiction’ is professionally proscribed. For the scholar, the serious scholar, poetry is at best an indulgence, at worst an excrescence: better the mortification than the ruination of the plump academic flesh. Art barely registers as a source on life. This restrictive practice seems misconceived. The artist transforms
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on art and war and terror us into epicures, as Charles Mauron said. Without poetry, history is only a subsistence diet. Its enrichment is an adventure and also a pleasure: truly an education. No more compelling instance presents itself than the complex figure of war, its elucidation and its interpretation. Weaned on the war poets, and tutored by Paul Fussell, Samuel Hynes, Jay Winter and others, we have begun to grasp this for the first great cataclysm of the twentieth century, but hardly yet for the second.3 Apart from the relatively brief elapse of time, the received wisdom is that the ingredients are lacking – where are the Owens and Sassoons of the Second World War, runs the refrain – silenced allegedly by the enormity of events. No poetry after Auschwitz, as Adorno is popularly supposed to have said. ‘To write lyric poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’ – contrary to George Steiner’s influential misreading, the very opposite of an interdiction – ‘literature must resist this verdict.’4 In the matter of general truths, moreover, history has had mixed results. The Second World War has a habit of outwitting or overfacing historians. Paul Fussell’s attempt at a sequel to The Great War and Modern Memory (1975), Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War (1989) ends in a tacit admission of defeat:
The Great War brought forth the stark, depressing Journey’s End; the Second . . . the tuneful South Pacific. The real war was tragic and ironic, beyond the power of any literary or philosophical analysis to suggest, but in unbombed America especially, the meaning of the war seemed inaccessible. As experience, thus, the suffering was wasted . . . America has not yet understood what the Second World War was like and has thus been unable to use such understanding to re-interpret and re-defi ne the national reality and to arrive at something like public maturity . . . What time seems to have shown our later selves is that perhaps there was less coherent meaning in the events of wartime than we had hoped. Deprived of a satisfying fi nal focus by both the enormousness of the war and the unmanageable copiousness of its verbal and visual residue, all the revisitor of this imagery can do, turning now this way, now that, is to indicate a few components of the scene.5

More recently, Niall Ferguson’s attempt at a sequel to his tightlyplotted history of 1914–18, The Pity of War (1999), turned into The War of the World (2006) – a great title but an empty vessel – a book of parts, curiously disarticulated. Niall Ferguson is not one to admit defeat, but it appears that the book he originally planned somehow escaped his grasp, mutating Frankenstein-fashion into a
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all this happened fifty-year ‘war of the world’, c. 1903–53, less a global war than an agglomeration, and a factitious one at that. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Ferguson, too, was confounded by the enormousness of the Second World War, and that the satisfying final focus eluded him, just as it eluded Paul Fussell. Perhaps only Gerhard Weinberg in A World at Arms (first published in 1994) has succeeded in imposing his will on this gargantuan confl ict, sufficient to craft an integral whole, a history that is unchallengeably global and unmistakably his. The epicures of the Second World War are a lonely few. A feast awaits. The Promethean intellectual project of the Second World War is now to embrace poetry, broadly conceived, including transgressive hybrids such as Alan Ross or W. G. Sebald, perhaps the most profound recent meditators on the long half-life of that war, whose books are listed as Memoir/Travel/Poetry or Fiction/Travel/ History.6 ‘All this happened, more or less,’ writes Kurt Vonnegut, alarmingly, at the beginning of Slaughterhouse-Five. ‘The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true.’7 What remains to be done is to try to comprehend the percipience of the pretty much, the magic of the more or less. Here is an hors d’œuvre: a novel or novel sequence by a British author – a very British author – Men at Arms (1952), Officers and Gentlemen (1955) and Unconditional Surrender (1961),8 subsequently known as the Sword of Honour trilogy (strictly, a recension of the original three volumes) by Evelyn Waugh.9 Waugh was a seasoned anthropologist of the military cultures and sub-cultures he described. He was also an expert vivisectionist. His war was a serial demonstration of what the British dignified as the indirect approach and the Americans dismissed as periphery pecking.10 Overage, overweight and overweening, Waugh was determined to do his duty. As an officer on intermittent active service in the Royal Marines and the Commandos, he took part in the expedition to Dakar in 1940, the raid on Bardia and the battle of Crete in 1941 and the military mission to the partisans in Yugoslavia in 1944–5, a cumulative experience at once rich and ignominious. ‘We grow backwards in wartime,’ he mused glumly from his farmhouse hideout in 1944. ‘First it was public school life in the Marines, then prep. school at COHQ, now nursery – with picnics postponed for rain, everyone with his nose pressed to the window, time dragging, occasional treats of sweets – literally of sweets – when we get a sortie.’11 He distilled this experience into a book of brilliant boldness: ‘unquestionably the fi nest novel to have come out of the war,’ in
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on art and war and terror

Figure 12 Felix Man, Evelyn Waugh (c. 1943).

the contemporary verdict of the grand panjandrum of critics, Cyril Connolly, and still a contender.12 Evelyn Waugh (1903–66) was a Roman Catholic romantic, an unabashed snob, a ferocious satirist, a comic moralist and a pristine stylist. ‘Is he good, trying to be wicked?’ Chips Channon asked
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all this happened himself, ‘Or just wicked trying to be nice?’13 Sword of Honour is characteristically acerbic, tender, perspicuous, humane, unsettling. As V. S. Pritchett pointed out at the time,
it required a nerve to treat the war as a sordid social jamboree of smart and semi-smart sets, who are mainly engaged in self-inflation and in climbing up the ladder, to present it as a collection of bankrupt sideshows. But Mr Waugh has more nerve than any English writer now living, and large portions of the last war were exactly as he describes them.14

The period expression is exactly right: Evelyn Waugh had a nerve. ‘They are saying, “The generals learned their lesson in the last war. There are going to be no wholesale slaughters.” I ask, how is victory possible except by wholesale slaughters?’15 The slaughters are by no means absent from Sword of Honour – there is withering comment on public indifference to ‘those trains of locked vans still rolling East and West from Poland and the Baltic, that were to roll on year after year bearing their innocent loads to ghastly unknown destinations’ – but they take place off the page. For Waugh’s happy warriors, fiasco and folly are the order of the day. The play of chance and probability to which Clausewitz drew attention is addled, anarchically, as if the recension had been done by the Marx Brothers:
Hazardous Offensive Operations Headquarters, that bizarre product of total war which later was to proliferate through five acres of valuable London property, engrossing the simple high staff officers of all the Services with experts, charlatans, plain lunatics and every unemployed member of the British Communist Party – HOO HQ, at this stage in its history, occupied three flats in a supposedly luxurious modern block. Guy, reporting there, found a Major of about his own age, with the DSO, MC and slight stammer. The interview lasted a bare five minutes. ‘Crouchback, Crouchback, Crouchback, Crouchback,’ he said, turning over a sheaf of papers on his table. ‘Sergeant, what do we know of Mr. Crouchback?’ The Sergeant was female and matronly. ‘Ritchie-Hook fi le,’ she said. ‘General Whale had it last.’ ‘Go and get it, there’s a good girl.’ ‘I daren’t.’ ‘Well, it doesn’t matter. I remember all about it now. You’ve been wished on us with your former Brigadier for “special duties”. What are your “special duties”?’ ‘I don’t know, sir.’ ‘Nor does anyone. You’ve come whistling down from a very high level. Do you know all about Commandos?’
129

’ ‘Sergeant Trenchard here will make out your travel warrant. a Halberdier servant and a full Colonel. ‘You ought to be all right.on art and war and terror ‘Not much. a three-ton lorry. Sword of Honour licensed the captivating lunacy of Catch-22 (1961) and Slaughterhouse-Five (1968).’ ‘You shouldn’t know anything. I was at the Staff College with him.’ said the Major.’16 And so it goes. he also recalled Rudyard Kipling in his essential sympathy with the soldier. complaining in strong terms that they’ve been shooting his deer with tommy-guns. He married my wife. the first volume of the trilogy. paints a remarkably sympathetic picture of the regimental family that is the Royal Corps of Halberdiers. I thought so.’ ‘He is. Waugh’s treatment of what John Keegan has called regimental ideology is a miniature masterpiece of social history: 130 . now. I’ve had a letter from someone whose signature I can’t read. ‘I have a service car.17 The Second World War was no longer sacrosanct. The chaotic vies with the psychotic. Remarkably fi ne stalking if true.’ ‘Ah. Have you got a batman with you?’ ‘At the moment’.18 Men at Arms. They’re supposed to be a secret. Glad he’s a friend of yours. fi rst raised by the Earl of Essex for service in the Low Countries in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. they’ve made themselves pretty conspicuous there. though from the security reports we’ve got from Mugg. then. said Guy. earning the sobriquet of ‘The Applejacks’ because after the Battle of Malplaquet a detachment of the Corps under Halberdier Sergeant Major Breen were bivouacked in an orchard when they were surprised by a party of French marauders whom they drove away by pelting them with apples.’ ‘Tommy Blackhouse?’ ‘Friend of yours?’ ‘Yes. sir. But Waugh’s was a contradictory effrontery.’ ‘Yes. The bad Waugh threw the good war into confusion. an RASC [Royal Army Service Corps] driver. If he anticipated Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut. Good chap.’ ‘Did he? Did he? I thought he was a bachelor. Report to Colonel Blackhouse at Mugg. Anyway that’s where you’re going – temporary attachment for training purposes X Commando. All right?’ ‘Very good. got some good chaps in his Commando too. who was fast founding the HOO HQ tradition of being surprised at nothing. Don’t see how they get near enough. Isle of Mugg.

all this happened The normal relationship in the Halberdiers between platoon commander and sergeant was that of child and nannie. And. not of ‘the family’. twice acquitted in recognition of the brilliant success of his independent actions. decapitating all and sundry. The officer’s job was to sign things.20 Sword of Honour is no exception. to take the blame and quite simply to walk ahead and get shot fi rst. Above all. The names and characterisations are a delight. ‘tall. a Zurbarán ascetic with a joyous smile’. he should have a certain intangibility belonging. suddenly. His hard-faced brother-in-law is Arthur Box-Bender. Guy Crouchback is the soft-shelled hero. Soames reverenced officers in a more modern way. The sergeant should keep his officer out of mischief. eyes alight like a child playing pirates’ – with a dash of Carton de Wiart and Walter Cowan. among other things. cavorting madly on the live-fi ring range. Cattermole of All Souls. All this was disordered in the relationship of Guy and Sergeant Soames. twice court martialled for disobedience to orders in the field. the maniacal Ritchie-Hook is a wonderful black comic creation. ears like a faun.21 Inspired principally by Brigadier St. Clair Morford – ‘who looks like something escaped from Sing-Sing and talks like a boy in the Fourth Form at school: teeth like a stoat. there is Brigadier Ben Ritchie-Hook: the great Halberdier enfant terrible of the First World War. There is Major Hound – ‘Fido’ to his friends – and Major Cattermole. as an officer. stooping. moreover he distinguished between regulars and temporaries. He regarded Guy as a nannie might some child. where lesser men collected helmets Ritchie-Hook once came back from a raid across noman’s-land with the dripping head of a German sentry in either hand. emaciated. or – a scene surreally worthy of Catch-22 131 . often decorated. a legendary wielder of the entrenching tool. the youngest company commander in the history of the Corps. but of inferior and suspicious origin.19 Waugh’s books are. as in old-fashioned households. previously J. as men who had been sharp and got ahead. the slowest to be promoted. in her nursery. very funny. his names suggestively subversive of his notions. There is a comfortless night porter called Job. by a whim of the mistress of the house. dumped. recommended for the Victoria Cross. totally unsoldierly. as a guest of indefi nite duration. often wounded. to the further side of the baize doors. author of An Examination of Certain Redundancies in Empirical Concepts. An intelligence officer prone to absurd conspiracy theories is revealed as Grace-GroundlingMarchpole (‘each junction of which represented a provident marriage in the age of landed property’).

everywhere and all the time. sometimes they biffed imaginary invaders from the hills into the sea. we shall defend our island. we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. were to be found imitated as low as battalion level . half-concealed and for the most part deflationary. Churchill’s characteristic itch to do something. Sometimes they stood on the beach and biffed imaginary defenders into the hills. in their finest hour: We shall fight in France. the Prime Minister’s individual parole leached into the language and consciousness of his people. there could be no doubt that these rich.on art and war and terror or M. 25 The family resemblance was no doubt deliberate. In another celebrated wartime novel sequence. to make the enemy bleed and burn. 23 It is surely not completely fanciful to discern some affi nity between Ritchie-Hook and Winston Churchill. we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. Sometimes they merely collided with imaginary rivals for the use of the main road and biffed them out of the way. . Thanks to the radio.S. as he said. Temperamentally. slurred consonants. whatever the cost may be. too. we shall fight in the hills. like so many other dictating or admonitory voices of even that early period of the war. Ritchie-Hook’s biffi ng was uncannily reminiscent of Churchill’s fighting. we shall fight on the landing grounds. Long raw misty days were passed in the surrounding country with maps and binoculars. by Anthony Powell. These accents. The Attack and the Element of Surprise were all. Churchill was a plunger. . They invested downland hamlets and savagely biffed imaginary hostile inhabitants. was very Ritchie-Hook. 26 132 . as General George C. Marshall put it in an unguarded moment.A. Sword of Honour is peppered with Churchillian appropriations and misappropriations. had assumed the timbre and inflexions of the Churchill broadcast. the narrator overhears a staff officer at Divisional Headquarters giving dictation: The voice. we shall never surrender. we shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight on the beaches. distinctive tones would be echoed for a generation at least. in certain circumstances.22 His philosophy of war finds its ultimate expression in the Brigade Training Programme: The Training Programme followed no textbook. If we won the war.24 Rhetorically. – calling bingo in the officers’ mess. rhythmical stresses and prolations.H. Defence was studied cursorily and only as the period of reorganization between two bloody assaults. Tactics as interpreted by Brigadier Ritchie-Hook consisted of the art of biffi ng.

. if anything. There was less interest in the change of Prime Ministers. that foreigners let one down.’ ‘He can’t be much worse than the other fellow?’ ‘Better. On dune and headland sinks the fire’: On the day that Mr Churchill became Prime Minister. I suppose they had to make someone carry the can after the balls-up in Norway.’ ‘Yes. ‘Far-called. most of them. No one thought of losing the war. an advocate of the Popular Front in Europe. 27 133 . They point explicitly to another consonance with Kipling – a prophetic engagement with ‘decline and fall’ (the title of his first novel. He had even hinted at the inferior fighting qualities of British troops. Apthorpe was promoted Captain . from an officer lately returned from Norway. But he had made little impression. what sort of fellow is this Winston Churchill?’ ‘Like Hore-Belisha except that for some reason his hats are thought to be funny. Guy knew of Mr Churchill only as a professional politician.’ Here Major Erskine leant across the table. an associate of the press lords and of Lloyd George. Politics were considered an unsoldierly topic among the Halberdiers.’ he said. who had spoken frankly about the incompetent loading of ships. other than complete victory. Some of Mr Churchill’s broadcasts had been played on the mess wireless-set. Halberdiers always assumed that ‘the Staff’ and ‘the Q [Quartermaster] side’ were useless. . It was the fi rst time that Guy had heard a Halberdier suggest that any result. Sword of Honour might be construed as his Recessional. Naturally things were going badly in the absence of the Halberdiers. was possible. it is true. Guy had found them painfully boastful and they had. a Zionist. published in 1928). as though in retribution from the God of Kipling’s Recessional. There had been some rejoicing and dispute at Mr Hore-Belisha’s fall in the winter. ‘Churchill is about the only man who may save us from losing this war.all this happened Waugh’s reflections on the broadcasts and the broadcaster were more piercing. Since then Guy had not heard a politician’s name mentioned. a master of sham-Augustan prose. the activities of organized traitors and such matters. They had had a lecture. been immediately followed by the news of some disaster. He was asked: ‘Uncle. the disconcerting effect of dive-bombing. our navies melt away. Waugh was a declinist avant la lettre.’ ‘Well. that all other regiments were scarcely worthy of the name of soldier.

idolatrously. How we despised his orations.’ Liddell Hart recorded simply: ‘Churchill is an upas tree – everything beneath him dies.on art and war and terror In his own fashion this was a balanced assessment. ‘Rallied the nation’ indeed! I was a serving soldier in 1940. were in exact accord with Waugh. to name but two of the sharpest military minds of the age. he suffered from the disease of military ardour. in more prejudicial language. Like Vigny. and enjoy a Periclean reign. all disguise cast off. Waugh for his part was not at all unhappy at the outset.’30 It would be interesting to know how many others felt the same – if the encrusted blood. that is to say as moraliser and chauvinist-in-chief (‘some chicken!’). a most unsuccessful father – simply a ‘Radio Personality’ who outlived his prime. Pericles was the greatest mountebank since Nero: ‘Like Nero he is an expert in turning somersaults in the arena. Churchill in 1940’. Nero. however. together with his caddishness. or invoked. For Fuller. who in the press has been transformed into a supreme artist. It was the 134 . mythic genius of ‘Mr. tears and sweat allowed them to say. and still the defining moment of British national identity. He is not a man for whom I ever had esteem. huge and hateful. had the better of him in that he committed suicide when comparatively young: that. but he lived a long time between the echo and the dream of battles. biffer of the good biff. Churchill’s death in 1965 occasioned something more vitriolic: For the past fortnight my drive has been worn into pot-holes by telegraph boys bearing extravagant offers from newspapers to describe Sir Winston’s obsequies. in two manifestations: as talker of the big talk.’29 Fuller and Liddell Hart.28 Not everyone subscribed to the magic. that less happy warriors (or the more discriminating) found so difficult to stomach.31 and as fighter of the good fight or. in short a highly popular clown. always surrounded by crooks.32 It is that depravity. He met his moment. an image cultivated by Churchill himself and sedulously propagated by tame eulogists like Isaiah Berlin: ‘The Prime Minister was able to impose his will on his countrymen. He is worshipped. I have of course refused. The year 1940 is the high-water mark of the home front. Churchill is its totem. at least. toil. Sword of Honour opens with this famous declaration: ‘The enemy at last was plain in view. Always in the wrong. was a decent act. apostrophically. precisely because he appeared to them larger and nobler than life and lifted them to an abnormal height in a moment of crisis.

’ Once ensconced in the Halberdiers.all this happened Modern Age in arms. they had access to no intelligence fi les. it was what the war on terror always wanted to be: a crusade. ‘The hallucination was dissolved. and he was back after less than two years’ pilgrimage in a Holy Land of illusion in the old ambiguous world.36 Waugh returned from Dakar with head unbloody but bowed. Guy knew things were going badly.33 In the beginning. They had no well-informed friends. Now General Paget was at Lillehammer and it was announced that all was going well. But now. And the more victorious he was the more he drew to himself the enmity of the world and the punishment of God. Now that country had quite disappeared and the two strongest states in the world guaranteed her extinction. There was in romance great virtue in unequal odds. I realised how much you have changed me’. starting with the abortive expedition to Dakar in September 1940 and ending with the scrambled evacuation from Crete in May 1941 (‘never in the history of human endeavour have so few been buggered about by so many. but still willing. here in Penkirk. like the whales and turtles on the voyage from Crete. but he did not believe his country would lose this war. it had all turned sour.34 By late 1941. but the smell of failure had been borne to them from Norway on the east wind.’35 What went wrong? First of all. however victorious. The enemy was exorbitant. however. He was a good loser. just. ‘because I could no longer look at death with indifference. past all question. each apparent defeat seemed strangely to sustain it. where priests were spies and gallant friends proved traitors and his country was led blundering into dishonour. His actions in Austria and Bohemia had been defensible. The cause was now. There was even a shadow of plausibility in his quarrel with Poland. I wanted to live & was pleased when we ran away. 31 (April 1940). Waugh himself was involved in one military disaster after another. as he put it. Nevertheless he is optimistic. Whatever the outcome there was a place for him in that battle. a catechism of 143 questions on the war. of which the fi rst and fundamental is What are we fighting for? He answers for himself: England had declared war to defend the independence of Poland. ‘During the time when we expected to be sent into an operation which could only be disastrous. This is a bad state of affairs 135 . he wrote to his wife. a just cause and the chance of victory. he was an outlaw. Guy examines Army Training Memorandum No.’ someone scrawled on one of the troopships). There were in morals two requisites for a lawful war.

to stiffen the British garrison and organise the retreat. but his interest is. is identifiable with the realities of those exhilarating days when he led and I lamely followed. too. I don’t know. his class. self-loathing. the moralist’s. not least. The force was commanded by Colonel Robert Laycock. no incident. was not Waugh’s primary concern – ‘the thing about battle is that it is no different at all from manoeuvres with Col.39 Waugh considered that all he held dear had been disgraced – his comrades. ‘that every man in arms should wish to be. His eye is trained on the flat detail of human folly. I know that one goes into a war for reasons of honour & soon fi nds oneself called on to do very dishonourable things. Perhaps that is a bad thing for the country. as such. I do not like the R. and the rout that preceded it. ‘I did not know this. ‘The English are a very base people. 136 .’ he wrote to Diana Cooper some months later. vanity and hypocrisy. formation. S. with conspicuous bravery. organization.’ to whom Officers and Gentlemen is profusely dedicated and pre-emptively disclaimed: He will recognize this story as pure fiction: that is to say of experience totally transformed. [Royal Marine] Brigades part in this war and I do not like the war.’38 Waugh was deeply wounded. in his guise as Laycock’s intelligence officer. ‘[Waugh]. Lushington on Bagshot Heath: just as confused and purposeless’ – but his rendition of the fi nal stages of the Battle of Crete is as convincing an account of grace and disgrace under pressure as any in the literature of this war.’37 Crete affected him more profoundly. Personally and professionally. but his flukish escape. civil or military. various offices and appointments are mentioned without reference to any person who at any time held them. he is a most patient and accurate observer. No unit. but I believe most of the marines felt the same. There lamely follows a finely wrought and thinly fictionalised account of the ensuing debacle as Waugh witnessed it. He was a member of the Commando force deployed. late in a losing battle. but I want to be back in Europe fighting Germans. ship or club.’ noted V.on art and war and terror for a marine. fundamentally. Battle. command. left him in a stew of alienation. in fact. his country. it has been plausibly suggested. and although he can rightly be called a wounded Romantic. throughout the operation. can negligently turn out a battle. M. Pritchett. No real character is portrayed. he seems to have acquitted himself creditably. ‘Other books about the war have gone straight for the conventional – the battle. even traumatically. disillusionment and.

42 His subject was Vigny’s: the servitude and grandeur of arms. acceptance of the Soviet Union as an ally was insupportable (treacherous Godless Communists). in the late autumn of 1941. London was full of American soldiers. he. and the splintering of that social world. too. was the colour of putty. an arriviste aesthete with blood on his hands from Crete and money in his pocket from a phenomenally successful fi rst novel. These they passionately and publicly embraced. woefully homesick young men who seemed always in search of somewhere to sit down. Personal honour alone remains. tall. The Death Wish. slouching. ‘compassion’ in Waugh’s – amid the universal shipwreck of beliefs. in the blackout and at high noon. rejoins his regiment he believes that the just cause of going to war has been forfeited in the Russian alliance.’ Their representative in Sword of Honour is Lieutenant Padfield. For their comfort there swarmed out of the slums and across the bridges multitudes of drab. for he was ubiquitous. and other rare trade-goods from their PX stores. For Waugh. when not in a chair he must have been in rapid motion. was a sedentary by habit. He was twentyfive years old and in England for the fi rst time. Waugh was a fierce 137 . He had been one in the advanced party of the American army and there was no corner of the still intricate social world where he was not familiar.all this happened living as I did. But he was not all homesick. razor blades.43 The moral aphorism at the heart of the Sword of Honour trilogy is the remonstrance offered by Crouchback père to his disillusioned son: ‘Quantitative judgements don’t apply. ill-favoured adolescent girls and their aunts and mothers.’ The cause was not redeemed by the arrival of the Americans to organise ‘the final dismemberment of Christendom. who finds his niche as factotum to the loathsome Major Ludovic. Everyone knew Lieutenant Padfield. ‘the Loot’. as for Vigny.41 Waugh was not a man for the strange semaphore of the special relationship. never before seen in the squares of Mayfair and Belgravia. there remained honour – ‘active decency’ in Vigny’s formulation. In the summer they had filled the parks and sat on the pavements round the once august mansions which had been assigned to them. a sinisterly ubiquitous and morally dubious figure at once predatory and parasitic.’ The remonstrance is theologically derived (fierce in all his beliefs. Now I know them through and through and they disgust me. he too slouched. for his face. For Waugh. and rewarded with chewing gum. Lieutenant Padfield was a horse of a different colour. not precisely. even Guy who knew so few people. He was a portent of the Grand Alliance. friendly.’40 Political disgrace swiftly followed. too. ‘As Guy.

How many divisions has the Pope – the measure of Stalin’s scorn – was a poignant question for Guy Crouchback and his author. and afterwards writes him an exegetical letter: The Mystical Body doesn’t strike attitudes or stand on its dignity. Quantitative judgements don’t apply. It accepts suffering and injustice . . “The Mystical Body doesn’t strike attitudes or stand on its dignity. It accepts suffering and injustice. It seemed to have personal relevance. Given the context.’ Guy exclaims to his father when he hears the news. as yet undefi ned.’44 This aphorism is recalled again and again in the narrative that follows. Quantitative judgements don’t apply. Among the displeased partisans and displaced persons in the small compass of his jurisdiction. to his own condition.on art and war and terror Catholic). it may be that the aphorism can be read as an anathema on the callous quantification of the so-called percentages agreement. His kindness toward one couple 138 . and. that naughty document. Guy is moved to intervene on behalf of a group of Jewish refugees.” That’s what the Pope ought to be saying today. .’ Old Mr Crouchback scolds him for talking nonsense. The fi rst surrender in Unconditional Surrender is that of Italy. ‘What a mistake the Lateran Treaty was. It acquires a gathering moral force for Guy himself.” There was a congress at Teheran at the time [1943] entirely occupied with quantitative judgements. by extension. but politically and personally applied. He re-read the letter from his father which he carried always in his pocket-book. and the nudge. When you spoke of the Lateran Treaty did you consider how many souls may have been reconciled and have died at peace as a result of it? How many children may have been brought up in the faith who might have lived in ignorance. If only one soul was saved that is full compensation for any amount of loss of “face”. .45 In due course Guy finds himself part of the British Mission to the Anti-Fascist Forces of National Liberation (Adriatic). ‘How much better it would have been if the Popes had sat it out and then emerged saying: “What was all that? Risorgimento? Garibaldi? Cavour? The House of Savoy? Mussolini? Just some hooligans from out of town causing a disturbance . in a neat juxtaposition it is expressly if enigmatically linked to the machinations of great power politics: Guy brooded about the antithesis between the acceptance of sacrifice and the will to win. on the crushing arithmetic of realpolitik. The denouement of the work takes place in proto-Tito Yugoslavia. It is ready to forgive at the fi rst hint of compunction. parcelling out a prostrate Europe. .

in the credo that introduces her luminous readings in philosophy and literature: In pursuit of human self-understanding and of a society in which humanity can realize itself more fully . .47 Martha Nussbaum proposes something very similar. She asks him this: Is there any place that is free from evil? It is too simple to say that only the Nazis wanted war. They would accept hardships in recompense for having been selfish and lazy. It seems to me there was a will to war.all this happened in particular. a death wish.’46 Human solidarity is a hard thing. . anamnesis. Paul Celan’s amazing ‘Todesfuge’ (‘Death Fugue’). . surprised by the intelligence of love. “memory” of what we did not know we knew’.’ answers Guy. the imagination and the terms of the literary artist are indispensable guides: as [Henry] James suggests. Many of my people wanted it. Even good men thought their private honour would be satisfied by war. angels of and in the fallen world. Were there none in England? ‘God forgive me. leads directly to their arraignment before a People’s Court. These communists wanted it too.’) Before they part. (‘You may be sure justice was done.48 These are philosophers’ answers to the intransigent question of why exactly we should pay attention to fiction. It was the only way in which they could come to power. .49 For the Second World War. to be revenged on the Germans. it is only to be expected that some of the profoundest responses come from that quarter. Given ‘the longstanding quarrel between poetry and philosophy’. lucidly bewildered. to hasten the creation of the national state. is a conscious enactment of precisely that function: He shouts play death more sweetly this Death is a master from Deutschland 139 . They could assert their manhood by killing and being killed. the hypnotic poem written immediately after Auschwitz. I knew Italians – not very many perhaps – who felt this. Richard Rorty’s philosophical road to it has already been highlighted in the introduction to this book. The philosopher-novelist Iris Murdoch (a gamekeeper turned poacher) observed that ‘good art is . everywhere. and appeals to some of the same magi. His advocacy of fictional description and ‘redescription’ is perhaps the most compelling recent articulation of what might be called the moral benefits of the artistic imagination. Guy has a momentous exchange with Madame Kanyi. alert in perception and sympathy. the Kanyis. Danger justified privilege. ‘I was one of them.

one might say that poetry thickens history.52 But it is more than that. It is a grave necessity. Imaginatively ‘thick history’. What Grossman gives to Stalingrad. Antony Beevor’s garlanded Stalingrad (1998). and full of holes. is something very like ‘a new vocabulary of experience’.on art and war and terror he shouts scrape your strings darker you’ll rise up as smoke to the sky you’ll then have a grave in the clouds where you won’t lie too cramped Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night we drink you at midday Death is a master aus Deutschland we drink you at evening and morning we drink and we drink this Death is ein Meister aus Deutschland his eye it is blue he shoots you with shot made of lead shoots you level and true a man lives in the house of your goldenes Haar Margarete he looses his hounds on us grants us a grave in the air he plays with his vipers and daydreams der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland50 In Aristotelian terms. in the blood. but also his eye-witness notes and papers. that is to say. The literal has its limits. redescription made real – made unforgettable. opens with the challenging assertion of the poet Tyuchev that ‘Russia cannot be understood with the mind’. Inevitably modulating. and also ‘an act of interpretive credence’.51 This is not so much a matter of poetic license as of poetic faith. Beevor’s account of that epic siegeoffensive is deftly thickened with the work of Vasily Grossman: not only Life and Fate. 53 The historian’s truth is not enough. on the one hand. 140 . as Coleridge suggested. The soldier is poor without the poet’s lines. in George Barker’s words. the sounds that stick. by analogy with ethically ‘thick concepts’. a welcoming assent. contingent: Truth-loving Persians do not dwell upon The trivial skirmish fought near Marathon. and judiciously embraces the possibilities of the fancy. History is filigree. in Iris Murdoch’s phrase. His petty syllabi. Historical reconstruction is provisional. as well as history. on the other. and much punished. an object lesson in thick history. bravely acknowledges the frailties of the fact.55 Monsieur and comrade.54 The implacable Tyuchev was surely right (and the Russians an interesting case of a people claiming poetry. and hence to Stalingrad. for themselves). Facts are fugitive. speculative. Embracing imaginative literature is in every sense an act of faith: a willing suspension of disbelief.

all this happened
And war for war, each has its gallant kind. How simply the fictive hero becomes the real; How gladly with proper words the soldier dies, If he must, or lives on the bread of faithful speech.56

