Friday, March 26, 2010

Yes, Mr. Vice-President, This IS A "Big F**king Deal"

Nobody's ever going to accuse Joe Biden of mincing words. Sometimes that mouth gets him into trouble... but you gotta love his uncensored enthusiam when introducing the President as he turns to Obama and says: "This is a big f**king deal." Priceless.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dirt-Cheap Ideas

In his seminal text Fear and Trembling, Soren Kierkegaard's pseudonymous narrator, Johannes de Silentio, remarks:

Not just in commerce but in the world of ideas too our age is putting on a veritable clearance sale. Everything can be had so dirt cheap that one begins to wonder whether in the end anyone will want to make a bid.

As my good friend, Dr. Trott, pointed out to me, it's hard to believe that was written almost 150 years ago. Anyone watching the current debacle of a debate (and I use "debate" here in the loosest possible sense) over health care can surely see the dirt-cheapening of ideas and discourse that is underway. Of course, Kierkegaard was no fan of democracy. Like Nietzsche, like Plato-- actually, like most of the history of Western philosophy which, as Derrida noted in Rogues, has "rarely sided without reserve with democracy"-- Kierkegaard despised the very idea of rule by the hoi polloi, itself ruled by the lowest common demoninator. The fundamental principle of democracy-- that each and every one has a voice and a vote-- is meant to cultivate both equity and excellence, and its proponents (pace Kierkegaard et al) believe that the best always triumphs in the marketplace of ideas. But, as we've seen recently, sometimes unrestricted access to the marketplace of ideas gives platform to people like this, whose sheer volume and viciousness (sans ideas) regrettably triumphs too often.

Most of the time, I think there aren't enough truly "radical" voices in American democratic discourse. The "Left" in this country is woefully moderate, which is why we haven't gotten anywhere close to approaching truly costly (read: "valuable") ideas about reform in health care, banking, housing, employment, et al, ad nauseum. Liberals/Democrats shake in their boots when they find themselves accused of "socialist" ideations-- which, more often than not, are merely appeals for the most rudimentary mechanisms of social justice-- and the so-called "radical" Left is repeatedly and publicly disavowed by the Democratic Party for fear that indulging that radical element might exempt liberally-minded folk from inclusion in serious public discourse. So, it is curious to me to see the G.O.P.'s unrepentant indulgence of their own radical element, the Tea Party, which appears more and more to possess no internal censoring mechanism at all.

The Tea Party is politically "backwards" in almost every post-Enlightenment sense of the word. They relish in, even celebrate, their bigotry. They trade in a rhetoric of non-conversation, non-cooperation, non-participation. They pose as a revolutionary movement that is afraid of revolution, a populist movement utterly disdainful of the people. They are patriots who hate their government, who hate any government, who do not want to be "governed"... which makes them "patriots" in the old patria (Vaterland) sense, in the "nationalist" sense, which is always and ever a racist sense. Why does the G.O.P not turn its back on them?

Derrida once said that the inherent risk facing every modern democracy is that "the alternative to democracy can always be represented as a democratic alternative." That is to say, it is squarely within the both the spirit and the law of democracy to democratically opt for those who would bring about the end of democracy. For all of our differences, I still believe that Republicans really do believe in democracy... but they have a wolf at the gates, and they will surely be devoured by it if they continue their sheepish acquiescence. They are letting their own ideas be co-opted and ultimately cheapened by the Tea Party. And eventually, as Kierkegaard predicted, those ideas will get so cheap that no one will care to make a bid.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hypocrisy, Hyperbole, Historical Inaccuracy and Hatred

I highly recommend Russell King's "Open Letter to Conservatives," which lays out a well-argued and well-documented case for how the American Right has gone so terribly, terribly wrong.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Change I Can Believe In

Rainy Days and Sunday

Nothing particularly profound to say today, readers. It's the second day of spring, and after an absolutely beautiful day yesterday, Mother Nature has delivered us a cold and rainy Sunday here in Memphis. So, I thought I'd share my favortie "rainy day" albums. If you click on the album covers, it will take you to the Rhapsody site where you can listen to the tracks.

