Saturday, 7 November 2009

Lest We Forget, (The futility of Art)




DULCE ET DECORUM EST by Wilfred Owen.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.


8 October 1917 - March, 1918

Tomorrow as we stand there for two minutes of silence and contemplate decade after decade, century after century of corpse mountain making, it might also be worth realising that neither photography nor painting music nor poetry have ever managed to prevent it happening again and again. In this circumstance Art clearly has no power to bring about change. So that begs the question, why do we bother still making it?

4 comments:

Studio54 said...

Man is an animal....

A very well-developed, art-making, animal...but at base an animal who can't rise above the selfishness of his own desires....

Sadly....

Stan B. said...

Can't agree with 54 more... But have also been thinking recently how photojournalism frequently gets criticized for romanticizing war, and making any of the worst more beautiful than it has any right to be-- painting not so much, and just as guilty, if not ever the moreso over the centuries.

Mark Page said...

Cheers fella's

So if the art making or photojournalism has never stopped it happening does it have any value over and above mere recording of events. And if that is the case should art be banished from the arena and leave only pure objectivity if that is possible?

Studio54 said...

Objectivity isn't possible is it..
especially as photographers! We're going to (even unconciously) size up an image for composition, timing etc..regardless of its subject matter.

And let's face it, we all watch war-movies for the gore and splodge!!