Notes
1. The Poetics, 9, I45ib. 2. D. Bakan, ‘Narrative Research and Hurt and Harm’, in Ruthellen Josselson (ed.), Ethics and Process in the Narrative Study of Lives (London: Sage, 1996), p. x. 3. Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975); Samuel Hynes, A War Imagined (London: Bodley Head, 1990); Jay Winter, Site of Memory, Sites of Mourning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). The international, cross-cultural project of which Winter is general editor and moving spirit, ‘Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare’, is a bold attempt to embrace ‘the colonization of military history by cultural historians, and the reciprocal interest of military historians in social and cultural history, to the benefit of both’. This pioneering work is anchored in what used to be called the European War of 1914–18. It will surely be influential in the study of the Global War of 1941–5. 4. Theodor W. Adorno, trans. Francis McDonagh, ‘Commitment’, in Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhart (eds), The Essential Frankfurt School Reader (New York: Continuum, 1975), p. 312. Cf. George Steiner, ‘Silence and the Poet’ [1966], in Language and Silence (London: Penguin, 1979), p. 75. In fact, there is no dearth. See Desmond Graham (ed.), Poetry of the Second World War (London: Pimlico, 1998), an exemplary international anthology of everyone from Anna Akhmatova to Zoltan Zelk. 5. Paul Fussell, Wartime (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 268, 296. 6. See, for example, Alan Ross, Winter Sea (London: Harvill, 1997); and W. G. Sebald, trans. Michael Hulse, The Emigrants (London: Harvill, 1996). The hybrid has an interesting Second World War pedigree in Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcoln [1941] (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1993); latterly revisited with some notoriety in Robert D. Kaplan, Balkan Ghosts (London: Picador, 2005). Cf. Brian Hall, ‘Rebecca West’s War’, New Yorker, 15 April 1996. 7. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (New York: Vintage, 2003), p. 1. 8. In the United States, perhaps less contentiously but more prosaically, The End of the Battle.
141

on art and war and terror
9. A recension (Waugh’s word) is a critical revision of a text, in this case to shape the three books into one: see preface to fi rst edition of 1964. Cf. David Wykes, ‘Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Volgograd’, Dutch Quarterly Review of Anglo-American Letters 7 (1977), pp. 82–99. 10. See Alex Danchev, ‘Britain: The Indirect Strategy’, in David Reynolds et al. (eds), Allies at War (New York: Macmillan, 1994), pp. 1–26; and ‘Liddell Hart and the Indirect Approach’, Journal of Military History 63 (1999), pp. 313–38. 11. Waugh to Laura (his wife), 5 November 1944, in Mark Amory (ed.), The Letters of Evelyn Waugh (London: Phoenix, 1995), p. 192. His wartime diary is in Michael Davie (ed.), The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh (London: Phoenix, 1995), pp. 439–620. See also John St John, To the War with Waugh (London: Cooper, 1974). 12. Connolly review, The Sunday Times, 29 October 1961, collected in Martin Stannard (ed.), Evelyn Waugh: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge, 1984), p. 430. A magnanimous verdict, given that Connolly and his work are satirised mercilessly in the book. 13. Channon diary, 16 December 1934, in Robert Rhodes James (ed.), Chips (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), p. 28. 14. Pritchett review, New Statesman, 27 October 1961, in Critical Heritage, p. 425. 15. Waugh diary, All Saints [1 November] 1939, in Diaries, pp. 448–9 16. The Sword of Honour Trilogy (London: Everyman, 1994), pp. 118, 272–3. All quotations from this edition. Officers and Gentlemen was originally called Happy Warriors. 17. Catch-22 was published at almost exactly the same time as Unconditional Surrender, but it too was a long time in the making and Heller had been reading Waugh intensively for at least ten years. A version of Waugh’s short story, ‘Compassion’, which adumbrated several of the themes in Sword of Honour, and was later cannibalised for it, fi rst appeared in The Atlantic in 1949: see Ann Pasternak Slater (ed.), The Complete Short Stories (London: Everyman, 1998), pp. 419–40. Heller’s other prime source of inspiration is said to be LouisFerdinand Celine, trans. Ralph Manheim, Journey to the End of the Night (London: Calder, 1988), originally published as Voyage au bout de la nuit (1932). 18. Kipling’s pervasive cultural presence is an interesting phenomenon in itself. It is not often remarked that the former US Marine Eugene B. Sledge’s harrowing memoir, With the Old Breed (1981), purveyed by Fussell as a revelation of senseless savagery, has an epigraph from Kipling, c. 1915, and, in spite of all, an almost Kiplingesque conclusion. Cf. Samuel Hynes, The Soldiers’ Tale (New York: Penguin, 1997), pp. 160–4, 173–4. 19. Waugh, Sword of Honour, pp. 44, 162–3. Cf. John Keegan, ‘Regimental
142

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Ideology’, in Geoffrey Best and Andrew Wheatcroft (eds), War, Economy and the Military Mind (London: Croom Helm, 1976), pp. 3–18. The sheer joyousness of this fun, and its high seriousness, is acutely analysed in David Lodge, ‘Waugh’s Comic Waste Land’, New York Review of Books, 15 July 1999. Waugh, Sword of Honour, pp. 151, 633, 637, 60–1. Waugh diary, 18 January 1940, in Diaries, p. 461; Sword of Honour, pp. 130–1, 132. Waugh, Sword of Honour, pp. 131–2. Pogue notes, 28 September 1956, in Larry I. Bland (ed.), George C. Marshall: Interviews and Reminiscences for Forrest C. Pogue (Lexington, VA: Virginia Military Institute, 1991), p. 580. Speech to House of Commons, 4 June 1940, in Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill (London: Heinemann, 1983), vol. VI, p. 468. On the affi nity between Churchill and Ritchie-Hook in the realm of grand strategy see Alex Danchev, ‘Biffi ng: The Saga of the Second Front’, in idem, On Specialness (London: Macmillan, 1998), pp. 29–45. Anthony Powell, The Valley of Bones (London: Heinemann, 1964), p. 250, the seventh of the twelve-volume A Dance to the Music of Time (1951–75). The other wartime volumes are The Soldier’s Art (1966) and The Military Philosophers (1968). Rudyard Kipling, ‘Recessional’ [1897], in T. S. Eliot (ed.), Kipling’s Verse (London: Faber, 1963), p. 140; Waugh, Sword of Honour, pp. 165–7. The same poem gives colour to an unforgiving portrait of Churchill in James Gould Cozzens’s novel, Guard of Honour (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1948), p. 394. Waugh to Ann Fleming, 27 January 1965, in Letters, p. 630. Waugh had the misfortune to serve with Churchill’s son, Randolph, in Yugoslavia: ‘Randolph dined with the Lampsons the other evening & Lampson sent a pompous & jaggering cable to Winston “Your son is at my house. He has the light of battle in his eye.” Unhappily the cypher group got it wrong & it arrived “light of BOTTLE”. All too true.’ Waugh to Laura, 2 June 1941, ibid., p. 153. Isaiah Berlin, ‘Winston Churchill in 1940’, in Personal Impressions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 15–16, originally a review essay of the second volume of Churchill’s war memoirs, Their Finest Hour (1949). Fuller to Liddell Hart, 7 June 1949, in Danchev, On Specialness, p. 154; Liddell Hart jotting (1951), in Alex Danchev, Alchemist of War (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998), p. 102. The upas is a fabulous Javanese tree that poisons everything for miles around. See also Liddell Hart, ‘The Military Strategist’, in Churchill: Four Faces and the Man (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969), pp. 155–202. ‘When I warned them [the French government] that Britain would fight
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20.

21. 22. 23. 24.

25.

26.

27.

28.

29.

30.

31.

on art and war and terror
on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, “In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.” Some chicken! Some neck.’ Speech to Canadian Parliament, 30 December 1941, quoted in Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill (London: Heinemann, 1986), vol. VII, p. 34. See Alfred de Vigny, trans. Roger Gard, Servitude and Grandeur of Arms (London: Penguin, 1996), pp. 5, 45. Waugh, Sword of Honour, pp. 10, 164–5. The theme of B. W. Wilson, ‘Sword of Honour: The Last Crusade’, English 23 (1974), pp. 87–93. Waugh, Sword of Honour, p. 485 (a reprise of 468), the terms of the lament heavily redolent of the Cold War (or Cold Waugh). Waugh, ‘Memorandum on LAYFORCE’, in Diaries, p. 495. Waugh to Laura and to Henry Yorke, 28 September and 13 November 1940, in Letters, pp. 141, 145. Waugh’s battalion did not land; they did not run away. Waugh to Laura, 2 June 1941, in Letters, p. 153; Pritchett review, in Critical Heritage, p. 425. See Antony Beevor, Crete: The Battle and the Resistance (London: Murray, 1991), pp. 194–5, 222–3; Angus Calder, ‘Mr. Wu and the Colonials’, in Paul Addison and Angus Calder (eds), Time to Kill (London: Pimlico, 1997), pp. 129–46. Quoted in Beevor, Crete, p. 222. Waugh, Sword of Honour, pp. 485, 498, 709. ‘The Loot’ was based on ‘The Sergeant’, Stuart Preston, an American art historian ‘much lionized in London towards the end of the war’. Harold Acton, Nancy Mitford (London: Hamilton, 1975), pp. 82–3. Ludovic was a fictional creation, originally called Connolly – cruel and unusual punishment even by Waugh’s standards, as Wykes says – for Cyril Connolly already appears in the novel as the repellent Everard Spruce. See Evelyn Waugh, The Loved One [1948] (London: Penguin, 2000). Cf. Danchev, On Specialness, pp. 153–65. Vigny, Servitude and Grandeur, especially. pp. 159–64; Waugh, ‘Compassion’. Waugh, Sword of Honour, pp. 488–91 (my emphasis). After a long series of political accommodations, the Lateran Treaty (1929) established Vatican City as an independent state. Waugh, Sword of Honour, p. 600 (his emphasis). There follows a sly joke about summitry and the Big Three: ‘At the end of the fi rst week of that December [1943], History records, Mr Winston Churchill introduced Mr Roosevelt to the Sphinx. Fortified by the assurances of their military advisers that the Germans would surrender that winter, the two puissant old gentlemen circumambulated the colossus and silently watched the shadows of evening obliterate its famous features.’
144

32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37.

38. 39.

40. 41.

42. 43. 44.

45.

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46. Waugh, Sword of Honour, pp. 702, 705. 47. Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. xvi. 48. Martha Nussbaum, ‘Introduction: Form and Content, Philosophy and Literature’, in Love’s Knowledge (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 53. Nussbaum is referring to the preface to The Golden Bowl. James writes there of ‘revision’, the re-imagining of the language and form of the text, a notion and an activity that might well have appealed to Rorty. 49. Iris Murdoch, ‘Literature and Philosophy: A Conversation with Bryan Magee’, in Peter Conradi (ed.), Existentialists and Mystics (London: Allen Lane, 1997), p. 12. 50. Paul Celan, trans. John Felstiner, Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan (New York: Norton, 2001), p. 33. Cf. Michael Hamburger’s translation, Selected Poems (London: Penguin, 1990), pp. 60–3. 51. On thick concepts see Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (London: Fontana, 1985). 52. Coleridge and Barker quoted in K. K. Ruthven, Critical Assumptions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 178–9, from which I have borrowed here. 53. Robert Graves, ‘The Persian Version’, in Poems Selected by Himself (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1957), p. 162. 54. Antony Beevor, Stalingrad (New York: Viking, 1998), p. xiii. A similar point is registered in Richard Overy, Russia’s War (London: Penguin, 1998), pp. xvi–xix. 55. Iris Murdoch, ‘Against Dryness’, in Existentialists and Mystics, p. 295. 56. From Wallace Stevens, ‘Notes toward a Supreme Fiction’, in Collected Poems (London: Faber, 1984), pp. 407–8.

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hope to be read one day – read and understood – though not necessarily by anyone they already know or can identify.7 The Secret Life.4 Some may not know exactly what impels them. all diarists. The Soldier’s Tale: Diaries and Diary-Keeping in War In war. When the idea of publication was fi rst mooted – a version edited by his son Nigel – the venerable Nicolson was asked the ‘why’ question by Nigel and his brother Ben. He replied. perhaps. 5 Channon kept a diary almost continuously for nearly forty years.’ And that was all they could get out of him. write for themselves – their future selves – a wager on survival. ‘I sometimes wonder why I keep a diary at all. or. lunching alone with him at Sissinghurst. when I wanted to check a name or date. Walter Benjamin 2 For diarists as for other deviants. His companionable contemporary. Whether they recognise it or not. especially dedicated diarists. ‘Oh.3 Some diarists. You didn’t write for publication?’ ‘Never.’ ‘Come’. they said. Nigel repeated 146 . and keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens. Who? To keep a diary is to posit a reader. very rarely. keep your own counsel.’ ‘Then why did you take such trouble?’ ‘Because I thought one day it might amuse you and Ben. preferably in a notebook. Some may be a little coy. ‘that’s not good enough. Harold Nicolson. Six months later. ‘Is it to relieve my feelings? Console my old age? Or to dazzle my descendants?’ Several volumes later he could feel that ‘some day they may see the light of day and perhaps shock or divert posterity a little’.’ ‘You never re-read it yourself?’ ‘Very. because I thought I would. Why? The natural supplementary is the question of audience. performed a similar feat. General Sir Ian Hamilton1 Let no thought pass incognito. the fundamental question is the question of motive.’ the Parliamentary socialite ‘Chips’ Channon recorded self-indulgently.

perhaps. undeterred by the rigours of combat. 147 . The future Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke began his celebrated diaries barely four weeks after the declaration of what became the Second World War. one would think. No sooner does a war start. motivation is always imponderable. but having failed to sell was reduced from 60/. After living the last ten years with you and never being parted for more than a few weeks at a time. although it may contain references to my daily life. with its thicket of regulations. they are premeditated diarists. than there is a soldierly stampede to the stationer’s. for the most part ‘sane. then reflections on that solitary practice. Yet soldiers are serial scribblers. to say nothing of the sensitive nature of that business. if not answers exactly. never more so than when in mortal danger. Is this the explanation for that curious phenomenon. If careless talk costs lives. a declaration of devotion. as T. low-toned. or. and a manifesto for military diarists everywhere: Dedicated to Benita Blanche Brooke Begun 28 September 1939 This book is not intended to be a diary of events.to 15/-! The thoughts I express may contradict themselves as I wish to give full scope to free expression and do not care if I am forced to change my mind by events. as JeanPaul Sartre said of his own war diaries. It was originally part of Smith’s stock of books on the Queen Mary.8 Not only are they dedicated diarists. Lawrence said of A Soldier’s Diary of the Great War. Nicolson responded that the diary had become a habit. even soliloquies might be subject to multiple inhibitions. or the exorbitant demands of national security. it seems. Channon and Nicolson invoke in their different registers a selection of the most persuasive and evasive answers to these intransigent questions. ‘Like brushing your teeth?’ ‘Exactly. E. Addressed directly to his wife. ‘a whole little secret life over and above the other’. It is intended to be a record of my thoughts and impressions such as I would have discussed them with you had we been together. the opening entry is a kind of counter to the war.’6 At some level.9 Even more remarkable. the military diarist? Soldiers have more urgent business to attend to.7 The secret life is a sustaining one. prohibitions and suppressions. the toils of incarceration. I should feel quite lost without an occasional opportunity to talk with you although such a talk must necessarily be confi ned to writing: I therefore procured this book in Salisbury on purpose for such conversations with you. and natural’.the secret life the question.

’ Saturday. Why? you have to ask yourself. and here and there a pen scratching. too post-modern. In his own diary of that day. He died a few weeks later. with Wilfred Owen. This enabled our troops to get across the Canal de Sambre without being seen. As a character.13 Even if it was not begun with that in mind. As Salman Rushdie puts it in his novel The Enchantress of Florence: ‘A few liberties have been taken with the historical record in the interests of truth. and everybody’s scribbling away. a purpose perhaps best described as apologetic. mown down in a hail of fire on the banks of the canal. quite deliberately (and presciently) to keep a Gallipoli diary for such a purpose. First-person narrators can’t die. he has the knack of acute observation. provokingly expressed. recorded characteristically: ‘The weather has been very favourable – a fog in the valley until 8 am.on art and war and terror ON NO ACCOUNT MUST THE CONTENTS OF THIS BOOK BE PUBLISHED. Alanbrooke’s diary. His diary kept Billy Prior safe for a little while longer. however. Poems. Lieutenant Billy Prior did something similar in the First World War. in the Battle of the Sambre. ostensibly intended for his wife alone. Many diaries. are kept consciously or unconsciously for a purpose. Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. Billy Prior’s diary is a fiction. Its author is a figment of Pat Barker’s imagination. or as much of the news as we’re allowed to tell them. The diary as talisman: the problem of safekeeping reversed. And not just letters either. Diaries. he courts anachronism – he is too knowing. It’s evening now. Commander-in-Chief of the British Army on the Western Front. It’s like this every evening. We leave tomorrow [for the front].11 Claiming immunity is an interesting idea. I think it’s a way of claiming immunity. As a diarist. but also a type of truth. telling people the news. as the author had always known it would. the last major offensive of the war. remarking with unusual candour that ‘the tendency of every diary is towards self-justification and complaint’. too protean. At least two would-be poets in this hut alone. I look up and down the dormitory and there’s hardly a sound except for pages being turned. A fiction it may be. too playful. including military diaries. 7 September [1918] Posted to the 2nd Manchesters. so long as we keep telling the story of our own lives we’re safe. General Sir Ian Hamilton decided in 1915. gradually 148 . Ha bloody fucking ha.10 According to the novelist Pat Barker.’12 There are lesser forms of immunity.

In other words. he set out to write ‘hot’. a touch of that fever which is the mark of the heady life of Paris. in our constant endeavour to be true to life in the recording of every still-warm recollection. as the dedicatory note in the fi rst of the bargain books clearly states. but that is not the point. by means of the vivid stenography of a conversation. that is because we have invariably chosen those phrases and expressions which least blunted and academized the sharpness of our sensations and the independence of our ideas. he had made provision for both. in the preface to their famous Journal (a work with which the cultivated Francophile Oliver Harvey would certainly have been familiar): What we have tried to do. The diaries were expressly written for his second wife. nor been as consequential for the history of its time. . The more light that can be shed on the circumstances in which impressions were formed. on considering the merits of publishing his own diary after it was all over: Its whole value. the better. and. unstintingly. is to bring our contemporaries to life for posterity in a speaking likeness. the answer to the ‘who’ question is plain enough. Why did he do it. No field marshal. 149 . Benita. And if. as the diplomatist and diarist Oliver Harvey put it. it is tempting to say.15 No modern military diary is hotter than Alanbrooke’s – less blunted and academised – and none has generated more heat. Typically. in his own crabbed hand. the physiological spontaneity of a gesture. I am the first to recognize how many of the fi rst reactions and impressions and judgements were proved wrong and would be admitted wrong by myself now. unashamedly. our syntax is sometimes happy-go-lucky and not all our words have passports. They were married in 1929. . This is how we saw things at the time . last of all.the secret life took on a patina of apologia as the war went on – a dimension the diarist may have half-concealed from himself. lies in its ‘hotness’. hastily set down on paper and not always re-read. and to what effect? He wrote initially out of love and loneliness. in their own inimitable fashion. apparently. those imponderabilia that render the intensity of existence. then. has exacted so much of himself. those little signs of emotion that reveal a personality. Alanbrooke’s professed purpose was an immediate record of his thoughts and feelings – his free expression. decisions and actions taken.14 The Goncourt brothers said much same. in the immediate impression and atmosphere. In his case. if it has a value.

strong emotions welled up and spilled improvidently across the page: frustration. Moments when one wondered whether one had weighed up situations correctly. into something more instinctual. but it evolved. exciting it. Benita brought life. who joined two older ones. all the long night – but not for ever.17 It became a necessary therapy. Tom and Rosemary. a function of enforced separation. waltzing with Winston. in extremis. and giving it a distinct character: part entreaty. a compound of his upbringing and education in Pau in the French Pyrenees and his training and formation at ‘The Shop’ (the Royal Military Academy. even an offertory. a beacon to Benita.on art and war and terror when he was forty-six. and. They had two small children. an exigent outpouring. part release. ‘prudence and rigour’. the diary was a form of communion. the conclusion to a journey to the Western Desert to remake the command in August 1942. prayer: I pray God that the decisions we arrived at may be correct. tragically. Construed as a love letter in the guise of a journal. He loved Benita with a passion: a Gascon-Edwardian passion. to command one of the three corps which made up the scratch British Expeditionary Force despatched to the over-familiar fields of France and Flanders when peace expired for a second time. Come September 1939. from his first marriage. as diaries do. delivered personally but sporadically at Hitler’s pleasure. for the diarist (no churchgoer) is prone to thanksgiving. but no less heartfelt for all that). Reflecting on that entry after the war. arrived at the right conclusion. and that they may bear fruit. four years after his first wife had died. Kathleen and Victor (Pooks and Ti in the diary). doubt.16 As Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) he could be prudent and rigorous all the long day – and it might seem. In the early years it is that combination which feeds the more sustained passages. he wrote to his inamorata as he went to war (a military tradition in itself. Alanbrooke’s unimpeachable reputation was founded on ‘two qualities not readily interfusable’. betrayal. as a result of an automobile accident in which Alanbrooke was at the wheel – a period shrouded in grief. The communion was at once remote and intense. Keeping the diary may have begun as ‘just a little daily intimate talk’ with his truly beloved. In the still small hour of duty to his diary. he wrote: one may be apt to overlook those ghastly moments of doubt which at times crowded in on me. as Melville has it. Woolwich) and in the Royal Regiment of Artillery. and 150 . depression.

the secret life Figure 13 Howard Coster. 151 . General Sir Alan Brooke (1945).

30 am. some of them systemically hammering a way through the back wire entanglements. Ulster. At last our preliminary bombardment. Alanbrooke had been trained to write. notwithstanding the embarrassment of his spelling and the incontinence of his script. 2 July 1916: We have been busy at it since yesterday morning. It has been a continual war of guns for close on a week. slowly pounding away at the German trenches. possibly. 3rd Baronet of Colebrooke. and moved on in advance of the infantry the whole time. Diarykeeping is a discipline.on art and war and terror taken suitable action. on the second day of the big push. This little short prayer of 2 lines was not just a figure of speech.22 The Great War hardly dented his output. whilst our counter batteries took on the German batteries. died when he was seven – who from her pedestal showered him with uncovenanted maternal blessings. both night and day. he wrote to Arthur Bryant in 1956 when the first edited version was being prepared. We had a very careful timetable of lifts worked out. came to an end. Read in retrospect. Alice – his father. which had been going on for several days. 152 . a measure of protection against ‘the melancholies. (‘As regards the diaries’. or nightly. County Fermanagh. ammunition etc being brought up. and our infantry attacked at 7. others pounding trenches to pieces. the morosities and the sadnesses of war’. Sir Victor Brooke. may be a comfort in itself. a self-discipline.19 Written daily. deep felt and agonized prayer written at a moment of considerable mental and physical exhaustion at the end of 3 most memorable weeks!18 Keeping the diary afforded some consolation. After an intense bombardment of 65 minutes. fair english [sic]. for nearly twenty years he wrote religiously to his valetudinarian mother. each gun with its special task and lines allotted to it throughout the period. it was a very real. his letters to her become rehearsals for a later production. ‘I am quite ready for the inside to be photographed provided you selected a page that was not too badly written. Like many diarists. as Ian Hamilton said. by which the artillery lifted off each system of trenches just before the infantry arrived there. keeping up barrage on roads to prevent the supplies. our infantry left their trenches and attacked the German trenches. From 18th Division (Ivor Maxse) on the Somme.20 It serves to order one’s thoughts (perhaps to re-order them). the very process of ‘reckoning up the day’s business’. very often learned from an early age. and no spelling mistakes! I may well be asking for the impossible!’21) Punctilious in adoration from an early age. bombarding villages to demoralize supports.

doting and devoted. The salute was returned. speak as a Frenchman. not to say daunted. Now he tore up the steps of the building at the charge. almost of electricity. He may have needed that: needed to adore as much as be adored. suddenly pervaded the place. out in the open. I could feel it stabbing through me. but not yet as heavy as they might have been. I had noticed not long before. By then the carapace was full-grown. and possibly earn the name of “Froggie”’ – seemingly impregnable in maturity. they made something very like a diary. whose narrator observes ‘the hurricanelike imminence of a thickset general. as his diary and notes movingly disclose. We advanced about 1500 yards on a 2000 yard front. 25 When he inherited the mantle of CIGS from his friend and confessor Field Marshal Sir John Dill. I was in continual apprehension lest I should look like a Frenchman. I then had proof of being 153 . in its effect with others. Coming down Sackville Street. Loosely bound for family and posterity. and we took exactly what we intended to take.’ This was the CIGS. By then her son was well married for the first time. Turning my head to watch his progress. His quite remarkable and palpable extension of personality. at both ends of his career he was in some ways an isolate. 23 Whether Alice in her invalid bed fully appreciated this proud account of the first creeping barrage is a moot point. I saluted at admittedly longish range. no one would have known.24 ‘Little mother’ hung on until 1920. His overpowering presence has been brilliantly captured by the novelist Anthony Powell. obviously of high rank. and the whole countryside is covered with dead Germans. Our casualties were pretty heavy. He had just burst from a flagged staff-car almost before it had drawn up by the kerb. in a safe place. needed a ‘you’. but she did preserve all of her youngest son’s letters. As CIGS he appeared absolutely formidable. An extraordinary current of physical energy.the secret life The attack of our Division was a great success. and having spent the fi rst sixteen years of my life in France. Conventionally repressed yet sentimentally advanced. I had all at once been made aware of something that required attention on the far pavement and saw him pounding along. ‘not quite one of the herd’. Except perhaps for Dill himself. wearing enormous horn-rimmed spectacles. he was ‘temporarily staggered’. arrestingly insecure in youth – ‘having learned French before English. as 1941 drew to its ignominious end. exploding through the inner door into the hall. and up to the present we have taken 600 prisoners in this Division. For Alanbrooke there was always an audience.

those talents that could not otherwise but have forced him into the company of the great captains. the conscience of the Army: a dark. morally speaking.’26 ‘In his demanding and abrupt efficiency’. as if summarizing all the facts of one’s life. As the CIGS passed (whom he might well have missed in his concentration on the contents of the window). All the same. Finally. Having no cap. Disputation is what he got: more. had his nose glued to the window of a bookshop. been observable. No doubt he had seen the reflection in the plate glass. he thought he had found his man. I merely came to attention. and liked him: in that order. unable to satisfy his craving. He became. passed him the chalice and tenderly wished him luck – a modus operandi with which he was to become excessively familiar over the next few years. was confi rmed by this closer conjunction in the great hall. the reluctant chairman of a council of war. in peculiar. For some eighteen months he had been on short commons. frustrating. dined him royally. Alanbrooke had mettle. That is the tale told by the Alanbrooke diaries – one might almost 154 . perhaps. momentarily overawed – there could be no doubt of it – came to attention and saluted with much more empressement than usual. It was for this very quality that he had been selected by the Prime Minister. feared. Vavassor. Churchill had scrambled into supremacy in May 1940. I know these Brookes – stiff-necked Ulstermen and there’s no one worse to deal with than that!’29 What Churchill craved was disputation. much more than he bargained for. Irish eagle. as Powell suggested. incisive. saluting too. when to encourage. after wide inspection. His nickname in the War Cabinet Offices was an appropriate one: Colonel Shrapnel. The CIGS glanced for a split second. the CIGS presented a forbidding face to the world. on his appointment to the top post.’27 Existentially reassuring. in selfless but far from patient service. offered The Economist appreciatively. who invited him to Chequers.28 In debate his characteristic rejoinder was a bleak negative – ‘I flatly disagree’ – accompanied by the snapping of a pencil.on art and war and terror not alone in acting as a kind of receiving-station for such rays – which had. ‘Good morning. Winston Churchill. interrogated him pitilessly. an officer a hundred yards or more ahead. ‘When I thump the table and push my face towards him what does he do? Thumps the table harder and glares back at me. On this Sackville Street occasion. down as low as platoon commander. the incident gave the outward appearance of exceptional magnetic impact. round-shouldered. ‘he knew when to scold. in its own particular genre. when to protect. That some such impact existed. the officer suddenly swivelled a complete about-turn. Men admired.

Winant. mark you. flamboyance was anathema to the CIGS: ‘A meeting with Slim prior to his departure for India. in their different ways all.31 Was Alanbrooke in the other camp? He was Puritan enough: Churchill himself is said to have identified another Stafford Cripps. a Cavalier. It appeared to lift a little when the two men came together. of course. Sir Charles Wilson (Lord Moran). the American Ambassador to London. He would have been for the King.’32 Alanbrooke disapproved of cronyism. Wilson not Alexander.the secret life say enacted in the Alanbrooke diaries – a tale of schism and selfcontrol in the secret heart of the machine. . He has wrestled with the world and has hidden. but that is as far as they get. these men were his cronies. 155 . Efficiency in itself did not appear to influence his likes or dislikes. Reith. Paget. after dinner he sat at the writing table. men of violent thought. that was his form. he discovered real fellow-feeling. Wavell. I hope he will take it to heart. [Smith]. Dill first. With Winant. I rubbed into him my dislike for “prima donna generals” and “film star generals”. in particular. and I was revolted by his having monkey-like hands as they stretched out to grab ice cubes out of the bowl.30 How well he ever knew the one with whom he was yoked in harness for the greater part of the Second World War is a matter for speculation and scepticism. disliking Puritans. he remembered: Beaverbrook was present.33 Alanbrooke’s form was counterpoise: Bevin not Macmillan. last and always. Beaverbrook. At his fi rst Alice in Wonderland weekend at Chequers. His doctor. Lloyd George. observed acutely that he was slow to recognise the merits of anyone who was not congenial to him: His judgements of men when he had to size up those around him – and it was a task he found not at all to his taste – were seldom impersonal. F. Mountbatten not Wavell. Max Beaverbrook and Lord Cherwell. the more I disliked and mistrusted him. pouring himself out one strong whisky after another. he could make nothing of them. not Mountbatten – the Buddha rather than the principal boy. Churchill knew the Brookes of yesteryear – ‘the friends of my early military life’. behind a curtain of his own making. E. like Brooke. . The more I saw of him throughout the war. and the bloodless austerity of Stafford Cripps repelled him. An evil genius who exercised the very worst influence on Winston. all men with a flamboyant streak . Moran was on hand to witness their encounter: Winant holds men. he abhorred. Cunningham not Pound. Beyond question. Beatty not Jellicoe.

When Winant had done.35 Ever since the publication of Sir Arthur Bryant’s The Turn of the Tide (1957) and Triumph in the West (1959). He began to abuse Monty because operations were not going faster. He was very tired as a result of his speech in the House concerning the flying bombs.on art and war and terror There was Winant talking eagerly about [Grey’s] Fallodon Papers and Brooke – a new Brooke to me – hardly able to wait his turn as he thought of some lines from The Prelude. complete with gesture and growl. for others. As a result he was in a maudlin. drunken mood. and his mental state.37 Doubtless the diaries are an inviting target for such an explanation. he had torn Alexander to shreds for his lack of imagination and leadership 156 . the château President. Apart from Dill (excommunicated to Washington). this is the accepted answer to the why question: a kind of psychological safety-valve – the diary as diatribe. Alanbrooke’s only outlet was his diary. High rank. artful confections of the diaries and Alanbrooke’s autobiographical notes. deep in his black dog dotage. suspicious of everybody and in a highly vindictive mood against the Americans. In fact so vindictive that his whole outlook on strategy was warped. and more props. bad tempered. ready to take offence at anything. for its worst excesses: that is to say. about Ike. records one late-night. the charnel house of his criticism. not least. and. for example. he believed. the château general.36 It is also the plea entered in mitigation. I began by having a bad row with him. carried a heavy obligation: the lacerations must not show. for its shocking candour about Winston. and then lo and behold. as he is at pains to convey. sieved and selected by ‘the Tacitus of our time’. He said he never did such a thing. the greatest Englishman. how his words cascaded!34 Alanbrooke’s curtain was a mask of command. and apparently Eisenhower had said he was over cautious. who knew at fi rst hand the purgatory of a Chief of Staff. I flared up and asked him if he could not trust his generals for 5 minutes instead of continuously abusing them and belittling them. I then reminded him that during two whole Monday Cabinets in front of a large gathering of Ministers. late-war passage of arms: At 10 pm we had a frightful meeting with Winston which lasted till 2 am!! It was quite the worst we have had with him. an entry heavily (and silently) censored by Bryant. he had tried to recuperate with drink. just as Churchill performed the indomitable chauvinist-in-chief. about Colonel Shrapnel himself. by Alanbrooke and by his apologists. His performance of public impregnability was precisely that: a performance. The entry for 6 July 1944.

as his minister-counsellor. he was accepted in that role by both of these infantile tyrants. obstreperous Russians. It was not till after midnight that we got onto the subject we had come to discuss. obstructive Americans. Alanbrooke appointed himself Churchill’s nanny. as he frequently remarked. Eden [Foreign Secretary] and Lyttelton [Minister of Production] were there. in a class of his own. and something had dissolved in the process. Alanbrooke ruefully recanted. fortunately they were at last siding with us [the Chiefs of Staff] against him. could not go on like this – that Winston might not make it after all. Uniquely. the war in the Far East! Here we came up against all the old arguments that we have had put up by him over and over again. to his memory.39 The unspeakable corollary of this unspoken thought was that a swift death would be a several blessing. Attlee [Deputy Prime Minister]. Alanbrooke was brought to such a pitch of aggravation by the cumulation of the war. The old man of war was mightier than he thought. and so too was the professional relationship. but I hope it may do some good in the future. Alanbrooke was sick of nannying. but above all for his rectitude.the secret life in continually attacking at Cassino. Happily or otherwise. Churchill recovered. Winston. What sickened him was not so much that the spoiled 157 . He was furious with me. for his acumen. Fortunately he fi nished by falling out with Attlee and having a real good row with him concerning the future of India! We withdrew under cover of this smokescreen just on 2 am. surely. such as raising a Home Guard in Egypt to provide a force to deal with the disturbances in the Middle East. however. Churchill appointed Alanbrooke. in effect. the flavour of this entry is not untypical of the diary of that period. This infuriated him more than ever and he became ruder and ruder. just as he appointed himself Montgomery’s guardian. to his coadjutants and to the conduct of the war: that the war might be better run without him. in each case. obmutescent Chinese – to say nothing of the enemy – and. having accomplished nothing beyond losing our tempers and valuable sleep!!38 Despite its absolutist phraseology. His diary fairly palpitates with exasperation at obtuse politicians. excepting only that it omits Alanbrooke’s intermittent speculation that the Prime Minister. The relationship between those intimate adversaries changed over time. After the alarums and the excursions of 1942 and 1943 he was exhausted.40 Taking the measure of the situation. He then put forward a series of puerile proposals. But the diarist had wished him dead. or was repaired for a while. After two tempestuous years of it.

