The Artifacts: A Focus On the Objects of War

Previous entries of this blog often have put a vague focus on the arts and the artifacts of war, ranging from weaponry of medieval combatants to cinematic interpretation and the contrast it has toward other forms of genre. Many questions, however, still linger about these living pieces of history that we often come to reflect on. I will be addressing several of these questions and trying to provide answers to long running humanistic questions from this: the discipline of humanities known as the arts.

Certainly a lot of ground to cover in this field!

A question of my initial posts that still often lingers is the agency of a soldier and the role of his weapon in describing his agency. A soldier, in essence, is not a human being, but the instrument of a larger force commanding him, thus depriving him of many of his freedoms and greatly limiting his ability to act. A soldier, however, does not agency altogether. A soldier lays a claim to agency through the greatest expression a soldier could have on the battlefield: his weapon. The weapon is for the soldier what the soldier is for the army: a means to exercise force in a manner seen fit by the wielder. A soldier is a human again when locked in combat, his weapon being his agency to commit action and earn glory and fame as a hero. Essentially, the only time when a soldier is not a soldier is when he is in a fight for his life, free from orders with only his strategy and his weapon to guide him.

Another question that yet remains to be answered is why war still exists in today’s society when we are supposedly “beyond war”. The reasoning that this is so is because we are still in a society that idealizes scenes of epic combat. Through cinema, through literature, our belief is still firm that there is something enticing about ferocious struggles and atrocities. This is not to say that many have tackled the view of a war from below, such as Grimmelshausen and Brecht with their respective works, but it is obvious that society cares more about the beauty of the fight rather than ending the horror of it.king_henry_v_at_the_battle_of_agincourt_1415

There are many questions that are yet to be addressed. The arts themselves may not hold an answer on every question, though many of the mysteries of the humanities can be addressed through the various realms that comprise the arts. My focus will often drift into these realms in order to develop a variety of responses for the conundrum of war. A goal of this blog, thus, is the creation of a comprehensive and living collection of relevant ideas to answer age old debates and conflicts.

Works Cited

Liu, Alan. “What Are the Humanities?” 4Humanities. N.p., 21 Dec. 2014. Web. 14
Nov. 2015. <http://4humanities.org/2014/12/what-are-the-humanities/&gt;.

Gilbert, John. King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt. 19th century. Oil on
canvas. Private collection.

Tonton, Ed T., III. Rack of Maces, Daggers, and Replica Pistols. N.d.
Photograph. Arms and Armor. Ed T. Tonton.

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2 comments

  1. Meghan · November 18, 2015

    I like the humanistic questions you pose in this post. I can also clearly see that the focus of your blog is toward a soldiers relationship with his weapons, which I look forward to reading about later in the year. I do partially disagree with the reason why war still exists. I think it may be beneficial to suggests that there are other reasons war still exists rather than make this point black and white. While our society does idealize war through the media and Hollywood’s depiction of it, I think war is often times fought partially because we lack the communication skills to peacefully settle a conflict and thus resort to brute force to settle conflicts. Another factor may be that we quickly forget the wars of the past and the destruction they caused, so we don’t learn from our mistakes, and continue to wage war. Overall, I really liked the content of this post. Keep up the good work!

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  2. Daniel · November 22, 2015

    I find that your assertion that “society cares more about the beauty of the fight rather than ending the horror of it” is interesting, although only partially correct. Although it is true that we tend to glorify warfare in various forms of mass media, from video game franchises like Battlefield and Call of Duty to war films like Saving Private Ryan and American Sniper, we tend to avoid sustained conflict. In the Vietnam War, for instance, the initial support for the war quickly flagged, with polls showing that public support for the war decreased from 61% in August of 1965 to 28% in May of 1971. People tend to become disenchanted with war once they are exposed to its reality and come face-to-face with the “view from below” that they forget ever existed, such as when the American populace was exposed the photos of Kim Phúc, a 9-year old that was severely burned when her village was bombed with napalm, and Nguyễn Văn Lém, who was executed during the Tet Offensive. Although war is often glorified as a visual spectacle, the glories of war are ultimately not enough to outweigh its horrors. Society typically does not care about the beauty of the fight when it finds itself embroiled in gruesome, brutal conflict.

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