So it was that, in November 2012, I finally decided to sit down and get it written.
The story was untitled — or rather, over-entitled — but, in time, I took to calling it “THE MATTER OF LUCAS”. As in: “I need to deal with…”. As in: “that brings me to…”. As in… “it doesn’t” (matter).
Now that November is no more, and fifty thousand words have been extracted like bad teeth, I find myself in a place I’ve not been before. In fact, at times, I wonder if the gas ever really wore off.
But it’s not over yet. There’s still work to be done (isn’t there always?). Pointing and sealing. Closing and finishing. Please bear with us during these essential maintenance works.
"I’ll finish this, or it’ll finish me."
In the meantime, I will keep this blog updated with progress reports for those interested in how things are coming along. I might even post the occasional sneak peek (see above).
So thanks to everyone who’s shown an interest. I’ll never be able to repay you for your faith and your kindness, but I hope that, when it’s done, you get as much out of it as I have.
It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror! Horror has a face, and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. And then I realized, like I was shot! Like I was shot with a diamond … a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God, the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men, trained cadres — these men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love — but they had the strength, the strength to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, then our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgment. Without judgment! Because it’s judgment that defeats us.
— Colonel Kurtz
Torture, as a metaphor, works. The tortured metaphors to which this blog’s title refers are strained, pained, and twisted. The process of extracting meaning from life can be like that. Metaphorically.
But torture is real. It happened, and it continues to happen. In my mind, it represents the absolute lowest low that humanity is capable of. The act of intentionally inflicting agonising pain in your enemies — ostensibly to obtain “information” or “security”, but in reality for raw vengeance, or to “send a message” — sickens me, physically.
They argue that it has become a necessary evil, an indispensable tactic when fighting a brutal enemy who will stop at nothing. Our restraint makes us weak. In the words of Colonel Kurtz, our judgement defeats us.
Those responsible have certainly defeated judgement for their actions. Those who wail "war criminal" are largely laughed at or at least disdained. But Obama bears as much responsibility as Bush & co. As Gerald Ford said: “I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon”.
Few had more scorn for Nixon than Hunter S Thompson. But in less than a generation, something far worse had emerged. Of Bush, Thompson said: “if [Nixon] were running for president this year against the evil Bush-Cheney gang, I would happily vote for him.” Then he killed himself.
Decisions such as these not only normalise bad behaviour: they institutionalise it. Obama has guaranteed that torture will not only continue, but proliferate. What began with terrorists ten years ago has already reached whistleblowers. “This is a time for reflection, not retribution,” Obama says. “We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards”.
Well, I have been looking forward, and it’s not looking good. I disagree with Obama, and I disagree with Kurtz. Because it’s judgement that saves us.
See also: http://reckoningwithtorture.org/