By the winter of 1943–4. especially the children of his fi rst marriage. Victor and Ronnie. too. In council they were an indispensable complement and foil. a marriage of convenience for the duration of the war.45 That was the PM and the CIGS. can be a moral witness. Alanbrooke’s diary served a larger purpose. are mostly absent. For Alanbrooke. It is no coincidence that the strongest language in his diaries (invariably censored by Bryant) relates to Churchill’s laxity. this was at bottom a moral issue. To read the diary as a diatribe. It was not merely an instrument of aggravation. Churchill’s moral degradation was such that he seemed no longer to be master of himself. Intellectually and affectively. he appeared to regress. to which it bears a passing resemblance. becomes almost unmentionable. far from growing up. Here the two men parted company. As Sartre perceived: ‘his diary is essentially a tool for recovering possession of himself ’: a means of self-mastery and survival. Certainly Churchill’s war memoirs.’44 In his own notebooks the writer Elias Canetti points to a distinction between illuminating and ordering minds. That was all he would concede. Self-mastery was Alanbrooke’s cardinal precept. fuelled by medicine and alcohol. a diary of telegrams and anger. An elaborate footnote in volume II contains an extraordinary excursus on ‘his two gallant brothers’. a mode of moral life. is very natural. Alanbrooke furnishes only a ‘mutilated me’. In the final analysis. as nanny had naively hoped. The doctor once asked Churchill.” he grunted. ‘“Don’t you think Brooke is pretty good at his job?” There was a rather long pause. Was Alanbrooke forbidding to his family too? In this war diary their place is usurped by mewling ministers. on account of their own limitations. too. temperamentally. both Churchill and Alanbrooke were disposed to underrate each other. Moran thought. are eloquently silent on the subject of his relationship with the Brooke who really counted. to be invoked only in the hushed tones of holy worship. and incidentally 158 . it had a more fundamental purpose. the ritual ‘you’.43 His children.42 Like Gide. they were out of phase. but it was a carefully bounded cohabitation. that enigmatic touchstone of his feelings. but it is reductive. the war of the outer world. “He has a flair for the business.on art and war and terror child never learned grand strategy – Churchill’s visionary vagabondage remained forever a mystery to the earthbound Alanbrooke – but rather that. a rage against the puerile and the pot-valiant. even his wife. Like André Gide’s journal.41 The military diarist. the witness of that life. the palimpsest of plans and the high-wire act of Churchill’s travelling circus. the longer the war went on.

no regrets at having had to change his mind. His self-possession was sorely tried. and it is clear that Alanbrooke was deeply wounded by it. Keen as it was – keener than we think – disappointment was not 159 . in June 1940. is that I “bore the great disappointment with soldierly dignity”. The youngest of this gallant brood elicits no such admiration.’ 47 The involuntary deprivation hurt all the more. as a stock character in a melodrama with one name above the title. as Churchill well knew.48 In the interim the bells had tolled a famous victory. Alanbrooke himself is something of a footnote throughout the next four volumes. ‘in victory. Did he ever practise signing ‘Alanbrooke of Alamein’ on his blotter. and in cool anticipation of their preponderance. He revisited his own crushing disappointment when. the parrot asleep on his perch). It is evident that the pious motto of the work. His unexampled achievement is reduced to long service and good conduct. bearing disappointments ‘with soldierly dignity’ and rendering services ‘of the highest order’. . because the CIGS had nobly foregone the offer of the Middle East Command a year earlier. that Alanbrooke himself should have Supreme Command of Operation Overlord. if at all. Auchinleck. At which point chivalry gives out. He noted that Churchill put too much emphasis on the failure of the 1st Armoured Division in the Western Desert in 1941–2. gallant too. to select his senior staff officers well. and offered it instead to the Americans. and marked them well. He corrected the account of their inaugural altercation. as did Montgomery of that ilk? It would have made a pretty handle. He is merely part of the retinue. He offered no sympathy. On the contrary. Churchill’s exculpatory account of that inglorious episode was indeed as summary as the action itself. rather than on the failure of the Commander-in-Chief.46 Churchill’s memoirs appeared at regular intervals between the years 1948 and 1954. adrift in France. ‘Not for one moment did he realize what this meant to me. the Prime Minister summarily withdrew the proposal he had made on three occasions before. He is not favoured with oratory or eulogy (unlike Admiral Pound. and is despatched in a paragraph. did not extend to Churchill’s most intimate adversary. and dealt with the matter as if it were one of minor importance! The only reference to my feelings in his official history . Alanbrooke read them carefully. in August 1943. . feeling (rightly) that a substitute nanny for the Prime Minister would be hard to find. magnanimity’. on the telephone. He appears. for their gratification. the CIGS and chairman of the Chief of Staff committee.the secret life on himself.

The average man in the street has never heard of it. Produced the most ridiculous arguments to prove that operations could be speeded up so as to leave us an option till December before having to withdraw any forces from Europe! He knows no details. to paraphrase Balfour’s celebrated remark about his earlier memoirs. Any limelight for it could not fail to slightly diminish the PM’s halo! This may perhaps account for the fact that he has never yet given it the slightest word of credit in public!50 Diary entries. ‘Winston’s book hardened Alan’s heart considerably’. He was again in a most unpleasant mood. And the wonderful thing is that ¾ of the population of the world imagine that Winston Churchill is one of the Strategists of History. Winston wrote an enormous book about himself and called it The Second World War. This was the highly combustible matter of recognition. Without him England was lost for a certainty. As it was. reflected Cynthia Brookeborough (wife of his nephew 160 . Never have such opposite extremes been combined in the same human being. Alanbrooke’s basic objection to Winston and his works centred on deprivation of a different sort.51 How different it might have been if Churchill had delivered a more generous testament. The impact of that unscrupulously egocentric enterprise on his former CIGS was profound. and never suspect the feet of clay of that otherwise superhuman being. one authority has wisely said.49 An entry in January 1945 is less agitated and more specific: We had a fairly full COS [Chiefs of Staff meeting] which completed our record week for the maximum number of items handled in one week since war started!!! It is a strange thing what a vast part the COS takes in the running of the war and how little it is known or its function appreciated. And with it all no recognition hardly at all for those who help him except the occasional crumb intended to prevent the dog from straying too far from the table. ‘those vessels of discontent. with him England has been on the verge of disaster time and time again. It had been smouldering for some time. a second Marlborough. Never have I admired and despised a man simultaneously to the same extent. ‘subject to the torque of mutable feeling’. are notoriously fickle’. talks absurdities and makes my blood boil to listen to his nonsense. has only got half the picture in his mind.on art and war and terror the vital spark. and the other ¼ have no conception what a public menace he is and has been throughout this war! It is far better that the world should never know. A diary entry in September 1944 contains one outburst: We had another meeting with Winston at 12 noon. I fi nd it hard to remain civil.

57 Ismay peddled the line of self-injury assiduously. It was a courageous step. therefore. and there is a perceptible strain of it in contemporary reviews. the surviving Chiefs of Staff. not to say insidious. a shrewd and sympathetic witness. the much-neglected Dill. above all. Cunningham. ‘the more certain I am that Bryant has done Brookie an injury almost as grievous as Henry Wilson’s widow did to her husband. but also. and. edited and mediated in two reminiscent volumes. Lord Ismay wrote to his master a month after the book’s publication. He may well have been.59 When the book came out. It added new meaning to the recovery of self-possession: it was in effect a recovery of history – his story – the diary as deposition. ‘The more I read The Turn of the Tide’. and. without honour in his own country. of course.52 The torque. Churchill might well have known what was coming. writ large in the midnight hours. perhaps – his equals. With appropriately tragedic irony for one whose whole life was triumph and tragedy. exposed the diarist as foolishly misguided and. his feelings mirrored his reaction to their face-to-face encounters. His response was the same: he glared back. variant on the wronged Churchill was the injured Alanbrooke. Moran was with him when he heard for the fi rst time that Alanbrooke was going into print: ‘Winston looked up quickly. whose posthumously published diaries. Publication of the diaries was a continuation of disputation by other means. both variants were damaging. and perhaps he did.’ He meant. In fact. the muchgarlanded Montgomery. 161 . Portal. and his turncoat table-thumper was the culprit.58 In the overheated atmosphere of the time. worse still. ‘I think for their egoism and lack of praise for underlings or more. the Churchillians impute. though the courage was only half-conscious. Alan thought Winston very jealous towards equals.’56 The reference was to a previous CIGS (assassinated by the IRA). more surprisingly. the diarist himself. after putting the question to Alanbrooke himself. actively disloyal. is that Winston was shocked and distressed by the publication of Alanbrooke’s diaries. he was the agent of his own nemesis. even as emasculated by Bryant. despite Alanbrooke’s petition on his behalf (‘I shall never be able to forgive Winston for his attitude towards Dill’). much of it instinctively Churchillian. The weight of post-war commentary. “Is it a violent attack on me?”’55 A more subtle.the secret life Basil).53 Winston was wronged.54 It is less often remarked that Alanbrooke was baffled and pained by the publication of Churchill’s memoirs. naturally. had been applied by Churchill.

J. Bryant had been warned. inseparably associated. The latter’s viewpoint and the extremely important story of what he sought to achieve. in 1959. and refer to momentary daily impressions. Bryant returned to the fray with the effusive apologetics prefacing Triumph in the West: Some have questioned whether a diary so frank and revealing as Lord Alanbrooke’s should have been published in the lifetime of its author. presenting a very different view to Brooke’s of the events which had brought about victory and reflecting on the judgements and competence both of himself and of the British commanders who served under him. I look upon the privilege of having served you in the war as the greatest honour destiny has bestowed on me. Churchill’s reply was muted but unmistakable: ‘Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. and how. These casual day to day impressions bear no relation to the true feelings of deep-rooted friendship and admiration which bound me so closely to you throughout the war. and not entirely successful. Some of the extracts from my diaries in this book may contain criticisms. P. On the whole I think I am against publishing day to day diaries written under the stress of events so soon afterwards.61 This was a rearguard action. often in the small hours of the morning. the downright former 162 . though not always complete. During this period the six volumes of Sir Winston Churchill’s Second World War also appeared. for after his retirement he persistently refused to write his war memoirs or to allow any book to be written until after his death. detail Sir Winston’s version of the events in which he and Alanbrooke were so intimately and. ‘wants to have it both ways. Had others preserved the same silence the public would have had to wait many more years before his diaries saw the light of day or his part in the war became known. ‘To Winston from Brookie’. giving in great. she exclaimed.’ His darling Clementine was less restrained: ‘Alanbrooke’. and references to differences between us.on art and war and terror Alanbrooke sought to mollify Churchill by sending him a copy personally inscribed. and deep affection built up in our 5 years close association during the war. after 1941. Grigg. It was certainly not intended to be. I read it with great interest. profound respect. and I am very much obliged to you for what you say in your inscription.’60 Two years later. However. But during the fi rst post-war decade a succession of widely read memoirs by American war leaders and Service chiefs appeared. were thus in danger of being obscured or forgotten. I hope you will remember that these were written at the end of long and exhausting days. With unbounded admiration. plainly enough.

ceded precedence to the professional author. he was created fi rst a Baron (under Churchill’s dispensation) and then. although not for long.’66 He was ennobled but impoverished. The legend. the arch butterer and shameless flatterer.000). In the privacy of his diary. . ‘We finished our COS with a private meeting discussing future of COS. a surprisingly simple man.65 By defacing a legend they had transgressed a norm.’ Grigg was wise in the ways of the velvet throttle. After the war. and his friends were unforgiving.’62 The question was left hanging in the air.64 Alanbrooke. however. . that was the fiction or rationalisation. read The Turn of the Tide in manuscript: ‘I don’t suppose Winston or his toadies will like it very much but I hope that you will not make any major excisions or allow Norman Brooke [the Cabinet Secretary] to frighten you with the Official Secrets Act. His Majesty was pleased to confer upon him the Order of Merit. Innocent or over-confident. Despite an undercurrent of nervy anticipation both men failed to comprehend what they had done. was not an unalloyed pleasure. and Alanbrooke. he coveted the Governor-Generalship of 163 .the secret life Secretary of State for War. his half-pay – a Field Marshal never retires – ‘inconsiderable’.63 Bryant. our own successors and probable dates of our departures . The first Lord Alanbrooke had few means. And I cannot refrain from asking what steps are to be taken to prepare him for the kind of publicity which (if I am not mistaken) it will receive. For better or worse. Recognition did not evade him altogether. and in the Birthday Honours List of 1946. Churchill’s people were perplexed. Apparently I can’t get out of it under £200 which appals me. in tacit acknowledgement of a certain parsimony. at once proud and infirm. It was Bryant’s book. His gratuity was a miserly £311 (Haig’s was £100. Elevation to the peerage. We then discussed the cost of becoming a Baron. The Cabinet’s Secretary’s considered response was an admonition exquisite alike in sentience and syntax: ‘I could have wished that the book was not to be published in Sir Winston Churchill’s lifetime. in time-honoured fashion. royal and select. a Viscount (under Attlee’s). This last. official etiquette and so forth. was still warm. he had placed himself in Bryant’s hands. Now there was no way back. was no doubt too passive for too long. Alanbrooke may always have been beyond the Prime Ministerial pale. should have known better. was especially gratifying. on the other hand. neither Alanbrooke nor Bryant was prepared for the furore prompted by the lurid serialisation in The Sunday Times early in 1957. moreover.

monkish in many ways. however.69 How far he was aware of this. He was delighted with the thought of it and well he might be. Alanbrooke’s incorrigible charge. at the behest of the King – so Churchill said. a position not merely dignified but remunerated.on art and war and terror Canada. Correct to the end. therefore. Gunther suggested a figure of at least $100.’67 After a brief struggle he sold his house and moved into the converted gardener’s cottage. Montgomery is supposed to have grinned and said: ‘Well.000] – and Billy Collins [the publisher] feels that it well might – it would create a tremendous amount of interest in the rest of your Diary and Notes and so increase their potential capital value. When Gunther remarked that it would surely be an essential source for historians. even among the monks of war. Bryant spelt it out for him towards the beginning of their association. In 1953 he wrote: 164 . when they were discussing the division of the spoils: One thing to bear in mind is that if the book [The Turn of the Tide] should prove a success on this major scale [some £60. Alanbrooke sported his stiff upper lip: ‘Alexander came to lunch and I had a chance of asking him afterwards how he liked the idea of the Canadian Governorship. I guess I won’t die in the poor house after all. mentioned the existence of his own secret diary in an interview with the American journalist John Gunther. was happy to quit the monastery as often as he decently could. Brother Brooke. realising around £3.’68 Apart from the precious bird books – a forty-five-volume set. As early as April 1944.000 – he did have one under-capitalised asset: the Alanbrooke diaries. Montgomery asked whether it would. and was bitterly disappointed (once again) when it went instead to the effortless Alexander. Montgomery.’ he wrote piteously to his confidante Cynthia Brookeborough in January 1946. but even as the hot war was being waged.000. for in this volume we should only be using a very small proportion of the whole. Once this had been converted into pounds sterling for him. and how soon. ‘I hope to find something in the line of a directorship which will help me along. be worth money one day. for example. it is difficult to be sure. ‘ I am looking for some means of making money as I am broke (and forced to sell off bird books).70 There were cues to be picked up well before that. not only from the cold war of memoirs which broke out almost immediately open hostilities were concluded. for his part. in 1954.’71 The pecuniary answer to the why question is perhaps too easily overlooked.

the birds sang.74 Alanbrooke was one of the pioneers of wildlife photography. and I cannot describe its value better than by quoting the words which Viscount Grey [the former Foreign Secretary] had written in connection with the First World War in his Fallodon Papers: ‘In those dark days I found some support in the steady progress unchanged of the beauty of the seasons.” I looked at it. the continuance of the beauty of Nature. ‘He handed it to me. was a manifestation of something great and splendid which not all the crimes and follies and misfortunes of mankind can abolish or destroy. I sometimes doubt whether I should have retained my sanity through those long years of the last world war had I not had an interest capable of temporarily absorbing my thoughts. The progress of the seasons unchecked.75 Throughout the war his search for bird books was unremitting – according to his diary.’73 This passage became something of a mantra for him immediately he was introduced to it by the sympathetic Winant ten years earlier. fi nding there not enervating ease. His Director of Military Operations. unlike the monomaniac Montgomery. “Have you read this? It is most remarkable.the secret life Throughout my life I have always held it as essential to cultivate some engrossing interest besides one’s profession. to which one could turn for refreshment and rest whenever the exigencies of one’s work admitted. as spring came back unfailing and unfaltering.72 In other words. 165 . and asked. At 68. the flowers came up and opened. Its title was The Truth About the Cuckoo. Alanbrooke’s hinterland was populated with birds. His diary is a dossier of that too. opened a drawer in his desk and took out a book. It was like a great sanctuary into which we could go and fi nd refuge for a time from even the greatest trouble of the world. In war the value of such a habit becomes more evident than ever. He continued: In ornithology and in nature generally I had formed just such an interest. whose fine appreciation and sheer determination made admiring experts gape. confidence and security. Alanbrooke had a hinterland. Every year. the CIGS shut the door. and I felt that a great power of Nature for beauty was not affected by the War. he seems to have been foiled on VE Day itself. When everyone had gone. the leaves came out with the same tender green. remembered being asked to remain behind at the end of a long and difficult meeting at the War Office in 1943. and of obliterating the war. even if only for short spells when circumstances permitted. Sir John Kennedy (another initiate). but something which gave optimism.’76 The quest for the birds themselves were similarly ceaseless.

in his survey of diaries of the Second World War: ‘Introduction’. vol. Aldrich. trans.on art and war and terror he stood for many hours knee-deep in water in the Camargue to film flamingos. It is what separated him from Churchill. 1920). and from so many of his peers. would have understood the rapturous rhetoric of Vladimir Nabokov. vi. 1998). In truth. 1985). p. Edmund Jephcott. yet he may not have been far wrong. Witness to War (London: Doubleday. to pant up a talus. ‘Let victory belong to those who made war without liking it.’80 Notes 1. I. strategist and ornithologist.77 ‘Viscount Alanbrooke. Recording Angels (London: Harrap. MA: Harvard University Press. as he said. 1996). p. A Book of One’s Own (London: Pan. and his intensity. 458. Nor do his diaries. ‘What form of mysterious pursuit caused me to get my feet wet like a child. he was an unhappy warrior. ultimately. pp. This is the conclusion of Sarah Gristwood. 166 . 3–5. to start at every coloured mote passing just beyond my field of vision? What was the dream sensation of having come empty-handed – without what? A gun? A wand?’ Alanbrooke. apropos Victor Klemperer’s diary of the Nazi period: The Ethics of Memory (Cambridge. novelist and lepidopterist. 1988). 157. to stare every dandelion in the face. It is partially disputed by Richard J.79 Alanbrooke in his fashion shared Nabokov’s dualism. 4. An idea suggested by the philosopher Avishai Margalit. Gallipoli Diary (London: Arnold. in Selected Writings (Cambridge. See Klemperer. among others. and Thomas Mallon. only too well. MA: Harvard University Press. 2. he climbed a tall pylon hide on an expedition to the Coto Doñana to glimpse the Spanish Imperial Eagle. Walter Benjamin. trans. That is their distinction.78 Nabokov declared that his pleasures were ‘the most intense known to man: writing and butterfly hunting’. 2004). Alanbrooke was always a little foreign to his fellows in arms. would prefer to be remembered as an ornithologist than as a soldier’: Raymond Fletcher’s verdict may have been a mischievous one. General Sir Ian Hamilton. 2002). At 74. His only real fulfilment was his recreation – his re-creation. He did not suffer from the disease of military ardour. 3. p. I Will Bear Witness (New York: Random House. ‘One-Way Street’ [1928]. I am quite sure. but not his twofold pleasure. That was his merit. Martin Chalmers.

pp. All subsequent Alanbrooke citations from this edition. 7. A similar dedication and a similar injunction against publication preface the second diary. for safekeeping. 10. The War Diaries of Oliver Harvey (London: Collins. 1978). begun 12 April 1940. 12. Haig diary. Robin Buss. 15. xxvii. In fact. Churchill to Margesson. 115. 1995). xi. Irene and Alan Taylor (eds). 1235. Home Command and then the whole show. 13. 6. p. notes to 16 November 1941. Chips (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Finest Hour: Winston S. In Churchill’s euphonious parallel. Hamilton. 2007). Cf. 2001). pp. Modern Times (London: Penguin. See Alex Danchev and Daniel Todman (eds).). xv. The Secret Annexe (Edinburgh: Canongate. 1997). Billy Budd (Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. Gallipoli Diary. he wrote 167 . on the purchase of the diary (p. 9. Harold Nicolson (London: Collins. 2004). p. The Soldiers’ Tale (London: Viking.the secret life 5. Morley. p. Robert Rhodes James (ed. xxxi–xxxii (emphases in the original). 24 August 1942. p. Churchill (London: Heinemann. Pages from the Goncourt Journal [1962] (New York: New York Review Books. 18. War Diaries. During the Second World War. Edmond and Jules de Goncourt. Nigel Nicolson (ed. trans. p. in addition to the diary. Richard J. vi. Nicolson himself prepared one section of the diary for publication as early as 1941. Douglas Haig (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 2000). vii. Thereafter each book simply records his wife’s name and address. The Ghost Road (London: Viking. p. there was less separation – at any rate less distance – as he took over successively Southern Command. V. 1983). Lawrence to F. 19. pp. Aldrich (ed. War Diaries (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.). p. And. 18 October 1956. see. 2005). 335. Gallipoli Diary. Pat Barker. 17.). John Harvey (ed. 20. For selections of war diaries of every sort. begun 12 April 1940. Alanbrooke to Bryant. 21. 484. Robert Baldick. 1966). trans. 7. 14. p. 1984). Hamilton. 2005). 1967). for example. 13–14. 107). War Diaries (London: Verso. but nothing came of this. wisdom and vigour. as his son points out. Quentin Hoare. Jean-Paul Sartre. Herman Melville. 17. in Samuel Hynes.). from July 1940. in Gary Sheffield and John Bourne (eds). 4 November 1918. Cf. p. xxv. 16. diary and notes. 11. Witness to War and The Faraway War (London: Doubleday. in Martin Gilbert. 29 August 1918. unless indicated. 11–12. trans. 8. 22. Jean-Paul Sartre. Dedication in second diary. November 1941. p. 29 July 1929. 1977).

The Turn of the Tide (London: Collins. 1990). pp. For the inspection. War Diaries. 1915. 29. p. Alanbrooke diary. includes action around Neuve Chapelle and Festubert. pp. Alanbrooke (London: Collins. 13. notes to 19 November 1943. pp. 15 September 1940. 6 vols (London: Cassell. It is briefer and more factual – less hot – than its Second World War successor. The Fringes of Power (London: Sceptre. The Economist. These asperities have hitherto gone unnamed or unpublished. The uninhibited exchanges with Dill are only patchily preserved. pp. 16 November 1943. 23 February 1957. Churchill. diary and notes. 36–37. xiv. xiii–xiv. commander of the ‘forgotten’ 14th Army. 31. Nye note. 30 March 1944: ‘I have just about reached the end of my tether. Arthur Bryant. for example. vol. 1982). 36–42. 718–19. p. 24. . Alanbrooke to his mother. The Military Philosophers (London: Fontana. p. at least for part of the time. see Winston S. 1957).on art and war and terror a daily letter to his wife. . 34. 32. 17 July 1940. p. I. vol. 35. Establishing the Anglo-American Alliance (London: Brassey’s. 271ff. pp. Southeast Asia. See David Fraser. 25. 1986 and 1987). 28. 26. 33. It seems he kept a diary too. II. 1959). See. Churchill’s Boswellian Private Secretary confi rms that he had Alanbrooke in mind as ‘an alternative CIGS’ well before he made the offer on 16 November 1941. The Second World War. the rest may have been lost. Notes to 17 August 1940. II. 530.’ Extracted in Arthur Bryant. Bryant. The Ambassador’s account of his tenure is also curtained. Winston Churchill. 168 23. Winant. 14 July 1942 and 24 February 1943). . A Letter from Grosvenor Square (London: Hodder & Stoughton. Alanbrooke. p. 1948– 54). Moran diary. 170–1. J. 29 October 1942. ‘The Tacitus of our Time’. 28 September 1941. where the anonymously repulsive and greasy can now be identified as Pile and Hore-Belisha. War Diaries. Cf. ‘The conscience of the Army’ was borrowed later by Fraser. 57–8. but see Alanbrooke to Dill. pp. The Tatler. 29 July 1941. 1971). 233. Anthony Powell. Triumph. was by no means the prime suspect for prima donna behaviour. Triumph in the West (London: Collins. 34. p. Alanbrooke diary. Slim. Colville diary. pp. 30. Lord Moran. 27.). Cf. vol. The extant portion. Second World War. ‘Statesman and Soldier’. G. War Diaries. 20 February 1957. He was taking command of Allied Land Forces. xvi. pp. Churchill. 36. Notes on early life. 1966). in John Colville. 2 July 1916. Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival (London: Constable. in Moran. 233–4. respectively (diary. 9 August 1945. 125–6. pp. Alex Danchev (ed. 1947).

Elias Canetti. Sartre diary. 55. 38. 1967). See. p. 41. excised by Bryant.the secret life 37. Lady Brookeborough to Marian Long. pp. Alanbrooke’s account is corroborated by other participants. p. 3 February 1942. 6 July 1944. 20 December 1944 and 12 April 1945. Second World War. The Eden Memoirs: The Reckoning (London: Cassell. Moran. Moran. and the ‘Preludes’ to Bryant’s volumes. vol. vol. 229–30. 188. in Martin Gilbert. 1978). see diary. Diary. in his War Diaries. and not this outer life of telegrams and anger’ (E. 1232–3. 26 January 1939. p. 42. 19 February 1955. 51. ‘generous as usual’. Eden diary. pp. 52. 716–17. Diary and notes. for example. Alanbrooke to Bryant. 43. p. 48. 461–2. July 1954. 171 and vol. Churchill (London: Heinemann. An illustration perhaps of Colville’s observation that Alanbrooke was ‘at once spellbound and exasperated’ by Churchill (Colville diaries. vol. IV. notes to 24 September 1942. Footprints in Time (Salisbury: Russell. his ‘true comrade’ Pound: vol. Gide journal. p. The New Yorker. pp. Journals (Harmondsworth: Penguin. 844. 1965). For the parrot-like Pound. Cf. 716. 9 November 1942. p. The fullest fi rst-hand account is in Moran. p. Justin O’Brien. Winston Churchill. pp. 200. diary. Churchill (London: Heinemann. 46. 145–6. 54. Canetti offers Heraclites and Aristotle as ‘extreme cases’. Triumph. 6 August 1942. 76. The Human Province (New York: Seabury. Cf. Diary. 1988). Martin Gilbert. trans. Joachim Neugroschel. I. p. 1986). 2 October 2000. 8 May 1945. Churchill. See André Gide. 39. ‘Personal relations are the most important thing for ever and ever. See. II. Churchill. 234. Triumph. vol. See 16 November 1941. 321. 50. vol. Second World War. p. pp. Road to Victory: Winston S. 53. 20 January 1945. Bryant. 10 September 1944. ‘The Buried Life’. for example. echoed in John Colville. V. duly censored in Bryant. Cf. trans. p. 8 and 9 September 1944. Cynthia Ozick. 45. p. 270–1. 49. 40. Second World War. in Journals. 47. Churchill’s official biography contributes to this vein of commentary a notably partisan attack on the diaries and a gracenote on the wronged Winston. for example. 169 . 712ff. Forster) 44. 3 December 1939. 637. V. Diary. in Earl of Avon. Churchill. M. V. Winston Churchill. ‘Recover possession of oneself’ is Gide’s expression. 76. 90. notes to 12 October and 5 November 1944. pp. 7 May 1944. biographical notes). Never Despair: Winston S. 413. Winston Churchill. pp. 1984). 28 March. Notes to 14 June 1940 and 15 August 1943. See. II. Cf. See Cunningham diary. p.

Clementine in Moran. amid a bitter debate about national decline. See Andrew Roberts. vi–vii. 10 July 1941. ‘The Over-sell’. pp. Callwell. Fraser. It would include Haig’s specialities of political and especially monarchical intrigue – Alanbrooke was not above the 170 . and The Memoirs of Lord Ismay (London: Heinemann. 1994). Triumph. Alanbrooke died in 1963. See diary. E. Bryant. 536–7. 16 and 17 July 1945. Michael Howard noted that The Turn of the Tide appeared in the immediate aftermath of the Suez debacle. 558. p. 25–6. Never Despair. ‘Bryant or Alanbrooke?’ New Statesman. Encounter 78 (1960).on art and war and terror 56. There was an interesting contemporary parallel. Alanbrooke. 60. Diary. 5 March 1957. 86. 4. 7 November 1959. 1960). King’s College. but their correspondence betrays acute nervousness about giving public offence to ‘the greatest Englishman’. Alanbrooke was. Grigg and Brook to Bryant. 61. Inscription and reply in Gilbert. Ismay to Churchill. epilogue to Fraser. London. Triumph. p. pp. Major General Sir John Kennedy. See also Ismay to Alanbrooke and Bryant. 1232–3. Kennedy Papers. Alanbrooke’s former Director of Military Operations. 64. 8 March 1957. Bryant. Part of a veritable flood. in Gilbert. Looking back. 16 and 18 September 1956. Times Literary Supplement. edited by Brigadier Bernard Fergusson (Lord Ballantrae). preface and epilogue. box 6. 62. Alastair Buchan’s sardonic suggestion that interest in the diaries in particular and the Second World War in general was a ‘sublimated form of anti-Americanism’. The instructive contrast with Haig is not confi ned to fi nances. 317–18. 717. was about to publish his own memoirs. ‘Patriotism: The Last Refuge of Sir Arthur Bryant’. There was a book launch at the Dorchester two days later. 65. Serialisation began on 3 February 1957. 63. 514. Michael Howard. pp. of course. Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson (London: Cassell. in his Eminent Churchillians (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ‘At Churchill’s Right Hand’. The book is brave and suave. 58. pp. 1957). p. familiar with the Wilson example. The Business of War (London: Hutchinson. for example. Cf. Diary. diary and notes. A fi rst impression of 75. Alastair Buchan. See. 57. 23 August 1945. and ‘winning the war but losing the peace’. Winston Churchill. 66. Bryant. also diary-based. pp. p. p. Mediterranean Strategy. 86–8.000 copies sold out within the month – a prelude to further vast sales in Britain and in the United States. 10 April 1946. Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives. 59. 14 and 29 March 1957. Never Despair. Alanbrooke. pp. 67. ‘The Over-sell’. pp. 1927). 1232. 287–322. Major General Sir C.

