Secret Pop

May 29, 2004

A Good Farewell

When I watch movies with battle scenes in them, I get this sentimental feeling. I'm sure the makers intend it. The faces of the dying are the faces you have come to know and care about as the story unfolded. The music plucks at your heartstrings. Almost ravenously. It's all manipulation, that guided portrait. But I imagine it is similar, the real thing. If you go to war, and the guy beside you gets it, his dying face will be one you knew. One you cared about. And maybe you, like me, will wonder what it was like for him. What those last moments held. Whether it was horrible. Whether he suffered. You might not know what his final act was like. Not know whether he was valiant or cowardly. Whether he cried for his mother or for his god. Whether he thought most of his girl at home. Whether he only saw fiery red.

When I watch movies about war, I wonder about those who have died in all the wars. I miss them, though I don't know them. I pity them. Envy them. Applaud them. I think of the times in my life when I felt great passion. Unwavering certainty. Commitment. I wonder if I was ever so sure. I wonder if I would make anyone proud with a sword in my hand. I wonder if I would be able to press on through loss. If I would manage to stomach it. If I would favor the mission over the heartbreak. If I would care.

I also think about the uncivility and the grotesqueness. The unwashedness. The dirt under the fingernails. And I wonder if I am so keenly sensorily aware because I don't have anything more important going on. If I smell the restaurant in my hair because I'm bored and unengaged. I don't like to smell less than wonderful. I don't think I would be an asset on the battlefield. Except perhaps as a sort of potpourri.

I showed Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World to my father tonight. And I remembered watching it in the cinema last November and shuddering at certain delicate parts and feeling that swelling, soaring, glorying rapture that always accompanies the Corelli Christmas Concerto for me. My father was a seafaring man, so he knows more than I do what was and wasn't fairly portrayed. But he didn't NOT enjoy it, as far as I could tell. Sometimes that's as close to a coup as I come.

It's been a long day.

No comments: