Our thoughts are clay, they are moulded with the changes of the days; --when we are resting they are good; under fire, they are dead. Fields of craters within and without. - p. 271
Another reviewer had this to say, and I completely agree: "I think All Quiet on the Western Front should be compulsory reading for every leader who has ever considered going to war. The fact that the book is eighty years old and deals with events which took place nearly a century ago does not make its message any less valid today." Maybe this implicit threat to war-making and war-makers is why this book was banned by the Third Reich. Surprising that it hasn't been banned more often, honestly, especially in our days of war without end, amen.
The silence spreads. I talk and must talk. So I speak to him and to say to him: "Comrade, I did not want to kill you. If you jumped in here again, I would not do it, if you would be sensible too. But you were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response. It was that abstraction I stabbed. But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony--Forgive me comrade; how could you be my enemy? If we threw away these rifles and this uniform you could be my brother just like Kat and Albert. Take twenty years of my life, comrade, and stand up--take more, for I do not know what I can even attempt to do with it now." p. 223
A man cannot realize that above such shattered bodies there are still human faces in which life goes on its daily round. And this is only one hospital, one single station; there are hundreds of thousands in Germany, hundreds of thousands in France, hundreds of thousands in Russia. How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood from being poured out, these torture-chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is.
I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another. I see that the keenest brains of the world invent weapons and words to make it yet more refined and enduring. And all men of my age, here and over there, throughout the whole world see these things; all my generation is experiencing these things with me. What would our fathers do if we suddenly stood up and came before them and proffered our accounts? What do they expect of us if a time ever comes when the war is over? Through the years our business has been killing; --it was our first calling in life. Our knowledge of life is limited to death. What will happen afterwards? And what shall come out of us? - pp. 263-4
"Unapologetically didactic..." Indeed! Thanks to Cory Doctorow's lectures and footnotes, I now know where to look to learn how to do the stuff describ...more"Unapologetically didactic..." Indeed! Thanks to Cory Doctorow's lectures and footnotes, I now know where to look to learn how to do the stuff described in this work of repression and resistance in near-future, all-too-real, dystopian Fortress America. Cool.
I harbor strong doubts about the long-term future of our current technoscience fetishes. That said, while these technologies dominate the near-term, young people need to be encouraged to analyze, to tinker, to explore, to dismantle, to dissect, to synthesize, to rebuild, and to hack; so that they approach the technologies in which they are immersed as they grow up (including the political technologies of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights) in the same way that we all approach written language, i.e. those who read can also write. In other words, they need to program, rather than to be programmed (to steal a phrase from Douglas Rushkoff). To that end, this is definitely something I want high schoolers to read, even if it does encourage "anti-social" behavior like cutting class to play inane Japanese alternate reality games, losing your virginity to the one you love, questioning teachers and principals, and standing up to the Department of Homeland Security.