1. 16 April 1944. 74. xiii. 1953). 247–8. From Look at the Harlequins!. Tribune. 76. 16 January 1946. 8 May 1945. 70. 69. 171 . 73. Natural History Museum. 71. 79. in Sartre. 80. Forword to David Armitage Bannerman. André Malraux. 2000). Business of War. 24 December 1954. in Boyd. Tring. London. of which Alanbrooke was almost completely innocent. 22 June 1943 and 11 April 1946. Nabokov. Bannerman Papers. quoting from ‘Recreation’. Alanbrooke to Lady Brookeborough. but eschewed the latter absolutely (see 1–2 March 1944) – to say nothing of the vexed question of diary doctoring. Eric Hosking. ‘Books and People’. in Brian Boyd. Sunday Chronicle. Diary. Raymond Fletcher. pp. 1928). ‘Nabokov. War Diaries. xxxi–xxxiv. Kennedy. Introductory Note to Montgomery Papers. 68. 75. 6 November 1959. another charge levelled at Haig. See ‘Note on the Text’. 85. Imperial War Museum. pp.the secret life former (see 15 September 1942). p. The Birds of the British Isles (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd. Modern Times. p. unpublished autobiography. p. in Nabokov’s Butterflies (London: Allen Lane. pp. 290–1. Literature. Bryant to Alanbrooke. Alanbrooke. ‘Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke’. 72. 293. p. Strong Opinions. David Bannerman. Lepidoptera’. Notes to 25 May 1941. 19 November 1943. 77. On the purchase and sale of the bird books (a matter of no small consequence to him) see diary and notes. 78. ‘Nabokov’.. pp. 132 ff. p. Bird Notes 30 (1963). in Fallodon Papers (London: Constable. 16.

your warders. a never-ending.. worldwide sweep. as the Law decrees.’ replied the warder. ostensible acquittal. Animal House on the Night Shift: Kafka and Abu Ghraib ‘What are you after? Do you think you’ll bring this fi ne case of yours to a speedier end by wrangling with us. There can be no mistake about that. whippers. definite acquittal. seems to pay a kind of tribute to Kafka and his demons. ‘All the worse for you. That’s all we are. but. so far as I know them. over papers and warrants? We are humble subordinates who can scarcely fi nd our way through a legal document and have nothing to do with your case except to stand guard over you for ten hours a day and draw our pay for it. but we’re quite capable of grasping the fact that the high authorities we serve. all-encompassing. and indefi nite postponement. ‘So the Advocate’s methods . There are three possibilities. . The very idea. door-keepers. Joseph K. How could there be a mistake in that?’ ‘I don’t know this Law. amounted to this: that the client finally forgot the whole world and lived only in hope 172 . or.8 Like a Dog. He is allowed an advocate. ‘Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K.’3 Anonymous functionaries (warders. Our officials. Franz Kafka1 The ‘Global War on Terror’ (GWOT) is nothing if not Kafkaesque. that is. assessors) shield the prominents from direct contamination: hand-soiling in high office is inconceivable. never sees the judge or locates the high court. before they would order such an arrest as this must be quite well informed about the reasons for the arrest and the person of the prisoner. never go hunting for crime in the populace. ‘I forgot to ask you first what sort of acquittal you want.’ said K. are drawn towards the guilty and must then send out us warders. That is the Law. . for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning. but the advocate is also part of the system. and I know only the lowest grades among them.’2 The arbitrary nature of the proceedings of The Trial (1925) corresponds eerily to the proceedings of the GWOT.

8 Kafkaesque. The client ceased to be a client and became the Advocate’s dog. The queasy combination of bureaucracy and depravity. and corporal indignity. the state of exception. He learns it corporally. inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. I cannot give you. or even if he has been sentenced at all. thus. as he put it to his muse Felice Bauer. In its infi nite and exquisite variety.’ he wrote to her on another occasion. humiliation takes canine form. am I able to do it. more deeply than any dog. Kafka’s great subject is humiliation. where the guiding principle is devastatingly simple: guilt is never to be doubted. in Tony Blair’s parlance. however. whose common denominator is the camp. the bizarre fate of the Advocate’s client. The commandment he is supposed to have disobeyed is inscribed on his body.’9 This 173 . which as such nevertheless remains outside the social order. Kafka knew inside out. a total envelopment at once sinister and grotesque. ‘Cruel. a terror shared by the abused of Abu Ghraib. Beyond menace. which was essentially a temporary suspension of the rule of law on the basis of a factual state of danger. embraces something more intimate still. In Kafka’s world.’5 Amnesty’s ‘gulag of our times’ comes to resemble Kafka’s penal colony. foreshadows policy and practice at Guantánamo Bay..6 In the penal colony the prisoner is not told the sentence that has been passed on him. Abu Ghraib. ‘The camp is the space that is opened when the state of exception begins to become the rule. is now given a permanent spatial arrangement. in needlepoint. only when thus humiliated. and I on the point of prostrating myself. ‘The exact information you want about me. dearest F. and in shrinking himself to be like them. ‘I can give it to you. now copiously documented. The dog marks the degradation. if at all. ‘In the camp.like a dog of toiling along this false path until the end of his case should come in sight. Kafka had an obsessive interest in small animals. by an ingenious apparatus called the Harrow. you always on the point of vanishing altogether. He understood the terror of standing upright. The damage is explored with agonistic lucidity. Becoming a dog is a process of voluntary or involuntary self-abasement.’4 Rendition and subjection are spookishly prefigured. Bagram and numberless other ‘facilities’ in nameless other places. on his person.’ as Giorgio Agamben has observed. only when running along behind you in the Tiergarten. the melancholy litany of the Convention against Torture (CAT). humiliation is instinct in his life and work. feature large in the catalogue of torture and abuse perpetrated by the ‘alliance of values’.7 Corporal instruction.

on art and war and terror image of humiliation haunts his fiction.’10 The collateral descendants of Kafka’s warders and whippers seem to mimic his obsessions. Detainee began to cry during this comparison. the condemned man looked so much like a submissive dog that one might have thought he could be left to run free on the surrounding hills and would only need to be whistled for when the execution was due to begin. known to the night shift as ‘Gus’. showing concern for one another. or that during the latter session he was forced to perform this series of ‘dog tricks’ while being led round the interrogation room on a leash. Detainee 063 was held in isolation for some six months. moreover. playing. Interrogator began by reminding the detainee about the lessons in respect and how the detainee had disrespected the interrogators. to wear women’s underclothes and to undergo repeated strip searches (allegedly cavity searches) as part of the interrogation. as an official inquiry has revealed. ‘In any case.12 The detail. the detainee was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator. aka Mohammed al-Qahtani. 20 December 2002 Detainee offered water – refused.11 The interrogation log is remarkably detailed – shamelessly detailed – but it does not make quite clear that the detainee was chained throughout. obscures the regime. Began teaching the detainee lessons such as stay. Told detainee that a dog is held in higher esteem because dogs know right from wrong and know to protect innocent people from bad people. These were by no means the most offensive or invasive techniques employed by the interrogators. Detainee was compared to the family of banana rats and reinforced that they had more love. and bark to elevate his social status up to that of a dog. From the interrogation log of Detainee 063. and concern than he had. Among other ploys. The banana rats were moving around freely. He was reminded that he was less than human and that animals had more freedom and love than he does. freedom. eating. come. at Guantánamo: 11 December 2002 Detainee was reminded that no one loved. cared or remembered him. the so-called twentieth hijacker. leashed and naked. He was taken outside to see a family of banana rats. During that time he was regularly interrogated for eighteen 174 . held like a lead by his guard. ‘In the Penal Colony’ opens with an unforgettable portrait of the condemned man in chains. Corpsman changed ankle bandages to prevent chafi ng. as if to anticipate the grinning Lynndie England and the cringing detainee. Detainee became very agitated.

his condition gave sufficient cause for concern for him to be hospitalised for observation. Meanwhile. kept awake by dripping water on his head or loud playing of Christina Aguilera music – ‘sleep adjustment’ combined with prolonged sleep deprivation. crouching in a cell covered with a sheet for hours on end)’.13 After an episode of bradycardia (slow heartbeat) during the most intensive period of interrogation. sometimes from unlikely quarters. starting at midnight. 24 October 2003. to twenty hours a day. noting that al-Qahtani exhibited behaviour ‘consistent with extreme psychological trauma (talking to non-existent people. Abu Ghraib. FBI agents serving at Guantánamo went so far as to complain about ‘highly aggressive interrogation techniques’.like a dog Figure 14 Private Lynndie England and ‘Gus’. other concerns were raised.14 All of the techniques employed in the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani were found to be legally permissible and officially authorised under the current dispensation. multiple inquiries into interrogation practices and detainee abuse have been reluctant to return findings couched explicitly in the language of the 175 . reporting hearing voices. Partly for this reason.

a formulation twice repeated. resulted in the cumulative effect being degrading and abusive treatment’. and should be admonished for that failure’. aggressive. electrodes and all – amounting to well over one thousand images and nearly one hundred video files of suspected detainee abuse. he declared. For the forces of good. hoods.19 Others have been more circumspect or less searching. who was tasked to investigate the conduct of the Military Police at Abu Ghraib. Following the bland evasions of the Administration – that as a matter of policy detainees are treated ‘humanely and. that it was not so heinous a crime (‘Animal House on the night shift’). There follows an awkwardly worded concession – ‘this treatment did not rise to the level of prohibited inhumane treatment’ – and then a recommendation that the Guantánamo Commander ‘should be held accountable for failing to supervise the interrogation . confronting the weasel arguments offered by tame apologists: that the abuse was confined to rogue elements (‘a few bad apples’).15 The most forthright to date is Major General Antonio Taguba. Their struggle is played out in the parsing of their reports. blatant. a FilipinoAmerican. and who found that ‘numerous incidents of sadistic. they concluded that ‘the creative. professional to the end. The ‘extremely graphic photographic evidence’ to which he refers in his report.on art and war and terror CAT. He retired in 2007. to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity. . and that the purpose was not to cause harm but to extract information (the lawyerly exculpation of ‘specific intent’). Taguba was first ignored and then sidelined: his career was effectively over.18 The Taguba Report will have none of this. .17 Taguba went further: ‘This systemic and illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated’. still in the same rank. and persistent interrogation . The CAT may be the first casualty of the GWOT. the call for accountability is startling. it is now known. in a manner consistent with the principles of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949’ – inquirers have also been reluctant straightforwardly to acknowledge ‘inhumane’ treatment. In the matter of Detainee 063. Allegations of abuse at Guantánamo were investigated by Brigadier General John Furlow and Lieutenant General Randall Schmidt. ‘torture’ is as difficult a word as ‘genocide’. and wanton criminal abuses were infl icted on several detainees’. No action has more severely compromised the United States in its prosecution of the war on terror than its inaction when 176 .16 Seymour Hersh believes that Taguba. . far exceeds the sample disclosed in 2004 – dogs. . was offended by what he saw.20 Carefully circumscribed as it may be.

because the Guantánamo Commander had little experience of detainees before he took charge. inviolability and ‘inherent power’ – the nexus of the Office of the Vice-President. different tactics are also available. Bare life is a fathomless existence of domination.24 In a classic demonstration of the art. Agamben calls this bare life. and caps the seniority of scrutiny at the rank of the investigating officer.21 In most cases the very nature of the inquiry. followed by another on Military Intelligence). Some reports are parasitic on other reports. everything is possible.like a dog faced with irrefutable evidence of American wrongdoing (evidence gathered by its own internal inquiries): the conspicuous failure to trace responsibility to its source and hold commanders and policymakers to account. For the practised hand. Duplication and repetition contrive to blur the outline and blunt the impact. ‘In the detainee at Guantánamo. political and legal limbo. The strongholds of certainty. The lack of accountability confi rms the culture of impunity. 177 . torture is more readily accepted than admitted. Al-Qhatani and his cohorts found themselves in an ethical. of course. bare life reaches its maximum indeterminancy’. for example. The occupants of these Offices brazenly add insult to injury. the Office of the Secretary of Defense. a process exemplified in the deliberately indeterminate designation of its subjects as nameless ‘detainees’. or ignored. he argued that. In the camp. directs the focus down the chain of command rather than up. Minimisation aggravates provocation. or disputed. degradation and dehumanisation. Both the conclusion and the recommendation of the Schmidt Report were summarily rejected by the officer who commissioned it. the Church Report is patterned on the Schlesinger Report. that is to say. and never addressed. the Schlesinger Report synthesises previous reports.25 Once introduced. The Schmidt Report borrows from the Church Report. chronic redundancy prevails. he writes.22 Salami-sliced remits and tightly-drawn terms of reference serve to delimit and defang. administrative investigations commissioned by army commanders in the field. he should not be held accountable for every aspect of prison operations. Findings can be rejected. ‘Issues of senior official accountability’ are passed like an unwanted parcel from inquiry to inquiry. one on Military Police. heap humiliation on humiliation. Humiliation demands expiation. a strategy familiar from the serial inquiries into intelligence and weapons of mass destruction. as surely as coverup compounds scandal. 23 Investigation after investigation pleads exhaustion (at Abu Ghraib. and the Office of Legal Counsel – are above such considerations.

specifically. men without beards. 27 The techniques embodied in the Special Interrogation Plan were applied to that end. they also contained an additional element: ‘Increasing Anxiety by Use of Aversions’. an objective straight out of Army Field Manual 34-52.26 The strategy was to establish and maintain total control. with something of the primitive about it. as well as the standards of conduct outlined in the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice]. The dog. expressed in the elementary psychology of FM 34-52. he must act quickly and fi rmly. no longer an 178 . heating. so the captives mock the captors in terms the latter cannot begin to comprehend – women with men’s haircuts. unmuzzled. and clothing given to the source. The Special Interrogation Plan for Mohammed al-Qahtani was approved in advance by the Secretary of Defense. and who was believed to possess ‘actionable intelligence’ – the interrogator’s holy grail – which might prevent further attacks on the United States. It was illicit. as well as the food. the fundamentals of military doctrine. shelter. The teeth were for show – this time – but the threat was for real. everything that he says and does must be within the limits of the Geneva and Hague Conventions. At least one official inquiry has suggested that the precepts set down in the widely used (but significantly revised) 1987 version of the manual may have been open to abuse by the untrained: The interrogator should appear to be the one who controls all aspects of the interrogation to include the lighting. but the techniques employed against him soon passed into general use. but easily justified (‘exploiting individual phobias’). Each had its rationale.on art and war and terror Normalisation is easy and insidious. like the detainee.’ said an Afghan returned to his homeland. was on a lead. The image of humiliation appeared before him. Detainee 063 was a special case. The war on terror is a war of mutual incomprehension. Intelligence Interrogation (1992). As the captors strip the captives of their dignity. a war of tribes. insult their mothers and profane their religious books. bringing a military working dog (MWD) into the interrogation room and ordering it to growl. for a ‘high-value’ detainee who had resisted the standard techniques for months on end. large as life. ‘In the American army I could not see a real man. and configuration of the interrogation room. The interrogator must always be in control. Crude notions about Arab fear of dogs and Muslim sense of shame mark the limits of cultural understanding. Donald Rumsfeld. However.28 However. bark and bare its teeth at the detainee. They centred on ‘Pride and Ego Down’ and ‘Futility’.

Adnan El Shukrijumah.’ admitted a Military Intelligence officer familiar with the practices at Guantánamo. who was new to the job. ‘We thought the detainees were all masterminds.’29 The dog-shaped descent from subject to abject was designed to intensify the shame. it transpired that the interrogator. According to the official inquiries. the self-justifying. It wasn’t the case. Mohammed al-Qahtani’s resistance was eventually broken and he provided valuable intelligence. it was in fact a training camp for the Al Ansar group. gagged. Al Qaeda and conspiracy to mass murder topped the charge sheet. ‘an Al Qaeda facility’. The commanding officer at Mazar-i-Sharif. ‘the shoe bomber’.30 He is said to have confirmed more than twenty detainees as ‘UBL bodyguards’ who received terrorist training at Al Farooq. ‘And they talk rudely about homosexuals. told his interrogator that ‘the Secretary of Defense’s counsel had authorized him to “take the gloves off” and ask whatever he wanted. After that he was kept from time to time in a pitch-dark steel shipping container. Most of them were just dirt farmers in Afghanistan. where he was being held. The starting-point is important. was at Al Farooq. after three years in Guantánamo.like a dog enemy combatant. given the time elapsing. the scaremongering and the marginal status of most of those identified. and on ‘the dirty bomber’. the Administration had high hopes of making an example of him. which is very shameful to us. ‘At the time. Richard Reid. He is also said to have provided detailed information on meetings with the well-guarded Usama bin Laden himself. When he was captured. it is almost impossible to determine the success of the Special Interrogation Plan. Jose Padilla.31 How valuable was this intelligence. alias Jaafaral the Pilot. That was the hope or expectation. Quite apart from the public exhibition and the private coercion. and ‘the terror suspect’. even in its own terms.’ The elaborately constructed case collapsed. strapped to a board and exhibited on the evening news. Lindh was a foot soldier and a novice. including disaffected ex-cons like Padilla and Reid?32 The vexed question of value is a difficult one to answer. ‘the American Taliban’.34 One 179 . the over-inflating. and were active fighters against the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. of which he was a member. had consistently replaced the word ‘Ansar’ with ‘Qaeda’ in his report. sapping the will to resist. however. he was stripped. In the nature of the case. we didn’t even understand what Al Qaeda was. for want of evidence and understanding. one of the FBI’s most wanted.’33 John Walker Lindh. Now they had him. in December 2001.

More creativity was required. In Cofer Black’s pithy testimony. anything is of value. interrogation operations and collection management.36 Whatever the value of the intelligence. The correlation between information and humiliation was moot. According to senior Pentagon officials. Military Police work hand-in-hand with Military Intelligence. The techniques approved for al-Qahtani embroidered on a long list of ‘aggressive interrogation techniques’. at all levels. The new man at Guantánamo was Major General Geoffrey Miller. ‘the rapid exploitation of detainees’. Setting the conditions means softening up. con brio. requested for use at Guantánamo by its commander in October 2002. entailed the functional integration of detention operations. or more unexpectedly.on art and war and terror expert who interviewed Lindh at length came to believe that the root of the problem lay in the sheer depth of ignorance of US officials. almost adventitious. After 9/11 the gloves come off. His mantra. the swelling population of the penal colony had produced a frustrating paucity of actionable intelligence. otherwise known as ‘counter-resistance strategies’. they yielded embarrassingly little – even supposing that the system was capable of distinguishing between them. the ground rules are as outmoded as the Geneva Conventions. unpredictable. If the war on terror has a theme.37 On this model. on this account ‘the take’ was cumulative. The request addressed a deceptively simple problem: ‘The current guidelines for interrogation procedures at GTMO limit the ability of interrogators to counter advanced resistance. The al-Qahtani case has an alternative narrative. The detention force ‘sets the conditions’ for successful interrogations. ‘They were like babies. nor were they attributable to the use of any particular technique. Rapid exploitation means coercive interrogation. it is the Lindh syndrome – or rather the 9/11 syndrome – the itch to ‘take the gloves off’ in order to achieve results against such a despicable and fanatical foe. It was totally alien to them. High-value or low-value. ‘Good manners are 180 . the ‘Gitmo’ model.’ In other words. especially Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM).’35 For those who know nothing. They came more freely. when he was presented with evidence that others were talking. They didn’t know enough about Islam or Afghanistan. The request from Guantánamo was a request for more latitude. the alleged mastermind of 9/11.’38 On this analysis. some of his most interesting confessions were not extracted under the interrogation plan. ‘there was “before” 9/11 and “after” 9/11.

8. The use of scenarios designed to convince the detainee that death or severely painful consequences are imminent for him and/or his family. standard rewards and deceptions. The hood should not restrict breathing in any way and the detainee should be under direct observation when hooded. 3. 6. Switching the detainee from hot rations to MREs [Meals Ready to Eat]. for a maximum of four hours. Interrogating the detainee in an environment other than the standard interrogation booth. 5. The use of stress positions (like standing). yelling. experiencing a whole war from the enemy point of view. [With certain conditions attached. Category I were the most commonplace and the least aggressive (direct questioning. 11. if efficiently backed and not corrupted. Forced grooming (shaving of facial hair etc. The new normal is improvised. The use of 20-hour interrogations. Category II became the benchmark: 1. The other remains incorrigibly other: not like us. spaceless. 9. Removal of clothing. Breaking the barbarians was not a job for the squeamish. disorderly. but not in the ear).like a dog timeless. The detainee may also have a hood placed over his head during transportation and questioning. Removal of all comfort items (including religious items). 181 .). 2. 7. 12. Use of the isolation facility for up to 30 days.] 4. Using detainees’ individual phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress. Deprivation of light and auditory stimuli. contingent. 10. Bare life is precarious and often vicious.’39 Good manners were conspicuous by their absence at Abu Ghraib. classless’. Exposure to cold weather or water (with appropriate medical monitoring). The list of aggressive interrogation techniques was divided into three categories. Exploitation not imagination is the watchword. As an intelligence officer learns to do. 2. 1. The use of falsified documents or reports. Category III went a little further. writes Christine Brooke-Rose: ‘simply the ability to imagine the other.

In Iraq. Casualties are mounting and we need to start gathering info to help protect our fellow soldiers from any further attacks. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson. the list was trimmed at the edges – Category III techniques were disallowed. poking in the chest with the finger. non-injurious physical contact such as grabbing. and furthermore that it could be read as an encouragement to exceed the limits officially prescribed by the Secretary of Defense himself. Migration bred corruption. the go-getting Geoffrey Miller appeared with a team of specialists. and an urgent request for a ‘wish list’ of personal favourites. a familiar cry went up.’ Wilkerson interpreted for the investigative reporter Jane Mayer. that it could become an argument for the defence in any prosecution of terror suspects. this addendum is close to perfection. Mora understood well enough that it could be construed as a jest. On legal advice. guys”. Once you pull this thread.on art and war and terror 3. General Counsel of the US Navy. From coalition headquarters a Military Intelligence officer sent an email to his colleagues in the community: The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees. Mora’s was not an aberrant interpretation. under intense pressure from Washington for actionable intelligence on the remarkably persistent insurgent deadbeats and former regime remnants. Alberto Mora.’42 The techniques approved for Guantánamo migrated to other camps in other countries. I stand for 8–10 hours a day. One of the very few vocal opponents of these measures in high office. and light pushing. Use of a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation. except for the fourth – but Rumsfeld could not resist annotating the memorandum of approval with a scribbled addendum: ‘However. ‘That’s what started them down the slope. Boltz has made it clear that we want these individuals broken. had a similar reaction when he saw the addendum. in August 2003. You’ll have My Lais then. He also feared. “Carte blanche.40 Donald Rumsfeld was the man for latitude: he approved the request. Chief of Staff to the former Secretary of State. however. a throwaway line. ‘It said.43 Soon afterwards. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?’41 In the bureaucratic politics of torture. focused immediately on Rumsfeld’s mischief-making intervention. the whole fabric unravels. Col. Use of mild. on what was 182 . 4. The email betrayed some desperation. There was an appeal for ‘input’ on effective interrogation techniques. Colin Powell.

sometimes for interrogation. and serenade him with the Rolling Stones’ ‘Time Is on My Side’. you have effectively lost control of your interrogation from the very start. ‘The team used JTF-GTMO operational procedures and interrogation authorities as baselines.’46 The Military Police were setting conditions with a will. Saddam Hussein himself. Waiting for the barbarians to talk might take forever. the ace of spades. And we had to bark like a dog and if we didn’t do that. they start hitting us hard on our face and chest with no mercy. and soon ‘doggy dances’ were all the rage. Back in Guantánamo – by way of adding to the bizarrerie – interrogators would gather outside Mohammed al-Qahtani’s cell. ‘dog tricks’ and ‘dog piles’ of naked detainees were already part of the curriculum. His report was a technocrat’s blueprint. Collection was haphazard. documentation was practically non-existent. sometimes for sport. Wherever Miller went. The joke (if it was a joke) was on them. where MI holds (detainees considered to be of military intelligence value) were penned higgledy-piggledy with miscellaneous criminals and various unknowns.’44 Iraq was to be Gitmoised. or witnessed them. For the embattled Coalition Provisional Authority. the dog was sure to follow. And it works. if sufficiently terrorised by Marco and Duco. Other soldiers came to watch. menacing and even biting detainees. was still at large. in a kind of barber-shop chorus.like a dog quaintly termed an assistance visit. 183 . dogs with better names than detainees. ‘They forced us to walk like dogs on our hands and knees. or heard about them: a sizeable constituency. bunkered down in Baghdad.’45 Military working dogs arrived at Abu Ghraib in November 2003. In the overcrowded Hard Site. analysis disconnected. Time is the torturer’s best defence: actionable intelligence is acutely time-sensitive. So they have to earn everything they get. detention and interrogation operations were ramshackle and ineffectual. Assistance was sorely needed. Far from being concealed.47 These antics appear to have been regarded as just that by almost everyone who participated in them. Two Army dog-handlers had a competition to see who could make a detainee urinate or defecate on himself. a full-scale insurgency was building. Geoffrey Miller was sent to Iraq for a purpose. Even the terrorists knew about the parlous state of intelligence in Iraq. The interrogator works against the clock. any solution could come not a moment too soon.’ he informed a meeting. His message to Military Intelligence was unequivocal: ‘You have to treat the prisoners like dogs. The MWD were immediately put to use. ‘If you treat them or if they believe that they’re any different than dogs.

reservists. no fewer than twenty-seven Military Intelligence personnel ‘requested. Like the routine sexual humiliation. they were as disgraceful as they were unremarkable. they knew no bounds.on art and war and terror Figure 15 Sergeant Michael Smith with Marco (the black dog). but also to ‘fear up’ detainees during the interrogation itself. encouraged. condoned or solicited Military Police 184 . who appeared to enjoy a special licence. Sergeant Santos Cardona with Duco (the tan dog). There were interrogators who revelled in the use of dogs. members of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. who should have known better. some were regular soldiers. Some of them were civilian contractors. Many of the perpetrators were members of the 320th Military Police Battalion. under-trained and overwhelmed – ordinary men indeed. Emboldened by the permissive atmosphere. Abu Ghraib. Abu Ghraib was the nadir of normalisation. like the pervasive nakedness.48 In fact. Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick watching. over the period July 2003 to February 2004.49 They received every encouragement. The Fay–Jones Report found that. egged on by Military Intelligence. the use or abuse of dogs was an accepted practice – all in a day’s work – filmed by the perpetrators themselves. they were a commonplace of prison conversation. 12 December 2003. tormenting a detainee. not only to set the conditions.

6. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water. The prisoner is bound to an inclined board. with their gangster tactics and their ‘ghost detainees’. The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Some thought they were overrated. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. OGA were a pernicious influence at Abu Ghraib. Water-Boarding. 2.like a dog personnel to abuse detainees and/or participated in detainee abuse and/or violated established interrogation procedures and applicable laws and regulations during intelligence operations at Abu Ghraib. Prisoners are forced to stand. feet raised and head slightly below the feet. 5. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch. threadbare cover for the CIA. Their modus operandi are cloaked in mystery. The aim is to cause pain.51 The application of these techniques at Abu Ghraib in November 2003 resulted in an OGA ‘death in custody’. An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear. but CIA sources attest to a shortlist of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’. identified by the CIA as a high-value target for his involvement in a number of bombing atrocities in Baghdad. al-Jamadi was alleged to have supplied the explosives. going far beyond the pussyfooting categorising of the Department of Defense: 1. but not internal injury. Cold Cell.’50 These were common-or-garden crimes. Attention Grab. handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. the untouchables of Other Government Agency (OGA). 4.52 This was Detainee 28. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions. 3. A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. Fay-Jones speaks with distaste of their ‘unhealthy mystique’. Attention Slap. There was another caste at the prison. Long Time Standing. which could cause lasting internal damage. caused by ‘blunt force injuries to the torso complicated by compromised respiration’. introduced in March 2002. Unavoidably. Detainee 28 had no time to talk: he died 185 . The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him. the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt. later ruled a homicide. Belly Slap. certainly they were overmatched. Manadel al-Jamadi.

