Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

By Michael Stelzer Jocks, History Faculty.

Recently, a photographer named Lelage Snow began an incredible project.  Based in Kabul, Afghanistan, she photographed Scottish soldiers before, during, and after they had seen combat.  What she produced is astounding and haunting.  See here:

LalageSnow-Soldiers-06

This is Private Chris MacGregor, 24.  The rest of Snow’s work can be found here. There is no need to analyze these photos, as I think they speak for themselves the proverbial 1000 words (the eyes alone speak 900).  However, what does strike me is how almost a century ago the German philosopher, Walter Benjamin, described what we see in these contemporary faces.  In his essay The Storyteller, Benjamin had this to say about veterans who returned from the cataclysmic First World War:

“With the First World War a process began to become apparent which has not halted since then. Was it not noticeable at the end of the war that men returned from the battlefield grown silent—not richer, but poorer in communicable experience?  What ten years later was poured out in the flood of war books was anything but experience that goes mouth to mouth. And there was nothing remarkable about that. For never has experience been contradicted more thoroughly than strategic experience by tactical warfare, economic experience by inflation, bodily experience by mechanical warfare, moral experience by those in power. A generation that had gone to school on a horse-drawn streetcar now stood under the open sky in a countryside in which nothing remained but the clouds, and beneath these clouds, in a field of force of destructive torrents and explosions, was the tiny, fragile human body.”

A century on, the human body is still fragile.