combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 01 Number 01 Winter ©Jan 2003

Registration Round
the editorial shot establishing the target before the salvo

The Vista From Our Redoubt

"As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed."
by James Madison, The Federalist #10 (1787)

Violence is the most common of human experiences, and history is essentially a recitation of innumerable wars and their effects. Civilized methods and ideas have progressed by confrontation, and must constantly be poised for change. War facilitates social reform, enables cultural amalgamation, promotes scientific development, and inspires artistic expression. If it weren't so terrible[1], it would be wonderful.

Most technological advances in the modern era, from the printing press to the computer, have been heralded as the long awaited ultimate solution to human conflict. The creation of artificial languages, such as Esperanto and Interlingua, as international lingua franca, propose to enable world peace through improved communication. When transoceanic telegraph cables finally connected every part of the globe, rapid communication was declared a precursor to worldwide peace. A century later, the InterNet would also be charged as mankind's panacea. Technology cannot cause either war or peace, but every tool will be employed by desperate combatants to enforce better understanding.

With all the discussion about war and peace, the consensus is that writers seemingly can't get the war story told correctly. This may be due to the inherent ineffability of the dynamic struggle, or the inevitable incapacity of mere words to capture the complexity and intricacy of such an experience. In many cases, circumstances have been deliberately distorted by the arrogantly ignorant, and events have been inaccurately misrepresented by the bigotedly biased. By these standards, no account, whether by commander or combatant, by staffer or reporter, can ever be entire and complete; but perspective lends insight to experience. Truth is supposed to be the first casualty of every war, but aside from political duplicities[2], the disparate truths of participants are relative to honest perspective and honorable disagreement.

From universal warriors to ubiquitous contentions, from disquiet peace to exhausted victory, the questions and conditions persist. For the participants, every battle is like every other battle. For the witnesses, every war is like every other war. For the victims, every oppression is like every other oppression. The admixture of method and madness, of calculation and chaos, of deliberation and deficiency is applicable to each iteration. As with separate lives, the individual details of each conflict differ, and those differences are the focus of this publication.

Because the ramifications of war principally manifest themselves in our hearts and minds[3], this periodical literary publication shall endeavor to assemble the best possible thematic compositions in the various modes of expression. All rational or revelatory knowledge must be validated by empiricism, so the endurance of authentic truth in passionate evocations and compassionate conceptualizations cannot be guaranteed. Just as the real war is not in the battle[4], the real truth is not in the prose or poetry ... it is paradoxically transcendent.

This unbounded periodical has no agenda or persuasion, no preconception or predilection, no partiality or presupposition. The survey is timeless and international in scope. The magazine's perspective is inclusive, holistic, heterogeneous. This forum of installments shall tolerate contradiction and opposition; expositions may juxtapose noble and ignoble ideals, sublime and ugly truths, heroic and antiheroic evocations, compassionate and dispassionate sentiments. Such a convoluted reality depicts the genuine human condition. This magazine may not agree with an author's point of view or conclusion, but will defend his right to express it as well as possible.

When literary expressions[5] from past wars have sought to archive more than continuing themes on recurrent events, their documentation became a testimonial to everlasting episodes. Some experiences must dwell deeply and indefinitely before being shared. And, because the dead cannot speak for themselves, the survivors are obligated to faithfully represent them. Such a catalogue is neither therapeutic nor exhibitionistic, and offers neither remedies nor resolutions. It is merely a method of preserving the human spirit, the humane sense, the cosmic spark in our frail sensibilities. When all has been said and done, our hearts and minds will remind us of battlefield touchstones.

[1]: "It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it." by Robert E. Lee, remark to James Longstreet at the Battle of Fredericksburg (13 Dec 1862).
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[2]: "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." by Winston L.S. Churchill, "Ducking the Truth" by Thomas Griffith in Time (24 Dec 1984).
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[3]: "The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people .... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution." by John Adams, letter to Hezekiah Niles, (13 Feb 1818); earlier letter to Thomas Jefferson: "The revolution was in the minds of the people ...." (24 Aug 1815). Related citation: "[the secret to popular rule is] to put into words what is in their hearts and minds but not in their mouths." by Theodore Roosevelt (1906), New Political Dictionary by William Safire.
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[4]: "War consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known." by Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan pt 1 ch 13 (1651). [v: History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides]
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[5]: In an 18 November 1914 letter to editor Harriet Monroe, regarding war poetry in her magazine Poetry, D.H. Lawrence said: "The war is dreadful. It is the business of the artist to follow it home to the heart of the individual fighters -- not to talk in armies and nations and numbers -- but to track it home.", in The Letters of D. H. Lawrence vol 2, ed by George Zytaruk & James T. Boulton (1981).
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by Ed Staff