The effect is corrosive. In a rare commendation. It started at the top and trickled all the way down: behind the dog is the dog-handler. Politicisation is a disease that can take many forms. Some part of that responsibility is the troubling issue of ‘pressure’. a symbol for the moral failings of this factitious war. Colonel Thomas Pappas. It was demonstrated in exemplary fashion by the response of three US Navy dog teams. led by Master-at-Arms William J. commander of the Military Intelligence Brigade. or simply ignored. I’m not going down alone. In the prison his fate was well-known. During the night it was discovered by two of the Military Police. The guys from Langley are going with me. For the intelligence community the risks are clear. behind the commander is the policy-maker. Disposal of the body is always a delicate business. encouraged. was reported as saying. degradation was not inevitable. condoned. solicited. The Military Police set the conditions. There were few secrets at Abu Ghraib. 186 .on art and war and terror in a shower room within an hour of arrival. Manadel al-Jamadi assumed a new alias: the Ice Man. who took the opportunity to photograph each other. Kimbro. In this instance it was placed in a bodybag. ‘Well. who respectfully refused to indulge in any abuse and steadfastly resisted all pressure to conform: a story told in Chapter 9. the pressure was systemic. Taguba reports succinctly that Kimbro ‘knew his duties and refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure from the MI personnel at Abu Ghraib’. with the mutilated corpse. it may be that torture and abuse were massively over-determined. behind the dog-handler is the commander. even in these circumstances. the Secretary of Defense set the tone. The following morning it was removed.’54 In such a climate. on a stretcher. the maintenance of professional integrity was possible at Abu Ghraib. even if they were not directly ordered. if I go down. Yet. The dauntless Donald Rumsfeld bears a heavy responsibility for the chamber of horrors that is Abu Ghraib. They go to the heart of the relationship between intelligence and policy.56 Pressure from policy-makers for actionable intelligence is uncomfortably reminiscent of pressure for usable intelligence in the campaign of persuasion that preceded the invasion of Iraq. as was the disposal of the body. packed in ice and left in the showers overnight. It is almost as if the mythical WMD mutated into the all too real MWD as the emblem of the war effort. thumbs-up. With the passage of time the demand for proof was overtaken by the demand for results.55 Like the abuse. Even at the height of the abuse. as if to hospital.53 So immortalised.

as one might say – like a late work by Samuel Beckett. was a ‘lesser issue’ for military commissions. They did not care. Interrogation is apt to be adversarial. in May 2008. Joe. . the Pentagon announced that it was dismissing charges against al-Qahtani.57 In fact. . Coercive interrogation is the thing. The problem was finessed under the state of exception. ‘The Socratic method intensified’. FBI complaints about interrogation practices at Guantánamo were not entirely altruistic. This is the paradigm of the new normal.’59 Creative forms of coercion found expression in standing and beating and water-boarding. the different organisations involved had different priorities: ‘Law enforcement agencies were primarily interested in interviews that would produce voluntary confessions . George W.’ The Administration recognised well enough that ‘Increasing Anxiety by Use of Aversions’. The Ice Man is not an isolated case. ‘Pride and Ego Down’ and ‘Futility’. Anyone living sorry for you now?’58 This is not so far from Mohammed al-Qahtani and the banana rats of Guantánamo Bay.like a dog The tensions caused by these frustrated desires do not end there. Polite interrogation may not be a complete contradiction in terms. The destination of choice is not the court but the camp. about an interrogation – corded and recorded. The emphasis on ‘creativity’ is on the face of it surprising. it was fundamental. noted Lichtenberg – ‘I mean torture. As the Schmidt Report explains. Joe? . The bare life of the detainee has come to define the Western way in warfare. the use of dogs. apparently because the evidence was tainted by inhumane treatment. Krapp’s Last Tape. or Eh. Conversely. the gruesome world of the Special Interrogation Plan. . . Yet there is something theatrical. War–war is better than law–law. perhaps. that is to say. admissibility. It is after all the GWOT and not the GLOT. The singular history of the GWOT is the search for creative forms of coercion: methods permissible and effectual. In the end interrogation is a matter of question and answer. The arena is the interrogation room. The interrogation is the fundamental engagement of the war on terror. they were advised. choreographed. DoD [Department of Defense] interrogators were interested in actionable intelligence and thus had greater latitude on the techniques used during interrogations. Nearly 187 . Five years on. admissible in US Federal District Courts. could have a significant impact on the admissibility of evidence in court. but it is evidently a rarity. Bush was the self-declared war president. with its night terror and mocking questions: ‘Anyone living love you now. The military approach prevailed.

however. Lynndie England. Tactically.’ In 2007 a new deck of playing cards. According to the US military’s own classification. 188 . moral ruination is a particular hardship. The moment they are justified. Actionable intelligence remains elusive. The larger truth is that the war of humiliation is already lost. and war without aims or laws sanctions the triumph of nihilism. peoplefocused team that strives to uphold the dignity and respect of all. Human Rights First has identified a further eleven in which the facts suggest death as a result of physical abuse or harsh detention conditions. thirty-four of these cases are suspected or confi rmed homicides. as it was bound to fail. It is believed that Jonah of the Bible is buried here’. In every sense. underlined a message of cultural sensitivity and heritage preservation: ‘Ancient Iraqi heritage is part of your heritage.62 Strategically. even indirectly. The fact that such things could take place among us is a humiliation we must henceforth face. but it surely widens the circle of shame. there are no more rules or values. such as: ‘We are a values-based. in Baghdad or Basra. The steepest sentence given to anyone involved in a torture-related death is five months in prison. Eight people in US custody have been tortured to death. Meanwhile. Only twelve detainee deaths have resulted in punishment of any kind for any US official.60 In 2005 US military personnel in Iraq were issued with cue cards. For the values-based. we must at least refuse to justify such methods. Arguments about ‘efficacy’ are in any event too narrowly drawn. replacing the ‘most wanted’. the damage had already been done. a lucky break may serve to capture a fugitive or secure a hostage. left holding the leash.63 Barbaric terrorists seem to have the knack of strategic surprise. ‘Protecting archaeological sites helps preserve them for future generations. ‘talking points’.’61 2007. all causes are equally good. This may or may not produce good intelligence. even on the score of efficacy. The effort to reconcile the excusable and the inexcusable has failed. was four years too late. or for that matter in London or Leeds. the picture is cloudy – blurred by known unknowns and unknown unknowns – but it is not evident that the coalition is winning the war of intelligence. Humiliation breaks people. It makes them talk.on art and war and terror 100 detainees have died in the hands of US officials in the GWOT. So wrote Albert Camus in the preface to his ‘Algerian Reports’ in 1958. was sentenced to three years in a military prison and paroled after serving 521 days.

for years to come. In the United States and its satrapies awareness will sink in. cheek leaning against 189 . faint and insubstantial at that distance and that height. lay him out like a sacrifice and produce a double-edged butcher’s knife for the purpose. at the expense of honour. So is the United States. the casements of a window there suddenly flew open. But the hands of one of the partners were already at K. but it cannot withstand a man who wants to go on living. ‘it was humiliating even to the onlooker’. to which he had never penetrated? He raised his hands and spread out all his fingers.like a dog And what is that efficacy whereby we manage to justify everything that is most unjustifiable in our adversary? Consequently. Scheherazade-like. who lead him away. leaned abruptly far forward and stretched both arms still farther. while the other thrust the knife into his heart and turned it there twice. His glance fell on the top storey of the house adjoining the quarry. operating in some other way and in another place. He could not completely rise to the occasion. will cause the death of even more innocent people.66 Joseph K. but at the same time it aroused fi fty new terrorists who. In the Muslim world the story of the shame will be told. ceremoniously undress him. Where was the Judge whom he had never seen? Where was the High Court.’s throat. With failing eyes K. Torture has perhaps saved some. as if hoping that K. passing it between them suggestively. a human figure. Logic is doubtless unshakable. slowly. the responsibility for this last failure of his lay with him who had not left him the remnant of strength necessary for the deed.65 Antonio Taguba was not merely offended by what he saw of Abu Ghraib: he was humiliated. Even when accepted in the interest of realism and efficacy. like dripping water on the Western conscience. such a flouting of honour serves no purpose but to degrade our country in her own eyes and abroad. Walter Benjamin once said.64 Contemplating the wretched client-turned-dog. As the French have discovered. So are we all. could still see the two of them. Shame is Kafka’s strongest gesture. himself will take it up and do the decent thing. by uncovering thirty bombs. the experience is seared in the culture. Shame is enduring. the chief argument of those who decide to accept the use of torture must be met head on. painfully. meets his end at the hands of two frock-coated warders. he could not relieve the officials of all their tasks. With a fl icker as of a light going up. Kafka remarks. Who was it? A friend? A good man? Someone who sympathized? Someone who wanted to help? Was it one person only? Or were they all there? Was help at hand? Were there some arguments in his favour that had been overlooked? Of course there must be.

trans. in Metamorphosis and Other Stories (Harmondsworth: Penguin. com. Kafka to Felice. entrenching the notion that people can be detained without any recourse to the law. are at pains to emphasise the docility of the detainee. 7. The Trial. 33 (2007). See also the sympathetic discussion in Judith Butler. pp. The Trial. trans.salon. in Franz Kafka. 25 March 1914 and 3 March 1915. 1961). 10.’ The speech is available at: http://t2web. incorporating new documentary evidence from the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) investigations in 2004–5 at: http://www. p. 169–99. Daniel Heller-Roazen. The gulag analogy was made by Irene Khan. 147. 4. State of Exception (Stanford. trans. 60 ff. 2. Review of International Studies. 507 and 574. 6. Willa and Edwin Muir. pp. Homo Sacer (Stanford. 3. pp. pp.r3h. Franz Kafka. Willa and Edwin Muir. The Trial.net/library/ print/ENGPOL100142005 (accessed 5 July 2005).com/news/abu_ghraib/2006/03/14/ (accessed 24 March 2006). see Alex Danchev. ‘Tony Blair’s Vietnam’. 1998). 12–13. ‘In the Penal Settlement’ [1919]. In Agamben’s recent work the measures passed in the United States in the wake of 9/11 are explicitly used to illustrate these propositions. Kevin Athill. pp. both Lynndie England and Charles Graner. trans. 2005). 168–9. ‘Penal Settlement’. watching the fi nal act. On the ‘alliance of values’ in this context. 1978). Secretary General of Amnesty International. 1988). 5. 2004). The celebrated opening sentence. 9. CA: Stanford University Press.67 Notes 1. 190 . 117. CA: Stanford University Press.on art and war and terror cheek. ‘Guantánamo and Beyond: The Continuing Pursuit of Unchecked Executive Power’ (2005): ‘Guantánamo has become the gulag of our times. p. trans. 8. The Trial [1925]. in The Collected Novels of Franz Kafka (London: Penguin. p. Franz Kafka. 3–4. 9. Letters to Felice (Harmondsworth: Penguin. 189–203. Perhaps self-servingly.amnesty. See ‘The Abu Ghraib Files’ on Salon. immediately before his face. pp. Precarious Life (London: Verso. in a speech at the Foreign Press Association introducing a damning report on the United States. who passed her the leash. and bitterly resented in Washington. 169. It was widely reported. James Stern and Elizabeth Duckworth. Giorgio Agamben. pp. ‘Like a dog!’ he said: it was as if he meant the shame of it to outlive him. p.

RCA. Adam Zagorin and Michael Duffy. Torture Papers. 1999). the FBI began an internal investigation to determine whether its agents had observed ‘aggressive treatment’ of detainees at Guantánamo during the period September 2001 to July 2004. com/time/2006/log/log. 18. pp. Quoted in ‘Detainee 063’. 15. ‘AR 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade’ (hereafter Taguba Report). was made at the news conference on the release of their report. The rap artist Eminem is another favourite (Slim Shady. pp. Conversation with Seymour Hersh. 14. ‘AR 15–6 Investigation into FBI Allegations of Detainee Abuse at Guantánamo Bay. The Third Geneva Convention flatly prohibits ‘any form of coercion’ of POWs in interrogation – the most protective standard of treatment found in international law. 20 June 2005. 2005).humanrightsfi rst. Cuba. think what you want / To all my dreamers out there I’m with you / All my underdogs I feel you / Lift your head high and stay strong keep pushin’ on’ (Stripped. 16. The allegations were disclosed in December 2004 as a result of releases under the Freedom of Information Act. James Schlesinger. ‘Inside the Interrogation of Detainee 063’. 22 ff. 17. it was the disclosure rather than the allegations (or the activities themselves) that prompted the inquiry. 2005). 25 191 . Interrogators’ professional taste in music is best described as eclectic. Hersh was instrumental in the Taguba Report being made public – like most of the others. 2002). Greenberg and Joshua Dratel (eds). it was intended to be an internal inquiry – and the fi rst to underline its severity. Four hundred and ninety-three agents were contacted by email. 134–5. ‘Abu Ghraib Files’. Christina Aguilera for her part turns out to be peculiarly appropriate: ‘I won’t let you break me. March 2004. twenty-six of these stated that they had. 13. ‘It was a kind of “Animal House” on the night shift. 1 April 2005 (amended 9 June 2005). The full interrogation log for the period 23 November 2002 to 11 January 2003 is at: http://www. 12. Four hundred and thirty-four responded. 7 February 2002. Time. George Bush. Al-Qahtani was also treated to ‘Enter Sandman’ by the heavy-metal band Metallica (said to have reduced him to tears because he thought he was hearing the sound of Satan).pdf (accessed 3 April 2006). in Karen J. The Torture Papers (New York: Cambridge University Press.org (accessed 24 March 2006). 405–556.like a dog 11. in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Interscope. chairman of the socalled Independent Panel on DoD detention operations. See Chain of Command (London: Penguin. ‘Humane Treatment of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees’. As the Schmidt Report recounts. pp.time. 20 October 2005.’ a remark by the former Secretary of Defense. at: http://www. Detention Facility’ (hereafter Schmidt Report). Typically. The Guardian.

as one insider has said. Green apparently exonerates Miller. it has been leaked to Salon. in Karen J. 961–2. Gonzales. 12 May 2004. Schmidt Report. p. 20. The torture memo was silently rescinded and replaced by the Office of Legal Counsel in December 2004. ‘Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 USC §§ 2340-2340A’. 30 September 1996. states that such issues were addressed by the Independent Panel. ‘Liberalism.gov/dagmemo.defenselink. and the Ticking Bomb’. the investigating officer himself advised the need for a more senior appointment: Furlow begat Schmidt. The New Yorker. for yet another inquiry. The New Yorker. 14 November 2005. 908–75. governed by ‘Procedure for Investigating Officers and Boards of Officers’. although any information you may develop will be welcome. The report on DoD interrogation operations by the Naval Inspector General. Bybee.salon. at: http://www. then Counsel to the President. ‘The General’s Report’. noting ‘inconsistency’ in the Commander’s evidence. 21. Torture Papers.on art and war and terror August 2004. See ‘AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Prison and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade’ (hereafter Fay– Jones Report). 20.html (accessed 18 April 2006).com/news/feature/2006/04/14/ rummy/index_np. It is at: http:// www.usdoj. pp.edu/EO/regspubs/r15_6. . together with the interview transcript (hereafter Schmidt interview). The replacement memo has been described as ‘the minimum possible retraction’ by David Luban. ‘A Deadly Interrogation’. Seymour Hersh. the Schlesinger Report is in Torture Papers. Notwithstanding Schmidt’s testimony. 987–1131. Torture Papers. These issues are explored with commendable frankness in Schmidt’s interview with staff of the Army Inspector General. 172–217. Lieutenant General Stanley Green. at: http://www. Fay begat Jones. Jay S. pp. pp.pdf (accessed 24 March 2006). especially 174–5. a blank check’. ‘Specific intent’ is one of the most egregious arguments in the notorious ‘torture memo’ from the Assistant Attorney General. 2006).usma. August 2004. they were specifically excluded from its terms of reference: ‘Issues of personal accountability will be resolved through established military justice and administrative procedures. to Alberto R.). In fact. at: http://www.com. Only the Executive Summary of the Church Report has been made public. In two contentious cases. 25 June 2007. 1 August 2002. a memo written ‘as an immunity. The Green Report is as yet unpublished.mil/news (accessed 24 March 2006). 22. pp. Greenberg (ed.’ Secretary of Defense memo. Torture Papers. The Torture Debate in America (New York: Cambridge University Press.pdf (accessed 3 April 2006). Jane Mayer. pp. Torture. On the 192 19. These are the ‘AR 15-6’ investigations. shortly before Gonzales’ confi rmation hearings as Attorney General. Vice Admiral Albert Church. 59–62 and 72.

jtfgtmo. ‘What Rumsfeld Knew’. 24. Torture and Truth (London: Granta. p. 32. at: http://www. 30. The UCMJ applies to US Forces on active duty. 25. February 2006. The Padilla case has been scrupulously examined by HRF. 31. Those variously identified as ‘UBL bodyguards’ would make a small army.salon.org (accessed 24 March 2006). See Fay–Jones Report. 26. 10. Schmidt Report. 193 23. p. 3 April 2006. 436-66. humanrightsfi rst. at: http://www. 27. the 1992 version at: http://www. ‘The Experiment’. Agamben. Heather MacDonald. Intelligence and National Security 19 (2004). Torture Papers. ‘Command’s Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in US Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan’. 340–59. 4. State of Exception. 20. the direct involvement of ‘SecDef’ and his associates (notably the Under Secretary for Intelligence. I don’t know that all of it was very factual. Mark Danner makes a similar point about the torture inquiries. 40. southcom. 29. ‘Information from Guantánamo Detainees’. 2004). Enemy Combatant (London: Free Press.htm (accessed 3 April 2006). is very wise on mutual incomprehension.like a dog problematic nature of the investigations in general. Church Report. 14 June 2002. Torture Papers. The Green Report is said to document Rumsfeld’s personal interest in the progress of the interrogation. had his doubts: ‘The stuff that he gave us. at all times and in all places. This was General Bantz Craddock. 6 April 2003. The New Yorker. see Human Rights First. See Alex Danchev.org. at: http://www. .’ Schmidt interview. 2006).fas. Torture Debate. The Broken Chains (forthcoming). The 1987 version of FM 34–52 is available at: http://www. 28. a poet. ‘How to Interrogate Terrorists’.org/irp/doddir/army/fm34-52. 1030. who has written an account of his incarceration. JTF-GTMO. See Michael Scherer and Mark Benjamin. Anonymous MI officer. Though Schmidt.com/news/ feature/2006/04/14/rummy/index_np. The techniques and the rationales are summarised and evaluated in the ‘Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism’.mil/. Stephen Cambone) was confi rmed by Schmidt. p. Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost. in Jane Mayer. formerly Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense. 33. pp. pp. p.html (accessed 15 April 2006). at: http://www. Oppression or Maltreatment’. The Guardian. for one. p. ‘The Reckoning: Official Inquiries and the Iraq War’. Time. 11 and 18 July 2005.pdf (accessed 3 April 2006). Article 93 addresses ‘Cruelty. 4 March 2005. ‘Person of the Week: Jose Padilla’.humanrightsfi rst.globalsecurity. 92. p.org/us_law/inthecourts/supreme_court_padilla. Moazzam Begg’s account of a similar experience.

‘Counter-Resistance Techniques’. General Counsel memo. and that. Statement of Cofer Black. 26 September 2002. 2004). Torture Papers. 2005). The story was broken by the young Seymour Hersh. 35. would have been impossible to compile without it. Ironically. Hersh. ‘The Memo’. Torture and Truth. 4. One Woman’s Army (New York: Hyperion. emphasised to him by his father. in Mayer. End Of (Manchester: Carcanet. See. at: http://www. p. 37. by extension. it forms the basis for our understanding of that event. org/wgbh/pages/frontline/torture/interviews/karpinski. 44. Rohan Gunaratna. Life. Colonel Janis Karpinski. p. 11 October 2002. Torture Papers. 39. ‘Lost in the Jihad’. 236. ‘Detainee 063’. Karpinski is bitter. pp. during a search-and-destroy mission in a Vietcong stronghold known as ‘Pinkville’. JTF-J2 memo. The reference is to a killing spree by US Army soldiers in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai. at: http://www. Christine Brooke-Rose. The precepts are set out in his ‘Assessment of DoD Counterterrorism Interrogation and Detention Operations in Iraq’ (hereafter Miller Report). interviewed on ‘Frontline’. for example. 451. This seems at once exaggerated and misleading – better understanding surely calls for patient detective work of a rather unassuming kind – though it is true that the Commission’s reconstruction of the plot itself is underpinned in part by ‘intelligence reports on interrogations’. notes to ch. p. 525–6. 27 November 2002 (approved 2 December 2002). She was reduced in rank and professionally disgraced – scapegoated she says. 36. Torture Papers. Colonel Steven Boltz was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence at coalition headquarters in Baghdad.pbs.html (accessed 12 April 2006). Danner. 7. 33. 5 August 2005. p. 45. The New Yorker. notably the loquacious KSM.on art and war and terror 34. Miller Report. 27 February 2006. pp. Jane Mayer. pp. 451–9. 26. Joint Investigation into September 11. ex-Commander of the 800th MP Brigade in Iraq. 42. in 1968. September 2003. 194 . Jane Mayer.fas. The plaintive call for effective interrogation techniques echoes the JIC’s ‘last call’ for any scraps of intelligence on WMD. One of the claims made for the intelligence obtained from the interrogation of detainees is that The 9/11 Commission Report (New York: Norton. 41. 43. for the famous British government dossier of September 2002. The New Yorker. 227–8. ‘Lost in the Jihad’.html (accessed 6 April 2006).org/irp/congress/2002_ hr/092602black. 10 March 2003. Torture Papers. ‘Request for approval of Counter-Resistance Strategies’. The author of the email was Captain William Ponce. and the wider phenomenon of Al Qaeda. 38. 40. Chain of Command. p. 2006). he had been brought up on intelligence shortcomings in Vietnam.

ch. 8. Taguba Report. Torture Papers. The homicide ruling was made by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.abcnews. in an illuminating blog. 1047–9. 5. ‘Deadly Interrogation’. p.humanrightsfi rst. 6. 440. 55. Detainee statement to CID. p. p. See ch. 989. See ch. go. The proceedings were followed in detail by HRF. The story is told. and more fully in Mayer. conformity and resistance. Church Report. one of the ringleaders in the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib. on the night of 20 January 2004. Sergeant Michael Smith and Sergeant Santos Cardona were eventually brought to trial (separately) in 2006. 48. Torture Papers. Christopher Browning’s classic study of Reserve Police Battalion 101. Fay–Jones Report. See.org/blog/index. 195 . Torture Papers. there were ordinary women too. 47. Schlesinger Report. Ordinary Men (New York: Harper Perennial. Working Group Report. Torture Papers. Fay–Jones Report. ‘Abu Ghraib Files’. Smith came fi rst. There is no comparison in the enormity of the crimes. 52.aclu. ch. criminal charges were eventually brought against him in April 2006. Schmidt Report. ‘Abu Ghraib Files’. and Specialist Sabrina Harman. 133. 1088. 9. 9. The images are in the ‘Abu Ghraib Files’. of course. p. though searching analysis is still lacking. but this particular exchange has the ring of truth. 56. 444. 940. p. pp. Torture Papers. ch. Fay-Jones Report. p. but there is a similar need to explore situation and motivation. 1107. p. At Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. at: http://www. Taguba Report. Torture Papers. 1992). p. Torture Papers. 1056–8.pdf (accessed 24 March 2006). Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan. Torture Papers. 1046. anonymised.org/torturefoia/released/ a53.like a dog 46. Torture Papers. asks why so many of those men became killers. Fay-Jones Report. His testimony is demonstrably misleading and self-serving.com/WNT/print?id=1322866 (accessed 5 April 2006). 1086. 18 November 2005. ‘CIA’s Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described’.htm (accessed 24 March 2006). Karpinski has emphasised the acute sense of pressure from above and its disturbing consequences. 1049. Torture Papers. at: http://www. 51. 11. This was Corporal Charles Graner. Brian Ross and Richard Esposito. 53. in the Fay-Jones Report. 49. at: http://www. as Taguba pointed out. Jordan himself was one of those chiefly responsible for the lethal anarchy at Abu Ghraib. he was found guilty on most counts. Cf. for example. In various interviews. pp. Fay-Jones Report. AR 15-6 investigation interview with Taguba. ‘Abu Ghraib Files’. but given a light sentence of six months. The issue is aired more fully in the torture inquiries than in the WMD inquiries. 50. 5. ch. p. 57. 13. 54. pp.

63. ‘What I heard about Iraq in 2005’. 60. 1. in Letters to Felice. The argument has since been confi rmed by the most authoritative investigation of the subject yet undertaken: Darius Rejali. ‘I never got intelligence. Hollingdale. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden. 1 March 2006. R. The ‘creative’ potential of the interrogation is perhaps better suggested in the French. ‘The unknown’ is Donald Rumsfeld’s contribution to Western thought. Christopher Middleton. Eh. trans. The Trial. Albert Camus. The Trial. trans. despite the use of dogs and other techniques. part 2 (Cambridge. II. p. vol. p. Resistance. 204 (from Notebook K. Joe [1966]. p. le procès-verbal. 2005). Torture and Democracy (Princeton. The Waste Books (New York: New York Review Books. 808. 83. trans. 66. 67. Samuel Beckett. ‘Preface to Algerian Reports’ [1958]. Jennings et al. p. 172. 196 . 357. 1793–6). Sleep deprivation. Justin O’Brien. 2 December 2007. 64–6. 1976). Walter Benjamin. in Michael W. 62. in I Can’t Go On. NJ: Princeton University Press. p.’ Anthony Lagouranis. 147. 65. Kafka’s Other Trial [1969]. ‘Command’s Responsibility’. p. As appears to be the case with the rescue operation to free the British and Canadian peace activists. HRF. p. trans. London Review of Books. I’ll Go On (New York: Grove. Selected Writings. ‘Franz Kafka’ [1934]. Eliot Weinberger. 5 January 2006. 2008). International Herald Tribune. and face or stomach slap were thought to pose similar problems. p. At least one former US Army interrogator has admitted that. in Baghdad in March 2006. MA: Harvard University Press. Rebellion and Death (London: Hamilton. 2. 584. 2000). (eds). 1961). Norman Kember. 64. Pieces of Intelligence (London: Simon & Schuster.on art and war and terror p. J. 61. 58. The Observer. ‘The Slippery Slope that Leads to Torture’. 2003). pp. Harry Zohn. 59. ‘physical training’. See also Elias Canetti.

then and now.9 It’s All Fucked Up. Well-pondered work of any kind does not issue in an instant. (2) install every event. A peculiar fact about termite-tapeworm-fungus-moss art is that it goes always forward eating its own boundaries. William Wyler’s humane but tasteful feature film of American soldiers damaged by the Second World War. or. . likely as not. Goodbye to All That and All Quiet on the Western Front. Manny Farber1 Has the cinema finally found its voice on the global war on terror? Has 9/11 had time to sink in? What kind of movies are GWOT movies – termite art or white elephant art? The classic war books of the First World War appeared in spate some ten years after the armistice. The three sins of white elephant art: (1) frame the action with an all-over pattern. . and. . situation in a frieze of continuities. of course. both came out in 1929 (and Lewis Milestone’s film of the latter in 1930). for example. Masterpiece art. has come to dominate the over-populated arts of TV and movies. The interval may vary. reminiscent of the enameled tobacco humidors and wooden lawn ponies bought at white elephant auctions decades ago. industrious. ten years is a decent interval. unlike the factitious GWOT. leaves nothing in its path other than the signs of eager. character. The Non-Fiction Horror Movie: The Cinema and the War on Terror Movies have always been suspiciously addicted to termite-art tendencies. Good work usually arises where the creators . and (3) treat every inch of the screen and fi lm as a potential area for prizeworthy creativity. John Huston’s unsettling 197 . and that war had a plangent and definitive end. The Best Years of Our Lives. . and also the question of decency – a question central to the strategies of warmaker and film-maker alike. seem to have no ambitions towards gilt culture but are involved in a kind of squanderingbeaverish endeavor that isn’t anywhere or for anything. That same year. won him the Oscar for best director of 1946. unkempt activity .

on art and war and terror documentary on a kindred theme. raises in acute form the problems of show and tell. The ethical and political temper of the times can change. making possible or thinkable what was previously impossible or unthinkable – part of the fascination of the present conjuncture. as one might say. focusing on the rehabilitation of soldiers suffering from various forms of ‘war neurosis’. They learned their craft. a fabulist and a moralist. A mélange of the well-meaning and the self-regarding. By a strange twist of fate. their code was authenticity. it stars Tom Cruise as a Zelig-like Senator on the make. was suppressed by the very body which had commissioned it: the US Army. Lions for Lambs. A rare masterpiece echoes down the decades: The Battle of Algiers (1966). and L’Armée des ombres (The Army of the Shadows). Its epigones look shallow by comparison. Their comparative advantage was artistic maturity. this film had its first run in the United States (and on DVD) in 2006. Melville was a real-life résistant. So armed. on the theme of resistance and collaboration in Occupied France. The war on terror. by Marcel Ophüls. The Army of the Shadows becomes The Histories in a different genre. and the distinction can blur. appeared in 1969: Le Chagrin et la pitié (The Sorrow and the Pity). His meditation on moral obligations in modern war is as searching as any on film. directed by Robert Redford in high-minded mode. by Jean-Pierre Melville. has been tartly described as Ibsen with helicopters. a feature film that looks like a documentary. Both these directors were ungovernable auteurs. by Gillo Pontecorvo. Not surprisingly. Two such films. ten years was the blink of an eye. it speaks afresh to the present generation. a man with a plan to win in Afghanistan (‘Do you want to win the war on terror – the quintessential question of our time’). they could treat the taboo.2 There are other cases that cut close to the bone of means and ends and national self-image – ‘values’. What images to show? What stories to tell? What idiom to employ – feature film or documentary. Let There Be Light did not go on general release until 1980. they pondered their subject for a quarter of century. Let There Be Light. however. as a perplexed Pentagon began belatedly to wonder what an insurgency might mean. made after the Algerian War of 1954–62 and rediscovered after the Iraq War of 2003. Meryl Streep as a reporter complicit in 198 . For them. the original auteur is a kind of Herodotus. His treatment of torture is unforgettable. In a culture of paranoia. the dramatic or the analytic? It is a moot point.

the film founders irretrievably on its excruciating combination of worthiness and wordiness. and tortured. Farnborough. has the distinction of being the plane most often identified with known cases of extraordinary rendition. A detailed breakdown reveals that over 100 of these went through British airports. in a risible insert redolent of a cheap video game. as a professor who spends his days giving homilies to grateful students. Rendition – ‘extraordinary rendition’ in the jargon – is another of the linguistic barbarities of the GWOT. is a line from The Who: ‘Won’t get fooled again’. Inverness. The term describes (or obscures) the practice whereby a suspected terrorist. Luton was the most popular stopover. Bournemouth. and the same Robert Redford. In the absence of plot. Plane-spotters the world over will be delighted to glimpse in Rendition a familiar jet with the registration number AIC 379.’ Hoffman: ‘True. Edinburgh. The most 199 . Cross-cutting between conversations passes for action. but it has the compensation of more action: more cinema. is effectively abducted by the CIA and shipped to a secret location or a third country. fussing and fidgeting with her part. Northolt.it’s all fucked up the selling of the Iraq war. Brize Norton. 379 is a registration of some notoriety. Gatwick. Mildenhall. A Gulfstream V executive jet N379P. drawn or rather overdrawn for us by Streep. Luechars. but the CIA and its sub-contractors also availed themselves of the facilities at Belfast. in this case an innocent Egyptian-American chemical engineer. Preswick. less logorrhoea. also known as the Guantánamo Bay Express. But don’t we know that they are lions led by donkeys. AIC is an anagram. The moral. Birmingham. it transpires. It is now well documented. For this plane alone Amnesty International has a record of some 600 landings and take-offs during the period 2001–5.’3 Gavin Hood’s Rendition also suffers from stilted conversation. This is what Dick Cheney is pleased to call the dark side of the war on terror. no doubt. is a muddled reference to the popular characterisation of (British) soldiers and their superiors in the First World War: Ludendorff: ‘The English soldiers fight like lions. Stansted and Wick. two of whom are inspired to enlist. meeting their predictable end at the hands of the Taliban. with impunity. One of the incidental pleasures of that documentation is the part played by some indefatigable plane-spotters. her pen and her professional ethics. Biggin Hill. until finally the stars talk themselves to a standstill. it seems. The title. to be interrogated. Heathrow. Glasgow. Disillusion is rife.

as if to corroborate Conrad: ‘The terrorist and the policeman both come from the same basket. in fact. Charlie Wilson’s War. Here the whole operation is laid bare. “on the pulse”. His war is the war of national liberation fought by the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the loathsome occupiers – the last loathsome occupiers – the Soviets. ‘a smart man. the CIA authoriser-in-chief. implausibly. Shannon and Tashkent.’ Peter Kosminsky’s compelling work challenges us to understand and even to sympathise with the course chosen by Sohail and by Nasima. Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is a Democratic Congressman from Texas. Charlie Wilson’s War is a Mike Nichols film. adopts the indirect approach. as a Muslim (and a Brit)? ‘We’re fucked whatever we do and you don’t understand because you’re not Muslim. Fakery. Frankfurt. and “of their moment”. Prague. Britz has the courage to make the elementary points.4 This story has not hitherto appealed to Hollywood. The villain of the piece is none other Meryl Streep. a funny man. it was immediately surpassed by Britz. as the characters keep reminding each other. in the presence of a tenderfoot American agent (Jake Gyllenhaal. Given its provenance. is the film’s undoing. brother and sister from Bradford. in full knowledge of the tragic outcome. a proven success in cabaret. as if to tell us what it’s all about.’6 Charlie Wilson’s War is just that – a talking-point movie. So diabolical is she. and also to tackle the big questions. as to character and plot. a two-part tale of Sohail and Nasima.’ writes David Thomson in his peerless Biographical Dictionary of Film.’5 Bold in conception and execution alike. As exposé. and its popularity. as a stage director. On Channel 4 (and on DVD). Oporto. the audience almost hiss. This is the Cold War. the other a suicide bomber – both home-grown. Rendition is efficiently done. It is somewhat formulaic.on art and war and terror favoured international destinations were Amman. suitably anguished). on records. Her political masters are conspicuous by their absence. one of whom becomes a MI5 desk officer. and as a deliverer of talking-point movies – movies that are smart. as Milosz said of Camus. What to do. but it shows and tells something patently reprehensible. a breakthrough film. the water-boarding and the electrocuting. ‘Mike Nichols is an unquestioned figure in our culture. alias Cruella de Vil. it is. played with absolute conviction by its young leads (Riz Ahmed and Manjinder Virk). in its fashion. “adult”. by contrast. it tends to cordon off the issue of accountability. Larnaca. and fake some ideological fervour. Cairo. right down to the hooding. funny. Charlie Wilson’s War seems to want to be a politically savvy screwball comedy – a 200 .

