Goldstein is a very clear writer and his deep understanding of Buddhism and Buddhist practice makes his work accessible to anyone. In this small volumGoldstein is a very clear writer and his deep understanding of Buddhism and Buddhist practice makes his work accessible to anyone. In this small volume he isolates the basic tenets common to all schools of Buddhism and deals with them from the perspective of a western student. A very valuable little book...more
There is a line on the Memorial in Sydney's Hyde Park; "Let silent contemplation be your offering." That is the sense that these men would have broug There is a line on the Memorial in Sydney's Hyde Park; "Let silent contemplation be your offering." That is the sense that these men would have brought to Anzac Day. Now that sense of "silent contemplation" has been so distorted by jingoistic politicians for political purchase, an RSL that trades off the sacred name for profit and does next to nothing for those who have returned from the field, and masses of nobodies who have never heard a shot fired who have pressured for a medal to commemorate their insignificance so that they can "march" that it has now become a grotesque circus of the absurd. It has nothing to do with me; nothing to do with those who bled to death in front of me: nothing to do with what it means to me at depth. I have attended 3 marches since I came back from Vietnam in 1971 and one of those was the so called "Welcome Home." I felt sick and empty after every occasion. I want no part in any of this and have always confined my marking of that day to the interior of my own soul and the Dawn Service. Somehow it has evolved in such a way that I now have my own moment of silent contemplation every morning of my life, it is the only way I can live with what I saw and did. This whole orgy of sentimantal drivel by the hordes of hangers on who have taken what was once sacred into the realms of the absurd have robbed me, just as they have robbed every man or woman who has ever suffered and died as a result of their service in the field. It has become so bad now, that it seems ironic that with the 100th anniversary of Anzac next year (that will see not a moment of silent contemplation you can be sure) that I now find myself deciding that I am done with it all. I feel bereft!
I am however thankful to this man for putting into words my discomfort with thw whole business and laying out before me so clearly the reasons why I might feel as I do! This is a great piece of work. Some essay from it should be prescribed reading in every high school class above year 10 ever year on the eve of Anzac Day. It might give them a little perspective, a set of water wings with which to navigate the avalanche of bullshit that pours from most of the open mouths on that day!...more
Even after having read so much about the First World Wae with all its horrors this account of the bloodiest battle in American history stunned me. TheEven after having read so much about the First World Wae with all its horrors this account of the bloodiest battle in American history stunned me. The poignancy of it all was made all the more telling by a walk over the battlefield a few days after I finished the book. O just cried for hours....more
This is a great book, it places the whole catstrophe of modern life lived through desire and the driven consumption directed at quenching it, in the cThis is a great book, it places the whole catstrophe of modern life lived through desire and the driven consumption directed at quenching it, in the context of the Buddhist world view. It offers much insight into human nature, into my own nature and how we relate to the stuff of our lives. I really enjoyed the rad and it provided me with perpectives I would never have otherwise considered. A must read for anyone who is inclined towards conscious living. Wonderful...more
This is a very personal account of one man's war, set in the very earliest days of the US commitment to Vietnam. It is told with scarifying clarity anThis is a very personal account of one man's war, set in the very earliest days of the US commitment to Vietnam. It is told with scarifying clarity and honesty that sets it among the great literature that came from the First World War, from authors like Owen, Graves Sassoon and Remarque- towering story tellers of that horrific tragedy whose words Caputo acknowledges as a primary influence in the style and presentation he has employed to tell his tale.... and what a tale. Anyone can feel, and taste and smell that place; can sense the frustration and numbing experience of climate and terrain; can exhaust themselves in the gradual disintegration from being a "good man" into something evil. For those of us who were there, particularly in combat this book cannot help but invoke a kaleidoscope of memory much similar to that described by Caputo at one point. For most of us, our time there is nothing but that a kaleidoscope of vignettes cobbled together by the skein of emotion that is our felt sense of what it was for us. That skein holds us, I am sure all of us who lived it,in its thrall still, even to this day when we are now old.
This is an important work in part because of the time in which it is set, those heady early days when the rot had yet to set in. What is so clear from this account is the presence of all those elements that would later be drawn out as contributing so much to America's demise in that war, both its physical and its moral demise. The accountants mindset where all was judged by numbers, the body counts and kill ratios, the de-huamization of the Vietnamese, the creation and support of the counterfeit universe, the lack of leadership at Battalion and Regimental level, the provision of sub standard equipment, the corruption and inefficiencies of the regime being supported,the total unpreparedness of US forces to fight such a war ....and on and on it goes. The writing then was on the wall in 1965 for anyone who was prepared to read it and no one who had reputation, career, pride or arrogance tied up in the venture was so prepared.
