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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
"Something about the duality of man, sir"
I'm a dog with my nose in the wind. And I sit with my back to the wind, watching water flow by, un-doglike. Seems I sometimes have a view that sees flip-sides of a coin.
I'm not much of a walker, but I am worse at sitting on my ass. With more than 13 weeks of no running now, walking at lunch offers at least some mobility. I can see why Frank O'Hara dug his lunch walks and writing. Stretch the legs and the mind, together.
Sitting on a bench along the Ft. McNair waterfront, the tide runs the way my legs want to. Jets land and take off from Reagan, a marvel of science every minute. This D.C. moves at a different pace. Clouds are the only traffic.
I walk back in front of the National War College, and it strikes me, having and watching kids, that they don't need to be taught to fight. Maybe taught how to win? Taught to resolve?
"I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir."
Private Joker (Matthew Modine) in Full Metal Jacket is one of the movie characters I have most strongly identified with. It comes down to his ability, his willingness, to be neck-deep in a situation and stand outside it, observing, at the same time. His "Born to Kill" helmet with the peace sign pin speaks before and after his suggest something about the duality of man, sir, line.
"Basic Military Journalism. You gotta be shittin' me, Joker. You think you're Mickey Spillane? You think you're some kind of a fuckin' writer?"
"I wrote for my high school newspaper, sir."
As sensible an answer as you could give. A killer and a writer. A neck-deep participant and an observer. I'm not sure whether I first saw Jacket in 1987 or 1988, but beyond being one of the most quotable movies of all time, that has always stuck with me.
And Private Joker's suggest something about the duality of man, sir, line and character is what pops into my head walking by the National War College, on a pristine summer day, with the rivers flowing and the breeze both in my face and at my back.