Leonard Cohen's Ten New Songs Not many voices are so perfectly the aural equivalent of a rainy day than Cohen's. His scratchy, deadpan, slightly-behind-the-beat growl is part distant rolling thunder, part hungry grumbling stomach. Special high praise for the track "You Have Loved Enough," which has a building crescendo of backup vocals that will give you goosebumps if you have any kind of a heart at all.

Nina Simone's Quiet Now: Night Song Any Nina Simone will do on a rainy day. This album includes Simone's cover of the classic "Ne Me Quitte Pas," but my favorite here is "The Other Woman," an account of the true aporia of the title character. Sure, the other woman "is perfect where her rival fails," as the song says, but she "will spend her life alone." Ouch, baby. Note: Album should be accompanied with cigarettes and a short glass of something brown and strong. Clean, no ice.

Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger This is my favorite of Willie's, a "concept" album about a man on the lam after killing his wife. Full of regret, repentence, and sparse lyrical and musical poetry that speaks volumes of the human condition. Red Headed Stranger is like a musical version of a Georgia O'Keefe painting. Everyone knows "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" from this album, but the best track is "Hands on the Wheel." I looked to the stars, tried all of the bars, and I've nearly gone up in smoke. Sing it, Willie. I would aid and abet this outlaw anytime.

Rufus Wainwright's Poses Rufus is the son of famed folk-singer Louden Wainwright, brother of ingenue Martha Wainwright. Like the rest of his family, Rufus is eloquent, even witty, with his simple-and-true lyrics... but unlike the rest of the Wainwrights, he has a knack for the compositionally unexpected. It's easy to listen to this whole album through, because there's a kind of quiet uniformity to Poses that stops just short of seeming boring or repetitive. Instead, it's like a slow, misty rainstorm, in which one just realizes all of the sudden that one is soaking wet, without having noticed that cover was missing. Best tracks: "The Tower of Learning" and "One Man Guy" (Rufus' coming-out song), both of which would make anyone wish he or she had a boyfriend like Rufus.

Whiskeytown's Faithless Street Whiskeytown was one of Ryan Adams' early alt-country bands, better than his later group The Cardinals. I think alt-country and rainy days go together in the way that people (who are musically smarter than me) think that rainy days and jazz go together. And leave it to Ryan Adams, lyrical prodigy, to write a song called "Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart" or "Desparate Ain't Lonely." All the songs on this album are excellent, especially the title track, which I used to play with my old band. Unexpected gem on the album is "Matrimony." Listen to the story of that song closely. It's hilarious.

No Depression's What It Sounds Like (Vol. 1) Speaking of alt-country, What It Sounds Like is an anthology compiled by editors of the now-defunct alt-country magazine No Depression. (I miss that magazine SO MUCH. Sigh. Anyone who wants my undying love and loyalty can buy me back issues of that magazine.) The album title is really accurate, as this little treasure features some of the best of the alt-country artists: Whiskeytown, Neko Case, Robbie Fulks, Alejandro Escovedo, Buddy Miller. I can't really pick a favorite track here, though recently I've put "Does My Ring Burn Your Finger" on repeat a few times. If you like this album and find yourself assaulted by two rainy days in a row, I recommend the second volume as well. Best track on the second album is definitely Julie Miller's "I Can't Cry Hard Enough," which is so damn tragically heartbreaking that it should come with a warning label.

Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind There is a variety of Dylan Purist who doesn't listen to anything after Blood On the Tracks. They don't know what they're missing. Sure, some of Dylan's 80's albums left a little to be desired, but he came back with full force and, importantly, a lot of maturity in his later albums. I was absolutely floored by Time Out of Mind from the very first time I heard it. This is a GREAT "rainy day" album, equal parts chill and sad and lazy and reflective. Can't pick a best track for this one. They're all great.

So, there you go. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Etiquette of Q & A

Anyone who has ever been to an academic conference is surely familiar with that strange, strange thing we so innacurately refer to as the "Q&A" period. "Q&A" is meant to stand for "Question and Answer," of course, though there is precious little of either in many of these sessions. I mean, I suppose that technically speaking there are questions (meaning: audience members do make statements that end with a slight upward lilt in the timbre of their voices, indicating something like an implied question mark) and answers (meaning: panelists generally do wax on while simultaneously turning their heads in the general direction of the "questioner," indicating something like a real response), but the way Q&A sessions work out in the real world of academic conferences is a far cry from how I imagine the inventor of Q&A sessions drew it up in the locker room. Rather, they often end up being a little like what students say about Marxism: good in theory, but terrible in practice.

Perhaps I shouldn't generalize, since it's possible that not all academic conferences are this way, but this certainly is the case at professional Philosophy conferences. I know that because I've been to my fair share and also because I hear philosophers complain about it all the time. (Yes, the very same philosophers who constitute the offending parties in said sessions!) So, I was interested to read over on Philosophers Anonymous a discussion about possibly constructing Some Rules for Philosophy Q&A. This seems like a good start to me. My basic rule list for conference Q&A sessions would look something like this:

RULE #1: Audience members are required to ask a *real* question, which *really* pertains to the speaker's paper, and to do so in the most concise way possible.
NOTE 1: Questioners are obliged to avoid, at all costs, long and rambling prefaces to their questions, especially those that include (a) doting and fawning hallelujahs in praise of the speaker, (b) summaries of the questioner's own book/research/dissertation, (c) self-effacing evaluations about the proposed question ("this is probably a stupid question, but I'm going to ask it anyway..."), or (d) mini-lectures on the relevant literature.
NOTE 2: If the questioner intends to make a comment instead of asking a question, s/he should state as much at the outset. S/he should also understand that the speaker is in no way obligated to respond, becuase IT'S NOT A QUESTION.
NOTE 3: Questioners should refrain from re-asking questions that have already been asked. If the speaker didn't answer it the first time, it's likely s/he won't answer it the second time. Either s/he doesn't have an answer, doesn't understand the question, or doesn't care. Deal with it.
NOTE 4: If the questioner's question amounts to something like "wtf?" then s/he should forego the whole charade of asking a question and instead opt for the much more direct and effective strategy of rolling his or her eyes, sighing loudly, and then complaining about the paper later at the hotel bar. Or, alternatively, s/he should actually ask "wtf?".

RULE #2: Speakers are required to provide *real* answers, which demonstrate that they both heard and understood the question, and to do so in the most concise way possible.
NOTE 1: Answers can, and often should, be formulated as follows: "I don't know."
NOTE 2: Speakers should not take the Q&A period as an opportunity to re-hash the entire content of their papers. Obviously, if there are questions, people didn't get something about it the first time around.
NOTE 3: Do not end your response by saying "Does that answer your question?". I'll go ahead and tell you, it doesn't. Move on.

RULE #3: Moderators are required to do their job, which is more than just introducing the panelists.
NOTE 1: The moderator's jobs include, but are not limited to, enforcing the time limits for papers, cutting-off indulgent pontificators and/or bullies when they run on, clarifying obvious miscommunications between panelists and questioners, and making sure that everyone maintain a minimal degree of professional decorum.
NOTE 2: Moderators are advised to never, EVER, allow "follow-ups" from either panelists or questioners. That's a surefire way to turn the discussion into a dialogue. People will get all huffy and pout when you say no to their follow-up requests, but they'll deal with it. That's life. Sometimes you don't get to say everything you wanted to say. If they complain, tell them you'll be happy to call them a waaahmbulance as soon as the session is over.
NOTE 3: Don't be a patsy for senior, famous, good-looking or influential audience members. Try to get to as many questions as possible, including those from women and more junior audience members.
NOTE 4: If panelists and/or audience members begin behaving in an unseemly or unprofessional manner, begin talking over one another or adopting patronizing and dismissive tones, cease to stay on point, or impede the session in any other way, then take control of the session. Put somebody in time-out if you need to.
NOTE 5: Never, ever, EVER call on someone who walked in mid-way through the presentation. Duh.

