II. Poverty, hunger, a relentless tide of bad news. Those who survive in spite of it all: they cannot say why they want to live, but they do. She is only thirty-two years old, but her face is a hundred and her heart is a thousand. All those lucky enough to escape the grinding despair scramble, hectic, to explain why none of it is their fault. Depression: a time you live, a thing you are, a place you were.
III. Wars and rumors of wars -- revolution -- revolt. It is often difficult to say whose side one is on, for what one is fighting, who is in charge in one's immediate area. People come from all over the world to write pretty passages about what is happening, and meanwhile you have a bullet in your lung. Picasso paints a picture. The horror, the futility, the ultimate defeat: it belongs to you alone.
IV. Evil has a shape, a posture, a way of speaking. Portrayed as comic-opera buffoons, tinpot delusionaries, men out of central casting. Sometimes the things they say seem trite, rote even, so stereotypically menacing are they: other times, a phrase or a paragraph or a point made with shaking fist or rising voice is enough to seduce agreement. They are fortunate to live in a time when the death of millions can be an abstraction. It is sometimes hard to believe that real living men did this.
V. The power of a symbol. It comes at hideous cost but to question it is the worst kind of self-aggrandizement. It says: here is the truth; we defy you to question its meaning. Call him drunken Ira Hayes, he won't answer any more. It was all worth it, it was: a pure good, a thing that will soon be extinct.
VI. The first media moment. The first post-modern myth, an impenetrable stew of vengeance, patriotism, tragedy, conspiracy, squalor. The man who looks like the shadow of an implacable progression shatters the stomach of the man who looks like he has finally been found out. "You all know me". It ends badly (it has no other choice): a patsy's patsy or a lunatic pornographer, his body eating itself as he sits in a cell and imagines the screams of millions three feet of concrete below him.
VII. The young and the innocent -- or the strange and the terrifying? America's heart has been broken and her soul has been pierced; her salvation comes from the mother she'd long since fled. They are the spirit of something, but no one knows what it is. A billion words will be written about them and everyone will bear their germinal influence for a hundred years. They are joy and novelty and danger and menace and fun.
VIII. It is the most amazing thing anyone has ever seen. It is the flipside of the Holocaust, a proof that once something has been done it can never be undone, that human beings are quite capable of anything. It seems to exist as a contextual metaphor before it even happens. Unconquerable, determined, stupidly brave: with inconceivable technology and unthinkable resources, they stand there where nothing should be, shooting the breeze, spieling banalities, playing games. Did this thing really happen, and did we really respond the way we did?
IX. In some parts of the world, they still take their religion seriously. Politics do not enter his mind (though they are ever-present in those who witness): he knows only that so many of his countrymen are dying. A decision, none can say not that of a rational mind, that the world as currently constituted is not worth living in. His life is his own, to keep or take: suicide is the most primal and essential act of power. The soldiers come from across the water, drop bombs from the sky, beneath him is earth, around him is fire.
X. The entire war is insane now; everybody says so. Mere anarchy is unloosed in the streets and now the only masters served are impulse and force. Innocent, guilty -- what's the difference? -- bad things have been done and someone has to pay for it. Pull him off the streets, give him the gun, provide motivation for the men in the field, a cheap thrill for the folks back home. The tone for the future has been set.