Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Journal Scraps: Punk Wigs and Prom Dresses

"Those who think that the world of today is more gentle and graceful than the primeval and predatory passions from which [the great] myths spring are either not aware of reality or do not wish to see it in art."

- Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko in a statement attempting to explain abstract expressionism, June 7, 1943


"The more modern and technological we become - the more our lives become a mechanized routine against instinct - the more the most instinctual forces within us rebel. And in those places that fail to compete technologically, many young men may become ancient warriors, raping and pillaging and wearing tribal insignia rather than uniforms..."

- Robert D. Kaplan, "The Return of Ancient Times"


"My casual routine ended on the fourth day, when Lendu warriors first appeared on the streets. I saw them walking down Lumumba Boulevard with a sickening swagger, drinking beer outside the gates of the Hotel Musafira and getting stoned on the milky potions contained in ampoules that dangled from their bandoliers. They carried taped-up Kalashnikovs across their shoulders and slid their fingers across their throats as they passed young Hema girls. Some wore clear-plastic masks on their faces, sequined prom dresses that glittered in the sun, and punked-out yellow wigs on their heads.

Little by little, they took a piece of Bunia each time the sun went down. After it was all over, they would own a small piece of everyone who had been there, or leave what they had taken on the boulevard to rot in the equatorial sun. They had taken a piece of my interpreter, Johnny, when they murdered his father two years ago; they shot him in the back as he tried to run away during a raid north of town. His body had lain in the street for three days while Johnny hid in the bush."

- Bryan Mealer, "In the Valley of the Gun: A Massacre Unfolds in Eastern Congo"

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Photo credit: "The Porcelain War Museum Project," guns made of porcelain by artist Charles Krafft; UPC child soldier in Bunia, Congo; Karel Prinsloo, AP (Ostensibly, the UPC fights against the Lendu and protects the Hema, but as with so many other ethnic battles, boundaries are blurred; everyone seems to kill everyone else.)

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