I welcome additions and amendments to this proposed list of rules. I'm sure you have both. And on a semi-related note, I want to thank those of you who have contributed questions via my AskDoctorJ link. I'm getting to them and you'll start seeing that version of a Q&A on this blog very soon.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ask Doctor J

Fellow bloggers Petya and Ideas Man, PhD have turned me on to a great new site called FormSpring, which allows blog-readers to submit questions for their favorite blog-authors to answer and then posts the Q&A's onto the blog. From time to time I find myself at a loss for exciting new topics to post about here, and I thought I'd give this a try. So, I invite you readers to visit my FormSpring site and submit your questions (or you can scroll down the column to your right and submit a question in the form there). I'll do my best to answer all of the interesting ones. I will answer "anonymously" submitted questions, but it would be great if you could sign your questions with a name and location. Preference will be given to questions that easily fall into the themes already established on this blog (i.e., philosophy, politics, music, pop culture, film, literature, teaching or Memphis). So, go ahead, ask!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Tempest In A Tea Party

Rather than simply dismiss the burgeoning Tea Party Movement (like I have done on this blog), some people out there are actually trying to understand it. Fellow-blogger and eminently reasonable political philosopher, Anotherpanacea, recently helped out by trying to put a face on the Tea Party movement. AnPan's suggestion is that the "meaning" of the Tea Party is up for grabs, and his follow-up post is very helpful for learning something about those doing the grabbing. There's a less generous, but equally informative, treatment of the Tea Party up on the new blog The Contemporary Condition that challenges the suggestion that the Tea Party is "countercultural." One of the more interesting debates surrounding the Tea Party, from my vantage point anyway, is the Astroturf vs. Grassroots characterizations of it. Just a month ago, and just up the road from me (in Nashville), they held the National Tea Party Convention where Sarah Palin delivered the closing keynote address. I'll admit, I have no idea what is "authentically" representative of this movement, and the more I read and hear about it, the more convinced I am that no one really knows. Presumably, some master discourse or another will emerge... but for now, it appears to be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Unless, that is, sound and fury alone is what the Tea Party is meant to signify. This is my suspicion and my worry, and it would be in keeping with the Politics-of-"No" spirit that we've seen dominating the Right since Obama's election.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Burnin' Love Band Premiere

I don't often recommend specific shows to see in Memphis on this blog, but I'm making an exception this time for Brad Birkedahl. For years, Brad was the lead guitarist of The Dempseys, a smoking-hot rockabilly trio, perennially voted one of Memphis' Best Bands. Even if you've never been to Memphis, you've probably seen The Dempseys before. They were picked to play the one of the Sun Studio bands touring with Johnny Cash in the 2005 biopic Walk The Line. Unfortunately, The Dempseys split up earlier this year, but Brad is coming back with his new band, The Burnin' Love Band, who will play their premiere show this weekend. It looks like Brad has lined up a stellar set of musicians to join him in this new endeavor, including his wife, Anna Marie, who has an amazing voice. So, I am officially recommending that anyone within driving distance of Memphis head down to Blues City Cafe on Beale Street this Thursday, Friday or Saturday night (March 4-6) to hear exactly what guitars were made for.

On a side note, I had the opportunity a few months ago to sit down and play music with Brad, Anna Marie and some other local musicians upstairs at my neighbor's place. It was one of those nights that I absolutely love about Memphis: warm, relaxed, full of talented pickers and singers, cold beer, good-natured ribbing and amusing anecdotes. I can attest that, in addition to being a six-string savant, Brad's also a really nice guy. So, go check out the show. You won't regret it.

Monday, March 01, 2010

It's Something In Our Souls That Makes Us Memphians... And "Miserable" Is Not A Part Of It

Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton recently released an "Open Letter to Steve Forbes" contesting the ranking of Memphis as the 3rd of America's "Most Miserable Cities" in Forbes Magazine. I reproduce Wharton's letter here in its entirety, without comment, because the Truth speaks for itself. I have, however, added links for Mr. Forbes, so that he can better understand (at a virtual distance) what he has failed to understand up close:

Dear Mr. Forbes,

Last Tuesday, I had the privilege of welcoming home a team of physicians, surgeons, and specialists from Memphis’ Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center who traveled to Haiti to attend to the youngest victims of the devastating earthquake. These are exceptionally brilliant and compassionate lifesavers and caregivers, some of the finest in the world. They selflessly gave up weeks of their own lives, careers, and time with their families to minister to the needs of impoverished strangers on the other side of the planet.

When I stepped out of Le Bonheur, I looked up at their new hospital, currently under construction and slated to open this summer. This $340-million, 610,000-square-foot facility will double their current space for care, research, and teaching. Across the street, FedEx is sponsoring the constructing of a home to provide housing for families of long-term patients.