The account of the incident that resulted in a charge of murder and a court martial just showed so clearly how "there but for the grace of..." applies in these kinds of circumstances, the way in which "the machine" created to fight that war resulted in the complete dismemberment of the souls of so many. That without the balance of "good purpose", nothing but some philosophical ideal driven by the political right and the American belief in its own omnipotence, was at stake here. "It don't mean nothin" the universal response by soldiers on the to pain and hardship was born out of that absence of any greater guiding principle for which the fight was conducted.
For those of us who saw it and went through Vietnam, the parallels in Iraq and Afghanistan have been almost too much to bear. It seems that nothing has been learned in America or in Australia, still riding the coat tails of Uncle Sam into another misadventure. It is truly pitiful to see....again!...more
This book is not an easy raed. It's not hard though to see why it received the National Book Award. There is a plethora of writing now about the VietnThis book is not an easy raed. It's not hard though to see why it received the National Book Award. There is a plethora of writing now about the Vietnam War, of course it varies in quality, this is one of the few that should be included as part of that canon that defines that sorry conflict. Heinemann captures perfectly the timbre of the isolation, the destruction wrought on the soul by combat trauma as, I believe, only someone who has gone through that particular hell can. It is the intensity and the grief, the anger and the sorrow, the emotional numbness that are the hallmarks of ptsd. Paco, poor bastard has been through the fire at the extreme end of the spectrum. It is the same for all of us who were impacted in this way the depth of the hole only varies in degree.
There is much contained here that is part of my own story; my own response to the brutality and the idiocy of what was that war for so many. There are a couple of beautiful soliloquies that sum up so well my own view of those who sent us and the "wanna bes", and the "gung ho" rednecks who now drape themselves in the gloried fairy tale that has become the Vietnam War in their minds. I just loathe these people with a vengeance and that is why I have had nothing much to do with the ex service organisations and the congregations that have been formed around remembrance of the war. The bullshit just infuriates me too much, if I could have my way I would be shot of it; have the deep and abiding grief and sorrow and pain excised from my soul such that I might in some measure be unburdened.
Even after 40 years have passed and then two decades of working my way through this morass it is still with me. I still cry myself to sleep at night sometimes;from the sheer grief for those lost on both sides, to death then or the ghosts now. It marked me in ways only another combat veteran who saw, and smelt and tasted it all can truly know.
I try never to tap into it because it is just too dangerous for me to give it any rein, but deep within me there is an icy fury that becomes murderous in the face of politicians I hear advocate a war as a legitimate extension of the national interest. I can give an assurance that cold blood has real meaning for me. I try to be compassionate towards the ignorant pricks lavishing benefits upon themselves as perks of their office, and avoiding military service for themselves and theirs for they are ignorant and will always remain so; but sometimes it is very, very hard.
Well done Larry, thanks for speaking for me. My heart is with Paco wherever he may be and whatever the uniform he may have worn....more
This book deserved all the praise heaped upon it! Written so tightly there is not a glimmer of padding anywhere. A multifaceted story of the inhumanitThis book deserved all the praise heaped upon it! Written so tightly there is not a glimmer of padding anywhere. A multifaceted story of the inhumanity of humanity and the humanity of inhumanity. As an Australian of the immediate post war generation I was raised with the tales of the unspeakable acts of the Japanese during the war, and they were that certainly. The descriptions set out here do nothing to relieve the repugnance and smoldering anger I feel towards these people. More so towards the authorities who at the end of the war so capriciously pursued the so called justice the POW's so rightly deserved. There was another side here though, the inside if the Japanese and the Korean guards' minds, those who caught up in the web of the times, as individuals so often are, were the perpetrators. Given my own war in Indo China a few decades later, I have had that experience of being ensnared by forces far beyond my own control and of having acted in shameful ways that I too would like to erase from memory. I do understand that. More it is a story about the progress of life for individuals in all the surrealism that extreme events can manufacture. there is much of the main character's responses to the war that I see in myself, particularly the sense of being disconnected and of the absurdity of all that surrounds. A massive fraud running both ways! This is partly why now I isolate myself as much as possible from others, there is little they have to say that strikes me as anything but an expression of their own desiccated trance and there is rarely anything I want to say to them. For me now there is some salve in the silence....more
This is not an easy read for anyone but those who might have an interest in Psychiatry or the medicalisation of life; it is however very enlightening.This is not an easy read for anyone but those who might have an interest in Psychiatry or the medicalisation of life; it is however very enlightening. Written by a psychaitrist, though no doubt he is now systematically shunned by his colleagues, this study shows up the DSM, the Bible of psychiatry to be one of the greatest hoaxes of all times, but one with tragic consequences.
The main purpose of its inception was the decline, during the 60's and 70's in the perceived status of psychiatry to almost the same level as voodoo. This group of Doctors suffering from the terrible insecurities produced by having almost no scientific basis for either their diagnosis or treatment of patients, needed a legitimising touchstone, the DSM. Needlless to say the creation of a "book" where, arbitrary and scientifically baseless they maybe, classifications of mental conditions could be made, given a name and a number which not only served the profession's purpose of legitimising their specialty but also kept insurance companies, lawyers and governements happy by providing something to fill in or boxes to tick so that the money could flow....and flow it did; largely into the pockets of psychaitrists, drug companies and of course research establishemnts that housed and served who? The very people who authored the DSM itself.
The recounbting of the history of the Manual's development together with all the turf wars, ego battles and infighting among the vested interests may be a bit dry in the reading but it is also deeply disturbing. As one who has been at one time swept up by this particular cabal orientated around the DSM I have not only seen the damage but have been sucked into its very vortex myself. I count myself truly lucky that in a moment of rare insight and in complete contradiction to the advice of professionals I was able to defy the odds, refuse their bullshit diagnoses wrapped up in fancy, though official sounding terms and make my own way without the aid of the soul destroying, mind numbing drugs the psychiatrists in my life were only too happy to dispense. Such dispensation much to the pleasure of the drug companies who reap huge financial benefits.
My escape derived from desperation; the bastards nearly killed me over a period of several decades, but I was an adult with at least some life experience and a sense of self preservation which often expressed itself as defiance, though this latter was of course regarded by my psychiatrists as pathalogical. I could decide to give them the flick and I did, the demise they threatened would result could not have been any worse tha the place they put me. There are chidren on the other hand who are classified by psychiatrists based on the DSM as having ADD, ODD and Bi polar disorder. They do not have that choice, and now thousands of kids are having heavy duty drugs thrust down their throats daily, drugs that were once called antipsychotics but have been conveniently renames mood stabilsers by the pharmceutical industry as a marketing expediency. This appalling instance of professional abuse (so much for the Hippocratic Oath)is but a single instance, a tragic tip of the iceberg
The reification of the DSM in the main, serves only the purposes of psychiatrists (access to payments and research funds) drug companies (profits) and of course finally and significantly the APA (Americam Psychiatric Association) which produces the DSM reaping millions from every edition ($6 million from DSMIV)and of course perceived legitimacy for its members.
This is not to say that all psychiatrists are driven by self interest and are schysters, though many are, but if one were to do a cost benefit analysis it is my view that the 19th Century model of sanitoria, large beautiful old houses set in bucloic natural surrounds could do more good at a fraction of the cost now demanded by a profession rampantly craving respectibility, legitimcy and the fruits that flow from both in the form of cash.
It has been quite a conjuring act, they have largely pulled it off and now at whim anyone who displays behaviour that may be eminently human but that draws the attention of an ambitious heavy hitter in the American Psychiatric Association can quickly find themselves classified as mentally ill, drugged out of their mind and contributing liberally through their medical insurance to the lifestyle of a substantial segment of the nouveau riche and infamous....more
This is an excellent piece of work. Uncompromising warts and all. It places the Australian experience into the context of the wider war. It names nameThis is an excellent piece of work. Uncompromising warts and all. It places the Australian experience into the context of the wider war. It names names! There are those who though legends in their own mind, like Ted Serong who come out as trumped up frauds. Would be's if they could be's and very poor though promoted commanders like Graham who, against all advice, committed the ultimate idiocy of laying "The Minefield" which unnecessarily cost the lives of man Australians needless to say the politicians came off as they must, men without honour. The style is reminiscent of Bean and is an enthralling and easy read.I(t makes sense out of the confusing jumble and places the individual service of each of us as part of the whole. It also blows the myth that Australia's involvement though efficient and honourable in the main was anything more than peripheral. This should be the text for high school study if there is ever to be one...more
It's no wonder this has become a cult classic. There was a small groupf of journalists and photographers aong the thousand who passed through the warIt's no wonder this has become a cult classic. There was a small groupf of journalists and photographers aong the thousand who passed through the war who documented the conflict from the front. they saw more combat than almsot any soldier who served there, they were an amzing crazy group of guys. I was fortunate enough to share a beer with Neil Davis, for just a few minutes in a bar on Le Loi street in Saigon. i was an interesting conversation, I felt that I was speaking to someone who understood the surrealistic circus; I thought I was the only one who saw it. Herr captures that particular tenor of the absurdity, pathos and hilarity of the insane brew that it was. His deacription of combat and the black humour that arises from it are right on the knocker. I was only there for a year, and by the nature of my job I traveled a lot so I passed through many of the places and circumstaces he describes he certainly dug up some memories for me and expressed many of the feelings I had at the time but just couldn't piun down and put into words. A great book insanity from beginning to end....more
This was the last of the three volumes covering the life of Alexander the Great and its aftermath. It took only slices, it was not a history but was vThis was the last of the three volumes covering the life of Alexander the Great and its aftermath. It took only slices, it was not a history but was very very well researched and written with an eye to the facts as they are know from the sources, within the limits of writing for effect. I felt that Renault was able to get into the heads of these people and their interactions were absolutely fascinating to me. This was a great series of reads and a real pleasure for anyone with an interest in the period. Really good work, very well researched and written. A terrific read!...more
Siegried Sasoon, Robert Graves and Wilfred Owen are iconic figures to anyone who has had an interest in WW1. They were among the best novelists and poSiegried Sasoon, Robert Graves and Wilfred Owen are iconic figures to anyone who has had an interest in WW1. They were among the best novelists and poets in the English language of that terrible age. Rivers however, is less well known. He was the psychiatrist treating these "shell shocked" men returning from the horrors of the Western Front and elsewhere. we now refer to the malady as PTSD. For anyone with an interest in that subject he should become a known figure if he is not already. With greater numbers of men and now women suffering from combat induced PTSD than at any time possibly since WW1 it is timely for those involved in its treatment to get back to Rivers' work. He was a tremendously insightful and compassionate man. Even though psychiatry was in its infancy he seemed to have great understanding of people placed in the position that often resulted in this kind of breakdown. As with so many things we seem obsessed with the new to the dereliction of some groundbreaking work in the filed that still has relevance.
