Unintended Sadness and Unspeakable Confusion
policies they make. Like it or lump it."\nMitsuko, knowing better, would smile\nat such naive pragmatism. Surely the\ncommon good is defined by something\nmore than the counting of heads. The\nargument is a serious flaw caused, I\nbelieve, by angry impatience, which led\nto the special pleading that urged Webb\nto include this weak idea as evidence\nfor his case.\nJames Webb makes a deadly sincere\neffort to tame the war in the way that\nartists must tame their material in order\nto put it to use, shaping the waste so\nthat it takes on the splendor of form.\nYet, his anger is barely contained by\nthe conventional devices he uses. Perhaps\nhe felt that he had no choice but\nto rely on a series of war-novel conventions,\nfeeling that basic emotions generally\nget expressed in conventional\nforms and platitudes. It is, however,\nthe way one orchestrates these platitudes\nthat makes a work of art quick or\ndead or something in between. The conventions\nare there in abundance. There\nare the various types of soldiers, unsure\nof their identity and thus openly vulnerable\nto experience. Almost all have the\nexpected nicknames to mask their insecurity.\nNationalities, races, and types\nare all represented to show the universality\nof the experience. One is full of\nstreet smarts, another is fearful, another\nis a womanizer, another is brave,\nand so on. The past is irrelevant, the\npresent immediate, and there is no future.\nA precious fraternity develops.\n"He missed the people in the...
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