FedEx House will sit at the corner of a larger mixed-income, mixed-housing development called Legends Park. It’s one of several Hope VI developments that have flourished in Memphis over the past couple of decades. This past summer, HUD Deputy Secretary Ronald Sims called Memphis “one of the bright shining examples in the United States today,” of inner-city revitalization and blight removal.

Down the street from Le Bonheur and Legends Park I could see St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, which provides lifesaving care to children from around the world, regardless of their ability to pay. Around the corner, the new UT Baptist Research Park is under construction, which will make Memphis a global leader in bioscience. Methodist University Hospital, where Apple CEO Steve Jobs came to get a new liver last summer, is a short distance away.

The following night, the Memphis Grizzlies defeated Toronto in a thrilling overtime battle. The Grizz are doing better now than they have in years, and might even secure a post-season berth. Two nights later at FedEx Forum, near historic Beale Street, our beloved University of Memphis Tigers utterly dominated the visiting Southern Methodist University Mustangs. The coach of the Tigers is a young man named Josh Pastner, who may be the least miserable person alive.

This past Saturday, I saw a ballet at the Jeniam Center, our new, $15 million performing arts complex in the heart of our midtown arts district. This facility, modeled after Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre, was financed completely by private gifts and contributions.

In a few weeks, we’re going to break ground on the Salvation Army Kroc Center, a 100,000 square foot worship, arts, education, and recreation center a few blocks away. We’re one of only 25 cities in the United States that will build a Kroc Center, which required our community to raise $25 million in private funds. Memphis is routinely cited as one of the most charitable cities in the United States.

My point is not about a hospital or a housing complex. It’s not about a basketball team or a ballet. It’s about our people. As their mayor, I simply cannot allow to pass without comment some of the things you have published about our city.

Your magazine mentioned “unemployment, taxes (both sales and income), commute times, violent crime and how its pro sports teams have fared… weather and Superfund pollution sites… [and] corruption based on convictions of public officials,” as the factors for inclusion on your recent list of America’s most miserable cities.

By your own criteria, there are far more cities on your list that have far higher unemployment and far longer commute times than Memphis. Most of them lack professional sports altogether. Violent crime in Memphis is declining steadily. There is a new era of transparency and ethical behavior in City Hall, due to a couple of executive orders that I drafted and signed when I took office last October. The sun shines here 230 days a year.

Memphis is not a miserable city, not by any definition, not by any metric.

Memphis is a city of joy.
You can hear it coming up from our high school gymnasiums and football fields every Friday evening. You can hear it rocking on Beale Street late every Saturday night. You can hear it in our churches every Sunday morning.

Memphis is a city of innovation. The accomplishments of our past are outshone only by what's happening right now in our business and arts sector. I'm sure at some point in your life you've enjoyed the music of Otis Redding or Al Green or B.B. King or Johnny Cash. Those artists and countless other achieved lasting, worldwide fame after getting started in Memphis. Brands like FedEx and AutoZone were born here and keep their world headquarters here; companies like International Paper and ServiceMaster have both relocated here in the past five years.

Memphis is a city of resilience. Floods, fire, pestilence, and poverty may have tested us, but they have never broken us. We are a city built on a bluff, positioned to withstand storms that other cities cannot. If the rates of unemployment, high school drop outs, and crime are to be our new battlegrounds, then we will join those fights, and we will prevail. For all of the problems you might show me, I can point to a legion of government agencies, non-profit organizations, churches, volunteer groups, and grassroots activists working together as one Memphis to find the solutions.

Maybe it’s something in our water. Maybe it’s something in our soil.
I think it’s something in our souls that makes us Memphians. We know who we are – and miserable is not part of the definition.

We know too that our city’s song is not complete. It is being written every day, and it is sung by a chorus of hopeful, energetic voices that will resonate for generations.

Memphis is actually not my hometown. I was born and raised in a small town, about 240 miles east of Memphis. My wife and I made a deliberate choice to put our roots down here, make our careers here, and raise our children here about 40 years ago. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Memphis, but please accept this letter as my formal invitation to come visit us at your earliest convenience.

You’ll have the time of
your life, I promise you.