perhaps.it’s all fucked up film about the 1980s. of Mike Deerfield. In the Cary Grant role. and for the filmic nudge and wink. A weakness for the wisecrack. Tom Hanks is never more than Tom Hanks. patting his bottom. The result is a proxy movie about a proxy war. that succeeds triumphantly (but scrupulously) in probing the meaning of the war on terror and its consequences. as it should be.’ ripostes Gust. coming from the creator of The West Wing himself. but not Mike Nichols. the CIA agent who becomes Wilson’s alter ego and conscience.’ observes Charlie. and for America itself. ‘inspired by actual events’.’ whispers the spectacular Texan socialite Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts). by his father Hank (Tommy Lee Jones). on the other hand. to gladden the heart of everyone weary of the war on terror – His Girl Friday meets The West Wing. ‘They were glorious and they changed the world . Howard Hawks could have carried it off. in fact the murder. The problem of tone finds expression in some jarring transitions. aided 201 . There is a Hollywood movie. makes a marvellous Gust Avrakotos. and the investigation of that crime. The best of Charlie Wilson’s War is another old movie: the odd couple. himself a soldier – more precisely. and the principals are under-powered. of which the most egregious is the dissolve from the debris of a helicopter raining down on a village in Afghanistan to the high heels and pert derrière of Congressman Wilson’s administrative assistant sashaying along the corridors of power in Washington. But the principles are under-written. ‘These things happened. knowingly. . in the concluding titles. Some of the wisecracking is worthwhile.’ Charlie Wilson’s war is offered as a kind of parable of the war in Iraq – and Afghanistan – but all this rings hollow. or conundrum. a former military policeman.’ ‘I’m a liberal. It centres on the disappearance. Aaron Sorkin.’ protests Wilson. In the Valley of Elah. for those engaged in it and for those left behind: for all Americans. Philip Seymour Hoffman. is a remarkable achievement. and then we fucked up the endgame. Hank’s unofficial inquiry is by turns hampered. ‘You ain’t James Bond. ‘You ain’t Thomas Jefferson. tempered. Catch-22-like. written and directed by Paul Haggis. ‘Not where it counts. ‘She doesn’t like me.’ says she. set in the United States in 2004. coarsens the wit and undercuts the wisdom. Charlie Wilson’s reflections strain to speak to the current discontents. Julia Roberts is not a patch on Carole Lombard. of the aforesaid assistant: ‘She’s a liberal. a young infantry soldier recently returned from Iraq. . by means of the 1940s.’ he opines.

worries about the crease in his trousers. he boxes his motel bed. and set the battle in array against the Philistines. addresses the topless barmaid with military punctiliousness as ‘Ma’am’. The hospitality of war is brought home with a vengeance. he has seen too much: it is etched on his face. His watchful eyes belie the thousand-yard stare. It is one of the great performances in modern American cinema. rectitude is a way of life. Mike is to all intents and purposes a good soldier: a patriot with a conscience.’7 In the Valley of Elah is a state-of-the-nation movie – and perhaps an anti-philistine movie.8 He does not speak unless he has something to say. but he has a stillness akin to battle-weariness and a soldierly ability to abide. from the bottomless well of the interior. and set fi re to them. Among his buddies in the section. his forlorn hope and his irreducible humanity. As if by osmosis.on art and war and terror and abetted by the official investigation of a local detective. and pitched by the valley of Elah. He lives in the castle of his skin. and the torment they visit on the nameless and faceless ‘hajis’ they encounter. He carries heavy emotional baggage. 202 . Tommy Lee Jones contrives somehow to communicate from within. after a night on the town. before going for a chicken dinner. subject to remorseless. shines his shoes. Mike Deerfield’s mobile phone yields a series of images – also corrupt – fragments of insights into the torment of Iraq for those who serve. until it is revealed that Mike has the trick of sticking his finger into the open wound of Iraqi prisoners and asking if it hurts. it reveals a profound understanding of men and war. On screen. who wants nothing more than a sling and a stone. the moral centre of the action and the film. Emily Sanders (Charlize Theron). after Hank tells him a bedtime story of David and Goliath: ‘And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together. loyalty and duty. They cut him into pieces. we absorb his deep distress. For Hank. Continuously present. Like other veterans. his nickname is ‘Doc’. ‘It’s all fucked up. expertly. As it unfolds. a sling-shot against the goliaths – told as a whodunit. back home in New Mexico. In this morass.’ one of the section tells Hank. This is a puzzle for his father. and remains a puzzle. Hank Deerfield is the repository of integrity.’ War neurosis is a recurrent condition. civility and depravity. almost microscopic inspection by the camera. a single mother with a small boy called David. ‘They shouldn’t send heroes to places like Iraq. Mike is murdered by his buddies. psychological damage and post-traumatic stress disorder. Tommy Lee Jones seems not so much to act as to inhabit the part. corruption and deception.

it is by no means universally popular. the verdict on Iraq is already in. monuments worthy of some shame and much exhilaration. he notices that the Stars and Stripes on the flagpole of the local high school is upside down. It is a picture to put beside Bonnie and Clyde. As Manny Farber foretold. It is even more unsparing than The Deer Hunter (1978). as witness Battle for Haditha. as its director likes to say. by Brian de Palma. a sign that you are in serious trouble. by Nick Broomfield. The flag is upside down. and Redacted. he finds that his son had sent from Iraq a battle-worn Stars and Stripes. He stops and rectifies it. a film about photographs. Iraq caused pain.10 The family tragedy of the Deerfields points in a different direction. and its integrity. There is enough shame to go around. Not the least extraordinary aspect of this extraordinary film is that it is.’ as one commentator has remarked. and Birth of a Nation. the most significant cinematic treatment of the war on terror yet to appear. however.’ David Thomson concludes.’9 In the Valley of Elah. termite art may triumph in the end. they do have ambitions towards gilt culture. too. At the beginning of the film. If the cinema is the medium of the signature emotion. smiling their souvenir smiles. ‘There will be Deer Hunters and Platoons to expedite the remorse and thicken the grief.it’s all fucked up Hank’s symbolic action has to do with the American flag. its frieze of continuities and its prizeworthy creativity. at once quieter and sadder. is an autopsy of American hope. together with a group photograph of the section. The termite tendency comes into its own in Errol Morris’s remorseless investigation of Abu Ghraib. In the Valley of Elah is a textbook case of white elephant art. ‘The Deer Hunter is not politically correct. 203 . taping the rope to the pole for good measure. At the end of the film. In the Valley of Elah is a brave movie. Vietnam caused outrage. ‘but it is one of the few American movies that understand the state of outrage and mistake within American hope. In the Valley of Elah sticks its finger into something else. at the start of his odyssey. with which it has some affinities. For all its bravery. They strive to make a statement. with its all-over pattern. when he returns home. etymological and other. giving a Salvadorean school employee a swift lesson in civics and citizenship and the rules of the game: flying the flag upside down is an international signal of distress. Not surprisingly. Standard Operating Procedure (2008). Early the following morning he drives to the high school and hoists the tatterdemalion emblem. All these movies are weakened by the white elephant tendency. King Kong. The camera pulls back. he tells the man.

pummelling and humiliating. co-operating and orchestrating. the archive is a treasure trove.on art and war and terror ‘A photograph is a secret about a secret. the photographs that became screensavers on their personal computers. Never before have such practices been recorded in such detail. or downloaded. The framing is rough and ready. grinning. Major General Antonio Taguba makes reference to the discovery of ‘extremely graphic photographic evidence’. chapter by chapter. The fi rst tranche was exhibited at the International Center for Photography in New York later in 2004. Licence was the operative condition of Tier 1A. defecation. watching. draw on the same bank of images. It is true that there are some we have not yet seen. The most potent photographs in international politics. a little like a fi lm crew. the photographs of standing.com.’ observed the photographer Diane Arbus.13 In historical terms. simulated sex. posing. enjoying their work. but in essence the contents of this extraordinary archive have been disgorged. That phase is now over. To all intents and purposes. but the coverage is impressive. tormenting. the struggle for control over the photographs of Abu Ghraib is the struggle of revelation against suppression.12 Even now they are seeping into the mainstream media: Standard Operating Procedure incorporates a large number of the photographs as well as some less familiar video footage. The struggle against suppression has been won. In his uncompromising official report on the conduct of the Military Police in the prison. usually they worked together. widely shown on HBO in the United States in 2007. contortion. in ‘The Abu Ghraib Files’ on Salon. The video footage is more fragmentary. which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2008. Many more are arrayed.14 Here it is. threatening. degradation and death. mock electrocution. appropriately titled ‘Inconvenient Evidence’. the photographs of hooding. doggy dances. and Rory Kennedy’s Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. Three of the night shift on Tier 1A of the Hard Site had digital cameras. the photographs are in the public domain.’11 That is roughly Errol Morris’s position on the photographs of Abu Ghraib – the photographs of stress positions. Alex Gibney’s Taxi to the Dark Side. or perhaps less routine. It looks sinister and repellent. Abu Ghraib returns 204 . human pyramids. leashing. in Milan Kundera’s words. thumbsup. on to the computers of the world. the photographs that show the perpetrators. chaining. as if a cut-price Pasolini were making a schlock-horror Salò. If the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. ‘The more it tells you the less you know. Those photographs.

what he sees. This picture was taken by Specialist Sabrina Harman. It is being seen for the fi rst time by one person – before it has been transmitted and retransmitted around the world hundreds of millions of times and is seen by perhaps a billion people. Still it is hard to pin down. the original photograph was taken by Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick.it’s all fucked up Figure 16 ‘Gilligan’ (Abdou Hussain Saad Faleh). Part of the awful fascination of the photographs is that they are not furtive. glimpsed here with camera. Indeed. the amateur photographers of Abu Ghraib photographed each other often.15 For Errol Morris. I try to imagine what he is thinking. ‘Isn’t the task of the photographer – descendant of the augurs and haruspices – to reveal guilt and point out the guilty in his pictures?’ asked Walter Benjamin. 5 November 2003. us to the old question: who will guard the guards themselves? The camera adds a new twist: who will photograph the photographers themselves? Surprisingly enough. they are almost 205 . Abu Ghraib.16 The images are guilt-ridden. What the image means to him? It has existed as an image for only a couple of seconds. Guilt is inscribed in their very composition. the most powerful photograph was taken by Sabrina Harman with Charles Graner’s camera rather than her own: It is a picture of Ivan Frederick looking at the most infamous photograph of the Iraq War – the picture of the hooded man [on the box] – displayed on the screen of his own camera with the hooded man standing in the distance.

on art and war and terror triumphal. The Hard Site was notorious throughout Abu Ghraib. The practices of the night shift were no secret, and neither were the images, which were passed round like candy or pornography by the swaggering Graner. Something similar seems to happen with the guilt. Fugitive, it is passed from photograph to photograph, camera to camera, computer to computer, person to person. It is not so much revealed, all at once, tout à coup, like a conjuring trick, but peeled, layer by layer, print by print, image by time-dated image, from the memory. The evidence is at once graphic and cryptic, and not merely inconvenient but incomplete. Historical terms, however, are unavailable to us. In the nature of the case, dispassion is difficult, and for many, especially in the East, impossible. The archive of Abu Ghraib is an incendiary one. Amateur photographs are more powerful than any improvised explosive device. They function as a kind of cultural cluster bomb. Their fate is foreordained: replication and mobilisation. Already ‘Gilligan’ (Abdou Hussain Saad Faleh), the hooded man on the box, has become a global emblem, and the very name ‘Abu Ghraib’ a metonym, a form of moral and political shorthand, and a source of shame. Like ‘Munich’, it is both lesson and curse. Like ‘Guernica’, it is both symbol and event. It is also testimony to the power of images in international affairs. Without the painting, Guernica would not be where it is today. Without the photographs, it has been said, there would be no Abu Ghraib. Three prisoners were beaten to death at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, where the Military Intelligence officer in charge of interrogations was commended for her good work, before being transferred to Abu Ghraib. Torture and abuse at Bagram went unrecorded, it appears, not to say unremarked. Torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib was carefully documented by the Military Police themselves. Why? What are we to make of these disturbing images? What do they tell us? What do we know of the soldier-photographers? What do we know of Abu Ghraib? How are we to understand what happened there? The struggle for meaning is the second phase. This is the struggle of explanation against incomprehension (or denial). ‘As a specific type of entity’, writes Jacques Rancière, ‘images are the object of a twofold question: the question of their origin (and consequently their truth content) and the question of their end or purpose, the uses they are put to and the effects they result in.’17 The meaning of these images is not yet settled, though their effects are unpalatably plain, however difficult they are in some quarters to acknowledge. They
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it’s all fucked up represent different things to different people, as it may be, but they represent one thing above all: the crushing loss of moral authority suffered by the United States and its accomplices in the disastrous enterprise known as the global war on terror. First among accomplices, of course, is the United Kingdom, always willing to turn a blind eye to black sites, extraordinary rendition, ‘undue exuberance’, or worse; obedient enough to procure for the cousins suitable candidates for coercive interrogation; practised in the art of plausible denial; and, according to the latest evidence from the High Court, quite prepared to lend a helping hand.18 Recent legal proceedings are not reassuring about the stringency with which the security and intelligence agencies have observed their resolution not to ‘participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment’. In the case of Binyam Mohamed, for example, an officer from MI5 has been questioned about alleged war crimes, including torture. So concerned was he about self-incrimination that he declined at first to answer any questions from High Court judges, even in private. Their judgment concluded: ‘The relationship of the United Kingdom government to the United States authorities . . . was far beyond that of a bystander or witness to the alleged wrongdoing.’19 Diminishment is hard to bear. In pursuit of that relationship, in the toils of the war on terror, the United Kingdom too has been diminished. Errol Morris’s Standard Operating Procedure is a film about the mute agents of that process – the photographs. It is a documentary that looks like a feature film. Morris calls it a non-fiction horror movie, a formulation which echoes Truman Capote’s celebrated ‘non-fiction novel’, In Cold Blood (1966).20 Philip Gourevitch’s companion volume is not exactly a book of the film, but a product of that intense collaboration.21 Given its subject, it is a necessary book. Nevertheless, anyone familiar with his ‘stories from Rwanda’, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families (1998), may be a little disappointed. Gourevitch’s métier is reportage, in particular the beautifully observed vignette, rich in moral implications.22 Here, it as though he has not been able to make himself heard above the clamour of his collaborator. Rather desperately, the blurb invokes Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902), Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor (1879), and Norman Mailer’s Executioner’s Song (1979), none of them appropriate comparators. Gogol’s Dead Souls (1842) might be nearer the mark. Hydrue Joyner, the NCO in charge of the day shift, remembered his fi rst encounter with the mysterious
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on art and war and terror OGA (Other Government Agency) at Abu Ghraib. OGA was usually understood as a cover for the CIA, but it also denoted the so-called ghost detainees. Joyner was nonplussed, as he explained in an interview with Morris:
When I fi rst got there, and they fi rst told me about OGA, I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, you don’t add these people to the actual count? Like if I have fifty detainees, but I have these five OGAs, I don’t really have fifty-five detainees, I only have fifty?’ They say, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Well, what about the five souls that are in those cells?’ ‘They’re not there.’ ‘Well yes they are, because I can see them.’ ‘Yeah, you can see them, but they’re not there.’ ‘All right man, hey, whatever works for you, whatever makes you sleep at night, OK.’ And that’s how we ran it, because that’s what we were told. 23

Inescapably, perhaps, the whole project is dominated by Morris’s interviews, Morris’s conceptions and Morris’s missionary zeal. He brings to it an unusual mix of intellectual voracity and professional idiosyncrasy. Morris is deeply interested in photographs, war photographs in particular, as his erudite, compulsive, slightly manic blogs in the The New York Times amply attest. 24 He is also interested in perpetrators, of every kind and condition.25 Standard Operating Procedure neatly combines both subjects. It might have been called The Bad Apples; the photographer-perpetrators, ‘the bad apples’, are in a certain sense the stars of the film and also the focus of its moral concern. It is partly constructed (and reconstructed) from the photographs themselves, but much of the screen time is spent on interviews with five of the seven bad apples of the night shift: Megan Ambuhl; Javal Davis; Lynndie England (who held the leash or tie-down strap); Sabrina Harman (who smiled and gave the thumbs-up); and Jeremy Sivits. Of these, Harman was the habitual photographer. Regrettably, Morris was not permitted to interview the other two, Ivan Frederick, the senior NCO, or Charles Graner, the ringleader, as both men were still serving custodial sentences (eight and ten years, respectively) for conspiracy, dereliction of duty, assault, indecent acts and maltreatment; however, he did have the benefit of their interviews with the US Army’s Criminal Investigations Division, interviews conducted following their convictions, under guarantee of immunity from prosecution for further self-incrimination. Out of this raw material Morris has fashioned, not a great film, but an important document: a foundational text on the foot-soldiers of the war on terror, the frenzy of Iraq, the inferno of Abu Ghraib, the culture of impunity, the shifting of responsibility, the mentality
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it’s all fucked up of the weak, the wishful and the overwhelmed; the solipsism of the small-time torturer; the protestations and evasions; the walling off and the blotting out. In that grey zone, the quality of the witness testimony in Standard Operating Procedure is unsurpassed. ‘It wasn’t worth it,’ reflects Harman, finally, meaning it wasn’t worth her while joining up. ‘We didn’t kill ’em,’ offers England blankly. Not a shred of remorse, not even a propitiatory word learned at a lawyer’s elbow. Some regrets: England regrets falling for Graner (who promptly moved on to Ambuhl); Harman regrets the smile, and the thumbs-up and the wasted years; Sivits regrets the loss of his good name; Ambuhl laments the lack of closure. The bad apples may not be rotten through and through, but they make hard cases. Testimony is Morris’s forte. He is a seasoned documentary filmmaker. His œuvre, this film in particular, serves to demonstrate Rancière’s contention that ‘documentary film, film devoted to the “real”, is . . . capable of greater fictional invention than “fiction” film, readily devoted to a certain stereotype of actions and characters.’26 His last film was The Fog of War (2003), the story of the former US Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, as told by Robert McNamara, in a kind of monologue with Morris. His interview technique is eccentric. He asks a question (off-camera), and lets his subjects talk (on-camera). This takes time. For Standard Operating Procedure he interviewed Janis Karpinski, the embittered former commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade in Iraq, for seventeen hours over two days. Morris’s interviews are tests of character and fortitude. They resemble a polite form of interrogation. One of the many inter-textual ironies of the film is that Morris may be a better interrogator than the interrogators themselves. He is seldom directive; his opening question is less a question than an invitation (‘I don’t know where to start . . .’), and his follow-up questions are often questions of detail. As W. J. T. Mitchell has remarked, his method is nothing if not forensic.27 This may owe something to his parallel career as a private investigator. As a director, one might say, he is a first-class investigator. He himself has suggested that ‘the central ingredient is persistence’. That is an understatement: Morris is obsessive. His investigations are relentless but unobtrusive. He does not feature in his own films: he is never seen and rarely heard. His documentary style is the polar opposite of Michael Moore’s. The results may appear to lack bite, accepting too readily the interviewee’s point of view; or context, concentrating too narrowly on the individual or
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on art and war and terror the sub-division.28 Morris argues that he has no interest in indicting or exonerating. His aim, he says, is to capture moral complexity. He makes a compelling argument – his blogs fi zz with argument – but he has been criticised for being too soft on his subjects, McNamara included, and he cheerfully admits to liking practically everyone. Murderers, torturers, abusers: he likes them all. Perhaps they sense it. In any event they seem to speak more freely. They also appear more naturally. In Standard Operating Procedure, the interviewees address themselves to Morris and at the same time to us – looking straight at the camera – thanks to an invention known as the ‘Interrotron’, dreamed up by Morris himself to achieve precisely this disarming effect. Based on the teleprompter, the Interrotron is a two-way connection which allows the interviewee to look into the interviewer’s eyes, projected in front of the camera. Watching the film, we are unaware of it. The effect is subliminal; it gives the illusion of transparency. The interviewees seem not so removed, not so celluloid; more approachable, more human. More like us. For Morris, the moral complexity of Abu Ghraib begins with some basic propositions about the ambiguous nature of the photographs – that they reveal and they conceal; that they are at the same time an exposé and a cover-up. They expose wrong-doing – crimes – by incriminating those who took them and those who solicited them or appeared in them. In other words, they serve to localise and to limit. They cover up the wider issues: command responsibility; political chicanery. Morris has articulated a strong version of this argument in an interview:
The soldiers got blamed because they took pictures of things that embarrassed the US Army and the Administration. They were punished for being photographers. The crime is photography. I don’t see it as a crime. Under another set of circumstances, Sabrina Harman would have gotten the Pulitzer Prize. What did she give us? She gave us evidence of a murder that we would not have otherwise. 29

This begins to sound a little reductive, though it encapsulates a persistent difficulty of response to Abu Ghraib. As Susan Sontag realised immediately, ‘the horror of what is shown in the photographs cannot be separated from the horror that the photographs were taken’. Sontag also noted a tendency on the part of the Administration to indulge in a mendacious form of displacement activity – ‘the displacement of the reality onto the photographs themselves’ – and now we have it on good authority that when Donald Rumsfeld was fi rst
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or destroyed. Sabrina33 Letters like this appear to lend some credence to Harman’s claim to have started taking photographs as a diversion. The only reason I want to be there is to get the pictures and prove that the US is not what they think.it’s all fucked up apprised of the matter. 03 10. ok that’s funny then it hit me. Morris’s pertinacity has elicited not only the reflections she is prepared to offer on the ticklish subject of the thumbs-up and the thinking behind the photographing. Both sides of me think its wrong. At fi rst it was funny but these people are going too far. Gourevitch describes her as ‘the blithe spirit’ of the unit. What if that was me in their shoes. its awful and you know how fucked I am in the head. I was wrong. I walk down stairs after blowing the whistle and beating on the cells with my asp [stick] to fi nd ‘the taxicab driver’ handcuffed backwards to his window naked with his underwear over his head and face. they constitute something very rare in this maelstrom of mediation: an authentic confusion of chatter and horror.32 In an earlier war they would surely have been censored. for sport. seemingly unfeigned and surprisingly uninhibited. Again I thought. Okay. For both Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris. his response was to say: ‘I didn’t know you were allowed to bring cameras into a prison!’30 Morris’s admiring reference to Sabrina Harman and the Pulitzer Prize is indicative of the privileged position she comes to occupy in the project. each of them has a soft spot for her. He looked like Jesus Christ. that’s a form of molestation. Harman is the star turn of Standard Operating Procedure.31 She is certainly a good witness. but also the letters she wrote at the time to the woman she called her wife. Kelly. But I don’t know if I can take it mentally. I ended your letter last night because it was time to wake the MI [Military Intelligence] prisoners and ‘mess with them’ but it went too far even I can’t handle whats going on. a mess of mixed feelings. Clearly. . out of the mouth of a participant-observer: Oct 20. I cant get it out my head. Personal and confessional.40 pm Kelly. after the fact. At fi rst I had to laugh so I went on and grabbed the camera and took a picture. . I don’t like that anymore. I took more pictures now to ‘record’ what is going on . and 211 . These letters are excerpted in the film and printed in the book. Morris regards her as fundamentally ‘a good person’. Not many people know this shit goes on. You can’t do that. One of the guys took my asp and started ‘poking’ at his dick. These people will be our future terrorist. I thought I could handle anything.

Three US Navy dog teams. proof that they could not cope. The official version of this story is rather circumspect. not to the ostensible raison d’être of intelligence-gathering (humiliating and interrogating). It was covering proof. is essentially self-serving. According to this rationale or rationalisation. the motivation changed over time. and possibly a psychological release. Proof that the story she tells is truthful. pornographic. Morris. The photographs were little more than trinkets. as Graner slyly said. There is the awkward fact that the later. complete with smile. prompting her to photograph even more assiduously. proof of ‘what they were making him do’.34 There is also the question of what precisely she understood her ‘proof’ to demonstrate. But the story. in the thick of the worst abuse. sentient Sabrina continued to act very like the earlier. was possible at Abu Ghraib. when instructed to do so by Frederick or Graner. but to the ulterior motive of exposing and vindicating. even on Tier 1A. or insurance. In the end it was more premeditated – recording and documenting for a purpose. Proof for Harman was proof of a kind of helplessness. Kimbro. led by Master-at-Arms William J. albeit a rather cloudy purpose – photography as activism. buys heavily into this account. like the truthfulness. and characterising her later actions as resistance or ‘civil disobedience’. proof that unspeakable things went on in the interrogation rooms and the showers. thumb and camera. the pornography no longer incidental but central. especially. on demand. but the outline is clear enough.on art and war and terror sometimes as a duty. In the beginning it was almost unwitting – snapping and smiling as reflex actions – photography as escapism. and slowly to have come to a clearer realisation of her own situation and that of the detainees. now as ‘proof’ of the appalling reality they faced. Harman is unquestionably an interesting study. and proof that she was lied to (over the murder). but her status as a soldier-photographer of conscience is by no means secure. but the pornography was incidental to what was in essence a recreational activity. she says. for reasons she only dimly understood.35 The exercise of professional judgement. therefore. The photographs were evidence. perhaps. insensate Sabrina. Recalled to the Hard 212 . not to mention moral scruple. adamantly refused to indulge in any abuse and successfully resisted ‘significant pressure’ to do so. and with it the product. and to take exactly the same sort of photographs. endowing Harman with a certain ethical sensibility. or trophies. without resort to the practices that she only ever managed to call ‘kind of odd’.

they were in it. Dog and dog handler promptly departed. the dog began to bark and lunge. the interrogator would let the dog handler set the dog on him. he calls them. For all subsequent requests they inquired what the specific purpose of the dog was and when told ‘for interrogation’ they explained that Navy dogs were not intended for interrogations and the request would not be fulfilled. mio padre. Pappas never asked if they could be used in interrogations and following that meeting the Navy dog teams received no additional requests to support interrogations. Col. In the unequal encounter between the Colonel and the Master-at-Arms. highly trained and highly disciplined.it’s all fucked up Site one night. MA1 Kimbro explained Navy dog capabilities and provided the Navy Dog Use SOP [Standard Operating Procedure]. On Tier 1A they made up the rules as they went along. a specialist unit. conveyed in the attenuated fashion of the official report. affectionately – but the film is also an indictment of the conditions in which they found 213 . Agitated. Pappas summoned MA1 Kimbro and wanted to know what the Navy dogs’s [sic] capabilities were. the dog handler struggled to regain control. screaming and yelling at a detainee squatting in a corner of a cell. Standard Operating Procedure testifies to the want of Standard Operating Procedure. Kimbro himself was an exemplary figure. but he too said no. Morris may be too indulgent towards Harman and the others – ‘my bad apples’. none of which were fulfi lled. not of it. the Navy Dog Use SOP takes on almost talismanic significance. Col. They were called back. According to the Fay-Jones Report: Following this 24 November 2003 incident the three Navy dog teams concluded that some interrogators might attempt to misuse Navy dogs to support their interrogations. not Army. Finally.36 Plainly the dog teams were in a stronger position than the bad apples. That was not at all what William Kimbro had in mind. Over the next few weeks. They were a team in fact as well as name. William Kimbro is a far cry from Vassily Grossman’s Ikkonikov. they had the very thing that the ordinary men and women of the 372nd Military Police Company lacked: a Standard Operating Procedure. evidently interrogators. but they did not return. ‘Je dirai non. after a fruitless search for explosives. the Navy dog teams received about eight similar calls. je dirai non!’ Errol Morris could surely have made something of that intriguing episode. One of the civilians told the detainee that if he did not cooperate. Kimbro and his dog came upon three civilians. They were well led. They were Navy. In the later part of December 2003.

In the preface to a recent report on the medical evidence of torture by US personnel. ‘White Elephant Art and Termite Art’ [1962]. ‘Accomplicity: Britain. 7. pp. 3. The culture of impunity reached to the very top. 8. British Journal of Politics and International Relations 8 (2006). Antonio Taguba. ‘Mike Nichols’. 2004). The Donkeys [1961] (London: Pimlico. 1991). 158. ‘Michael Cimino’. 1998). The Things They Carried (New York: Penguin. Attributed by Clark to Falkenhayn.html. Torture and Terror’. See Ion Trewin.37 Notes 1. Thomson. See Alex Danchev. there is no longer any doubt as to whether the [Bush] administration has committed war crimes. Joseph Conrad. 587–601. Alan Clark (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 2009). See Alistair Horne. Jeremy Harding. Phillips. Cf. ‘The Question of Belief’. Sandra S. 214 . in Diane Arbus Revelations (London: Cape. 4. 9. Manny Farber. media accounts. he does not mince his words: After years of disclosures by government investigations. 634. and reports from human rights organizations. 11. in Negative Space (New York: Da Capo. Brown. 134–44. 1 Samuel 17. whose original inquiry paved the way for all the others. he has lost none of his integrity. drew his own conclusions. 2006).on art and war and terror themselves. David Thomson. The characterisation was popularised by Alan Clark. The lethal anarchy and ruinous licence which prevailed at Abu Ghraib were not the responsibility of the salesmen and desk clerks who had the misfortune to serve there. A Savage War of Peace [1977] (New York: New York Review Books.coldbacon. the source of the remark remains elusive. and at: http://www. pp. London Review of Books. 10. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account. 58. 52. as someone aptly says. 5. Biographical Dictionary. in The New Biographical Dictionary of Film (London: Little. Tim O’Brien. p. 2003).com/writing/mannyfarber-termiteart. 1991). p. Ostracised by his peers. 2003). disowned by his superiors. p. The Secret Agent [1907] (Oxford: World’s Classics. ‘Lynndie England knew what Donald Rumsfeld was thinking’. ‘Short Cuts’. p. 2. 6. 29 November 2007. A statement from 1971.

salon. p. On the issues raised by the film. March 2004. The New Yorker. Torture and Terror’. At the behest of the Home Secretary. Taxi to the Dark Side and Ghosts of Abu Ghraib are both available on DVD. and ‘Tony Blair’s Vietnam: The Iraq War and the “special relationship” in historical perspective’.blogs. the case was passed to the Attorney General. in Karen J. 2005). See: http://www.com/docs/ programs/ghostsofabughraib/interview. 20. ‘Forsaken’.php. to investigate possible ‘criminal wrongdoing’.com/news/abu_ghraib/2006/03/14/. See Seymour Hersh. in Selected Writings (Cambridge. 2005). incorporating documentary evidence from the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. 2008). there is a thoughtful interview with Alex Gibney in Filmmaker Magazine (Winter 2008). The New York Times. the Chicken or the Egg?’ and ‘Photography as a 215 . vol.hbo.org/exhibitions/abu_ghraib/.it’s all fucked up 12. 189–203. See.icp. 13. ‘Which Came First. Standard Operating Procedure (London: Picador. Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris. p. amounting to 279 photographs and nineteen videos. ‘Accomplicity: Britain. p. The Politics of Aesthetics [2000] (London: Continuum. Chain of Command (London: Penguin. 19 May 2008. MA: Harvard University Press. II.fi lmmakermagazine. for example. Greenberg and Joshua Dratel (eds). at: http://www. Morris. ‘Curious Thing’ (emphasis in the original). and http://www. part 2. 16.nytimes. See. ‘“Like a Dog!” Humiliation and Shame in the War on Terror’. The Torture Papers (New York: Cambridge University Press. Walter Benjamin. ‘Will the Real Hooded Man Please Stand Up’. pp. Errol Morris. 19. and with Rory Kennedy (niece of Senator Edward Kennedy) on the HBO website. 14. 2004). com. pp. 416. with its quietly devastating conclusion. Alex Gibney for his part speaks of ‘authored non-fiction’ rather than documentary fi lm. Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade (Taguba Report). Alex Danchev. at: http://morris. 20. Alex Danchev. and the intentions of the director. This is what he calls ‘the ethical regime of images’. 18. 1999). One of his famous blogs. 21. ‘The Most Curious Thing’. 527. Alternatives 31 (2006). 22.html. 17. trans. 23. 22ff. 22 August and 31 October 2008. ‘Little History of Photography’ [1931]. Review of International Studies 33 (2007). at: http://www.. 25 September 2000. a piece on the Congo.com/ winter2008/taxi. British Journal of Politics and International Relations 8 (2006). from their investigations of 2004–5. Jacques Rancière. 587–601. for example. pp. pp. 259–83. The Guardian. 15. 24. Gabriel Rockhill.

at: http://www. She claims to fake her smile. J. Investigation of Intelligence Activities at Abu Ghraib (Fay–Jones 216 25. Harper’s (May 2008). The New York Times. The fi lm that made his name is The Thin Blue Line (1988). Rancière. New York Review of Books. His fate was well-known in Abu Ghraib. meaning military and civilian. later ruled a homicide. 110–11.html. The New York Times. 26.com/gq/features/full?id=content_6768&pageNum=13. about a murder and a case of mistaken identity – a case which Morris solved. with Graner and Harman taking turns to pose.harpers. See. Mitchell. in Passport (April 2005). ‘The Fog of Abu Ghraib: Errol Morris and the “bad apples”’. Politics of Aesthetics. See also the Q&A on the SOP website.style. before being spirited out of the prison. in ‘The Great Interrogator’. focusing on Harman. 111. In plain language he was murdered by the CIA. pp. in effect. ‘Curious Thing’. ‘Questions for Errol Morris’.com/standardoperatingprocedure/site. Cf. 194. ‘the Ice Man’. Gourevitch’s assessment of Harman follows.on art and war and terror Weapon’. T. The letters also feature prominently in a trailer article. ‘Both sides of me’. 148. 15 August 2007. 38. Gourevitch. SOP. GQ Magazine on-line. and the interview. 33. 111–14.org/archive/2008/04/hbc-90002873. Morris. 36. with the aid of an expert in facial expression. From an interview at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival. 2007). Morris in his characteristic way has tried to investigate the smile. a blog devoted to her photographs and her motives. W. by interviewing the murderer. especially in the US. 25 September 2007 and 13 August 2008. This is the burden of the criticism made by professional historians. quoting an official who was present. 30. 31. ‘Regarding the Torture of Others’. ‘Errol Morris’s The Fog of War: A Roundtable Critique’. 34. 27. where it was found by the happy snappers of the Military Police. 23 May 2004. tough and not tough. 200–1. 26 June 2008. 24 March 2008. pp. The Ice Man was an OGA ‘death in custody’. . 153. SOP. 8. p. thumbs-up. See ch. Rumsfeld (London: Verso. 5–11. The allusion is to the photographs of the mutilated body of Manadel al-Jamadi. Gourevitch. p. 28. beside him. Susan Sontag. See his exchange with Paul Ekman in ‘Curious Thing’. SOP. His corpse was packed with ice in a body-bag and concealed in the showers.sonyclassics. 32. pp. The New Yorker. at: http://www. Gourevitch. 29. A somewhat similar critique of SOP is rejected by Ian Buruma in ‘Ghosts’. 197. p. ‘Exposure’. at: http://men. caused by ‘blunt force injuries to the torso complicated by compromised respiration’. Andrew Cockburn. for example. on pp. 35. It is evident from her letters that Harman was not only photographing but also videoing the abuse.

