We recently watched all episodes of HBO’s intense, realistic miniseries about the brutal and devastating war in The Pacific; it was a jaw-dropping experience – watching human beings blow each other apart, a real nightmare of violence. I was realizing how transformative that experience would be – you can’t go home again after that kind of experience.
Artist Krzysztof Wodiczko has an exhibit in London currently that is dedicated to war veterans who “might have a roof over their head but it doesn’t feel like home anymore. They are traumatized to various degrees and feel like they’ve become strangers to the place where they used to live. They don’t function like they used to. They have been conditioned to be constantly on alert, to react on the spot to any unexpected light, move, noise, etc. It is difficult for them to turn off that aggressive instinct once they are back to civilian life.” This resonates with the thoughts I was having as I watched the miniseries. We should wonder about the role of post-traumatic stress disorder in shaping postwar culture.
Shown above: “His War Veteran Vehicle is a ex-military vehicle complete with missile launcher converted into a mobile video projector with loudspeakers. Words, coming from interviews with homeless veterans were magnified and projected from the vehicle in buildings and monuments in Liverpool two years ago (a year before, a military Humvee had screened the words of American veterans on the facade of a homeless shelter and of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts during the Democratic National Convention.)”