Best wishes,

A C Wharton, Jr.
Mayor, City of Memphis

War Is A Drug

Nothing yet has made so crystal clear to me exactly how much I do NOT understand about what is going on in Iraq than this year's Oscar-nominated film The Hurt Locker. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who has been endlessly (and a little annoyingly) praised for her skill at capturing the hyper-masculine emotional intensity and complexity of American soldiers in Iraq, The Hurt Locker follows a three-man U.S. Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team for about 40 days in the early post-invasion period of 2004. The film opens with a quote from New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges' 2002 book War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, in which Hedges writes:

The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.

What we come to see is that the drug of war, like all drugs, seduces some more than others, pleasures and sustains some more than others, but ultimately lays its claim to the destroyed lives of all with equal viciousness. The leader of the film's EOD team William James (played by Jeremy Renner) is a true junkie, reckless and brash, who appears unable to approach life in any way other than the way he approaches explosive devices. Where no immanent explosion is present, he manufactures danger. Where danger is already, he intensifies it. And so, the mise en scène of the film is one of constant and relentlessly ominous anticipation, much like walking through a minefield. Or rather, in this case, exactly like walking through a minefield.

Not all of the hidden mines are mechanical, though. Some are political (as the soldiers constantly try to negotiate the seemingly indistinguishable categories of "friend" and "enemy" with their Iraqi hosts), some are personal (as they work to establish and maintain meaningful relationships with each other over and against the Army's hyper-masculine, aggressive, antagonistic environment), some are psychological or emotional (as they are forced to age beyond their years, to reconcile the death and chaos they are cultivating with the order they are charged with creating), but all of the hidden explosions are similarly unmarked, anticipatable but unanticipated, devastating. Unlike the cinematic renderings of either WWI or WWII, we don't see the indiscriminate, desultory, gory violence that was so sweeping that it paralyzed soldiers with shell-shock. And unlike the renderings of Vietnam and Korea, we aren't permitted to filter the madness of war through a soldier's haze of drugs and disillusionment, such that it already possesses a metaphorical, meta-critical sense. Rather, the war in Iraq is figured as a new war, a war-that's-not-a-war. It's technologically advanced and precise, allowing soldiers a robot's-length measure of remove from direct contact, while at the same time being random and improvised and always-much-closer to danger than can be measured. (At one point in the film, one of the soldiers almost longingly remarks: "It's a good thing the Army has all of these tanks parked on the side of the road, just in case the Russians show up and we have to engage in a good old-fashioned tank war.") And the combatants, on "our" side at least, are familiarly jaded and disillusioned, but they're professionals, who still believe in their job, their calling and their cause, even if they also think that the men making decisions back home have no idea what they're doing.

I've mentioned before on this blog my worry about how unprepared we in the professorate are for the return of young Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers to our classrooms. My generation knows nothing, first-hand, of war, situated in age as we are between the debacle of Vietnam and the current War on Terrorism. We have, of course, been engaged in the policy critiques, the political analysis, the assessment of strategic and tactical ambiguities and aporias-- but very little of that addresses (or, importantly, condemns) the soldiers on the ground who have been executing these wars. The professorial generation ahead of me knows nothing of this war, either, I fear. Neither of the World Wars, nor Korea, nor Vietnam are adequate analogues. The Hurt Locker is a glimpse into a world entirely foreign to me and of which I find it almost impossible to make sense. Yet, the time is coming, sooner than we imagine, to make some sense of it, and I worry that we will find the pre-fab frameworks we have at our disposal wanting.

This war, like all wars, is also a drug... and it will send back addicts who need our compassion and care, who will need to be weaned from both its seductive and its deleterious effects. Yet, we should be prepared to reckon with the reality that non-addicts do not understand the rip-tide pull of real addiction, because they have never surrendered to its grip. What The Hurt Locker demonstrates so provocatively is the manner in which the drug of this particular war has re-structured the soldiers' pleasure systems and interfered with their ability to percieve pain, a re-structuring and interference process that affects the minds of all addicts and for which there is no single, simple antidote. There's an old Italian proverb that says: when the game is over, the king and the pawn go in the same box. But everything about the soldier's life, and everything we celebrate and admire about soldiers, goes against that. The challenge will be figuring out how to diminish the value of the soldier's death, without diminishing the value of "the soldier's life."