I understand why my nine-year old thinks this is a great book, because the writing and comics are funny. The book should be called Diary of a Self-Abs...moreI understand why my nine-year old thinks this is a great book, because the writing and comics are funny. The book should be called Diary of a Self-Absorbed Kid, though, because Greg Heffley, the narrator and protagonist, never really seems to get past his adolescent narcissism (unlike in the movie adaptation, which has a more redeeming take on the lead character). I don't always need my characters to be goody-two-shoes, and even love the occasional anti-hero, but I suspect that is because I am an adult--I can separate my enjoyment of a character from my desire to model my behavior on them. Not so sure if my nine-year old or her peers are similarly equipped. It is funny enough to merit 3 stars. In the hands of the less mature reader, though, this seems like a manual for self-absorption and bad behavior, which is why I ultimately gave it 2 stars. As another reader/reviewer summed it up, "meh."(less)
Interesting, well-written, and thoughtful post-apocalyptic future set around Nuin (New England). Free-thought and science flicker on an island in the...moreInteresting, well-written, and thoughtful post-apocalyptic future set around Nuin (New England). Free-thought and science flicker on an island in the mid-Atlantic, where Davy spends his days recounting his early life in a medieval world of post-American city states centered around the Holy Mercan Church. Fascinating details. (less)
Sensitive retelling of H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man from the perspective of an adolescent girl in a small town. This town, a nowhere filled with nob...moreSensitive retelling of H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man from the perspective of an adolescent girl in a small town. This town, a nowhere filled with nobodies, is suddenly home to a mysterious, bandaged man named "Griffen." Suspicion, friendships, and violence ensue. The artwork is deceptively simple-looking but quite powerful and resonant.(less)
The angelic images of the author as a young man, learning to walk in spite of being told it was impossible and defending himself against scho...more3.5 stars
The angelic images of the author as a young man, learning to walk in spite of being told it was impossible and defending himself against schoolyard bullies, will stick in my mind for a long while. It is quite sickening to realize that, for many people, attacking those who apparently cannot defend themselves is a way of life; it is equally heartening to see that Davison is one "spacka" or "cripple" who has learned to fight back (and who, apparently, seeks to teach others to do the same through his Martial Hearts program). Powerful illustrations, in a variety of mediums and styles, convey the deepest feelings of the author, the pains and the joys, that he has faced coming to terms with the "spiral cage" of his life with spina bifida. I also appreciate the role that faith--specifically, Nichiren Buddhism--has played in Davison's life, in helping him (and hopefully others) to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. An awesome comic book by an awesome character.(less)
This is a disappointing finale to an otherwise excellent series. The love triangle stuff continues here, and by now, it has become pretty tir...more2.5 stars
This is a disappointing finale to an otherwise excellent series. The love triangle stuff continues here, and by now, it has become pretty tiresome. Katniss still can't make up her mind about whether she loves Gale or Peeta more (and, honestly, who is to say she really loves either of them), and the resolution to this dilemma makes for pretty weak tea. Too much of the action happens off-screen, as in the previous two books, but here there is simply no excuse. I mean the reader doesn't get to see President Snow die for chrissakes; Katniss makes a surprise decision at his execution, blacks out, and then comes to in a world without President Snow in it. Seriously? After all the hell that bastard has put her, and the rest of Panem, through, and we don't even get to see him die? The scenes in the Capitol are muddy and unclear, as we follow Katniss' troupe of commandos through yet another rendition of the Hunger Games, while the real rebel forces fight the war off-screen. Some commentators have seen a cruel streak in the entire series, and while I disagree that the first two books were unnecessarily violent or cynical, too many of the deaths in this installment did nothing to move the story forward, and, in fact, actually seemed to lessen the emotional impact of the first two books. My other complaint is that this book seems to actively undercut the message of the first two stories, about rising up and fighting an unjust system in which the majority of people's lives are wasted in the service of a bubble-headed elite. Perhaps Collins is trying to say that all violence and all warfare are ultimately futile, even in the service of noble aims, but that message rings hollow in light of the righteous anger conjured up by the first two books.(less)
With the two words, "hey, wait..." two young lives are changed forever. A haunting look at shattering consequences and shattered dreams. Excellent, al...moreWith the two words, "hey, wait..." two young lives are changed forever. A haunting look at shattering consequences and shattered dreams. Excellent, almost wordless comic, drawn and plotted in Jason's inimitable style, with a less than fully satisfying (or sensible, at least to me) conclusion. (Ok, I get the bus scene--it's the pages before that have me befuddled.)(less)
I enjoyed this novel far more than I initially expected, and especially relished the central sections, an astoundingly accurate reminiscence of a perc...moreI enjoyed this novel far more than I initially expected, and especially relished the central sections, an astoundingly accurate reminiscence of a perceptive adolescent's take on Christian, particularly Roman Catholic, theology. Those who endured confirmation classes of any sort as a teenager will appreciate Joyce's vividly imagined/remembered preachments and conversations on sin, hell, and God. As I was reading this novel, I remembered a night of drinking with my best friend noyoucmon, 15 or so years ago, in which we enjoyed a "hell off": I read descriptions of Tibetan Buddhist hells from Words of My Perfect Teacher, while he read from the present volume. Fun times. (less)