The New Yorker. 37. 25 June 2007.. Cf. August 2004. see Seymour Hersh. See also Taguba Report. Danchev. 1085–6. at: http://brokenlives. June 2008. Broken Laws. Broken Lives. On what became of Taguba. p. 444.info/. pp. ibid. in Torture Papers.it’s all fucked up Report). Physicians for Human Rights. ‘The General’s Report’. 217 . ‘Like a Dog!’.

. c. Mag. . laments that in his exile at Tomi he. d. . c. a Barbarian. with a glance at 2) . One outside the pale of Christian civilization. One not a Greek. Etymologically. A foreigner. In times past. and he that speaketh shal be a Barbarian vnto me. Oxford English Dictionary 1 All wars are wars of words. quhen there tua natours and complexions ar contrar til votheris [i. it was code-words. OVERLORD. Historically. The operational code-words of the Second World War were themselves a source of top secret tension among the Anglo-Saxons. 1827 HARE Guesses (1859) 325 A barbarian is a person who does not talk as we talk. and are now an integral part of the public memory of that conflict (BARBAROSSA. ‘I have crossed out on the attached paper many unsuitable names. in short. Winston Churchill took a personal interest in them. each other]. One living outside the pale of the Roman empire and its civilization. 106 Euere nation reputes vthers nations to be barbarians. 1549 Compl. or. Characteristically. applied especially to the northern nations that overthrew them. is a barbarian to all his neighbours. . or dress as we dress.. 58 Ovid . Nov. b.. one whose language and customs differ from the speaker’s. or eat as we eat. I shall be vnto him that speaketh. 11. With the Italians of Renaissance: One of a nation outside Italy . . 1611 BIBLE I Cor. who is so audacious as not to follow our practice in all the trivialities of manners. 1862 Macm. Scot. 2. A rude. Xiii. a. b. Applied by the Chinese contemptuously to foreigners.10 Waiting for the Barbarians. MARKET GARDEN). wild.e. .’ he minuted to his longsuffering chief staff officer in 1943: 218 . uncivilized person . 3. xiv. the polished citizen. The Hospitality of War: Civilisation and Barbarism in the War on Terror barbarian 1. Sometimes distinguished from savage (perh.

Proper names are good in this field.g. BRACKEN. provided they fall within the rules above. could be used. SUPREME. 2 In the global war on terror this wisdom has gone unheeded. especially to Muslims – by which time the damage was done.4 The military operation that duly followed. famous racehorses. e.3 The oppressive connotations of the Crusades seem to have escaped the White House. Names of living people – ministers or commanders – should be avoided. Care should be taken in all this process. which are calculated to invest the plan with an air of despondency. ENDURING FREEDOM is not quite TRIUMPHANT. figures from Greek and Roman mythology. At the same moment. FLIMSY. but the President’s choice of words provoked a chorus of objection from European capitals and a rebuke from the Grand Mufti of the Mosque in Marseille. such as FLOOD. FIDGET. BILLINGSGATE. cultural sensitivities were sorely tried by George W. as a kind of descriptor of the war on terror: ‘a Holy war of error’. They should not be ordinary words often used in other connections. and BALLYHOO. After all. or. The overall designation of the military response to the 9/11 attacks is Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. SMOOTH. such as WOEBETIDE. in Sami Al-Haj’s phrase. FULLFORCE. PATHETIC. perhaps. SUDDEN. who considered the term most unfortunate: ‘It recalled the barbarous and unjust military operations against the Muslim world’ by Christian knights. and FULLSPEED. JUMBLE. There are no doubt many other themes that could be suggested. The heroes of antiquity. such as BUNNYHUG.waiting for the barbarians Operations in which large numbers of men may lose their lives ought not to be described by code-words which imply a boastful and overconfident sentiment. to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein. and JAUNDICE. MASSACRE. as a sequel to the 219 . APERETIF. such as TRIUMPHANT. was code-named COBRA II. TROUBLE. and intelligent thought will readily supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names which do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation called BUNNYHUG or BALLYHOO. and might give offence. An efficient and successful administration manifests itself equally in small as in great matters. conversely. swiftly changed from INFINITE JUSTICE after it was pointed out that that form of words is usually reserved for a deity. the constellations and stars. the world is wide. Bush’s loose use of the word ‘crusade’. names of British and American war heroes. but it clearly fails the Churchill test. They ought not to be names of a frivolous character.

a term proscribed by the Home Office in 2008. moreover.5 The historical promise. accompanied by food. Smoking was fundamental to the interrogation system at the base. An inquiry conducted by Human Rights Watch. for example. As one soldier put it: ‘The [Military Intelligence officer] said he wanted the PUCs so fatigued. history and intelligence. ‘Smoking’ refers to forced physical exertion. The historical irony was that the liberated of 1944 were none other than the cheese-eating surrender monkeys of 2003 – the only begetters of that mutant strain. in a phrasebook for the terror warrior. sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. by anyone who pleased. a self-serving abuse of language. less human dignity than ‘bare life’. did not apply there. They were also ‘smoked’. found that the PUCs held at Forward Operating Base Mercury. routinely. they were tortured. so smoked. therefore. and then carried over conveniently to Iraq. based on the first-hand testimony of serving soldiers. water and sleep deprivation. were ‘fucked’. as in ‘fuck a puck’ (administer a beating). so demoralized that they want to co-operate. are new words or acronyms. to borrow the expression used by Giorgio Agamben for the fathomless existence of the detainee. or even ‘Islamophobia’. near Fallujah. Code-words now assume less importance than catchwords – ‘Islamofascism’.) PUC is pronounced puck.6 The catchphrase ‘axis of evil’ touches on the same territory.’ In short.8 (‘Detainee’: an old word given a new spin in the GWOT. almost daily. beginning with the unlovely GWOT. or at any rate POW status. had an even more striking theme: ‘the non220 . PUC neatly dehumanises. The original National Security Strategy of the United States of America (2002).on art and war and terror Second World War. under the specific direction of Military Intelligence.7 Beyond catchwords. on the grounds that it is unhelpful in the battle for hearts and minds: ‘can be misunderstood as a slur on Islam and perceived as singling out Muslims (even though it indicates we are positively addressing their concerns)’. a document famous for its espousal of preemptive military action. ‘freedom fries’ – the French. where the original Operation COBRA was the break-out from the Normandy beaches following the Allied landings in 1944. was liberation. over an eight-month period from September 2003 to April 2004.9 Meanwhile a second front had been opened in this particular war of words. The jewel in the Orwellian crown is Person under Control (PUC). signifying less a person than an unperson. an expression originating in Afghanistan to replace Prisoner of War (POW) after the President decided that the Geneva Conventions.

Oratorically. George W. with all reservations and cautions that are appropriate. though leading figures in the Bush Administration had tried it complaisantly enough in the past. The non-negotiable demands of human dignity have been found to be negotiable after all. then at least a cause.waiting for the barbarians negotiable demands of human dignity’. in November 2002. There were fewer hostages to fortune. its only rival is ‘values’. the success story. The struggle continues. and there was more talk of ‘process’ and ‘aspirations’. ‘appeasement’ has become the great bogey word of Anglo-American war and peace-making. It is doubtless no accident that the template is the Second World War. damaged beyond repair. Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay will go down in history as sufficient proof of that. The moral high ground is surprisingly difficult terrain to occupy.10 Nevertheless. even a mission. Five years after the invasion. And Afghanistan the much more threatening. has been spoiled. isn’t he?’ – less a question 221 . No European leader of his generation has spoken so unblushingly of good and evil. The goodness. The war on terror always aspired to be more than a war – if not a crusade. Bush asserted that Churchill ‘knew what he believed. At an unaccustomed meeting with academic experts on Iraq.)12 In one of the more implausible characterisations or identifications of his career. and the war on terror found a ready zealot in Tony Blair. (After Hitler. in 2008. bad picture. Causes and crusades are projects with a moral purpose. the preacher on a tank. nevertheless. Texans against turpitude. ‘But the man’s uniquely evil. There is a continuing temptation to parse its campaigns to fulfil (or wish-fulfil) that purpose. or it is nothing. verbally impervious.13 It is perhaps a pardonable exaggeration to say that the war on terror is a struggle of good guys against bad. ‘in many ways Iraq may be seen to be the good war. A mission requires missionaries.’11 Good wars are few and far between. ‘dignity’ remains the watchword of the war on terror. Bush and his handlers often invoked Winston Churchill as an example of a politician who was punished in the polls but rewarded by history for rejecting the temptation of conciliation. Subsequent iterations tended to modify that categorical imperative: the tone became less insistent. the war on terror wants to be a ‘good’ war. Put differently. he responded to their sober prognoses by saying. aider and abettor of the President until he quit the scene in 2007. and he really kind of went after it in a way that seemed like a Texan to me’. the US Co-ordinator with Iraq could be found speculating that. In the aftermath of 9/11. however. anything smacking of the appeasement of Saddam Hussein was to be avoided at all costs.

17 In this binary world. in a smuggled Second World War analogy. the President himself plagiarised his faithful friend in his Address to the Nation on 11 September 2006. ‘It is the decisive ideological struggle of the twenty-fi rst century.14 ‘For all their faults. Consciously or unconsciously. ‘the US are a force for good.’ he told the Congress in July 2003. two months before the opening salvoes of the war.’ he admonished a gathering of British ambassadors in January 2003. ‘Every abuse at Abu Ghraib is exposed in detail. Tony was a true believer in the mission of the moment. the shame felt throughout the Muslim world. and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it’s over.’18 There was no glimmer of recognition here or elsewhere in these hyper-articulate apologetics that Abu Ghraib was not an aberration but a standard operating procedure. us and them. ‘September 11th was not an isolated event. another act.’16 In a trilogy of set-piece speeches on foreign policy in the early months of 2006. the humiliation visited on the United States. as was the British Army. they have liberal and democratic traditions of which any nation can be proud.’ he urged. ‘This is not a clash between civilizations. ‘In truth it is a struggle for civilization.’ he averred. Iraq.) ‘The struggle has been called a clash of civilizations.’19 Where civilisation is conjured up. 222 . perhaps.’ he declared. good and evil.’ Bush went on. on the much-trumpeted alliance of values.’ It was a struggle between ‘democracy’ and ‘violence’. and the calling of our generation. barbarism is rarely far behind. deftly yoking Churchill and Shakespeare. we are traduced and they are exonerated. ‘It is a clash about civilization. of course it is unacceptable but it is as if the only absence of due process in that part of the world is in prisons run by the Americans. ‘I feel a most urgent sense of mission about today’s world. a dash of missionary zeal was all part of the service.’15 A force for good was quintessential Blair. If blazing sincerity was essential to his self-image. on us. Britain too was a force for good. This was goodness militant.on art and war and terror than a staring-eyed statement of belief. and something of a Blairite mantra. modernism and medievalism. or self-construction. ‘Examine the propaganda poured into the minds of Arabs and Muslims. ‘The war against this enemy is more than a military confl ict. naturally. light and dark.’ (A coded reference to ‘the greatest generation’. but a tragic prologue. Blair set out to restate the core message. the fifth anniversary of 9/11. ‘progress’ and ‘reaction’. no acknowledgement of the immense damage done to the moral authority of the Anglo-American crusaders.

24 As Walt Whitman knew. John Reid. like humiliation. is that the taking of the oaths had such a tremendous effect on the Kikuyu mind as to turn quite intelligent young Africans into entirely different human beings. included murder and cannibalism . One of Tony Blair’s loyal placemen. and drawing a clinical distinction between ‘warriors’ on the one hand and ‘barbarians’ on the other: ‘A warrior kills his enemy as efficiently as possible. for example. This sort of talk has a long history. The President’s Address to the Nation began: ‘Five years ago. while judging correctly of their wrong-doings. 25 223 . A detainee. in order to achieve results against a bestial and fanatical foe seems to ape the casuists of the Office of Legal Counsel. is a sermon (or a harangue) on the fusion of terrorism and barbarism. ‘But warfare continues to evolve.’23 Degradation. and. to take the gloves off. ‘As the terrorists grew more brutalized. fifty years ago: This developed sexual and sadistic aberrations which . ‘On the Cannibals’ (1580): ‘what does sadden me is that. we have now to cope with a deliberate regression towards barbaric terrorism by our opponents. could be found excoriating ‘the barbarians who kidnapped Daniel Pearl’. A barbarian seeks to infl ict suffering.’ wrote Montaigne in a celebrated essay. in its moral dimensions. . . What is clear . . hooded like the Ku-Klux Klan. we should be so blind to our own. ‘Much has been achieved under current frameworks.’21 Barbaric terrorism is not cricket.’ puffed the Secretary of State for Defence. this date – September the 11th – was seared into America’s memory.’20 Government ministers joined in with a will. The need to rewrite the ground rules. is threatened with electrocution: America electrocutes itself. their moral degradation was reflected in the characteristics of the Mau Mau oath. the damage is indivisible: Whoever degrades another degrades me. And whatever is done or said returns at last to me. began wondering aloud if the time had come to revisit the fusty old Geneva Conventions. . Nineteen men attacked us with a barbarity unequalled in our history.’ explained the Secretary of State for the Colonies during a small war on terror in Kenya. into sub-human creatures without hope and with death as their only deliverance. is shared. . .22 ‘It does not sadden me that we should note the horrible barbarity in a practice such as theirs.’ Such rhetoric was by no means confined to Presidents and Prime Ministers.waiting for the barbarians The rhetoric of the war on terror. Torture has a curiously reversible property. replete with ‘barbaric acts’ and ‘revolting terrorist barbarity’. Michael Ignatieff.

It is disputed. or rather elasticity. as new facilities are erected and new regimes devised. the Americans and British pioneered the use of beating with high-pressure water. with a passion. whose officers and soldiers committed war crimes and atrocities without number. The revelation of ‘barbarisation’ shocked and shamed. on the Eastern Front. in an influential study of the Eastern Front in the Second World War. indoctrination and a sort of experiential saturation: a compound of conditions and conditioning. Bartov demonstrated beyond doubt that the conventional wisdom was wrong – criminal behaviour was not confined to the security forces (the SS. ‘And just as such a document is not free of barbarism.30 First of all. ‘time for the black flower of civilization to bloom. not among the sub-human creatures beyond the pale. and apparently without compunction. Bartov sought an explanation for this behaviour in a mixture of predisposition. says the magistrate in a novel by the keen-eyed J. of course.’ observed Walter Benjamin. local militia and the like). but the self-styled master race. the security police. ‘Ah yes’. ‘There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism. it was endemic in the German Army. and still reverberates. barbarism taints also the manner in which it was transmitted from one owner to another. the British alone pioneered the combination of handcuffs and freezing baths. to focus on one side is to invite the criticism of understating or downplaying the 224 . as Richard Overy has put it in an examination of the thesis in context. such that savagery became almost instinctive and atrocity routine. us-and-them distinction between civilisation and barbarism is based on shifting sands. we are the innovators in this crowded field.’27 The first police to use electric torture were the Americans (circa 1908).on art and war and terror The images of Abu Ghraib offer a graphic reminder that any blackand-white. the British (1912) and the French (1931). the regular police. nature and nurture.28 The torturers are us. What the barbarisation thesis proposed was a progressive degeneration over time. The barbarisation thesis was introduced (one might almost say popularised) by the historian Omer Bartov. 29 Focusing on the German side of the Nazi–Soviet war. The good war itself has given rise to a thesis about ‘the barbarisation of warfare’. as if offering a commentary on the migration and routinisation of coercive interrogation. In short. The Dutch pioneered the technique of water-choking with a linen napkin or chiffon. M. It raises the issue of specificity. some twenty years ago. Coetzee.’26 Civilisation is a slippery concept.

34 And yet. variously derived. and apparently far-fetched but strangely compelling considerations such as self-abnegation and self-esteem. as each side learned from the other. almost an auction. their behaviour is governed. but so was the war in the South Pacific. to borrow the master concept of that infinitely suggestive sociologist Norbert Elias. Not content with that. mores. The Nazi–Soviet war became a competition in barbarism. but rather a complex sphere of activity thick with all kinds of inhibitions and prohibitions. war is not a free-for-all. where living space turns into killing space all too easily. codes. to say nothing of imponderable things like scruples or squeamishness. this was not a war of one front. and as timeless 225 . (‘Why is standing limited to four hours?’) Warriors are not always sticklers for propriety. They have other things on their mind. its own forms of courtesy. The war on the Eastern Front was barbarous indeed. a dubious notion but a popular belief. Total war is not social work. but deep. as the moderns might say. The barbarising process is a reciprocal process.waiting for the barbarians interactive nature of the experience. there is a certain tension between making war and making nice. then by custom. Niall Ferguson has advanced the plausible idea of ‘essentially contested places’ in Central and Eastern Europe (Vilna/ Wilna/Vilne/Vilnius). Moreover. perhaps even its own civilising process. he has devoted a whole book to the notion of ‘history’s age of hatred’. as a glance at the harrowing memoir of US Marine Eugene B. the conduct of warfare has had its own rituals. however. if not by fiat. what you will.31 Other theatres and other wars in this era lay claim to the same dubious title. a uniquely bloody twentieth century. its own protocols and politesse. norms. Battle is body parts and blood. or charity. The epic treatments of the subject in the Western canon have all been seen as pitiless documents of man’s inhumanity to man. how stands the barbarisation thesis? Does it hold for the Germans on the Eastern Front? Only them? Only there? How far can it stretch? In truth.33 Contrary to appearances. Thus.32 If it is barbarism everywhere. 35 Archilochus is mischievous. As far back as anyone can remember. Sledge will confi rm. barbarism is a perennial temptation. Traditionally. and there too the barbarism was a kind of mutual escalation. the ancient Archilochus: In the hospitality of war We left them their dead as a gift To remember us by.

7000 tanks engaged. like the poor. . are always with us. Conrad surely knew something of the life of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. Wowee!’ Where would we be if he had lost? Achilles? Let him sulk. ‘an inconceivable life of stress. July 4th to 14th ’43.30 hrs. of power. the strong life of white men. in a single spurting re-imagining: Drop into it. under siege from the savage. Love above love! And here they come again the noble Greeks.’ in Christopher Logue’s happy phrase. which rolls on irresistible and hard on 226 . King Richard calling for another horse (his fifth). King Ivan Kursk. . Goya’s Disasters of War. 36 The barbarians. Logue’s free translation. candidly.’ In Logue’s Homer the barbarisation of warfare slips and slides and elides Trojan war. gives the Iliad its ultimate update. of endeavour. Your spirit grips. ‘. most wonderful. of unbelief . . Napoleonic war and Nazi-Soviet war. Picasso’s Guernica. ‘Blood? Blood like a carwash. . and then again more wonderful A bond no word or lack of words can break. And. You rush your pressed-flower hackles out To the perimeter. And here it comes: That unpremeditated joy as you – The Uzi shuddering warm against your hip Happy in danger in a dangerous place Yourself another self you found at Troy – Squeeze nickel through that rush of Greekoid scum! Oh wonderful. Noise so clamorous it sucks. a spear in one a banner in his other hand Your life at every instant up for – Gone. King Marshal Ney shattering his sabre on a cannon ball. 22. The war on terror has returned us to the condition mapped by Joseph Conrad a century ago (‘The horror! The horror!’).on art and war and terror witness testimony: Homer’s Iliad. War Music. barricaded in the Green Zone. he clambered up and pushed a stable-bolt Into that Tiger-tank’s red-hot-machine-gun’s mouth And bent the bastard up. ‘All day permanent red. who gives a toss? Your heart beats strong. Ido.

the truly unknown unknown is how little we know about them. was asked by an intelligence agency in Washington if he would care to write a paper which would answer their question. the narrator is carried away: From that point he soared and took me with him. you know. in an unsteady hand. ‘those who begin as humanitarians have a way of ending up as barbarians. The temporary proconsul Paul Bremer had two weeks to prepare to take charge of the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases. They searched high and low to confi rm their prejudices. the 227 . George Packer has observed.. it is time to fight for them again. An academic acquaintance of the editor of the literary magazine Granta. ‘Like Kurtz’.39 A power for good sounds strangely familiar. His ignorance of the country and the culture was complete. God-given rulers have neither the time nor the inclination to learn. &c.waiting for the barbarians the edge of outer darkness’. this is not unusual. and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you. It made me tingle with enthusiasm. unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page. The peroration was magnificent. a Middle East specialist. like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: ‘Exterminate all the brutes!’. though difficult to remember.’40 As for practical hints.41 Concerning the barbarians. As a new age beckons.’38 As Conrad’s narrator relates. Kurtz’s report for the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs begins with the argument that ‘“[we] must necessarily appear to them in the nature of supernatural beings – we approach them with the might as of a deity”. as does the soaring rhetoric (‘success is the only exit strategy I am prepared to consider’) and the magnificent peroration.’ Before he knows it. Mr Kurtz in the heart of darkness is in his own way a kind of avatar. This was the unbounded power of eloquence – of words – of burning noble words. They represent humanity’s progress throughout the ages. luminous and terrifying. ‘That is why I say this struggle is one about values. It was very simple. may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. ‘Why Arabs Lie’. scrawled evidently much later. Our values are our guide. By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded. &c.37 Conrad’s writing has an hallucinatory proleptic power. At each point we have had to fight for them and defend them. A generation ago. In civilised circles. the ignorance of the masters of the war on terror was matched only by their hubris.

heart of darkness was Vietnam.’ This was not the message laid down in 2003 and 2004. General David Petraeus and those around him began to speak of ‘the cultural terrain’. In Daniel Ellsberg’s apt reflection: ‘There has never been an official of Deputy Assistant Secretary rank or higher (including myself) who could have passed in office a mid-term exam in modern Vietnamese history. ‘cultural appreciation’ manuals were issued to American and British forces.on art and war and terror Figure 17 Staff Sergeant Chad Touchett (centre) and soldiers from A Company. there were signs of movement.’43 Some years later. When a reporter visited Bremer in his Baghdad lair. he found the bookshelves almost empty: ‘Rudolph Guiliani’s Leadership stood on one shelf.’ explained an infantry company commander. In 2007 and 2008. and a book about the management of financial crises on the other. atavism takes over. explaining that ‘Western policy in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11. 7 April 2003. in New York and Washington has led to a feeling among many Arabs that the US in cohort with a number of European governments is pursuing a hidden agenda under the guise of the “global war on terror”. and saving face’ – a dictum straight out of The 228 . near a box of raisin bran. relax in one of Saddam’s palaces. ‘The only thing they understand is force – force. ‘You have to understand the Arab mind. For want of moral authority or cultural guidance. pride. 2001. 7th Infantry Regiment. 3rd Battalion.’42 His successors did no better in Iraq. Baghdad.

Gus. Staunchly. ‘Oh. a senior British officer serving with the coalition forces in Baghdad. The Director of the School of Advanced Military Studies told the Washington Post that the Brigadier was ‘an insufferable British snob’.45 More seriously. as christened by their captors.46 The point is well made in the British Army’s official report into cases of deliberate abuse and unlawful killing in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 (a report published four years after the fact): ‘Respect for others means respect for all others – and that includes people who may be your enemies. We are savage and primitive people. the Iranian. Gesturing to a pile of rubbish that filled a space where a building had been before the place was pulverised. It will not be easy. Understanding the Untermensch is an exacting task. because we’re not like you Americans. the Ice Man: the inmates of Abu Ghraib.’48 If that loaded exchange was in the first instance an exchange about 229 . In the debris of Fallujah an Iraqi teenager came up to the leader of a US Army patrol. Stripped of the pseudo-science. but a moral imperative and a practical necessity. even suicide bombers – ‘dignity’ was instantly mobilised against him. he asked in a loud voice. he refused. the guru of choice for neoconservative commentators and military officers alike. ‘the Arab mind’ was a marvellously convenient construct. by Raphael Patai. wrote in the New York Review of Books that we should respect our enemies as human beings in order to understand them – even terrorists. Freeman Dyson. arguably amounted to institutional racism’. In 2005. almost certainly inadvertent. Taxi Driver. found that the US Army’s ‘cultural insensitivity. when one of America’s most distinguished public intellectuals. as ugly as they were contemptuous. ‘Why don’t you clean it up yourselves?’ The boy responded. ‘Why don’t you Americans clean up the garbage?’ Sighing. It served to anonymise and agglomerate. it was but a short step from ‘the only thing they understand’ to some further specifications. ‘Any attempt to dignify the terrorists is despicable.44 Crude as it may be. they were Shitboy. theatrically. they were Muscovite and cosmopolite slime.waiting for the barbarians Arab Mind. Who were ‘they’? They were Greekoid scum. He was urged to retract and apologise. it made strange what it purported to explain. shortly afterwards he conceded that his remark had been made in the heat of the moment. Gilligan.’ he was reprimanded. an unusually frank assessment by Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster. but took the opportunity to add the conclusive argument that ‘our lack of respect for our enemies has made it harder for us to deal with them effectively’.’47 The exotic Immensity for their part understood the situation only too well. the weary patrol leader replied.

on art and war and terror civilisation and barbarism – about stereotypes – it was also an exchange about manners. and again after the French Revolutionary earthquake. Norbert Elias took the long view. That is a superficial view. 230 . For only manners in the deeper sense – of mutual restraint for mutual security – can control the risk that outbursts of temper over political and social issues may lead to mutual destruction in the atomic age. the tallest towers Be overturned. 51 Given its rhetorical construction. a foundation in anti-barbarisation. 50 Civility and self-restraint may not be the fi rst qualities associated with modern warfare. as Seamus Heaney has memorably said: Anything can happen. William J. which he regarded not as a good war but as a catastrophe. So we are. but not all of them. For him. The Revolution in Warfare concluded with a passionate appeal for military civility: Manners are apt to be regarded as surface polish. a book born out of the experience of the Second World War. Liddell Hart was not a philosopher. Kimbro and the US Navy dog teams in the inferno of Abu Ghraib. modern peoples might be regarded as ‘late barbarians’. Those overlooked regarded. those in high places daunted. ‘all his knowledge applies itself’. The exercise of professional judgement. not to mention moral scruple. But Mr Kurtz dies hard.49 He produced a primer on the civilising process in war. None the less. A fresh realization of their importance is needed in the world today. War is a realm of chance and contingency. one of the most original military thinkers of the twentieth century was tempted into the same territory: Basil Liddell Hart. Liddell Hart’s thinking is encapsulated in a work of brilliant concision entitled The Revolution in Warfare (1946). Good wars and good manners do not necessarily consort well together. is possible even in the most difficult circumstances. as demonstrated by Master-at-Arms William J. as his friend T. and their revival might prove the salvation of civilization – as happened after the devastating civil and religious wars of the seventeenth century. They arise from inward control. yet barbarization is not preordained. Codes of manners are fundamental to the civilising process. it is richly ironic that the war on terror has become a war of waiting – waiting for the barbarians – on both sides. Lawrence observed. Kimbro is an ordinary man. to commit another outrage. E. We wait for them to come. He is also some kind of hero. Ordinary men do unspeakable things in war. Anything can happen.

Basra. the library holdings. the eminent anthropologist Clifford Geertz issued a prescient warning to his fellow countrymen (and others): At a time when the grand opposition of civilization and barbarism is becoming again a common coin of both cultural and political discussion. and all too often mass casualties. the same places recur: Kabul. waiting for the barbarians has become a habit. The hospitality of war is generously returned. everyone going home lost in thought? Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come. the etymology. And perhaps. reciprocity rules. the past.) Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly. Here. Like a tale from the Thousand and One Nights. at least since Montaigne and Shakespeare. ‘All foreigners are not Barbarians. says Saint-Loup in The Remembrance of Things Past. In the European imagination. ‘habitually modelled’. And some of our men just in from the border say there are no barbarians any longer. there is a certain longing. this confusion? (How serious people’s faces have become. ‘on earlier battles which constitute. on the first anniversary of 9/11. barbarians have their uses: Why this sudden bewilderment. the aristocracy of the battles that are to come. or a sense of déjà vu. to put an end to the anarchy we have created. so do barbarians. Culturally speaking. The long war has a long pedigree. A sort of symmetry obtains. a pattern emerges. Kandahar. as Proust suggests. which accompanies their recruitment leads to fateful consequences. if I can put it like this. in spite of all. Mesopotamia.’52 If battles reproduce themselves.54 As La Bruyère remarked succinctly. The same battles are fought on the same ground. or unthinking.53 ‘Those people’ are also a distraction. Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? Those people were a kind of solution. it will be well to keep in mind the dubiousness of the whole Ariel and Caliban procedure. nor all our Compatriots civilized.’55 231 . the learning. The mode of thinking. long ago. too. There is always waiting. As the poets have taught us. we have waited several hundred years.waiting for the barbarians They wait for us to go. and all sorts of public figures are trying to tell us where the boundary between them lies and what it consists in. The same Arabs revolt. For the august Benevolence. In September 2002.

