Our series of articles--and I welcome any suggestions below--of scenes from film and literature that depict war at its worst so far:
As I wrote here, I believe war is the opposite of civilization. A lot of people think that the primitive is the opposite of civilization; it is not. The primitive is just a lesser degree of civilization (technically, its negation). War destroys all laws, rules, customs, traditions, ethics, morals and beliefs of a society. It stands in opposition to everything that makes up civilization, with survival left as the only priority. (H/T to the narrator in Ursula K LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.)
At times, fiction authors depict that awful senselessness, the chaos and anarchy of war at its worst. I'd like to share those passages. (Michael says this is my pacifist side seeping into my writing.)
Our first passage is from the opening chapter of David Benioff’s excellent City of Thieves. (Click here for my review.)
You have never been so hungry; you have never been so cold. When we slept, if we slept, we dreamed of the feasts we had carelessly eaten months earlier...eaten with disregard...in June of 1941, before the Germans came, we thought we were poor. But June seemed like paradise by winter...
There was no more scrap wood in Leningrad. Every wood sign, the slats of park benches, the floorboards of shattered buildings--all gone and burning in someone’s stove. The pigeons were missing, too...You would hear a rumor in October that someone had roasted the family mutt and split it four ways for supper; we’d laugh and shake our head, not believing it and also wondering if dog tasted good with enough salt...By January the rumors had become fact...
The rest of the book expands on this anarchy, the sense of people desperately fighting each other for food and warmth. Society’s beliefs have fallen to the wayside; if you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat your own dog.