Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Talking Heads and the Human Cost of War

"I think that some heads should roll over Iraq"
- retired General Anthony Zinni

Apparently, people agree. And heads seem to be rolling.

Long before I myself had actually seen a human head severed from it's body (I saw a man decapitated in a motorcycle accident when I was 14) my imagination regarding the condition we refer to as "decapitation" was informed mostly by my father's own illustrations: his early memories, that he would relate to me in story form, whenever he would get it in his head to talk about 'the war'. Being a typical 5 year old in London during the now infamous Battle of Britain (July through October 1940), my father had many images burned forever into his formative memory. The one visual that keeps replaying in my head lately is the story of his neighbour, or perhaps I should say, his neighbours head.

After a particularly bad aerial fight and a spat of bombing, my Dad had ventured out of the shelter to survey the damage, and see if any help was needed. Thats when he saw it, his neighbour's head, rolling down the gutter towards him. The head was rolling.

The more I think about it I realize that my Dad's story may even have contributed to that nasty dream I had in Grade two, where I was at school naked, and then (as if matters couldn't get worse) my head fell off and I had to chase it as it rolled down the hallway...

And why are these things rolling around in my head?

Beheadings are rapidly becoming such common place news from the Middle East I fear losing count. How many people have lost their heads in the modern and televised spectacle of medieval origins? And if one is violently seperated from their head against one's will, is it fair to refer to it as "losing their head"?

Daniel Pearl. Nicholas Berg. Robert Jacobs. Paul Johnson Jr. Kim Sun-il. I don't see an end in sight...

Oh yeah, and I found this today... didn't I say all of this?

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