1948–54). as Warren Kimball has remarked. See Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor. Independent Magazine. Notes 1. vol. If these examples appear fanciful. while his comrades below cheer and fi re their muskets in the air. One thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of Empire: how not to end. p. 945. On Specialness (London: Macmillan. Sami Al-Haj is a Sudanese journalist detained without charge in Guantánamo Bay since December 2001. the rape of populations. and the madness was virulent indeed. V. 4. I. The Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon. Empire dooms itself to live in history and plot against history. By night it feeds on images of disaster: the sack of cities.on art and war and terror Failure to heed Clifford Geertz’s warning had been foreseen twenty years earlier. in Winston S. like children? It is the fault of Empire! Empire has created the time of history. of beginning and end. 1998). Empire has located its existence not in the smooth recurrent spinning time of the cycle of the seasons but in the jagged time of rise and fall.56 It was not the globe but the towers that toppled. how to prolong its era. wading in the ooze. It is cunning and ruthless. 11 June 2007. ch. of catastrophe. by the novelist J. What has made it impossible for us to live in time like fish in water. See Alex Danchev. M. 232 . Churchill. 4 February 2008. Coetzee. Andrew Buncombe. 8 August 1943. Cobra II (New York: Pantheon. acres of desolation. how not to die. 3. 5. The Second World War (London: Cassell. p. 19 September 2001. Christian Science Monitor. am no less infected with it than the faithful Colonel Joll as he tracks the enemies of Empire through the boundless desert. 1989). in a prophetic work with an historic title: Waiting for the Barbarians. sword unsheathed to cut down barbarian after barbarian until at last he finds and slays the one whose destiny it should be (or if not his then his son’s or his unborn grandson’s) to climb the bronze gateway to the Summer Palace and topple the globe surmounted by the tiger rampant that symbolizes eternal dominion. like birds in air. The Guardian. 2006). it sends its bloodhounds everywhere. 583. it is well to recall the proposed Operation ARMPIT – a thrust through Istria towards Vienna – a code-name Churchill surely would have changed had the plan been approved. 2. 6. ‘Prisoner 345’. By day it pursues its enemies. 3. Churchill to Ismay. A mad vision yet a virulent one: I. vol. pyramids of bones.

on the theme of ‘global alliance for global values’.uk (accessed 29 May 2007). 189–203. ‘The “Problem of Evil” in Postwar Europe’. at: http://www. 11. 19. 31 May 2004. Review of International Studies 33 (2007). ‘D-Day’s Real Lessons’.org (accessed 29 May 2007). 16. Kevin Athill. 21 March 2006.org (accessed 24 March 2006). 15. p. State of Exception (Stanford. but dropped the reference to Abu Ghraib. at: http://www. 11 September 2006. sexually humiliating and snapping Iraqis. at Georgetown University. 9. 17. as for example Camp Breadbasket. Review of International Studies 20 (1994). at http://www. New York Review of Books. See Alex Danchev. pp. the founding text is Studs Terkel’s oral history. 10.hrw. September 2005. where officers and men of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers were charged with ‘Ali Baba hunting’.). As remembered by George Joffe. 1984). at: http://www. 3 November 2005. excerpted in ‘Torture in Iraq’. Giorgio Agamben. the third.gov. ‘Accomplicity: Britain. See Jonathan Steele.uk (accessed 5 February 2008). ‘The Good War’ (New York: Pantheon. The thesis of ‘the clash of civilisations’ derived from Samuel Huntington’s 1997 bestseller of that name. The second speech in the series. Jon Meacham. ‘beasting’. Newsweek. ‘Tony Blair’s Vietnam’. 24 January 2008. of course.co. Washington DC. Torture and Terror’. Human Rights Watch. on ‘progressive pre-emption’. Defeat (London: Tauris. 112–17.gov (accessed 17 July 2006). See Alex Danchev.whitehouse. Foreign Policy Centre. London.foreignaffairs. 8. ‘Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division’. The message resurfaced in Blair’s article. ‘A Battle for Global Values’. Speech at Foreign Office Conference. at: http:// www. 12. President’s Address to the Nation. In one sense. 18. ‘The Anschluss’. trans. at: http:// 233 . 2005). 587–601.number10. 14. David Satterfield interviewed in Timesonline.timesonline. 2008). Tony Judt. pp. 7 January 2003. on 26 May 2006. was delivered to the Australian Parliament on 27 March 2006. See Alex Danchev. 18 July 2003. New York Review of Books. CA: Stanford University Press. The article repeated the line about civilisation and the argument about propaganda. Cf.waiting for the barbarians 7. For many Americans. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (2002 et seq. pp. Foreign Policy Speech I. British Journal of Politics and International Relations 8 (2006). 14 February 2008. Foreign Affairs (January/February 2007). 4. Speech to Congress. near Basra. 13. he was right: ‘absence of due process’ also featured at facilities run by the British.

Servitude and Grandeur of Arms [1835] (London: Penguin. Such ‘reversibility’ was a favourite trope of Jean Baudrillard. Norbert Elias writes tellingly of ‘a kernel of self-esteem which prevents the 234 20. Niall Ferguson. 2 June 2004. pp. A. 1996). The Guardian. The Barbarisation of Warfare (London: Hurst. Chris Turner. On torture. 31. a speech laying heavy emphasis on the Second World War analogy. trans. the authoritative text. Coetzee. p. J. 14ff. 27. 86. 25. pp. London. Roger Gard. Histories of the Hanged (London: Phoenix. John Reid. ‘The abnegation of the warrior’ is an idea developed with melancholy subtlety in Alfred de Vigny. p. 29. NJ: Princeton University Press. 21. Alan Lennox-Boyd. 28. The Eastern Front 1941–1945 (Basingstoke: Macmillan. in George Kassimeris (ed. 1998). 248. Harry Zohn. ‘On the Cannibals’. 21st Century Conflict’. in The Complete Essays (London: Penguin. In an earlier variation he had also refused the clash of civilisations. Reid felt the need to publish a clarification. 30. M. p.). Waiting for the Barbarians [1980] (London: Vintage. 2000). p. p. at: http:// www. and more generally. 23–6. US Air Force Academy.mod.on art and war and terror www. ‘Song of Myself’. IV. pp. Bush went on invoke Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Eugene B. ‘20th Century Rules. The theses were completed in 1940 and fi rst published (in German) in 1950.uk (accessed 29 May 2007). . statement to the House of Commons. trans. or the Lucidity Pact (Oxford: Berg. The Intelligence of Evil. 280–1. 2008). Omer Bartov. Cultural Politics 1 (2005). Speech at Air Force Graduation Ceremony. 5 April 2006. in Illuminations (London: Fontana. Montaigne. 235. 2006). 48. see in particular Baudrillard. Richard Overy. in Leaves of Grass [1891] (Oxford: World’s Classics. ‘Pornography of War’. 1993). 32.gov (accessed 29 May 2007). declaring it instead ‘a clash of political visions’. M. 24.whitehouse. 1985). New Republic. quoted in David Anderson. 23. 33. Walt Whitman. 1990). Torture and Democracy (Princeton. the same translator has substituted ‘culture’ for ‘civilisation’ (vol. emphasising that he was not in favour of ‘legal exceptionalism’. 39–57. Secretary of State for Defence. 3 April 2006. 26. 2006). ‘The Second World War: a Barbarous Confl ict?’. In Benjamin’s Selected Writings. trans. The War of the World (London: Penguin. pp. 392). ‘The Torture Wars’. Walter Benjamin. 2005). 22. trans. Sledge. As demonstrated by Darius Rejali. Michael Ignatieff. 22 April 2002. Screech. speech at RUSI. With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2006). 1992). ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’.

p. 12 January 2006. All Day Permanent Red (London: Faber. 2006). 10 April 2006. p. extracted in the New York Review of Books. ‘Every time you treat an Iraqi disrespectfully. Eliot Weinberger. 45. Archilochus survives only in fragments. 41. Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster. The ISSSC is a fiction. 2003). George Packer. On the other hand. quoting Captain Todd Brown. The Norbert Elias Reader (Oxford: Blackwell. parroting Raphael Patai. 7. 2000). The New Yorker. Ian Jack. p. Papers on the War (New York: Simon & Schuster. 1998).).waiting for the barbarians senseless torturing of enemies and allows identification with one’s enemy in the last instance as another human being’ in ‘The Breakdown of Civilization’. Joseph Conrad. 42.htm (accessed 29 May 2007). p. you are working for the enemy. 40. These words are inscribed on Cy Twombly’s sculpture. Military Review 6 (2005). 2002). The Arab Mind [1973] (New York: Hatherleigh. pp. Edmund Jephcott. see George Packer. with Malcolm McConnell. 84–5. Speech to the Economic Club. Paul Bremer. Chicago. Norbert Elias. 1972). London Review of Books. The New Yorker. of which King Leopold II of Belgium was President. the Chief of Staff 235 34. in Johan Goudsblom and Stephen Mennell (eds). 1999).gov/ exhibitions/2001/twombly/twombly11. ‘The Lesson of Tal Afar’. See Douglas E. 114. Contrast L. Tony Blair. 38. 3 February 2005. ‘Battle for Global Values’. Greek Iambic Poetry (Cambridge.nga. MA: Loeb. pp. The Assassins’ Gate (London: Faber. 28. ‘Heart of Darkness’ [1902]. . p. 10 and 17 July 2006. 155. 43. Epitaph (1992). 44. ‘Fighting Faiths’. 15 May 2003. 189. Granta 84 (2003). and trans. p. 6–7. though possibly a reference to the International Association for the Exploration and Civilizing of Africa. 2006). On tactical and cultural learning. 29–31. Christopher Logue. 45. 36. George Packer. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales (Oxford: World’s Classics. Daniel Ellsberg. not everyone should be tarred with this brush. An image of the work can be seen at: http://www. pp. 2002). My Year in Iraq (New York: Simon & Schuster. ‘Karain: A Memory’ [1895]. 3. p. 39. R. 37. ‘Changing the Army for Counterinsurgency Operations’. ‘What I heard about Iraq’.’ Colonel H. this seems to be a rendition (a beautiful one) of fragment 7. in Heart of Darkness. Of course. Gerber (ed. 24 April 1999 (the famous ‘Doctrine of the International Community’). 4th Infantry Division. 35. But not everyone was so clear or explicit. trans. The Guardian. The Civilizing Process [1939] (Oxford: Blackwell. ‘Introduction’. McMaster told the soldiers in his 3rd Army Cavalry Regiment.

pp. integrity and loyalty. 547. Marcel Proust. Freeman Dyson. 49. Cf. MA: Little. in Alex Danchev. 15. 108. ‘The Last Humanist’. Liddell Hart disseminated his ideas in a clutch of little magazines. 236 . courage. World Review. ‘Manners Mould Mankind’. 1994). quoting from Jon Lee Anderson. 42. La Bruyère in Elias. 13. p. 1946). 47. in District and Circle (London: Faber. God. ‘Degrees of Not Knowing’. London Review of Books. p. New York Review of Books. discipline. 55. 22 June 2006 and subsequent correspondence. January and February 1946. Brown. 2001). Clifford Geertz. The other Core Values are selfless commitment. ‘Religion from the Outside’. H. 2006).on art and war and terror ordered a copy of Aylwin-Foster’s critique to be sent to every general in the US Army. 54. p. Lawrence to Charlotte Shaw. 26 September 2002. See para. ‘Anything can Happen’. Liddell Hart. 50. 51. Cavafy. in Collected Poems (London: Chatto & Windus. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. 391–2. The Revolution in Warfare (London: Faber. 52. John Keegan. 41. See Claude Rawson. 1998). 258. 2002). p. p. 57–63 and 46–53. The Guermantes Way [1920–1] (London: Penguin. 46. trans. Civilizing Process. 2005). One of the principal sources for Shakespeare’s play was Montaigne’s essay ‘On the Cannibals’. 31 March 2005. 53. for example. 56. Coetzee. Alchemist of War (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. para. Rory Stewart. pp. Barbarians. P. 93. Seamus Heaney. 146. C. New York Review of Books. B. ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’ [1904]. p. Mark Treharne. A History of Warfare (London: Pimlico. 25 January 2008. The Aitken Report. The Fall of Baghdad (Boston. p. The reference is to The Tempest. trans. 1990). Gulliver and Genocide: Barbarism and the European Imagination (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 29 June 1933. 48.

Heinz. 218–32 barbarisation thesis. 211–12 Jamadi. 224–5 ‘bare life’. 16. final push. 3. 210. 58–9 Berggruen. 218 in Kenya. 222–4 definition of. refusal to participate in torture. 59–67. 179–80 Alanbrooke. 2. 110–11. 147. Pat. Manadel al-. Lord. 100–19 Banjo. 14 Auden. ‘dir’ indicates ‘directed by’ Abu Ghraib. 112. John. 118–19 Death’s Head. 208. H. 3–5 authenticity. 37 artist as moralist. 110–11 Cahiers d’Art. response to their survey. Tony. 148–66. 1st Duke of Wellington (Goya). 109 Lachaud. 36. The. 149–52. 228–9 Arthur Wellesley. 165–6 Churchill. 101–2 Adorno. Jean. 212–13. 205. 26 Baader-Meinhof Group. 155 Beerdigung (Richter). Joan. 63. as opposed to. 109–11 Guitar Player. Thomas. interest in. 109–11 and Braque’s response to war events. 104 exhibitions. relationship with. 60 Kitchen Table. Antony Stalingrad. reason for. 198 Bazaine. 3. 9. 105. The.Index Entries in bold indicate illustrations. 203– 12 in Standard Operating Procedure (Morris. 154 publication of diaries. appointment to. William. dir). 5. The (Pontecorvo. 114 Beaverbrook. 222 Harman. 112 barbarism. 161. 208 photographs (of torture and abuse). 101–2 and the Croix de Feu. 114 fish paintings/sculpture. Hydrue. 203–4. Theodor. 156–8 ‘the Arab mind’. 186. 162 Turn of the Tide. 186. 184. dir). letters to. Der (Edel). 153–63 description of Alanbrooke. 213 active passivity. 100–1 237 . as. The (Mandolin and Score). 175. The (Man with a Guitar). 185–6 Joyner. 197 Black Fish. 221–2 Blanket (Richter). 66 Bernhard. 206 Banjo. 139 Atlas (Richter). The (Braque). 70–1. 207–11. Field Marshal Lord. The. 112 Black Fish. 106 and Miró. 21–2 Beevor. diary of. W. 140 Benjamin. 25 Best Years of Our lives. 152–3 Triumph in the West. 117–18 in Braque’s fish paintings. 177 civilisation. 161–3 the Somme. 13. 223 and 9/11. 223 Barker. 23 Al Qaeda. death under interrogation. 8–27 Baader-Meinhof Komplex. Georges. 71–3 Baader. 147. 10–11. dir). 148 Battle of Algiers. 149–50 birds. 72–3. Sabrina and her photos. 24 Braque. 110 Blair. 207–8 Kimbro. 224 Berger. on CIA. Mariette (studio assistant). 13. 152–3 Baron. 183–6. and GWOT. The (Wyler. 230 Other Government Agency (OGA). 162 writing. Andreas. 19. 9 Bagram Air Force base. 163–4 Benita (second wife). 151 Alice (mother). 156–62 CIGS. 16. Walter.. The (Mandolin and Score) (Braque). 73.

34–42 Fay-Jones Report. 42–7. Jean. Drieu La. ‘Chips’. Niall. 200–1 Deerhunter. 197–214 Battle of Algiers. 38 Drew. The. Field Marshal Sir Douglas. 197 Britz (Kosminsky). the. on. 152 Harvey Oliver. 148–66 fictional. 15. 162 CIA. 139–40 Chagrin et le pitié. Winston. M. 24 Man Shot Down. Paul (dealer). Le (Sorrow and the Pity. 19. 185–6. General Sir Ian. 49 Conrad. as opposed to. comments on his own. dir). 36–7. 104. George. 184–5. 225 War of the World. 26 MoMA. 224 Waiting for the Barbarians. 146–7. 13. 200–1 Chekov. 134. 148 dignity. The (Wyler. acquisition by. 16. 220 Disasters of War (Goya).on art and war and terror Braque. 221 in Alanbrooke diaries. 147–66 Alanbrooke. 68. relationship with. 218–19 in fiction. 148 Goncourt. The. military. Sir Arthur. 104 still life. 13. 109–12 stove portrait. 148 Hamilton. 9. 114 Rosenberg. 161 Bush. 2 and 3 (Richter). 76. The (Cimino) 203 Derain. dir). 111–12 work. 149 diary-keeping. The 160. 71–2 Dumas. 132.. Paul. 107–8. 8. war. 49–50 Churchill. 162 The Turn of the Tide. 200 Bryant. 219. 213 Ferguson. W. 117 diarists. 21–2 Confrontation 1. 58. Field Marshal Lord. 64 Croix de Feu. 68 Cocteau. Udi Baader-Meinhof Komplex. 198 Channon. 17. 23. Bill. 111 Bratunac Stadium. 115–16 codewords. Anton. Gudrun. André. Bosnia (Norfolk). 203 238 . dir) Deerhunter. 112–13. dir). 113. 154–5. 200 Chagrin et le pitié. 102–3 ‘Todesfuge’. 188–9 CAT (Convention against Torture). 48 in war photography. 67. 208 Cimino (Michael. use of in his work. 26 Youth Portrait (Jugendbildnis). 13. David Douglas. The) (Ophüls. 63–4 face. 22 18 October 1977 (Richter). 33–52 Thousand Yard Stare. The (Cimino. 17. 25 Hanged. 116 Rochelle. 158–62 on codewords. 221 in names. Georges (cont. 230 Clinton. 4. Der 9 Beerdigung. 24 ERR. Edmond and Jules de. Peter Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. 36 Edel. 232 Comoedia.) Nazi acquisition of work. 17. 90. 226–7 Heart of Darkness. 149 Haig. Joseph. 221 Camus. 146 Charlie Wilson’s War (Nichols. 224 in warfare. 18 concentration camps. Marlene Stern. 133 Second World War. 22 Ensslin. dir). 15–27 Eisneman. 24 Deerhunter. 112 Salon d’Automne and praise for work. 20 exhibitions. 147. dir). dir). 42 Bremer. 37. Le (Sorrow and the Pity. 18 Dead. 113–14 Confrontation 1. 105–6. The (Pontecorvo. J. 223 barbarism. 198 Best Years of Our lives. 63–5. 220 Celan. 13. Paul. 156 Triumph in the West. 203 civilisation. 18. 19 Duncan. 45–6 Cranach Portrait of a Girl. Albert. 156–8 Alanbrooke. 16. 24–5. Elizabeth. The) (Ophüls. 173 catchwords. 104 December (Richter). 148. 20 Death’s Head (Braque). 16. 2 and 3. 198 Charlie Wilson’s War (Nichols. dir). 126–7 films. dir). 118–19 Cubism. 114–16 skulls. 227–8 Britz (Kosminsky. 61 Dead (Richter).. 218–20 Coetzee.

accountability for. 188 dogs. 176. 59–67. 201–3 interrogation. value of. Francisco Arthur Wellesley. 185–6 Iraq war. 201–3 Haig. 230 of detainees being tortured. 47–9 In the Valley of Elah (Haggis. 212–13. dir). 60 provenance of. 199 see also Abu Ghraib. The) (Melville. 179 Guitar Player. Oliver. 44. 4. 207 Fleischmann. 176 Fussell. 115. 172. 181–2 ‘counter-resistance strategies’. 199–200 Human Rights Watch. German occupation of. 180–1 priorities of different interrogation agencies. 149 Gordimer. dir). 105. 40. Walter Andreas. 186 improper. 49 Life and Fate. 207 Goya. 1. complexities of 65–7 GWOT see Global War on Terror Haggis. dir). use of. Philip. 100–19 Furlew. 103 Global War on Terror (GWOT). 1st Duke of Wellington. Gerhard. Field Marshal Sir Douglas. dir). 184–5. 220 humiliation. Guantánamo Bay. 49 Heller. 203–4. after. 126 Galeano. 116 Historikerstreit. 152 Hanged (Richter). 201–3 L’Armée des ombres (Army of the Shadows. 213 in film. 148 Hamilton. 185–6 Kimbro. 179–80. 117 Grossman. 61–5 restitution to the Kann family. Nadine. 178. 37 Disasters of War. 228 governments. 101.. 42–7. 93 Grenier. 148. 49 ‘Killing of the Jews in Berdichev’. 186 intelligence gained. 207 and Global War on Terror. torture and death of. 15 Hofer. 210. 178 techniques. 177 rendition. 5 Gourevitch. 149 Heaney. 187. detrimental effect on. Paul Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War. Paul (dir) In the Valley of Elah. 64 Hood. 23 abuse. 178 Jamadi. understanding the Arab mind. Manadel al-. pressure to take part in. General Sir Edmund. 197–8 If This Is a Man (Survival in Auschwitz) (Levi). 44 ‘Hell of Treblinka. 198 Let There Be Light (Huston. refusal to participate in torture. 116 Jamadi. 198–9 Rendition (Hood. 63–4 Goncourt. investigation into. 185–6 239 . 49 Guantánamo Bay. 208. Max. death of.index dilemma of what to depict. 203–4. 45–6 ‘Hell of Treblinka. dir). 220. 38 Gide. 178. interrogation. 189 see also interrogation. John (dir) Let There Be Light. 186. 23. 199–200 torture of Al-Qahtani. dir). William. The’ (Grossman). 24 Harman. 174–5. punishment for death of. 197–8 Lions for Lambs (Redford. 65 France. 179–80 Intelligence Interrogation. 185–6. 72. Jean. 180 detainees. General Sir Ian. Marcel. 187 PUC (Person Under Control). 14 Ironside. 176 ‘bare life’. The’. Vasily. 211–12 Harvey. 183–4. 221 culture. J. 188–9 of viewers of torture. 177. Sabrina. 220 Schmidt Report. 188 categories of. torture Huston. Seamus. The (Man with a Guitar) (Braque). Brigadier General John. 96 Jacob. Robert. 198 In the Valley of Elah (Haggis). 230 Heart of Darkness (Conrad). 183–4 Fay-Jones Report. films. 182–3. 207 rendition. 199–200 Standard Operating Procedure (Morris. torture Goering. death of. 188 detainees. André. 106–7 Braque’s experience of. Hermann. 49–50 ‘Ukraine without the Jews’. Gavin (dir) Rendition. Manadel al-. 187 Special Interrogation Plan. 230 9/11. 205. 228–30 War Cut (Richter). 38 Graves. 37. 178–9. 140–1 death of mother. Edmond and Jules de. Eduardo. 176–7 abuse. 24–5. 174–5.

13. Don. The (Ferguson). suffering from. The’ (Grossman). André. 49 Jünger. 49 Kerry. 82 Zeppelin raids at Hull. 78–97 Stalingrad (Beevor). 40. Maurice. 105. 84 at Ypres Salient. Mariette. 35 US Marines Dragging a Wounded Comrade to Safety. 24 Jews. 230 kindness in King Lear. 198–9 literature. 127–39 ‘Todesfuge’ (Celan). 76–7. Janet. Primo Drowned and the Saved. 116 art.on art and war and terror January (Richter). 125–41 Liddell Hart. 19 in Dead (Richter). 22 ‘Ukraine without the Jews’ (Grossman). Errol (dir) interviews with interrogators. dir). 198 Lachaud. 19. 50–2 Kitchen Table. dir). 95–6 Morris. 22 Meins. 47 Liddell Hart. 139 Men at Arms (Waugh). Henri. 42. 33–52. 88–91 on military service and war. Basil. General Sir John. 52 senseless. 117 Lefèvre. Holger. 65. 62. 92 illness and hospitalisation. 63. The. 212–13. 106 Laurens. or the Future of War. Christopher. 81. 40. 65–7 ‘Killing of Jews in Berdichev. The. 83–4 ‘Impressions of the Great British Offensive on the Somme’. The. Ernst. The (Braque). 200 ‘Kubism’. 90–1. 95–6 ‘Credo’. 96–7 courage. 16 Melville. 9. The). 42–7 Grossman. posting to. 178. 183–4 Miller. William J. Franz. 95. 139–40 War of the World. 94 on the front line. 78–9 gas-poisoning. 134 cigarette case. 67–8 Kimbro. Peter (dir) Britz. Daniel-Henry. 46. 49 Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Eisneman). Vasily. 20 in Youth Portrait (Jungenbildnis) (Richter). 126–7 Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War’ (Fussell). 112 Babi Yar. 140 Sword of Honour (Waugh). 172–4. 230 ‘soldier’s heart’. 9. 81–2. The) (Melville. Irmgard. 85 Life and Fate (Grossman). 189–90 Kahnweiler. 49–50 King Lear (Shakespeare). 179–80 Lions for Lambs (Redford. 85 Revolution in Warfare. The) (Braque). John Walker. 9 Monash. 130–1 Merleau-Ponty. 33–4. 94 on Monash. 226 Malcolm. confiscation of Rosenberg’s collection. 126 Logue. 100–1 Constellations. General Sir John. Trial. 22 memory painting. 13. 60 Man Shot Down (Richter). 78 on Churchill. 44 ‘Hell of Treblinka. 80. 44 concentration camps. The’ (Grossman). 93 at the Somme. Emmanuel. 2–3 War Music. 198 Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Eisneman). 49 ‘Killing of the Jews in Berdichev’ (Grossman). John. Alphonse. 41 Meinhof. 85–91 3rd KOYLI. 109 Kosminsky. 61 L’Armée des ombres (Army of the Shadows. 96 Paris. 47–8 If This Is a Man (Survival in Auschwitz). Ulrike. 26 McCullin. 115 Kafka. 182–3 Miró. 39–40. 89 in Mametz Wood (Somme). 101 Möller. 36 Man With a Guitar (Guitar Player. 92. Basil. 42–7. 62 Guitar Player. Geoffrey. Jean-Pierre L’Armée des ombres (Army of the Shadows. 186. The. 49–50 Lindh. 80. Joan. 59 military working dogs (MWD). 207–10 240 . 80 funeral request to parents. wartime. 61–2 Kann. 15. 13 Dumas’ painting of. 76–97. 47–9 Levinas. restitution of by heirs. 80. 66 Levi. 76–7 fear. 37–8 Shell-shocked US Marine..

48. 210. 85 Parti Social Français (PSF). 178. 118–19 Paulhan. Francis. 114 Rochlitz. 219. 198 Portrait of a Girl (Cranach). 11. 203–4. Bosnia. Wilfred. 108–9. torture of. 178. 8. 109. Simon. 20 December. 12 self-portraits (photos). Gilles. Wilfred. Gerhard. Sebastião. 24 Uncle Rudi. 58–73 and The Guitar Player (Braque). 112 Pontecorvo. 116–17 Nichols. 114 November (Richter). 41 Bratunac Stadium. or the Future of War (Liddell Hart). 14. 208 Ophüls. Anthony. 2. 12 War Cut. 111. Mike (dir) Charlie Wilson’s War. 139 October cycle see 18 October 1977 Officers and Gentlemen (Waugh). The (Liddell Hart). Marcel. Drieu La. see films Musée national d’art moderne. 16–25 torture. 24 Stammheim. war Duncan. Jan-Carl. 222. 41 Norfolk. 8–27 Atlas. 207 movies. 198–9 Rendition (Hood. 10. 24 early life and family. 34–5 Ponge. 183 charges dismissed. 199–200 Reverdy. 36 McCullin. 187 RAF (Red Army Faction) see BaaderMeinhof Group Raspe. 220–1 Nazis and art. 21–2 Blanket. 102–3 Owen. 41 Salgado. James. 64 Powell. 26 November. 183. Marcel Chagrin et le pitié. 42 Nouvelle Revue Française (NRF). 183–4 Nachtwey. 61–5 as proof of authenticity. 223 Norfolk. 11 Rudi (uncle). 108. 208. 139–41 Ponge. 13–14 Richter. 180. 116 Redford. 7. Paul. Gustav. 16 Rebatat. 13. 13–15. 38. 22 Rochelle. 109. 18 Dead (October cycle). 35.index Standard Operating Procedure. 24 catalogue raisonné. Gillo (dir) Battle of Algiers. 230 Richter. 200–1 Nicolson. 33. 42 Peress. 16. Horst (father). Mohammed al-. 13. 24 Nussbaum. 14 Youth Portrait (Jugenbildnis) (October cycle). The) (Ophüls. dir). 39 Winogrand. 112–13 and artists. David Douglas. 24 diptychs. 39–42 shell-shock. courting of. 2 and 3 (October cycle). 24 January. The. 41 Pétridès. 136 OGA (Other Government Agency). 176. 115 Peress. 112 MWD (military working dogs). 202 Picasso. 21–2 Confrontation 1. 66 photographers. 58 poet. 3. 64–5 241 . 146–7 9/11. 38 the face as depicted in. 17. 71–3 Qahtani. 174– 5. 125–6. Pablo. 110–11 Revolution in Warfare. 1. 33–52 communication through. Le (Sorrow and the Pity. 132. Robert (dir) Lions for Lambs. Gilles. 14. 2. 3–4 poetry Celan. 9. 38 National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Jean. 65. Francis. Martha. Simon. acquisition of. Paul. 40. 41. 205. 13. war. 24 photographic collections. interpretation of. 36–7. 59 provenance. Lucien. 153–4 Proust. 37–8. Pierre. 10–12 18 October 1977 (also known as the October cycle). 34–5 Paris. 24 Man Shot Down (October cycle). 13. 179. 16 politics. 36 photographs Richter’s use of in his work. dir). 34–8 Thousand Yard Stare. 1 versus history. 2. 15–27 Hanged (October cycle). 112 as redress. Gary. 33. Harold. 211–12 photography. 198 Owen. Don. 14 Beerdigung (October cycle).

223 Winogrand. the. 38 concept of the face in his work. 25 Baader-Meinhof Group. 176 deaths by. 186. 139 Rosenberg. 179–80 photographs of. 3. Susan. 3–4 Kimbro. 9 Rorty. 19 Stevens. Manadel al-. 200 investigations of. Hanns-Martin. 210–11 Special Interrogation Plan. 176. Hunter. 176. 42 values in art. 36. 135–6 Sword of Honour trilogy. 15 Schmidt. 204 PUC (Person Under Control). 22 242 . 204. 127–39 Whitman. 174–5. 24 Stammheim prison. 160. Lieutenant General Randall. 210–11 Salgado. 183 dogs. 51 of Lindh. 188 dogs. Richard. 204–6 torture of. use of. 185–6 in Guantánamo Bay. Tzvetan. 173. 26–7. Guantánamo Bay. 189. 198. 48. Edward. John. 47 torture at Abu Ghraib. 220 techniques. 182. 4. development of. the. 177. 207 Steichen. Donald. 14 Unconditional Surrender (Waugh). Gary. 39 Schleyer. 8–27 barbarism of. 185 Truman. 177 dignifying. 197 Youth Portrait (Jugenbildnis) (Richter). 40. 138 unpaintable. The (Ferguson). 232 War Cut (Richter). 127–39 Szarkowski. 184. Harry. William King Lear. Sidney. Major General Antonio. 140 Stammheim (Richter). interrogation Thompson. 126 War of the World. 14 War Music (Logue). 180. 183–4. 186. 204 at Bagram Air Force base. 178. 199 ‘smoking’. 23–4 Standard Operating Procedure (Morris. 187 Second World War. 214 terrorists 23. 105–6. 188 in National Security Strategy of the United States of America. 18–19 Updike. 81. 202 ‘Todesfuge’ (Celan). 223 ‘bare life’. 35 Wyler. 176-7 Jamadi. John. The. 174. 176 Schmidt Report.. Paul. 108–9 Rumsfeld. 176. 104. 184. 50–2 Shell-shocked US Marine (McCullin). 186 and moral ruination. 200 photographs of. Walt. dir). 178 Stalingrad (Beevor). John Walker. 38 US Marines dragging a wounded soldier to safety (McCullin). 220 rendition. 229 in film. William J. treating prisoners like. views on. Richard. Sebastião. 35 Somme. 134 military participation. 207 waterboarding.on art and war and terror Rogerson. 139–40 Todorov. Wallace. 84 Röhl. 175. The (Churchill). 162 seeming. 127. Claude. 36 Taguba. 71 2 Twin Towers. 176 see also Abu Ghraib. 52 Wollheim. 132. 85–8. 179. 126–7 Waugh. 69–70 Thousand Yard Stare. 185–6. 112 Roy. 175. 16–18. 203–4. 177 Convention against Torture. 178. 226 Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War (Fussell). Evelyn Churchill. William (dir) Best Years of Our Lives. 152 3 Sontag. 13. 206 ‘bare life’. death of. 36 Stern (Dumas). 185–6. 224 United Kingdom and. 70–1 Shakespeare. Bettina. 2 Survival in Auschwitz (If This is a Man) (Levi) Sword of Honour trilogy (Waugh). 185–6 in King Lear. 1–2. 183 in films. 174–5. 220–1 Waiting for the Barbarians (Coetzee). 14.

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