Apart from all that, these figures have all been names to me, and in the case of the writers characters defined by their experience in the trenches. This novel is based on good research and with the skills of a master story teller Barker introduces a fuller side to these men, an introduction to more rounded characters. No less powerful but with a certain commonality, a certain shared element of humanity that my sense of them lacked until I read this book. I read it once before long ago. it has lost none of its impact in the second reading. A masterful piece of work.
Importantly the book introduces what must have been a deep and powerful conflict for Rivers. His job was to get these men abck to the frontline and at a distance of 100 years it is nearly impossible for us now to comprehend the sense of futilty and desperation that pervaded the minds of all thoughtful people with the slightest clue about what was going on. It is ironic that i the case of these particular men Rivers did his work too well. Both Sassoon and Owen were killed after their return to the frontline. One can only imagine the sense of personal loss that must have been upon Rivers every time this happened....more
This is a really interesting and valuable book. The author is a classicist, who is very familiar with Homer's Iliad dealing with the Trojan wars, an aThis is a really interesting and valuable book. The author is a classicist, who is very familiar with Homer's Iliad dealing with the Trojan wars, an a psychiatrist who has had extensive experience dealing with Vietnam veterans who suffer from chronic combat related ptsd, (as I do). It has been very difficult to work my way through the effects of my war experience on my psyche and as a result on my life. There have been many admissions to veterans' facilities and many hours of work with psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors. None seemed to do me much good from my point of view, simply because they did not understand what they were dealing with nor how to treat the veterans concerned. Ultimately anything I have been able to achieve in developing ways to manage my life have been down to me.
In that process I have become convinced that it is the deconstruction of the sense of self that leads to the damage of the soul so evident with Vietnam ( and I have no doubt Afghanistan and Iraq) veterans and this book confirms that view. The author has also thrown light on issues that relate to that deconstruction of the soldier's sense of self that I had not thought of. Through his reference to an ancient Greek battle he has been able to show the commonality of the soldiers' experience and through contrast to point up issues that were fundamental and potent in the mental and emotional trauma inflicted on veterans during the Indo China war.
There were specifics of the American experience that did not relate to Australians who participated because our approach to soldiering was different but the fundamentals remain the same. Primary among these was the sense of betrayal we all felt. Betrayal particularly by our politicians who lied us into war for their own political ends and by a wider society which just dismissed our service as inconsequential at best and as somehow morally flawed at worst. This book should be mandated reading for anyone involved with veterans who suffer in this way....more
This is a book that every veteran who saw combat in Vietnam should read. It gives the other side and points up so poignantly the universal suffering oThis is a book that every veteran who saw combat in Vietnam should read. It gives the other side and points up so poignantly the universal suffering of all soldiers. It helped me to come to an understanding that none of the anger and resentment I feel about my service in Indochina had anything to do with those we called the enemy but towards those who put us where we were;who trained us to fight and steel our hearts towards those who were always referred to as "gooks, dinks, or nogs";those who cynically betrayed us over and over again from beginning to end and who continue to betray us as they seek to limit what they must give in compensation for wounds suffered, physical and mental,to keep their position, their benefits their reputations and what they see as their rightful slice of "the pie". They try to gloss over the depth of their betrayal and their absolute lack of morality with fine words about the flag and sacrifice and tradition and by passing out a few more medals 40 years too late but they fail to understand the depth and breadth of the impact of their actions, then and now. Bastards; may they rot in hell! I feel much more for the enemies they set up for us, more compassion, more in common with them. I wish with the same breath that I use to curse our politicians to hell, that those who were my enemy may rest or live peace in peace....more